Overcoming those Challenges of Parking on BLM

By Shanice Sol

The first time I boondocked was at Frenchmen Coulee, over in Vantage, Washington. I had never been to that location nor been camping at that point. So, a friend – who goes often to climb there – and I went, so that I had someone who had experience with me.

It was amazing! That area is in the desert part of Washington, so seeing the sun set and rise was gorgeous. I learned so much about camping while with her. After that, I would go to places on my own and camp out either in my tent or car.

Most of my road tripping has happened within the state I live in: Washington. I’ve driven in all directions and up to 5 hours (one way) just to get somewhere to hike or camp. I did my first out-of-state road trip last year from Washington, hitting up Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

Nothing really spectacular happened to start me off road tripping. I just started doing it. It was the only way for me to see more beyond my home town.

Personal Experience Boondocking: Challenges

I took a solo trip up to the North Cascade National Park to do a couple of hikes up there. It’s a four hour drive for me so I knew I would want to camp up there. I didn’t want to pay for a campsite, so I would use the app iOverlander to see where other people have stayed.

I was going to stay at an overlook parking lot, but once I was the only car there, I only stayed for about 20 minutes before I started to feel scared being out there alone. It was my first time being out so far, and that felt so remote during that moment. 

So I packed everything up, drove out of the park and stayed at the closest rest stop because I knew other people would be there. I kicked myself in the butt for being so scared, knowing that if I wanted to keep camping out like this I needed to get over the fear. So I worked on it, and pushed myself to camp in my car more so I would feel more comfortable.

Benefits vs. Drawbacks of Boondocking

Boondocking provides better views! There are so many spots on these apps where you can have a mountain range as your front yard.

Also, who doesn’t like saving money by not paying for some of those expensive camp spots?

The only drawback I really face personally is due to the type of car I have. I have a Sedan so I don’t get the high clearance that many of the forest roads require to get to some of these amazing spots. I hope to change that in the future.

Top Tips for Beginner Boondockers

  • If you can go with a group of people you trust and feel safe around, start off that way.
  • Read, read, and read some more reviews on spots – and if you stay, leave a review.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be staying. Send them the exact coordinates.
  • Carry a weapon with you for safety and if your gut tells you to leave, pack it up and go.

Boondocking will be nerve wracking at first – but once you get the hang of it, you’ll truly enjoy it.

Find Sol on Instagram @_sol.flower_! 

All photos courtesy of Shanice (Sol) (@_sol.flower_).

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