There are some great descriptions on the internet of Boondocking that include things like the origin of the term and the various meanings of it. This post won’t go that deep, it will only explore the meaning for us campers.
Boondocking is considered by most RVers to be free camping. This doesn’t really seem to nail it down for me. You can actually camp in developed camping areas for free if you time it right. Many campgrounds allow camping in the “off season” and don’t provide electrical or water hookups when you camp for free in those locations, but I wouldn’t call it boondocking. You could also spend a night in a Walmart parking lot for free and I would certainly not call that boondocking.
There’s another term used to describe camping without connections, “dry camping”. I’ve camped in some really nice campgrounds that charge for their sites but have no electrical or water hookups, and sometimes don’t even have water available in the campground. Those aren’t boondocking either. The picture below is from Devil’s Canyon Campground in Utah. Campsites are $10 and with the Golden Age Pass we paid $5 a night to camp there. They had excellent secluded camp sites with concrete pads, stone fire pits, stands for your portable stoves and nice picnic tables. No electricity or water at campsites. Water was available to refill tanks.
I suppose the best example of what I would call boondocking is the undeveloped areas such as those provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These areas are considered public lands and as a US citizen, I’m an owner. Most of these areas are concentrated in the western US and allow campers anywhere absent a posting otherwise. No hookups, no pads, no fire pits, and no roads in many cases. With my fifth wheel parked in one of these locations, that, my friends is what I call boondocking.
Here are some posts from other sites with more info on Boondocking.