Camping w/o paying

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by jyellard, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. jyellard

    jyellard Adventurer

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    I'm in the process of reading one of the best trip reports I've ever read. However, I'm disturbed at how the author attempts to glorify camping at public gov't camp grounds with out paying the appropriate fees.

    I'm ok with camping on unimproved property in a stealth manner, however if you plan on camping in a camp ground I believe you should pay the fee. The money is applied to improving and maintaining our parks. You are stealing from your fellow citizens by not paying the fee to utilize the grounds.

    I find the practice disgusting, and I hope other travelers will speak out against this practice.
    #1
  2. Bike4Fun

    Bike4Fun Smooth IS Fast

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    I agree but there are still people in this world that just don't believe in making a difference for the greater good. They don't understand that their fee is actually necessary, that recycling is a good thing, that the world is not their garbage can! It pains me to see all the signs in the wilderness that must be erected to remind the idiots to pack in, pack out...not to cut the trail, etc etc... Camping here in Colorado is magical and you can go off into the national forest and camp for free... when there aren't designated sites that seems to be more of an invitation to just fuck up whatever you want and leave all your shit behind cause certainly nobody is going to stumble upon it!
    #2
  3. Motopapillon

    Motopapillon Eppur si muove

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    Yes, using a facility but dodging the fee is just plain cheating--not holding up your end of the deal. And typically the fees are reasonable anyway.

    The sad thing when camping in the dispersed or stealth mode is that all the evidence is what the ignorant, lazy, slobby, and screwed up have left behind. I know there are a lot of people who rigorously and passionately practice leaving no trace, but of course I don't see a trace of that!

    M-P
    #3
  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I've utilized this technique a few times.

    Not all that long ago, I used to seek out state parks for camping. They're fairly abundant, usually have decent facilities, and most of all, they were pretty cheap. I could usually find a tent site for $4-$8.

    A while back one evening I pulled into a campground. It was late. Nobody around. The self-pay station was poorly maintained and didn't have any forms or a price list that I could see. No worries, I figured I'd settle up when I woke up.

    I was woken very early the next morning by an angry park attendant accusing me of theft of services. He insisted that I get up and pay the $18 fee right now or he would call the police. The guy was very unfriendly and unsympathetic. I paid, but the incident made me very angry, in part because of his attitude, but also because of the high fee for setting up a tent and parking my motorcycle. I paid the same as someone else with a 40-foot RV with water, electric, and sewer.

    Though a bit childish, I used that as an excuse to retaliate by not paying the next few times I camped in state parks.

    I also started to notice that the primitive camping sites were disappearing. A simple tent site started to cost $12, $14, $16, and occasionally more than $20 per night. Often, I would come in late, maybe around 11 or midnight, and leave at 6 or 7am. I justified that to myself because I didn't use any of the amenities, didn't make a mess--essentially nobody ever knew I was there.

    More recently, I don't like doing this. You're right, it's abusing the state park system, which I already know is severely underfunded.

    So now I almost never stay in state parks. When I do, I pay. But mostly I find other places to camp for free. Or in one case, I asked a park ranger if there was a cheaper place to stay than the $15 per night campground. He suggested I ride down one of the gravel forest roads and pull off somewhere to set up my tent for free.

    Jamie
    #4
  5. duhgee

    duhgee Been here awhile

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    I agree that that one should pay if taking a spot that if they did not take that someone else would take and pay for, or if you're utilizing services which cost or require maintenance (ie. toilets, water). But, if the park is mostly empty and the services you would be paying for are not provided (ie. toilets or water pumps are locked), then I figure the fees are waived since the services are not provided.:deal In that case, it's equivalent to stealth camping. I'm always impressed by the parks that charge nothing (or only take donations) and still provide toilet/water services.

    It's an absolute and common-sense requirement that you leave any campsite better than when you arrived.
    #5
  6. JUDOKA

    JUDOKA retired

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    Two Words.... Wal...Mart !:D
    Seriously though, if you are going to have a nice place to set up, and a place that does not require you to dig a hole to do your business, that has to be worth a few bucks!
    #6
  7. DBrentMiller

    DBrentMiller Sojourn Chronicles

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    I am a firm believer in supporting public services, including public broadcast like NPR. Camping is relatively cheap, a lot cheaper than motel chains. But, this thread struck a nerve within me, one that I needed to rectify.

    This forum is extremely valuable, and yet, I have never been a donor ... until now. I just sent a PayPal donation for all the excellent work and information on Adventure Rider, about the same as a magazine subscription. Thanks for starting this thread. It has given me a kick in the butt for "using without paying."

    See you on the highway!

    Brent
    #7
  8. Benjava

    Benjava ?

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    What if it's just too damn much? The fee for one of my favorite places to set up a tent (state campgrouds) jumped from $15 to $25 in one year.
    A TENT.
    :kboom
    #8
  9. DBrentMiller

    DBrentMiller Sojourn Chronicles

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    I understand. It's a hefty price increase. The problem is not with the campgrounds, but with the individual state budgets that view recreation and natural resources as expendable services, and slash their budgets. Consequently, those very same campgrounds increase their fees in order to stay open for you and me. It's not a pretty picture out there in today's economy, and the reality of state government budgets. Unfortunately, most parks consider nonpayment of camping as theft of services. It is truly a sad state of affairs. It just keeps getting more expensive. I feel for you, especially since the fee increase is for one of your favorite campgrounds.

    Brent
    #9
  10. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    The best camp spots here in the Northwest are the undeveloped sites on National Forest or BLM land. Quiet, private, no one camping right next to you, often right next to a river or creek, free. No need to pay for camping here unless you for some reason can't live without a picnic table or water faucet, but some free sites have those too.

    Every year I buy an $80 Interagency card for access to national parks and monuments but it doesn't cover camping. In nearly every case there are excellent camp spots just outside the park boundary. You can spend the day in the parks and camp just outside, all for free once you have the access card..



    #10
  11. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Since we don't know what ride report you've been reading, it's natural that other people would take your description of 'glorify' as subjective - a personal opinion.

    Other than the campground thing in that ride report, what other judgements have you made, so far?

    If other people speak out - per your desire - against this happening/s, will that give you comfort?
    #11
  12. Cumminsman76

    Cumminsman76 befuddled

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    Whats the closest cheap hotel cost?
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  13. Mikey113

    Mikey113 Been here awhile

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    My answer to expensive tent camp sites is .... don't use them. Camp free (dispersed, on public lands), meet the tent space folk on here, or other stealth camping.

    Here's my rant: a few years back at a hunting camp in the Modoc NF Califiornia, three of us in the party all had to take separate vehicles. We paid our $8 a night for the privlage of a pit toilet and picnic table. We had one or two tents and all vehicles and tents were within the site / parking boundries. All was good so we thought. Campground was 50% capacity. Next day a ranger said the fee was per motor vehicle. We asked about the guy with the 5th wheel. He pays $8, the 5th wheel doesn't count since it was a trailer. WTF? All three of us had to pony up a per night fee. We'd have been charged the same if we each took our own spot. Where's the logic? The next year we found some cabins nearby for $35 a night, two beds and room for a cot, no parking restrictions, electricity, running water, fire rings, heat, and showers. Once tent sites get over $20, I look for a roof, heat and a bed! Plus we got to support a small business for what it's worth.
    #13
  14. likestoride

    likestoride Rider

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    Flame suit on, but no matter how someone tries to justify not paying at a place that has a fee it is still theft - plain and simple. I've arrived late at night, didn't really use any of the services, saw plenty of other empty spaces too. I don't always agree with the prices and hate to see them go up, but if I stay at a place I'll personally pay the going rate or go someplace else. I hope others do the same.
    #14
  15. clapped_r6

    clapped_r6 The Spoad Warrior

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    my favorite is having 3 or 4 bikes in one spot, all with tiny tents, and then paying the "extra" vehicle fee for each extra bike.

    versus the cletus with the 5th wheel and 10 of his closest relatives. we end up paying way more.

    and that's not fair.

    +1 on roughing it, i don't need a farkin toilet and a picnic table
    #15
  16. Cliff-77

    Cliff-77 Lost Adventurer

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    Only time i pay to camp is when i need a hot shower& it's very nice setting,otherwise i camp free in the boonies.
    #16
  17. Mongle

    Mongle Knuckle dragger

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    I'm going to stir the fire here :evil

    Let me start by saying I have never camped anywhere I had to pay so I haven't cheated the system.

    BUT! We are talking about STATE and NATIONAL parks right? We already paid for them...it is called taxes. I understand there are upkeep fees for showers, toilets and such, but why not just charge for those things? I have a hard time paying for something twice; especially when it is nothing more then a patch of dirt to lay my head.

    My last state park experience didn't go so well: We were riding street bikes in the NC mountains and heard there was a cool river and waterfall in one state park ( on 181 north of blue ridge) so we decided to stop and get some pictures. When we pulled in there wasn't a booth or anything, but there was a sign talking about a fee for camping, rvs and such. We just drove in, parked and walked down to the river. We spent 15-20 minutes and were on our way out. Some guy claiming to be a park ranger came storming up to us about being paid. We tried explaining we just took some pics and were leaving but he wouldn't let it drop saying there is a fee and we had to pay it. When we refused he started saying he was going to call the cops. Well, what he didn't know was one of my friends was a cop (and intimidating at 6'4" 240lbs) He spoke up and told him to go ahead and call and we would be more then happy to tell them he was keep us there against our will ( I think that was just some bullshit he came up with off the hip). But the guy backed down and let us go.

    Thinking back on it I think the guy was pocketing the money the way he backed down when we called his bluff on calling the cops. I think it was terrible he was trying to charge us a camping rate for 20min spent there. Not a great way to get return customers!
    #17
  18. machinebuilder

    machinebuilder Long timer

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    Was it a camping fee or a "day use Fee"..................personally I think the explosion in all of the fees and the inconsistant application of them is stupid.

    BUT when the budgets for the parks and national forests are cut and then "local" fees are allowed all of the "local" superintendents try to make up the budget cuts. the fee's don't take into account that someone might only stop for a very short time take a couple pictures and move on.

    On the other hand without the fee's there wouldn't be any money for basic maintenance and even more areas on public lands would be closed to the public
    #18
  19. clapped_r6

    clapped_r6 The Spoad Warrior

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    this reminds me of how the monies generated by the ORV tags here in WA don't actually go towards the ORV areas, and they're being closed down.

    but that's a different thread:evil

    i feel that motorcycles get treated unfairly in respect to the "additional vehicle" fees, it's as if i'm subsidizing the mad max encampment down the way.
    #19
  20. catweasel67

    catweasel67 Honda XRV 750 RD04

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    +1 on it being theft. You guys that don't pay are making it harder for the rest of us. You're why I see a lot of sites saying "no bikers". You're why I pay more for my night. You're why bikers have a negative stereo type.
    #20