Boondocking is one of the most popular forms of RV and #vanlife. It allows you to be mobile, be self-sufficient, and most importantly, it can give you the sense of freedom you may be looking for. Boondocking is also popular with many RVers because it allows them to travel and experience both urban and rural environments equally!
The problem? You can’t boondock without knowing where to go. Let’s talk about some of the best apps to help you find boondocking spots.
There are many great apps that can help you with boondocking and free camping. Some of the best ones include:
- The Dyrt
- Harvest Hosts
If you want to learn more about the best boondocking apps, or even pick up some quick boondocking tips, keep on reading!
Top RV Boondocking Apps to Find Free Camping
Campendium is one of the best boondocking/free camping apps around. It offers information about RV camping, free campsites, national parks, national forests, and even state parks!
Additionally, its online platform also offers a helpful blog that gives an insight into what boondocking and RV camping is like!
They also have a premium subscription that allows for ad-free access that gives you the option to filter by cellular provider reception, as well as overlays and special road map information.
Overall, Campendium is just a great resource for those who wish to travel far with their boondocking dreams.
Harvest Hosts is a pretty unique platform that offers specific locations in which you can RV camp. Due to this, it may be a great option for newer boondockers, or for people who want more structure and planning with their camping.
On the app, you can sign up to either camp or offer a location, which makes it an inclusive and fun experience. Some of the current camping locations include beautiful wineries, luscious golf courses, and even scenic farms!
HH connects campers with “Hosts” for (typically) one night stays, which offers a great alternative to Walmart parking lots, rest stops and the like.
They got bought out a few years ago and since then, the annual fee has gone up by around 50%. It’s still a great option, but not as cheap and accessible as it was just a couple years ago.
Although it has become a part of Harvest Hosts, it is important to mention Boondockers Welcome.
BW connects campers with Hosts that have a free parking spot or camp site on their property that they are offering up to boondockers for free! They usually are either RVers themselves or at least know what RVers want since they have hosted before.
It works very similarly to the original Harvest Hosts, and it offers a comprehensive location map that allows you to find a private boondocking location to book near you!
Being a non-profit project, iOverlander allows you to freely access information without the need for a premium subscription. It allows for people to make personal and unique pins/locations, which allows you to get an inside view of where to camp.
iOverlander is also great for someone who wants comprehensive information, as it includes information about camping sites, water-filling spots, gas stations, propane-filling locations, hotels, mechanics, and even restaurants.
The Dyrt is another great camping app that shows you all nearby camping and RV resort locations. One notable feature is that it allows anyone to camp and leave a review, meaning that you can know exactly what your experience may be like!
The Dyrt also offers a premium version, which has really useful features, such as offline map viewing.
Although its interface is slightly older than the rest, Freecampsites.net is a good resource for anyone who simply wants to know where free campsites are near them.
It may not have all of the bells and whistles, but this is a great resource for those who don’t need too much direction or planning with their adventures!
Allstays is a multi-faceted app chain that gives you information about all things boondocking in states such as Arizona, Florida, and California.
This does mean that Allstays will mainly work in certain parts of the USA only, however within those parts, the app offers a wealth of useful information.
Additionally, Allstays has a chain of apps that pertain to a variety of topics, ranging from RV camping to overnight Walmart parking!
FreeRoam is a great app option if you are looking for friends or even a sense of community.
On top of having lots of information on where and how you can camp and boondock for free, there is also a section for socials, where you can join forums, chat with others, and even great your own camping groups.
U.S. Public Lands App
In contrast to the other app options on the market, the U.S. Public Lands App is a good choice for someone who wants to skip the nitty gritty and get down to the details.
This app allows you to know and see the exact boundaries and topographical information of all U.S public lands, such as the ones controlled by the forest service, or national park service.
I have personally used this one myself, and I must say it is a great resource if you are looking to camp in some well-established/classic locations.
Other Ways to Find Free Camping
Aside from all of these great apps that offer information, there are a few other things that you can try to find free camping locations. First of all, you can go to your local library or sports center and ask if they know some nearby free camping locations. Many of these establishments offer public information about local recreation sites.
Even if you aren’t using a hotel, you can ask them if they know of any free camping sites. Most hotels have a section of pamphlets near the front desk that include information about local restaurants and camping sites.
If these options don’t work, you can also try to ask friends/discussion forums if they know where to find free camping. Additionally, you can also check youtube or groups online.
Whew! It can honestly be a little overwhelming to look at all of the possible options for boondocking apps and locations. Due to this, many people have some common questions about boondocking, which I will go over below.
Is Boondocking Safe?
In short, boondocking can be a relatively safe activity. When you are camping in a secluded/rural location, the chances of crime or other dangers are mitigated. If you are choosing to boondock in a public location, however, there are risks of theft and crime.
If you are nervous about someone breaking into your RV, or even driving away with your RV, you could invest in some protective equipment, such as wi-fi security cameras, a kill switch for your rig, or a dog…woof!!
What States are Best for Boondocking?
In truth, I don’t believe that there is a “best” state for boondocking. In reality, the world is your oyster, and you can camp in so many places!
If you are looking for ideal boondocking locations, however, most people would recommend camping in states that have large expanses of open, natural, and public land.
Some of the most common states with natural beauty and plenty of boondocking land include:
How Do I Find Boondocking Spots?
With all of the information listed above, I urge you to look into the boondocking apps we listed above. To boondock, you just need to find a public (or private) camping ground that allows RV access.
Can I Boondock Without Solar?
As with most things, every boondocking experience relies on what you want and need out of your trip. In other words, if you require electrically powered things (such as C-Pap machines, electronics, electric stovetops, etc.), then you may need some sort of a solar power and/or generator.
On the other hand, it is completely possible to boondock without solar/electric power. In those situations, you would simply cook with propane/fire, and find other low-tech swaps.
How Do I Dump My Tanks When Boondocking?
Ok, onto the crappy part of boondocking (pun intended): dumping waste tanks. When you need to dump your RV’s tanks, there are only a few places where you can really do it safely and correctly.
First of all, most RV parks and recreation sites have specialized RV dumping sites, where you can hook up a hose and quickly dump and go! If you are not near one of these sites, however, some rest stops also have special RV dumping sites.
Some of the apps listed above offer a filter for dump stations so you can find the nearest one.
Where Do I Get Water?
Unless you have access to fresh water through outdoor means (such as clean streams or springs) or public facilities, it is often best to buy bulk water in containers at big-box grocery stores or fill your freshwater tank when you go to dump your tanks. You can also get a drinking water-safe bladder or a hard plastic tank to haul more water to your rig so you don’t have to drive it to town to fill it.
Again, some of these apps offer a filter so you can see the nearest option for water filling.
What is Boondocking?
To keep it simple, boondocking is RVing or camping without hookups. There are different forms of it, from wild camping in the middle of nowhere (what many consider true boondocking), to staying on someone’s land, in their driveway (what we call “moochdocking”), to staying at a rest stop overnight. Beach camping is another popular form of boondocking.
You will need to be self-sufficient with water and power, so some planning is required.
It has a pretty broad meaning, but generally camping away from access to water, sewer and trash at your site is considered boondocking.
In the end, boondocking can be a pretty confusing topic. It is so similar to camping, yet it poses the difficulties of having to dump waste, find locations, and even get clean water.
Aside from these, many people have some common questions when it comes to boondocking, such as how to get water, where to dump tanks, and where to find good locations. In essence, most of these things can be answered within the helpful apps listed above. With all of this being said, go out, try some of these great apps, and go boondocking!