13 Best Boondocking Locations on the East Coast

13 Best Boondocking Locations on the East Coast

Boondocking is another term for dry camping or dispersed camping, meaning camping without access to shore power, dump stations, and hookups of any kind. Boondockers access public land and set up a secluded campsite, bringing only what they need for a self-sufficient adventure.

The eastern coast of the United States is full of beautiful, undeveloped land where camping is permitted in many incredible locations; you just have to know where to look. And some people don’t like to share what they find!

Well, lucky for you, TeamBMPRO’s adventure experts are sharing 13 of the best boondocking locations on the East Coast.

Northeast

New York

Outside of Buffalo, the Chautauqua State Forest has 8 primitive campsites along Hannon Road where you can boondock. After you complete setup, there are hiking trails and fishing spots to explore, and spots to admire the gorge.

The forests around the Finger Lakes in upstate New York offer some beautiful places to boondock. Sugar Hill State Forest near Watkins Glen is open year-round with a spigot and free bathroom. The wide, open space near the Fire Tower makes a great dry camping spot for large rigs.

Pennsylvania

The Bald Eagle State Park near Laurelton is nestled in a forest with over 150 miles of trails and 14 streams. There are 45 sites spread out with picnic tables and fire rings, but a permit is required. Snowmobiling, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming: this state park has it all.

Loyalsock State Forest has four camping areas: Sand Spring, Masten, Onion Hole, and Bridle Trail. There are 69 sites spread out through the forest, but be sure to pick up a permit first. Explore the Old Logger’s Trail, a beautiful 27-mile trail with too many vistas and waterfalls to count. Hike down Loyalsock Creek, a scenic freestone stream that runs through the forest, or visit nearby World’s End State Park for more activities.

The Allegheny National Forest has a few spots for dry camping along the beautiful Clarion River with hardened parking spots and fire rings at Irwin Run, Robin Island, and Millstone Creek. There are places to launch canoes and stunning year-round scenery to enjoy.

Mid-Atlantic

West Virginia

George Washington National Forest

Hawk Recreation Area is a hidden gem nestled in the George Washington National Forest with level parking pads, free vaulted toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Fresh water is available at nearby Capon Springs. This accessible spot offers an easy in and out, with good cell service and a few sites long enough to accommodate Class As and their towed vehicles (also known as “toads”). Campers here are free to enjoy hiking trails in the forest and beautiful fall foliage.

Gandy Creek Dispersed Camping Area is tucked away in the deep forest of Monongahela. Camp on the creek’s edge with a fire ring; accessed by a gravel road, some of the sites can even accommodate bigger rigs. The creek boasts excellent trout fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and cycling. There’s a lot to enjoy on the trails leading in and out of Gandy Creek.

North Carolina

Whiteside Mountain

Nantahala National Forest near Whiteside Mountain is full of scenic spots for boondocking. The four sites at the Ammons Branch Campground come with a picnic table, fire rings, and lantern hangers. The Highlands offers lots of incredible camping and wildlife to explore nearby. There is an outhouse and a bear-proof dumpster. But the only clean water is from a stream, so you will want to carry your own water or purification system.

Cape Lookout National Seashore on Harkers Island is a boondocker’s dream. Fall asleep to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean on an undeveloped remote beach island. Don’t miss the lighthouse for the ultimate view. And come ready to stargaze; it’s the first certified Dark Sky Park on the East Coast. Keep in mind, these sites are only accessible on sand, and your vehicle will require a permit. So this option is truly ideal for truck campers, vans, and small travel trailers.

Southeast

South Carolina

Santee Coastal Reserve

Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area has a canopy of mature old oak trees and 8 dry camping sites each with a fire ring and picnic table. There are no permits or reservations required, but it is first-come, first-serve. Walk along the boardwalk over the marsh to spot alligators, fish, and other swamp animals. Just don’t forget your bug spray!

Georgia

Dick’s Creek Falls

Dick’s Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest is the perfect spot to try out some boondocking and camp beside a breathtaking waterfall. Access is by a gravel road over a shallow creek, so you won’t be able to bring your Class A or fifth wheel down here, only small Class Cs or something with a 4×4 chassis. There is an excellent swimming hole, gorgeous hiking, and a fire ring at each of the eleven sites. But this is one of the most primitive sites on this list, so be sure to bring everything you need and leave no trace to preserve this beautiful place.

Florida

Withlacoochee River

DePuis Campground near Juno Beach is a boondocker’s paradise. Flushable toilets, hot showers, fresh water fill, dump station, locked entry gate, and large campsites for all sizes of RVs await in this gorgeous and diverse natural habitat. Walk the Lake to Ocean trail, visit a butterfly garden, and don’t forget your telescope for excellent stargazing. You have to reserve your site a day in advance online; otherwise, this well-maintained campground is free.

Dee River Campground in the Potts Preserve Wildlife Management Area gives you that wild Florida experience with old oak trees and beautiful spots for kayaking and fishing on the Withlacoochee River. Be sure to make a reservation online and you’ll receive a gate code to access. Except for a few fire rings and picnic tables, there aren’t many extra amenities at this site. There is an equestrian campground and a primitive campground, so be sure you choose the right one for your rig. Big rigs will struggle to drive into the primitive campground after a heavy rain.

The East Coast of the United States offers boondockers a treasure trove of beautiful locations. Enjoy the adventure, and the scenery, and let us know what you would add to our list.

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