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Where can you camp for free in plain site?

Old 08-19-14, 10:01 AM
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Where can you camp for free in plain site?

Without stealthing, where can you camp on the up and up for free? Are there long sections of a route that are like that?

Close to me, there is Dawson Forest. There are no camp sites per se. You just camp where you want to and pay no fee (there's a parking fee if you show up in a vehicle but that's inapplicable for bicycles).

There's also Bankhead Forest, where I've camped in the neighboring state of Alabama. They have free dispersed camping and I stayed there on a tour last fall.

But in each of these cases they are isolated stops. Not a situation where you ride day after day camping for free.

I know there are hiker/biker campgrounds on the towpath and allegeny passage. Are there other places where you might ride day after day camping for free? Are they specific campsites? How far apart are they?
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Old 08-19-14, 10:40 AM
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As you noted, one may camp for free in any national forests in the USA. One could plot a route through various states hitting many national forests and thereby have day-after-day of free camping.
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Old 08-19-14, 11:39 AM
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Road side parks. In Texas, you are not suppose to pitch a tent, but......, ask forgiveness. In lieu of a tent, top of a table works and is legal. In New Mexico, tent is ok. I have pitched on state rightways, not far from the road. At night, no one is likely to notice.

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Old 08-19-14, 12:01 PM
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The West. Nevada has more than 90% public lands.

https://www.astrongnevada.com/wp-cont...deral_Land.jpg

You can camp anywhere more than 1/4 mile from a developed recreation site on National Forest and BLM lands.
You cannot random camp on National Park or National Wildlife Refuge lands - for the most part.
State lands vary from state to state - chiefly state forests, state wildlife areas, and fishing access sites.
You have to do a little homework, but there are many such places in Eastern states.

Throughout the Great Plains there is a near-perfect grid of dirt roads.
If you ride one mile off a highway to an intersection of two farm roads,
you can camp undisturbed and legally in the right-of-way.
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Old 08-19-14, 12:02 PM
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PS - Do NOT camp on Indian Reservation lands.
You will not be appreciated.
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Old 08-19-14, 12:41 PM
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Many of the small city parks and fairgrounds in Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana allow camping, or at least don't run you off.

Also, if you ask maintenance workers in the parks, or the local police, they can tell you what is available. I think this approach seems to work better if you are not on a main ACA route where hundreds of cyclist pass through monthly.

In Oregon Hiker/ biker sites are usually $5, which is a pretty good deal, and should not break the bank. On a tour earlier this summer, three of us stayed stayed twice in National Forest campgrounds for $3.50 (total) a night. I have a "Golden Age" passport that gets me into Federal parks for free, and campgrounds for 1/2 price. However, the price for getting one is steep; you have to get old.

The county fairgrounds in Lusk, NE. We did not ask but just pitched our tent out in plain sight. Some of the locals invited us to a horse show taking place there later in the evening. By the start of the show the whole town knew we were "stealth" camping. There was a city park nearby, but we were warned that the sprinklers came on about 11:30 pm.


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Old 08-19-14, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Road side parks. In Texas, you are not suppose to pitch a tent, but......, ask forgiveness. I lieu of a tent, top of a table works and is legal. In New Mexico, tent is ok. I have pitched on state rightways, not far from the road. At night, no one is likely to notice.
I cowboy camped or used a bivy in quite a few of those Texas picnic stops. I have stayed under bridges in Texas and Louisiana. I have also camped in many small town parks in the west and in the great plains. In the great plains I have managed to do that many times and have never been run off. I have camped in quite a few church yards too, but usually ask permission.

I much prefer to camp for free with no need for stealth. I will resort to stealth if I need to.
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Old 08-19-14, 01:33 PM
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Old 08-19-14, 01:53 PM
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In Canada, there are guides on where to camp on public lands (Crown lands), usually done province by province because they fall under provincial management. I have friends who prefer this kind of camping.
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Old 08-19-14, 03:01 PM
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Old 08-19-14, 05:25 PM
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(1) California State Park allows unlimited free roadside camping: Anza Borrego State Park:

  • Do not camp further than one car length from any dirt or paved road
  • Do not camp within 100 feet of any water source
  • There is no garbage collection outside developed campgrounds so pack-in pack-out
  • Ground fires are not permitted, and metal containers must be used for all campfires

A similar policy also holds in the Mojave National Preserve.

Eight primitive campground in the park are also free; they have only pit toilets and no picnic tables or water.
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Old 08-19-14, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I much prefer to camp for free with no need for stealth. I will resort to stealth if I need to.
That^^^

With some ingenuity and a bit of moxie, one can free camp just about anywhere. Look on it as sort of a treasure hunt. The few who actually see you will have no interest, figuring you're some sort of nut.

Stealth can usually be done right in the middle of a town. Check out behind an isolated church, or a cemetary, or an abandoned building. Of course, if a city park or fairground is available, might as well. The key is to be reasonably sure you're not gonna be disturbed by some bored cop.
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Old 08-19-14, 06:25 PM
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Labrador.

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Old 08-19-14, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Erick L
Labrador.

Cool, you're camping in "plane" sight
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Old 08-19-14, 06:45 PM
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Most/all state forests around here (Australia) allow free camping.

On main highways there are rest stop which allow 48 hour stays.

And there are lots of of other free camping campgrounds around ... but you'd need a map to find them.
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Old 08-19-14, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
Most/all state forests around here (Australia) allow free camping.

On main highways there are rest stop which allow 48 hour stays.

And there are lots of of other free camping campgrounds around ... but you'd need a map to find them.
I typed 'free camping in australia' into google and came up with some sites which might be useful ...

Free Camping in Australia - Locate and prepare for the perfect camping trip - "Our site has been created to identify free camping locations around Australia."

Free Campsites and Low Cost Camping Information - "We are always looking at ways to improve our site and are pleased to announce our Free and low Cost Camping Maps area is now open."

Free Camping. Cheap Camping. The best budget campsites in Australia. - "Free camping is the "cheap travel" idea which saves us thousands."

Campin Australia | Free Camping App for Australia



You could also type 'free camping in tasmania' ... or any of the other states ... to get more specific information.
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Old 08-19-14, 08:48 PM
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Many warmshowers.org hosts provide space for a tent.
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Old 08-19-14, 09:40 PM
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Pre internet... asking the House next door works..
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Old 08-20-14, 03:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka
On main highways there are rest stop which allow 48 hour stays.
Two resources I found helpful to find these places when going around Australia:

1. index site, particularly the links that say "Water points".
2. There was a small book intended for caravans that listed rest areas on major roads around. I don't see it anymore, though do notice that different states have started publishing similar information online, e.g. https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au/usin.../touringwamaps
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Old 08-20-14, 05:29 AM
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There were several town parks along Montana's "High Line" that allowed free camping. I recall one (Chester) even having showers. In Harlem we were allowed to use the showers at the city pool.
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Old 08-20-14, 05:36 AM
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Last night I tucked myself between two picnic tables in a park pavillon. I saw headlights and the vehicle had a side spotlight on it. It came in the parking lot for the park and then made a full circle with the headlight shining right in on me and then left. No one ever said anything. I don't think he saw me. I didn't have the tent set up...for something like the 10th night in a row.

It's not always a matter of where you setup, but rather how you setup. Like Cyclebum talks about TX camping, if you don't setup your tent they won't say anything...you aren't camping, once you set the tent up your nailed, your camping.
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Old 08-20-14, 06:04 AM
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Scotland.
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Old 08-20-14, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by bikenh
Last night I tucked myself between two picnic tables in a park pavillon.
Not sure where you were, but in a lot of the country (most rural small town areas well away from either coast) I often do the opposite. I try to make sure I am seen early so that if they are going to bother me. I can either make a case for staying or find somewhere else to stay before it gets dark. Not sure it is worth worrying about though, since I have never been run off from one of those little town parks or picnic areas.
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Old 08-20-14, 08:39 AM
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Old 08-20-14, 10:20 AM
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From where I grew up and live free camping is the normal thing to do. Need firewood? Cut down a tree. Nobody cares. Mind you there are 3 towns in 300 km along my stretch of highway...
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