|Practicing off the grid at Bellevue State Park, Iowa|
I see the practice of "boondocking" as having several levels of engagement with being off the grid. The lightest engagement is camping at a campground site that has all the hook-ups . . . but just not using them. From there increasing levels of camping off the grid would be to camp at a campground with full amenities but choosing a primitive site (sometimes called "tent sites"). Next would be camping at a campground that has all primitive sites with perhaps a water faucet and vault toilets. A further progression would be a campsite that has a fire ring and nothing else. These are pretty much the sites for boondocking available in Iowa. A few are even for free, but I've found those to be few and far between.
I am excited, though, to experience more primitive camping while using my 16-foot Airstream Basecamp trailer. It's built to travel over terrain that's less flat because of its height above the ground and its rear angle, good enough to find a spot in many primitive sites at designated campgrounds. Being able to set up camp with more elbow room than the more developed campground sites is a real motivator for trying boondocking here in Iowa. This is especially true if I use my solar panels to provide power for evening lights and for the 12-volt refrigerator; then I can stay for longer times than a couple of days. Let me provide some examples of campgrounds I've found that I'm eager to "boondock" at.
|Lake Sugema, main campground, with my first travel trailer, the Green Goddess|
Lake Sugema is mostly a fishing lake, but it is one of the more modern county campgrounds around. Beyond the modern campground loops, though, is a primitive camping section that is more secluded than the rest of the campground. It has a faucet in a central area and a selection of campsites with sun and shade.
|Rock Creek State Park, primitive camping area, an overnight camper|
This state park was hit pretty hard by the derecho winds that swept the state a couple of years ago. I found this out when I mentioned during my state at Rock Creek at how few shade trees the campground had and was told that many broken trees had to be removed. A big surprise was how large the primitive portion of the campground was, with sites having lots of space and with even sites close to the lake. Camping at these primitive sites would provide a whole new experience of the lake and park.
As with the two above campgrounds, Geode also has a primitive camping section that has a separate area. The campsites run along a ridge, away from the rest of the modern campground, providing more quiet and less traffic. Campsites offer either shade or more of a meadow experience, which provide different opportunities for both warm and cold camping seasons.
- The price for the primitive sites is less than for modern sites.
- If you don't mind a walk, modern toilet and shower facilities are available.
- These three primitive campgrounds have fairly level and accessible campsites for trailers. It's not uncommon for "tent sites" to be on sloping and sub-optimal ground. Not so with these campgrounds.
- Dump stations are available.
- In an emergency, I could most likely move to an electric site to charge trailer batteries.
|Wildcat Den State Park, off the grid|