Last Updated on 10/30/2023 by Glynn Willard
The best states for boondocking might be subjective, but we certainly have our favorites.
What’s this boondocking information based on? We spent two years boondocking full time all over the west.
Sadly, the east doesn’t offer the variety of boondocking the west offers.
Nonetheless, for us, it’s the only way to camp in an RV.
Top 3 States For Boondocking In An RV
We’re basing our criteria for the best states for dispersed camping on:
- Beauty of the state.
- Availability of boondocking sites.
- How friendly the state is to boondockers.
- Availability of RV based services.
- Transparency of legal information pertaining to dispersed camping.
- Number of seasons one can comfortably boondock in the state.
No doubt, there are additional variables I may have left out, but the above listed weigh pretty heavily on our decision.
And yes, capitalism plays a role. A high number of RV’s per capita will drive business and state funding to offer more services.
Our Number 1 Favorite State For Boondocking: Arizona
Dispersed camping in Arizona is SO versatile!
The primary reasons that influenced our decision are:
- There are so many beautiful locations, all with totally different geography and climate.
- There are a ton of boondocking locations in Arizona! The only places where space was limited were Sedona and Flagstaff.
- Arizona is a state with year round dispersed camping. In other words, winter in the south and summer at elevation in the north.
- Arizona’s camping laws are legally transparent on both the government BLM and US Forest web sites.
Our favorite location: Sedona dispersed camping! Sedona takes the cake, but the city is cracking down, so free camping in Sedona is becoming scarce.
Our second favorite: dispersed camping Flagstaff. There are more locations than one would expect and Flagstaff is just so beautiful!
And a cool town to boot!
Quartzsite boondocking is not for us. We went once in the winter and it was just too busy.
Although it’s a great social environment to meet like minded people!
What could Arizona do better for boondockers. More state owned dump stations and sources of water would be really nice!.
I understand that based on water scarcity, the state would have to charge for water. That’s fair in my book.
Considering spending winter in Arizona? Dive into our article, Wintering In Arizona.
Our Number 2 Favorite State For Boondocking: Utah
The best boondocking in Utah is SO pervasive!
Everywhere you look, you can disperse camp in an RV or a tent. Oh, how we wish it could be like this near the east coast!
Those of you native to Utah, please don’t take for granted the amazing resources you have in your backyard.
The reasons influencing our decision making dispersed camping in Utah our second favorite state are:
- Just about everywhere you look, there’s BLM land you can disperse camp on. And most of the terrain is big rig friendly.
- It’s not all bare desert. There are so many unique locations with gorgeous landscapes.
- Utah’s camping laws are very transparent much like Arizona’s.
Our favorite location: boondocking Moab! There are so many locations to choose from and it gives you easy access to some beautiful National Parks.
Our second favorite location: boondocking Vernal, UT. Never heard of it? It’s a great little town with some “off the beaten path” destinations, hikes and parks.
What can Utah do better for boondockers? Much like Arizona, it would be amazing if there were more public dump stations and sources of water.
Our Number 3 Favorite State For Boondocking: Idaho
Idaho boondocking locations are not as pervasive as Arizona and Utah, but there’s still a lot to choose from.
I list the steps in the next section on how to find boondocking locations. This will make it easy for you to find exact coordinates.
The reasons influencing our decision making dispersed camping in Idaho our third favorite state are:
- Above all, it’s a gorgeous state, especially up toward Stanley, ID! Most locations are breathtaking.
- There are so many public dump stations and free sources of water it makes it easy for free camping in Idaho.
- Camping rules and laws are well defined by the state.
We spent a lot of time in Idaho during the summers because of pleasant weather, the beauty and easy access to dump stations and water.
Keep in mind, a lot of the great Idaho boondocking locations are tree covered. That means, if you’re relying on solar, it may be difficult.
What can Idaho do better for boondocking? Nothing really. It would be the top choice if it was easy to camp there year round and had a little more diversity.
How Do You Find The Best Dispersed Camping In Arizona, Utah & Idaho
You can download our free guide to boondocking here. You don’t even have to give your email. We just want to give back to a great community.
Here’s the Cliff notes version that I pulled verbatim from my article How To Find Boondocking Sites
“I first begin with apps.
The big names in apps to find boondocking are still Campendium, ioverlander and freeroam.app. This list keeps growing.
It’s not specific to boondocking, but Google maps app is crucial for a birds eye view of boondocking locations.
- To begin, I look forward a few weeks in our area and find options within 200 miles on freeroam.app and iOverlander.com.
- Next, I layer on cell reception, looking only at sites within cell range. That doesn’t always work in our favor. Starlink is rapidly changing this for many boondockers.
- Then I select plan A, B and C options.
- Next, I find the locations on Google maps in satellite mode.
- I make sure the sites look like they can handle a total of 50′ trailer and tow vehicle combo
- Finally, I add them to a list to decide on when we’re ready to move. I always prepare an option A, B and C close to one another incase the first option is unsuitable or full.”
That’s the Cliff Notes version to find boondocking sites (easily).
Honorable Mention: Colorado
Colorado is such a beautiful state with a lot of different landscapes.
We love boondocking in CO, but it’s more difficult for us because of the terrain.
Despite a lot of BLM land and National forests, there are not as many designated spots for free camping as the other states listed.
Also, many of the great locations are not big rig friendly. In other words, Colorado is perfect for van life.
It’s also a state best reserved for summer time dispersed camping. Winters there can be a little rough.
Additional Helpful Resources For Dispersed Camping
Below are links to articles we’ve written about the many facets of boondocking:
How To Boondock: RYJ Style
Is Boondocking Safe? Our Scariest Experiences Boondocking
RV Moving Day Checklist
How To find RV Dump Stations
How To Find Boondocking Sites
How Much Water Do You Need While Boondocking?
Best Boondocking RV Features
Boondocking With Kids
Best Travel Trailer for Full Time (For Us Since We Boondock)
Wintering In Arizona
Our friends over at Boondocker’s Bible produce another great resource to learn about boondocking if you want to dive even deeper.
Wrapping Up The Best States For Dispersed Camping
Each of the states listed are all great locations for dispersed camping.
And each has it’s own unique value to bring to the table.
Why not let the weather dictate which state you end up boondocking the most.
Regardless, I have to admit that having an ample supply of water and dump stations makes Idaho an easy choice.
As in it’s easy to boondock there.
What are your favorite states for dispersed camping?
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