The Boondocking Code of Ethics

For those of you new RV owners who may be unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, also known as dry camping or primitive camping is basically camping without the electic, sewer or water hookups.  There are generally two types of boondocking – blacktop and boonies – and there is a certain code of ethics associated with each one that we should follow. The general rule of thumb is to always leave the place nicer than it was when you got there. Let’s check out some other rules we should follow.

Blacktop boondocking is when you pos up in a parking lot (Wal-Mart, Casinos, etc.). The main appeal of this type of camping is the convenience and budget. Some places have actually passed bans on this type of boondocking. To make sure bans aren’t passed, RV clubs like The Escapees, have come up with their own code of ethics for blacktop boondocking. They have even gone far enough to post a print out of these rules that you can leave on offender’s vehicles.

Blacktop Boondocking Rules

1. DO obtain permission from a qualified individual. This way you’ll never have to worry if you are violating any sort of code or law.

2. DO try and park out of the way. Most of these parking lots are huge, and most likely there are spots way in the back that will be vacant.

3. DON’T use your awnings, chairs, or barbecue grill. These things tend to send the message that you are here to stay.

4. DON’T use slide-outs if at all possible for the same reason as mentioned above.

5. DON’T use your leveling jacks on asphalt.

6. DO try and limit your stay – one night is best, and two is the absolute maximum. We recommend staying two night only if you must.

7. DO purchase gas, food, or supplies as a way of saying “thank you”.

8. DO leave the area cleaner than you found it. This one is sometimes dificult for people to folllow, but think of it this way… you’re only helping blacktoppers reputation climb by cleaning up. Even if it’s after other’s.

9. DO practice safety precautions. This is important in any situation.

You can print out of these rules and then leave them on offender’s vehicles. Everyone should know proper boondocking etiquette.

[The Escapees]

Now let’s switch gears and take a look at the guidelines we should follow for boondocking in the boonies. As you can probably guess from its name, this type of boondocking is done out in the wilderness. A lot of campers do this purely for the wilderness experience and enjoy the peace and quiet they wouldn’t necessisarily have at a slotted campground. The more serious boondockers even modify their vehicles with solar panels and an inverter to charge their batteries so they can freely camp in the beautiful wilderness.

Rules for Boondocking in the Boonies

  • Park in previously used areas. Do not create a new road or parking spot or run over vegetation.
  • Park away from other RVs so each can enjoy the peace and quiet. If you do have a generator you plan to run, park far away from other RVs and limit your use to an hour or so in the morning and another in early evening. Generator noise carries and is not part of the wilderness experience.
  • Respect quiet hours. Do not run generators or play TVs or radios loudly after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Some areas may have different quiet hours so check with the agency.)
  • In some areas dumping grey water on the ground is permissible. Always check with the agency first. Dumping black water on the ground is never permitted.
  • Leave the area cleaner than you found it. Dispose of trash in a trash container after you leave.
  • Read and follow the agency’s rules regarding fires, collecting firewood, and quiet hours. Respect time limits, which are typically 14 days.

Boondocking is one of my favorite aspects of owning an RV, but we have to remember to always follow that golden rule in order to continue boondocking for years and years to come. Leave the place nicer than it was before you arrived.