Dispersed Camping and Boondocking Etiquette

Since we’ve been boondocking periodically for over a year now, we’ve become more appreciative and better stewards of the natural surroundings, land, properties where we boondock. We try to remember that our journey and destinations aren’t just about us. In doing that, we’ve watched and learned from others good stewardship as well as bad. So we’ve created this Camping and Boondocking Etiquette self-help guide to help lay the ground rules of responsibility, good stewardship and manners.

Boondocking comes with a set of rules…

Keep ample distance

The prime purpose of boondocking is to get away from noise, chaos, and distractions from society and busy routine. Understanding others are opting for the same, we, We space ourselves from others…at least a couple hundred yards. We are grateful and appreciative when others do the same.

Don’t block others’ view 

Front row seats are awesome at a concert or movie however, it’s incredibly discourteous to park between another RV and their view. It’s no different than a tall person sitting in front row in a movie theater. RVers who have arrived before us may have positioned their coaches to enjoy an unobstructed sunset, the mountains or a beautiful shoreline without sitting right on top of it.

Quiet is a good thing

We’ve learned to live without ‘loud anything’ (i.e. music, generators, yelling and screaming, etc.) One of the beauties of boondocking we embrace is hearing the wind whistle through the trees, howling of distant coyotes, trilling songbirds, and trickling waters of nearby streams. We try to minimize use of our generators (to charge our batteries only on cloudy days) and only use them during daylight hours (9:00am-9:00pm).

Since we no longer have big boy/girl toys (ADVs, ATVs, etc.), we don’t have to worry about bothering our neighbors with engine noise or dust.

Light Pollution 

There is nothing more magical than sitting in total darkness in the desert and looking up to the stars. Once the sun goes down, we turn off outside lights and pull our window shades to avoid inside light peeking through the windows. We enjoy looking up at the Milky Way, studying constellations and making wishes on shooting stars. We like to be invisible in the dark (except in bear or big cat country!). We love it when others close by us do too. We enjoy our small propane campfire as it doesn’t throw off much light.

Photo contributed and expressed permissions by William Trinkle Photography

No Landscaping

Typically, we do not park close to trees and bushes because we need all the sun we can garner for our solar. Evenso, there’s absolutely no need for us to prune them as we use our propane fire pit and don’t need branches or logs to burn. If we do decide to build a campfire, we only use what has fallen on the ground. We do not cut limbs, branches or stumps; even if a tree ‘looks dead’. Some trees and bushes go through dormancy while lots of life is still going on inside of them. It curls my lip when I see trees and bushes that have fresh cuttings taken from them which exposes them to disease and unnatural exposure.

Observe Fire Safety 

About those campfires; we always check with the Ranger for burn status and permits. Especially in dry areas, one simple spark can result in the loss of many acres of forest and people’s homes or businesses. 

We opted for the Outland Fire Bowl propane fire pit.

Mind our pets 

Our resident mousers (Krissie and Kandi) are mostly indoor cats. If we do take them out, they always wear their harnesses with leashes attached. We don’t want them to end up as a predator’s dinner. Oh, and we never empty their litter boxes outside. Their cat box ingredients are bagged and are properly disposed of in refuse containers. If they let out a little cat cookie, we pick it up and dispose of it properly.

When we are boondocking, we are living in the wild and cohabitating with all that live around us. The outdoors is their house and we’re their guests. Wildlife should never be chased, threatened or their lives be interrupted by our pet’s existence. Likewise, any interactions with wildlife may expose them to disease, stress or lure them from their habitats.

Photo contributed and expressed permission by William Trinkle Photography

Leave No Trace 

We take everything we brought. EVERYTHING! We police our site and camping area for bottle caps, plastic, napkins or tissues, soda cans, etc. even if they’re not ours. We understand anything unnatural upsets the ecosystem and wildlife who live there. We also do not deface, destroy or damage anything (like someone else did in the photo below). We try to be good stewards of the the land and all that lives there.

(Photo: we found this desecration on BLM land near Joshua Tree National Park in California)

But what if we have neighbors?

There is an unwritten rule ‘whoever arrives first dictates the atmosphere’. If we arrive near an area of dirt bikes and ATV’s, we expect it to be loud(er) so we opt for another area. We still try to be mindful that we’re not the only ones out there enjoying true freedom. We hope ATV/ADV and RZR operators are mindful when also parking within earshot of others; not only for noise but dust as well.

In closing, if you’ve never boondocked before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Dare to take your RV, camper or tent and find a good spot under the big sky and embrace the environment. Just remember though, we are just one teensy bit of existence. We need to coexist and be respectful to all that surrounds us.

Whether we go farmdocking, moochdocking or boondocking, it’s a privilege that we appreciate and embrace. Perhaps other boondockers or those wanting to in the future will keep these in mind when trekking out there in the wild.

Don’t forget to pin to your Pinterest Boards:

Other boondocking blogs that may interest you:

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