My son and I are just starting to get into touring this year and we started with a couple of local overnight tours to practice and confirm we had the right equipment.
We completed one short trip to a local state park without a problem. So on our next trip I decided to go a little further, about 33 miles. Not wanting to get to the park and find they were full, I called ahead and got the indication that there was still space but they did not accept reservations.
When we arrived I quickly spotted the "Camp Full" sign. I confirmed with the park ranger they were full and nothing was available. But there was no way we were riding home especially since my son was tired of riding and we just came down a 1.5 mile hill so steep we hit 40mph. So I asked a few probing questions like "is there any other camping options" and then kind of stood there with a "what are we going to do look". She then said something like "well since you are on bikes maybe you can find an open camp spot". That's all the invitation I needed and I quickly said OK and we continued into the park. Fortunately it was a very large forested park and we found a fairly secluded spot in the official day use area where we ended up "stealth camping" without a problem. It turned out to be a great spot without any neighbors at all. We even had a deer visit us in the morning.
I felt a little bad about not getting official permission, but I didn't want to risk asking permission and getting rejected because they park rangers were obligated to follow the camp rules.
Anybody else have other stories about trouble finding a spot to camp after a long ride?