Boondocking has a different rhythm from other types of RVing, one I’m still getting the hang of. While I expected it to be more spontaneous, I actually find myself planning more.
Routes and routines greatly influenced by the weather. The temperature has to be within a certain range to be comfortable without hookups to rely on. Having a small battery bank necessitates a schedule that follows the rising and setting of the sun. Extensive computer work happens on sunny days when solar power is abundant, but during the warmest part of the day it’s often too hot to work inside Cas and that’s the ideal time for reading outdoors or taking a ride in the truck (with the AC turned on naturally).
Since the good free sites are generally out in the middle of nowhere, it’s most cost efficient to stock up on water, food, gas, and propane ahead of time, and empty the waste tanks.
Then upon arriving at a dispersed camping area it’s not as simple as plunking down the RV any old place. As the weather warms up it’s best to show up in the morning, so that walking to scout out a site doesn’t have you dripping with sweat your first day on limited water. And yes, walk in first before driving in in case there’s no place to turn around or the road isn’t in good shape. Arriving during the evening is not recommended, even though it’ll be cooler then too there’s a risk there won’t be any descent sites available and then you’re stuck finding somewhere else to spend the night in the dark.
Before scoping out sites, check to see if there’s rain in the forecast. If there is, make sure the road in has no evidence of erosion that could get worsened in a flash flood. Find a spot that’s on high ground and firm underfoot and be sure you can face the RV in the direction you prefer. Bonus points if the site is level enough to stay hitched up the first night in case the vibe isn’t right or someone else vacates a better site before you’re settled in.
Sites I’ve used to find my boondocks:
With these pearls of wisdom, I arrived at the BLM dispersed camping area just outside the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday the 9th, stocked up and prepared bright and early in the morning. Okay, it was about 11 am, but for me that’s early. Using the above parameters I located an acceptable spot and settled in.
The topography of this area is really neat. I10 runs through the low point of a valley, the sides sloping up to rumpled looking brown mountains to the north and south. The mountains to the north start not far from my campsite, and are located within the park. I’m about a mile from I10 but higher enough in elevation that it feels like I’m looking down on traffic. Across the interstate other small roads are clearly visible climbing away from the interstate towards the mountains on that side. On a partly cloudy day, shadows play over the ridges.
This is a well-known boondocking area, and it fills up as the weekend approaches. I was a bit daring in choosing my spot, far enough back not to be visible by traffic heading in and out of the park, and on a little spur road that to be honest isn’t in the best of shape. Had my rig been any longer or heavier I wouldn’t have attempted it.
As it is, it’s a sweet spot and I’m about 95% sure I’ll be able to get out again without a problem. That 5% comes from the fact that there are two spots on the spur road where the sand is a little soft and I’ll be going up a slight incline heading out. It’s worth it for the privacy I’m afforded here.
No, I haven’t made it into Joshua Tree yet. Well I almost did accidentally when I arrived as I missed the turnoff into the boondocking area. Luckily there was a big turn around in front of the entrance sign.
There’s a wind advisory this afternoon so I’ll likely stick close to home. Hopefully within the next day or two I’ll go explore!
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