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Old 04-14-05, 06:53 PM   #1
David in PA
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Virginia Route - More Motels/Campgrounds?

Two years ago, I used the Adventure Cycling Transamerica maps to tour across all of Virginia and another 70 miles into Kentucky. I found the maps to be generally excellent.

One problem, however, was sometimes experiencing a cycling day that was either too long or too short, based on the available places to spend the night. For example, the first available motel/campground was, say, 30 miles from my starting point. The second place was 50 miles from my starting point. I would have to stay at the first place (a much too-short cycling day) because I just don't do 80 miles (yet).

Apparently, VA is not like the west in that you can camp almost "anywhere."

Any suggestions for alleviating this problem in my upcoming Transamerica05 tour? Other routes? Friends who want to take me in for the night? BTW, a few other places were available to spend the night along the route, but they charged way over my budget ($100, roughly).

Thanks,
David in PA
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Old 04-14-05, 07:03 PM   #2
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David -

Yes, that is a problem with the east and with the TransAm.
A couple of options:
1. You can camp anywhere on national forest lands even in the east unless posted otherwise.
2. There are lots of state forestry lands in the Piedmont - although they do not permit camping - you would likely go unnoticed without a car - esp. if you left right away in the morning.
3. Less so on the TransAm - More likely off it - ask at little country churches. Ask who the pastor is and if you might contact him (rarely her). This option continues to dwindle as we become a more fearful society - even in rural Virginia.
4. Many counties have fishing lakes where camping is permitted - do a web search. They may be a few miles off the route, but are quite pleasant.

Best - J
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Old 04-19-05, 06:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jamawani
David -

Yes, that is a problem with the east and with the TransAm.
A couple of options:
1. You can camp anywhere on national forest lands even in the east unless posted otherwise.
2. There are lots of state forestry lands in the Piedmont - although they do not permit camping - you would likely go unnoticed without a car - esp. if you left right away in the morning.
3. Less so on the TransAm - More likely off it - ask at little country churches. Ask who the pastor is and if you might contact him (rarely her). This option continues to dwindle as we become a more fearful society - even in rural Virginia.
4. Many counties have fishing lakes where camping is permitted - do a web search. They may be a few miles off the route, but are quite pleasant.

Best - J
Thanks for your suggestions! I was also thinking of asking farmers or ranchers if I could camp out-of-sight on their land.

David
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Old 04-19-05, 07:16 AM   #4
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I was going to say basically what John did. I've 'stealth camped' in places where I wasn't supposed to before with little guilt, but the east is largely posted (I reckon the west is probably a few years from this, but eastern America has an "ownership" fetish, for sure, and is heavily populated). The best option is to go 'park by park.'

Campgrounds stink in general because they are typically anathema to 'true' camping, although you can meet some really nice people. I just don't like the sardine can nature of them, the noise, the smells, the gravel, etcetera, nor do I feel comfortable sleeping in a tent while my bicycle is at the mercy of [everyone]. Add on the $15 price for such luxury, and it's just not worth it unless you really need to shower.

Asking people is always good. I have been offered so many backyard spots just from local conversations with the curious - without even asking. One option is to find where the Boy Scout lands are, and ask for a place to camp in exchange for a lecture on cyclotouring. It's so rewarding to introduce this activity to eager kids, and the Boy Scouts are friendly as a matter of course, even if they turn your offer down. Police, too, will often let you park it on their front lawn if you ask the right ones very nicely. Cemeteries are a further option.

When I was first starting this wonderful activity, I used to just camp wherever I wanted and could easily get off-road, including posted property (I wasn't cutting fences or anything, but if a place looked deserted save a "posted" sign, I'd camp there with no loss of sleep over it). In a pinch I will still do this, because I will not ride at night for any reason and will camp where I will if the sun goes down before I've made it to my planned destination - but I ultimately gave it up as a general practice for a variety of reasons, foremost of which is that it really is not fair to the landowner.

I've found that there is some measure of risk in primitive 'stealth' camping where I live (NY). Even in state parks in this area, it is not really permitted to camp au sauvage, but again I just do anyways, and even park authorities that I've talked to after the fact were completely non-plussed and congenial about it. This, of course, is entirely empirical and not a 100% endorsement that you go about telling people what you're doing. There are enforcement-freaks everywhere, and you never know when you're going to run into one. Barring a *really* unusual coincidence or a bad choice of spots, you are never going to be found out though, and I have to admit a certain thrill in seeking your own destination.

Ken Kifer has some good words on this whole issue: http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/camping.htm

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Old 04-19-05, 07:39 AM   #5
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Send me a PM if you want to stay at my place when you come through Roanoke, VA or nearby.

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Old 04-19-05, 07:51 AM   #6
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Send me a PM if you want to stay at my place when you come through Roanoke, VA or nearby.

Makoa
Ditto in the Charlottesville, VA area.
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Old 04-19-05, 11:08 AM   #7
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David -

Here are a couple of websites from Virginia Game & Fish with lakes and streams some with camping, some without but probably doable.

http://www.dgif.state.va.us/fishing/lakes/index.html
http://www.dgif.state.va.us/fishing/rivers/index.html
http://www.dgif.state.va.us/hunting/wma/index.html
http://www.dgif.state.va.us/hunting/..._hunting_lands
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Old 04-19-05, 11:10 AM   #8
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PS -

Camping Policy on Virginia DG&F Lands

Primitive camping is permitted on Department-owned lands, except as otherwise posted. Camping is prohibited on or within 100 yards of any Department-owned or controlled boat ramp or fishing lake. Camping on Department-owned lands is not to exceed 14 consecutive days. Only 3 camping units permitted per site. On the George Washington/Jefferson National Forests camping for more than 21 consecutive days without having terminated Forest occupancy for a minimum of 10 days within a 31-day time period is prohibited.
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