Can You Save a Spot When Boondocking?

This post may contain affiliate links.
An RV set up for boondocking

With RVing becoming incredibly popular, many owners use their rigs outside traditional campgrounds. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to snag a spot at some of the best boondocking sites.

As a result, scouting ahead of time is becoming even more critical. However, what do you do when you find an epic place to camp? Can you save a boondocking spot?

Today, we’ll answer this controversial question and provide some tips to avoid a frustrating situation. Let’s get started!

What Is Boondocking?

Boondocking is a camping style where RVers use public lands. Typically, this means setting up on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or the United States Forest Service (USFS). 

Individuals must remain entirely self-sufficient with power, water, and waste disposal. While boondocking may lack amenities, it has many benefits that make it worth considering.

One of the biggest benefits of boondocking is the increased space and privacy. You typically lack these things in crowded campgrounds or RV parks. 

Additionally, most sites are free or require an inexpensive permit, making them extremely cost-effective. You can spend more money on adventures and less on reservation fees.

Read More: Click to learn the 5 Types of Boondocking!

RVer Has Boondocking Spot Stolen

A fellow boondocking RVer shared a recent experience with more than 100,000 members of the RV Boondocking Facebook Group. They were scouting out locations in west-central Idaho and found a fantastic campsite.

Since they didn’t have their rig, they placed a camping chair in the middle of the area. Typically, this is the universal sign that a spot is claimed.

Unfortunately, when they returned with their truck and trailer, someone had swiped their spot. The individuals had moved the camping chair and set up camp.

They must have been quick because multiple tables and other items were out. You would have never guessed they had just snuck into it.

While this may not have been a big deal in some areas, it caused quite an issue for the RVer. They were forced to spend the next two and a half hours searching for a new place. If you’ve ever been in their shoes, you can imagine how stressful and frustrating it was for them.

Can You Save a Spot When Boondocking?

Typically, boondocking sites are first-come, first-served. However, it’s not uncommon for users to place an object in an area to “save it” for them until they come back. But not everyone is aware of or wants to accommodate this unspoken rule.

No one polices or enforces these situations, so it’s up to RVers to be considerate of one another. Unfortunately, some individuals aren’t courteous or take advantage of the system.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of someone moving a chair or other item to take over a spot. Whether it was a lack of respect or ignorance, it happens more often than we’d like. 

On the other hand, some individuals have placed items to reserve sites several days in advance. These situations have caused many to lose their patience.

Ultimately, it’s not possible to save a boondocking spot. As annoying as it might be, you can’t do much if another person takes over a seemingly unoccupied area. There’s no use in arguing or putting up a fight. It’s best to get on your way and start your search for the next best option.

A camper van set up for boondocking

How to Avoid Having Your Boondocking Spot Stolen

Want to avoid finding yourself in the same boat? You can do several things to avoid someone stealing your boondocking spot. Let’s take a look!

One of the most important boondocking skills you need to develop is your ability to research. Use tools like Campendium and iOverlander to your advantage. 

However, look for less popular options instead of the most popular locations. For example, Nomad View is an incredible boondocking site. However, with more than 230 reviews, it’s typically jam-packed.

While there’s nothing wrong with trying to get into some of these trendy locations, don’t get your hopes up. We recommend trying to find sites that others have yet to discover.

When you find them, be careful sharing their location. It doesn’t take long for word to spread in the boondocking community.

Arrive Early

Another way to avoid this scenario is to arrive at spots early. Most campers pack up and move on relatively early in the morning.

Getting out early reduces the chances that somebody will swipe in and steal that open area before you can return to it.

Additionally, you want to minimize the time between scouting and returning to the site. The longer you wait to return, the more likely another traveler will discover the open site. If you wait several hours, it should be no surprise if they steal it.

Pitch a Tent

Some RVers bring a small tent with them to save their boondocking site.

This creates a larger footprint and makes it more obvious that you’re claiming the area. Setting up a small two-person tent only takes a few minutes, especially after doing it a few times.

If you want to go the extra mile, add a couple of camping chairs or an empty cooler. The more items you add, the less likely someone will move or mess with your stuff. However, we recommend not leaving anything of value. It could end up growing legs and walking away.

A tent and fire set up at a boondocking site

Leave a Passenger

Some experienced boondockers will leave a passenger at the site to reserve it. This is great for those situations where it may take 10 to 15 minutes to return. 

However, the individual must be bold enough to inform anyone arriving that it is unavailable. You don’t want to return to discover they let a pushy person steal your spot.

Keep in Mind: Before you try boondocking, make sure you know these 15 Boondocking Safety Tips

Have a Backup Plan

Ultimately, you should always have a backup plan when boondocking. Some areas are so popular that you should have a Plan B or even Plan C. The more options you have, the less likely you’ll struggle to find a place to camp.

Again, iOverlander and Campendium will be your best friends in these situations. It’s also good to join some of the large Facebook communities. Search for the city or area where you want to stay and see what you can find. It’s also wise to befriend other boondockers to learn their secret locations.

You Can Try to Save a Spot – But No Guarantees  

Nothing stops you from trying to save a spot, but there’s also no guarantee you’ll succeed.

Some people don’t honor you calling “dibs” on a site. There’s not much you can say or do in these situations. May the boondocking gods be in your favor while you’re adventuring and spending time outdoors.

Have you had a spot stolen from you while boondocking?

1 comment
  1. We believe that the very nature of boondocking would dictate no saving sites. That is really what first come first serve is.
    If you’re not occupying the site, it is available. Find another when you return.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article
View of one of the Great Lakes

How Many Great Lakes Are There?

Next Article
an article clipping about the snallygaster of Maryland

Snallygaster: The Monster in Maryland