Campgrounds Are Fully Booked for the Summer – So We Tried Boondocking!

 

Boondocking on our way back behind the airport!

The itch of hitting the road and seeing new things has kicked in. We survived our first pandemic with my family. We are vaccinated and ready to hit up the outdoors, but there is an issue… I usually make camping reservations in January for the summer and fall seasons, so I was disappointed when I couldn’t even get a campsite to pitch a tent with my family at the state parks.

I was happy to hear that more families are exploring the outdoors, but I was also disappointed.

Renting an RV

I have always wanted to go to Glacier National Park with my family. I told myself this is the year that we are going to see the glacier! But the campgrounds at Glacier National Park are fully booked until summer 2022, so it was time to figure out a plan B.

I highly recommend renting an RV! I’m writing this article while in my RV… and now that I have tried this method – it’s working well for us. This is my favorite site for RV rentals.

Glacier National Park

We headed to Glacier National Park – we had two options to get there, going south or taking the northern route. Since we won’t be staying in a hotel and campgrounds are unavailable – we had two options. We could camp at the national forest or look up the vineyards/wineries along the way to stay for free – or someone suggested Walmart or Cracker Barrel; they call this boondocking.

Boondocking

What is boondocking? Boondocking is any camping situation where you’re not connected to electricity and water hookups. Thus, you must rely on your motorhome or travel trailer’s onboard systems to supply those resources.

Boondocking!

We decided to go via North Dakota. We called the owner of a vineyard and he was ok with us parking our RV overnight, with no hookup. The best experience ever! The owner welcomed us to the vineyard, and we had a private wine tasting and learned about the area and cool things to see on our way.

Armani watching Disney plus enjoying the sunset
The youngest barista in town, he made really good coffee for us.

Waking up to the Red Trail Vineyard was way cooler than any campground we’ve stayed at before. We walked back to the wine tasting room for the coffee experience; we spent a few hours with locals enjoying coffee while our daughter was still sleeping in the RV. She was safe, (we could see the RV from inside) and it turned out to be the best boondocking ever to start the trip.

How did we find this?

We used google maps and looked up all the wineries along the way and called them. It was easy as ABC! Those who said no said they would look into the option in the future. Depending on where you are in the country, free RV parking might be easy or a little bit challenging to come, but if you know how to look – you can find free RV campgrounds nearby just about any destination!

Return the favor and buy their wine even if you don’t drink, get few bottles for family and friends back home. Go on their google website and leave them a good review. If you own an RV, there is also an available program called Harvest Host – for a $99 membership fee.

Dane County Parks

If you are camping locally, Dane County Parks has some great camping options. My favorite park to camp at is Token Creek. It’s in Madison and never crowded. If you can’t find a ‘family site’, consider booking the group site and invite some friends – you can split the bill, and group campsites are often available at the state parks.

I have created a cool Scratch off Poster of all the Dane County Parks, there are  26 in total to explore this summer.

Or if you enjoy road tripping (like me), check out northern Wisconsin. My favorite spot is Potato River Falls; there are about five campgrounds, and you can easily explore the waterfalls.

Regardless of where you decide to roam, you can always find great free camping in Wisconsin. I hope this little trick will help you get going before the end of summer. If the campgrounds are entirely booked, try boondocking!

Dineo is a full-time mom and writer who was born in South Africa but now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and their daughter. For the past 6years, she has been an ambassador for Hike it Baby, a non-profit organization that connects families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. As part of this, Dineo spends much of her time outdoors, once hiking 21 miles in 8 hours and she is keen that her daughter spends as much time outside as is possible. Dineo’s other passion is for writing children's pictures and she currently has 5 books in circulation. Adventure Day, Sunset Hike, Spring hike, Summer Camping, and Christmas from both worlds, these books features diverse characters and are dedicated to nature and were created to inspire children to get out into the fresh air. They both contain exciting and diverse characters that children love. In her free time, Dineo loves reading nature books to her daughter, cooking, and baking. She enjoys running, camping and hiking whenever the opportunity arises and her ambition is to be able to travel the world, volunteering her time to help the needy and using the experiences she gains to write even more children’s books.

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