By Bob Difley
Wintering in the Southwestern deserts offers some of the nation’s most frugal camping and boondocking opportunities.
Making it possible is: (1) the abundance of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the desert areas, and (2) cheap, privately owned land outside of urban areas, enabling entrepreneurs to build campgrounds with lower fees.
But the most economical way to camp is boondocking in the open desert outside of the BLM’s Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA), which are cheap enough with rates of $180 for the entire season or $40 for two weeks. But since there are no hook-ups in the open desert, the cost is $0.
You can camp anywhere on the millions of acres of BLM land unless expressly prohibited by signs or fencing, or by the new Travel Management Rules now being implemented in some areas. One rule to note is that you cannot stay in any one place for longer than 14 days out of every 28, then you must move at least 25 miles away. You can return after another 14 days.
If you do not plan on continuously moving and exploring the desert but find an area you like and want to stay longer, do what RVing boondockers do in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. If you are staying in Craggy Wash (north of the airport at the north end of town), after 14 days move down to Standard Wash on the south end of town, then back again after 14 days.
The only costs you will incur with your free boondocking campsite will be the gas you use to drive to the nearest town or facility where you can dump your holding tanks and refill your water tank. But an additional portable holding tank (available at Amazon) and a couple water containers can extend your staying power beyond your built-in tanks.