These terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there are differences between boondocking and distributed camping and dry camping. Read on to find out more…
Do you dream of finding the perfect campsite away from all other civilization? Where can you truly be alone in the quiet wilderness while enjoying nature and wildlife?
If so, you are not alone. Jennifer and I love going “off the grid” to recharge whenever we can.
If you’re relatively new to this type of camping, you may have heard of boondocks, distributed camps, and dry camps. But do you know what they all mean?
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Boondocking vs. Scattered Camping vs. Dry Camping: What’s the Difference?
Let’s do the first things first. Boondocking, distributed camping, and dry camping are very similar terms. They are often used interchangeably, but not always correctly.
To understand the difference between boondocking, distributed camping, and dry camping, we need to define each type.
The term boon docking means camping in a remote location without the use of utilities or other connections. Boondocking can take place in a variety of locations, including public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In addition to BLM Land, you can find boondocking spots in national and state parks and other wilderness areas.
The beauty of camping in remote areas is that you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You can be alone in a quiet natural world and avoid bad camping neighbors. However, you will not get the benefits of a developed campsite.
Once on the dock, you will not have access to dump sites, garbage facilities, traditional fire pits, picnic areas, or utilities. Drinking water is not provided, so you will need to bring your own water.
If you’re interested in boondocking, I highly recommend reading the beginner’s guide to boondocking.
Boondock vs. Scattered Camp
Dispersal camping, detailed in the next section, takes place in a national forest. When you’re doing distributed camping, it’s budok. However, I don’t always attend distributed camps when I’m Boondock.
Distributed camping takes place outside of designated campgrounds or recreational areas in national forests managed by the US Forest Service. You can’t park anywhere you like, but there are areas where you can stay outside of the designated areas. These areas are often marked with several fire rings or worn grounds with parked history.
Distributed camping does not have campsites with electrical hookups, potable water, picnic tables, or trash cans. There may be fire rings placed by national parks or made from simple rock circles. You need to pack and pack everything you need for camping. Additionally, these areas are usually so remote that they have no cell service at all, making them truly “off the grid.”
Distributed camps are usually free camps, but there are still rules that must be followed. National park rules must be followed, including not disturbing wildlife. It’s best to stay on the trail and not remove any plants or other natural elements.
The beauty of camping off the grid is that you can free yourself from the stresses and pressures of everyday life. One drawback, however, is that you may not be able to access emergency services or information, which puts you in a vulnerable position. If cell phone service is not available, you will not be able to ask for help.
For these reasons, we recommend using our complete RV safety checklist to ensure you depart in the safest vehicle possible. We also recommend that you carry an emergency radio. This is the best way to provide a lifeline to the weather and other events happening around you.
Many other great survival gadgets can help save lives in emergencies, especially when distributed camping.
Finally, another good idea is to bring along a solar panel to generate energy. That way it won’t drain your battery.
Dry camping is a term that refers to camping without hookups. That is, it does not use electricity or water sources. Boondocking and distributed camping are remote forms of dry camping.
Dry camping is possible at existing campsites and primitive campsites. Some established campgrounds do not have hookups and only offer dry camping.
What about mooch docking?
Mooch docking is also called driveway camping. Mooch docking usually involves staying in a driveway or on the property of a friend or relative. Its name derives from the term “mooch”, or getting something without paying for it, and “docking”. The second half of the now familiar term boondocking.
Boondock means camping at “Boondock”. It’s a slang term that the dictionary defines as “a desolate, remote, or isolated country.”
A mooring can loosely be interpreted as dry camping an RV (if there is no hookup), but definitely not a mooring.
How do I find decentralized campsites?
Finding decentralized or other remote camping spots can be overwhelming. However, there are various resources available. Here’s how to find a secluded campsite.
Campendium is a popular website that helps you find remote camping spots. You can use this website to search for public campgrounds, BLM campgrounds, and available national forests or forest land.
Another website with decentralized camping spots is freecampsites.com, but it’s not as “good” as Campendium in my opinion.
2. google map
Google Maps is a great way to find free and distributed camping spots.
First, find a national forest or another specific area you want to visit. Then use aerial photography and zoom in as much as possible. Look for promising US Forest Service roads with a large enough drawer at your campsite.
A good starting point is to find a well-maintained campground or trailhead and find a trail that works for you.
3. Ranger Station
Another great way to find secluded campsites is to visit a ranger station.
Many rural campgrounds are on remote dirt roads. This anonymity is appealing in many ways, but it can also be difficult to find.The best way to access some of these areas is to stop at a ranger station and check-in.
Rangers have a wealth of information as they work and live in these areas every day. It’s also not a bad idea for rangers to know you’re there in an emergency.
Rangers can also direct you to stay off private property that may be adjacent to these wild campsites.
You can also stop by the visitor center if it’s nearby. Workers there may know of great free campsites.
Boondock and Dry Camp Tips
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Come sail with us in the 100,000-acre Pigeon River State Forest in northern Michigan, a beautiful wilderness known as the “Big Wild.” We’ll hike, see the elk that call the area home, and offer plenty of tips for dry his camp and docks. I have created a companion article with links to various resources discussed in the video.
I hope the information above helps explain the difference between boondocking and distributed camping versus dry camping. …
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