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  1. #1
    first timer Guest

    Default First time road trip- confused about camping...?

    My best friend and I are driving down from North Jersey to Galveston, TX to camp on the beach next weekend. Its our first road trip and we thought we would be spontaneous. However, I'm more on the planner side. I'm looking up camping sites and I'm getting confused about the whole tent camping and RV campgrounds. Are they the same? Are they separate?
    Obviously not a big camper...could use some common sense advice.
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Tent vs RV campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by first timer
    My best friend and I are driving down from North Jersey to Galveston, TX to camp on the beach next weekend. Its our first road trip and we thought we would be spontaneous. However, I'm more on the planner side. I'm looking up camping sites and I'm getting confused about the whole tent camping and RV campgrounds. Are they the same? Are they separate?
    At most public campgrounds (not privately owned) the tent sites and the RV sites are the same thing. But at privately-owned RV campgrounds the areas reserved for tenting is often away from the places that RVs park overnight.

    Does this help?

  3. #3
    UGAphin Guest

    Default

    I'm also curious; I prefer camping on plots of land that don't appear to be owned by anyone in particular. Campgrounds aren't really my thing... It kind of defeats the purpose of camping to me if you have to pay for a spot.

    What are the rules of thumb for camping like that?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Does the word trespass ring a bell?

    Quote Originally Posted by UGAphin
    I'm also curious; I prefer camping on plots of land that don't appear to be owned by anyone in particular. Campgrounds aren't really my thing... It kind of defeats the purpose of camping to me if you have to pay for a spot. What are the rules of thumb for camping like that?
    Unless the land in question is "owned" by the Federal or state government then it is probably owned by a private person and you would be trespassing. Rule of thumb is don't, without obtaining permission from the land owner. I am not sure I have ever seen a parcel of land that is not "owned" by someone in the lower 48 states. Where have you seen such places?

    Mark

  5. Default Finding Federal or State Public lands

    On the public lands, typically BLM-managed, you can often camp in "dispersed" areas (meaning outside of developed campgrounds). The trick is finding out where those are. Keep in mind that just because it IS public land, doesn't also mean that camping is always allowed.

    You can buy maps that use different shading colors to identify public lands (the state Gazetteers are one example). Once you find them on the map, you can contact the controlling agency to find out if camping is allowed and what the rules are. Often there will be fire restrictions, for example.

    As Mark said, camping on private lands is a bad idea -- at minimum, you may be asked by law enforcement to move in the middle of the night. Bob

  6. #6
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default "open" land

    I lived in Washington State for over 12 years... and I have seen such land as well. Usually it's heavily wooded and usually far from any real development. Some of it is private land that hasn't been developed... for reasons ranging from lack of money to develop it, to preserving a Natural Space. The Counties up there also hold the titles to lots of land that remains un-developed, but developable.

    Depending on the level of traffic of people into these areas, the owners (both counties and private citizens) have placed no tresspassing signs. Others, well, even though it's private or county property, the trails have been there knowingly for so long that they are granfathered in... and cannot be removed nor access denied. If I remember correctly, in Washington at least, a tract of land that has been allowed to be used for public access for 5 years (meaning has never been signed 'no trespassing' or fenced off), must remain open to the public (I am most hazy on the number of years, not the fact that this law exists). Although the trail itself is now public, all land on both sides is still private or count property.

    Well, enough with the tid-bit on Washington State land laws...
    My suggestion would be to check into National Park and National Forest Backcountry Campgrounds. Traffic at these are most of the time minimal, if non-existant, but do require a backcountry permit (don't want the NPS or USFS Law Enforcement righting you a fine way out there).
    You can find some of those online at www.nps.gov or the US Forest Service website for that particular area.

    Brad M.

  7. #7
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default Ah... how far civilization has advanced

    Quote Originally Posted by UGAphin
    See, I figure that up until maybe a few thousand years ago, we were living at primitive campsites anyways. I am not especially fond of the concept of someone 'owning' the woods.
    First... even in the primitive times you speak of, humans were territorial. You got too close to someone's territory and they didn't like you being there, lets just say your head got quickly aquainted with their club.

    Most of the 'Woods' you speak of is that way because someone took the time to leave that place in its natural state. If they didn't 'Own' those woods, a developer would truck in his bulldozers, level the whole place, and build another starbucks!

    It should be everyones. That is how it used to be. ...Of course I respect trespassing signs, but if they aren't there, I say the land is free for camping. Its not like I'm going to build a house or claim the land for Spain or something.
    Even in Washington State, with its Public Access law, most people actually take the time to live there for the full 5 years to make sure. Its one thing for a 10 year old and his friends to get caught playing "Rambo" there, but for a bunch of college kids... the police and land owners don't exactly like that. Yeah, they may just ask you nicely to leave... but remember, there are those out there who do their talking with a shotgun and buckshot when it comes to tresspassing.

    Point is, when traveling... play it safe. Use designated campgrounds, federal lands, or NPS/USFS Backcountry (or Mark's Forest Service roadsides... I still don't know how he does it!). Sleeping on someone elses woods just because you want to get back to nature... well, that might get you aquainted with the modern equivelent of that club I mentioned before.

    From one young person to another... use some common sense.
    -Brad M.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-14-2005 at 08:37 PM. Reason: Rhetoric Softening

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Some of the sites at the various national, state, and county parks have very secluded campsites. A few weekends ago we went for a quick one-night camping get-away to a local campground where the sites are seperated from each other by thick bushes and trees. It feels pretty darn private.

    Like Bob said, your best bets for a more wilderness experience are either BLM or Army Corp of Engineers land OR backpacking into designated wilderness areas. However, you should be a bit more adept at camping before taking off into the wilderness first, imho. And you will most likely still need permits and have rules to obey (leave no trace, proper toileting/dishwashing procedures, bear country food rules, cooking/fire issues, etc.)

    One last thing, when it comes to private campgrounds, not all RV campgrounds have tentsites. Most do but if it's advertised as an RV campground, there's a slight possiblity they won't have a tent area. This is more true closer to cities but it's something to be aware of just in case.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Camping

    To UGAphin: It may or may not work for car camping, but there is an interesting page about camping the way you prefer here. Check out "How to Camp Anywhere" for a humorous take; check "Bicycle Camping and Touring" for a serious take.

    I've found the RV market to be far and away the most lucrative for campgrounds, and that's understandable. At the same time, most campgrounds I've stayed at, with the exception of Pine Island near Ft. Myers, FL, have tent sections away from RVs, though if you want water or electric, they'll usually put you in a "mixed use" spot, ie something for a popup trailer.

    The last camping we did at a public campground was Ponca SP in Nebraska, 8 years ago. IIRC, the tent sites were away from RVs sites (in fact, I don't remember seeing any RVs.) We usually stay at private grounds. HTH

  10. Default

    I was having the same questions prior to my trip to the Grand Canyon from Atlanta GA. I ended up camping in developed public campgrounds. It's just much easier and safer. Don't forget that in dispersed camping you have to be extra careful with your camp hygiene and cannot safely keep food or anything with a scent near your camp. Your car is not a safe place against bears. If you attract animals, you could have a real problem. Even in developed campgrounds they have bear proof trash cans, etc.
    Also, you cannot leave your car on the road or drive it off road and you cannot camp within a certain distance from the road (usually 1/4 mile)..

    The developed campgrounds run by the BLM, NPS or the Corps of Engineers are very nice and mostly inexpensive. Some are free. Many of them are fairly primitive but have toilets and sometimes water. It's nice to pitch a tent in a tent pad and use the picnic tables, grills and fire rings. You wont feel like you are in a huge RV park or nothing like that. The State Parks can be a little pricier but quite affordable anyway. It all depends how much you get in the way of amenities. Lots of amenities=higher price, basic campground=cheap or free..

    There is a great APP called Oh Ranger! I got it in my Iphone and it is great! much easier and useful than any map or even google or other search or web sites. It works great and it's free! Just plan your drive so you can stop at McDonalds from time to time as needed to use their WIFI. Also, they serve a great oatmeal & fruit breakfast very inexpensive ($2.70 with a senior coffee). Sometimes you need a quick lunch or a break from traveling, you can get decent salads for a decent price too. No need to eat junk food on the road... If you forgot something or need something you did not bring, make sure you find Walmarts. They are your best bet for almost anything, including camping gear!

    Just get your stuff together and head on out. You'll have a great time!

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