Pelican Flyer •
June 1, 2020
One of the main benefits of trading up your tent for an RV or camper van is that, well… everywhere you go, you’re home. Self-contained camping units come equipped with many of the same comforts as your permanent residence — a roomy bed with a real mattress, a full-scale kitchen and, in some cases, a bathroom. Another big advantage? With all of these amenities, you may not need the ones you’d get at a standard campground. Enter dry camping.
Dry camping, also known as boondocking, involves camping in an RV, van or motorhome with no hookups (no electricity or water) outside of a traditional campground. Dry campers set up camp on public lands as well as private places (with the permission of the owner), usually for free. In the national parks and forests, this activity may be referred to as “dispersed camping.”
Boondocking is also closely associated with camping on private lands, and it often involves setting up camp in the parking lots of big box stores — Walmart and Cabela’s parking lots are among the most popular — but many dry campers prefer this style of camping because it allows them to get deeper into natural landscapes and further from civilization. In short, it can be both a necessity (such as when all the other campgrounds are full) and a choice.
Mainstream campers may not understand why anyone would want to camp this way. At standard campgrounds, you get access to great amenities like flush toilets, showers, picnic tables, a camp store and maybe even Wi-Fi. Off the grid, you’re left to figure it out on your own. But there are two sides to every coin.
Dry camping is legal as long as you have permission from whoever owns or manages the land. In public spaces, that often means getting permission from the national or state parks service. We probably don’t have to say it, but always make sure to follow all rules and leave no trace when camping off the grid!
Want to give it a go? You should know a few of the basics before you head off road and put her in park somewhere deep in the woods. Here are the things you need to head out:
Undoubtedly, camping off the beaten path brings some amazing experiences and unique access you wouldn’t otherwise get in the family campground. But it’s not for everyone. If you’re new to camping, we recommend starting at a standard campground before advancing to this style of camping. At its core, dry camping is about survival, and you never want to put yourself in a position where yours is at risk!
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