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-   -   National Parks & Camping (USA) (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/north-america/national-parks-and-camping-usa-54486)

Bjorn 28 Dec 2010 12:57

National Parks & Camping (USA)

Just started doing some research for the USA. I'll be there from May 2011 onwards. I want to visit quite a number of National Parks & State Parks.

I noticed that the big parks ask for campsite reservations, sometimes as much as 4-6 months in advance. (Yosemite, Grand Canyon North Rim,...)
Other parks sell entry tickets months in advance as well, sometimes through a raffle system (Coyote Buttes for example) – but that's a different issue.

About camping: If I don't have a reservation in advance (and I probably won't have one, as I don't know the exact dates of when I'll be where): Could it be possible to find someone who has a reservation who might be happy to share a campsite?
Obviously, it'll always depend on who I ask, and if they like me. But because a motorcycle & tent aren't that big, what I mean is: is 'sharing' a campsite slot in buzy/booked-out areas common practice, or does it happen from time to time, or is it completely unusual?


markharf 28 Dec 2010 19:28

You have a question, or you're making a general statement? Yes, if you want to camp in Yosemite Valley during peak seasons you'll want to reserve loooooonnnnngggg in advance. Out-of-peak weekdays, no particular problem. "May onwards" will be trouble in the popular areas, but there are always options outside the parks and sometimes walk-in camping within (which requires that you carry your stuff for brutal distances far from the parking lot: a hundred meters, maybe two hundred, which most of my countryfok cannot even begin to contemplate). Ask about this.

If you're doing a lot of American parks, buy a pass at your first one. Used to be called "Golden Eagle Pass" but now has some other name. Good for entry for a full year, and will save you money after four or five entries.


Bjorn 28 Dec 2010 20:42

Thanks for your answer. My intital post was truncated & I updated it. (This ALWAYS happens when I'm using Safari. The HUBB is the ONLY forum, where I can't use Safari and need to switch to Firefox... sometimes I forget)

markharf 28 Dec 2010 21:46

I hate it when that happens.

People share campsites. In the highly-regulated campsites, uniformed rangers sometimes come around checking vehicles against registration lists, and it can cause trouble if you're not on the list. It's happened to me.

That aside, if you see people who look like you, just talk to them. Don't jump right in and ask if you can share a space; talk about riding and let them see how fascinating and exotic you are. Then mention that you don't have a reservation or a site, and see what they say. No different from anyplace else.

Some of those places are real zoos during summertime, and you might find that you don't really want to be there overnight anyway--c.f., the campgrounds on the floor of Yosemite Valley.

Good luck.


Bjorn 29 Dec 2010 01:12

That's good news about sharing. Guess when a ranger checks license plates, I could try & do some sweet-talk about a rtw journey... maybe some rangers are bikers ;)

Yey – I heard about Yosemite Valley being bad. Guess it doesn't help that I'll probably be there 2nd week of June, i.e. after summer break started :(

Flyingdoctor 29 Dec 2010 08:18

A couple of years ago I toured around California on a DR650. I was lucky when I went to Yosemite as I just rolled up at Lower Pines and they had a campsite for me. It was only after talking to others I found out "everyone" knows you have to book 5 months in advance. (I was there in the last week of July). I didn't have any trouble at other National Parks I visited. If you're going to visit more than 3 or 4 parks on your trip it's worth getting the pass. I didn't bother as I only visited 3. So, if you're on your own I'd just chance it.

Good luck :thumbup1:

switchback 18 Jan 2011 02:50

Most of the Western US National Parks are surrounded by US Forest Service lands. The USFS campsites are often overlooked and spots are not hard to find. Also, dispersed camping is generally (but not always) allowed within 30' of a road on USFS lands. Ask for specifics at local ranger stations.

Bill Ryder 18 Jan 2011 03:11

I enjoyed a memorable chicken dinner while sharing a campsite at the grand canyon. South side did the trail down and back in one day and couldn't hardly walk the next day. I live just north of yellowstone and some of the camps in the park are more like cramed together city living. Too many beautifull other campsites for me to try to stay right in a park.......except monument valley. Camped right on the edge and watched the shadows from the setting sun....most excelent.

Ekke 18 Jan 2011 05:12

Last summer in Yosemite, right after the MotoGP races, we showed up at the lower camps just as the rangers were handing out spots that belonged to people who cancelled. 14 spots available and we got number 14. We were told that if we hadn't gotten in then we could come back first thing the next morning and enter a lottery. We maximised our time, packing up at Noon, and then rode up to an upper camp. The sign indicated it was full. We were just about to turn around when a fellow motorcyclist on a Concours walked over and suggested checking to make sure all the spots had tags. No tag and it was available. We found a couple of empty spots even though it was "full". So there you go, you can camp in Yosemite at peak time without a reservation. Just be flexible.

Keith46 23 Jan 2011 21:44

Hey folks. I'm planning on a similar trip this summer. What months are classed as peak times in the major parks?

DLbiten 24 Jan 2011 03:59

In summer June, July, and August. It is when schools are closed and people take there week or so off. The weekends can be vary hard to get a spot.
The tags may or may not mean the spot is open and a if the spot has a reservation on it you will be booted from it. Best to ask at the desk at the campground.

here is the U.S. National park service U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America
If you will spending lots of time in the parks get this America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (will not work in some nation monuments)

A bit about the "major" parks there being loved to death Yellowstone can be a parking lot same with Yosemite. Get there before the crowds, best time to see animals any way.

National forest and BLM land are free camping (most of it).
here US Forest Service - Caring for the land and serving people. and here DOI: BLM: National Home Page Many times people can not tell if there on park land, forest, or BLM ran land. Some state campgrounds are free as well (many are closing)

Some things you may try if the all the spots are full is if you can use the walk in area, or if they know of any open areas you can "stay the night".

Thermal 15 Feb 2011 16:27

Yosemite has a first come, first serve campground that used to be called Sunnyside, and is now known as Camp 4. If you ride in early in the morning and wait at the little ranger's booth by 6:00, you'll most likely get a spot when the ranger gets there at 8:00. The ranger will put 6 people in each site that usually don't know each other. It's popular among the rock climbing crowd and great for single travellers on bikes, but I have not seen anything like it in othe Parks.
If you are into backpacking, many of the parks have a campground where you can stay for 1 nite before you head out into the backcountry, which I think is the only way to truly experience many of these places.

hairball 17 Feb 2011 22:37

Hi, the Rustic camping,or back woods where there might be just a water pump and a considerable distance to the showers usually have plenty of spots available.The sites with power and sewage are the ones on the hot list for reservations.Summer vaca.Jun-sep.is the time to avoid.But remember all Public lands in most states just require a permit(usually free or nominal fee)ENJOY.....

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