Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to camp for free in national forests and live to tell the story.

I've been thinking about fringe-living and settling down, and what it means to do what we do. To carry on this not-quite-legitimate life. The "how" is easy - I tell you more of that than you ever cared to know. Sometimes, it's the "why" that catches in my throat.

But then, there's this.
From National Forest Service Land. Your land.


From a boondocking spot. Not your cow.


Maaaaw! We got company!
Quick! Run and get me a clean muumuu!

Jail Trail, Old Town Cottonwood

Riparian area along Verde River


Some teenaged boys were fishing here, arguing about who tangled the line. I felt like I was in 1954, but only in the good ways. 


Sedona, AZ
The sky always looks grainy up close. Ask an astronaut.

I can tell you how to boondock here, if you're interested. No? Okay, no problem.



I need your input on an idea. I've been thinking of putting together some boondocking spots - that we have seen or used personally - that work well for summer camping. They would mesh, rather than overlap, with Marianne's excellent fall/winter/spring camping series. [← You should get these.] 

I'm thinking maps, coordinates, and pertinent information (phone/data signal? elevation?). If you're expecting sparkling travel narrative, you should pick up some Steinbeck.

The same information would still be free here within the blog, so is there any point? Would you ever pay for something you could dig up for free with a little effort? [← Who would do this?]

If you're thinking of venturing into National Forest Service land to boondock, you'll love the apps. It's not a centralized process, so some forests have them and some haven't them. Coconino and Prescott have them, Kaibab has apps for the Williams and Tusayan districts, but not yet the North Kaibab. You can tell exactly where you are in reference to permitted camping sites, and cell service is not required.

Pay no heed to my melancholy. The Sun hasn't shone through for hours.


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Michele said...

This is all new to me, but fascinating nonetheless!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Cool, Michele! I'm glad. It's a fascinating life.

Teri said...

"Maaaaw! We got company!
Quick! Run and get me a clean muumuu!"

Oh my, did you grow up in my house???

I don't have solar yet, and I'm not sure if I would camp in faraway places by myself. If the places had cell service, I may consider it - but being alone with no lifeline to the outside world bothers me.

sierrasue said...

Wow! So high tec . Sounds great !!

sierrasue said...

I am not able to click onto Marrianes with your link..

The Good Luck Duck said...

Sue, thanks for letting me know - I think I've fixed it.

Those NFS apps are great - so much better than trying to figure out a paper map the size of Shaker Heights.

Haha, Teri! Didn't we all? I just got tickled picturing a cow in a muu-muu.

We also check for connectivity when we scout out sites. Neither of us could stay long in a place without. WE JUST COULDN'T.

The Odd Essay said...

We aren't in the boondocking world much anymore... definitely NOT in the mainstream... often feel like my ideas of independence are waaaaay out of sync with the norm.... don't know what kind of life I'd have if I didn't have my wonderful partner.... ALWAYS interested in how other folks get along.... Guess I'll just read about your ventures at this point.

The Good Luck Duck said...

They probably are, Sharon. Most days I don't mind that, then all at once I'm completely befuddled.

Brenda A. said...

Are you feeling moo-dy? I would pay to have all the info in one easy to find place (book) rather than digging forever and a day through a blog to locate each piece of info separately. :)

Sherry said...

I want to know....I'm still at least dreaming of BLM and National Forest lands West of the Mississippi.

Looking at your pictures, the why is pretty obvious to me.

The Good Luck Duck said...

MOO-dy - Ahahahaha! Brenda, you win!

Okay, Sherry, I'll tell you in my next post.

Linda Sand said...

For now, I go back to Minnesota for summers because my husband lives there. But someday I hope to stay in your kind of places year around. And yes, I would pay to have all that data in one place then--especially if you include Verizon phone and data accessibility.

Donna K said...

Camping on MY land again, eh? When can I expect my check?

I think a serious boondocking type person would find value to a book with all your first hand information and coordinates in one easy place. You could self publish at Amazon.

Anonymous said...

I DO think people would pay for this compilation simply because it's all RIGHT THERE esp. if you list it all consistently. Also there are many, many people who don't know you've posted previous sites on the blog...shhhhhhh....

Anonymous said...

Oh AND I should add that if you add a little extra to the book version...some extra sites, some extra detail. That will be another incentive to buy the book.

Judy and Emma said...

I think some folks would like a book like that. Perhaps in another life I would have...

Gaelyn said...

I think this is a very moooooving idea.

Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace said...

Yep, that's what we're all about. We want to know. We've used Marianne's book for AZ. We're not full-timing yet but we're learning where these places are. Solar panels are working great so now we just have to retire and get out there!
Grace (in Tucson)

Rick Doyle said...

Fantastic photos!

SwankieWheels said...

OK... I want to come to Cottonwood, right now. But if I did I would have to stay there until payday 11/21 before going on to Quartzsite... unless people hired me to do some sketches right away?!!!! (hint hint!!!)

But, now I'm going to stick my foot in it. I don't think you should compile such a book, unless it is one you just hand out to people you know. We all know what large numbers of people do to the wilderness. We have all seen it. If you wrote such a book and only gave/sold it to people you knew to have an environmental conscienence - that would be another thing. I, for one, will be scanning through your blog and RVSues and making myself a list of places I would like to spend more time in. In the future, I will be driving less and kayaking more in fewer spots.

And Teri... my lifeline to the world has been my SPOT Satalite Tracking system... has a HELP button, a 911 button and an O.K. button. In three years I have never used HELP or SOS/911 buttons... but this device has giving me the feeling of security I needed to get out in the boonies alone. It didn't take long at all for me to get over that strange feeling of being alone out there.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Swankie, thanks for your input about boondocking sites. In my opinion, the great impact to public lands is not made by boondockers. What I'm most often cleaning out of the spots are beer bottles, oil cans, and shotgun shells - local traffic - and off-roading ATVs are what really create environmental impact. Even RVers tend to avoid boondocking, and I'd like to see that shift to a greater appreciation for "wilderness" RVing. If only as a break from the campground and park.

Do you have a Facebook fan page for your sketches? The more online exposure you have, the easier it is for your friends to promote you.

Thank you, Rick! I had good subjects.

Grace, do you not LOVE your solar panels?? I'm grateful for them every day. They're a boondocker's dream.

Haha Gaelyn! That's udderly ridiculous.

Judy, any time you want it, the boondocking's on us.

Okay, Nina, mum's the word...thanks for the ideas about spicing things up!

Good idea about Amazon publishing, Donna. I think that restricts me to Kindle, but I'll have to learn a lot of things before I ever do this. Making a pdf I can probably handle. The rest...? And, the cows assured me your Czech is in the male.

Linda, it's good to know what kinds of things would be valuable to you in a book. We also really prize a good signal.

154275 said...

The lifestyle may be "fringe" now but think how mainstream it is compared to 25 or 30 years ago. It doesn't seem illegitimate at all. Boondocking resources in a single place would be amazing.

The Good Luck Duck said...

It's true, Rodney. People must have done it then, but didn't know about each other. It must have felt very isolated.

stillhowlyn said...

We would always be interested in boondocking sites and you surely have made an art of seeking them out. Any venue you have would be appreciated. Just point us in the right direction...Thanks!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Lynda, whether I do anything else with them or not, they'll stay here in the blog. Maybe I'll do an organization project.

Contessa said...

We are happy to do 50/50!!

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos as always! And I would love to see your compilation of boondocking spots. Would totally pay for that. You find some great ones. :-)

Cj Cozygirl said...

What a special surprise...since we are fans of the boonies, a big huge THANK YOU! Be glad to share some compensation back!!

The Good Luck Duck said...

You're welcome, Miss Cozy! Always glad to get new ideas.