While we’re travelling to Phoenix and back into the folds of civilization I wanted to share some more ponderings on boondocking. I’ve written many times about this free-camping practice in past posts including how to do it, where to find it and other musings, but what I haven’t written about is why it’s soooo much better out west.
We love to boondock (dry-camp in the “boonies”) whenever we can and the resource that makes this possible for us is federal public land. Absolutely anyone (foreign or domestic) who visits the US has access to this awesomely free resource, and as tax-paying citizens it’s part of what we pay for every year in our taxes. In other words this is OUR land!
Now if that isn’t cool enough, where it gets über-fabulicious-cool is when you delve into the details. Public land accounts for almost 30% of the US and is managed by several different agencies most of it through the Bureau of Land Management (~248 million acres (1,000,000km²)) and National Forest (~193 million acres (780,000 km²)). Not all areas allow boondocking, but many do and what makes the west extra special is HOW MUCH of this public land is around here. Out of the 640 million or so acres that the government owns, the vast majority of it is in the 12 most western states.
Just check out this handy map (a bit outdated, but you get the idea):
Did you get that picture??!
Or another way to look at it:
Can you say Go West Young Man?
These maps are the very reason boondocking ROCKS in the West. All those pretty yellow and green-colored areas are OUR land -> oceans and oceans of public land for the likes of us crazy nature-lovin’ nomads looking to roam and free-camp in the wilds. We’ve spent the past month on this wonderful resource in both CA & AZ meaning ZERO camping fees and lots of space & nature to ourselves. How could you not love it?
We find most of our public land camping spots using our Benchmark maps, RV forums, other people’s blogs and handy websites such as freecampsites.net. Arizona actually has a couple of extra special boondocking resources that I’ll detail in a later post, but you get the idea….the whole point is when you’re out in the west you’re out in the heart of the wilds. The land here is still wide open, it’s still free to everyone and that’s a kind of RVing I can learn to love. Boondocking ROCKS out here baby!
Some Random Public Land Resources For You:
- NationalAtlas.Gov – Downloadable, printable map of public lands by state
- Benchmark Maps – IMHO simply some of the BEST hard-copy maps in existence for navigation and public land boundaries. We own these for all our fav western states.
- Public Lands Information Center – link to buy many of the “official” western State BLM & Forest Service maps here.
- FreeCampsites.Net - One of the best free online resources to find boondocking spots across the US. Use it & contribute to it!
- Bureau Of Land Management – not easy to navigate, but there is info on each and every BLM area in the USA hidden somewhere in this site
- US Forest Service – neat map and links to every forest service site in the entire USA.
- 2012 Congress Report of Federal Land Ownership (PDF Download) – this lists info by state of ALL federal land ownership Very detailed report for those looking to get into the nitty-gritty.