New Episode: Today’s Tiny House Parking Spot
Our tiny house travels just took adventurous, off-grid turn for the better. We spent the last week boondocking in beautiful Moab, UT! There we found an amazing free camping site, just outside of Arches National Park. Completely unplugged. There was no access to hookups in this dispersed, rugged camping area. Our tiny house was parked off a BLM road surrounded by the rich textures of the otherworldly high desert landscape.
Keep scrolling for more details about our free boondocking parking spot and ways to find free camping across the country.
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. You can directly connect DC and/or AC power to the power system. It mostly silent, and sometimes there’s a quiet hum. The creator of Humless was originally inspired to create a silent solar generator after his peaceful family vacation to the Redwoods was rudely interrupted by an obnoxiously loud generator.
We discovered that on a sunny day our solar array will run our entire tiny house all during the day (sans heater or a/c) while charging the battery system. The fully charged 1.5kw Humless unit can power everything for approximately 9 hours after the sun goes down. That means while we sleep the power will turn off around 1-2 am until the solar power system starts charging in the morning sun. Fortunately, our AC powered mini fridge acts like a cooler for those few hours. It is the biggest electrical draw on the system. 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.
We did learn that cloudy, rainy weather can really put a damper on our solar battery charging capability. 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 really enjoyed seeing all the other camping or glamping rigs out there, 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.
Our boondocking site was 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 are generally the same— 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 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 4x4 vehicle, you can take the back-country BLM road all the way into the National Park for free legal entrance!
Of course, our trusty 20’ U-Haul is no 4x4, so we entered the 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.
Our free boondocking parking spot and places to find free camping:
More on BLM camping, Utah Trust Lands and boondocking tips:
Join us next Tuesday to see our next tiny house parking spot!
Do you have any favorite boondocking sites on the west coast? Please share in the comments below. We will be traveling across NM, AZ, CA and southern OR the rest of the fall.
-Alexis, co-founder of Tiny House Expedition