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Old 11-29-2006, 12:06 PM   #1
Walub OP
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Wink Camping on the side of the road.

I am planning a trip from Winnipeg Manitoba to Las Vegas in spring. I have six days to get there so I want to do a little exploring and take my time. I thought in the spirit of adventure and to save a little money I would try to camp not in campgrounds but just off the road in a hidden area. An hour before dark I would start looking for a little side road that will get me away from the main road. Find a small hill/bush/tree to hide my small tent and bike behind. I could then fire up my stove make supper and have a good sleep. I know technically this is not allowed and there could be some trespassing involved but I would not be hearting anyone and would clear out at first light. Has anyone had experiences camping this way? I would love to see some pictures. Is this possible? Or should I just abandon my foolhardy plan. Any advice/criticism/experiences would be appreciated.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:12 PM   #2
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Missouri has a pretty good system. The Conservation Department (same as other state's fish and game) has areas all over the state that allow primitive camping. You can get a map directly from them on the internet. I suppose other states have similar situations. It would be worth your while to check with the states on your route.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:13 PM   #3
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I suspect you'll soon hear from folks who have done this. Some call it "stealth camping." Personally, I don't have any experience, in it.

As far as the trespassing issue, you would have to check the laws of the provinces/states through which you'll be riding, but I can tell you that in New York, you are not trespassing unless you have been notified that you are not allowed on the property. That notification could come via posted signs, written warning, or even a verbal statement from the owner. All that means though, is that they can't actually charge you with a crime. They can kick you off their property. Things may be different in Canada, but you should be able to figure it out with a little research. I'd wager that all of the applicable laws can be found online.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:21 PM   #4
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I hear WalMart lets RVers stay in their parking lots. I wonder if they'd notice a tent and a bike?
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by McB
I hear WalMart lets RVers stay in their parking lots. I wonder if they'd notice a tent and a bike?
Haha that would be great. The workers doing there morning chant could be my alarm clock. Then I could go to McDonalds for breakfast. Hmm maybe not quite my idea of solitude. But maybe in a pinch.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:43 PM   #6
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National Forests

Generally allow camping anywhere for up to two weeks, check their website to make sure. Western states have alot of national forest land, so you should be able to plan a decent route through.
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:46 PM   #7
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When I was in the Army I thought that I might travel that way between duty stations and make a few bucks by saving my per diem money...but the spectre of nosey bears in the Rockies or the "local color" usually kept me sleeping in my Jeep...I'd be wary of that kind of exposure...I learned the hard way in Tenessee that bored young men + alcohol + out of state plates can equate to a tense situation...LOL
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Old 11-29-2006, 12:59 PM   #8
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I used to Bike tour (ten speed bike) and had a camo tent and a piece of camo cloth that I carried. I camped in some of the most amazing places, but usually just off the side of a good secondary road and many times right in the median of a highway. Absolutly no one bothers you if they can't see you. We snuck into municipal reservours, the woods behind a scoool or a chuch, once in the woods behind a police station! Never an issue......Just keep the lights out!
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Old 11-29-2006, 05:15 PM   #9
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Not my cup of tea, but what the heck, give it a try if you feel secure in camping alone. Bears and snakes I can deal with, but drunks and local yokels scare me.

Most of what you do will be dictated by your route. In the plains states, there isn't a whole lot of off road camping opportunities. As indicated above, check out the National Forest Campgrounds.

You can always stop at a real campground if you need a shower or want to go to the bathroom without mosquitoes biting your butt.
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Old 11-29-2006, 06:37 PM   #10
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Doable. How late in Spring? I'm just south of Reno and could point you to anyone of a number of spots that would have you 400 miles from Vegas along a strech that if you want to explore you'll come down US395 and cut back to Vegas through Death Valley. I can get you with in a long days ride of Vegas or close to spend most a day in the Valley. That time of year there is country still thawing show when you're coming would filter what I could put on that list.
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:28 PM   #11
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I've travelled all over the US on bikes and can count the number of times I've paid to stay in a campground on my hands. No, make that one hand. The whole key is finding your place just before dark. The idea is to find a place that becomes invisible at nightfall--those places are hard as hell to find after nightfall. 99% of the time no one says anything. Occassionally if you're lazy in the morning, someone will stop by. So long as you're not camped in a planted field, they usually inquire what you're doing there and leave you be. The get-out-of-jail-free excuse is that you were hoping to get to such and such a city but were getting really tired and started to nod off, figured you'd throw up the tent for a couple hours shut eye, and hey? It's morning? Usually, though, it's a non-issue.

I usually prefer camping rough because it's quiet and I enjoy the solitude, and the ground is nice and soft if you don't have to camp on some stupid tent site. The more you do it the easier you'll find spots... oh, and don't be a wienie about riding your street bike through fields. As long as you go slow and it isn't muddy/wet you can ride up to all sorts of nice camp spots.

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Old 11-29-2006, 08:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by McB
I hear WalMart lets RVers stay in their parking lots. I wonder if they'd notice a tent and a bike?
Most Wla-Marts are open 24hrs. You could just sleep in the lawn and garden department on the lawn furniture. I read where a college student spent SB doing just that.
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:02 PM   #13
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BLM land?

OK... don't quote me on this, 'cause I'm not certain of the rules (and I'm not looking them up... easier to ask forgiveness than permission, you know?).... And, the general concept of young and stupid/ didn't know any better/ didn't get caught has worked for me so far.

That all being said, I think BLM land is like NF land-- camping is OK as long as you don't hurt anything. Like no litter, no fire-rings, etc. There's a ton of BML land out west. A buddy of mine used to have maps we used, but I'm pretty sure I had recently seen it online.

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Old 11-30-2006, 12:22 AM   #14
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It's fairly easy to find primitive camping spots out west, and of all the times i've just found a secluded spot and camped, i only really ever had one problem, I was coming down from Tahoe through NV , got tired in the middle of nowhere, not a light to be seen anywhere, i pulled off the road and down a lil dirt road, off to the side and passed out in my cage.

I was awoken to what i thought was sunlight but soon realized it was 10 million candlepower from the spotlight on the hummer that MPs were piling out of and surrounding my vehicle. It seems i found the unmarked back entrance to the secret base.

Stealth camping, I had a run-in with the law in Vancouver. I ended up out near wreck beach and was looking for a place to camp, cop stops me, and i tell him i'm just looking for a place to camp. He proceeds to lecture me on the legality (or lack therof) of camping in the area, and then leans in and says "but us cops never check down over there", and points out a trail that led me down to the beach anf gave me a couple of landmarks to follow to ensure no other cops would find me. Best campsite i've ever found, a flat spot on a ledge about 100' high right over the water, cool !

I spent a week in van/bc on foot, camping all but one night. One night i camped in a campground, the remaining nights were stealth camping.

Get some of these:

for the states that you're gonna be in, they show lots of side roads, fire roads, trails, and all kinds of useful info.

The important thing is to be low key, get a natural color tarp, set it up as a vestibule and "privacy fence" in the direction of likely approach, don't make a crapload of noise or get a raging fire going unless you're really out in the middle of nowhere. When you leave, it should look like you've never ben there.

Around the southwest, there's tons of dirt roads off any road you're on, pick one. If it doesn't have a gate or some mean looking signs, check it out, chances are you'll find a cleared area and a fire ring. If it DOES have a gate, pay attention to the signs on the gate. If it's public land it'll usually have a "please close gate" sign, and some private land has signs posted allowing entry, with conditions like no hunting, fishing, etc. but allowing hiking, camping, and other low impact activities.

Most of the time though, I just stay away from main roads and when camping, I like to get a few miles away from any civilization in an area where it's unlikely anyone will pass through, that way i can run around camp butt nekkid and hootin n hollerin if i want and nobody would know or care.

If you're stuck in the city, you might have to go for a room unless you don't object to urban camping, sleeping under a bridge or in some bushes between industrial parks. I HATE hotel/motel rooms when i'm travelling though, and sometimes urban camping is preferrable if you can find a good spot and keep your stealth tactics. I wouldn't reccomend urban camping, just a last resort, my last resort before i consider a room, but it can be done. Don't look like a gringo if you try urban camping, the dirtier and smellier the better, look and act like you're homeless and blend in. Nobody robs homeless people really, the touristy looking gringos who don't pay attention get rolled.
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Old 11-30-2006, 12:27 AM   #15
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I used to do it all the time, 20 years ago.

I started bike camping a few years ago and found it to be a major pain in the ass. Finding hidden areas are nice if you are in a part of the country that has easy to find hidden areas.

When you can't find them, I have found that camping for free in the park square of small towns had diminished, church grounds are a no no, asking farmers if you can camp is almost worthless.

Everyone has become completely paranoid. I'm not sure who these people are that are roaming the rural countryside at 3:00 A.M. and calling the cops, but they have enough pull to turn the cops in to completely humorless f***s.

I still believe that it can be done, but you have to give yourself an extra hour or so to find a really good spot or find someone who will give you permission.

I think random camping has gone the way of hitch hiking. It is a crime in most areas now. Charging $30 to pitch your tent in a park with pay showers is also a crime.
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