Many Blog readers have emailed asking for info on how we decide where to nite camp. We on the
TiogaRV Team very rarely stay in any paid campgrounds, and never in any RV Campground. This
means that we are nite camping (boondocking/dry camping) every nite. Our lifestyle requires
special skills in order to be successful. Also, there are questions about safety, police
knocking on the RV at 2am, city camping, country camping, wild forest camping.
I call it Nite Camping and others call it
Dry Camping or Boondocking. I found later, that it was convenient when I posted in the Blog,
to break down camps into Breakfast, Supper and Nite Camps. When I first started to RV, I
found myself often worried that I would not find a place to Nite Camp. Later, I found that I
always found my Nite Camp Site, and made up my mind not to worry about that anymore.
Often I wandered around looking for the perfect campsite. Early on, I was not experienced
enough to see good camp sites when I came upon them. Especially in the cities and towns. A
wonderful city camp in the daytime, is completely different from a wonderful city camp at night.
Here is why.
Camping In The City:
People in cities and towns, do not want RVs camping where they live. Residents apparently think
about us RVers in terms of bad in the night time. During the daytime, we are free to park almost
anywhere. How are we RVers able to use this to our advantage?
During the day, we go to the beautiful places. We camp in these scenic spots, and enjoy. We
make nite camp in less desireable sites. Away from the ocean, in an industrial area, next to
somebody's fence. It does not matter if the nite camp site is beautiful or not, does it? It's
dark out there anyway. Quiet is more important to me at nite. I have learned that residents
and their police do not seem to look for us to nite camp in these kinds of
I began to use the terms, Supper Camp and Nite Camp, because I learned that if I made Supper
Camp in a desireable place, I was not bothered at all. Apparently it is in the late evening,
that problems occurred. When I figured this out, I began to make Nite Camp after 9pm. At that
hour, fewer people are out and about. Almost always, police do NOT knock on your RV, unless a
resident phoned them first about seeing an unknown RV in their neighborhood. Arriving after 9pm,
put the odds in my favor.
Here is how this works for me. When I arrive in a town where I am to stay the nite, I first
scout around for a nite camp site. If there are posted signs everywhere about "no nite camping"
I look for a place where Ms. Tioga could park and be safe. After that, I find a place to make
supper camp. This place is very often near a nice park, or a scenic place near the ocean. Some
place that is as quiet as I would like, and as pretty as I would like. At about 9pm, I pack up
and move to my already scouted out nite camp site.
During the rest of the day, I am exploring around town, doing maintenance on Ms. Tioga, writing
up the Blog or on the net-usually the RV Forum. I use my bicycle to travel around town easily,
leaving Ms. Tioga parked.
Camping in The Wilds:
When heading into Wild Country, where there are rivers and mountains, desert or anyplace out
in what I call "The Wilds", I use my Global Positioning System (GPS) a great deal. I look for
National Forests, because many of these forests have what is called "Dispersed Camping" for RVs.
Dispersed Camping is defined as places where an RVer may camp outside of a designated
campsite. Some of the National Forests have tons of Dispersed Camping areas and some have none.
When a National Forest provides Dispersed Camping, access roads are also provided. When
Dispersed Camping is NOT provided, often access into the forest or Wild Areas is impossible
because there are no roads for RVs to travel. Logging roads are everywhere. Often they are
gated but sometimes they are open! I very often camp in logging areas. The logging roads
sometimes lead to fantastic camp sites, and I often explore up these roads with Ms. Tioga.
Ms. Tioga travels very well on dirt roads. Even when the roads are rather steep and have ruts.
U-turns on narrow dirt roads are often difficult. Keep that in mind when traveling up these
dirt roads that sometimes they become impossible. Having the skill to back up a quarter mile
or so at times is essential.
STAY AWAY FROM:
GRAVEL AREAS AROUND RIVERS!
WET OR MUDDY DIRT ROADS!
It is very easy to get stuck in these places.
Often when we leave a city or town, we are in the country. These are not wild places. These
are farming lands, Rural areas with homes far apart. Cow pastures are found here. Finding
nite camp sites in the Country is often difficult because there is often no place to even park.
What I do in places like these, is explore the small, much less travelled roads. These small
roads often go past unfenced farmland fields which have room to park. I test out a site, by
parking and waiting to see how things are. If the traffic on the road is very small, and nobody
seems to be interested in me being there, I continue to stay past nitefall. I have had some of
the most wonderful nite sky views from Country Camp Sites.
If you want to camp at an exact campsite where we have stayed, most of our blog pages have Google Map and
Google Earth links which show you our Nite Camp location for that date.
Police Knocking During The Nite:
You will definitely be contacted from time to time by police knocking on your RV. There are
laws against camping in most urban areas. However, you are the person who defines what
you are doing when police ask you questions. This is very important to understand.
When an officer asks you, "Are you camping?", your answer should be a polite, "No, I am not
camping?" The officer may have a different opinion about whether you are camping or not.
However, by answering "No", you will give yourself some room to negotiate what you are doing.
You may be only parking for a few hours. You may be taking a nap. You may be making supper.
Whatever you do during a conversation with the police, you should be friendly, never aggressive
or argumentative. You should exit your RV and be eye to eye with the officer, not standing
in the RV doorway looking down. You should be listening much more than talking. If the officer
is an authorative type, and says something like, "You cannot camp here!" You should respond,
"If you want me to leave, I will go right away." However, this reply from you is NOT an offer
to go, it is a response to take the steam out of the officer's position. What you want to do
while talking with the officer, is to get him/her to know you. It will take a little time,
so engage in a conversation. The better that the officer knows you, the more help you will get
instead of merely being chased away.
I have found, over and over again, that if you ask for some concession from an officer, that you
have a good chance to get it. For example, when the officer knocks at 2am and you come to the
door in your pajamas. There is no question that you are camping, right? At the appropriate time,
you ask, "If I promise to leave before 5am, may I stay until then?" Officer's have latitude in
what they enforce. A plea like this, may soften any hard officer's heart. It never hurts to ask.