Author Topic: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route  (Read 4602 times)

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Offline Prometheus

Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« on: February 19, 2015, 04:39:26 pm »
Hi All -

I am riding the Pacific Coast Route from Bremerton to San Diego starting late March.  I have the ACA maps and the guidebook "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" that give great descriptions of the campgrounds along the way.  However, there is little mention on the avilability of primitive camping that would allow greater flexibility and save some money.  Does anyone know if you can readily pull off the road along the route?  I would imagine the further south you get, the less the opportunites exist.

Also, for the state campgrounds, is drinking water available year-round?

thank you

Offline staehpj1

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2015, 05:48:50 pm »
The hiker biker sites in the state parks are already pretty cheap ($4-8 for most of them).  They also are nice because you can usually fall in with a group of folks on the same pace and camp with them every night.

Given your March start you may not meet many others though.  Also the parks may not be open yet.  Also I have heard that March is likely to be very wet on the coast and bad weather can bring strong winds out of the south.  Then there are mudslides.  You are fairly likely to have some issues with road work or road closure that time of year.

You can probably stealth camp but hiding in the rain in the middle of nowhere doesn't sound fun to me.  Can you possibly go later in the season?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2015, 07:50:25 pm »
I think wild camping would be pretty easy north of San Francisco. Plenty of open country there. From San Francisco to Santa Barbara, it's probably possible, with fewer opportunities. South of Santa Barbara might be hard. As Pete says, some campgrounds may not be open that early, but that might give you greater options (if you don't get caught). As Pete says, the campgrounds, if open and if they have hiker/biker sites are already pretty cheap ($5-$12).

Offline Prometheus

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2015, 09:03:02 pm »
Thanks for the information.  I wasn't sure if the sites were still that cheap, that is a great deal.  Unfortunately the timeline is locked inas the only longer stretch I can get off work this year.  At least I can hope to pedal into better weather.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2015, 09:17:12 pm »
Thanks for the information.  I wasn't sure if the sites were still that cheap, that is a great deal.  Unfortunately the timeline is locked inas the only longer stretch I can get off work this year.  At least I can hope to pedal into better weather.

Unfortunately early spring is a bit unpredictable on the Pacific Coast, esp. north of San Francisco. You may luck out and get some good weather, which usually means a wind from the NW (tailwind!) But if it's still wet/stormy, the wind would be coming out of the south. Then you'd be looking at a fierce headwind on top of getting soggy. My old room-mate toured south along the coast around your timeframe (late March into April) many a year ago, and there were lots of reports of headwinds and wetness. South of San Francisco the chances of better weather increase, but you'll probably have to work really hard for it.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 08:20:07 am »
If you are locked into the date, maybe you need to just hope for the best weather wise.  On the other hand you could consider a slightly different locale.  Maybe you could start farther south and continue on to some of the Baja peninsula, or possibly ride some of the Southern Tier?  You could consider making the call at the last minute depending on what the weather report looks like.

In any case I hope you have a great trip.

Offline jamawani

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2015, 10:31:16 am »
If you are locked into the date - why not choose a better route?
Like the southwest desert country?

If you start in San Diego, you can ride northwards via Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree to Mojave National Monument and Death Valley, then perhaps extreme southern Utah, the Grand Canyon, and the Four Corners region to Albuquerque - - and take Amtrak back.

The desert Southwest also has unlimited opportunities for dispersed camping - but also designated sites with facilities. Not sure about Oregon parks, but California parks have had multiple years of budget cuts. I would suspect that many are not open yet in March - especially those further north and on the coast.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2015, 12:04:29 pm »
Not sure about Oregon parks, but California parks have had multiple years of budget cuts. I would suspect that many are not open yet in March - especially those further north and on the coast.

Oregon's parks haven't suffered the same budget woes that have befallen California, or Washington state for that matter. And as far as I know, all the Oregon coastal camping parks are open all year round. The only parks that close for winter (west of Cascades) are inland, and these typically open mid-March.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2015, 12:21:04 pm »
The status of California parks is available at http://www.parks.ca.gov/parkindex/. I would pay very close attention to which parks have hiker/biker sites, as that can make a huge cost difference for solo bicycle travelers.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2015, 12:25:20 pm »
And here's where to find the Oregon state park camping:
http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=visit.dsp_find
TIP: Click "hiker biker campsites" from the column on the left.

Offline Prometheus

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2015, 12:30:35 pm »
Thanks again for all the replies.  Sounds like Oregon will have some great camping.  Thanks for the weblink to the CA parks.

Although I have already purchased my flight to Seattle, it might be worth the lost $$ if the weather is going to be horrible.  I don't mind rain too much (used to live in Olympia, WA), but head winds are not so much fun.  I have considered some optional routes including something along the lines that jamawani suggests.  The most important part of the trip is to finish in San Diego to visit family (and my wife is meeting me there).  I'm in Colorado Springs and thought if I could work over to the Southern Tier route either via the Grand Canyon connector or portions of the Great Divde route, that could work.  I would obviously have to reroute over the passes for the Great Divide (plus I've already ridden all of it through New Mexico), but I think that would be possible.  Good portions of the divide are paved or great dirt roads along that section.  No matter what I decide, thanks for all the information, it is a huge help.

Offline Prometheus

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2015, 12:33:30 pm »
I was just checking one of the Oregon campgrounds and every picture is sunny, so I should have nothing to worry about  :)

Offline staehpj1

Re: Primitive Camping on Pacific Coast Route
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2015, 12:41:31 pm »
Although I have already purchased my flight to Seattle, it might be worth the lost $$ if the weather is going to be horrible.

You might check your airline's policy on the lost $$$.  You might not have to lose the money.  I have found that at least some airlines, while they won't give a refund on a non-refundable flight, they will give you a credit toward a different flight.  I have had good luck with that a couple years ago when a trip fell through due to family responsibilities.  The Southwest did require me to use the credit within a year of the date of the cancelled flight, if I remember correctly.  I think other airlines typically have a similar policy.