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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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Old 7 Mar 2006
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Camping USA and Canada

I am preparing for a 3 month circular tour of US and Canada in May 06. I am planning to camp mostly. I have various camps site lists, but I would be very interested to hear of anyones' experiences.
a)Are there plenty of reasonable sites to choose from?
b)Is it necesary to plan ahead?
c)Would it be true to say that most small towns would have a reasonable site nearby, without spending half of each day looking for a site?
d)Any pitfalls or problems encountered?
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Old 7 Mar 2006
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Camping is easy to come by in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. I cannot comment on farther east as I have not camped there. Bed abd Breakfast locations are also easy to come by. Most small towns have a campsite in town as well as the government and commercial ones along the highways.

The only concerns are in the national parks and on long weekends. If you plan to be in a national park on a long weekend you will need to arrive before noon thursday to assure yourself of a spot.

May 22nd and July 1st are the two long weekends during your stay.

Hope this helps.


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Old 7 Mar 2006
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Here's a link to get you started. There are a number of other sites as well.
Riq is correct re: long weekends. The parks across Canada fill up quickly during the summer. Most parks accept reservations, but also leave 10-15% of the sites for travellers (they take advanced reservations for 85-90% only). There are also plenty of private campsites to be found (Google).


[This message has been edited by tor1150r (edited 07 March 2006).]
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Old 8 Mar 2006
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There is the Campground Guide to North America you can buy at www.amazon.com. It covers all the campgrounds and includes the location, prices, amenities, etc. They also have two other books (Free Camping)which have the cheapest and also free camp sites. There is one for the east and one for the west. A lot of the free sites have few if any amenities, however, most of these are near day use areas so they usually have a bathhouse and restrooms. You can usually get a camp site, but as mentioned above they may be full, especially during the summer months and holidays.
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Old 8 Mar 2006
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If you do a quick google using the province name and camping you will get results like this.


This is a listing of all campgrounds in Alberta complete with rates and amenities.

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Old 9 Mar 2006
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There is lots of FREE camping in the US depending on where you are in the country. First of all there are 3 federal government agencis and systems with camping land. They are

US Forest Service

National Park Service.


Each of these have seperat lands and systems. For the most part Forest Service and BLM land you can camp anywhere it is not forbidden. That means you DO NOT have to find a designated camp ground, just plop down in the woods anyplace. The national park service is more restrictd. The big thing is camp fires. You may need a camp fire permit (free) to have a fire or even use your stove. In the west during the summer camp fires are usually forbidden due to the danger of wildland fires.

In addition to the federal lands there are state and county campgrounds thar rules vary from place to place. In addition to that there are many private camp grounds as well. One national chain is KOA. Below are some links to look through. It is not usually criticla to plan way ahead for camping, but certin areas and certin holidays it would be wise.

US Forest service


National parks


California State parks
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Old 9 Mar 2006
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I have a copy of the "free campgrounds" book (also includes $12 and less sites). I have attempted to use it to find 5 different free campsites. I was successful once, with the found campsite being about 14 miles away from where the book said, and on a different road (only campsite around and it had the right name and description). I am guessing that the book references really old map data. I am sure it is correct in many places, but I have had poor luck, just to give you warning.

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Old 10 Mar 2006
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Its real easy to find some county, state, or federal land to camp on in the US for free. I've always just found some public land go down some fire lane and set up camp. It varies from one area to another what the rules are but when I tell them I'm from out of area and on a bike all the DNR officers left me be.
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Old 13 Mar 2006
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When moto traveling, I refuse to pay for camping if I can help it. The only time I 've paid was because I was with friends who wanted to stay at a 'real campground', but even then, we once camped-and-dashed at a campground on the Blue Ridge Pkwy because the experience was like sleeping on the set of the Jerry Springer show being filmed live in a central Florida trailer park. We refused to be taken for $13 for that experience and hauled ass before the ranger did his morning rounds.

For wilderness camping, free comes easy, but it's a little more difficult when near civilization.

Here's what I do:
1) freeload off of contacts from the Net. I don't hessitate to contact a firend from a forum to let them know I'm passing through and ask if I can camp or grab some couch. I would offer space for them and I expect them to want the same from me.
2) Sleep in rest areas. I've slept face down on the grass at rest stops, as well as sleeping for 5 hours on a picnic table in a pavillion with my bike parked next to me.
3) Truck stops are great and truckers won't mess with you. I've stept face down on asphalt between 2 tractor trailers using my tent as a mat. I've also camped inconspicuously on the grass strip at the back of a truck stop on many occasions. The nice thing about truck stops is that you can also get a shower there.
4) Other places I've grabbed at least 5 hours of sleep include: the shoulder of the road at a scenic overlook, ferries, gas station parking lot (with permission), in the woods off the highway along a powerline.


PS: email me for the GPS coords of an awesome free campground in northern Maine.
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