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Open Roads Forum  >  Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping

 > Best states for boondocking

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Collettsville, NC

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Posted: 01/21/10 04:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am curious, which states have the best boondocking opportunities?


Salt Lake City, Utah

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Posted: 01/21/10 04:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hands down: Alaska.

As for the lower 48, I'll put in a vote for my native state of Utah: 23 million acres of BLM land, 9 million acres of Forest Service land.

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Backwoods, Oregon

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Posted: 01/21/10 05:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Oregon may have fewer total public acres, but they're all beautiful.


Cochise Co., AZ

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Posted: 01/21/10 05:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Go west, young mtnman, go west: http://publiclands.org/home.php


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Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Posted: 01/21/10 05:52pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

New Mexico and Arizona for sure, lots of BLM Land and Nat'l Forests. Some with neat campgrounds as well as dispearsed or boondocking areas.

Carson National Forest Northern New Mexico - Toas/Chama
Cibola National Forest Central NM - Scatter Around: Grants, Mountainair, Datal, Albu'que
Gila National Forest Southwest NM - Silver City
Kiowa National Grassland Northeast Corner of NM - Clayton
Lincoln National Forest Southeast NM - Cloudcroft, Ruidoso, Capitan/Lincoln and Carlsbad Areas
Rita Blanca National Grassland Texas
Santa Fe National Forest Northeast Santa Fe to Las Vegas

Abiquiu Lake -US Army Corps of Engineers campground, we have driven by but not stopped, they say it has excellent facilities surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and mesas of "O´Keefe Country." Campground
Echo Amphitheater - Natural rock formation is nearby with a campground as well. Close to Ghost Ranch & the Ghost Ranch Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center, located on U.S. Highway 84 just one mile north of the main Ghost Ranch entrance, has exhibits and a gift shop. A very nice museum in "O´Keefe Country." Ghost Ranch also has camping.

BLM campgrounds are often very nice as well.
Valley of Fires Recreation Area & BLM Campground is an excellent campground. Fires

The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site & BLM Campground 3Rivers

Datil Well BLM Campground Well

Aguirre Spring BLM Campground -LasCruces

Kilbourne Hole Area *** Kilbourne *** BLM site info Caution: This Area is near the Mexican Border, may have illegals and drug runners around. Not ideal of overnighting.

There are many Nat'l Forests in NM and AZ such as The Lincoln National Forest - from personal experience, the camping around Cloudcroft is very good. We have mainly used the campgrounds or dispersed camping area by the Silver, Apache & Saddle Campgrounds on the Hwy going to Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation on NM 244. Sacramento Ranger District. Lincoln

Deerhead was being updated when we were there early this summer.

Bluff Springs & Rim Trail- This popular dispersed area has a small waterfall, with springs located 200 yards above. Access to T113 (Willie White) can be found here. There are some bike trails in the area as well & motorcycles ones as well. Other trails Rails to Trails and Camping and Ruidoso Trails and Trail listings

[emoticon] [emoticon]There are several areas listed in this POST some in the Lincoln Nat'l and some in the Gila Nat'l Forest, both with plenty of boondocking/despersed sites.

I have not been to Mescalero Sands. I can not find a link stating how far the drive is from the HWY.

Also a birding area in the spring. A video from Mescalero Sands - White Sands - El Paso Area Sandhills.

City of Rocks State Park is neat as well. City of Rocks

Ruidoso & Cloudcroft areas


Tucson Mountain Park and Gilbert Ray Campground Camping and Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. StatePark

Snider Hill - Free Boondocking and Free Campsites

Chiricahua National Monument by Willcox is great, been there will go back. Chiricahua NPS but if rigs are too long for the Nat'l Mon Campground in the Coronado National Forest above it you can desperse camp for free.

Close by Chiricahua Nat'l Mon there is the neat ruins of a fort, some hiking to get to it. Fort Bowie National Historic Site is worth the 3 mile round-trip walk for the best experience of Fort Bowie National Historic Site. If you physically can not walk the trail, please contact the visitor center staff at 520-847-2500 for directions to the alternate access. Fort

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by Ajo off of I-8 has camping but is out in the outback for sure. Never been there. OrganPipe Also in the area Why BLM Free Boondocking *** AZ BLM web page.

This might be a nice area, but I have never been there. Patagonia Lake State Park access is from State Route 82 between Patagonia and Nogales.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve is located within the Upper San Pedro River Basin in southeastern Arizona, but again this is one on my to do list. Camping & More Camping

List of other places in the area.

Such as Carr Canyon Road is 7 miles south of the Fry Blvd./Hwy 92 intersection on the east side of Sierra Vista; it is 2.3 miles from Hwy 92 to the Carr House, 8.5 miles to the campgrounds. Ordinary passenger cars can negotiate the upper stretches of Carr Canyon Road, but high clearance is helpful. Warning: Large RVs and vehicles pulling trailers may not be able to negotiate the tight curves on this narrow mountain road! However, the campgrounds and upper part of the road are usually closed in winter due to heavy snow and ice in the higher elevations.
Grand Canyon Dispersed Camping

There are many others, but this should let you see what is out this way.

* This post was last edited 05/02/10 11:07am by DesertHawk *   View edit history

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Southern California

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Posted: 01/21/10 06:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

California is not bad -- there is a fair amount of open space, although less (I think) than Utah, Arizona, Colorado, or New Mexico. On the other hand, there are more trees and streams. And some decent mountains -- not the Rockies, but pretty good.

If you are looking for a good way to waste a few minutes, scroll down through our blog:

Mostly boondocking, mostly Calif.

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Glenwood Springs, CO

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Posted: 01/21/10 07:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Most western states have good boondocking locations, although to really get away from it, try Nevada. I've been in valleys where there wasn't another person and you can have an entire mountain (or even mountain range) to yourself. The fish in the streams see people so infrequently you can walk right up to the bank and often they won't scatter! Take a hike, sit down to admire the view, and find yourself gorging on pine nuts for an hour or so. Startle a herd of wild horses and watch them run like the wind. The only time you'll have much company is hunting season (the deer in NV are huge).

So many of the good boondocking locations in parts of CO and UT are so well known that finding a site can be tough on the weekends. [emoticon]

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Posted: 01/22/10 09:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

75% of the land in Idaho is pubic land and most of those acres are scenic. Lots of boondocking opportunities here.

Aloha Utah

Southwest Corner of Utah

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Posted: 01/22/10 10:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

chuckster11 wrote:

75% of the land in Idaho is pubic land and most of those acres are scenic.

That pubic land is pretty fertile too. Gets hairy sometimes out there in the bush, though. [emoticon]

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Posted: 01/22/10 10:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Arizona might be the best for year round boondocking, high cool mountains with tall trees in the summer and someplace close to Q in the winter for warmth. Not the most beautiful or least amount of people but you can buy necessities within a 1/2 hour drive of many good spots. Colorado and Utah are great until winter snow covers you.

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