Camping is one of those outdoor activities that most people either love or hate, but there are actually lots of different ways that you can camp based on your goals and travel style. For example, you can pitch a tent in the backcountry on a multi-day hike, relax in a glamping yurt with beautiful scenery, or drive your RV across the country to stay in national parks or private campgrounds. But if you’re looking to get off the grid and explore the outdoors on a budget, perhaps boondocking is right up your alley. Boondocking means camping in a remote location, outside of developed campgrounds, usually in an RV, and oftentimes for free. Finding great boondocking spots often takes a lot of research or asking for advice, so here are a few of our favorite boondocking destinations to check out in the United States!
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Roads Around Canyonlands National Park – Near Moab, Utah
Moab is always a fantastic place to boondock and ultra-popular with outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline-junkies from all around the world. It used to be easier than it is now to find good boondocking spots due to the growing popularity of Moab, and it may take a bit of exploring to find a spot you love. But after all, Moab is all about adventure! There is some BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land just north of town that you can boondock on without paying a dime. Turn down a side road after Canyonlands to find a spot. Alternatively, there’s the Sand Flats Recreation Area and Horsethief Campground if you want restroom access and are willing to pay a small fee.
Buffalo Gap National Grassland – Near Wall, South Dakota
South Dakota is full of wonderfully wide-open spaces, and you can experience the local wildlife and scenery if you boondock at Buffalo Gap (43.8898° N, -102.227° W) near the famous town of Wall. Come here to be in the middle of the badlands and for a serene boondocking experience. This is a nice place to stay if you want to check out the Badlands National Park because it’s only about a mile from the park’s west entrance. There are no bathrooms here, but you can stock up on drinking water at the nearby Conoco gas station or the Wall City Park. The town of Wall is about five miles away from here.
Cook’s Chasm – Near Yachats, Oregon
There are boondocking spots that put you right near the ocean, which is amazing if you love the sound of crashing waves and dramatic scenery. Cook’s Chasm in the coastal Oregon area of Yachats (44.2789° N, 124.1171° W) is a recommended boondocking area that simply involves pulling off the side of the road. You can stock up on camping supplies and groceries in the small town of Yachats and see iconic sights like Thor’s Well nearby. Boondocking along the Oregon coast is a must-do for any boondocking enthusiast!
Blankenship Bridge – Near Columbia Falls, Montana
There’s also an area near Columbia Falls, Montana (48.4641° N, -114.0726 ° W) that’s nice for boondocking if you want to be close to Glacier National Park. While this Blankenship Bridge area is great for camper vans and maybe a small travel trailer, it’s too small for a big Class A motorhome to access. This is a dry camping area with no amenities, although there is a vault toilet in a county park on the other side of the bridge. You can head into the town of Columbia Falls about 10 miles from here for your grocery store and gas station needs.
BLM Land South of Joshua Tree National Park – California
Joshua Tree National Park is on nearly every camper’s bucket list, and there are some nice places to boondock here on the BLM land. If you travel just south of the park (33.6701° N, 115.806° W) you’ll find BLM land that is free to camp on and that offers beautiful desert scenery with plenty of wide-open spaces. You’ll be close to the national park when you stay here to stock up on fresh water for those hot desert days. The town of Indio is about 15 miles away for your grocery and supply needs.
Coconino National Forest – Near Sedona, Arizona
Most people think of Sedona as a ritzy area that is pretty pricey and very developed. However, there are actually some wonderful boondocking areas in the Sedona area, especially if you venture out into the Coconino National Forest. One recommended boondocking destination is along Forest Road 525 near Sedona. The national forest is just a bit west of Sedona and offers views of the beautiful desert landscapes and red rock formations. If you head to the Doe Mountain Trailhead, there’s a pit toilet you can use.
Valley of the Gods Road – Near Mexican Hat, Utah
If you’re looking to boondock with amazing views and be close to many natural wonders, then take a drive on Valley of the Gods Road to find your boondocking spot. This area is near the Utah town of Mexican Hat, Gooseneck State Park, Monument Valley, and Natural Bridge National Monument. You can also park in the lot of Goosenecks State Park (37.17073 N, 109.92380 W) to be near the San Juan River and have a water fountain and bathroom nearby.
Clark Dry Lake – Anza Borrego State Park, California
Anza Borrego State Park has gained incredible popularity in recent years because of the beautiful wildflowers that grow here in the spring and summer. The park also has slow canyons, badlands, and lots of hiking opportunities. Boondockers often gravitate to the Clark Dry Lake, especially in the winter. This is a popular spot, but the area is so vast that you can still enjoy the beauty of nature without feeling crowded. The park is one of the easiest place to boondock for free, so start with this recommendation if you’re a first-time boondocker. Be aware that if your camper doesn’t have its own bathroom, the closest ones are a 10-minute drive away in Borrego Springs.