We're planning a cross country trip this fall in our new-to-us Dutchman Class-C. We'll have the 3 cats with us and no toad. The RV has a generator. How do we find the legal places to dry camp once out west? Are there signs along the roads? Can nights be spent in rest-stops? Are they safe at night once past MO? How about truck stops? Are they numerous or rare out in the western states? Is there a book of some kind that keeps updated someone can recommend or a website? We don't plan to use campgrounds more than once, perhaps twice a week. And mountain passes? I remember some steep dangerous ones when I made this same trip back in the 1970s with my now ex-husband. Some of them actually gave me vertigo when I looked down. We would like to avoid these if possible. How can we find out which ones to avoid due to steepness? How are signals for cellphones once in the midwest and desert states? Are there huge areas where no calls can be made? Wifi? If we broke down would it be hours before we could get help? I also remember some long lonely stretches of highway once we left KS. We will make sure the new RV is in top shape and all tuned up before going but one never knows with mechanical equipment.
Any tips or information or opinions would be highly appreciated.
Hi. Thanks for your reply. I've been to www.freecampgrounds.com and want to warn you not to go by that website if you do travel east. Many postings are outdated and many of the places are not free or low-cost. Things change over time. There are seldom good directions or addresses to go by. You can ride around for hours looking for the place mentioned because the directions are so vague. I did search the words you suggested and that's why I'm asking here. I don't want to read endless hours of people's blogs hoping they mention an exact location, and that seems to be what turns up.
I'll do some more Googling.
Aside from general mentions online, I found no real helpful information on WHERE the dispersed camping is located. Places like Quartzite the exception. We're not looking to spend days or weeks in on place. Just some general area is almost always mentioned. I know the information has to be out there somewhere because my ex-husband had it in the 1970s before the age of personal computers.
As soon as I see a website is trying to sell me something, a guide or some membership to something.. I move on.
If you plan to travel to the east you wont find much land that's Gov owned where you can boondock. Most of the land is privately owned and the CGs are not cheap. The closer to the big cities and ocean you get, the costlier they are. And they're usually full from spring to fall. Make reservations early. You can spend nights at Wal*Mart and other places mentioned all over these Forums. But when you need to dump or take on water, you will probably need to find a CG. Keep in mind the closer you get to the east coast the less places will allow overnight parking. City ordinances. I was told they don't want the poor people living in campers to start squatting in parking lots, which would be easy to prevent. They'd rather they live on the streets of their cities sleeping under boxes. Makes no sense to me.
I'm hoping someone on this Forum reads this section and sees my post... someone who has made the rounds of the Federal Parks (Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon etc) and state parks in the west and is into boondocking. Someone who knows which routes to avoid due to very steep roads or highways. Or routes that have no way to call for help, that are many miles in the middle of nowhere. I remember one road north we took in the 70s that had nothing, not even a ranch, for over 100 miles. It was shortly before we got to the Canadian border. We stopped for the night alongside a river and I couldn't fall asleep for beans. It was a breathtakingly beautiful spot. But I kept hearing rustling noises and footsteps in the forest behind the van. Before sundown the forest was silent. Not one car passed the entire night I lay there reading and looking out the window. It was probably a bear but nonetheless........
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edited 07/06/12 05:32am by WandaLust2 *
Click here, and here, and http://boondocking.org/ for starters.
Regarding rest areas, most states don't let you stay overnight......maybe a few hours......but lots of states have closed many if not all of their rest areas due to costs. Those you'll probably have to check each state individually for their regulations.
Check out Cabellas they offer overnight parking and have dump stations, some even have fresh water. If you have time and money (roughly $1,000) purchase a solar panel for your dry camping nights. DO NOT follow a regular GPS or AAA routes. They may keep you on the interstate but not always the best routes.
We always overnite in Walmart....good parking, lots of other RVs, security all night(if you worry about that), usually easy in and out, easy shopping if you need anything. Get a Rand Mcnally at Walmart and they list all Walmarts, which route they are on.
Don / Sharon Smith
8th year fulltiming
1 high school sweetheart bride of 52 yrs. Sharon
1 long haired mini dauchound...Jake
1997 Beaver Patriot DP
2004 Jeep Rubicon
Don't get too freaked out by isolated campsites and mountain passes. We stayed overnight at all sorts of places from big cities to public lands where there's not a bit of civilization in sight and have never had any problems with people or animals. Take it slow on mountain passes-gear down at the top and let everyone pass you. The views are too fantastic to miss.
Check the coverage map from your cell provider. Coverage is getting better all of the time but there will still be areas that do not have service. Unless you're way back on public land somewhere there will always be some traffic and help if you break down. A Wilson signal booster helps a lot.
We did that last year. You will be fine and a lot of good ideas have been posted.
On breaking down out in middle of no where it is best to make sure you have new like belts and rubber hoses on the chassis, old brake fluid removed and replaced with new. We pushed out our 4 yr/ 9K mile old ATF with new Dexron VI(Chevy) and put new tires on it. We had already recored radiator, replaced the water pump and fan clutch.
It the mountains scared you last time it may be the same this time.
We did it without reservations and that was only a problem inside of Yellowstone. There are parking lots all over the USA we learned.
I read your post with great interest and started to answer you in my usual scarcastic manner and then, well I thought I'd give you some real answers. First a few real questions, where are you going and where do you plan on staying. If you are like us travel oriented and not destination oriented it makes a big difference. What do you mean by Dry Camping? If it's no water, eletrical and sanitation, try the National Parks, only one campground in Yellowstone has hookups, the rest in my opinion are dry. Do you mean free? Not to many but try the BLM ot FS area listing for where you will be the next few nights. Which brings up cell phone coverage, as suggested, try the coverage map for your carrier, I you mean are you going to be alone and stranded, most of the time no. Just try and look safe and clean and in trouble and most likely some one will help you. Most of the horror stories about being left stranded have to do with lousey responce by insurance carriers not from isolution. WiFi is really big out here, but, it's usually not free, you can stop at any (so they say) McDonalds and use their free WiFi, many libraries and Municiple Buildings have free WiFi. Many State run visitors or information centers have free WiFi and do truck stops. Rest areas as noted have been closed due to lack of planning on the part of the Government and in CA where we live, overnighting is not allowed but 8 hour or so rest breaks are permitted. No slides out, campfires or lawn chairs please.
Last fall we took off on a cross country trip in our 23 year old rig, in pretty good shape but old. We stayed in a lot of private campgrounds, selection was slim due to many, many closures for winter and KOA was usually a good bet and many had off season rates. Never in 13,000 miles, seven provinces and 35 states did we feel threatened. Maybe we're nieve, but, we're getting on in age and careful where we park and camp. We had two cell phones, one AT&T one Sprint/Nextel, AT&T was best but we did use my S/N a lot. Our oute took us N/E to Neb. North to Canada, East to Great Lakes and Sout to FL, then East thru Texas. We sort of went around the really steep area of the Rockies. We have taken roads like the Beartooh pass roas to Yellowstone from the East and while steep it is so beautiful if you temp gage stays in the cool area it's really fun.
Basically while most of the undeveloped land in the nation is between MO and CA, from Utah South to Texas, it is very safe and the only real differennce is we're dry, your wet and we have lots of really big spread out cities while you have clustered small towns and farm lands. Knowing where you live, what general routes you wish to take and what sites interest you, there's not much in the area of specific information available.
Another place to check for dry sites is in the 5er forum, a lot of them are toyhaulers and off road and most of those places used to be free.
Have a great trip and enjoy the West.
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson