Everyone loves camping, but free camping without the crowds is one of the best ways to enjoy nature. Unfortunately, as the popularity of boondocking and RVing has increased, so have the problems. Understanding RV boondocking etiquette is a must if you plan to venture off the beaten path.
I’m sure we’ve all seen some campsite loaded with trash with a fire still burning. This is a surefire way for more and more public land to be closed off for camping. Fortunately, Escapees has developed an RV boondocking etiquette policy that can ensure the great outdoors remains great — and accessible — for all of us. Here are Escapees 5 core principles.
RV Boondocking Etiquette Rules
In order to be a good RVer and ensure public lands remain available for all of us to use, follow these RV boondocking etiquette rules from Escapees.
1. Respect the Rules of the Land.
Depending on where you are boondocking, local and/or federal regulations will vary. It is important to always follow all posted signs. If a place says no overnight parking or camping, find a different place to stay.
The time you may to stay in an area also varies. If you’re not sure how long you can stay before moving, check for signage or take the time to look up the rules before you arrive. Cell service can be spotty in many locations so you may not be able to look anything up once you arrive.
Camp and park your RV only in designated areas to follow RV boondocking etiquette.
2. Treasure the Terrain.
To ensure those who come after you can enjoy boondocking, respect the terrain. This means camping on durable surfaces. Don’t change the terrain in any way. One very common way many people change the terrain is by doing things like picking flowers or building fire rings.
3. Respect Your Neighbors.
It is kind of unfortunate that campground etiquette, like respecting your neighbors, needs to be spelled out. But sadly, some people don’t consider others when they are out RVing (or doing other activities).
Besides just being a good person, there are other specific ways to have good RV boondocking etiquette. First, don’t park too close to someone else’s site. People boondock to escape the crowds.
Second, park in such a way so that your camper generator isn’t directed towards your neighbor, and be sure to observe any posted quiet hours. If there aren’t quiet hours posted, 10 pm to 8 am is customary.
You should also keep your site clean. This means having a way to store your trash effectively so animals don’t rip it apart in the night. Finally, keep the noise to a minimum and drive at a safe speed. Be sure to keep an eye out for any kids who might be playing outside.
4. Respect Nature and Wildlife
One of the easiest ways to respect nature and wildlife (and other campers) is to have control over your pets at all times. Just because you are out of a designated campsite doesn’t mean you don’t have to pick up after your dog. It is so frustrating to be walking around a beautiful site only to come across dog poop all over the place.
Seriously, if you’re bringing your pet camping, come prepared to keep them under control and clean up after them. Don’t be the terrible pet owner everyone despises. Remember, just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean everyone else’s is.
Other ways to protect nature include following campfire rules like not transporting outside firewood and making sure your fire is fully extinguished. Many locations continue to experience extreme fire danger. Do you really want to be the person responsible for starting a wildfire that could destroy nature and structures, and even take people’s lives? If you see someone else who doesn’t adhere to this principle and leaves their fire unattended, kindly put their fire out as well.
Finally, don’t spray pesticides to control insects and don’t approach or feed wildlife. It will keep you and the animals safer if you observe from a safe distance.
5. Pack it In, Pack it Out
Escapees’ last piece of RV boondocking etiquette is to pack it in, pack it out. This includes disposing of all trash. There have been many popular boondocking areas that have been closed due to people not packing out their trash. Leaving your trash in the fire pit is not acceptable.
One thing you might not think of regarding trash left behind is burning pallets. If you burn a pallet, it will leave behind nails that can easily give a future boondocker a flat tire. This happened to Erick (the Cool RV Stuff group admin) and some friends. They ended up using a magnet and finding around 10 pounds of nails at the site. Yikes!
Pack it in, pack it out also means you MUST dump your tanks at an approved waste disposal site. You can find a list of dump stations using Sanidumps. Campendium also has a feature for searching for dump stations. Not only is dumping your tanks in unapproved areas disgusting, but it is also illegal. Follow this rule so we can all continue to enjoy nature.
RV Boondocking Etiquette Helps Us All
As RVers, we have the privilege of traveling across the country (and sometimes the world). By following these simple tips to RV boondocking etiquette, you can ensure boondocking continues to be a possibility for years to come.