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  1. Default questions about NP camping/requirements

    Hey everyone! I'm new to this so i hope this is the right place to post this...anyways i am planning a road trip in the summer and i was wondering about limitations, since i am a minor (16-turning 17 during the 2/3 month trip). For example, i know i *probably* wont be able to get a hotel room or rent anything (canoe, raft, horse, etc.) or anything like that, but what about camping in a national park? would i have a problem with that? i was planning on sleeping in the car for alot of it, but i think 2-3 months of that might get to be way too much of i am going to bring camping stuff. what do you think? what other things do i have to consider since i'm a minor?

  2. Default

    by the way, if anyone was wondering my route is from the MI upper peninsula through WI, MN, and ND, then to SD, through WY, then north through western MT, south through ID, west through OR, north to WA, south on the coast highway to san francisco, then through eastern california, then through NV, UT, AZ,and CO, south through NM to TX and from there im undecided on the route home, but the parks i will be to are theodore roosevelt, wind cave, badlands, thunder basin ntl grassland, grand teton, yellowstone, glacier, crater lake, north cascades, olympia, redwood, yosemite, kings canyon, death valley, great basin, zion, bryce canyon, capitol reef, canyonlands, arches, mesa verde, grand canyon, blk canyon of the gunnison, rocky mtns(?), great sand dunes, carlsbad, guadalope mtns, and big bend. i may be forgetting one or two but thats the gist of it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    I'm going to overlook the minor thing for a moment and ask a few questions:
    Will this be your first roadtrip?
    Have you ever traveled long distances for extended periods of time before?
    What is your budget?

    Now, on to the "minor" stuff:
    You will likely have a very difficult to impossible time finding a place to stay being a minor. Most if not all places have a minimum age limit of 18 years old. There may be additional questions about the validity of your driver's license and/or restrictions on under-18 drivers in some of the states you will be traveling to.

    A 2 or 3 month trip is a huge undertaking for most people, and even more so for those inexperienced.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Something Worthwhile, Something Not

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I did a little poking around and surprisingly, though the details vary just a bit, almost all state and national parks will have absolutely no problem with you camping solo. The adult/child cutoff for such purposes seams to be around 14-15. I guess if you can drive in, you qualify. It might be worth a call in to the National Park Service (NPS) to make sure, but I think you'll be OK.

    What will definitely NOT be worthwhile is sleeping in the car at random locations, especially rest areas, side roads, random spots on 'vacant' land. Those are all high risk locations and you would simply be asking for trouble. Seriously, you need to be in a designated camping area every night, preferably one with routine patrols through the night.

    You're right. At 16/17 NO reputable motel is going to rent you a room. The other major thing you're going to have to think about is medical care. You will NOT be able to give consent for ANY medical treatment and even a hospital emergency room will be unable to give you any care except in a truly life threatening situation. I would suggest that you ask your own local hospital or doctor what forms they have that your parents can fill out and get notarized that authorize in their behalf should you need it. And make sure that you have an insurance card and a cell phone.


  5. Default

    hey thanks for the response!

    i go on road trips fairly often, but not alone. The most i have ever travelled in a day is maybe 12 hours (the most ive ever driven in a day maybe being 6 or 7 hours) i dont think thats a big problem (im going to budget for 15000 miles (yes i know thats a little crazy)), so ill have to drive maybe 3 hours a day, which i dont think is bad at all and it gives me plenty of time to see what i want to see. Im thinking i can get by on about $1500 besides gas (which will be a good 2500). I plan on spending little to nothing for lodging and eating very cheaply.

    What kind of restrictions on my license would there be?

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    and yeah i looked a bit on their website and anyone over 15 needs a pass to get in the park, but i didnt know if that meant that they were considered an adult or what....would a signed note from my parents change things if i have any trouble?

    are rest areas really that bad as people say? i've slept overnight at rest areas several times and never had any you think any populated place would be ok? like a truck stop or gas station with someone working there 24/7.

    i didnt think about medical stuff...i guess being away for that long and being 2000 miles away makes it an issue....ill have to look into that. thank you!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have to ask - are your parents OK with your plans? Please, no offense, but if I were your dad I sure wouldn't be for something of this grand a scope solo. I *WOULD* allow you to go WITH a friend who is at least 18 and I'd give him/her a power of attorney for emergencies.

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    Thanks for the concern but If my parents weren't ok with it, I obviously would not be's still up for discussion though I think it can be worked out. And yes, going with someone would be more practical, safer, maybe more fun at times, and cheaper. But then I have to worry about more than just what I want to do. Besides, not alot of people can just take off for an entire summer (which is why I don't want to wait any longer than I need to) and I would never have complete solitude, which would be very nice to have every now and then. I guess I just prefer doing things alone too.

    I'm sure there is some other way to get around the medical stuff so I can take care of an emergency, i'd have to talk to my parents about that though.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Nearly every state has some sort of "graduated" license program, where you don't get a full license to drive until you are 18 and/or have 2 years of experience behind the wheel. Those typically include restrictions on what hours you can drive, how many people can be in the car, no cell phone use, etc. Limits on driving after dark would be the most likely to affect you.

    Yes, staying in rest areas is every bit as dangerous as has been stated. Frankly, you've been lucky not to have problems thus far. Rest areas are typically located in remote locations, where its easy to quickly get away - basically making someone sleeping in a car a sitting duck for a criminal. People have been seriously injured and killed, and they are hard cases to ever be solved. Truck stops, that are well lit, have frequent traffic, and are typically patroled by security are a much safer alternative.

    I'll be honest, IMHO, when you consider the serious handicaps of things like never being able to rent a motel room and having many things you simply can't do, not to mention the complications if the worst happens, I think you would be much better off waiting until you are 18 to do a trip of this size and scope. You sound like you have the maturity needed to do a trip like this, I just think you'll find the whole thing to be much easier and more enjoyable a year later.

  10. Default

    Thanks for the response! yeah the hours vary but typically you cant drive alone from midnight to 5 or 6 AM under 18, that might be annoying every now and then but im not really concerned about that (or any other restrictions...i wont have anyone with me and being in the car for only a few hours a day, i'll have plenty of time to use my cell other than when driving) at all.

    Come to think of it....most of the rest areas i've been to are right by the woods in a somehwat remote i'll take note to not choose those spots to sleep in. So i basically want to find somehwere where it's going to be lit/patroled all the time.

    I agree with you about waiting, if it wasnt for probably being crazy busy the following years...with more school/job comittments it's going to be nearly imbossible to be gone for so long. Besides, this is part of the fun, right? yeah yeah i know i won't think that when i cant find a place to stop and all that but It just makes sense to me to do it as early as possible, while still being able to do most of what i want to do. Other than renting anything i really dont know what else there is to consider...i purposely plan to bypass all the major towns because of my age there won't be much i want to do (LA, vegas, most of san fransisco, denver, etc...) and besides, im trying to do this as cheaply as possible and my main attraction is the wilderness....not the people.

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