Whether you are a novice or an expert boondocker, having the right apps can make a world of difference. As full-time RVers who spend at least 50% of our time off-grid, we have used a variety of both paid and free resources to find the most picturesque free camping. In this guide, we break down the best boondocking apps that you can download today, to set you free tomorrow.
What Is Boondocking?
Boondocking refers to camping without electric, water, or sewer hook-ups (off-grid). This type of camping is also often referred to as dry camping or dispersed camping.
What is great about boondocking is that it is often free or far cheaper than staying at an established campground or in sites with full or partial hookups.
In addition, boondocking spots can often be extremely picturesque and much more private than campsites you might find in RV parks or campgrounds. Views of the neighboring RVs can be traded in for magnificent mountain ranges, colorful canyons, or thick forests.
- Boondocking that offers free camping and campsites can often be found on public lands (such as areas run by the Bureau of Land Management known as BLM Land) and in National Forests on Forest Roads
- For a great overview of BLM areas and activities in the U.S. check out this BLM Interactive Map
When it comes to camping in the great outdoors, there truly is no better way to bring nature right outside your door than through boondocking. You won’t soon forget the experiences you have spending nights in wild untouched places under star-filled night skies.
Things to Keep in Mind When Boondocking
Boondocking can come with a learning curve…trust us. As we sat in the desert with no lights and no fridge, we couldn’t help but contemplate what we had done and where it all went wrong.
The following points will help you prepare for the basics of boondocking, which will be further supported by the apps in the list below. This way your boondocking experiences can be smooth and stress-free!
- You will need a way to keep your RV batteries charged up without hookups. This can be done with a generator or with a solar setup
Read More: RV Boondocking Guide for Beginners & RV Battery Setup
- You will need a way to fill your freshwater tank to use for handwashing, dishes, showers, and drinking water. This can be done at a local spot with potable water
- With no way to dump your gray or black tanks while boondocking you will have to be mindful of your tank levels and conservative with your water use
Expert Insight: We extend our time off-grid by using a water bladder and water pump for re-filling our freshwater tank, as well as a portable waste tank for emptying tanks rather than having to move our RV
Read More: Make sure your tank sensors are reading accurately! Check out this resource on Cleaning Your RV Tank Sensors
- Boondocking spots can often be more remote. Check for cell coverage and think about what you want or need in terms of connectivity while camping “off-grid”
So how do you find places to boondock that are safe and enjoyable? We dive into the best apps for boondocking, covering apps that help you find spots, dump stations, potable water, and more below!
Best Apps For Boondocking
When it comes to finding the best boondocking location or free overnight stay, these are some of our favorite apps that help us get off the grid and into the great outdoors safely and on a budget!
This is our go-to app for finding free camping spots and boondocking areas, as well as established campgrounds.
It is a great first resource for searching for boondocking spots, as you can filter by “free camping” in whatever location you are planning to visit, with locations all over North America.
In addition, it is a widely used app with valuable insights and reviews about the various free camping spots, confirmation of the cost, and directions from other RVers who have stayed there over the years.
- Free Version: Basic Campendium features can be used for FREE, including searching around your current location or desired location for campgrounds, GPS coordinates for boondocking spots, and reading reviews from other RVers.
At the time of writing, Campendium is switching to a single sign-on option through Roadpass, which is an account that provides you access to Campendium as well as two other RV apps; Roadtrippers trip planning, and Togo RV-safe GPs.
- Paid Version: For $49.99/year (following a 7-day free trial) you can upgrade to Roadpass Pro for an ad-free experience and gain access to map overlays and map layers, including filters by cell service, for public lands, smoke maps, and more!
You can download Campenium from the app store using the following links:
You can also use it online in a web browser: Campendium.com
iOverlander is very popular among van lifers and RVers who enjoy off-grid camping. On this platform, you can expect to find a mix of more formal boondocking areas, such as those in designated areas on BLM lands, as well as notes from RVers who have found overnight stays and stealth camping spots.
You can think of it as a mix of “safe spots” for an overnight stop, and free camping spots for longer stays, in addition to insight on places for filling water, dumping tanks, and re-filling propane.
iOverlander has input from campers and RVers all over the world, which makes it a great option for all of your RV adventures internationally as well!
Cost: This is a nonprofit project that is almost entirely volunteer-run. That makes this a free app, but donations are accepted!
You can download iOverlander from the app store using the following links:
You can also use it online in a web browser: iOverlander.com
This is a must-have app for any RVer. Through their annual subscription, you get access to a whole suite of apps and offerings that make RV travel much less stressful.
Their RV LIFE RV safe GPS offers turn-by-turn directions with towing or driving an RV in mind. It helps you avoid low bridges and roads that are not RV-friendly so that you can get to your destinations safely and without any mishaps.
- We believe it is important to put a caveat here that technology is not perfect. Trust your gut and always double-check if you are unsure. We have found that on occasion as we get close to our destination, this GPS can at times try to take you on some questionable roads that while not necessarily not RV-friendly, are not the easiest or most necessary either.
In addition, RV LIFE has features including RV Trip Wizard which is great for all things trip planning, a campground finder and reviews which also has some boondocking spots and a maintenance tracker for all things maintenance.
Read More: Why we think RV LIfe is the Best RV travel app for GPS, Planning & Campgrounds & Ultimate Maintenance Checklist to help you fill out your maintenance tracker on RV Life
The RV Trip Wizard is strictly web-based, while the GPS is app-based. The two are easily integrated for ease of use when navigating between destinations in your itinerary. In addition, RV LIFE has offline maps that you can use when navigating in areas without limited or no cell service.
You can sign up on rvlife.com
Cost: 7-day free trial and then $65/year for the annual membership. We are excited to be able to offer our readers the opportunity to lock in a lower price of $59.99/year using the link in the banner below through our affiliate partnership! We trust and use these resources daily.
Harvest Hosts & Boondockers Welcome
If you are looking for unique stays for an overnight to break up long travel or for a fun weekend getaway, Harvest Hosts is the perfect option for you!
Harvest Hosts is an annual membership that gives you access to free boondocking at thousands of interesting and fun locations all over the U.S. and Canada!
Once in the app, you can browse a map and filter by location, type of stay, and RV length to find the perfect match for you. It is easy to book stays through the app and get set up with everything you need for your Harvest Host adventure!
Harvest Hosts come in many forms including farms, breweries, vineyards, homesteads, and golf courses. They are a great way to meet new people, support small businesses, and enjoy beautiful views in places you might never get to camp otherwise!
Harvest Hosts is a complete game changer and offers overnights that are much better than Walmart parking lots in our opinion.
Requirements for the program: You must have a self-contained RV with a toilet, water tank, and inside cooking facilities
You can sign up for Harvest Hosts membership on harvesthosts.com
If you are looking for a different kind of boondocking option for more extended stays, you can also sign up for Boondocker’s Welcome, which offers stays on land at private homes/land (many of which are also RVers) and can be used for free boondocking stays, typically up to 5 nights. This is a sister site of Harvest Hosts!
You can sign up for Boondocker’s Welcome on boondockerswelcome.com
The Dyrt App
The Dyrt is another camping app that offers you the ability to search and book campgrounds and unique stays on private property directly through the app.
In their Pro version, they also have a “free camping collection” where over 5,000 free camping areas are listed. In addition, using the Pro version you can filter for overnight parking, dump stations, water stations, and cell service. Pro also comes with offline map backups and offline search capabilities so that you are never left stranded without being able to search for a great place to camp!
This is a great option for finding places to book instantly, especially at the last minute, in addition to finding other great boondocking areas and free camping ranging from BLM lands to established campgrounds.
Cost: $35.99/year for the Pro version or use the free tier
You can download the Dyrt from the app store using the following links:
Developed by the Mobile Internet Resource Center, Coverage? is an app that focuses on helping RVers find cell coverage in the areas they plan to visit.
Whether you rely on cell service for your mobile internet or would prefer to be in areas with cell connectivity…or maybe areas where you can be completely unplugged, this app helps with that.
The app directly overlays and compares cellular carrier data coverage maps from the major US and Canadian carriers including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Bell, Telus, and Rogers (optional one-time in-app unlock).
With this app you can view 5G NW, 5G mid-band, mmW, LTE, and roaming areas as separate overlays, focusing on the coverage type you need.
It allows you to create your own personal coverage map for the carriers and signal types that matter to you.
You can download Coverage? from the app store using the following links:
- Coverage? for iOS devices (starts as a paid subscription unless you opt for the free Coverage? Lite trial)
- Coverage? for Android devices (starts as a free trial)
Expert Insight: If you rely on Starlink for internet connection while boondocking it is a good idea to look at the Starlink coverage map to check for coverage in that area before arriving (and then again for possible obstructions before setting up once you arrive).
FreeRoam is another non-profit company, with a mission to “connect campers with nature in a sustainable way.”
You can filter by private or public campgrounds, price, cell signal, weather, elevation, and more! Any factor that could impact your decision of where to go can be found on FreeRoam.
You can read reviews from other campers and also join in on conversations and turn online friendships into live meetups through their social features!
This is a great free option for finding boondocking spots but does not get as much use as something like Campendium. We like to compare sites across apps and platforms so it is nice to be able to have multiple tools at our disposal that are both free and paid!
Cost: FREE (donations accepted)
US Public Lands
Not all boondocking spots are easy to find. And if you are feeling really adventurous, you might want to venture into more remote spots that have not been reviewed on the other popular camping apps on this list.
In addition, it is not always easy to tell where public lands, such as BLM land begins and ends. This app, only currently available for iOS devices, makes it easy to determine if you are indeed camping on public land, and helps put valuable maps of where free camping might be attainable.
This type of exploration by map rather than by reviewed spots may be best suited for smaller more off-road capable RVs, but can be a great resource for RV boondockers of all shapes and sizes.
Download from the App Store: US Public Lands for iOS devices
RV Dump Stations & Potable Water
While you can filter for dump stations on many of the apps above, sometimes it is nice to have a go-to resource where you can find just what you are looking for, without any extra noise.
As boondocking requires you to bring in your own potable water and carry out your own waste, it is important to be aware of where these local resources are. Preferably, there is potable water nearby to fill your freshwater tank before arriving, and a dump station nearby for emptying your black and gray tank, so that you do not have to drive long distances with full tanks.
Dump Stations and potable water are consolidated here, as most dump stations will also have potable water available.
This site is focused mostly on dump stations that exist outside of traditional campgrounds or RV parks, such as truck stops, gas stations, and rest areas. A great resource for dump stations outside of the beaten path across the United States.
Sanidumps casts a wider net of dump stations, including RV parks, campgrounds, and private and public options that are either paid, free, or donation only. It also has international locations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Belgium.
Last but certainly not least, satellite maps can really come in handy. Trusty Google and Apple have been such an important resource for our RV adventures!
Satellite view on Google or Apple Maps is a wonderful way to be able to get a more accurate aerial picture of the boondocking spot or area you are considering before arriving. This can help with deciding if it would be a good fit for your RV, planning a mental map of how you might best navigate, and selecting sites that might work best for your specific solar configuration or Starlink needs.
This also works well on Google Earth!
No matter which apps you choose to use, we recommend reading user reviews to get an idea of the camping experiences had in the area, current conditions, best directions, etc. This can be a lifesaver when it comes to navigating in these areas where roads can be rough and not always marked clearly! We also recommend scouting ahead as much as possible to avoid getting your RV into any sketchy predicaments.
We once turned our 40-foot fifth wheel down a road that was a hilly and narrow path meant for four-wheelers and we ended up having to make a 6-point turn alongside a busy highway… we don’t want you to make that mistake!
We hope this list of the best boondocking apps helps you build your confidence in finding the best off-grid camping so that you can get out, explore more and stress less!
If you have another great boondocking app you think we should know about, comment below and share it with us!
Interested in becoming an off-grid boondocker pro? Check out these resources:
- RV Boondocking For Beginners: How To Live Well in Wild Places
- 51 Boondocking Tips For The Most Epic Off-Grid Camping
- How Much Solar Do You Need To Run an RV Fridge?
- Can You Run Your RV AC on Solar?
- Understanding The RV Inverter: A Complete RV Power Guide
- Starlink Roam: RV Remote Internet Guide & Review
- Best BLM & Free Camping in the U.S.
- Best Apps For RVing: Proven Reliable Resources