Monday, September 29, 2008

Frugal RV travel: Free Camp Sites

Marianne Edwards has written two books (so far) and many articles about traveling frugally and boondocking in the Southwest US. Her books, which are available here in eBook format, detail many interesting areas to visit on the cheap, and specific free camp sites. Each covers a particular area; one covers south Texas and the other covers Arizona. She is currently working on a book covering Utah, and plans to cover other areas as well.

Marianne and her traveling partner Randy are Canadians who regularly take several months off work, in order to live on the road in the southwestern United States. They are not rich people; Marianne is a waitress and Randy is a handyman. So how do they do it? That is what the two books and many free articles describe, besides the many reviews of free camp sites and attractions, which are a resource well worth the small price for the books.

Update: I bought the Texas book for myself, and am very pleased with it. I forgot to mention too, that the purchase of either of these books includes a free bonus eBook about the basics of boondocking, aka dry camping. This book contains information on how to set up your RV for boondocking, and practical advice on living in an RV without hookups.
The books are in pdf format, and only take a few seconds to download. Whether or not you buy the books though, the site is still worth a visit for the entertaining and informative, free articles.

BTW, if you have ever thought it would be cool to be able to drive right out onto the beach and set up camp, or even drive for miles on the beach on an uninhabited or sparsely populated island until you find just the right spot to set up camp, and then stay as long as you like and fish everyday for your meals, then you need this Texas book. I've done something similar in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but the Texas gulf coast is a lot freer than the Outer Banks, and most people don't even know about it. In some places it's almost like being in Baja, but without having to cross an international border.

I haven't read the Arizona book yet, but it should be wonderful too. Arizona is the most well-known state of them all for boondocking (and gold prospecting, too); Quartzsite alone is worthy of its own book.

Click here for access to the free articles or to download the books.


Kulkuri said...

You can overnite at Wal*Mart in the parking lot off to the side out of the way. I doubt if you could camp out for extended periods.

What happened to your site? There is only one post on it and below it is just blank space.

Tracy said...

Hey man, how was your stay in the Great White North?
I decided to try displaying only one post on the front page in deference to those who have dial-up service, because it loads faster; especially when some of the posts are in flash video or pdf format. The other posts are still there, just archived on different pages.
As for staying in Walmart parking lots, we have done that while enroute to the wild wild west. Also truck stops (Flying J in particular encourages it), Kroger and a few other places. Cracker Barrel is another business that allows overnighters.
Once out West and beyond they big cities, there are lots of free, public campsites available. There are also a few of them scattered about in most states, if one knows where to find them. And then of course, the individual RVer may know people who will provide them a spot to park in for one or two nights. Like when we parked the RV at your place in the GWN, (except, of course, that was our actual destination).

Anonymous said...

Yes, often in more rural areas it is no problem finding a place to camp for awhile. Even if someone complains you just move on, no problems at all.

Tracy said...

In some areas, most notably in Western states (especially Arizona) there are areas where it is legal to set up camp and stay up to 14 days, at which time you have to move a minimum of 20 miles. The state calls it dispersed camping. Also, dispersed camping is legal in most national parks.
The books that are available through the link describe such places, in detail.

Kulkuri said...

There are also campgrounds in the National Forests. I think most of them ask for a couple bucks a night on a voluntary basis. They range from ones with most of the hook-ups to primative where all there is is a place to set up camp.

My summer was nice UP on the tundra. Got a few things done that needed doing around the place and also was dog-sitting.

Tracy said...

Yeah, we camped in an established NF campsite in the Black Hills once; we had to pay but it was only about $5 as I recall.

I saw the pic Nancy posted of the homestead; I saved a copy to my hdd.
It brought back memories. We would like to visit there again before too long.

Anonymous said...

Many of the state parks have cheap overnight camp site rates. The Ocala National Forest in our area is a particularly attractive camp site for little to nothing. The ability to camp for very little money is a huge draw for family vacations.

Tracy said...

I haven't been to Ocala in a long time. I need to rectify that soon.
Lake Eaton looks interesting.