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Boondocking site selection


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Tristan (don't know his last name) on the SUV Rving YT channel ran thru a list that he considers when picking a boondocking site. This guy boondocks 100+ days a year and sleeps in his car, a RAV4 at that time. He did not put up a written list but it started me thinking and this is my version:

Boondocking Site selection

1) Is it legal to camp there. Mainly BLM or USFS land or other public land w/o camping restrictions
2) Is is an attractive spot? Aesthetics.
3) Is the road in to the location good for your rig? Sandy, muddy, rutted, high centered, washboarded, too far from a paved road etc
4) Is it secluded? I like at least semi-secluded you may be more gregarious.
5) Is it safe? Lots of dead trees that could fall on your rig, suspicious looking neighbors, a fire hazard, could the road into the spot be closed by weather or disaster, too close to an urban area, are there reports of crime, other signs of trouble like broken glass or trash and so on.
6) Sheltered? Somewhere to park to block the wind? Has trees, hills or cliffs?
7) Is it big enough? Turn around space is very important for towables.
😎 Cell phone signal, you may want it or not want it. (where did that darned emoji come from?)
9) Near water? May be good or bad--mud and bugs
10) Close to where you want to be? Near a national park, hiking trails, swimming areas, fishing and so on.
11) Sun or shade. You may want sun for warmth or solar or not want it to avoid heat.
12) Is it level enough?
13) Will it become impassable with a weather change, turn into a lake of mud etc
14) BLM land is often open range, if you are a Bovine Hater that might be a problem.

15) Some places you need an annual permit, western state school lands for example


Comments and suggestions welcomed


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Everyone approaches boondocking differently.  It just takes a lot of common sense.  When we wanted to boondock in a certain area on public lands we just drove the road and plopped down on a flat place.  We never left pavement and then encountered a problem.  You can find suitable information by stopping at the ranger office or reading and word of mouth for good places. GPS satellite view helps nowadays but years ago this wasn't used.  It's not difficult in the West.  It worked out fine with our 40' MH. Again, common sense.

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Well you must not get too far off the pavement. You certainly can get into trouble. We were driving down a very narrow, tree lined road with ditches on each side. This at Hungary Horse Res. in Montana when we came around a curve and found a dozer had pushed a pile of dirt up to block the road. We talked to the Rangers before hand, they were no help. Satellite view was no help because of the tree cover.  So it was a tough situation that we finally extracted ourselves from.

Our fault we should have dropped the TT and scouted the road out. But you can dig yourself into a big hole.

I've heard of others who came up on a weight limited bridge as another example with a 35ft DP.

I don't expect anyone to carry this around as a check list, just items to keep in mind as you look for a spot,

Edited by agesilaus
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Lots of experience can really help but you can still get in a jackpot due to no fault of your own. Where I volunteer now if I work the desk and answer question about our sites in person or by phone  I highly suggest that they get here as early as possible and drop their trailer or separate motorhome from toad and scout it out as far in advance as possible.  I also highly suggest they have a back-up plan before they even scout our sites even if it is just a W-mart parking lot for one night. I tell them I have been full timing in a 30ft TT for over 20 yrs.  A little bit odd but the most experienced seem to pay the most attention.

related to the weight limit bridge,  I topped a small hill around a curve and came up on a bridge out. 2 lane Farm to Market RD with no room to turn around. Especially fun since I am a single rv'r so no spotter.

Raccoon Valley skp park has a warning not to come from 1 direction due to a very low clearance bridge.

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4 hours ago, agesilaus said:

Well you must not get too far off the pavement.

The farthest has been approx. 20 mi. in on BLM land.  We scouted a forest service road once with our Jeep to make sure it was OK... and it was.  We read maps and use other sources beforehand. Much of our info was by word of mouth as we usually were around 4-wheeler folks which was a main reason for using these roads.... to explore further once we parked the RV.   We found Benchmark atlases great because of their scale.  

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