Camping on the side of the road.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Walub, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. Walub

    Walub Adventurer

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    I am planning a trip from <st1:City w:st="on">Winnipeg</st1:City> <st1:State w:st="on">Manitoba</st1:State> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Las Vegas</st1:City></st1:place> 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.<o:p></o:p>
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  2. pilot

    pilot Slacker Moderator Super Moderator

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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.
    #2
  3. kerhonky

    kerhonky Adventure Poser

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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.
    #3
  4. McB

    McB Joe 40 ouncer

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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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  5. Walub

    Walub Adventurer

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    Haha that would be great. The workers doing there morning chant could be my alarm clock. :eek1 Then I could go to McDonalds for breakfast. Hmm maybe not quite my idea of solitude. But maybe in a pinch.
    #5
  6. Big G

    Big G Long timer

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    Generally allow camping anywhere for up to two weeks, check their website http://www.fs.fed.us/ to make sure. Western states have alot of national forest land, so you should be able to plan a decent route through.
    #6
  7. Hondarider

    Hondarider Hero of the Stupid

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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
    #7
  8. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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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!
    #8
  9. Mista Vern

    Mista Vern Knows all - tells some.

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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. :lol3
    #9
  10. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

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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.
    #10
  11. ldeikis

    ldeikis Dirty daydreamer

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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.

    -Luke
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  12. lowflyer

    lowflyer Doubleplusgood

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    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.:D
    #12
  13. AKA HAL

    AKA HAL workin' on the noob thing

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    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.

    If I'm wrong, just don't tell me.
    #13
  14. HighDezert

    HighDezert KLR Dirt Pilot

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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:
    [​IMG]
    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.
    #14
  15. Thor

    Thor Been here awhile

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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.
    #15
  16. RT jim

    RT jim Long timer

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    Only problem is once I went off-road with my K75 it rained all damm nite . Nice grassy field was turned into swamp ride out. I think there's less chance of any problem if camping in woods vs rest stop on highway. No fire,little light no one will see or care.
    #16
  17. dirty_sanchez

    dirty_sanchez Dirty_Sanchez

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    Stealth camping rules.

    My funniest experience and most fond memory of poaching a campsite was the time I woke up in some guys front yard out in Utah. I had been travelling all day, finally decided to give it up for the day around 2 or 3A, found an old lesser used gravel road, found a wide spot, and pitched my comfortable abode.

    It was pitch black, Orion was up, the Pleideise, the Milky Way was rocking and I thought I was home free.

    Well, the next morning, I woke, got out to greet the new day with by taking the best leak of the day, looked over my shoulder, and there this old man was standing on the porch of his trailer.

    He tipped his hat and toasted me in the air with his cup of coffee, and I wished him a good morning.

    I did tell him that I was tired last night, needed a place to sleep, and didn't make a mess.

    He didn't saya word, just nodded his head at me again, and went back inside.

    I packed up and left.

    While travelling on the cheap, I've spent my fair share of time loitering outside the shower house door of KOA's scattered about this great land just waiting for the next guy to walk out where I would catch the door before it closed and locked behind him. The KOA or some other over priced tent pad camground near Durango was the last time I pulled this feat.

    Then there the old arrive late, get a cat nap in, and leave beore the proprieter wakes trick.

    Then there's the steal a bath in the hot tub at the Howard Johnson's in Moab, which isn't quite as trickey as taking a sink bath at McD's also in Moab. They don't really like it when travellers turn their Hot Tubs and sinks Red from all of the dirt.

    Dirty
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  18. comes naturally

    comes naturally renewed hope

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    I keep hearing this, and I guess for a lot of the country a WalMArt parking lot would probably be a safe well lit place to catch some ZZ's. But I have seen some WalMarts in some scary places. It's probably my leary east coast perseption that always makes me think twice when I here people talking about this.
    #18
  19. space

    space a.k.a. Jake

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    Saddest ... spring break ... ever. I totally thought those frat dudes were taking me on their road trip to Tijuana, but they ditched me at some Walmart near Albuquerque. "Just stoppin' to pick up munchies, dude." Yeah, that's what they told me. I can still hear them laughing as they sped away, my girlfriend in the back seat. She was laughing too, with her arm around Chad Parker. Goddamn you, Chad Parker! Oh, the hurtful memories!

    Walmarts aside, "found" campsites have worked well for me. I've had a cop stop by late at night just to check in, but I've never had to move. The worst that happened was a park ranger threatening to fine me, but I'd left no trace (most important thing!) and so he let me go.
    #19
  20. Walub

    Walub Adventurer

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    Planing on being in Vegas on May 10th So a couple of good spots in your neck of the woods would be great.

    From the sounds of it it defiantly sounds like I can do it. I really do enjoy solitude and I think this may be just the ticket. If I can get far enough away from the big highways I think I could have some great quiet nights under the stars. No generators or kids playing in the camp spot next to me. Thanks for the comments everyone.
    #20