Boondocking has two main components:
- Undeveloped campgrounds (no water, electrical or sewage connections).
- You generally don’t find a designated spot to setup camp, just find a spot away from the road you came on.
Our first experience doing this was in during the summer of 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Before the countries started locking down travel the family had planned a 20 day road trip from Texas to Banff National Park in Canada. On the way up we would travel the east side of the Rockies visiting National Parks and camp grounds on our way up and do the same on the West side as we headed back home. We still did the trip, just to the border since Canada was shut for business. To cut on costs and to follow the health guidelines (at the time) we changed most of our plans and did dispersed camping on public lands. Heavily relaying on FreeCampsites.com and Campendium to find places to stay overnight or for a couple of days. Some places were great others we passed and went to a Walmart parking lot for the night. Listed below are a couple of our favorite stops.
Sierra Grande Rest Area (NM)
The rest area is open 24hrs and was very clean. When we overnighted, there were a couple of RVs, car campers and a couple of semis’. The road noise was low and everyone wasn’t jammed together so you could crack the window and let in some fresh air. I would highly recommend this stop if you’re in the area and need a quick break from your travels. The following morning we stopped over to the Capulin Colcano National Monument for a nice morning stroll.
Another great spot to rest overnight. Individual bathrooms, Noise was a little more because they have the parking spots line up next to each other and over night it got packed. But still was a good night sleep.
We originally had some reservations at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park; but it really felt cramped and crowded so we decided to look around in the national forest areas. We were not disappointment, it was the best decision we made. The closet “neighbor” we had was over a mile down the mountain and the kids a tons a room to run around and play without disturbing anyone.
This area was more crowded and highly frequented, not surprising since its just outside of Teton & Yellowstone National Park. Bear boxes were provided and most areas seemed to have a marked off location to camp. It still gave us more room than most parks but you definitely knew you had neighbors close by. If you want to save some money this is a good location to scout out, easy access to both parks plus just down the road from Jackson were you can get supplies etc.
Through out our 3+ week adventure we would camp out in the National Forest, giving us a freedom we never experienced before. Not all sites are equal and some locations we stumbled upon were just out right trashy, where we had to overnight in a parking lot; but the overall experience was a good one, and we plan on doing this again. If you do have the ability to boondock I would highly recommend you try it a couple of times before you decide if its for you or not.