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  1. Default Bellingham to the Civil War

    Hi All,
    My wife and I are new to the road camping. So this is a broad sweep, 30,000 foot type question: We're thinking of driving from Bellingham, WA to Nashville to visit our son in September, and then touring some of the Civil War sites in the region while we're there by branching out from Nashville to do this. But where and how to get started? Our thought is that we would travel in our Corolla with a light luggage-only trailer and/or car top carrier to pack gear, and a camp kitchen to cook along the way. So big question: Are we crazy? Is this do-able? Are we too late in the season to get reservations? We're not new to camping, being veteran backpackers, but new to this kind of travel. Any suggestions or comments for starters?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,580

    Default A few suggestions

    Welcome to the Trip Advice Forums. There are a lot of us who like to camp and like visiting historical civil war sites. We have collection of RTA Library maps that connect several of the Civil War sites. There are ~ 15 of these RTA Library maps that can view and download and save to your account for personal use. In addition there are 139 attractions that the RTA contributing writers have written about.

    Since you are starting out in Nashville, I would use the "Search for RTA Library Maps within 100 miles" tool, use Civil war campground as the keywords and click on "Click on Map" to see some of these maps -- This is done on the Advanced Maps page.

    But the easiest way to see these maps and get some insight on exploring Civil War sites is to review the Civil War Battlefield Forum

    There are all sorts of maps and information about finding campsites while exploring these sites.

    September and October are great months for exploring this region.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,673

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    My husband and I did our very first tent-camping trip in a 1979 Subaru with a car top carrier. It was only the two of us then, so the backseat, trunk and car-top carrier (borrowed from our neighbors) were pretty full. So, no, you're not crazy.

    Mark gave you a boost in the direction I would have sent you - our Civil War camping forum. While not every single Civil War memorial site has a campground, there are usually public campgrounds close enough to one to make it worth your while.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,111

    Default Speaking in Generalities

    This is a unique year and given the pent up urge for vacation travel, there is the possibility that things will get tight at some point. However, my wife and i have recently booked two trips, one for a wedding in Delaware in August and the other for a vacation on the Olympic Peninsula for September, and found plenty of accommodations available, including flights, rental cars, and lodging. None of that speaks directly to camping but is indicative of the general state of travel at the moment. However, I will note that since I booked the flights to Delaware, the cost has gone up by over $100/ticket for those exact same flights. Again, not directly applicable to your plans but an indication that demand is catching up with supply.

    So, in general, I'd say that the sooner you start checking availability of camp sites, and booking if they seem to be getting in short supply, the better. My personal preference is for state park camp sites as they are both more plentiful than national park sites and more affordable, My last option would be commercial 'camp' sites. But you seem to have far more experience than I do and know far better what sort of camping suits you. But yes, I see no reason not to proceed with planning the trip you propose.

    As to car-top carrier vs. light trailer, that is also a matter of personal preference. The car-top will compromise your car's aerodynamics and lower you mpg, but a trailer will make it difficult if not impossible to park and/or back up.

    I wouldn't count on doing much more than about 450-500 miles per day as it will take some time to set up camp each night and break camp each morning, while daylight hours will be getting noticeably shorter throughout September. The links Mark gave you are a good starting point for Civil War sites.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,109

    Default

    What year and engine is your Corolla? Web search tells me that 2014 and newer Corollas are not rated for any kind of towing. 2000 to 2013 can tow up to 1500# with certain engines. Reference:

    https://vehq.com/can-a-toyota-corolla-tow-a-trailer/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,724

    Default

    If it's just the 2 of you, a trailer seems kind of excessive to me. I've packed a car smaller than a Corolla for camping trips. You'll need to use the back seat for some storage, and may have to limit the gear you bring, but if you're used to backpack camping, even a compact car can bring far more stuff than what you'd carry on your backs. Even if you have to go without a few things you'd like to bring, that would be easier than the extra hassles that come with towing.

    As far as campsites, it's really never too late, but the longer you wait, the more you'll have to work to find appropriate sites. Demand for campsites was rising before the pandemic, and it's soared since then, plus, many campgrounds, especially state parks, have gone to a total reservation based system with no first come sites. That means sites do fill up sooner than ever, but if you keep looking, you often can find cancellations. My other suggestion would be to look for smaller parks lie County Parks, which often have many more available sites, but do require more work to find them.

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