It’s called dry camping by most people out West, including the rangers at the US Forest Service who have maps and can tell you the most popular spots for RVers. These spots, or any flat place where you can park overnight in most U.S.-owned land, put the expansive beauty of the outdoors at your fingertips. You have few or no neighbors and are surrounded by wilderness, often for free.
The challenge of dry camping is having no onsite services: no water, no electric, no sewer. We love the experience of being off the grid and closer to nature, so it is worth it to prepare for these conditions.
We carry an extra rack of batteries and have a diesel generator that re-charges them so we don’t have to be too concerned about running out of power. The refrigerator and water heater can be run on propane or batteries.
The lack of water has the biggest impact on our lives and we have to conserve it carefully. Our tank holds only 30 gallons of water and when we camped outside Grand Teton National Park, we were able to stretch those 30 gallons for five days, or six gallons a day for washing and cooking. That’s not much. I’m sure I use six gallons or more for a daily shower.
We have a sturdy full-size shower in the small bathroom of the van, but we used it for mini-showers, turning it on and off in little bursts to conserve water. Going two or three days without a shower became the norm.
In the kitchen, we placed a five-gallon container of water with a spigot at the sink. We drank that water and used it for the first round of dish washing, after each plate had been wiped clean with a paper towel. The water was used for the final rinsing, and used sparingly.
Now we are parked at an RV Park on the verdant Olympic Peninsula. We have water, sewer, electric and WiFi just as conveniently as you would in your own home. Though the park has much more foliage and privacy than many, when I look out I see other RVs instead of the outdoors. The RV becomes more of a home when it is parked here and I cannot deny it is easier to have hot and cold running water. But to park in the wide-open spaces out west is an adventure and what we look forward to as we travel around America.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.