Originally Posted by bigphish
I am leaving in June on a 5 or 6 week excursion through the western U.S. Solo. Should I have any concerns with undesirables finding or bothering me camping on Natl. forest lands??
Not really. Stay outside of towns a bit and avoid the interstates (interstate culture is uniform across the country, why bother going anywhere if you are slabbing it?).
get off the road as best possible. Never camp where there is a lot of trash lying around (too close to the road + trashy people+. Ditto don't camp where there is a trash can (municipal parks and similar excepted). Same reason, you are to close to the routes people travel and those things attract wildlife.
Be discreet above all. In at dusk (good time to get off the road...deer) and out at first light. Always pack up first and then if the place is cool make breakfast, otherwise go on down the road a bit and find a place to cook.
There are free natnl Forest campground. But they are usually dry. Fire pit, pick nick tables and toilet but no water. Carry a Dromedary bag or similar and fill with water in the last town you go through.
Rural landowners tend to be cool if you are respectful of their property and persons. Close gates. Don't build fires. No (visible) firearms. Don't block roads.
I usually tarp the bike (black tarp) to hide the reflective stuff and break up the outline. A lot of the west is very open country and you may find scant cover.
Keep your ID in a chest pocket and if confronted by LE, offer it before being asked. Reaching for wallet in back pocket is not so good; hands in front of you.
Don't sleep next to the bike, they fall over.
if I am carrying a tent I seldom set it up. Good for bad weather or bad bugs otherwise I enjoy the stars. A bivvy bag is better, Quick to deploy and pack, compact, fine for rain and bugs. personally I don't really "camp". it's more like I lie down in sthis place for some sleep, dide to another place and stop to cook a meal, ride somewhere else to bathe. very much a hunter gatherer lifestyle, primitive like that. (But I hunt at grocery stores and gas stations). often if the tent or tarps/bivvy are damp I will spread them to dry at breakfast or lunch.
if you usually take a dump first thing in the morning consider this when choosing a campsite. I find my life takes on a very different rhythm when on the road An laundromats, gas stations and grocery stores become the pit stop of choice.
Bears are mostly an issue in the back country. They like campgrounds for the munchies but also draw heat and get relocated. Still, do all the basic bear precautions (no food in "camp", wash anything that has food on it or spilled on it.)
Mosquitoes and especially ticks are a bigger problem. Use dope and do tick checks when camping in likely areas.
Get a guidebook to hotsprings of the west. Many are primitive and free. No soap. Carry bathing trunks for the ones where that is the norm. (also good for municipal swimming pools, another cheap clean-up).
At 5,000ft and above it can get very cold at night (frost on the sleeping bag) right through the summer. be prepared. (I use a polypro inner bag in my regular bag, gives me options).