Author Topic: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route  (Read 5389 times)

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Offline schmidtke5

 I will have a bunch of time off between a move and looking for a new job this winter/spring, and I am choosing between the Southern Tier and Atlantic coast rides routed by ACA. My preference is to go up the East coast from the Keys and ride up to Newfoundland from mid March through mid June (as opposed to a Southern Tier ride from Feb-April). I'm curious if riders who have done the Atlantic coastal route found campgrounds easily? The East Coast trip has the advantage of being closer to services than the Southern Tier (which has long slogs through the desert), but I would think that would also mean a lot more car traffic.

Any riders out there who have done both the coastal route and the southern tier who can compare campground availabilty between the two routes?

Any help will be very much appreciated

--Peter

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2010, 04:11:09 am »
I have done the AC ride three times. I did not use campgrounds at all. They are ridiculously expensive just for a night  on the hard ground in a tent. If you can afford that, more power to you, but I would not pay those prices myself. Donna Ikenberry wrote a book on the ACBR. I am not sure how up to date it is, but it locates campgrounds for you. I am sure ACA has that information in their maps.

Traffic varies according to you location. Go around NYC. You don't  have to, but it is advised.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2010, 10:17:50 am »
Eleven years ago I came down the AC route from Bar Harbor to Norristown, PA with one deviation in CT.  Didn't have much trouble finding camping, except maybe on or two nights.  You may have to find alernative arrangements when heading to/passing through Norristown since it is so close to Philadelphia.  The closest campground north of Norristown is Bull's Island in NJ.  It's doable in a day from there, but I don't know where camping is available south of there.

Do expect to pay higher than average prices for camping, at least along the stretch I did.  To give you a frame of reference, the two state park campgrounds on the route in NJ (Bull's Island and Worthington State Forest, both not open until April 1) charged $20/night this year.  Commercial campgrounds will almost certainly be higher unless someone is feeling generous or sympathetic to your cause, which is something I never encountered.  I paid $30 at one place in CT, and that was in '99.  The place did have a bar, a pool and a hot tub, but come on.  I also paid $28 in Goddefroy, NY just north of of Port Jervis, NY, and it was "off-season."  This year, that place charged $36/night.  $38 if you wanted a site next to the river.

The main route does not pass close to NYC.  You would have to take the spur from Lambertville, where the route crosses into PA, to somewhere in north Jersey (Summit, I believe) and then hop the train.  The stretch in NJ (crossing back into PA for a time) and on up through the Delaware Water Gap on the NY side is, for the most part, quite pleasant.

Offline raybo

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2010, 11:23:25 am »
I rode from Charleston, SC to Bar Harbor, ME on much of the ACA route in May and September, 2010.

I carried camping equipment the entire way but rarely used it for two reasons: cost and couchsurfing.

Like Westinghouse said, the cost of camping versus motels was often as little as $10 and usually no more than $20.  Also, the campgrounds will be full of RVs, some using there generators all night.  The only time I camped was when there were no motel choices.  The motels (outside big cities) in South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland were in the $40-60/night range.  Also, I found motels to be better located than many of the campgrounds that were often next to a motorway.

The best solution, though, is to use the hospitality sites: couchsurfing.org and warmshowers.org.  With these, you get to stay for free in people's homes and usually get dinner and breakfast thrown in.  Far superior to both motels and camping.  In New England, there were enough hosts to find a place every night.  Further south, it got more difficult, but that is where the cheap motels kicked in.

As for the Southern Tier versus the AC, I have done portions of both and, for me, I'd rather ride through wooded areas than scrub.  That said, the AC route from below the Outer Banks to Charleston is pretty much pine trees 24x7.

You can read about and see lots of photos of my ride from Charleston, SC to Lambertville, NJ in my journal.

I am working on the journal for my New England trip.  You can view the work in progress here.

Good luck.

Ray
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline schmidtke5

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2010, 10:34:45 pm »
Thanks everyone, for the tips-- especially the couchsurfer address.  I've talked to people who've had luck with that, but I didn't put it together in my mind with a biking trip.

--Peter

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2010, 03:43:01 am »
I was checking out Raybo's route and photos, and it brought back memories. I immediately recognized places I had been and photographed myself. IMO, you have a really good route laid out for your journey right here. I have been that way and it is about as good as you are going to get for cycling the AC. There is a choice between the outer banks and the mainland in one area. I have done both and one is as good as the other. In summer you could run into some mighty winds on the outer banks but you can rely on mostly following winds if you go south to north. It is a good ride. There can be a lot of traffic around large cities, of course. Just avoid it.

ACA will not steer you wrong. On the ST I followed some of their route and took other roads not on their maps, and I assure you their prescibed roads were much better for cycling than some alternates I ventured onto. That much I do know. I cannot really afford their maps new, but if I had a set for any route I was planning on following, I would definitely use them.

Offline JayH

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2010, 08:31:36 am »
When I did parts of the AC route, we camped at state campgrounds, some private campgrounds and one motel (in York Beach, ME). We found that most of the private campgrounds would give us a discount, even unasked whereas the public ones are generally inflexible. The private ones generally have more ammenities and may even cook for you if you don't feel like it... 

There are some spots on the AC route that is a bit trafficky, depending on where you go, from New Paltz, it is busy on Rt 9 north of the Mid-hudson bridge (the walkway wasn't open when I went through) and there are parts of Rt 1 north of Kittery that can be busy if it's tourist season. But generally it's not too busy as far as I've seen it.

Jay

Offline schmidtke5

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 09:17:18 am »
Jay-- do you recall how much you paid on average for private campgrounds?  I'll be relocating after this trip and need to watch my money more than I'd like to on this trip.

Thank you for your help!

--Peter

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 10:44:05 am »
Juts out of curiosity, I looked up a place I stayed in Gardiner, NY.  Can't remember what I paid then, but look at the rediculous rates they now charge for tenting:

http://www.lazyriverny.com/rates.html

Pass it up for the state parks just north of Hyde Park.  A site there will run between $15 and $22.

I looked up the expensive place in CT mentioned above.  It's in East Caanan.  A basic tent site is now $44.

I never got a cylist discount at private campground on the portion I did except at a place in Searsport, ME.  Their 2010 solo cyclist rate was $30.  Maybe private places have become more cyclist-friendly.  As for state parks, their rates are fixed by government regulations.

Offline JayH

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 04:10:25 pm »
I believe the park that indyfabz is refering to is Mills Norrie State Park in Staatsburg, it is a NY DEC campground has bathroom and showers and not much else inside the campground. Has a boat launch to the hudson (probably doesn't mean anything to bike tourers unless you have a boat/kayak/canoe with you.) but there are places nearby for grub.   

As far as my average, We picked up the route in new Paltz (I did my own route from NJ as that's where I lived at the time) and stayed in state campgrounds in Staatsburg, then in Salisbury, CT (American Legion S. F) and then at a private campground in Ayers/Littleton, MA.  Then a hotel in York Beach (the campsites there were awful as it was a resort town in tourist season). After that, we stayed at a relative of my friends house in Augusta, then a friend of mine in Belfast and then our final destination in Orient, ME.  After York Beach though, we were off the ACA route... 

I really don't remember the prices, but this was sometime in the early 2000s... 

I do think it wasn't anything more than $30 at any campground at the time and my friend and I would split it too. 

This probably isn't too helpful for you though... Sorry, you can if you have the ACA maps contact each camground that is listed on them and get a price though,  if you care to plan that far ahead of time.    It usually doesn't hurt to ask for one. I know that I kindly inquired about a discount at one of the campgrounds that I stayed at and the nice lady said she already gave us one.  No prices were listed there so I asked how much...   

And you can use a AAA discount even without a car. :-)    I'm not on the ACA route either cause I live in western MA whereas the AC route hovers in northern CT til you get a lot closer to Boston.   

Jay

Offline pptouring

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2010, 08:01:28 pm »
Thanks for the information here. My wife and I were just talking about flying up to Boston and riding back to Florida along the coast next Spring/Summer timeframe. We were thinking that camping would be the way to go since it should be cheaper, but after hearing these rates we may want to rethink it. $30-$40+ a night for a tent site is nuts! How about "Hobo" camping or just staying in someone's backyard? Anyone ever pull this off?

Offline bktourer1

Re: Campground availability and car traffic on the Atlantic coastal route
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 07:56:12 pm »
State park in Salisbury MA near NH border.  Look into Warmshowers.org for hosters