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Anyone else enjoy boondock camping?
Old 04-17-2017, 04:16 PM   #1
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Anyone else enjoy boondock camping?

We recently got back from 8 days travel in central and south eastern California (desert) We decided to try camping again, but dislike the noise and visual clutter of campgrounds. So we dry camped (tent camping) on lightly travelled dirt roads. It was an amazing experience! First night we pulled off on a dirt track in the Carrizo Plain National monument where the super bloom was happening. Sunset and sunrise were both incredible, and the next morning we met a couple doing the same, and had a great chat-ended up exchanging email addresses and invitations to visit, etc. Next two nights were spent in the Mojave National Preserve. Same dirt track leading to another amazing campsite. Solitude, quiet, and hiking around. Then we hit Death Valley, and camped 2 miles up Hole in the Wall road where we landed yet another great campsite, spent three nights, watched the full moon rise over the ridge up canyon, and had an amazing sunrise the next morning. We had two breaks during the 8 days to shower and resupply, which worked well. Now we have decided to buy a higher clearance 4wd vehicle to be able to really get out in the boonies where we can't now. We have found a new passion for boondocking, love how cheap it is, how you can go at a moment's notice (no booking Airbnb ahead of time) and we are ready to "wander the west". Curious if anyone else enjoys this lifestyle, and if so, what places in the west (or east) you have enjoyed visiting.
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Old 04-17-2017, 05:56 PM   #2
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I have bike-camped in Anza Borrego and Colorado just pulling off the road in remote areas. I have also bike-camped in Joshua Tree in campgrounds with no running water - in the summer I was the only one in the whole campground each time - the ones with water were full or nearly so.
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Old 04-17-2017, 06:35 PM   #3
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We lived out of a Mini-van (Toyota Sienna type) turned into a camper for a month and again for another 3 weeks when we visited Australia this past year. It's a big deal there, to take a vehicle and drive all around the country and stay in the bush. There are campgrounds as well as Free campgrounds or rest areas, as well as National, Regional and State Parks. They also have stations and farm stays where you pay about five bucks a nite and see no one for days other than goats and kangaroos...pretty awesome!

We plan to eventually go back and spend at least three months camping. We will buy a used four wheel drive vehicle so we can visit many remote beaches that we missed with our little van.

Since I've seen more of Australia than I have of the US, our plan this year is to camp on our little trawler and anchor out in some of the remote creeks and rivers along the Intercoastal waterways. Maybe the next year, we'll make it out west....by the way...I believe there is an app available in the US....WikiCamps. It was a must have in Australia to get the scoop on all the cool sites that you won't hear about in local tourist guides. Happy camping!
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Old 04-17-2017, 07:22 PM   #4
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We do bicycle touring and have many similar experiences as the OP. While working, we would do what is known as credit card bike touring. Carry a handlebar bag of stuff and stay in hotels or similar accommodations.

Since retirement, we have taken a few long biking trips that included a great deal of isolated camping. We peddled the LABs sounthern tier from San Diego to St Augustine, FL. Another ride took us from Florida Keys to Milwaukee. Our international bike rides included riding down the California Baja starting in LA and going to Cabo, Mexico. The other was along the N. Sea beginning in Edinburgh and ending in Copenhagen.

We also meet people that have become friends. Also, there is a great organization called Warm Showers where people open their homes to touring cyclists. Met a lot of great people when we stayed at their home and when they stayed at ours.

The downside of bicycle touring is that an 1 hour car drive is about a 1 day bicycle ride. Moving at 'human speed' has some limitations which means site seeing needs to be fairly well planned. Having said that, I dread the day when I will not be healthy enough to participate in bicycle touring.

Just one more benefit. You literally cannot eat too much. I always come back from our multi-day trips at a lower weight and more fit.
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:39 PM   #5
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Circa 1960-1970's our family (DW, then 3 sons) were big into camping for about 15 years, VW Westphalia, canoe, climbing and tent camping... mostly in the Adirondacks. During that time, I had a Cub Scout Pack w/Webelos, and then a Boy Scout Troop and later a chuurch youth group... so there were dozens and dozens of experiences. We paddled the chain of lakes from Old Forge to Saranac Lake... 90 miles... canoeing all the way. In those days, there were no facilities along the way, so we carried all with us... food, tents (for when there were no Adirondack Shelters) and all camping equipment. Included... many miles of portages.

One day, with just two of my sons, we left our home in Saratoga Springs, and drove to St. Huberts... in Keene Valley. My sons were 10 and 8 at the time, and we took the trail from the Ausable Club up to near the top of Noonmark Mountain, going off-trail near the top, to find a flat spot to pitch our tent. This meant climbing up a dry wash for a considerable distance... We were about 4 miles from where we had parked Victoria (our VW's Name Victoria Von Volkswagen). Now for those who are not familiar with the Adirondacks, the mountains often create their own weather. We pitched the tent cooked by the campfire, and then went to bed. Overnight a huge rainstorm, which subsided by morning, but which filled the dry wash with wildwater. It took a while for the rapids to go down, but it had turned into a beautiful day. The boys wanted to stay, but I had promised their mom we'd be back that day. They pleaded with me to let them stay, and I gave in. I had great confidence in my sons. I decided to let them stay an extra day, and I would go home and pick them up the next day.
I drove home to Saratoga Springs (about 80 miles) to face a wife who went insane. Closest I ever came to being killed. Within about 30 seconds we were back into Victoria... back to St. Huberts... DW stayed in the van, while I hiked back in to our campsite, and dragged my reluctant campers back down the mountain, to get back home before dark.
So much for good judgement.

Anyway, that was the "good ole days" before commercialization... before fancy lightweight equipment... before the trails got crowded. It was when we could climb Giant Mountain, and be the only ones on the mountain. When we could paddle the 8 miles of Long lake and not see another canoe. It was when two adult leaders could take a troop of 30 Boy Scouts for a 7 day canoe trip without having to sign permits, buy insurance, and spend three weeks planning and getting approvals. It was a great time to see 13 and 14 year olds become independent and self sufficient and to learn to live in the woods.

Don't know if this qualifies as boondock camping, but it's what we did forty or fifty years ago.
... another wordy memory.
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:50 PM   #6
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I was chatting with a friend about this a few days ago. I used to love tent camping, but as I've grown older, I don't enjoy sleeping on the ground anymore...being male, and having to, ahem, get up too many times at night...sleeping on, and getting up from the ground 3-4 times a night is just not my definition of fun. That's why we got the RV (too big to camp...it is for RV parking), and may eventually get a 22' trailer to camp in.

His response was that if the hotel doesn't have a pool, that's his definition of boondocking.

I love the mountains and trees and rivers, lakes and streams, but I need to have some of creature comforts if I'm going to go.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Circa 1960-1970's our family (DW, then 3 sons) were big into camping for about 15 years, VW Westphalia, canoe, climbing and tent camping... mostly in the Adirondacks. During that time, I had a Cub Scout Pack w/Webelos, and then a Boy Scout Troop and later a chuurch youth group... so there were dozens and dozens of experiences. We paddled the chain of lakes from Old Forge to Saranac Lake... 90 miles... canoeing all the way. In those days, there were no facilities along the way, so we carried all with us... food, tents (for when there were no Adirondack Shelters) and all camping equipment. Included... many miles of portages.

One day, with just two of my sons, we left our home in Saratoga Springs, and drove to St. Huberts... in Keene Valley. My sons were 10 and 8 at the time, and we took the trail from the Ausable Club up to near the top of Noonmark Mountain, going off-trail near the top, to find a flat spot to pitch our tent. This meant climbing up a dry wash for a considerable distance... We were about 4 miles from where we had parked Victoria (our VW's Name Victoria Von Volkswagen). Now for those who are not familiar with the Adirondacks, the mountains often create their own weather. We pitched the tent cooked by the campfire, and then went to bed. Overnight a huge rainstorm, which subsided by morning, but which filled the dry wash with wildwater. It took a while for the rapids to go down, but it had turned into a beautiful day. The boys wanted to stay, but I had promised their mom we'd be back that day. They pleaded with me to let them stay, and I gave in. I had great confidence in my sons. I decided to let them stay an extra day, and I would go home and pick them up the next day.
I drove home to Saratoga Springs (about 80 miles) to face a wife who went insane. Closest I ever came to being killed. Within about 30 seconds we were back into Victoria... back to St. Huberts... DW stayed in the van, while I hiked back in to our campsite, and dragged my reluctant campers back down the mountain, to get back home before dark.
So much for good judgement.

Anyway, that was the "good ole days" before commercialization... before fancy lightweight equipment... before the trails got crowded. It was when we could climb Giant Mountain, and be the only ones on the mountain. When we could paddle the 8 miles of Long lake and not see another canoe. It was when two adult leaders could take a troop of 30 Boy Scouts for a 7 day canoe trip without having to sign permits, buy insurance, and spend three weeks planning and getting approvals. It was a great time to see 13 and 14 year olds become independent and self sufficient and to learn to live in the woods.

Don't know if this qualifies as boondock camping, but it's what we did forty or fifty years ago.
... another wordy memory.
Thanks for the memory!
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:26 PM   #8
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I was chatting with a friend about this a few days ago. I used to love tent camping, but as I've grown older, I don't enjoy sleeping on the ground anymore...being male, and having to, ahem, get up too many times at night...sleeping on, and getting up from the ground 3-4 times a night is just not my definition of fun. That's why we got the RV (too big to camp...it is for RV parking), and may eventually get a 22' trailer to camp in.

His response was that if the hotel doesn't have a pool, that's his definition of boondocking.

I love the mountains and trees and rivers, lakes and streams, but I need to have some of creature comforts if I'm going to go.


We bought cots to sleep on and a tent large enough to stand up in. That made a huge difference in our comfort level. I will not go back to sleeping on the ground-ever!
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rambler View Post
I was chatting with a friend about this a few days ago. I used to love tent camping, but as I've grown older, I don't enjoy sleeping on the ground anymore...being male, and having to, ahem, get up too many times at night...sleeping on, and getting up from the ground 3-4 times a night is just not my definition of fun. That's why we got the RV (too big to camp...it is for RV parking), and may eventually get a 22' trailer to camp in.

His response was that if the hotel doesn't have a pool, that's his definition of boondocking.

I love the mountains and trees and rivers, lakes and streams, but I need to have some of creature comforts if I'm going to go.


Agree with Hermit-thanks for the story-great stuff!
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:29 PM   #10
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I have bike-camped in Anza Borrego and Colorado just pulling off the road in remote areas. I have also bike-camped in Joshua Tree in campgrounds with no running water - in the summer I was the only one in the whole campground each time - the ones with water were full or nearly so.


We want to check out Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree. You might really enjoy the Mojave Preserve-less busy than Joshua Tree-more solitude.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:32 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by davef View Post
We do bicycle touring and have many similar experiences as the OP. While working, we would do what is known as credit card bike touring. Carry a handlebar bag of stuff and stay in hotels or similar accommodations.



Since retirement, we have taken a few long biking trips that included a great deal of isolated camping. We peddled the LABs sounthern tier from San Diego to St Augustine, FL. Another ride took us from Florida Keys to Milwaukee. Our international bike rides included riding down the California Baja starting in LA and going to Cabo, Mexico. The other was along the N. Sea beginning in Edinburgh and ending in Copenhagen.



We also meet people that have become friends. Also, there is a great organization called Warm Showers where people open their homes to touring cyclists. Met a lot of great people when we stayed at their home and when they stayed at ours.



The downside of bicycle touring is that an 1 hour car drive is about a 1 day bicycle ride. Moving at 'human speed' has some limitations which means site seeing needs to be fairly well planned. Having said that, I dread the day when I will not be healthy enough to participate in bicycle touring.



Just one more benefit. You literally cannot eat too much. I always come back from our multi-day trips at a lower weight and more fit.


Wow, I'm impressed with that kind of mileage on a bike! We get our exercise hiking after establishing our campsite. So looking forward to exploring via car and foot!
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:37 PM   #12
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We lived out of a Mini-van (Toyota Sienna type) turned into a camper for a month and again for another 3 weeks when we visited Australia this past year. It's a big deal there, to take a vehicle and drive all around the country and stay in the bush. There are campgrounds as well as Free campgrounds or rest areas, as well as National, Regional and State Parks. They also have stations and farm stays where you pay about five bucks a nite and see no one for days other than goats and kangaroos...pretty awesome!

We plan to eventually go back and spend at least three months camping. We will buy a used four wheel drive vehicle so we can visit many remote beaches that we missed with our little van.

Since I've seen more of Australia than I have of the US, our plan this year is to camp on our little trawler and anchor out in some of the remote creeks and rivers along the Intercoastal waterways. Maybe the next year, we'll make it out west....by the way...I believe there is an app available in the US....WikiCamps. It was a must have in Australia to get the scoop on all the cool sites that you won't hear about in local tourist guides. Happy camping!


Australia will have to go on the bucket list for sure. New Zealand by camper van is another one. We really enjoy desert camping, and the warm and dry was so welcome after the 60 inches of rain we got in Northern California this Winter. Death Valley was particularly amazing.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:38 PM   #13
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You are describing something pretty close to how I live on a daily basis in an old motor home. I do enjoy the solitude. The only sound in the early morning before it is light is the wind rustling through the pines. I never get tired of the stars or the sunrises. Living life a bit closer to nature has been great for me. I will be moving into my new house in the next year or so. I think I will miss this somewhat more rugged way of life.
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:01 PM   #14
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i went camping with the us army for 2 years, hated it, swore i would never do it again
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:02 PM   #15
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We do a lot of camping in remote sites. We especially like the national forest lands where you can do "disbursed camping" anywhere there is a road. We have found some pretty idyllic spots that we've had all to ourselves. I don't really enjoy the crowded campsites and we feel closer to the natural world when we camp off on our own. We do have a van so we have some comforts as well, like a bed, a stove and cold drinks.
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:03 AM   #16
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We split 3 weeks between Australia and New Zealand in two vans. VW and mini van.
Talk about extremes! Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, Walking miles to look at glaciers.

Plan is to attempt this in the US one day.

Oh yeah, and that trip to Acadia in early spring many years ago. Slept in a van.
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:59 AM   #17
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As a young Eagle Scout, I spent probably equal to 6 weeks a year camping and staying in caves (in winter.) Now, we do our camping in a fifth wheel trailer with 4 slides, 3 televisions and all the comforts of home. We do have to watch carefully as bears come through every night (North Georgia Mountains.)

In our campground, we do have tent campsites--with electricity, cable tv and WIFI. Some still "rough it" somewhat on those campsites.
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:17 AM   #18
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pickups, motorcycles. I've camped all over for the past 30 yeARS
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:42 AM   #19
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Australia will have to go on the bucket list for sure. New Zealand by camper van is another one. We really enjoy desert camping, and the warm and dry was so welcome after the 60 inches of rain we got in Northern California this Winter. Death Valley was particularly amazing.


Be sure to look up Uluru and the Red Center....no tents, just you in your swag, sleeping under the stars in the desert with the sound of dingoes in the distance....amazing!
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:12 AM   #20
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LOL - my idea of boondocking is staying somewhere with the RV unplugged! Very comfortable!

I was all enthused to do some tent camping when retired, like I did a few times when much younger. It only took one post-retirement trip to cure me of that notion - way too much work! Especially dealing with meals at camp. By the time we were done with all the getting up, breakfast, campsite squared away, morning was well gone and cut into our kayaking and birdwatching time. Same with how long things took in the evening. Not to mention that I kept waking up at night (oh that was a hard bed!) convinced that waves were about to crash onto our tent. And all foodstuffs had to be packed into the car at night to keep it out of the hands of marauding raccoons who knew how to open coolers.

Ultimately, this drove us to the RV route. Aaaaah! Much more civilized! Especially the private bathroom and shower. With our waste tanks empty and our fresh water tank full, we could go 10 days without a sewer hookup if needed in our motor home which we lived in for 5 years. Before that we camped with a Casita for a couple of years before deciding to go full time.
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