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  1. #1

    Default From New Orleans, through the Southwest, up CA, to the Northwest

    Hello !

    I just joined the forum with the hopes of getting some help and advice for my trek to the Pacific Northwest, from New Orleans.

    I am originally from Vermont, and lived in Chicago for 6 years. After living there for so long, I finally made the decision to leave all that I knew and find something else. I went to my family home for a few months, and from there I drove to Austin, worked at a music festival for a while, and then went to New Orleans, as I know some people here. In mid-August, I'll be embarking upon a trip to the Northwest.

    You can see my exact (almost) route by clicking here, on Google Maps. Ignore the white dots.

    You will see that I am taking almost all secondary roads. That's intentional. For those who did not click the link for whatever reason, I will be going through Austin again, into NM to see and stay in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and then I am staying with a group of musicians who built a house in Medanales. From there, I'll be going through the national parks in NM, parts of UT and certainly much of Northern AZ. I'll then go down through Las Vegas, up Rt 395 in CA, which leads me in-between Death Valley National Park and Inyo and Sequoia National Parks. That road will then lead me up to Mono Lake, then turn to Rt 120, and go through Yosemite. At that point it becomes much more developed and I have a few people to stay with on the coast. From there I just will be camping until I get to Portland, OR.

    I will be sleeping in my car for some nights, doing CouchSurfing some other nights, and camping in parks on other nights. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding good and free/cheap campgrounds, safe or unsafe towns I should be aware of ? I am curious to find how some of these small census-designated towns will take to a friendly traveller who may or may not find an empty parking lot to park and sleep in for the night.

    I am also wondering if anyone has any thoughts on camping. Should I be very concerned with bears ? This is not a backpacking trip (that will come later, once I get settled), so I'll be staying mostly on the periphery of the campgrounds/park. What about spiders ? If I am in a tent and keep everything zipped up tight, should I worry about spiders or snakes wandering in ?

    I am also wondering about roads during the early period in October. Should I worry about snowstorms at that time ?

    I think that's all. I know it's a lot. I have travelled a lot on my own, but rarely with a car, and never in such climates as these.

    Please respond with any thoughts. It would be so much appreciated !!!

    Thanks kindly,

    Evan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome aboard RTA!

    It's hard to say what the weather would be like in early October. It could be snowy, or it could be absolutely beautiful. You may need to pull aside in a town someplace and wait out a storm, or maybe not. Keep your options open. Tioga Pass through Yosemite could be closed, or it could be open. I've been there in April, July, and October, and have never been able to cross Tioga as it's been closed. Yet this year it didn't officially close until February!

    Camping ... spiders and snakes (sounds like an old late 60s/early 70s song) .. we've never had a problem with those when we tent-camped. We were careful to leave tents zipped up at all times and to ensure that our tents were always in good shape (no holes, etc).

    If you are in Yosemite, Sequoia or anywhere in the Sierras, bears are a threat but mostly to your food supply. All campgrounds in the parks and in the forests surrounding have a "bear box". You are to put your foods in those boxes, NOT in your car or (worse yet) in your tent. Don't eat in your tent. Definitely do not feed any animals, intentionally or unintentionally.

    Hope this helps.


    Donna

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the advice. So if I don't leave my food in my car, then I shouldn't worry too much about a bear targeting the car just because it's a car and he or she associated food with the sight of a car ? Thanks for the confidence regarding spiders and snakes in the tent ! I am not too worried.

    So for most of these parks... Are they generally quite cheap or free ? I saw on this and this site that a lot of these BLM lands are free or very cheap to camp on. Do you think this is the primary type of camping I'll be coming across ?

    Thanks again.

    PS : Does anyone have a good recommendation for a snake bite kit ? I know there are a lot of misconceptions about what to do if bit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    209

    Default

    You might want to look through the Public Lands Information Center website. Lots of good information for campsites in the western US. New Mexico State Parks camping fees are pretty reasonable.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57
    Don't eat in your tent. Definitely do not feed any animals, intentionally or unintentionally.
    Definitely. No food in the tent. And keeping your campsite as clean as possible is a good habit to get into.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

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    Just pulling into a parking lot to sleep in your car is strongly NOT advised, and it may not only be unsafe, but it may get you in trouble with the law. If you must sleep in your car, you must obtain permission from the owner of wherever you park. The safest place to do this would be at a truck stop. If you do this, it would be considerate to give the establishment some business (buy a tank of fuel, buy a meal, buy a shower). Some large 24 hour stores (such as Walmart) will allow overnight parking, but again, you must obtain permission.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    BLM areas are usually free to camp in. I know there are a bunch in Southern California and Southern Arizona, as the snowbirds with generators camp out on them with their RV's. They're not well advertised, so you've got to go onto the PLIC that Howard mentioned above.

    State parks can run from $8 up to $30+, depending on the state and on its facilities. CA state parks are obnoxiously expensive since the State government pulled a lot of funding for them. Yet other states have fees of around $15/night. Commercial campgrounds can be found for $20, but are usually in the $30 range.

    National forests are an often-overlooked source for camping recreation. They will also run in the neighborhood of $10-15/night. When we tent-camped, these were our favorite CG's to go to, as they weren't overly crowded except on 3-day weekends!

    On a paper map or atlas, public campsites are often marked with a little green tent shape. When traveling on the highway, brown signs with a tent on it means a CG or RV park. Often, though, it's not specific about what kind of CG it is.

    In northern Arizona, try not to miss Petrified Forest NP. It's a lesser known park, and the Painted Desert is part of it. It takes a couple of hours to drive it, more if you want to get out and hike any of the trails of course. I don't believe there's a CG in it, but there's an AZ state park just northeast of Winslow with a CG.


    Donna

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by howard View Post
    You might want to look through the Public Lands Information Center website. Lots of good information for campsites in the western US. New Mexico State Parks camping fees are pretty reasonable.



    Definitely. No food in the tent. And keeping your campsite as clean as possible is a good habit to get into.
    Yeah, I know it's not really an accepted practise, but I know people who have done it and things were fine. I was actually thinking of trying to find a family-oriented looking neighbourhood before dark and just parking there for the night and leaving early. I would assume most people wouldn't even notice. I suppose it's a risk, but I may have to take it, as I'll be spending so much money on gas. Thanks for emphasizing the danger of it, though. I'll keep it in mind. I have also heard about the Walmart parking lots, which is interesting. As much as I can't stand Walmart ...

  8. #8

    Default

    Aside from camping and sleeping in cars, does anyone have any other suggestions for places I should see ? Landmarks, famous restaurants, artsy towns (apparently Goldfield is a cool town, but I am no longer going through Nevada), just places not to miss in general, I guess. I'll be covering a lot of land, in some fascinating areas. I am so eager to discover this part of the country !

    Thanks everyone !

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    I was actually thinking of trying to find a family-oriented looking neighbourhood before dark and just parking there for the night and leaving early.
    The chances are pretty good that you will be awakened by the local police sometime in the wee hours. A lot of neighborhoods like this don't allow overnight parking on the street even if you live there.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    The chances are pretty good that you will be awakened by the local police sometime in the wee hours. A lot of neighborhoods like this don't allow overnight parking on the street even if you live there.
    Yeah, I suppose that's more of a possibility.

    I hope this topic doesn't deter other people from giving me some suggestions for my trip. Any help would be appreciated :) Thanks !

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