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  1. #1
    Senior Member Patch29's Avatar
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    Blue Ridge Parkway Camping?

    I am possibly looking at taking a trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway and to Skyline Drive. I would like to camp most of the way. I know that there are dedicated campgrounds (with fees). What type of backcountry (non-established campsites) camping options are there? Can you just pull off the road, go out of sight and set up camp. I am looking at doing very low impact camping. I would like to hear what others have done and what regulations there are. Is it less restricted where the parkway runs through National Forests? Any information would be appreciated.

    Patrick

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    I rode the stretch about ten years ago. I stayed in campgrounds where it fit my pace. I don't know what the rules are about backcountry sites, but I didn't get caught. You'll see plenty of rangers on Skyline. The rest of the parkway is not patrolled as heavily. When there wasn't a conveniently placed campground at the end of the day, I either packed it into the woods out of sight or didn't use the tent and hid behind a building or something. I remember it being fairly easy to find a good spot off the road. But that's ten years ago...

  3. #3
    NOT a weight weenie Hunter's Avatar
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    Just watch the fires and especially the smoke and yu should have zero problems.

  4. #4
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    I would say the BRP wild-camping rules are no different than wild camping anywhere else. When I wild camp i do not unpack much of my stuff so that if i need to boogie out in a hurry (troublemakers, etc) I can do so. Of course no fires but i use a cookstove anyway.

    I like to 'wild camp' so that when i wake up in the morning a restaurant or store is just up the road where i can snag food and coffee for breakfast.

    In general, try and wild camp far enough back that you aren't visible after dark but are within easy reach of the roadway (again, in case troublemakers show up). Try and camp on the inside of a turn so that automobile headlights always point away from the area where you are camped: reflectors catch attention of cops and robbers alike.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  5. #5
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    i have hiked around on the BrPw outside of asheville, NC a bit and from what i recall the brush is extremely thick there. i would not want the task of finding a flat place with no bushes to put a tent up. i have only been in this one small area, but if it is any indication of the rest of the road....

    of course i never want this task, so i use a hammock and a tarp. a small lightweight hammock such as this one which i just ordered today to replace the one i've been using of the same design (but slightly smaller) for 5 years and over a thousand nights of camping.
    http://www.army-surplus.com/ss_store/camping.html#88

    i also use a 6x8 canvas tarp. i pitch it over me pup-tent style, giving me room underneath me to place other things i wish to keep dry. i have used this in southeast alaska rainforest and in the heaviest rains i've ever used a 3 season tent in, and stayed far, far dryer than the tent would have been, and far more comfy. as well as less space when packed and a 5 minute setup time..

    the full setup is sort of involved but i can explain it further if you want to know.. just drop an email.

    this setup also makes it possible to camp on a hillside.. a place where neither authority or troublemaker will look to be in most cases.

    that would be a beautiful ride! one thing to note. some of the tunnels on the road near asheville are long.. use at -least- a blinking light in these areas. most people driving cars probably have the IQ of a small badger, and may or may not turn -their- lights on, as you can see the other end of the tunnel usually, but maybe not a cyclist in the middle.

    hiding the cycle shouldn't be a problem. 30 feet and bushes makes it hard for me to find my rig and i have a bob with a glaring white flag on it.

    perhaps more than you asked for, but this is something is sort of passionate about....

    enjoy your ride!
    kim s chatfield
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  6. #6
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Originally posted by sakredchao

    of course i never want this task, so i use a hammock and a tarp. a small lightweight hammock such as this one which i just ordered today to replace the one i've been using of the same design (but slightly smaller) for 5 years and over a thousand nights of camping.
    http://www.army-surplus.com/ss_store/camping.html#88

    i also use a 6x8 canvas tarp. i pitch it over me pup-tent style, giving me room underneath me to place other things i wish to keep dry. i have used this in southeast alaska rainforest and in the heaviest rains i've ever used a 3 season tent in, and stayed far, far dryer than the tent would have been, and far more comfy. as well as less space when packed and a 5 minute setup time..

    the full setup is sort of involved but i can explain it further if you want to know.. just drop an email.

    this setup also makes it possible to camp on a hillside.. a place where neither authority or troublemaker will look to be in most cases.

    Nice idea!! I never thought of a hammock in terms of comfort and safety on a hillside. A couple questions...

    (1) is the hammock comfortable or are you unable to sleep in a truly correct posture?

    (2) do you have a way for setting up the hammock in a non-forested area?

    Good point about the tunnels. They are long, dark, and not often lit. The 'light at the end of the tunnel' blinds most drivers. A flashlight is good; I pointed mine backwards and waved it up and down until I was sure a car saw me. In fact very often I got smack in the middle of the lane and used the cars headlights as a guide thru the tunnel, so that I wouldn't disappear into a pothole. Very often I walk thru tunnels for this reason.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

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    roughstuff.. in response to your questions:

    comfort.. i, personally, am comfortable.. there was a period of time when my knees would hurt, as they would try to bend backwards with the curve of the hammock, but i just put some clothes in there to prop them up at an angle and it fixed that entirely. i sleep on my side a lot, and when i do i place the clothes between my legs, as is ergonomically advised when sleeping on your side in a bed... and i put a clothes-pillow inside my sleeping bag for my head..

    i'm no doctor, i don't know if how i sleep is bad, but if how i sleep in the hammock is bad, then probably how i sleep on the ground or in a bed is bad too. what is a "truely correct sleeping position?"

    the hammock is not just good for hills, but i've slept over streams and such also. i'm pretty stable in it, although other people tend to fall out if they aren't used to it. i fell out twice. once the hammock was partly on the ground and i was on a hill, so i sort of rolled out. and the other time i was drunk, and that's just what one gets for being drunk.. i've slept in it many other times intoxicated with no problems.

    if you are considering using a setup like this.. get what i call a balance bar.. i use nylon climbing ribbon and carribeaners to tie off to trees.. and i run another strip of ribbon above me to grab onto while getting in and out of the hammock, or reaching for something on the ground.. the tarp also rests on this. this extra ribbon can be used to extend your reach if all the trees are a large diameter and far apart, however i perfer to not do this if possible.

    the one and only drawback i have found is that in the winter it is COLD. normally you have the ground to keep your heat below you.. you warm up a patch of ground with your body heat.. in the hammock, that heat is lost.. the sleeping bag is compressed underneath you against the hammock and it's insulating power is lessened. you can pull the tarp over you and that keeps in some heat, (especially a canvas one) but it can still be chilly if you don't dress for the cold..

    i'll wear a couple pair of woolies on my feet, and a couple pair of thermals twards the beginning of winter, and then ditch the hammock for the winter and use a wool blanket (a matilda, as i go a-waltzing matilda) as a sleeping pad.

    if you were in deep snow (3+ ft), you might be able to make it warm by building insulation walls, or digging down and staying in a showhole with the hammock, but i don't have any experience with this, yet...

    if i'm in a place with no trees, i lay my tarp on the ground.. and if it rains, i just fold it over me. i'm in the southwest now, and even if i get completely drenched i'll be dry by 10am.. of course, i like trees, and generally stick by them. i seem to recall you being from the eastern part of the US where rain can last awhile, and humidity stay high after that, which could lead to longterm discomfort if you had no way to dry out.

    also i compared weight on my 1-man MTN hardware 3 season backpacking tent and my setup.. the canvas tarp makes my setup a couple lbs heavier.. but it's so worth it to stay dry. (tents, even good ones, are almost -always- damp after a good nights' rain.) i don't have my 3-man anymore to compare with that, as that is the tent with comparable space to the hammock/tarp.

    hmm.. i sure am longwinded. hope this helps.
    kim s chatfield
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  8. #8
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    after the suggestion of ken kifer's bikepacking page in another thread i went to read it and found this:

    ..."The Blue Ridge Parkway,
    even more extreme, threatens six months in jail."...

    might be worth official research. i would camp it cause i'm not scared of bullies, even ones with badges and guns.. and i'm used to camping illegally and moving on. but that is each persons own risk they take on for themselves.
    kim s chatfield
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Patch29's Avatar
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    Thanks for pointing that out. I did read that about a week ago. I guess if you do it just make sure you are very hidden.

  10. #10
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    In the Shen.N.P. along the Skyland Drive backcountry camping (anywhere a certain distance from the road or trail)is free but a permit is required.Personally I have camped there frequently backpacking and never bothered to get a permit once andwas never discovered but then again I knew my way around .As to the Parkway again all my camping there was done away from the road along the A.T.mostly there .I can guarantee you thruhikers going through there on the A.T. often camp close to the road sometimes even in the car pulloffs.I would not do this more due to security reasons because while rare there have been cases of sicko's bothering campers in the area .One case from the Shen.N.P. is going to trial as we speak(the two girls who were killed about 7 years ago).So while I have seen that bit on Ken's site I would think if you stay off the parkway overlooks and camp on Natl. forest or wilderness areas etc. and are low impact and discreet you will have no problem even in the unlikely event a ranger were to discover you.On the other hand if you had chopped down trees to start a fire to roast a endangered eagle you might have problems lol.It probably wouldn't hurt to check with the Parkway officials to see what they say though and maybe even post what they say to this thread for others benefit.

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