State Parks Dispersed Camping VS BLM

Do you think that generally dispersed camping at state parks boondocking spots versus BLM land is safer for singles? I do plan to join a caravan or travel with others occasionally, but for the most part, I prefer to travel alone. I plan to buy the NM State Parks yearly pass for seniors. I won’t be trying to boondock all of the time. I’ll use regular camping spots often.


I think anywhere there are people near enough to come to your aid if necessary is pretty safe. They don’t necessarily need to be right next door.

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“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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I agree that anywhere can be safe depending on a number of factors. I’ve never done BLM camping (when I traveled out west, I stayed at campgrounds in a tent before I got my van, then came to the Upper Midwest with it). I’d feel so much safer doing BLM land in a tent, and ultimately this is a part of the goal for when I relocate.

I always feel most secure when I have cell service, where there’s a camp host, and if there are people around. The caveat here, at least for me, is to trust my gut and instincts above everything else. If something feels off, go, and don’t question it or think twice. Otherwise, if you stay alert, have safety measures in place (lock doors, even keep a backup camera or other outside cameras on, etc.), you’ll be okay, and able to navigate things that could come up. Another thing to add is that although things do happen, in all my travels last year, everyone that I came across, especially when I really needed help, was far kinder and more helpful than I ever could have imagined before setting out. It was affirming and very reassuring moving into full-time van life to have had those experiences.


I agree with what you say but I can’t imagine ever being safer in a tent than in my van. I’ve heard some very unsettling horror stories about how some nomads were camping alone in BLM, tried to leave but were cut off by others who did them harm where they almost died. When confronted by 2 or more people or other vehicles, there is nothing that 1 can do. Theft seems to be much more common on the road now too. I’m hearing more and more shocking stories about that also. Seems like a nomad can never leave his/her rig and never leave anything out at night.

This advice that you gave, “I always feel most secure when I have cell service, where there’s a camp host, and if there are people around,” is what will make the difference for me. With the economical NM State Parks Senior Pass, and any others I may buy, like “America The Beautiful National Parks Senior Pass” I should be able to always be safer.

I think that following many Youtube nomads whom I can meet as I travel and park will make it easier for me to meet better people like what you said, “…in all my travels last year, everyone that I came across, especially when I really needed help, was far kinder and more helpful than I ever could have imagined before setting out.” I’ve read where some nomads shared that everywhere they found to park free they did not meet good people or anyone who was anywhere near the “good” nomads that are talked about and that it was downright dangerous. They are helping unsuspecting new nomads to understand that it’s not like some are making it out to be out there.

None of what I am learning will deter me from going on the road this year. I know that I can make it, that’s why I’ve been studying for 2 years. I’m not happy living like I am and I have to be free. I do plan to get some type of home base eventually but it won’t be renting from anyone else. I can hardly wait to leave this senior housing, the 2nd time I’ve tried it! I don’t have to wonder about it ever again, how is it, maybe I should have done that…never again! It’s NOMAD OR BUST! for me now.

I will also take your tip, which I’d heard from other nomads, “…keep a backup camera or other outside cameras on…”.

Thanks for sharing.

You’re very welcome! I will also say that everyone’s experiences are different, and that we each need to do what makes us feel most safe and comfortable. Happy trails to you!

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I have had things stolen at normal camp grounds and never had a strange experience while on BLM. Thinking that a campground is more secure than any other location is a fallacy. Our worst experience ever actually happened when we were camped in my mother in laws front yard while visiting over the holidays. It’s easy to let your guard down when you feel safe.

Camp hosts can be hit or miss as far as quality and a lot of campgrounds seem to only be monitored when someone is picking the money up out of the drop box if there is now camp host.

Don’t make yourself a target and don’t be overly friendly. There is nothing you can do for being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time other than being prepared.

I have to say though, I don’t understand the camera thing. What are these people doing with these cameras anyway? How much power do they all use? Unless you are constantly watching it, what value is it providing more than simply looking out of your windows?

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For me, outside cameras would give me vision in places where I may not have a window or when I wouldn’t want to uncover a window to look out. What would really unnerve me is to hear a noise outside or against my rig and not be able to see on that side or in that area. Maybe I wouldn’t want to uncover my windows so that anyone questionable would see that I was making my way to the front to get out of there.

Liz Amazing and her partner at Ytube have a camera with voice that they can access away from the rig. Someone(s) parked up against the front of their 5th wheel, the end where the axle is, when they were away. They were able to see part of the gray car and also speak to the intruders. It was a strange experience. The interlopers never answered when they were called out several times. They left and when Liz and Paul returned, all they saw was trash thrown out where the car had been. Very weird but the camera helped them to observe and get a description of the vehicle if needed because the car should not have been parked where it was. That’s why it was so bizarre.

Thank you for your tips, especially the reminders about how it can really be with the management at campgrounds. I agree that no where is safe. That’s why I feel it’s good to get to know Ytube nomads to meet along the way, to join caravans sometimes and to coordinate my own caravans occasionally. Yes, we should always be on guard but I do have to identify the safest areas that I can so that I can move forward with my nomad plans. Not being overly friendly will not be a problem for me. Generally, I just want to be left alone. ::

Are you saying that this is often true at state and/or national forest campgrounds? Or mostly at private campgrounds?


I can certainly agree that many nomads are great & helpful people. Many of us have even driven long distances to help others in need.

I can also agree with camera’s if you can’t see out. The year I spent in a windowless cargo van was the most miserable in my life. With every noise I was instantly on high alert, where with windows I could just look out and see that it was nothing important and just roll over and go back to sleep, and that actually covers 99% of the time. Might look out and see nothing unusual, but that means you’re okay too…

I generally don’t even cover my windows. If it’s daytime, or I’m somewhere that the lights are bothering me, I just wear a sleep mask. Easy to instantly remove and have a 360° view all around me. The windows in my current van aren’t even tinted. Even though I’m mostly a city dweller, I never try to hide. People can easily see my lights on inside at night, and see me too… They can see for themselves that I’m minding my own business, and not a threat to anyone. It’s a camper van with somebody camping in it… No big deal.

I think a lot of people create their own problems. Think about it, if you were living in a house and saw an unknown, unmarked cargo van pull up late at night, and nobody got out, wouldn’t you be suspicious? While most people wouldn’t think twice about an obvious camper van or motorhome. Normal people have no need to sneak around and hide. Looking normal, acting normal, and being a good neighbor will get most people much further than trying to be stealthy.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

I personally don’t want to integrate into a couple of in-town neighborhoods like you have done and I haven’t run across any other nomads who do that. I want to go where I can park for extended periods of time and live outside my rig a little. I’m not looking for places to just sleep for the night, though I may need to do that occasionally in transit.

I know that you park in 2 different states seasonally and you are very enthusiastic about your van life in the residential neighborhoods where people know you, you are a regular, lend a hand and socialize. That would not work for me. I am getting away from living around too many people all of the time. I would never sleep without my windows covered, either. It would be too creepy for me and dangerous.

I know a nomad who parked in her van in the parking lot of a big box store and there were a few others parked there. She had not covered her windows at that time. She woke up to her car being hiked up by the tow truck. Among other things, the security guard told her that he had been watching her sleep. :frowning: As an aside, if he saw a person in the van, why didn’t he just tap on the window and tell her she would have to leave rather than calling the tow truck and terrifying her by having her wake up to her van bouncing while the tow truck was hiking it up?

Of course, it was a whole big disturbance. She protested, the police were called and the guard ended up being wrong and had to have the tow truck let her van down. All that happened after a big 'ole long discussion was the police told her she had to leave, which she would have been more than happy to do had she been given the chance. Anyway, point is, I don’t want anyone looking at me while I sleep! :rofl:

@Van_Dweller I’m happy to learn about the urban/residential van life that you’ve carved out for yourself but it would not work for me at all. One of my major reasons to go nomad is to have continuous solitude, to not have to be dependent on social situations and only interact with others sometimes. I don’t mind giving a helping hand here and there but I don’t want my parked/camping life to revolve around that.

Though I think you wear yourself out running around the boards answering just about every post that is made :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:, I appreciate the info that you give. I take notes.


Everybody’s goals are different. For 30 years I worked traveling construction, so I was usually in towns. For the last few years, I’ve been psuedo care giving in towns. Normally, I change towns whenever I run out of interesting things to do in that area.

I guess some people want to escape society literally, while I can have my alone time in the middle of a city. I love towns near lakes, rivers, or beaches, where I could while away a day occasionally, while still having everything I could want or need close by. Before the pandemic, I enjoyed local restaurants several days a week. I love flea markets, thrift stores, garage sales, carnivals, & fairs, and enjoy volunteer work helping the homeless, habitat for humanity, and animal shelters. I also enjoy the various camping rallies, especially those in the PNW. I guess I’m just not a person who is very content when I have nothing to do.

I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life, even when I was working construction full time, I still had plenty of time to explore the areas and enjoy life thoroughly. Except for a few scary or costly mishaps, I probably wouldn’t change much.

I’m not sure what I’d do about covering my windows if I was a girl… Being a guy, I always figured the chance of anybody wanting to break into my van would be considerably less if they knew I was in it. If a pretty girl wanted to molest me, they wouldn’t need to break in, I’d open the door and invite them in… hehe

I can imagine that if I was a single girl out here, it could be a whole different ball game. One that I’ve never been confronted with. I was lucky enough to have some good mentors, but still, many things were learned via trial and error. Somewhere online there should be some single women nomads who can offer some women specific advice.

I do know that I always try to avoid parking lots whenever possible. I believe privately owned parking lots have the right to tow you for whatever reason they choose. I’ve heard that it’s illegal to tow a vehicle with somebody in it though.

Mainly, this is the only board I’ve posted on in a long time, although I do peruse others occasionally.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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There are hundreds and I’ve been watching and reading for over 2 yrs. Been studying women and men nomads. Many options for window coverings.

I love these things too and plan to intersperse them with my 14-day parking periods.

I hope to make some of these. RTR/WRTR coming up soon. Maybe one day I’ll make one of those, though my plan is not to travel much west of NM.

Have you written any books and listed them at Amazon KDP? You are so enthusiastic about the vandwelling life you’ve carved out for yourself and you love sharing it in detail. Any book you published about how to do it like you’ve done would probably sell well.


I used to sell ebooks, and combine/edit the works of others to create something better, but never written one of my own.

I guess I never really thought that my life was very interesting, just a workaholic nomad living on the road.

Before the internet, you helped your neighbors & your fellow campers, and you also learned from them. Hands on, in person, good times, and good company. I guess I’m kind of old fashioned, because I still prefer that to the internet. That being said, I do enjoy helping people online from the comfort of my van too.

As a senior (75) now, with numbered days ahead of me, I’m hoping my help here can live on after I’m gone, and free for everybody. With the addition of help & input from others, the content can be even more valuable than a single person’s experiences.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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Boondocking on BLM land is safe alone,once you asset the location. I use light sensor when I’m boondocking just for wildlife.

Nation parks will be safer because of the people around, as someone mentioned.

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Unfortunately, BLM land is getting less & less safe to be alone. Thieves, thugs, & gangs are targeting people far from help. When the rangers warn that they wouldn’t do it alone, I think it’s time to listen. When the rangers tell you trouble happens frequently, that isn’t good news.

It only takes once, and dead lasts a very long time… The problem isn’t the wildlife, it’s the people who are predators that are the problem. On two different occasions, I believe they used drones to locate me and assess the situation before they attacked. The first time they caught me by surprise, the second time, they caught me before I could escape, cutting off my escape route with multiple vehicles and a gang. Even if I could have escaped, they probably would have caught me.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

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I have just never had a bad experience on BLM and actually have made some life long friends meetings people we ended up camping near. There are two of us and two dogs though, which probably helps keeping people away.

I suppose most times on BLM we’ve always camped near other people or tried too in hopes of meeting and making friends for whatever time we are there or longer.

Again, I found my most harrowing experience was in a city. People are weird everywhere and your are a target anywhere you make yourself one. You have to remember not everyone is out on some instagram life changing journey trying to find themselves. Some people are there because they have no other choice.

I believe this. Despite the fact that some nomads never have scary issues, I believe it is more dangerous living the nomad life than it used to be. Other nomads even say that Quartsite and the BLM LTVAs are so crowded and more dangerous now. None of these facts will stop me from going on the road this year. I have to. I can’t keep living like I am because the choice that I have is not working out for me. There’s only one way for me to go…nomad. I’m glad that I have the courage to do it because many want to but can’t bring themselves to. They’re stuck in miserable situations and they see no way out.

I’m grateful to have the warnings and cautions of others who are experienced.

I’m glad that you’ve never had a dangerous or tragic experience while boondocking. I hope and pray you or I never do.



I hadn’t heard that about the LTVA’s. but it doesn’t surprise me with all the drugs and hardcore life long criminal illegal aliens these days.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible." ~ Einstein

The thing with the LTVA’s is the very thing that you’re glad they are there for, 4-6 mos stays, is the very thing that can become a liability: camping near people who are not good or safe neighbors but staying long-term. I imagine that some begin to think they own the LTVAs too. :worried: