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Boondocking Safely

by Paul

I just read your interview about Frugal RV Travel in The Sunday NY Times which led me to your web site. I checked it out and am very interested in RV travel even though I have never tried it before. My wife and I are both retired a few years ago and in our mid sixties. How safe are the boondocking sites? Have you ever encountered bears searching for foods while boondocking?

Comments for Boondocking Safely

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Mar 30, 2016
have gun will travel
by: Anonymous

i travel with 2 12 gauge shot guns 1 for me and 1 for the wifey.... i fear nothing

Dec 28, 2015
Bear Concerns
by: Explorer

Having seen nigh time night time videos of bears, roaming the parking areas in Yosemite National Park, taking but a second to smell for food to justifying their breaking into vehicles, I was quite concerned on how to keep them out of a Class A RV. I thought about double bagging, in plastic trash bags, all food scraps and smelly containers and then storing them inside a large ice chest, out of view in the RV -- making certain to do that every evening and every time I left the RV. Last summer at Lassen National Park, which has a comparatively low density of bears, the rangers were saying that their bears are not educated like those in Yosemite -- they don't associate vehicles, RVs or campgrounds as food sources. Of course, that likely can vary a lot depending on location. When I lived at South Lake Tahoe, for a few years, there were neighborhoods that were repeated bear magnets due to residential carelessness.

Jun 30, 2011
Pepper Spray
by: Anonymous

There is a pepper spray available that is a foam...that way there is less chance of blowback onto yourself (in a wind, for example), because you don't want to get yourself TOO!

May 31, 2010
by: Rattlesnake Joe

If you do run into a bear that is aggresive he probably is sick, like with a toothache or has rabies.

Black bears are usually just looking for food and people should not feed them. Once they lose their fear of humans they are a nuisance and then can be dangerous. Also, be aware of being too close to a mother bear's cub.

If attacked, just curl up in a ball and play dead. Don't get up and run after she starts to wander off as she can run you down. Play dead until she is long gone.

Better - carry pepper spray on your person at all times. You can wear the big cans in a holster type of affair like a water bottle. Pepper spray cans can be bought at sporting goods stores. Some can shoot a spray 20 feet or so.

Black bears can climb any tree you can climb. Only Grizly bears can't climb trees, but if you climb a thin tree they can push the tree down to get you.

You can't out-run a bear unless you are running downhill. But with pepper spray, you have nothing to fear as long as you see the bear coming.

Many times people have bumped right into them and they scamper off without a fight, unless it's a mother who has a cub.

They are curious, like any animal, and sometimes just come close to you to see what you are doing.

May 29, 2009
Boondocking safety
by: Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

I have to agree with Marianne. Bears are not likely to bother you unless you leave a messy campsite. Bears learn to associate picnic tables and other camping gear with food. Keep all food secure in your site. And, if you are in an area known for bears, do any outdoor cooking away from your parking place or site.

My late husband and I boondocked almost all of the time for 8 years except when we had an RV site where we worked. We did a lot of boondocking in the desert southwest and never had a problem. We did use common sense. There were a few places that made us nervous, interstate rest areas for example, so we didn't boondock there.

Good luck!

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
author of Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road

May 28, 2009
Bears And Other Fears
by: Marianne

No we have never had a problem with bears but I don't see why being camped in a campground rather than boondocking would make a difference to the bears.

In fact, we did have this concern when we were camped near Yellowstone and Yosemite National parks; however, curiously, the park rangers informed us that bears recognize cars and would break into them if food or a cooler was in sight but they don't recognize RVs in the same way....weird.

Now that was a few years ago, so it's possible the bears have gotten smarter since then but we left our small van-sized RV at the trail heads for hours at a time without a problem.

In general, we feel very safe when we are boondocking but, of course, problems can happen anywhere anytime and it's always important to pay attention to your own instincts.

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All tips and advice on this web site are purely the personal opinion of the author who assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting from following said advice.