Week 207-208 - Dry Camping Photo Collection - 08-08-2010

Dry Camping Photo Collection

Dry camping is camping without hookups.  Actually, it is not dry, unless you forgot to fill your water tank.  With a motorhome you can camp w/o hookups for quite a few days.  Your motorhome has a fresh water tank, waste and sewer water tanks, propane for heating air and water and a generator to provide electricity.  Conserving resources, we have managed to go 11 days without hookups.

But why do it?  Why not be plugged into to power, water and sewer. Out of the 376 different locations where we have dry camped over 100 times.  There are quite a few reasons.
1) You are between RV parks and are ready to stop.
2) You just want to sleep over and not really want to pay for facilities you won't use.
3) You are in a really neat place and it does cost to stay but all they offer is dry camping.
4) You are at a friend or relative's house.
5) You are at a service center, though many have full or partial hookups.
6) You just want to be out in the toolies by yourself.
7) It just looks like a great place to stay!

Let's take a look at just a few of the places we found.

This place is in Washington State at the intersection of highways 12 and 123 just outside of Mt. Rainier National Park's east entrance. This spot was great.  We were on the way to Mt. Rainier, but were tired and it was approaching dusk.  We found this spot back in the trees quite a way off the road, so it was quiet.  It was totally level and perhaps even had power on the nearby pole, but we did not want to steal the electricity. This is a must camp spot if you are in the area.

Davis Camp, Bullhead City, Arizona right on the Colorado River.  This was in a county park and cost $15 per night but we rated it 3.5 out of 5!  We took a spot on the end of the row of motorhomes and the closest neighbor was four sites away.  We parked about 15 feet from the water, not knowing if the water level could change overnight.  The kayaking was great and it was a short bicycle ride to the Laughlin, Nevada casinos for dinner. Another must camp spot, it was sooooooooooo peaceful.

Rincon Beach camping near Seacliff, California, north of Ventura.  At $25 per night, it is very pricey dry camping.  But look how close you are to the Pacific Ocean!  The beach is about 10 to 15 feet lower than the road.  You hear the waves crashing all night long.  Maybe you do or do not get any sleep, but the morning view from your bed is fantastic.

Yukon Highway 2 north of Stewart Crossing in the Yukon Territory.  We traveled through Canada about two weeks earlier than most RVers head to Alaska. (we recommend this). Only a couple cars passed by all day.  It was beautiful, quiet, free and Ellen got to fish.  Does it get any better?

In Alaska we met up with SOWER (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) friends.  Here we camped at Rika's Roadhouse in a designated free dry camping area.  The Alaskan Highway has "roadhouses" every 75 to 100 miles.  They sprung up as soon the Alaskan Highway was created, providing food, fuel and overnight accommodations, and are still in operation today.

Jade City is along the 450 mile Cassiar Highway in British Columbia.  They offered free posted RV parking to attract visitors to the Jade store.  Note that when you dry camp, you don't have cable TV available.  So we lifted our antenna to see if we could get a signal from the 300 mile away TV station. Not happening.

This day area is marked "No Overnight Camping".  But how could you resist when you see a glacier out the right side window.  Oh yeah, also we could not move ahead as we just blew out a rear tire.  So we stayed overnight with a free "blown tire" pass and the next day, Brad from Tatlow Tire in Smithers, British Columbia brought and installed a new tire.

The Sacramento Elks was the 6th Elks Lodge in America.  It was a big and wonderful lodge but only offered dry camping for a $5.00 donation.  One of the really neat things about dry camping is NOT having to hook up.  You can park, turn off the engine, brush your teeth and be in bed in 5 minutes.

Back on the Alaskan Highway at mile 1007 is Sulfur Lake.  You need the Mileposts book to find this one (and so much more, so get the book before you go to Alaska).  We had this lake to ourselves: free, gorgeous and relaxing. Nice toes!

On the way from Fairbanks to Denali National Park there is a hundred miles of places to dry camp.  This pull-out, however, is very near the Denali area RV parks and all areas are posted "No Overnight Camping".  But when we pulled in here, we saw a sign pole with no sign. No doubt the missing sign said 'No Camping".  So we were a little concerned that the State Police might wake us up and tell us we could not camp here.  So Pete sat in the window working all night on the computer ready to say "we aren't camping, I'm working!".  It was easy to stay up late.  The right side photo was taken at 11:43 pm (yes, just before Midnight).

Seward Alaska has lots of RV parking, but you must pay for any spot. This campground had hookups available but they were not on the water as the dry camping was. So we opted for the waterfront view. And even though the sky was filled with ash from local fires, every photo was still a postcard.  Cost $15.00.

Alaska again.  You would think that we did all our dry camping in Alaskan. Actually, we did very little, but we took photos here because it is so beautiful.  We previously did not make a habit of photographing dry camping locations but now we do.  This $12.00 per night spot is Allison Point, across the bay from Valdez, Alaska.

More photos from Allison Point.  The lights are from the city of Valdez.

Now this is very wet dry camping and one of our favorite spots, Port San Luis Harbor by Avila Beach, California.  The jetty was fabulous and due to the tight spaces you had to meet your neighbors.  RVers are generally extremely friendly, especially here.  When you pulled in, you needed to find out who was leaving when, to "stack" your motorhomes in the best way to minimize having to move to let someone out.

1) Paula, left below, was the first to tell about this great site and it was her favorite.  Sadly, the jetty is now closed to RVs. 2) But you can still dry camp at $25 per night, only a little further away from the water.

1) Datil Well Campground, Datil, New Mexico $5.  2) Chemult, Oregon Pilot Truck Stop.  Always ask the rules at truck stops. None have turned us away, but some have areas they want or don't want you to camp in.  Free!!!!!  Yes, more ash in the air, gasp, gasp, choke.

1) At West Sacramento Elks you camp for any donation and we had fun at Bingo!  2) Seven Feathers Casino, Canyonville, Oregon free camping.  Only one casino ever (in Canada) did not allow overnight camping.

1) Oops, Seven Feathers again. Hey, we must have really like it here.  2) Bellingham, Washington Elks.  No donation was possible as the lodge was closed.

1) We tell people we own Walmart and this one in Rancho Mirage, California was prettier than some RV parks we have paid for!  You must obey the unwritten rules to camp a Walmart: a) stay only one night. b) don't bring out your chairs, BBQ and awning. c) park where they tell you. d) if it says "No overnight camping", leave.  And finally e) shop there to show your appreciation!  Walmarts cater to RV campers but many cities have adopted ordinances prohibiting camping.  Note that we only stay at 24 hour Walmarts and many of these have a security truck cruising the lot all night.  2) Escondido Elks was just a mile from Chad and Emily's house.  They had a great Saturday lunch time BBQ and did not even ask for a donation, but we gave anyway as we so appreciated this location close to the kids.

1) Walmart again, this time in Surprise, Arizona. We have stayed at 25 Walmarts from Paso to Princeton, although we would have shopped at far more than that.  2) Our first FMCA Motorhome Rally was in Indio, California.  Along with a few hundred other RVs, we dry camped for four days.  After a little while you get used the diesel generator smell.  However, now we have learned that at most rallies you can pay more and come early to get 30 amp power hookups.

1) Palisades Dam Campground, Idaho was $10.  2) Little America is a privately owned "city". It has truck / RV service, motel, restaurant and a shop annnnnnnnnnnnd free dry camping.  It is a nice respite between nowhere Wyoming and nowhere Colorado.

1) Chena Hot Springs, 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska was $20.00, ouch!  But, who wants to drive 60 miles to the springs and then 60 miles home after being enervated by the hot water pools.  2) We saw a sign that said free RV parking at the Wasilla, Alaska Airport.  We stayed in the parking lot by ourselves. It was private and quiet and free.  The next day we saw that it was the next door museum that had the free parking. Oh well, Ellen's brother-in-law Frank, a pilot, told us we could stay at any small airport.  One down, hundreds to go!

1) Seward Highway, Alaska on Turnagain Arm.  We pulled over at 1:00 am and stayed the night.  This time it was not quiet with hundreds of vehicles passing all night long.  Pete's sister Donnalee was tired having just flown into Anchorage and slept like a baby while we slept like babies with colic.  2) This RV nabbed a great site along on of Alaska's 3,000 rivers. Yes, 3 thousand, not a typo.  The Mothership was being repaired in Anchorage or we would have grabbed this spot when available.

1) Charleston, South Carolina Elks had $10.00 dry camping.  They had room on the grass for perhaps two dozen motorhomes, but had a 3-day limit even though we were the only ones there. Rules are rules!  2) Dover Elks, free dry camping and very friendly Elks members.

And finally.  After four months in Canada and Alaska, we were ready to get back to the lower 48.  We crossed the border and within a couple of miles found this spot.  It was a little empty strip of asphalt a short way off of the road. We were tired from a long drive and pulled in for the night.  Free with a great view.  Surprise, surprise.  We woke up in the morning to find that we parked in a weight station!  There were no signs, a mobile building and the in-ground scale was hard to see at night.  But, amazingly, the weight station workers did not even knock on the door and ask us to leave.  We slunk out feeling a little stupid, but realizing we found yet another place to dry camp.

We hope you enjoyed learning of just a few places to dry camp and can enjoy some of these places in your travel.

Love, Pete and Ellen

The Full Time Motorhome Living Guide

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