At the border, entering the "country" of Transnistria. Photo taken December 8, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

National Forest Boondocking gets easier!

As it is, there's no reason you shouldn't have an easy time finding free and cheap camping spots in the U.S. or Canada, especially if you use a great resource like http://www.ultimatecampgrounds.com/ .

But now, the USFS is using a new map symbol to display areas where National Forest "dispersed" camping is available.

As an example, let's have a look at Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana. When you go to the main website for that National Forest at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/lcnf/home you will see at list of choices on the left side and you click on the one that says "Recreation".

That brings up a map that has icons that list all of the recreational choices in that area. One of the icons is for boondocking, or dispersed camping. As you zoom out on the map, and go a little further south into the forest itself, you come across this view...

The solid tent icon is for dispersed camping, or boondocking! The other tent icon is for established campgrounds where you might find picnic tables or other ammenities, some free, and others at a small cost.

When you click on the icon you can go directly to a page describing the location, as well as exact GPS coordinates. 

A full list of National Forests by state is available here...


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Here's a great idea, and on sale today only...


And it's for a two pack! You simply plug them in to an unused outlet, and they light up automatically when there's a power outage. No need to hunt for the flashlight in the dark!

Ships to Canada as well!

14 comments:

  1. Very interesting! However, important to note that every National Forest has its own policy on RV boondocking. Some have nifty online maps with icons, but most do not. Most NFs still allow boondocking almost anywhere off a road open to motor vehicles---whereas others are far more restrictive. The new boondocking icon might indicate the only places where boondocking is allowed, or it could just be a recommendation of popular locations. I might also point out that "dispersed camping" isn't always synonomous with "suitable for RVs". In fact there is another icon labeled "RV camping"---but not clear whether this means boondocking. Most NFs now publish a free Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) which clearly states which roads are open to motor vehicles, along with (often harsh) boondocking restrictions and perhaps less restrictive corridors.

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    1. Yes, all true...thanks for expanding on that Doug!

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    2. On the LCNF map I really do like how each icon is clickable, describing the particular site in more detail. This is actually an awesome feature for RVers who might want a less solitary boondocking experience---often more popular and crowded (esp on weekends), but still free and adventurous.

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  2. Thanks to you both for all this great information. We've been boondocking all summer long in Shenandoah National Park. Of course for us, it means having some sun on the solar panels so "forests" often require really searching out a spot.

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    1. Being able to boondock in a National Park is a very rare treat---free camping, plus great nightly ranger talks!

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    2. I may be mistaken but I think that when Sherry is talking about boondocking it is dry camping in the campgrounds as they don't supply electricity, sewer and water to each site. The only camping allowed outside of the campgrounds in backcountry camping for hikers. Camping there is not free, I believe it is $15 a night which still isn't too bad for a National Park.

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    3. Doh! You are right, Ruth. I misread somebody's report about Shenandoah. It makes zero sense to have any free RV camping in a national park, otherwise people would stay there forever!

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  3. Great information, Kevin! Thanks!

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    1. Hope it helps you find some great spots Grace! :-)

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  4. Looking at the west virginia map is depressing :\

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    1. Oh no! I guess you will just have to travel a little further. ;-)

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  5. I do believe that most will require the National Park Access Pass for parking in National Forests so better have one of them or double check the spot you want to go to...

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    1. Some National Forests do have recreational fee areas where the Interagency Annual Pass is accepted in lieu of payment---but these are generally developed facilities with services and/or amenities. I know of no National Forest that currently charges (or requires a pass) for true boondocking.

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    2. I have to agree with Dugg just about everywhere we stayed when we were in a National Forest was totally free with the exception of Roosevelt Lake and even then it depended on what side of the road you were on or if you were staying in one of their campgrounds. We have to admit they made things very confusing there. I am sure that there are some others out there as well that require a fee and that's when the NP Access Pass would come in handy so it is probably best to double check on that. Thanks heyduke50.

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