Ready for a motorcycle adventure and planning to wild-camp? For those in search of solitude, quiet, and nature, wild camping is the best accommodation option while traveling. However, finding wild camping spots isn’t always easy, and although there’s no shortage of apps that can help plan ahead, sometimes, it’s simply about discovering a place to pitch your tent while on the go.
So how to find wild camp spots and improvise as you ride? Here’s what may help:
Body of Water
For me, wild camping is all about independence – and a body of water nearby helps to be fully self-reliant when wild camping. No need to lug gallons of water with you, plus you have shower facilities right outside your tent when you’re camping near a river, a lake, or a creek (make sure to use biodegradable soap, though!). In addition, unless the lake or river is in a popular touristy area, wild camping near water usually means there won’t be anyone else there, especially if access is harder. Single track, rocky descents, animal paths – if that’s what it takes to get to the lake or stream of your choice, chances are, there won’t be any neighbours in your camp spot. The only downside of camping near water is mosquitoes, but as long as you’ve packed some repellent and there’s a mosquito net in your tent, it’s a minor trade-off.
When deciding on your next destination, simply find the nearest body of water, see if there are any villages or towns nearby, and if the shore seems unpopulated, you’ll probably easily find a camping spot.
Forests are usually great for wild camping, especially if you’re riding more remote forest service roads or trails. A forest floor is perfect for pitching a tent, especially if it’s evergreen trees – nothing like a bed of pine needles for a good night’s sleep – and you won’t be woken by the rising sun immediately as the trees will provide shade.
National Parks and Reserves
This one is tricky as wild camping is permitted in some national parks and reserves but not others, and it’s always best to double-check online. However, when it’s legal, wild-camping in national parks is pure bliss as they usually cover large expanses of wilderness and good camp spots are relatively easy to find.
Public Land vs Farmland
In some countries, wild camping on public land is allowed, in some others, there may be restrictions; however, wild camping on public land is always a better bet than pitching your tent in someone’s pasture or farmland. If there’s absolutely no other choice but to camp at someone’s ranch or farm, always ask for permission first.
If you know the weather may turn foul, picking a wild camping spot well is even more crucial. If it’s going to rain, a forest is ideal as the tree canopy will provide some shelter; desert areas, on the other hand, may be prone to flash floods, so if it’s looking overcast, camp on higher ground instead. Additionally, if you’re camping on a wild beach, make sure you’re factoring in the tide – finding yourself in the water in the middle of the night is zero fun.
Another good way of finding good wild camping spots is simply looking at Google Earth. Zoom in on the lake or woodland area you’re interested in and see if there are trails or tracks leading to it, whether there are any buildings nearby, and what does the terrain near a lake or river look like: what may seem like a perfect sandy beach might actually be steep sandstone cliffs, so zoom in as much as possible to take a good look. Lakes and rivers aside, you can also look for a patch of green with minor roads or trails going across it.
Wild Camping Apps
Sometimes, relying on others is the simplest way to go. Open-source apps like iOverlander are great for finding wild camping spots, although lately, it seems like iOverlander is focusing on campervan and other large overland vehicle owners more than motorcyclists. Still, there’s plenty of good information on iOverlander, and it can be useful when looking for good camping spots.
Asking the Locals
Locals are usually happy to help with information, and they’ll tell you not only whether wild camping is legal in the area but where you could pitch your tent, too. Park rangers, shepherds, farmers – they’ll all be able to advise you on where you can wild camp in the area. The downside is, when you ask the locals, the stealth factor is gone, and it’s not always for the best.
To figure out whether wild camping is legal in the country or area you’re traveling, this Pitchup guide is very helpful for Europe; in North America, a lot will depend on whether the land is public, and in South America, only some national reserves may have restrictions. Remember that sometimes, wild camping may be permitted but campfires may be frowned upon, and always leave the spot exactly how you found it.
How do you find wild camp spots when traveling? Share the tips and tricks in the comments below!