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Know the West

American boondockers

Surprising photographs of people who live in their vehicles, from the Cascades to the Rockies.


For this series, Seattle-based photographer Andrew Waits sought out individuals who were living in their vehicles for some period of time — people who were on roadtrip vacations, without a stable home because of economic hardship, or somewhere in between. 

The locations of each of the photographs are not where the subjects are from, but where Waits met them on the road. All images in this series were taken in the Western U.S., and captions tell about each traveler's unique story. 

Waits told HCN about this series:

"It opened my eyes to the importance of the BLM and the National Forest Service. They're a tremendous resource to the Western United States and allow people to experience the beauty of nature and wide open spaces. The Western United States has had a long and storied relationship with photography... and I think that the geography is a central character. 

"The most eye opening thing that I took away (from this project) was the importance of the social safety net. Whether that takes the form of support from family, friends, or social services; often times it's the defining factor when difficult times come knocking in the form of injury, illness, or loss of job. It can be something as simple as a friend giving you a safe place to sleep at night or a family member loaning you a few hundred dollars. Those small acts of support can really make or break people. It's helped me to be thankful for the things that I have, and more understanding and empathetic towards those that don't." 

— Tay Wiles