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  1. Default Camping in the mid south in October

    Hi all,
    Newbie, here. Fantastic forum - great tips and information sources.
    Planning a road trip for the first two weeks in October. Been looking extensively at posts on this forum to plan out a budget/route etc. Just my girlfriend and I. Flying in to Atlanta.
    Vague plan is something like hire a car and do a 2week circuit around

    Little Rock
    New Orleans

    Would like to keep the budget tight. Not too sure what conditions are like around said parts of the states, first two weeks in October.
    1. Is the weather reasonably ok for camping?
    Ideally we would like to camp when outside of the cities.
    Any posts Ive seen relating to camping involve staying in a camping site.
    2. Is camping other than in designated sites a complete no-no?
    3. Any observations on the route etc. welcome - still at a very early planning stage.

    Thanks very much guys

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default options

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    The weather should be pretty good, assuming things stay near average. Of course, things can swing pretty good depending upon specific weather systems. You should also note that October is Hurricane season, so its possible that would be an issue. Most of your trip is inland and would not be impacted much by the severe aspects of such a storm, but even a weak storm could bring soaking rains that could make camping difficult.

    As far as camping outside of designated spots, I'd reply simply by asking how you would propose to do such a thing without trespassing on someone else's property? There are some dispersed camping options available in National Forest lands, but you need to know exactly where those areas are and what regulations you still must follow.

  3. Default Hurricanes!

    Thanks Michael,
    Ah yes hurricanes, I suppose I better bring an umberella :)
    As for the camping on private property - now I know why its not done! Im from Ireland - no problem pulling up and camping by the side of the road or in parkland outside of major towns! I guess its a little different over there!
    Two more questions to follow up on my original post:
    1. What kind of temperatures would it be at night time? -trying to figure out what kind of gear we will need.
    2. Suppose it rains heavily, camping is a washout. I still have my stove and my ingredients for an irish stew in the cooler in my trunk. If I go to a motel are there usually facilities to cook my dinner, or do I have to scrap my plans and hit a Dennys for a fry-up?
    - We dont have motels (or Dennys) in Ireland either!

    Thanks again.

    Last edited by Eoiny; 07-16-2009 at 10:46 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Camping in the South

    Hello Eoiny,

    I'm one of the "resident Southerners" around here and I have camped quite a lot over my 54 years. Here are some additional thoughts in addition to what Michael offered:

    The private property issue is quite real and people tend to become rather indignant about it if they perceive their property rights aren't being respected. So, in essence, there is no such thing as simply pulling up to a nice patch of pasture or forest and pitching a tent. What is entirely possible is to put together a sequence of state, county, or local parks which include camping at designated campsites. I see it is your preference to avoid such (mine, too) but in the East and South, that's pretty much all which is available outside of the commercial campgrounds and National Parks. Still, the State and Local parks can be pretty nice, out-of-the-way (read: uncrowded and peaceful and quiet). Be advised, however, to check ahead before assuming anything in terms of availability: State and local governments are closing the doors on all sorts of facilities, including parks, due to budget shortfalls. Also be advised that throughout most of the South, alcohol is strictly forbidden in State and Local parks. We do our drinking in private.

    I mentioned National Parks (NP) but not National Forests (NF). It's surprising to many that the South has large areas of NFs in addition to the better-known NPs. Unlike the Western US, however, the NFs in the South are a patchwork of NF land interspersed with private land, and the patchwork is often so complex it's difficult to tell just where you are in terms of land ownership. I bring it up because practically all NFs have campgrounds here and there. Some primitive, some nicer, most all with potable water and a vault toilet and picnic tables if nothing else. In most cases, "pulling off anywhere and pitching a tent" is allowed in NFs, but again, it can be a challenge to determine where NF land ends and private land begins. Lastly, the South is fully developed in terms of large reservoirs. Most lakes have campgrounds all over the place along their shores and many will be within a State or Local park. There are some which would be NF sites and some could be TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) or other electric power company sites.

    If I were planning such a trip, I'd obtain a campground guidebook. Woodall's is one such publisher, but there are several. The Woodalls I've used for +30 years is updated annually and provides information like a description of the locale and facilities, amenities, hours and seasonal operational info, and telephone numbers. The guidebook I'd use would also list all types of campgrounds: State and Local parks, NPs, NFs, electric utility-owned, and straight-out private commercial campgrounds. I couldn't imagine a camping RoadTrip without something like a Woodalls guidebook.

    Weather in October can vary, but with the circuit you're considering I'd guess nighttime lows would not be less than the mid- to upper 30s (F) and would more likely be mid- to upper 40s. A bit warmer in the New Orleans area, and the colder range likely in Atlanta, Knoxville, and Memphis.

    October is the beginning of hunting season throughout the South. It is entirely possible to find yourself in the midst of dozens of deer hunters who have set up camp in the NF campgrounds, where it is perfectly their right to do so. Just be aware the general rule of "quiet and uncrowded" may not apply everywhere.

    I'd be a bit surprised for even rural motels to offer food prep areas, but I don't think many would object to your setting up a folding table somewhere discrete outside of your room and cooking up a stew. Particularly the more rural locations. That said, I've never tried it, so I'm merely speculating.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip.


  5. Default Thanks

    Thanks Foy,
    Great info there.
    Ill take it all into account and plan accordingly!

  6. Default Tennessee rodeo?

    Hi all,
    My Girlfriend and I will be travelling through Tennessee in late september or first week in October. We were hoping to catch a rodeo somewhere. We are non-US so something kitchy and touristy would be cool. Any ideas where to find info on this kind of thing? We will be going through Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and down towards New Orleans.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-07-2009 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Please keep all questions about this trip in one thread.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Fairs

    Tennessee is a bit far east for rodeos, but regional, state, and county fairs should give you some of the flavor you're looking for. Depending on when you are in the area, you can attend the Tennessee State Fair, the Mid-South Fair, the Middle Tennessee District Fair. more local events, or events in other states that you'll be traveling through. Just ask around when you get there.


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