Author Topic: camping sites in the Western USA  (Read 9106 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline preston uk

camping sites in the Western USA
« on: September 28, 2015, 04:04:54 am »
I live in the UK , I'm planning a trip to the west of the USA and am having some problems finding camping sites . I've explored the web but without much success.
I don't mind a bit of wild camping as long as it is secure but as I get older (60 now)  I prefer camp sites.
Can anyone suggest web sites which have location maps , facilities and prices ?
I am also confused by the rules surrounding wild camping in different areas such as forest land , state parks and BML land.
I've wild camped a lot over the years , all through Europe but I do like to follow the rules.

Many thanks.

Offline staehpj1

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2015, 08:07:39 am »
It depends on where you will be in the West.  From your other post it looks like you are considering the TA to the WE.  If you are following the AC routes it is usually pretty obvious where the likely upcoming camping spots are since many are listed on the maps.

I have not done the WE, but have done the TA, the ST, and some other ACA routes and the maps generally will keep you on track for the available camping.

For the areas you will be, you will probably not find campgrounds most of the time, but you will also not need to since you can generally camp in town parks and picnic areas where there are towns.  I have generally camped in plain sight for free in the American West.

If you ride the TA using the ACA maps you will pretty quickly get a feel for where it is OK to just pitch a tent.  Trying to plan stops ahead of the tour seems like a bad idea to me, especially on a route like the TA, but on any route in the middle of the country and a lot of the west.  It will be a huge pain and then you will likely abandon all the planning once on the road, at least that is how it would go for me.  It is worth looking at the maps a day or two ahead to allow for the sections where the towns are not conveniently spaced.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2015, 09:34:53 am »
It is worth looking at the maps a day or two ahead to allow for the sections where the towns are not conveniently spaced.

Second that.

If it makes you feel better, you can ask at police stations in the towns if you can pitch a tent overnight; the answer will almost always be yes in small towns.

About the only places you can't camp freely are national and state parks (go to the campgrounds), and of course you'll want to be careful about camping on private property.  National forests and BLM lands are fair game.

Offline staehpj1

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 10:04:36 am »
it makes you feel better, you can ask at police stations in the towns if you can pitch a tent overnight; the answer will almost always be yes in small towns.

I'll just add that a lot of the small towns that I wind up camping in are too small to have local police and too far from anything else to have a state police presence.  In those towns camping in the town picnic area is almost always fair game, but I sometimes do sometimes say something like "Do you think anyone will bother me if I pitch my tent over there for the night?".  I typically only do that if I am talking to someone anyway, like the clerk at a small general store.  If there isn't anything obvious I ask if there is a likely spot.  In the plains and the rural west that pretty much always turns up a spot.

Offline preston uk

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 04:07:27 am »
Thanks for your replies.  Camping with permission is fine , but if I use town parks what toilet facilities are there ? I can go without showering for a week but what about 'early morning motions' ? Are there toilets ? Am I correct in  assuming security isn't a problem when camping in parks?

Offline staehpj1

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2015, 07:13:08 am »
Availability of toilet facilities will vary depending on where you are.  Some town parks have toilets, showers, and a pool.  Some have a porta-pottie.  Some have a nearby convenience store or diner.  But there is usually some option.

Security?  Do you mean personal safety?  Risk of thefts?

With regard to personal safety, I have always felt pretty safe.

Theft can be an issue some places and not others.  Most really small towns I consider the risk small enough that I don't really give it a thought.  As the towns get larger I watch my stuff more closely and maybe use a light cable lock.  If big towns and cities I am more careful yet.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2015, 11:05:50 am »
If you have a specific or general route idea, you can use Google Maps to search for both public (e.g., forest service, BLM, state parks) campgrounds) and private campgrounds. Search "campgrounds near [name of town and state]". Zoom out to widen the results if nothing shows up. The results will not be exhaustive since the search will not return town parks that allow camping, but it is a good start.

For an example I used when planning a tour in Montana search Google Maps for "campgrounds near wise river, mt". The search will yield you numerous results, including several U.S.F.S. campgrounds and even a motel that has camping.  You can then Google the campground names and often find specific pages about the various facilities. For example, the above-search includes Divide Bridge Campground. If you Google that name you get, among other hits, the following, which details the amenities of the place:

http://www.blm.gov/mt/st/en/fo/butte_field_office/recreation/big_hole.html

Offline preston uk

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2015, 12:55:51 pm »
Thanks , Do the ACA maps identify suitable camping spots along all the routes ? As I get older I find the uncertainty of looking for camping spots late in the day a real pain and am keen to avoid this.  Its difficult to get hold of samples of the maps in the uk to get an idea of their detail.

Offline BobG

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2015, 01:51:33 pm »

Offline staehpj1

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2015, 06:04:39 pm »
Thanks , Do the ACA maps identify suitable camping spots along all the routes ?

All of the ones I have used did.  The Trans America is probably the most complete in that regard since it is the first ACA route and has been ridden by a lot of riders, but other routes are well documented too.  I have done the Trans America, the Pacific Coast, the Southern Tier, and half of the Sierra Cascades.  All of those did a pretty good job of documenting services including camping.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2015, 11:18:48 am »
Thanks , Do the ACA maps identify suitable camping spots along all the routes ? As I get older I find the uncertainty of looking for camping spots late in the day a real pain and am keen to avoid this.

Yes. They are well-documented. I like to know my options so I don't have to look for camping spots at the end of the day. Over the years I have done the entire Northern Tier route (shorter segments more than once) and parts of the Pacific Coast, Great Parks North, Great Parks South, Great Divide Mountain Bike (very short portion) and the Atlantic Coast routes and have always appreciated the camping information. And since I cook dinners, knowing where there are grocery stores is also very helpful to me.

County and town camping sites such as parks and fairgrounds are often free or low cost. Knowing where they are could defray at least some of the map costs.

Offline preston uk

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2015, 04:06:53 pm »
Many thanks for all your help. I've decided to do the transam. A coast to coast ride has a geographic imperative and it will let me see a good cross section of American life.
Best wishes to all my correspondents.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2015, 09:30:36 pm »
" Search "campgrounds near [name of town and state]". Zoom out to widen the results if nothing shows up. The results will not be exhaustive since the search will not return town parks that allow camping, but it is a good start."

This does work usually with regular Google searching, not Google maps. Plus if you see a town go to that town's website and see if they have parks that allow camping.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2015, 10:53:48 am »
" Search "campgrounds near [name of town and state]". Zoom out to widen the results if nothing shows up. The results will not be exhaustive since the search will not return town parks that allow camping, but it is a good start."

This does work usually with regular Google searching, not Google maps.

Huh? I do it all the time with Google Maps. I planned an entire 8-day trip across PA last year because the maps for the PA official bike routes don't show campgrounds. In fact, I just did it yesterday to search for alternative places to stay when I discovered my planned stop on Saturday is booked solid. Give the specific I have for Wise River a shot. Seeing them in Google Maps allows one to see their locations in relation to roads, towns, etc.

Offline staehpj1

Re: camping sites in the Western USA
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2015, 11:44:06 am »
" Search "campgrounds near [name of town and state]". Zoom out to widen the results if nothing shows up. The results will not be exhaustive since the search will not return town parks that allow camping, but it is a good start."

This does work usually with regular Google searching, not Google maps.

Huh? I do it all the time with Google Maps.

Yeah, I have often searched for nearby stuff on google maps.

I will mention that it might be of limited use on much of the Trans America though for the following reasons:
1. Most services are already on the ACA maps.
2. Most of the places I camped on the TA, like the town parks you mentioned, are not officially "campgrounds"

I actually think it is much more useful for finding other services than camping.  Since the ACA maps only show things that are on or very close to the route, if you need a bike shop, doctor, hospital, or whatever there may be one off route that is much closer to the next one that is on route.  That is where the google map search might come in handy for the OP.