Do you dream of being unplugged? No access to campground amenities, only you and the great outdoors. If getting off-grid sounds like the perfect escape, boondocking might be for you. The west coast has some of the best boondocking in the United States, and we especially prefer boondocking in California.
There’s no lack of adventure to experience while boondocking in California; you just need to get out there. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
What Is Boondocking?
Boondocking is getting out in nature without access to any hookups such as power, sewer, or water. Typically, boondocking happens on dispersed public lands. In most cases, boondocking comes free of charge. In some instances, you’ll need a paid permit to boondock on public lands.
If you are a boondocking newbie, be sure to brush up on some unspoken RV boondocking rules. You don’t want to be a bad neighbor! Following these rules will ensure our public lands stay open for generations to come.
Activities to do While Boondocking in California
California has a vastly changing landscape and climate depending on where you find yourself. You might find yourself completely alone in the wilderness, gazing at the stars, fishing with buddies, rock climbing, or hiking among the redwoods.
6 Best Spots for Awesome Boondocking in California
Alabama Hills Recreation Area
GPS: 36.53754444, -118.1087469
Alabama Hills Recreation Area is between the Sierra Nevada and the Inyo Mountains. From the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, you’ll be able to see Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48. You’ll also find yourself close to the Badwater Basin in Death Valley, where you can explore the lowest place in North America.
Campers will enjoy great hiking as well as rock climbing. Both horseback riding and biking are popular activities in the area. If you are boondocking in California at this location in the spring, you’ll find beautiful wildflowers.
American Girl Mine BLM
GPS: 32.8368, -114.812
American Girl Mine boondocking location is excellent even for big rigs. Sometimes bigger RVs are limited in their boondocking because of their size, not here! Campers have reported camping here in rigs as long as 42’.
There is a consensus that this is some of the cleanest Bureau of Land Management (BLM) camping. Campers share that there is generally very little trash. What you will find, however, are great desert views of the mountains. You’ll love the solitude, yet you are only 3 miles from access to water and a dump station.
GPS: 37.4288, -118.4251
Boondocking in California with views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is hard to beat. Many of the designated sites at Volcanic Tablelands are large enough for big rigs. There’s plenty of room to spread out, and there are some areas where you may feel as if you have the place to yourself.
You’ll enjoy the hiking, and if you look for them, you’ll even be able to spot some petroglyphs. This location isn’t too far from town, making it easy to run in for supplies.
Glass Creek Campground
GPS: 37.7515, -118.9892
While you’ll be dry camping, Glass Creek Campground is a bit more organized than other Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas. There are 66 designated campsites, many of which can accommodate rigs up to 45’. There are no hookups, so be sure to bring your water.
You’ll find yourself nestled amongst ponderosa pines and Glass Creek. Campers mention the great hiking and fishing as highlights of their trip. There are no reservations, but you will need to self-register upon arrival. Be mindful that there are bears in the area.
Blair Valley Campground
GPS: 33.0377, -116.4096
Blair Valley Campground might be what you think of when you think of boondocking in California. This location has space for everyone. Campers mention the ability to camp here even on holiday weekends and feel they still have breathing room.
Hiking and climbing among the rocks are highlights also often mentioned. Visiting in early spring will give you a chance to see colorful cactus flowers. As with many boondocking locations, campers report that the first few spots fill up quickly, but if you continue driving, you’ll find a great place to call home for a few days.
Needles Point Dispersed Camping
GPS: 36.1235, -118.5185
If you have a 4×4 high clearance vehicle and are either tent camping or in a small camper, you’ll enjoy Needles Point Dispersed Camping. Campers will enjoy being close to the Needles Lookout Trail, located at an elevation that will give you pleasant cool summer evenings.
Camping is only available in warmer months, and there’s only one public pit toilet. You’ll find plenty of shade and quiet at this primitive campground.
Build Your Boondocking Confidence
While full hookup campgrounds have their place, sometimes we just need to rough it a bit, even if we bring the comforts of home with us. Finding a camping spot on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land pairs perfectly with a few days of getting away from it all and enjoying the sights around us.
If you think you’re not ready to try boondocking, the RV Masterclass Boondocking 101 course can help! This course will help you learn the ropes, gain confidence, and ultimately save money by being able to take advantage of free camping opportunities!
Boondocking 101 walks you through the best safety practices and shows you, step by step, how to find the best boondocking campsites.
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