Author Topic: Where to go when there's no place to go?  (Read 808 times)

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Offline cookieclicked

Where to go when there's no place to go?
« on: February 26, 2014, 10:32:01 am »
What touring is like when there are no campgrounds within a day's riding distance. Where does one set up a tent?

Any specific tips for New York State?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 11:06:30 am »
You get creative.

NY has a great canal system, and camping is allowed on most of the canal banks.

Asking permission is usually better than just planning to hide. If you're bold enough, ask at churches and fire stations and police stations. If you see someone standing on their spacious property, ask if you can set up a tent for the night in their yard or if they know of any other place. Ask "if you can set up a tent" rather than ask "for a place to camp." If you ask the latter, people tend only to think of campgrounds. Also, you might ask where you might set up "that nobody will mind," which gets them thinking more broadly rather than just places where people normally camp. Promise that you will leave first thing in the morning.

If asking fails, then look for any out-of-the-way place, not subject to a lot of people passing by and not close to any inhabited buildings. Wait until it starts to get dark and everybody goes home before setting up. Consider baseball fields, swimming pools, public parks, behind municipal buildings. If the grass looks lush, look out for sprinkler systems. Consider sleeping under cover without setting up a tent, which allows you to get in and out more quickly and be less noticeable. Under bridges, on the porch of public buildings, under a shelter in a park, etc.

More ideas can be found at:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/stealthcamping
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/3952
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum/board/message/?o=1&thread_id=461835
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 11:10:10 am by John Nelson »

Offline indyfabz

Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 07:38:14 am »
Have you tried using Google Maps to find campgrounds? Search for "campgrounds near [name of town]." Zooming out expands the results. A search may also show  state parks but not list them as a place to camp, requiring you to research what facilities they have.

Offline geegee

Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 06:01:59 pm »
That's when you splurge on a motel  :)

Often, nobody will bother you if you pitch a small tent in a highway rest area. If there are no bugs out, you can even just roll out your sleeping bag on a picnic table, it's no different from anyone parking their car to sleep. I've also devised a way to set up my tent as a more inconspicuous bivy sack when there are lots of mosquitoes.

A couple of times when I was dead tired and caught up in a built up area without options, I searched for truck stops and camped behind where trucks art parked. It can be a noisy affair, but truck stops usually have conveniences like showers and late night food. Sometimes those odd experiences make for weird memorable moments.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2014, 12:42:34 am »
My extensive experience free-camping on 39,000 miles of bike touring in 19 countries qualifies me to comment on that question. The only time there was absolutely no place to free-camp / sleep was one night in the highly populated, industrialized northeastern United States. It may take a while to find it, but there is always some place somewhere to find a piece of bare terra firma where you can lay it down for the night.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Where to go when there's no place to go?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2014, 02:49:13 am »
Often, nobody will bother you if you pitch a small tent in a highway rest area. If there are no bugs out, you can even just roll out your sleeping bag on a picnic table, it's no different from anyone parking their car to sleep. I've also devised a way to set up my tent as a more inconspicuous bivy sack when there are lots of mosquitoes.

Inconspicuous is good.  Pitching a tent is way more likely to get you run off.  Your improvised pitch as a bivy sounds like a big improvement in that regard, but a bug bivy weighs something in the neighborhood of 7 ounces and it looks like you are just in a sleeping bag to the casual observer.  When staying in rest areas or roadside picnic areas I cowboy camp when that works, slip into the sleeping bag if it gets chilly, and slip into the bivy when it gets buggy.  I usually have a little tarp an pull it over me if the rain starts.  The whole shelter setup weighs under a pound.  I like it well enough that I seldom take the tent any more.

I have never been unable to find a place to camp and I have toured fairly extensively if only in the US.

To the OP.  It sounds like you want to stay in a camp ground for an overnight trip from home.  If there are none in range another option would be to drive or take a bus or train to a starting location.  This is likely to allow a wider range of attractive riding opportunities.