Author Topic: wild camping in WA, OR and CA  (Read 8633 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline FX

wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« on: April 11, 2016, 10:50:14 am »
Hi,

There are so many beautiful beaches and lakes in WA, OR and CA.
I will be tempted to NOT camp on those spots.

Is it legal to pitch a tent on a beach in Oregon?
Or right there near a lake in Washington state?

Provided of course, you don't jump fences and don't trespass. Please let me be clear about that. Also wild camping etiquette: leave when you are asked to, do not leave any trash/remains behind, make sure you are not visible from the road, etc etc

What do you recommend ?

Offline John Nelson

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 11:19:16 am »
There are so many $5 and $6 campgrounds along the coast, it's hardly necessary to wild camp unless you really want to. I understand that it's legal to camp on some beaches and illegal to camp on others. Unless somebody with more experience can give you a better answer, you'll have to ask locally. I'd guess that the illegal spots are much more plentiful than the legal spots. In the cities, I think the police do a vigilant job of keeping the beaches free of campers.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2016, 12:43:40 am »
I have wild camped all over the NW.  Just find a place out of sight.  In fact, I have wild camped in sight too, once on a little league field in plain sight and once on a golf course.  We made out escape in the morning when we heard the golfers getting closer. Usually, we just looked for a level spot out of sight of the road. 

May the wind be at your back!

Offline jamawani

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2016, 09:01:14 am »
It depends on what you men by "wild camping".

Dispersed camping is legal in most western states on many types of public lands.
But then, you need to know the ownership status of the lands you are camping on.

Federal lands have the broadest dispersed camping allowances.
On lands administered by the National Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
you may camp - usually for as many as 14 days - anywhere more than 1/4 mile from a developed site.
There are specific exclusions that apply - such as protected habitat or areas with overuse.
National Park Service (NPS) and National Refuges (FWS) generally prohibit dispersed camping.

State lands are more restrictive. The rule is that dispersed camping is generally prohibited unless otherwise states.
In Washington, state forests prohibit dispersed camping, state wildlife areas generally allow dispersed camping.
Oregon state forests do permit dispersed camping - and there are significant state forests in the coastal region.
Fishing access sites are a good option - but vary from site to site in WA, OR, and CA.

The days of beach camping - a la 1960s - are long over.
Although beach up to the spring high tide line are public lands, they are significant restrictions.
Many beaches are part of protected environments, refuges, recreation areas with camping restrictions.
Beaches with ease of public access also tend to be in developed areas with zoning or ordinances.

The best way to disperse camp is to know your public lands and where they are before you head out.

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 06:34:29 pm »
For Oregon, I know that in some spots it is legal to camp on the beach. But there's a lot of parameters involved. Basically, any spot that WILL be legal to camp on the beach is going to not be easily accesible by road, and probably would mean shlepping a loaded bike along a beach for aways, or through the woods. I think the main idea of legal beach camping in Oregon in the modern era is to give folks who hike the Oregon Coastal Trail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Coast_Trail a place to camp every night, as there won't always be a state park campground around, esp. in the southern portion of the state. As such, the idea of the free beach camping is designed around through hikers, NOT cyclists.

Here's a good discussion about the legality of camping on beaches in Oregon:
http://www.oregonhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4900

To the OP, if you are willing and skilled in the stealth camping arts, there is nothing stopping you from doing that as you travel the coast. But most likely, you'll be camping illegally, even on the Oregon Coast.

And as others have said before, the frequency and cheapness of hiker-biker campsites along the coast means that you'll really want to be in the idea of stealth camping instead of using the designated spots. For example, I was out at my favorite hiker/biker site at Cape Lookout State Park last week. It's $6 a night (per person) and the campsite is literally a hundred yards from the actual ocean.


Offline johnsondasw

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 07:48:57 pm »
Right.  And showers were only a few quarters 10 years ago all through Oregon and Calif.  For me, that's reason enough to use the campground if one is available, and along the Oregon and Calif coasts, they are very available.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 10:32:37 pm »
Right.  And showers were only a few quarters 10 years ago all through Oregon and Calif.  For me, that's reason enough to use the campground if one is available, and along the Oregon and Calif coasts, they are very available.

Yes, having the showers as well makes it a slam dunk for me! Though I will note that the showers at Oregon State Parks are free, and have been for quite some time. WA and CA do charge, though.

On an average 60 mile day (with a few exceptions) you'll pass at least one hiker/biker campground, if not two or three.

Offline FX

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2016, 08:11:24 am »
Reading all your recommendations, I think it's safest to camp in designated areas where I know it is allowed.
I am not an American, so it is difficult for me to understand on what kind of property I am.

I have never heard of hiker/biker camping.
Here, I found what it means:
https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/BIKE/Pages/hiker_biker.aspx

And here, I found there are indeed plenty!
Oregon: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=visit.dsp_find
California: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=268371
Washington State: http://www.bikingbis.com/2014/02/19/washington-state-lists-parks-with-bikehike-campsites/

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2016, 01:44:06 pm »
One big benefit of using the hiker/biker sites is at least during the busy season you'll run into other touring cyclists every night, so it's not like you're travelling alone, even when you are! In fact, if you ride at the same pace as others, you'll end up running into the same people every night.

Of course, if you like being alone, this might be a drawback...

Offline zerodish

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2016, 08:12:52 am »
This is governed under title 33 US code. It is illegal for any one including any railroad or highway to block access to a navigable waterway. You will only run into to legal trouble around  ports or on native American lands. People fought and died for this right. A local law can not be written in conflict with a federal law. Don't expect the police to understand this. However if confronted mention this and they will generally back down.

Offline hbbra16

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2016, 02:20:45 pm »
There are some great crowd source apps that will tell ya about some camping along those areas. WikiCampsUSA I have on my android. I had a different one on my iphone, but don't have anymore. Camp apps are great tho for finding out about off the grid camp spots. They will give info, if it is designated camp or not, and if its legal or sneaking, when they were there, etc.

Offline Jambi

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2016, 04:35:24 am »
Wild camping in the lost coast section in Northern California is a treat!

It has hefty climbs but totally worth it.

I would stick to hiker biker campsites where possible. State campgrounds are really cheap and usually pretty quiet. You also are more likely to run into other cyclists.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: wild camping in WA, OR and CA
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2016, 02:45:38 pm »
I have bicycle-toured about 40,000 miles through 19 countries, and many times across the USA north, south, east, and west. Most all nights I spent wild camping. You can usually always find some place somewhere. Try to get through towns and cities where free, stealth camping might be nearly impossible to do. Except in and near cities, there was no problem finding such sites in CA, OR, and Washington.