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RV Travel on Desert Back Roads

by Carol
(Agoura Hills, CA)

Q. Okay, so we two gals would really like to start boondocking with our 30-ft. Class C Jayco. We are concerned about traveling, towing our toad, on desert roads which may not be suitable for our rig. Is there an off-road atlas or guide, similar to the State/County Highway Road Atlas by DeLorme, etc. that would give us the confidence to travel off road in the desert southwest?

Marianne's Reply: I don't know of any that will give you the information you would need. Dirt road travel is so individual - depending on what you're comfortable with.

Our rig is shorter than yours but we don't have a toad. We do bump down some dirt roads but always cautiously. In your case, it's probably best to unhitch and explore the road with your toad first. As you're probably aware, just because a road is on the map, doesn't guarantee it's driveable. It's not just about the condition of the road either, but about the ability to turn around if you need to.

Ask about current road conditions at the local BLM, National Forest, or other information centers. Remember, most desert roads will become impassible when wet so bring enough supplies to wait it out a few days if needed.

Watch for other RVs parked in the desert. If they got out there, probably you can too.

We found that there aren't many guides to help determine what roads are RV-accessible and lead to good boondocking sites. That's one of the reasons I wrote The Frugal Shunpiker's Guides.

Comments for RV Travel on Desert Back Roads

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Apr 10, 2010
Sell the gas guzzler [think small and mobile]
by: RS Joe

If you want to get away from the highway noise and people, sell your rig and get something more practical for desert boondocking. A 4wheel drive SUV or pick up would be a good idea for traveling not only the dirt roads but for off road too. A 17'Casita travel trailer works for me with the high axel option.

Apr 05, 2010
by: Anonymous

We also have a class B 22 foot motor home. We get 13 miles per
us gallon . Since you want to do a lot of boondocking why pull a
toad. It cost a lot more to pull a toad, not to mention the MANY
other headaches involved.

Jan 22, 2010
Dirt Road Travel
by: Jim

Let me add my own cautions regarding checking out roads before taking a rig over them. The ability to make a turn around is absolutely the top priority to check. We have a 22-foot Class B and tow a small cargo trailer (it has out solar panel mounted on it, as there is no room on top of the rig). We found ourselves on an ever narrowing road in Anza-Borrego State Park and had to travel a long way down a very rough road before we found a just-barely-adequate place to U-turn. "What you learn hard, you learn good" as a wise old sergeant told a young soldier once. Never again!
Closely behind, as a priority, is whether the road deterioates as you travel farther (see above).

Just my two cents worth.

Jan 20, 2010
Use The Toad
by: Anonymous

I would suggest before going down any unknown dirt road, that you either walk it, or unhook the toad and drive it. It is not just the ability of the rig to drive in, but that there has to be space to turn around. Good Luck, Earle

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