As more and more people have discovered RVing’s benefits throughout 2020, concerns have been raised about how this increase will impact boondocking and free camping locations. Overcrowding, the trampling of vegetation, and the waste being left behind are just some of the consequences of more people using boondocking sites. As more boondocking sites are closed, like the one we share with you today, it means fewer places for RVers to boondock and the compounding of these effects.
Today, we’re explaining what happened.
What is Boondocking?
If you’re not familiar with the term “boondocking” or why the loss of a boondocking site is so important, let’s start take a deeper look.
Boondocking is a term used to describe free camping without hookups. This means your RV doesn’t have any power, water, or sewer connections, and you must manage your own resources responsibly.
Boondocking is often available on public lands, like National Forest lands or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land. Sometimes, however, RVers will “boondock” overnight in some commercial parking lots, rest stops, and other more developed locations as well.
Learn more about boondocking here: What is Boondocking?
Boondocking Site Closures
With the popularity boom of RVing during the Covid-19 pandemic, campgrounds have been getting very busy. With booking a camping trip more difficult than ever, more and more people turn to the boondocking form of camping to get out of the house and enjoy nature.
Unfortunately, boondocking sites aren’t the best replacement for a campground all the time. Firstly, you need to know how to manage your own resources. Next, following the golden camping rules is essential. Finally, care must be taken to not ruin the spot for future campers by following these rules and leaving no trace, or improving the spot.
If these behaviors are not followed, it can result in the boondocking site being closed. For example, a popular site near Flagstaff was closed, and another near Sedona was being threatened in Summer 2020.
The Mississippi Boondocking Site Closure
We hate hearing about any boondocking site closures – but especially ones east of the Mississippi! This is because there are so few sites available in the East. This one is going to be missed for its amenities and ease of access to the highway.
Natchez Visitor Center Free Camping Now Closed
Here are the site details:
The Natchez Visitor Center was a convenient overnight stop for RVers right off the highway in Natchez, MS. It is located right next to the Mississippi River.
They used to allow up to 2 nights stay in their paved parking lot that was just a mile from downtown. The now-closed free campsites also offered free water fill up and a dump station.
Why The Natchez Visitor Center Boondocking Site Closed
Fortunately, this closure was not a result of irresponsible RVing. Phew! 😅
Anna Byrne, Visitor Center Manager, said, “The building has been given to The National Park Service. Gov’t has their own rules.” (Source: DrivinVibin.com)
The building has been given to The National Park Service. Gov’t has their own rules.Anna Byrne
Indeed they do! In fact, most National Park Sites do not allow boondocking or free overnight camping within their borders.
Byrne indicated the building will be undergoing some changes, and also needed serious repairs to their water and electric lines, which were 23 years old. They also didn’t have security to keep an eye on the grounds any longer.
Will it reopen when the updates are made? We can only hope. The best we can do now is do our part to keep more boondocking sites from closing.
Do Your Part To Keep Boondocking Sites Open
While this scenario was better than others, the Natchez boondocking site closure will only put more strain on the remaining boondocking and overnight sites – especially the limited number east of the Mississippi River.
We can all do our part to keep sites like these open. By following Leave No Trace practices everywhere we go – whether it’s a natural desert, a forest, or even a parking lot!
Additionally, funding for these places may be an issue. If they can’t afford the upkeep for an area, it may be easier for them to close it to boondocking than continue to maintain it. Donating when applicable, even just a small amount for your stay, can make a huge difference.
At the very least, packing everything out with you will help reduce clean up costs.
Want To Learn How To Find Great Boondocking Sites?
Now that you know your responsibilities as a boondocker and what’s at stake, check out the Best Boondocking Apps and Websites to Find Amazing Free Camping.
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