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Old 01-03-2020, 06:54 AM   #1
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Road accessibility

I'm hoping to make extensive use of the '14 day dispersed camping' rule that applies on many federal lands, but wondering what that means in relation to the 'offroad' capabilities needed.

Will an RV designed for paved roads be unable to access a significant percentage of these sites? Are there certain vehicle size thresholds (length, width, and/or height) at which many become inaccessible? Do you generally have to drive hours on forest roads to reach these camping spots or are many just a few minutes from paved roads?
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Old 01-03-2020, 07:56 AM   #2
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Not hours of driving, most of the time but frequently a half hour or so. Quite a few are on paved roads tho, those will be heavily used so you can expect neighbors. Some are just off a paved road a mile or two down a gravel road.



You want to drop the trailer or unhook the toad and explore the road before running the RV down it. You can expect unpleasant surprises if you don't.
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Old 01-03-2020, 07:57 AM   #3
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The "14 day rule" has no relevance to off-road capabilities of your rv. There are all types and locations of dispersed camping sites. Some are well off road and inaccessible to other than small, high clearance vehicles. Many in desert areas, specifically in southern Arizona, are flat, adjacent to highways, and are accessible with no more than a few yards of off pavement driving. There are some NFS locations that require considerable "off-road" driving, but which will accommodate larger RVs in the camp sites.

Availability and accessibility of dispersed camping locations all depends on where you are. Use the following link to find sites, access, and descriptions. We frequently boondock in our 40 footer pulling a Jeep and have used this site for years and find it very helpful finding all sorts of sites.

https://freecampsites.net/
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Old 01-03-2020, 08:11 AM   #4
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I/we do a lot of dispersed camping in a class B towing a single axle trailer with a motorcycle in it.

This rig makes more sites available but the accessibility issues remain. When possible, I like to stop in at a USFS or BLM office and get info from a real human being for access issues. And the free maps.
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Old 01-03-2020, 09:30 AM   #5
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The answer depends a lot on your rig. The longer it is, the harder it will be to find off-pavement sites that will fit your rig. You will need expansive turnaround areas with a long RV.

Ground clearance is another variable -- do you have a trailer with a flipped axle? What size tires do you have? Are your sewer valves in the far back, where they can be damaged by ditches and potholes?

Unless you have a truck camper, you will have to scout your site with another vehicle before bringing your RV into the back country.

Having said all of that, don't be discouraged. Take it slow and easy and find your comfort zone. We started out being very timid and gradually increased our exposure to off pavement camping.
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Old 01-03-2020, 05:21 PM   #6
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We did it successfully with our 33' 5th wheel and 40' motorhome. There are many good gravel roads in the national forests leading you to beautiful spots. We've driven up to 20 mi. but most of our spots were closer to the paved road. Our motorhome certainly didn't have high clearance but we had no issues finding spots. BLM lands and national wildlife refuges are super easy to enter.

We used the Benchmark series of individual state atlas which given good backroads on public lands.

Of course, our boondocking was in the western states so don't know about the eastern forest lands except for Michigan, where we previously lived.

We also boondocked or dry camped in public parks our way to Alaska for an all summer trip. In this case, size doesn't matter. You can always find spots.
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:36 AM   #7
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My strongest recommendation is to explore the off pavement area via toad, cycle or TV before you take whatever RV you have off pavement. It is very easy to get on a road that deteriorates rapidly as you progress and has no place to turn around.

We humans tend to be optimists and the perfect spot is just around the next corner. You can end up with a lot of damage that way.
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