Just Park It: Tiny House Boondocking in Moab

Welcome to Today’s Tiny House Parking Spot! In episode 7, we parked our tiny home in beautiful Moab, Utah. We boondocked for ?a full week at an incredible free camping site, just outside of Arches National Park. Our tiny house was 100% off-grid. There was no access to hookups in this dispersed, rugged camping area.

Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups. You may also hear it referred to as ‘dry camping’. Often, dry camping means staying in a campground without hookups, whereas, boondocking typically means staying in a completely undeveloped area. You may also hear people talk about ‘dispersed camping’, which is the official term often used by government agencies.

FreeCampSites.net

Our tiny house was parked off a BLM road surrounded by the rich textures of the otherworldly high desert landscape. From a search on Campendium, we found an established boondocking area located on Willow Springs Trail, just outside of Arches National Park. It is on a BLM road, public lands, that connects with SITLA/State Sovereign lands. The rules on Utah sovereign lands generally the same as BLM lan— leave no trace, and you can stay up to 15 consecutive days before having to move. It’s completely free to camp there, unlike the numerous other BLM campgrounds in Moab that charge $15/night for dry camping. Though those sites are more developed than the Northern Moab camping area, where we stayed. We drove about a mile in, off the highway. The dirt road is hard packed, and there are numerous pull-outs off the road and slightly more rugged camp areas. Some areas are rougher than others. We found a relatively flat elongated camp area that wasn’t crowded. Throughout the week other campers would come and go, but mostly it was wide open and peaceful. We felt secluded and far out in the boonies, even though we were only a mere 10 minutes to a gas station and 15 minutes from the Arches National Park main entrance. To our delight, we actually had decent cell service (3 bars AT&T), which enabled us to work on from our computers, online, a couple of the rainy days while we there via our hot spot. It a motorsports dream out there. There are numerous fun ATV and mountain bike trails. If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can take the back-country BLM road all the way into the National Park for legal entrance! Important note: you are still expected to have a parks pass or pay for entry.

Our tow vehicle is not definitely not a 4×4, so we entered the national park through the main entrance. There we bought a new annual National Parks pass. It’s a steal, only $80/vehicle. Our first year of tiny house travel, we visited 12 parks with our annual pass— cost came to only $6.67 per park. From the Arches National Park visitor center, we took a steep windy road along the Great Wall. As the name implies, it’s a panorama of red rock and sandstone cliffs. The road opens up into a wonderland of red rock formations and rolling desert landscapes, to the east towering, snow -covered La Sal Mountains peaks are visible. September and October are the busiest times of year for Arches NP. The weather is much milder than the scorching spring and summer heat. During our visit the sun was warm, and the breeze was perfectly cool; highs in the low 60s. We went on a handful of hikes, including a breathtaking moderate level hike to and around The Windows. There are three grand arches clustered near each other. It is one of the most popular areas in the park, and it was definitely hoppin’. By electing to hike an extra half mile on the primitive trail, around the backside of the North and South Windows, the crowds faded away. We felt like we had the park completely to ourselves, almost anyway. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Our advice, if you’re physically able, go the extra distance to experience the pristine natural wonders of the park in peace.

We really enjoyed seeing all the other camping or glamping rigs during our Moab boondocking stay, including RVs of all makes, skoolies, overlanders, and vintage campers. One night, our neighbors were a Dutch couple on a month long RV trip across the west. We bonded over our shared love of bacon and swamped stories of American and Dutch traditions and quirks. They were fascinated by the tiny house movement. In their opinion, it’s a housing concept that would easily fit in, in Holland. About half the time we were boondocking, it rained. At times we had to charge the solar power system with our propane generator. That thing is super noisy. So as not bug any of our neighbors, we made sure to run only during the day for a couple hours at a time. We have experienced dry camping at rest areas and RV friendly businesses. But this was the first time we did it luxuriously, thanks to our NEW solar power! Our tiny house is now up-fitted with two 270 watt solar panels and 1.5 kilowatt Humless off-grid battery power system. It’s a super easy to use plug-n-play solar generator. Everything you need to make your solar system work in packaged together in the unit— the built-in inverter, charge controller and battery management system. It clearly shows you how many hours of power you have, based on whatever is plugged in. There a few nights out in Moab that we really lived large— watching a movie with the lights on, like no big deal. Definitely blew our minds! Say goodbye to roughing it, and say hello to glamping. When you can bring your cozy solar-powered home to the great outdoors, why tent camp. I think this experience might have ruined us on the idea.

Our free parking spot and places to find boondocking sites:

 

by Alexis Stephens, Tiny House Blog contributor

My partner, Christian and I are traveling tiny house dwellers. Together we’ve been on the road three years for our documentary and community education project, Tiny House Expedition. We live, breathe, dream the tiny home community every day. This is our life and our true passion project. We are very grateful to be able to experience this inspiring movement in such an intimate way and to be able to share our exploration with all of you.

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