Apps and Websites to help you find the perfect boondocking spot

 Apps and Websites to help you find the perfect boondocking spot

Ah… the Sound of Silence.

There really is a sound to it, you know. On a boondocking trip deep in the Michigan woods in Ogemaw County, we heard it good.

There was the crackle of our campfire. A hoot of a distant owl. The yips of a pack of coyotes somewhere far to the west. The gurgle of the Rifle River moving over a stretch of rocks just downstream from where we were camped. The whooshing sound of wind whipping through a stand of pine.

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Boondocking in our eTrek the middle of the Michigan woods in Ogemaw County

And on that clear night, the sound of boondocking silence comes with a view.

Up above, as soon as you walked away from the fire and got your night eyes focused, a gazillion stars speckled the ink black sky.

That's the first big perk of boondocking, or being totally self-contained with no commercial power or water or sewer or any other service. Some people prefer to call it “dry camping” or “independent camping.” Other terms are “primitive camping” or “dispersed camping.”

Whatever, we were loving it.

No one else was around. Probably for miles.

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Boondocking in the Porcupine Mountains this summer

Tai, our Norwegian Elkhoud, ran free, though not very far from our motorhome. I swear he smiled the whole weekend, blissfully exhausted from leash-free hikes and the new scents of deer trails and the deep woods.

We slept with the blinds up and the windows open with complete privacy.

In our all electric Roadtrek eTrek, with solar power and a diesel heater connected to the engine, we can go that way for days. In fact, the limiting factor for us out there is how much food we can bring. More often than not, we need to resupply about every three days. Because we have eight house batteries, 250 watts of solar power, a diesel generator that charges the batteries on a half hour or so by just running the engine, a refrigerator, heater, microwave/convection oven, air conditioner and inductive stove that are powered by a 5,000 watt inverter, our eTrek is made for boondocking like that.

But most all Class B motorhomes can boondock, some for a night or so, others a couple days.

But where?

My friend Campskunk is the boondocking king. He's written here extensively about his favorite places, including yesterday's post about alternative places to camp in the wake of the governmental shutdown that closed out national parks.

Me? I use the Internet and apps to help me find new places to boondock.

For starters, check out the app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices by AllStays (www.allstays.com). They list more than 22,000 commercial campgrounds, state and national parks and boondocking spots, everything from KOAs and Walmarts to state and federal forests, military and BLM land. This is my favorite app and website, offering the most detailed information of any app I've yet found on places to stay.

While the regular AllStays app is great, the paid version, AllStays Pro, is the major go-to site Jennifer and I use for finding places to stay that really stand out, especially out of the way boondocking spots and free places to stay. Since Jennifer and I discovered AllStays Pro, the browser-based subscription site, we rely on it almost exclusively in our RV travels. AllStays has generously offered 10% off the AllStays Pro subscription if you use this link and the discount code RVPODCAST when you signup.

There are other resources.

Harvest Hosts is a unique membership service that lets RVers camp overnight FOR FREE at lovely outdoor venues such as wineries, breweries, museums, farms, orchards, and creameries. You can get 10% off the Harvest Host annual membership ($49) using the discount code: HHFriends

Another resource to help you find free or very low-cost places to stay while traveling in your RV is called OvernightRVParking.com. As of today, it has a database of nearly 13,800 locations around North America that can be searched, listing places that allow and prohibit overnight RV parking. The site is a subscription service – $24.95 a year. I had a great conversation with the owner and he has made a nice offer to our readers. If you decide to sign up, he will extend your membership from 12 months to 15 months. That works out to a pretty nice discount so use the link above to sign up and receive your 3 free months!

Free Campgrounds for RVs (http://www.freecampgrounds.com) has a big database, sorted by state, of state, federal and county land open to camping, most without hookups or services.

For boondocking and camping information about National Forests, check out the very useful U.S. National Forest Campground Guide (http://www.forestcamping.com). Much of the research was done by Fred and Suzi Dow, a couple of avid RVers who have spent the last 17 years visiting 155 national forests, 20 national grasslands, 1 national tallgrass prairie and 2,383 developed campgrounds.

I also like the Free Campsites website (http://freecampsites.net). There’s an interactive map as well as comments and reviews of boondocking spots.

You can also check the site http://boondocking.org. It’s a database of free boondocking spots based on GPS coordinates. Enter in your location’s latitude and longitude and it will tell you whether the closest boondocking spot may be.

Those are some of my favorite boondocking resources.  How about you? Share your suggestions under comments.

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

6 Comments

  • Mike, I might try to work in your boondocking spot during our upcoming trip to the Sault and the U.P. Is that the Rifle River State Recreation Area?

    We have enjoyed some of the national forest campgrounds. Maybe these aren’t considered REAL boondocking. While not free, they are very cheap at $12 to $15 per night. Our all time favorite is Stoney Fork Campground in the Jefferson National Forest with is just a few miles west of I-77 (Exit 47). There are a few sites with electric hoop ups but more important, they have nice restroom/shower facilities.

  • Great info Mike. we are heading toward Maine next week and look forward to testing out the apps. I just received a Rand Mcnally 7725 GPS to test too. We are really looking forward to getting away and seeing the sights. The hard part is leaving the North Shore of Lake Superior while the colors are so beautiful. Thanks again for creating this great resource. How do we thank the advertisers. They need to know “it’s working”!
    Bigfoot Dave

  • THX for sharing the tips on Boondocking. My wife and i prefer this mode of camping and go out typically 5-days-between-resupply. It’s great to be out in the wilds having a river or meadow all to ourselves!

  • A good way to find free campgrounds is the recently released
    The Ultimate US Public Campground Project: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=698323700&mt=8
    When I search it for “free” over 1,000 campgrounds show up!

  • I love the “Oh, Ranger” app for finding state and national parks. Also, groups such as the Elks Club allow camping at their facilities if you belong to the organization.
    Thanks for Roadtreking, it’s great!

  • Here are a few useful apps:
    Boondocking, for iPhone:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/boondocking/id561352659?mt=8
    Boondocking, for Mac:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/boondocking/id737368975?mt=12
    The Ultimate US Public Campground Project. This app contains many more free boon docking places than Allstays:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ultimate-us-public-campground/id698323700?mt=8

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