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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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  #1  
Old 9 Dec 2004
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cheapskate traveller

Hi all,

I'll be whizzing round the US on a friend's 1981 Suzuki GS250, starting around April/May time from New Jersey. I'll initially be heading south and hope to do a loop around the states via Florida, Texas, Washington and back to NJ.

You've probably already guessed that I'm not a wealthy person (was the "1981 GS250" bit a clue?!) so I'll be doing the trip on a tight budget. Can anyone recommend any books and/or websites listing free/cheap campsites across the US? Last time I was in the US I used State Park campsites but getting a pitch at weekends could be a problem, plus some were very expensive.

Any ideas? Thanks.

Rich
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  #2  
Old 10 Dec 2004
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If you stay in a National Forest it is usually free and you can usually camp anywhere in them without a permit etc. Many people in the US don't realize that. Also BLM many times has free camping anywhere, but not always. These are two compleatly diffrent parts of the Govt. Don't get these mixed up with the National Park service, yet another part, that tends to be more restrictive and more likly to charge a fee. Here are some links to get more info inclusing maps, rules etc

US Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us/

BLM http://www.blm.gov/nhp/index.htm

National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/

Also each state has state and county parks that charge various, and sometime outragious fees. The biggest thing to watch out for is campfires. Sometimes they are not permitted in the summer, or you need a fire permit(usually free) due to possable forest fires. Hope this helps.

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  #3  
Old 11 Dec 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by straggler:
Hi all,


I'll be doing the trip on a tight budget.
Any ideas? Thanks.

Rich
Have you considered stealth camping.

john


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  #4  
Old 12 Dec 2004
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Is that using a tent that doesn't show up on radar?
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  #5  
Old 12 Dec 2004
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Quote:

US Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us/

BLM http://www.blm.gov/nhp/index.htm

National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/

Thanks for that. I'd never heard of the BLM before.

I've been told that I can get free maps from each state's visitor centre. Admittedly I only visited 5 or 6 states last time I was in the US but I can't remember ever seeing one. Am I just ashort sighted or am I looking in the wrong places?!

[/B]
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  #6  
Old 13 Dec 2004
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Straggler,
Visitor centers are usually located on major interstates, if you were on backroads when you entered states before then that explains why you would have missed them. "Stealth camping" works well in the U.S., it means simply camping on private property, or restricted access government property without asking permission or paying a fee. This is almost always easily done, unless you decide to camp on some over-zealous person's land. Hint: if you do decide to stealth camp try and cover the reflectors on your bike, they can give you away when you would otherwise remain undetected.
Good Luck,
Nate Pollock
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  #7  
Old 13 Dec 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by nate:
Straggler,
Visitor centers are usually located on major interstates, if you were on backroads when you entered states before then that explains why you would have missed them. "Stealth camping" works well in the U.S., it means simply camping on private property, or restricted access government property without asking permission or paying a fee.
Nate Pollock
This is all good stuff, thanks. I'll have to get back onto the interstates before crossing the state lines.

By the way, think I passed through your town in the summer.

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  #8  
Old 13 Dec 2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by straggler:

I've been told that I can get free maps from each state's visitor centre.
Many states will also mail you maps. Do a search for their tourist or visitor website. They all have them.

John


[This message has been edited by Grant Johnson (edited 13 December 2004).]
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  #9  
Old 23 Dec 2004
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While riding back from Mexico I was very low on funds so I "stealth camped" often. I had a jungle hammock with bug screen so could keep a very low profile and not unpack the bike every night.
Having said that, I would encourage you to remember that most folks can be generous if approached openly and honestly.
Sharing stories of my travels often got me a place to stay.
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  #10  
Old 24 Dec 2004
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If you are in the San Francisoc / Sacramento Ca. area drop me a line. I can put you up for a night and provide garage space and tools for any maintenance.
Glad to help,
Kevin


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  #11  
Old 2 Jan 2005
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My brother and I did a loop from boston to vancouver to LA to new orleans back to boston this summer... stealth camping almost every night.. only paid for 2 motels and 1 hostel. We had good luck with public beaches and rest stops where there were 'day use' picnic areas. Pretty universally, nobody patrols these areas... and you sometimes have a table, fireplace etc (if you are brave enough to light one). you can also go into pay campsites after the close say at 11pm and leave at the crack of dawn with no one the wiser.

Wish I had known somebody in SanFran, we slept in buena vista park for 3 nights! But at least we got to meet some bums.
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  #12  
Old 2 Jan 2005
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Thanks for that. I had thought about nipping into the state park campsites just to use the showers. Most of them I think I'd get away with it. I can always plead the stupid foreign tourist defence!

I'm not sure about camping in rest areas as I'll be travelling on my own but thanks for the advice anyway. I'll certainly be pleased if I can camp for free as often as you did!
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  #13  
Old 6 Jan 2005
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I've been camping on the side of the road all through Australia. A couple nights ago, my bike had problems (as it's prone to do) and I slept on the sidewalk at a small town.

Rest stops are good. I should've added the gay pick up spot warning. That happens in lots of places. I'm not picking on gays, it's just that public sex is frowned upon in most areas, and gay public sex attracts lots of weirdos and cops.

Since you're on a small bike, you can pull off the road and you'll be out of site in no time. But it's hard looking for a good spot when it's getting dark.

I'd also offer you a spot in Sacramento, but that's been taken care of.

--Dave

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[This message has been edited by chimpo13 (edited 06 January 2005).]
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  #14  
Old 20 Jan 2005
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A lot of small towns out west allow you to camp in thier town parks. Just ask when you get there. BLM land is a good choice too if free is what you want. If you have a hankering to stop in Chicago, drop me a line. I'm the 'community rep' here.

Kurt
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  #15  
Old 21 Jan 2005
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Cheapskate,
If you will be in the Washington DC area, give me a shout. We always have a spare bed and garage space ofr the weary MC tourer.
Also be sure to check out the communities section of this sight. Lots of folks willing to share.

Bob
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