RV camping can make for a great trip almost anywhere, but I think it is best in the west. You can drive into the desert in many areas and stay free for up to two weeks. It’s true of most BLM (Bureau Of Land Management) and national forest lands, and many state forest lands too. You have to move every two weeks, but how far is open to interpretation, and mostly yours will be accepted.
Long Term RV Camping on BLM Land
RV camping or “boondocking” is growing in popularity. In fact, the BLM has begun to establish special areas for longer stays, particularly in Arizona. A permit fee is around $140 now, but this allows you to stay up to six months, and you get pump stations, dumpsters, and water. People are living in some of these areas. It’s cheaper than paying property taxes or rent for a lot to park on.
RV camping is common in Winter in Arizona. One of the largest gatherings of “boondockers” is in Quartzite. Several hundred thousand people spend at least part of the year in their RVs here. It’s near the California border, on Interstate 10, only 20 miles from the Colorado River. Surrounded by BLM lands, Quartzite is famous for gem shows, swap meets, and multiplying populations each winter.
If you ask around when you are in the desert southwest, you’ll find RV communities that form every winter. Like “Slab City” in California, some of these temporary towns have bookstores, grocery vendors, and other businesses run by RVers. Once summer returns, these boondock communities disappear and reappear the following winter again.
Other RV Camping Opportunities
Just look around, and you’ll find “hidden” places where you can park your RV for a week or a month in the desert southwest. Some are inexpensive, and others are free. For example, the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area, north of Bowie, Arizona, costs $3 per night and has nice hot springs and plenty of wildlife. An annual permit costs $30, but you’re limited to two weeks per month (permits are sold at the BLM office in Safford). You can stay outside the fenced area free, but then you don’t get the hot springs and shaded picnic tables.
For information on other areas, contact the Bureau of Land Management. They can tell you what’s available under their jurisdiction. Also, Woodall’s campground guide lists free campgrounds. Keep your eyes open for other RVs parked out in the desert or forest. Finally, ask around. Other RVers will give you the best information on RV camping.
Camping With the Corps of Engineers: The Complete Guide to Campgrounds Built and Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Wright Guides)
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Bureau of Land Management Camping: Directory of 1,142 Camping Areas in 11 States
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|Number Of Pages||92|
Camp for Free: Dispersed Camping & Boondocking on America’s Public Lands
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|Number Of Pages||156|
The Wright Guide to Free and Low-cost Campgrounds: Includes Campgrounds $20 and Under in the United States (Don Wright's Guide to Free Campgrounds)
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Photo vastateparksstaff on Flickr
Camping at Kiptopeke State Park
Uploaded by SA.
Photo Grand Canyon NPS on Flickr
Grand Canyon National Park Mather Campground SR
Mather Campground Drive-through Site. Located on the South Rim of the park in Grand Canyon Village. NPS/Kristen M. Caldon.
- No hook-ups..
- 30-foot trailer or RV maximum..
Photo spelio on Flickr
Our second night camping at Logan Reserve with the kids.
We had our first night in the B Group site near the loos and camp kitchen area closer to the lake, but the kids were keen to stay another night so as this spot was booked, we had to move over to the A Group closer to...