“Boondocking is a term used by RVers to describe RVing without being connected to water, electric, or sewer.”
Boondocking, primitive camping, wilderness camping – there are many terms for this activity. But one thing is for sure, boondocking is the language of vanlifers and road-travel-enthusiasts. We seek out beautiful campsites, far from others, deep in nature, with beautiful landscapes and breathtaking sunsets. Any form of road traveler can enjoy a great boondocking site, whether it be via conversion van, RV, or tent camping. Even better? It’s completely free, which is great for travelers on a budget. While primitive camping isn’t for everybody, those that love it, REALLY love it. There is nothing quite like finding a beautiful area with the perfect parking spot, a pre-created fire ring and knowing that it is totally FREE. Many regions are known for being more van-friendly or welcome to boondocking, but we want to talk about specific states. Here are the absolute best boondocking states that we’ve experienced after years of living on the road full-time.
Utah is one of the best boondocking states I’ve ever experienced. This area is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities, whether your preference be biking, climbing, 4-wheeling, off-roading, or anything else. The beauty of boondocking in Utah is that there is an abundance of open and public lands. While you may have neighbors in the far distance, you’re unlikely to ever find yourself camping car-to-car with another person.
Known for its unreal sunsets and beautiful buttes, Arizona primitive camping will surely blow you away. One of my favorite things about boondocking in Arizona is how closely you can find public lands to overnight park on, even near major cities or tourist attractions. Most well-known trailheads and areas I would recommend exploring in Arizona have some sort of nice boondocking site near them. The ability to eliminate far driving when exploring new states is a must, for me.
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I remember this day perfectly. It started mediocrely. In fact, I actually filed my taxes earlier in the morning. The sliding door was open, the breeze was a perfectly comfortable temperature, and this was my view in all directions. At night, I went to my alotted campground but every morning, I drove to this area. – While this view and this experience were very real, not every day is like this. See, I often feel the need to reiterate how vanlife isn't all glorious, not all camping spots are beautiful, and sometimes the consistent moving around is very, very exhausting. But I'm being 1000% honest when I say that a large majority of my time is spent with breath-taking views, as much fresh air as my lungs can inhale, and completely enveloped in happiness. – Like anything in life, living on the road full-time is exactly what I make it. It's heavily based on my attitude, how much I let things affect me, and how I choose to pursue it. But that's my favorite thing about it. It allows me to make decisions, assess, then change paths based on exactly what I need at that moment. And above all else, that screams freedom to me.
Growing up in Oregon, I always thought California was a bit overrated. It was an area my family would drive down to in our Ford Econoline van for spring break, and I never thought of it as a place I would LOVE exploring. Now, it’s in my top 3 favorite states to vanlife in. The main reason for this is the vast landscapes that California has to offer. With over nine National Parks, you’re sure to find whatever kind of adventure you’re looking for. My favorite? Death Valley National Park. You won’t regret it!
As an Oregonian, I never realized how much the state of Oregon had to offer. As I grew up and started getting extremely into hiking, I fell in love with my state in an entirely new fashion. Now, it is one of the best boondocking states I recommend to friends that are traveling through the PNW. You’ll be sure to find waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and more. Take a dip on a hot summer day, experience the mountain for snow sports in the winter, and embrace the kind people in whatever area you’re exploring.
Montana is home to my favorite national forest! Gallatin National Forest is some of the best boondocking I’ve ever experienced. If you have time and don’t require service, you’ll be able to find beautiful site after beautiful site. The catch is that most Montana primitive campsites are deep in lush forests, far out of cell service, away from any nearby town. This is the magic of this best boondocking state, but also the catch of why many part-time road travelers don’t make it out to the state.