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Old 05-21-2015, 10:45 AM   #1
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ROCKDOCKING locations made... EASY

This has been posted on a long lost thread in Boondocking where I promoted Rockdocking. Off the Grid with no facilities campsites on public land.

DeLorme Atlas's of western States are what I use for boondocking. Every time I am camping the atlas of those States where I can expect to find myself, I bring.

The least accurate Atlas is for Colorado. Much of the access to "Public Lands" are private access. As you get farther west of the Front Range, the better the options. It might be a National Forest, but many private inliers exist due to mining, ranching or logging in the late 19th century. It can be a hit and miss, but you will soon discover where not to go looking...

Arizona has a lot of Indian Reservations, so it does limit your options.

Idaho and western Montana have lots of trees, narrow valley access, brushy at lower elevations. We like to get into higher elevations where there is less brush and more open areas to camp. But this is just our preference. We find SW Montana an excellent area for camping in the Forest, as it is higher elevation.

Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming have massive amounts of public domain and open to camping. Some areas have extensive logging roads, mining roads and access roads. You can find "Public Land" in between National Parks and National Monuments by locating it on these maps.

Once you find an area you really enjoy, contact the local BLM or National Forest Service office and purchase THEIR MAPS. They are the most current, have the most accurate Public and Private boundaries and "most of the roads". Some roads may be marked with identification of Forest Service, Indian Bureau of Affairs, State, County and just plain confusing if you are not paying attention. The cost helps the FS and BLM update maps and sell them reasonably. I keep a carton full to pick from when we expect to be spending time in remote areas within a area.

If you cannot read a map... do not rockdock / boondock. (I am serious.)

If you cannot read a compass... do not rockdock / boondock. (I am serious.)

Current DeLorme Atlas's have GPS coordinates, elevations and contours.

The most accurate maps are US Geological Survey quadrangles for small areas. The USGS sells them on the internet. Denver, Colorado has a Map Sales Office at the Federal Center. They have hundreds of National Forest and other accurate maps for "their region".

I have several THOUSAND maps and Atlas's. People who think that wandering off somewhere is a National Geographic sponsored trip into and back out of a remote area, you are sadly mistaken.

Boondocking to me is an established camping area with none or few facilities.

Rockdocking is "Off the Grid" camping. You can be taking some risks when you have no accurate map, know where you are ON THE MAP, or even computer access to figure out what happened.

We have found ourselves on roads that just QUIT. Turning around becomes a backing up a narrow road, until there is an open space to turn yourself around.

The Western USA is Maine without the trees in many cases. Lots of uncivilized land. You can get lost. If you break down, nobody is going to be looking for you, pass you while you are wondering how you got into this mess.... etc.

Camping your trailer, pop up, tent or canvas/rope between trees can be the most rewarding getting away from the crowd. But you need to be prepared. Like a Boy Scout.

I have had to bring a gasoline chain saw to get into some New Mexico campsites, as the winter blow down of trees are a common occurrence. The Forest Service is too busy clearing the main routes into cattle grazing areas and logging routes.

I have found areas in Montana where hundreds of acres of trees are blown down a mountain side... you will get the idea. Like toothpicks piled upon one another. You can be TRAPPED.

Order of Ingress/Egress.
Highway. Black Top. Improved all season gravel. Improved. Unimproved. Two Rut. Jeep Trail. Trail. Deer/Elk trail. You're screwed road.

Having a handful of State Maps or Western States Maps are for major routes... ONLY. If a road is on one of these maps... you will be OK. You might be surprised to find that the road is barely passable, but it is accessible... like Chaco Canyon access.

When your handheld computer with maps loaded breaks down... you had better have a great photographic memory. Paper maps might seem... ancient... but they are reliable.

I have DeLorme Map Atlas's for any Western State we explore. I will then use geologic maps to refine my travel, with or without road access.

You are an absolute FOOL going into the back country, unprepared. I am saying this as a friend. The sense of security with your trailer in tow can get yourself into trouble. Before you go into a rough area, make sure you have a plan to get out. Getting into trouble is always easier than getting out of it.

Boondocking established dry camp sites... fantastic and intended for everyone access into remote areas, safely.

Rockdocking. Be prepared. An accurate map is your friend, as it is mine. The day you discover this true fact, you will start a Thread on this Forum and explain what you discovered the hard or easy way.

Human Bean
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Old 05-21-2015, 11:10 AM   #2
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Great advice. I've used a map and compass to find myself while hiking several times. I've also found that those who say maps are not required are the first to ask to look at yours!

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Old 05-21-2015, 01:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
Great advice. I've used a map and compass to find myself while hiking several times. I've also found that those who say maps are not required are the first to ask to look at yours!

That is so true.

Hiking without a map/compass and driving into unknown territory is like going to work not wearing your pants. Either way, you are exposed to the elements.

I stress at least having a compass. It need not be expensive. It only needs to be accurate. Test the compass at home... FIRST. If it is accurate you can at least find approximately where you need to go to return to the campsite.

The second year in the Gila/Apache National Forest my wife and I were exploring canyons and mesas that disorientated both of us. ... and we "knew" what we were doing. We came upon a road that was not suppose to be there. We thought.

It was about two miles north of where we thought we were. A $1 compass attached to the zipper of my wife's jacket saved the day. I left my geologist's Brunton Compass in the truck, too anxious to get out exploring. Have you ever heard a male admit to being totally... lost? Probably not. The sun was high, no moss on a north side of a tree trunk or that kind of clues.

I was carrying two buckets of rocks and hid them behind a tree alongside the road. Put a stone along the road to find my "hiding place". We hiked back to the truck, found the two buckets and learned a real big lesson.

Many do not want to admit they are not Daniel Boone surveying the woods of Kentucky, or wherever. I have been told that when someone is lost, they tend to go in a large circle. I do not want to find myself in that situation.

A $1 compass is better than those used by the Vikings to navigate the Atlantic Ocean to North America. There are "tricks" to practice when out in the woods without a landmark to mark your position. I might have to teach some basic tricks to keep your "bearings". Not wheel bearings but directional bearings. Will try this on the New Mexico Rockdocking Rock Hunt group this Summer.

No body is too old or young to learn something useful. I may not find myself lost in the woods, but a Shopping Mall... I do need a map. A Las Vegas Casino should hand out maps... for inside the building challenged.
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Old 05-21-2015, 03:12 PM   #4
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Old 05-22-2015, 12:02 PM   #5
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Excellent advice. When we get into a situation that looks a little tight, we unload the bikes and take a little ride. This can save on difficult back-up situations.
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Old 05-24-2015, 12:57 PM   #6
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A few obsevations of my own while rockdocking or similar:

Benchmark maps are better for my situations than the Delorme maps. Try one.

You must have the ability to pinpoint your location on a paper map.

A GPS device is related to a computer............. It will fail at some time.

A compass needs no batteries, but keep in mind the difference between magnetic north and true north. That difference was very important to me once while operating a boat in the fog.

If you drive up a road you should have the ability to back your trailer out that same road. In one case for me it was miles to the nearest turnaround. Might not be fast or fun, but necessary.

I do not use 4 wheel drive to get into some place unless I know the road or have scouted it. If you continue on an unknown road using 4 wheel drive and then get stuck you are in a heap of trouble. Did you remember your shovel? (A real shovel, not one of those little "toys"). It is best to use 4 wheel drive to get out rather than getting farther in.

I, too, am "inside a building challenged". I very rarely am at a loss for direction when I can see the sky. But get me in a building and I may have to go outside to find out where I am.

Just some thoughts...........
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Old 05-24-2015, 01:41 PM   #7
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Good advice on the 4wd, I will remember that.
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Old 06-27-2015, 02:42 PM   #8
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Jim always said, "4-wheel drive enables one to get stuck in more remote places!"

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Old 09-09-2015, 04:37 PM   #9
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I've never been lost at sea in either the Pacific or Atlantic, but I'm pretty handy with a sextant. Yet, reading your insights Ray, I'm sure I need to do a whole lot more 'orienting' education than my boyhood scouting provided before feeling I have the correct tools and experience for Rockdocking. Thanks for the initial enlightenment!
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Old 09-09-2015, 05:53 PM   #10
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Ray and everyone else has offered excellent information that needs to be taken to heart if boondocking/rockdocking. As an aside, I was speaking with someone this week. He is still involved at a high level in the BSA (Boy Scouts of America). At least in our council the parents are pushing for pit latrines to be replaced with flush toilets, and the implementation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Parents see no need for their coddled children to learn how to make a campfire, much less cooking over an open fire. No need for a compass, we have GPS. Map reading? Why bother, your phone will tell you where you are. God help us.
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Old 09-09-2015, 06:30 PM   #11
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Hah! - the "old ways" live on for very legitimate reasons! Pilots still have to learn basic "old school" navigation skills to save their asses when the batteries (rarely) fail on the GPS. I've made a living out of resurrecting ”old" techniques and skills and there is increasingly much to be gained in the process. There are now generations or architects who can't draw or letter with a pen or pencil. When was the last time you ate a virtual dinner around a digital table?

People have to lose everything before relearning the substance and value of true skill. When I was a kid I the 1970s I remember a Coors distributor (and family friend) projecting that one day there would only be 4 or 5 beers made in America... - glad he was dead wrong about that.

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