Here is the Difference Between Boondocking and Dry Camping?

Want to try out different ways of camping? Boondocking, dry camping, backcountry camping, luxury camping, and many other interesting other ways. In fact, there are so many different ways to camp that you could something different every weekend.  As a camper, you have probably done dry camped or boondocked without knowing it. Both types of camping are very similar, but yet there are distinct differences. To complete your camping terminology and knowledge, reading about boondocking and dry camping could be very helpful.

What is the Difference Between Boondocking and Dry Camping?

Dry camping is camping without hook ups and using your own power source, water tanks, propane, and supplies. Boondocking is camping in the middle of nowhere like the woods, fields, or BLM land where no campground exists. Boondocking can also mean camping in parking lots, rest areas, or on a street corner. Just be aware that rules vary by campgrounds, including BLM land.

Dry camping is definitely satisfying and safe. You are camping “off the grid,” and you are on your own. Boondocking can also be fun and exciting. You never know where you are going to land for the night and if you will be okay. If you have heard that boondocking is unsafe or dry camping is uncomfortable, don’t believe it.

Boondocking offers places to go that have serene surroundings or incredible views. You go off the grid to find a place to camp that is unusual, out of the way, and different. By boondocking or camping outside developed campground, you can reconnect with nature, and find your adventurous side. Boondocking is not for everyone, however. If you prefer fully developed campgrounds with hookups like running water and sewer, you will dislike boondocking. But if you want to camp where it is cheap or low cost, try boondocking or dry camping.


Boondocking is camping without hookups and outside developed campgrounds. Sometimes boondockers refer to this type of camping “dispersed camping,” or even dry camping and off-grid camping.

The ideal place for boondocks in out in the wilderness on public lands or you can go boondocking in the national forest or open farmland (with permission), to farms, around vineyards, and country fields where the owners are boondocker friendly. Ask permission from an owner, and they may let you spend a night on their property while at the same time up are supporting them in some way.

Boondocking means finding a place where you can rest for a night and catch up on sleep when you are on a long trip. After driving for what seems like forever, there are places where you can rest, without amenities, and you will be safe and welcome.

Great places that provide designated RV parking for customers for a night is Cabala’s, Cracker Barrel at select locations, rest areas along the highway (check out and see if the particular rest areas you are at allow overnight camping. There should be a sign on a bulletin board), and if you are in Las Vegas, some casinos allow overnight parking for RVs. (One casino is Circus Circus.)

Camping along certain streets is permitted in some cities and in fact, there are some cities that offer designated RV parking along their streets. Try Kalispell, Mt., they do have some boondocking areas.

Truck stops like Flying J, Love’s, and Pilot do allow overnight parking spots for RVs. Spots are first come first serve, but if you are not picky, you can probably find a place to spend the night at these truck stops.

Is boondocking safe?

Just like anything else, there is some risk involved in boondocking. However, if you travel a great deal, you may find that the more you boondock, the more comfortable it will become. Experienced boondockers do advise, that if you arrive at a boondocking space and fear for your personal safety, leave and go somewhere else. Follow your instincts. If you don’t feel good about a boondocking spot, don’t stay there.

Boondocking in the great outdoors is usually perfectly safe, and you will have very few unwelcome visitors. However, if you choose to stay in parking lots or rest areas, keep safe by being vigilant and keeping your valuables locked up.

Advantages of Boondocking

There are definite advantages to boondocking and it is not necessary to have elaborate equipment. Your RV or travel trailer is already built to function without hookups for a few days at a time. If you want to boondock, go ahead and do it. There are definite advantages of this type of camping.

  1. An unobstructed view of nature. All you need is your RV or trailer and the right mindset.
  2. There is more peace, solitude, and space than you’ll find in any campground.
  3. Convenient camping at fairs, festivals, rodeos, and other events. You just camp wherever you find a place.
  4. Knowing you can get through the night without services if campgrounds are full or not open for the season, or you are just tired and need to stop and rest.
  5. A safe place to stay in a pinch at Bass Pro Shops, Wal-Mart, and other retail parking lots.
  6. Beach camping is the perfect spot for boondockers.
  7. Your own home away from home when you visit friends and relatives. Just boondock in your own RV or trailer in their driveway.
  8. You have an evacuation plan in case of floods, hurricanes, fires, or other natural disasters your RV is the perfect way to escape.
  9. If you have a prolonged power outage at your home. Move into your RV or trailer until the power is back on and working.

Dry Camping

Dry camping has one distinct difference from boondocking. Boondocking is camping without hookups outside developed campground. Dry camping is camping in established camping spots without hookups. Staying in National Parks, State Parks, and National Forest Campgrounds is more convenient, and most only offer dry camping. Dry camping means you can travel and stay in your RV very little money. Dry camping allows campers to stay in rustic areas they could not otherwise visit.

Places to Dry Camp

One way to experience dry camping is via the Corps of Engineer lands. These lands are all over the US and minimal or no facilities available, but are designated campground that people can camp on for free. There are books available that will give you the names of these campgrounds.

Another way to dry camp in a developed campground area is to check and see if they have dry camping spots. Drive through national parks or forest land. You will find plenty of areas that are set up for dry camping. They have developed spots for you to park your RV, but no hookups. You are on your own for electricity, water, and sewer.

There are many campgrounds all throughout America that are designated camping spots but do not have hookups. These are in some of the most beautiful areas you will find. You are fortunate if you have an RV or trailer with all the amenities that will allow you to dry camp.

What you Need to Dry Camp

  • To power your dry camp, you will need battery power. Make sure you have batteries that are large enough to provide with lighting or cooking
  • You need water even when you are dry camping. Be conservative with your freshwater so you will have water resources for your entire camping trip. If you are dry camping in an RV, you have fresh water tanks that take over for hookups.

If you are tenting it in a dry camping spot, you will need to bring water in large containers or have a source of water nearby.

  • Cooking while dry camping is usually done over a campfire or with a camp stove. If you have an RV or trail you can, of course, use your own oven and burners. There are tons of ideas on fixing meals while dry cooking. Check with your camp supply store; they will have ideas and recipes.
  • For waste water disposal, use a black water tank. If you are in an RV, you will already have places that hold your waste water. Tent campers can use the offered “dry toilets” or the nearest tree. Be sure and follow safe disposal rules like burying your waste products.

Take your camping trailer or motor home and go off and be adventurous. Most of these types of vehicles are self-efficient, and you really do not miss out on much if you have battery power, water tanks, an waste disposal facilities,  even if you land in an impromptu camping spot.

More articles you will love

Boondocking In An RV ( What Is It, What To Bring and Why Do It )

How much to rent an RV? ( Day, week and monthly rates )

What Is A RV Pull Thru Campsite? ( We explain plus pros and cons )

Full Hookup Campsite ( What is it, How to use and Equipment needed )

Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

Recent Posts