Boondocking / Dry Camping, How To's and Why Not's, RV Camping, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons

Finding Resources While Boondocking

We’ve been on the road and boondocking in a big rig for over 5 years now! You continue to see all our epic boondocking places. Now you’re wondering how we really do all the other stuff that surrounds boondocking. How do we find water, and where do we take our trash? Well, we’re here to break it down for you. It doesn’t stop at just researching and finding the most beautiful epic places we stay for free. There is more to it. And I’m here to share with you some information, ideas, and tips and tricks we have used. 

How Do We Find Water

Water is actually easier to find than you think.

  • Gas stations
  • RV parks (sometimes for a fee)
  • Cabelas
  • National Forests may have spigots randomly placed
  • City Parks
  • Fairgrounds
  • Chamber of Commerce buildings (in CO they had a dump and fill station)
  • Visitors Centers
  • Laundromats (usually have a spigot outside. Just make sure you ask)
  • Churches

Anywhere with a spigot. Look around when you’re driving. You’ll be surprised! Please make sure you ask if there is someone official around, or go into the business and ask. Sometimes there will be a small fee, but in over a year of traveling, we have only ever paid once for water. Here are a couple of things that are helpful in getting water anywhere. Water Thief (don’t let the name scare you Ha!) And Water Bladder. This is a little pricey but you will not regret this purchase if you have a bigger rig you don’t want to move to be able to get water. 

How Do We Dispose of Our Trash?

This is sometimes a very tricky situation. And frustrating at times, I know!  We often find ourselves picking up others’ trash. But where do we put it if trash facilities aren’t available? Our advice?

  • Walk into the grocery store, buy a few items you need and with your full arms of groceries go over to the customer service desk and explain you’re a full-time RVer, and could you possibly dump just a couple of bags of trash in their dumpster outside
  • Another idea is to use the small grocery bags and dispose at a gas station, or in front of a store.
  • A city park
  • Campground in the area (Please make sure you ask if there is someone to ask.)
  • Burning your paper products is another option. (Personally, we don’t have “real” fires much. We use a propane fire pit. We aren’t real crazy about burning our trash. With the glues and the dyes going into the atmosphere, we just don’t do it. It’s just our preference.
  • Highway rest stops usually have trash cans. Again, they can be small, so try using smaller bags.
  • Highway truck stops are another option.
  • Most restaurants have dumpsters, but again, go in, have a meal, and ask if it’s ok.
  • National Forest/tourist information places will have trash facilities. 

How Do We Find Propane?

We personally have 2 portable propane tanks that travel in our trailer, and then 2 extras we travel with. Some rigs have onboard propane tanks, so your resources will be different from ours.

  • We have found Tractor Supply to be the easiest to use. Because they are a chain across the United States. But not all of them sell propane. That’s when google comes in handy. Also, word of mouth. Always ask “well, then who does?”. People are more than helpful and give you information. 
  • Many gas stations also sell propane.
  • ACE Hardware has been lucky for us as well.

How Do We Find Places To Dump Our Black Tank?

There are apps and great websites for that! Here are a few of our favorites

Some other ideas:

  • A lot of welcome centers will offer a dump (some free, some not).
  • A lot of rest areas will have a dump for a small fee too. Bet you never saw them until you looked.
  • Campgrounds will usually charge you if you aren’t a guest, but here’s a situation we ran into last year. We found a city park with electric and water hookups for $11 a night. Free dump on the grounds for guests. And down the road was purely a dump station for $5. So for an extra $6 we plugged in, took Hollywood showers, filled up our fresh water tanks, stayed a great night in a little city park, and left the next day stopping at the dump on the way out. Sometimes you have to just figure out what financially works best for you.
  • Fairgrounds almost always have a dump station. Most of the time free, but sometimes there is a charge.  We do not have a composting toilet but know many people who do, and never have to worry about finding a dump station. 

Finding Resources Off The Beaten Path

A lot of boondocking locations are in rural, out-of-the-way areas. How do we find resources way out there?

  • Aside from Google, Ask! You might run into others staying in the same area as you. Ask them where they got their water, propane, etc.
  • Locals are another great information source. We have simply been getting fuel and asked the gas station attendant questions about where to find resources. They love to share helpful information about their town!
  • Local gas stations or small convenience store clerks will most likely be from the area and usually are happy to share their information. We once were at a gas station when the local postal worker came by. Who better than the postal worker to ask where to find something. People love to share information about their town. 
  • Apps are your friends! There are so many great apps for RV travelers. If you missed our blog on the best apps, check it out here. Most of the apps we use are free, but there are a few we use that cost a very small amount of money (one time) and they are truly helpful. 

How Do We Know Where We Can Camp/Boondock?

What if it’s not listed on a typical free camping app?

  • We use a paid app for that, and it’s so worth it. It’s called US Public Lands. It’s currently $2.99 and helps us find public lands that are ok to stay on for free. It’s an app designed by full-time RV’ers who have traveled for about 12 years now. Excellent app!
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  • We also stop and ask for maps at information offices inside the national forests.

We promise, once you do this a few times, you will be a pro. As we’ve always said, we will make memories and mistakes. The memories outway the mistakes, and you’ll learn from the mistakes.

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

We love hearing from you! Please let us know in the comments what you use for your resources. We love it when we learn new things, and it will benefit everyone. 

Here are some of our Boondocking Videos we hope you enjoy!

Thank you so much for visiting our little corner of the internet. Each and every one of you is appreciated. We hope you found some value in our content. Travel safe! Be well!

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9 thoughts on “Finding Resources While Boondocking”

  1. The Flying J near where we are for the summer has dump stations with potable water. It’s $10, but with my Pilot/Flying J card the cost is discounted to $3. You can use their website to find locations with dumps available.

  2. Just stumbled onto your site, but enjoying it immensely. We boondock almost exclusively when we winter in the sunbelt. When we started camping with our first 5th wheel it was 5 years old before it had ever been plugged in except for when it’s parked in its homespot here on the farm. Although we are not fulltiming we do spend about 8 months a year on the road somewhere, the other four we are back on our small farm in sight of the Canadian Rockies.

    1. That’s fantastic! I’m so glad you’re here! If you subscribe to our website, we put up a new blog each Saturday called “off the beaten path” and it’s got less popular things to see in each state, plus some boondocking locations. We are a “big rig” so we try to share our big rig friendly areas. Thanks for stopping by! Safe travels.

  3. I love your blog and would love to get your newsletter. We camp about once a month and I’ve always wanted to try boondocking and free camping across the US. Maybe someday if we ever get to retire…

    1. Hi! You can sign up on our blog to be notified when we release a new blog. We decided long ago not to do newsletters. Here’s why! We like to engage with each of our followers on a personal level, and not send one bulk email to everyone. We’d really rather have a one on one conversation with someone personally than assuming everyone on our mailing list wants the same information. Hope that makes sense. I hope you get to retire soon. Remember, tomorrow is never promised – live your dreams today.

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