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  1. Default Camping question

    Hi all,

    I've been lurking around this site for a little while now, picking up nuggets of information.
    I do have one question (for now!). I'm planning hopefully a 6-week solo road trip from Los Angeles to NYC starting in early February next year (although my travel agent is trying to talk me into doing a tour - I'm a grumpy introvert who likes driving, so I suspect that wouldn't work out well!), heading south first... details to be worked out. (I'm from Australia.)
    From what I can gather, the US seems to have a lot more campsites and a lot fewer hostels than other places I've travelled. I've never done much camping, so I was wondering if people could fill me in a little on what the experience is like. What sort of facilities would you expect to find at a campground? If I don't have a tent is it feasible to sleep in my car? Does 'campsite' imply that I'll have to have a larger-than-compact car in order to navigate the terrain? Will I freeze?

    Thanks for the great stuff that's here on this forum, too.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default USA Camping - the Basics

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As with anything else, there is a range of possibilities when it comes to campsites, but there is also a norm. So if you come expecting the norm, you won't be too surprised either way. What you get basically when you rent a campsite for the night is a patch of ground that's big enough for a tent and your vehicle, with (usual) a fire pit or grill and a picnic table. Your site will almost always be in with a group of other sites, will be easily accessible by car (no 4WD required) and the will be level. You might have water and electricity service at the site (for which you will pay a bit more of course) and more often than not showers will be available somewhere amongst the sites. If you camp at a commercial campground rather than a state or national park, you are more likely to have more amenities, but also more likely to pay a higher price. At the high end of camping are the sites that will be noted as having 'full RV hookups' or some such - with 30 amp power supply, water hookup, and big flat parking areas or pads. At the low end, a campsite might be labelled as primitive and offer nothing more than the space to pitch a tent. The only exception to being able to dive your little sedan right up to your campsite will be if you choose to avail yourself of what is called distributed camping in the national forests, in which case you can camp anywhere you want with the one restriction that it be more than some distance (100 yards I think) from the nearest road and out of sight.

    If you don't have camping gear or don't want to lug it with you across the Pacific, you can pick up all the equipment you'll need for car camping from a discount store once you arrive for around $100. Depending on how many nights you plan to be camping, that can work out to be very cheap, even if you just give it away at the end of your trip. Speaking of money, the campsites themselves will run you from $10 (if you're very lucky) up to maybe $25-30 per night. National Forests tend to be the cheapest (distributed camping is often free), followed closely by state parks. National Parks, particularly popular ones start to work up the price chain and are booked solid during high season, and as noted, commercial sites offer the most amenities, but also charge the highest prices.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Considering the Climate

    Buck's advice is sound as always, I just will add that camping can be a little more tricky since you're traveling in February.

    While there will be some places that you'll be able to camp without any problems, it still typically gets quite cool/cold at night in the winter in most of the US. Its not impossible to camp in those conditions, but you also need to be willing to spend the night outside when its around 32F/0C or below. Not having a nice warm place inside to spend the night could get old pretty quickly if you're not in the right mindset.

    You can get good Cold Weather camping gear that will make the conditions much more bearable, although this equipment does cost more than the typical summer gear.

  4. Default Thanks for the info!

    Thanks for that information and helpful suggestions... Very much appreciated.


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