After reading other travel blogs and hearing about how much others love to boondock we knew this was something we wanted to try. Some people call it dry camping, dispersed camping, wild camping but its best known in this region as boondocking. It’s where you go out into the “boonies” or an undeveloped area and camp for free (usually) without any hookups or amenities. There are millions of acres of BLM land mainly in the west that allow for this. As newbies to this whole style of camping we had a lot of homework to do as far as prepping our RV and how do you find places to stay. There’s also the issue of is it safe. You also might be asking why would you want to do this? Read on and we’ll try and answer all the how, where and why’s.
On Saturday November 14th we hit the road and drove from Alamogordo NM to Bowie AZ. We made a quick pit stop in Las Cruces NM to hit up a T-Mobile store to add to our keeping connected arsenal. That turned out to be not such a quick stop as we were in a busy area with no place to park a big rig towing a car. We had to drive on past the T-Mobile store where we located a Home Depot with a parking lot we could turn around in. We unhitched the car and I headed to the phone store while Rod stayed with the RV. Of course it’s Saturday and they are super busy but over an hour later we have a phone, unlimited data and we’re back on the road.
We turned to Passport America and found a small place in Bowie AZ to spend the night. Nothing fancy here, but cheap and easy access on and off Interstate 10. In fact when I called on the way to make sure they had on open spot I wasn’t sure I had the right place. They answered the phone, “Dwayne’s homemade jerky, something else I couldn’t quite catch, and Mountain View RV Park”. This was also Rod’s birthday so in celebration we sampled the jerky and washed it down with some Dos Equis and a lime.
Back on the road Sunday morning and we decide we are headed to Why, AZ. We found a place called Coyote Howls RV. We booked here for 2 nights to give ourselves a base to search out a spot and to scout it out first by car. We had read about a place called Gunsight Wash and scoped it out. It was doable, but we also heard about a spot called Darby Well Road. After inspecting both places we decided on Darby Well Road. Now, our choice meant driving in several miles on a dirt road but it was the view that really did it for us. That’s why we took the car in solo first. We also checked the forecast to make sure there was no chance of rain. Had it rained, we probably wouldn’t have gotten out for a while.
One of the references we also carry along with us are benchmark maps. We use the field tested paper maps to cross reference our online maps and find places like Darby Well Road. There is also a good App called Public Lands which can be a very useful resource.
Tuesday morning we made sure our holding tanks were empty, filled the fresh water tank and headed out. We mounted our GoPro camera to the windshield of the RV so you can see what it was like. We used our walkie talkies and I drove the car in while Rod was solo in the RV.
In this area one of the things you will see are signs like the one below. However, there are over 700 border patrol agents stationed in this area. There is a huge border patrol station on Highway 85 between Why AZ and Ajo AZ. You see them everywhere. Even though it feels like you are totally alone out there, they know you are there!! We left word with the RV park manager that if we weren’t back by dark on Sunday to send out the troops. He assured us we would be fine and not to worry.
Time To Take It All In
After getting all leveled and settled we really had to just sit and look at our surroundings. Wow, we just couldn’t believe we were really out here doing this. It sounds so weird that sitting out in the desert can be beautiful but it really was. It was so peaceful and quiet. Unbelievably quiet that at times you had to hold your breath to hear your surroundings. So here we stayed for the next 5 nights and 6 days just taking it all in.
Although we felt like we could get away from it all out here, we still have to work. Meaning we are NOT retired, far from it. Another reason we scouted with the car first was to make sure we had a working cell signal. We had great Verizon signal and very workable AT&T so we could stay connected and continue to work remotely.
You have to remember we have no hookups. Out here you must be self-contained and generate your own power. We have 4 solar panels on the roof of our RV that charge a separate battery bank. Connected to that battery bank is a 3000 watt inverter. We literally plug our RV into the invertor and it powers the entire RV. While it does a great job, it will not run the air conditioner and even the coffee pot can really pull some watts. If the batteries run down too far we kick on our gas generator to make up the difference. We even changed every light bulb inside our motor home to LED bulbs to use less energy when boondocking. We have a whole post we are working on dedicated to our solar system coming out shortly. The other thing about this style of camping is you have to be quite conservative in your water use. Our fresh water tank holds 78 gallons and it was more than plenty. We could have easily gone several more days.
We found time to take some walks, hiking, a camp fire and just talk to each other. You only have each other for entertainment, conversation, well for everything. You are living in less than 250 square feet of space, however the outdoors becomes your living room and it’s quite amazing.
Sometimes even silliness takes over and you just have to have a little fun. Like Rod doing his Tom Hank’s impression from the movie Cast Away screaming “fire” at the top of his lungs!! We both laughed until it hurt!!
On Sunday November 22nd we headed out of the boonies back to Coyote Howls (West) RV Park where we will stay for 1 week. I’m not gonna lie, a super long hot shower felt great!!!! (not that we didn’t shower in the desert, we did!!) However you have to keep them super short and daily is not an option.
We are going to check out the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and some of the other local attractions before heading down the road again. Maybe even a quick run to Mexico.
There’s a friendly group of people here and we’ve been invited over to the community center for Thanksgiving dinner. Sounds good to me, even though I thawed out this monster turkey for two!! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!