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Off the beaten path camping
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redtail
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:15 am    Post subject: Off the beaten path camping Reply with quote

How do you guys find these spots? Just drive until you see a nice looking fire road and get going up it? Do you know the property owner or just squat and hope you don't get caught? Can you camp in a National Forest wherever you want, or is that rule only for backpackers? I've only ever had the westy in to sanctioned campgrounds, and I'd like to do get further away from the RVs this summer.
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Sheesh
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends if you are east or west coast.

In the west, dispersed car camping is allowed in most National Forest and Bureau of Land Management areas.

How do you find the "cool" spots? Research and read from a variety of sources, including print and net. Most NF/BLM areas have scenic / natural areas that are marked on many maps, including the individual forest maps and the 1/100,000 BLM maps. Get some!

The east coast and parts of the mid west are much different, given the population and limited public land that is management much more heavily.

Good luck!
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:43 am    Post subject: Re: Off the beaten path camping Reply with quote

redtail wrote:
..... Can you camp in a National Forest wherever you want, or is that rule only for backpackers? I've only ever had the westy in to sanctioned campgrounds, and I'd like to do get further away from the RVs this summer.



Check out your states/provinces forestry service. They should have detailed maps of forestry service roads and pack in/out type camp sites. Some are even free! I recall travelling through eastern WA and finding a little free pack in/out spot right across from a little lake:


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IIRC, it might not have been Forestry, (wildlife/game?) but was all mine for the night.

Neil
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Dogpilot
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a fundamental difference from east to west. In the east, most land is privately owned with a few federal or state parcels that follow strict rules. In the west most land is federal, state or trust owned with few rules. There is private land, but it is obvious and normally marked. A good rule of thumb is; the more popular a park is, the more likely there will be camping restrictions. Most National Parks and Monuments have restrictions, most National Forests have seasonal ones, trust and BLM have very few.

A quick look at the web site or a stop at the regional offices will give you a quick run down on the do and don't. Sometimes a stop at a regional office will net you directions to a very cool but little used place (maps sometimes provided). The overseers of many of these lands like folks to use it on a dispersed basis, so any one part does not get burned out. The normal camping limit for National forests is two weeks, then you must move. However, in our local forests in Northern AZ, there are only about 10 Forest Service Enforcement/Recreational personnel in this part of the state. This is to enforce an area the size the US east coast. Needless to say, there is little supervision. One also needs to pay attention to your own security with whatever tools or techniques you find acceptable.
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Sheesh
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to park my transporter (w/ futon in back) outside of Strawberry Crater 15 years or so ago in the Coconino. Still allowed? How about the Kendrick area?

Having worked for the feds (NPS), I know things change yearly!

Thanks!
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Dogpilot
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only restrictions we have concern the canyon area. Then there are the seasonal fire closures for high fire risk. Kendrick is still good, as is Strawberry. Kendrick is great to camp at the base and hike to the meadow for sunset views. You can see for 200 miles up there.
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aswah
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:01 pm    Post subject: I prefer the term Stealth Camping Reply with quote

that is a term left overs from hiking the Appalachain Trail from GA to ME... many times, especially in the Whites you could find cherry spots off the beaten path, so to speak...

I am writing and starting a blog called Aswah's Guide to the Universe which will feature a section on stealth pots that are VW accessable. Over the years I have camped in so many I decided to start writing them down and taking pictures...

East Coast has plenty of spots... part of the problem out east is that there is a larger population density so it makes it harder to find that cherry spot... harder - BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE!... though I did get a warning about one last weekend near Jug End in Connecticut. Around Stratton Mountain in Vermont has millions...

I usually like to drive down roads I should not... those always lead to cherry spots. Some of the best have been on cliffs in Alaska - above Keys Canyon and the foot of Thompson Glacier... blueberries everywhere... or near Cordova, Alaska... down the 55 mile road to nowhere and across the rickety Million Dollar Bridge... 14 glaciers come down in a vaLLEY chock full of grizzlies and eagles and black bears... total paradise. I love sleeping in the wild with glacial run off and the gun shot sounds of glaciers calving... wowzers...

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when I get my blog rolling I will post the address...


PEACE

ASWAH
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aswah
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Redtail... lots of National Forest are prime picking... I also find a lot of spots going down old snowmobil trails which, at least out here, are old logging roads... sometimes I carry a chain saw to prevent being trapped down old roads...

aswah

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redtail
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the awsome response guys! This makes me happy I live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm planning an extended camping trip the summer through the North Western states and Canada over to Northern Minnesota and I wanted to get some ideas on how to get away from the heavily used campgrounds. I'll aim for National Forests/Wilderness in the area and ask or call a ranger for the lowdown on the rules.
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FNGRUVN
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey aswah, you really need to think about writing a book on VW camping. With your extensive travels, experiences, and an obvious gift with the written word, the book would be a hit. I'd buy it. Very Happy
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Jon_slider
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:55 pm    Post subject: GPS to show roads near rivers Reply with quote

I use a GPS to help me find places.

I also make rivers a destination, that I use my GPS to find roads near ... I find fishermen and I sometimes use similar access points.

I also ask the Ranger where it is legal to spend the night.

When travelling through places, I do quite a bit of urban stealth camping too. I spend the day in beautiful settings, that are illegal to overnight in, then move to sleep only.

For example, recently on a ski trip to Wolf Creek, I found a beautiful spot by the river in Pagosa Springs, at the Visitor Center.

I spent time there during non business hours, before and after ski. Had access to the Hot Springs, which is a major goal of many of my travel routes. I moved to a nearby Motel parking lot to sleep stealth, top down.

Here is a link to photos of my vans in New Mexico and California.. http://picasaweb.google.com/sliderjon/VanPhotos

I just discovered this free picture hosting site.. it will do a nice slideshow too..


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buschy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:58 pm    Post subject: National Forest Campgrounds are a great option- Reply with quote

Since you mentioned Northern Minnesota, I thought I'd add my 2 cents. Most of these campgrounds are better than a crowded State Park, but not as remote as an 'end of the road' spot (at least here in Minnesota, I can't vouch for East or West coast)):

http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/list/nflist.htm

I stayed at one last summer that had 4 drive-in sites, no other campers but my family, and a lake full of Rainbow trout (no, I'm not telling which one, that's a secret).
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you are in the PNY, you should have no problems at all. I grew up there. If you can drive your westy to it without trespassing on private property you can most likely camp there. Just start taking old side roads, logging roads etc. The PNW is full of prime spots!!
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ckissick
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As others have said, there are plenty of legal, rustic spots in national forests in the west. In the midwest, I have camped in corn fields, little league parking lots, and old logging roads.

One memorable spot was in northern Minnesota, on the side of a dirt road overlooking a lake. This was near the source of the Mississippi, Lake Itasca. I also found an old gold mine road in the Black Hills of ND.
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Rhinoculips
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my favorite tools for finding the off the beaten path spots is the DeLorme Gazetteer atlas' that are large topo atlas' by state. I LOVE 'EM!

check them out at:
http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10042

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Engineers Pass near Silverton, Colorado

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Overlooking Monument Valley in the distance...NICE!

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Starlight, starbright.....

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A hidden Oasis near Moab, Utah. No one ever comes down this dead end Canyon. One and a half weeks of seeing no one! This is unheard of anywhere near Moab.

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My '73 Westy in Alaska. Didn't see another soul on this forest service road for over 3 weeks! NO my van is not 2 toned, the sides are caked after a long drive through mucky mud.
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redtail
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked

Holy cow Rino! That is some nice inspiration for me! I think I'll head over to the Tillamook State Forest this weekend and see if I can get out off the normal path. I'll post some pics for you guise if I am successful.
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rino,

Engineer Pass, Cedar Mesa,

nice.
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Rhinoculips
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tencentlife wrote:
Rino,

Engineer Pass, Cedar Mesa,

nice.


Two of my many favorite spots to camp! Colorado and Utah ROCK and I have been blessed growing up here.

I have been eyeing a dirt road about 500 to 1000 feet below, between Cedar Mesa and the San Juan River. It runs along the "shelf" and looks like it would be worth exploring and see where it leads to. My camp spot on Cedar Mesa was almost at the end of the main road and tucked off almost out of sight of the tourist going by. What amazing sunrises and sunsets there! Not to mention the stars. The sunrise photo posted above is at Cedar Mesa as well. I had to watch my step when taking a leak in the middle of the night. 10 to 15 feet straight out of the side door it dropped hundreds of feet. That would hurt.

Here is a vid of a ride out of a canyon in Western Colorado. Its nothing to exciting. If it were, I wouldn't be holding an expensive camera in one hand trying to film while steering with the other. I also like the sound track.


Link

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tikibus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. Great pics and thread.

Here in NY the DEC works hard to maintain the ADK's. There are places that the locals know that is off the Beaten Path. VT too.
Sure, you can tuck yourself into a lone pasture way out of sight, only to have one pissed Farmer knocking on your door. BTDT.

Hence my quest to do a gathering on the Erie Canal. But, BIG but is a Finding a place to do such thing. Each Lock Tender has a "rule of the Roost" Plus every lock is open for: Foot, Bike,Boat camping (free), nothing else. RV's are not welcome, the Westy is in that list. The Westy is, in the mindset a comfort/pleasure vehicle. Asked once if I needed to have a Dump Station, Er no. Power? No. Water Hook-up? No.
Conservative Northerners, Grumpy to the hilt.

Hence the Quest.
The East Coast as a rule, as implied above, "Off Limits" in many ways. But to explore and find the sweet spot can be found, just don't get found.
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tencentlife
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice vid. That was kind of fun.

Quote:
I have been eyeing a dirt road about 500 to 1000 feet below, between Cedar Mesa and the San Juan River. It runs along the "shelf" and looks like it would be worth exploring and see where it leads to.


I've been eyeing the same road. Been up to Muley Point several times in the last few years, after trips down the Goosenecks. I do know that the first part of that road leaves the highway a bit north of the turnoff for the Goosenecks overlook, and you can drive to the top of the Honnaker Trail. You can hike down at the deepest part of the Goosenecks, about 1100'. We always camp at Honnaker and hike to the rim from the river mid-trip.

From top of Honnaker, I don't know how far that road goes. Always worth finding out!

Our anniversary is next month and my wife and I always take a road trip then. This thread is giving me some great ideas. We were in that same area last year: Hovenweep, Garden of the Gods, Natural Bridges, Indian Creek. Nice. Four Corners is our backyard.
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