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Old 06-27-2015, 07:52 AM   #1
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BLM Boondocking

My wife and I are interested in staying in AZ on BLM ground for the quiet and serenity but not sure it is possible in a big DP. My wife is worried that we would get off the road and it would rain and be stuck. Miles from the roads. I can't imagine a rocky or sandy area would be a problem but having never spent any time ever on BLM ground I cannot reassure her of something I don't know. We have never been off the grid so not sure what it takes to keep the batteries charged. Is there a problem with rattlesnakes, highway men or anything else we need to be aware of. If this is a dumb idea let me know also.

Alan Wilson

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Old 06-27-2015, 08:43 AM   #2
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I would start by going to Quartzite in January. There will be thousands of other RV'ers there to get the latest information from. My understanding of it is that the soil is all rock or hard sand and as long as you stay out of the arroyos, there is no problem. Running a generator 4-5 hours a day will more than keep your batteries up, unless you use a lot of electricity. From what I have heard, there some theft at Quartzite, but it is theft of opportunity. A loose bicycle will roll off, or a unlocked generator will grow legs. If you can, go with a group the first time and there will be someone watching.

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Old 06-27-2015, 08:55 AM   #3
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Agree on Quartzite there is indeed thousands of motorhomes there.You can check the area out and if staying on BLM land is for you, you can find solitude if you leave the general area. At Quartzite you can see what its like to park in the dessert.
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:05 AM   #4
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Check out Gone With the Wynns.

They do some BLM camping and will have video right ups about different dry camping locations and ideas.

On their main page check the "wild camping" section.

Gone with the Wynns
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:17 AM   #5
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1, Check out the road with your Honda before you drive your motor home into a new area. Know your limitations in sand and high siding in arroyos. We generally camp somewhere with our 5th wheel and drive in our 4x4 pickup to check out areas. Make sure that there is a turn around point so that you do not have to backout 10 miles. Elaine had to backup 1.5 miles near La Paz in Baja when I did not navigate properly (a new road had been put in since GPS and Church’s Guide was published. I have often taken down mountain bike and ridden in to possible campsites while Elaine stayed with rig. Pedaled in 3 miles in Yucatan to discover the nicest campground we have ever visited, Laguna Azul on Lago Bacalar. I had a bamboo pole the same length as our TT height to make sure we could pass under branches (not a problem in AZ desert)

Your Motorhome undoubtedly has an onboard generator so that you should have no problems with maintaining battery. Arizona may be harsh in summer as the a/c will be running all day. Spring, summer and winter are the times to boondock in Arizona. Solar is something to look into in the future.

Make sure of weather so you don't get stuck in a gullywasher. August is the time of the "monsoon" is AZ and NM.

Yes there are rattlesnakes and scorpions. 90% of people bitten are drunk young men who say “Bubba’ hold my beer and watch this!” as they are bitten. Most people will never see a rattlesnake even if they are looking for them. Don’t bite them and they probably will not bite you.

The further you are away from towns, the further you will be away from any possible danger from people. I just spent some time googling “Boondocking robberies” and could find nothing significant.

Drove by Quartzite once, never again

Reed and Elaine
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:29 AM   #6
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There is nothing to worry about getting stuck as long as you use common sense. It is a good idea to scout with the "Towed" and verify you can make a turn to get back. Pick a hard flat spot with good entry and exit and you will be fine. Rattlesnakes hibernate November to March and come out when it heats up. Rattlesnakes aren't much of a problem for humans, but can be a problem for pets.

Other locations for BLM are Yuma, eastern California desert, Tucson and Ajo, AZ.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:46 AM   #7
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All good advice above, especially checking things out before taking the RV - into the unknown. Take it easy at first until your wife is comfortable with the idea. NOW - here's my rule number one: if it rains just stay put till it dries out! Deserts dry very quickly so your only talking about a day or two, if not just a couple of hours. People get into trouble trying to navigate over slick roads. Just stay put and you'll be fine.

If you, like me, are really concerned buy or rent a satellite phone (Globalstar is one). They aren't really THAT expensive relatively speaking, and have special rates for those who'll only be using them in emergencies. ($300/year for a couple of hundred minutes, plus $500 to buy the phone). Any of us "older" folks traveling in the backcountry should have one if for nothing other than medical emergencies! Ours has saved one stranger from bleeding to death, and enabled another to be evacuated after suffering a broken leg.

We all probably have a hundred thousand dollars invested in our RVs and to help insure our safety another few hundred dollars in a Sat phone in a no brainer. If your going to take your wife into the "beyond" you owe it to her peace of mind to have a way to call for help! Like if your ticker stops working! Think about it, and ask her if she's worth it...
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:09 PM   #8
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Go along with DumOleBob in procuring a satellite phone. We don't have one but have talked about it.

Might be a good plan to find others that want to boondock on first few trips to reduce stress levels. If something goes wrong, there are other hands to help out, another vehicle to go for help etc. If worried about "highwaymen", then another rig reduces any possible confrontations in the desert to about zero.

Elaine is the one who is adventuresome. I would probably never have RV'ed to Belize if it were left to me (or Alaska, or Newfoundland, or Baja, or....)

Bob's other ideas are good as well.

Reed and Elaine
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Old 06-27-2015, 03:55 PM   #9
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I agree with Reed's comments. Quartsite is not an option. I have lived in AZ for 40+ years and there is always somewhere cool in the state. When it is 115 in Phx I spend time near Flagstaff, Williams, Showlow or pinetop area. A toad is a must for exploring and seeking out a better spot to park. I always camp in National forest service, state parks, national parks. I have not tried BLM, Yet! last week I was in flagstaff and it rained for 16 hours and it took 24 hours to dry out. I have 100 galllons of water, 130 amps of solar and have stayed out for 10 days so far. Do not worry about snakes and for the ones with 2 legs there are no laws in AZ preventing you from carrying a firearm. It is legal to carry a concealed weapon with no permit. This is the wild west!
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:00 PM   #10
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Do not worry about snakes and for the ones with 2 legs there are no laws in AZ preventing you from carrying a firearm. It is legal to carry a concealed weapon with no permit. This is the wild west![/QUOTE]

I thought AZ was an open carry state. Not concealed.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:11 PM   #11
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Rattlesnakes should not be a concern. I was a Senior Maintenance Engineer with the Central Arizona Project and spent most of my ten years out in the desert along the canal. In my ten years, I saw 2 rattlesnakes. One at my feet when opening a gate in Scottsdale. And one crossing the road just outside Phoenix. Spent many days in the areas around Quartzsite and never saw one.

Staying in a group is a good idea. Illegal alien and drug smuggling has become endemic in AZ. Our security folks were heavily armed and we had strick orders to run the other way if we ever saw anything suspicious.

That said, Quartzsite becomes the third largest city in AZ in the winter time.
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:27 AM   #12
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Everybody, I appreciate all the positive responses. To the one that went to Yucatan, wow!!! I could not do that at all. I do have a 7.5 diesel Onan generator so recharging would not be an issue. I really wish I had solar panels as that would really extend our length of stay. We will talk about what we can do. I'm not sure a big MH is the thing to be taking on to BLM ground. A class B or a 4x4 pickup would probably be a better choice for that. Again, thanks to all,of your contributions.

Btw, I am really enjoying the website about the Wynns. Thanks from who posted that!

Alan Wilson

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Counting down the days until our next great adventure!
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Old 06-28-2015, 04:47 AM   #13
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Stay out of sand and off of wet ground. NO, you don't want to get stuck and NO, you don't want to call a wrecker. If you are stuck, find a shovel and dig down in front of ALL wheels, and lay 2 x 6 or 8's and the coach will drop down and walk right out. Don't ask how I know.
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:25 AM   #14
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Alan, thousands of RV'er enjoy boondocking on BLM and National Forest land. some part time, some fulltime. there are boondocking opportunitites all over the country, not just the SW desert. Although out west we have lots more open spaces to enjoy.
You do have to be somewhat careful of where you drive these big rigs, they don't do well in loose sand or wet grass or mud. in many cases you're following a road & path used by others previously and its obvious. using your towed vehicle to explore ahead is a good idea.
There are rattlesnakes out in the SW desert and certain times of the year they are active. At my winter ranch in southern NM I see a few rattlers each year. During the winter months they go into their dens and aren't active. I see them mostly in fall & spring, just after I arrive and just before I leave. Most of us avoid the SW desert in summer when they're most active. The rattlers want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them. when hiking out in the bush just use some common sense and unless you step right on one, they give you a warning rattle before its too late. There are also lots of coyotes in the SW desert that sometimes get hungry enough to take your pet cat or small dog.
If quiet & serenity is your goal, I wouldn't go anywhere near Quartzsite around the 3rd week in Jan, when the annual RV rally & show takes place. With 400,000 other RV'ers sharing the desert around Q those weeks, its anything but quiet & serene. Any other time of the year, you'll have it all to yourself and its a great boondocking spot.
As for the batteries, running a generator works great if you don't mind the noise & fumes. Once you know that boondocking will remain a big part of your travels, then investing in a solar sys is the best solution.
Personal security just takes some common sense & basic precautions. If an area doesn't feel right or look right, move on. I do carry firearms but never needed to use them for protection yet. I travel alone and look for quiet secluded places off the beaten path.

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