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  1. Default Quiet Camping Spots

    Hi,
    I just moved to seattle and am thinking of taking a road trip or two this summer. Unfortunately I have a dog that doesnt like other dogs so I am hoping to go to places that aren't extremely crowded. Was thinking of going down the coast, and checking out some of the forests in California, and/or heading further inland to wyoming/utah/colorado area. Love to go for the scenic hikes. Can anyone make some suggestions of less-busy camp sites, or general areas that wont be packed with people all summer?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default As Does Everyone Else

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Unfortunately, the economy being what it still is, many more people are camping in order to make their vacation dollars go further, and many states are closing some parks in order to stretch their budgets. The combination of more campers and fewer campsites does not make for uncrowded campgrounds. But there is an option. It is called 'dispersed', or sometimes 'distributed', camping and is available in many of the national forests. You will simply have to check the website of each national forest on your trip to see what they have available, and whether your dog is permitted or how short a leash he'd have to be on, but basically this is a case where you park your car and hike back into the woods and set up your own camp, as long as it is so far from a road, water feature, and perhaps other restrictions. But for what you want, it is probably your best bet.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    National Forests are about the first place I would look - with BLM lands being a close second. They are typically very dog friendly and can often offer just as much recreation as the more popular and busy national parks.

    If you really want to get away, then Buck's dispersed camping idea is likely your best bet, although that can be a challenge and a lot of work. The next best thing would be to look for primative campgrounds in National Forests that are relatively far away from population centers or major tourist attractions like national parks or the coast. That still leaves you with hundreds of possibilities in the areas you are talking about, but its the area where I would focus your time and attention to start.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the info. I'm looking into the national forests, but it doesnt look like they take reservations. Any thoughts on showing up and it being fully booked? How does one get around this? I'm probably being totally clueless and the answer is you dont, but I can't imagine anyone driving for hours to find out the site is full.

    I'm also good with campsites that are maybe more crowded, but the site itself is private. I'm guessing heading to the rockies is going to give me a better chance at this than heading down the coast? Has anyone done a trip where they have found a few nice spots? There are way too many to choose from...

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by skf View Post
    Thanks for the info. I'm looking into the national forests, but it doesnt look like they take reservations. Any thoughts on showing up and it being fully booked? How does one get around this? I'm probably being totally clueless and the answer is you dont, but I can't imagine anyone driving for hours to find out the site is full.

    I'm also good with campsites that are maybe more crowded, but the site itself is private. I'm guessing heading to the rockies is going to give me a better chance at this than heading down the coast? Has anyone done a trip where they have found a few nice spots? There are way too many to choose from...
    Hello skf,

    My recent experience with NF campgrounds suggest you'll have few, if any, issues finding a campsite. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, I spent a total of 4 weeks, in July, in southwestern Montana and nearby parts of Idaho, and I passed through western Nebraska and much of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado going to and returning from Montana/Idaho. I saw dozens of NF campgrounds, and few looked crowded. The Rock Creek Canyon, just east of Missoula, offers about 6 designated campgrounds within the Lolo NF and the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF. Rock Creek is a blue-ribbon trout stream and the canyon lies between the population centers of Missoula and Butte and is easily accessible by a conventional automobile. With all of that, when we'd pass by the campgrounds on a weekday, we were consistently surprised to see how lightly used they were. Similarly, Twin Lakes campground west of the Big Hole, also in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF, was practically empty during the week. Access there is slightly more challenging, but a carefully-driven car can still get there. Each of these areas, plus parts of the Bitterroot NF, are within a long day's drive from Seattle, with Missoula, a delightful college town, serving as a fine provisioning/supply point. There is an expansive network of foot- and pack-trails along Rock Creek Road, too, some accessed from trailheads at or proximal to the campgrounds. Rock Creek includes innumerable disbursed campsites right on the stream, too.

    As was mentioned, picking a NF campground, particularly a primitive one (water and vault toilets are typically the only amenities, plus perhaps a picnic table), away from population centers, and particularly one towards the end of a "in and out" gravel road, is a virtual guarantee of finding plenty of space, and quite likely a load of solitude.

    Just as likely, you'll probably find crowds at the various NF campgrounds bordering National Parks such as Glacier, Yellowstone, the Tetons, etc. The proximity to the NPs and the low costs of NF camping, combined with the rather more expensive campsites within the NPs, draws more use than the more remote NFs see.

    Foy

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Many national park sites do take reservations, with most of them being done through recreation.gov

    However, I'll say that my experience is similar to that of Foy, where many of these areas are underused and reservations are not needed. In fact, if a NF campground does not take reservations, its very unlikely that you'd need them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Our experience with the National Forest campgrounds is similar. But I would add one other thing: the closer the NF campground is to a metropolitan area, the more likely it will fill up on weekends. Examples of that are Laguna Campground and Burnt Rancheria on Mt Laguna near San Diego. They are also higher up in elevation (read: cooler in the summer months!). Both need reservations. Conversely, Cibbetts Flat and Boulder Oaks, both near to Laguna and Burnt Ranch, don't take reservations. But at least Cibbetts Flat will fill up on weekends --- I couldn't say about Boulder Oaks, but it's close enough to the freeway to make me doubt it.


    Donna

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