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Old 04-17-2018, 07:11 AM   #1
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Can you Boondock in National Park?

We want to go visit Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon in July. If I can't get reservations in CG, can I spend night in parking lot? Would the park allow it? It seems you can leave your car for overnight while you are hiking. Can you do same with RV?
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:14 AM   #2
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sometimes you just have to 'try' it and see... but, it's doubtful that park rangers would allow large RVs to stay parked in lots overnight, unless you have it buttoned up and look just like any other 'hiker' who's left on an overnight getaway.

they probably don't really allow other vehicles to park overnight either, but what are they going to do about it, unless the vehicle has been there for many days. Out there I doubt there's too many towing companies.

try it and see - if they knock on your door and you don't announce yourself, then they may just think you're like any other overnight hiker.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:48 AM   #3
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In a word I would say no. Do your research in each area as rules may differ, here is a link for south rim GC.
https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/rv.htm
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:26 AM   #4
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Having volunteered in national parks ..... the answer is "no". Overnight hikers/backpackers have a designated place to park and will have a special tag on their car.
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Old 04-17-2018, 05:33 PM   #5
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MisterT: gets my vote.

At the South & North Rim of the Grand Canyon there are places to boondock just out of the park. The same for Zion. But you will need to join "Days End" to know where.
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Old 04-17-2018, 06:58 PM   #6
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Death Valley National Park allows dispersed camping along dirt roads at least 1 mile from any paved or "Day Use Only" roads. So there is no iron clad rule for all National Parks. You need to check the rules for each specific park you'll be visiting.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:31 PM   #7
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Out west, yes there will be BLM areas to boondock in. Back east I can't recall any National Parks with free boondocking.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:34 PM   #8
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Out west, yes there will be BLM areas to boondock in. Back east I can't recall any National Parks with free boondocking.

Those BLM areas are NOT in the parks, though.
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Old 04-19-2018, 07:04 AM   #9
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last fall we visited Utah. We did zion, arches, canyonlands, and capitol reef.

I dont recall that any of them allowed camping in the park other than in the campgrounds. I dont think stealth overnight in a parking would work in any of those parks. I also dont think a person could walmart park overnight near any of those parks. They get crowded and the area just outside the parks get crowded and parking can be hard to find. Free parking even harder.

The good news is there is public land outside those parks that are popular for boondocking then using the toad to go visit the parks.

Those boon docking areas are pretty well known and tend to get crowded. if you want to pull into them in the evening after sightseeing all day in the rv you may find yourself out of luck. We always tried to come in before noon and claim a spot to be sure we had somewhere. We tended to get pretty decent spots that way.
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Old 04-24-2018, 11:40 AM   #10
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Out West there is plenty of BLM and USFS land around the NPs. Finding a place to camp either dispersed or in one of their CGs is not a problem provided it's not on Friday or late in the afternoon during the week. Our favorite is USFS CGs that do not take reservations...usually $6 with the old farts pass.
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Old 04-24-2018, 04:58 PM   #11
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I have boondocked in the National Forests just outside the gates of both Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National parks and just left a BLM area about 18 miles from Zion. Contact the ranger stations for the forest service or contact stations for the BLM. There's a great NFS visitor center on Utah Highway 12 not far from Bryce that was very helpful. You can find locations online.
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Old 04-29-2018, 12:25 PM   #12
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Short answer - No. BLM and NF areas, yes.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:11 PM   #13
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Big Bend has several very nice dispersed camping spots. You need to check with Rangers at Panther Junction
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