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  1. Default 30-ish day Houston-Seattle

    So I am in the early stages of planning a road trip for this summer starting roughly June 15ish and ending July 15ish. It's all very early stage and at the moment I am compiling a list of the main places I want to hit.

    Right now though I am trying to get the logistics of camping vs hotels down. I plan on staying in a hotel for one night for every 3 nights I camp ( Not in a pattern though, could go 3 camp days, 1 hotel or 6 camp days 2 hotel) Something I was wondering though was on nights we camp, Are most campgrounds closed at a certain time or if I role into one at 10:00 P.M will I be able to get a spot?

    The route I plan to take is
    Houston-Gila NF
    Gila- Flagstaff
    Flagstaff-Las Vegas
    Las Vegas- Sequoia NP
    Sequoia-San Fransisco
    SF-Redwood NP
    Redwood NP-Portland

    That is just a general route guide, where I will be exactly will depend on exactly what wilderness or park I want to go to.

    I don't want to overwhelm my first post with info/questions so I will stop for now! I will be planning this up until June 15th and am sure I will have a lot of questions, I have a fair amount of roadtrip experience but have never camped on them so it brings a level of instability to the trip in contrast to staying in a hotel I have booked already, but I know it will be fun.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Be sure to call ahead

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexn93 View Post
    Something I was wondering though was on nights we camp, Are most campgrounds closed at a certain time or if I roll into one at 10:00 P.M will I be able to get a spot?
    It is always a good idea to call ahead and check. I have found that most campgrounds are prepared to leave instructions on the office door, or give directions over the phone as to where to find your spot. You are not likely to find an office open at 10pm, unless by arrangement. They may ask for your credit card details, to cover themselves, in case you leave before the office opens next morning.

    It pays to carry a list of campgrounds and their contact numbers with you, for the areas you are considering camping. I have always found them most accommodating (pun intended!).

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 04-26-2011 at 04:14 AM.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd certainly say that Lifey's got some good advice. A late check-in can be very different depending upon the campground.

    Your best bets will likely be National Forest campground, and other smaller and more remote facilities. These often have self-check in, where you deposit money into a drop box.

    More popular campgrounds, and many private ones, will have options like Lifey explained, however, there are cases where campgrounds will have rules prohibiting people from setting up camp after a certain time (whenever quiet hours begin). I've seen several campgrounds have gates installed to prevent people from coming in after the start of quiet hours, with "Severe Tire Damage" roadblocks being put up in the most extreme case.

    Of course, there is also the challenge of finding a place at all when you are talking about setting up that late. Campgrounds by their very nature tend to be pretty far removed from other lodging options, so if you are rolling in at 10 and the campground is full, you could be looking at spending another 30+ minutes on the road just to get to the next location. Not to mention, setting-up in the dark is generally a pain. I've done it plenty of times, but it's a whole lot easier when you've at least got twilight.

  4. #4

    Default Planning ideas

    Hello Alex,

    If you're traveling from Flagstaff to Vegas, be aware you can swing up north of Flagstaff to Cameron, thence west on AZ 64 which runs along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Even those not wishing to spend a day or longer within the NP can enjoy a half-day drive-through which allows time for a half-dozen or more stops at the major viewpoints.

    By all means, plan on spending a night in downtown Missoula, MT. Missoula is a FUN little college town.

    You can see some very out of the way and seldom-seen sights in MT enroute from Missoula to Yellowstone if you go south from Missoula on US 93 to the ID border at Lost Trail Pass, thence east on MT 43 into the Big Hole Valley. Turning south on MT 278 at Wisdom will take you to Dillon, and from there it's an easy drive to Twin Bridges and Ennis, and ultimately past Quake Lake and Hebgen Lake to West Yellowstone, MT. I think you'd very much want to include the Beartooth Highway in your Yellowstone experience, so exiting the NP via the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, MT will put you on the Beartooth. At the bottom of the Beartooth Highway is Red Lodge, MT, and there a state highway drops you into WY for your trip back towards I-25 and ultimately to DEN.

    I wholeheartedly concur with the National Forest campground usage. There may be guidebooks for NF campgrounds--3 decades ago I had a thick book entitled National Forest Campgrounds of the Northern Region and it was very helpful in terms of getting a feel of the layout and relative egress/ingress access to the widely scattered facilities. In more recent times, I've had some luck on the various websites for individual NF units. The US Dept of Agriculture National Forest Service has all NF units under its main webpages, so one can find them on a state by state basis. Several of the Western state's NF units have pages devoted to campground descriptions and related maps.

    An entirely convenient, inexpensive, and enjoyable method of planning is to purchase a 2011 edition of any of the major US highway atlases. Do enough window shopping at the bookstore to assure the publisher has included the various National Forests on each state's map (and I can't recall seeing a decent Atlas without such map features). That will give you the name and general location of each NF, and the Web will then likely show you all you need to know about campgrounds therein.

    One other thing: If you're tent camping, be aware some commercial campgrounds will not allow tenters. Some which do place tenters in unshaded "off to the side" status. When I'm tenting, I tend to avoid commercial campgrounds. National Forests, BLM, and state and local parks tend to be more "tenter friendly".

    Safe travels and have a great RoadTrip!


  5. Default

    Thanks for the info guys. I definitely prefer more remote locations and in fact will be backpacking into some wilderness areas throughout the trip. It gives me some peace of mind knowing that i should be able to find a place to camp for the night if I arrive late.

    Thanks for the recommendations Foy, I don't know much about the northwest area and will definitely look into those routes, I will be spending a day at GC NP ( Though it does deserve more I just went on a 9 day long road trip to flagstaff in March and spent 2 wonderful days at GC).

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