Our first few months of living on the road has been divided between campgrounds and boondocking. We thought a week boondocking with limited resources followed by a week at a campground with amenities would be a nice balance. While it’s been working out great, we’re definitely craving more boondocking. And since Mark has gotten us all set up with solar and other gear to eliminate our need for hook-ups, that’s a goal that should be easily achieved. After-all, before living on the road full-time we rarely camped in campgrounds. Boondocking is where we find our happy place…it connects us with nature in just the way that we crave. However, not every boondocking site is created equal. Some are less than stellar, some are cool, others are out-of-this-world.
Since we’re currently parked at one of those out-of-this-world locations, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of all the elements that we think make for a perfect campsite…
PRIVACY. We like campsites that are meant for only one rig, not a wide open area open to any other camper that comes along. If there are several sites in the area, it’s nice to have some separation, whether it be by vegetation or distance. We like to enjoy the wilderness around us, not listen to another’s generator, barking dog, television or otherwise. The spots that offer a driveway, putting some distance between us and the road, are our favorites.
SOLITUDE. We love finding places that lack any sign of civilization. The more wild the better. The further away from a town or city we can get, the more likely we are to find the solitude we’re looking for. When the only noise we hear are the flap of a birds wings or whisper of wind through the trees, we know we’ve found it.
SCENERY. There’s something about arriving at a new campsite with beautiful scenery in every direction that is hard to describe. Whether it be rugged mountain peaks or a lazy winding river, vibrant fall foliage or red rock canyons, the scenery we find at our favorite campsites is nature’s eye candy. The beauty of the wilderness is what keeps bringing us back for more.
NOT TRASHED. It’s so disheartening to find a beautiful area to camp that has been destroyed by those that came before us. We’ll stay if the trash is manageable and can be picked up. However, if there is broken glass, bullet shells, nails and pallets beyond our abilities to clean up and haul out…we’ll find a campsite elsewhere. We practice Leave No Trace principals and hope you will too : )
GOOD WEATHER. Though forecasts aren’t 100% reliable, we generally try to find good weather. Camping can quickly go from fun to miserable when surrounded by walls of dirt blowing in every direction or rain turning your campsite to mud. We watch the weather closely and will change our plans accordingly if needed.
CELL SERVICE. Depending on your mission, cell service can be a pro or a con. Back when we would take shorter camping trips, I craved campsites with no service. I loved not being able to be reached and getting a break from always being connected. But now that we live on the road full-time, cell signal is necessary to keep our business running. With our Verizon hotspot and Yagi antenna, we rarely have an issue with staying connected.
DOG-FRIENDLY. Camping in remote areas means keeping our dog out of harm’s way is even more important than usual. Often times we’re nowhere near a vet which is why Mark keeps a well-stocked first aid kit on hand for us and Kaia, our dog. This is another reason to not camp in areas that have been trashed. Not only are they unsightly but they could injure or harm your dog if they got in to the wrong thing. The biggest challenge we’ve faced is cactus. Camping out West means cactus is likely to be a factor, it’s just the level you’re comfortable with. We always get a good feel for our spot before deciding how much freedom Kaia is going to get.
LOW LIGHT POLLUTION. Some of our favorite spots have been where we are far from any city lights, in turn offering phenomenal star-gazing.
FEW BUGS. Like bad weather, bugs can be the deciding factor between an awesome camping trip and a miserable one. I’ll never forget the beautiful campsite we found outside Capitol Reef National Park. The views of the Waterpocket Fold were exquisite. The biting flies…MADDENING. Or the trip with friends that got cut short because the mosquitoes were RELENTLESS. We’ve never packed up camp so fast, hardly taking time to offer more than a quick “BYE!” to our friends who were also packing at a rapid pace. Camping is meant to be enjoyed not tolerated.
NOT SKETCHY. We rely on our instincts to guide us when it comes to feeling safe while boondocking. If an area doesn’t feel right or gives us any sort of impression that we may be unsafe there, we don’t think twice, we move on. This has only happened a few times but when it does we don’t question it. If you haven’t read my post “Feeling safe and secure while camping” check it out for more thoughts on this topic.
The above list is what makes for camping perfection…in our book. But we always keep an open mind when seeking new boondocking spots. Finding a campsite that meets all ten items on our wish-list is not all that common. We’re quite happy finding 6 or 7 out of the 10. However, when we do find those 10 out of 10, we soak up every moment, knowing life doesn’t get any better.