Boondocking Site Now Closed As More RVers Hit The Road

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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 on National Forest Land

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! 😅

Mississippi River

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!

Whether you’re boondocking in nature or in a parking lot like this one, be sure to Leave No Trace.

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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Mortons on the Move

We are Tom & Caitlin Morton. We gave up the stationary life for one where we are constantly on the move. We live in a fifth wheel RV and travel with our two pups, Mocha and Bella. We enjoy hiking, biking, boondocking, videography, and upgrading our RV to suit our off-grid mobile lifestyle. Our goal is to share educational, entertaining, and inspiring content with our readers and viewers.

View Comments

  • Too bad about the closure of boondocking at the Natchez visitor centre. Our annual winter trips from Ontario to Texas over the past decade have were normally routed along the the Trace - no trucks, peaceful scenery & free camping.

    We started rving in 1986, but my wife & I tented before that not long after being married in 1974. We have noticed a huge change in the number of RV’S on the road over the past 40 years. Not surprising as the US & Canadian populations have grown by 50% since 1970, with an additional 130 million people. RV production has steadily grown as well. Twenty years ago, you did not have to book a campsite at a Florida State Park close to the ocean a year in advance in the winter, as you do now in the winter.

    And now we have all the new van & bus conversion dwellers & these forced to live out of cars hitting the road & looking for wilderness sites or cheap living. So it is not surprising that popular boondocking areas are being over used, especially in the southern US during the winter.

    I hope our grandsons will be able to find remote boondocking sites in their all-electric RV’s when they are grown & hitting the road with their kids.

    Thank you for all your content.

  • We stayed there for two nights in May, 2020, before we began traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway. Due to CovidMania, the building was completely closed. Previously, there were electrical hookups available, but these were off at that time. Really too bad, since, as you noted, there are very few other RV options of any kind in the area.

  • I found out today that the Cabela's in Rapid City, SD is not allowing overnight parking but, water (located by the northeast corner of the store) and the dumpsite behind the store are still available. The dumpsite said it had a timer. I am not sure how that works. I guess practice your NASCAR moves before dumping.

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