Westfalia.org Community - Powered by vBulletin

Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Camping & trip planning books

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Nanaimo BC Canada
    Posts
    103

    Default

    Hi -

    Just wondering if anyone has experience of free camping. I have seen references guides called "The RVer's friend" and "Free campgrounds of the west" (from free campgrounds.com) I was wondering how good/reliable these guides are and if anyone has experience of free camping in Washington, Oregon and N California.

    Thanks

    Mike
    '82 Diesel Westy

    [This message was edited by Capt. Mike on January 23, 2004 at 06:59 AM.]

  2. # ADS
    Adsense Circuit advertisement
    Join Date
    Always
    Location
    Advertising world
    Posts
    Many
     
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Mike,

    I have no experience with free camping in established campgrounds, and I'm unsure how that business model would be sustainable at an RV-type facility. But I am aware that one can camp free of charge on Bureau of Land Management lands. The BLM oversees 264 million acres of federal lands, mostly in the western states, owned by all US citizens. Open for a variety of uses -- mining, wildlife management, recreation -- visitors can usually utilize this land free of charge.

    We recently returned from a trip to the American Southwest and one night in Utah, finding no vacancies in a state park campground, we simply drove out onto adjacent BLM lands and popped the top on our Westy to enjoy a free, quiet, and solitary evening on the prairie under the stars.

    There are no facilities offered -- water, electrical, etc. -- and you may be sharing your little plot of land with Joe Six-pack on his ATV, but usually not. One of the other many controversial uses for which this land is also utilized is open-range cattle grazing, so don't be completely surprised to wake up and find your Westy or pup tent surrounded by 200 head of stinky, cantankerous cattle.

    For maps of BLM lands and regulations regarding their uses, visit http://www.blm.gov/nhp/index.htm

    One can often camp for free on US Forest Service lands, such as National Forests. While there are usually established campgrounds in most National Forests, one can often also use 'dispersed camping' -- drive out into the woods, pull off the road or fire lane, and pop your top or pitch your tent. No-Trace camping rules should be applied: take nothing but photos, leave only footprints (and tire-prints?). Browse to http://www.fs.fed.us/

    Also visit http://www.recreation.gov/ for general information on using public lands.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Nanaimo BC Canada
    Posts
    103

    Default

    Hello again A Cooper!

    The detail you provided was what I was looking for. Not free camping in established campsites - but a place to park the Westy for the night.

    I have ordered the following books -
    Coleman National Forest Campgrounds
    Don Wright's Guide to Free Camping West

    The websites offered especially recreation.gov look excellent.

    Now why cannot Canada get in on this Free Camping thing?????

    Thanks

    Mike

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    57

    Default

    It seems most folks outside the travelling retiree crowd don't know this, but Wal*Mart invites RV'ers to park and spend the night in the front parking lot of their stores, free of charge. I'm embarrassed to admit that we made use of this service on three occasions during our recent trip, mainly on the long mind-numbing night drives across the Great Plains states.
    Paradoxically, the two best things about camping at Wal*Mart are also the two worst things about camping at Wal*Mart:
    First, they're usually located right on major highways, often visible from the Interstate on which you may be travelling. This means they're very easy to find, but also means you must endure constant, nearby freeway noise as you sleep.
    Second, most are open 24 hours. Hence a traveller can purchase a toothbrush, a camping pillow, and a hot burrito even at 3 AM, but must also
    tolerate middle-of-the-night parking lot sweeping machines, late-arriving semi-trucks, and sodium vapor lights as bright as the noonday sun.
    One night, in an effort to distance ourselves from all this activity at the front of the store, we parked way in the back near the loading docks and shipping containers, popped the top, and settled in. This proved to be a grave error, as we were assaulted by even more loud semis and forklifts. I feared our boxy Vanagon would be mistaken for one of the many empty cargo containers, loaded onto a truck, and shipped to the seaports of Malaysia to be filled with cartons of cheap hair driers, plastic dishpans, and waffle irons.

    All in all, sleeping at Wal*Mart cannot really be called 'camping', but then neither can sleeping at a $30-a-night Good Sam RV park or most KOA's. There is truth in the old RV adage:
    Q: What's the difference between camping at a Good Sam and camping in a Wal*Mart parking lot?
    A: The Wal*Mart parking lot sometimes has trees!

    And don't forget truck stops and wayside rest areas. While often just as noisy and bright, they offer a cheap and easy way to catch a few hours of shut-eye, especially on the long trip legs to and from your actual destination.

    Be a courteous neighbor at all these places: park out of the way or share a space with another small vehicle to leave room for the big-rigs, don't run your motor unneccesarily (esp. the diesels!), and don't dump your gray water on the pavement. Keeping your top down insulates some of the outside noise and also makes you less conspicuous.

    Sleep tight!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Nanaimo BC Canada
    Posts
    103

    Default

    A Cooper -

    I have just received the two afore mentioned books and it looks like there is a ton of budget sites available in the forests.

    What is the general reputation of these sites?

    They seem somewhat remote - are they generally noted to be popular, or too out of they way with not enough facilities?

    I suspect we also will be looking for truck stops and Wal-Marts on our trip. Thanks for the tips!

    Mike

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    57

    Default

    In my experience, the National Forest campsites are often some of the best: fairly remote, scenic, and rustic. Sites usually cost around $8-10 per night, and require no annual pass. Usually lacking in such niceties as showers, flush toilets, AC hookups, and large pull-thru sites, the sparseness of these campgrounds tends to discourage giant RV's and multi-family groups with lots of ill-behaved kids and dogs. You are more likely to find your neighbors are other like-minded, low-impact campers who go to bed early and get up for a sunrise hike. Usually ...

    One drawback to such a remote and rustic location is that if you DO have a few noisy yahoos partying until all hours, there is never a ranger or warden to patrol the place and keep people acting sensibly. For a more controlled environment, with more facilities, try a state park. Of course, we've probably all experienced similar problems in supposedly supervised state parks, which always cost more and offer a less rustic experience. You take your chances and hope for the best.

    All things considered, we still prefer remote National Forest campgrounds. From the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Rocky Mountains to the rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula, we find that NF sites really let us immerse ourselves in the local geography, and truly experience the place.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    2

    Default

    i bought the "free campgrounds of the west" book a few monthes ago for around 20 dollars, and so far it has proven to be very useful. it actually has campgrounds from 12 dollars or less listed. i've camped at several sights listed in it, and so far it has been accurate and the campgrounds were as described. the nicest thing about it in my opinion is that for each state there is a map with stars all over it that represent $12 or less campgrounds. so you look for stars in the area that you are going and find them in the book. then it gives you directions to get to the campground, how much it costs, what it offers as far as showers, campfires, hiking trails, fishing, etc. are concerned and the seasons that it is open. i'm glad that i bought it, i would recommend it to you.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

    Default

    Transferred to consolidate similar topics.

    Ludwig van Member posted January 16, 2004 11:44 PM

    I recently read an interesting book with a bit of a Westfalia connection. It's called 'Out West' and I think the author is Dayton Duncan. It describes a trip he took in a borrowed Westy (late 70's vintage), following the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition as closely as the highways would allow. A good travel story - anyone who read 'Blue Highways' by William Least Heat Moon would probably like it.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    29

    Default

    Alaska, anyone? Read this first!

    I just finished 'Drop City' by T.C. Boyle. Highly recommend it! This National Book Award finalist begins with a hippie commune in CA and a 1970 orange and white VW van with a peace sign painted on its side. It shifts to Alaska for a fascinating peek at the lives of traditional survivalists living off the land. The story explores the deeper philosophies of freedom and independance, contrasting the "hip" naivete of the youth movement with the raw realities of the frontier. T.C. Boyle paints a picture of the Alaskan wildlife both stunning and gruesome. Boyle uncovers the realities of the drop out culture, weaving a resolution of unexpected value to today's VW bus owner- with an enlightened understanding of the VW cultural past, and a clear vision of the future ahead. If you like hunting you will be totally delighted.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    29

    Default

    The Worst Case Scenario Survival Game
    University Games- I ordered this spin off of the popular "Worst Case Scenario" books for about $2 on ebay. Players move across a board full of scorpions, bears, and rattlesnakes by answering multiple choice questions. Sample question: How to extinguish a kerosene lamp fire? Is it a. throw water on the fire. b. smother the fire with a blanket? or c. throw dirt on the fire? You will be suprised at what you don't know! Who will survive the camping trip by answering the most questions correctly? Hundreds and hundreds of questions from how to escape killer bees to shark attack! By the way, the answer to the above question is b.This would be a lot of fun on long trips or around the campfire, we're using it to avoid watching tv.

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •