Author Topic: Camping in the east  (Read 2695 times)

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Offline humunuku

Camping in the east
« on: November 15, 2010, 10:50:57 pm »
Hello

I'm just starting to plan for a cross country tour and I'm wondering about camping on the eastern half of the country.  In order to keep costs down, I'd really like to camp out as much as possible (for free if possible)-which seem like its pretty doable out west, but seems a little more tricky in the more crowded east coast.

So, my question is, is it possible to camp for free on the east coast on a regular basis? Or is it going to be more trouble than its worth to find a spot?

Offline mucknort

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 01:30:21 am »
A great way to save money and meet wonderful people is to use warmshowers.org. We stayed at a bunch of them on our cross country trip earlier this year and it was great. Of course, it's only fair that you sign up to host yourself at some point.
http://www.warmshowers.org/content/welcome-warmshowers.org

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2010, 07:40:55 am »
A great way to save money and meet wonderful people is to use warmshowers.org. We stayed at a bunch of them on our cross country trip earlier this year and it was great. Of course, it's only fair that you sign up to host yourself at some point.
http://www.warmshowers.org/content/welcome-warmshowers.org
I agree that it is a great way to meet people and to get a shower and sleep indoors once in a while.  Hosting is a similarly rewarding experience and I recommend both.

That said I have not found it to be something I would want to count on a major portion of the time on routes that I have ridden.  It may be different depending on where you are going and whether you are willing to tailor the route and daily mileage to hit towns with hosts and hit them at a time when you want to stop.  I look at it as a nice thing to do once in a while.  It may be different depending on where you tour.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2010, 07:47:07 am »
Hello

I'm just starting to plan for a cross country tour and I'm wondering about camping on the eastern half of the country.  In order to keep costs down, I'd really like to camp out as much as possible (for free if possible)-which seem like its pretty doable out west, but seems a little more tricky in the more crowded east coast.

So, my question is, is it possible to camp for free on the east coast on a regular basis? Or is it going to be more trouble than its worth to find a spot?
What route are you taking?  I know that on the TA you really don't spend much time in "crowded" areas.  When leaving the coast it pretty quickly becomes small towns and rural areas.  It may be a bit harder to find free places to camp/stay than in the middle of the country, but it isn't as bad as you might guess.  I can't say what other routes are like.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2010, 05:40:38 pm »
There is usually always somewhere to sleep free for the night. I have done it all over the US and in many countries. That goes for north, south, east, and west in the USA. Staying clean and showered is the problem if you free camp a lot. Unlike the coast of California, the rest of the country makes little and usually no provision at all for somebody cycling and needing to stay clean. There are ways in summer.

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2010, 01:31:10 pm »
I suggest planning to stop at state parks.  For a nominal fee (most average $5-$10) you get a good spot, easy access, a shower (check into that, it may vary), and other amenities.  Depending upon your time of year you might be able to get by with flexible reservations depending how popular the park is, etc...  I've done this as far west as Iowa without a problem.  State parks tend to be much closer together the farther east you travel - it might work for you, at least I hope so.  Travel safe and enjoy.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2010, 02:23:06 pm »
I suggest planning to stop at state parks.  For a nominal fee (most average $5-$10) you get a good spot, easy access, a shower (check into that, it may vary), and other amenities.  Depending upon your time of year you might be able to get by with flexible reservations depending how popular the park is, etc...  I've done this as far west as Iowa without a problem.  State parks tend to be much closer together the farther east you travel - it might work for you, at least I hope so.  Travel safe and enjoy.
That has not been my experience in the East.  Many even have day use prices that high or higher.  In Virginia State Parks for example the prices for standard sites with no electricity or water are $16-24 depending on which park.  Maryland and Pennsylvania are similar.  Some states in the east are higher and some lower though.  While I have not camped in state parks in all of the states in the east I have camped in several.  I do not recall any of the state parks in the east that I have stayed at ever being in the $5-10 range at least not in recent years, plenty in the west were though.

I think the following is somewhat typical of what you will find at state parks in the east:
http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/documents/feescamping.pdf

Is your experience in the west, perhaps, or are you possibly referring to State Forests?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2010, 04:19:29 pm »
If you're on the ACA TransAm, you can probably "camp" all the way across Virginia and Kentucky and Illinois without paying a dime and without even setting up your tent. A combination of churches, fire stations, town park shelters, WarmShowers and good Samaritans will keep a free roof over your head the whole way.

Offline MrBent

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2010, 04:26:56 pm »
On my Northern Tier experience (East to West), which I followed as far as Muscatine, Iowa, I only paid to camp before I started in Bar Harbor, Maine, when I first hit Lake Ontario in upstate NY, and on the border with Ohio.  I think that's it.  The rest of the time, I camped in town parks, commado camped, used Warmshowers.org, or was taken in by very friendly locals.  To keep things really low budget, you have to go beyond a conventional comfort level and seek out unusual camping options.  Sometimes these produce the best camping experiences, however.  For example, I rolled into Conway, NH, did laundry, got food, etc., but found the camping/hostel options were too high for my budget.  I looked at a map and found that I could get into National Forest land not far outside of town.  Heavily loaded with food for a layover day, I pedaled into the beginning of the White Mountains and, after a little anxious riding in the fading light, found a perfect camp next to a pond with a grand view.  The spot remains one of my fondest memories of that long and very interesting ride.  Had a stuck to conventional options, I never would have camped there.

Be adventurous--you won't regret it (usually!)   ;D

Scott

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 07:09:33 am »
Is your experience in the west, perhaps, or are you possibly referring to State Forests?

Quite possibly.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2010, 10:55:55 am »
A basic campsite in a PA state park is $17/night for non-residents.  $15 for residents.  I actually thought it would be higher.  NJ is $20 at the least.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 01:13:08 pm »
Don't worry about it. You can always find a free place to sleep somewhere. There are certain urban areas where it can be almost impossible in the NE USA. There is usually always some place somewhere. That is my experience and I have a lot of it.

Offline humunuku

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2010, 09:32:42 pm »
Thanks for all the answers...

Offline Paul A

Re: Camping in the east
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2010, 10:38:26 pm »
As you pass through a town stop at a fire house and ask if there's someplace in town where you can camp for free.  Some times it will be out behind the fire house, and some times right inside in an extra bed and the shower is in the next room.