If you’ve come to my blog to read a post on how to find some of the best-dispersed camping locations in Colorado or the best places to boondock in Colorado, you’ve parked near the wrong location.
If you’re lost, I’m happy to give you directions to the closest Colorado state park or private campground. After all, ColoRADo is one of the best places to camp, and every outdoor lover should experience what makes camping in our state so great.
Guilty as charged: excessive use of hashtags
We’ve all done it. We’ve visited a coveted Instagram-worthy spot, and we’ve #tagged the shit out of our location: #wanderlust; #hanginglake. Whether we do it for likes, follows, engagement, or just to show we’ve been somewhere spectacular, our tagging gets people to see where we’ve been, and our photos as hashtags help get other people to those destinations, too. Hashtags, vlogs, blogs, and social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter give the tourism industry life. I mean, who doesn’t want to support the tourism industry? Travel is exciting, and using social media is a fun way to show off where you’ve been. I’ve been to some sweet locations in my RV, and I love to see others excited about RVing, too.
RV camping and the boondocking boom
Like most industries across the globe, the RV industry took a massive hit when the coronavirus pandemic spiked, and the country shut down. RV social-media outlets transitioned from promoting RV travel to providing full-time RVers with safe-travel information. Almost as soon as most states closed their state parks to overnight camping, the pendulum swung again, and people’s interest in RVing soared since RVing is one of the safer ways for people to travel and still maintain social distance.
With the increased interest in RVing came the call for people to share their favorite RVing spots, and suddenly, RVers realized that scoring that perfect, Instagrammable campsite wasn’t as easy as they thought. Newbie RVers started to feel pressure to find places to camp at a moment’s notice since so many campgrounds and RV resorts require advanced reservations.
In Colorado, die-hard RVers reserve those coveted-campsites as soon as the reservation window opens, usually at 12:01 a.m., precisely six months to-the-date of your campout. In some popular national park campgrounds, the reservation window opens a year out, making it even more difficult to plan vacations if you don’t know what your time off will look like. So, what can you do if you decide you want to camp, but you can’t find an available campground? You boondock.
The Colorado boondocking explosion
Even though boondocking has increased in popularity over the last few years, the last few months have seen a spike in people wanting to know where to find the best free campsites. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search, and see all of the articles written to help guide people to the best free camping spots.
Gone are the days where you can pack up your camper and head to the mountains to find a secluded campsite on public lands. Remote campsites off-the-beaten-path have become so scarce that campers can almost guarantee that the perfect campsite will have several rigs parked within viewing distance, and that’s only if you get to that spot before someone else moves in. Now, these ultra-private camping areas are hot-beds for recreation, and people aren’t learning how to recreate responsibly. This toxic combination not only disrupts the peace, but it also puts our free public camping areas at risk. What can the RV community do to help get off-grid RV camping back to its natural state?
RVers have a responsibility to nature and the recreational pastime. We can help combat the influx of people on our public lands by responsibly tagging our locations and stopping the publication of some of Colorado’s best-kept-camping secrets. When posting your epic campsite to social media, try posting:
—vague locations like somewhere in Colorado.
—city or town geolocators within a large region.
—undisclosed location (instead of near your exact campsite).
Colorado outdoor magazines, blogs, vlogs, and other camping publications can help the cause by refusing to write or publish posts that share the exact locations of some of Colorado’s hidden camping gems because once that article goes live, that spot is no longer a secret. General locations instead of the exact coordinates or geotags are just as effective as giving away camping locations. Ignore SEO and trending topics and help keep Colorado camping wild.
Boondocking in the Uncompahgre National Forest allows campers to be close to towns like Ouray and Montrose, towns with exceptional hiking opportunities, and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.
Instead of writing
Boondockers searching for the best free camping and hiking near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park should start hunting for the perfect dispersed campsite near the coordinates 38.5411, -107.69. Once you get to this spot, it’s easy to find a quiet place to set up your camper. On most days, you won’t see anyone for miles.*
This isn’t a death-to-the-hashtag movement
I’m not suggesting that we stop using hashtags. I’m just as guilty as the next person for oversharing locations and overusing hashtags: #RVlife. I don’t think we need to retrofit all of our old posts to use ambiguous locations and responsible hashtags. I’m suggesting that we all be a little more mindful of our geolocators and hashtags moving forward. We should think about the consequences of sharing our exact locations through our hashtags or our geolocator. Why not be vague when you give out your locations? Share your secret spots the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth.
Colorado’s outdoor spaces depend on us. Do you have what it takes to tag responsibly and keep Colorado’s camping locations wild?
* Note that this example won’t lead you to a dispersed camping area. It would be hypocritical of me to share coordinates to a dispersed camping area, so I intentionally chose the South Rim Campground of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Campers who want to camp here will need to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for camping information.