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Dispersed Camping & Boondocking

When you want to get away from the crowds and lines on your camping trip, dispersed camping is a great option. Otherwise known as boondocking, dispersed camping is the practice of setting up camp away from established campsites and campgrounds. For many RV owners, dispersed camping feels like a more raw, natural form of camping. The other benefit, of course, is that you still get all the modern amenities afforded to you by your RV. And since there are literally millions of acres of land open for dispersed camping, you’ll never run out of places to pull up camp.

We’ve outlined some of the basics of dispersed camping below. If you need more equipment for your next trip, or if you need parts and services for your RV, stop by one of our locations.


Different rules and regulations regarding dispersed camping apply depending on where you travel throughout the country. On a federal level, dispersed camping is allowed throughout the federally owned land that isn’t marked for another use. National Forest land and Bureau of Land Management land are all fair game with the exception of land that’s being used for logging, mineral extraction, nature preservation, or other uses. National Parks, on the other hand, are closed to dispersed camping. In National Parks, you’ll need to stay in the designated campgrounds.

Depending on the area where you’re staying, other regulations may apply. For instance, it’s usually prohibited to create a fire ring, especially during a fire ban. You’ll also need to either collect your own waste in your black and grey water tanks or bury it at least six inches below the surface of the dirt. In most areas, it’s prohibited to stay in one location for more than two weeks at a time. Firearm and powersport vehicle use (such as dirt bikes and ATVs) may be prohibited as well. Make sure to call the local law enforcement to be sure on the rules that apply to the area where you’re staying.


Dispersed camping necessarily means getting away from the normal power grid. If you want to use all of your appliances, you’ll need another source of energy. For most boondockers, this comes down to two or three options. Fossil fuel sources such as propane and diesel are common. Many modern RV appliances run on propane including water heaters, stoves, and even refrigerators. For those appliances that don’t run on propane, a generator can supply the necessary energy. Generators usually run on diesel or gasoline, but some models can be converted to run on propane, too. The problem with fossil fuel energy sources is that you have to haul them out yourself and once you’ve used your supply, you’ll have to head back into town. In this way, you’re not really off the grid, you just have a leash to give you space from it.

Solar energy is an increasingly popular answer to finding energy for dispersed camping. A solar panel array requires some level of initial investment, but after that, it will produce sustainable energy for years to come. Of course, when there’s no sun, there’s no energy. That’s why some boondockers choose to use a combination of propane and solar energy to power their RVs.


A few safety appliances can make your boondocking trip much easier. Because you’ll also be off the water grid, it’s helpful to have a way to get your own clean water. One way to do this is to invest in a water filter. These filters can clog, though. If you have a good source of energy worked out, a countertop micro distiller is another good way to create gallons of fresh water. Even if the initial source of water is low quality or gross, a countertop micro distiller will give you consistent results time after time. If you want to find a better solution than a blackwater tank for dealing with waste, try a composting toilet. These toilets turn waste into environmentally friendly compost. Finally, a GPS signal beacon is a very good investment. If something goes wrong while you’re camping, you can simply hit a button to call help to your exact location, regardless of whether or not you’re in cell phone range.

Boondocking and dispersed camping are great ways to get outdoors and closer to nature. Give it a shot for yourself on your next camping trip. If you need parts, services, or equipment for your RV, stop by RV Value Mart. Located near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve the areas of Reading, Allentown, Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster.

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