Fear of not finding a place to camp

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Lisa Truck Gypsy

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I'm planning a 2 month trip out west and have been online researching where to camp and I'm very concerned about not being able to find a place to camp each night. I've been on various sites (freecampsites.net, campodium, blm, state and national parks etc) trying to plan out where to stay as the idea of traveling without a definite destination to camp is very very very very stressful to me. Most of the places that I want to see are state parks but as we know that can get very expensive. I have a general idea of my route  but since I don't want to drive more than 5 hours per day I will be looking for a lot of campsites in order to get to my final destination on the date I need to get there. As much as I would love to meander across the country just stopping whenever something looks interesting I worry about where to stay and that stress would stop me from enjoying the experience. As a result my tendency is to reserve sites at the state parks I want to see ahead of time but then I'm on such a tight deadline to get there before dark and also locked into exact dates that I can't be spontaneous.  My ultimate goal is to find scenic locations to be able to paint and camp in my truck so I really don't want to stealth or parking lot camp. Any suggestions?
 

djkeev

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When are you going?

Avoid the Summer Months!!

Yes it is warmer during this time but the sheer number of people traveling is overwhelming!

Leave after Labor Day and travel into the Fall / early Winter. You will never want for an available site to lay your head down. Maybe on a few Peak Fall weekends it MIGHT be busy in prime leaf peeping areas, but plan for that by staying put if you can on the site you have occupied on Thursday night.
 

highdesertranger

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you need to get out here. once you get used to it the stress will go away. basically all of Nevada is a free campsite, as is northeastern California, Oregon east of the Cascade divide, huge areas of Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. if you can be a little more specific we can point you in the right direction. highdesertranger
 

waldenbound

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That's what I was thinking about too. For instance, I'm in eastern Oregon going to southern Nevada via US 95. I got it planned to make it from city to city. Burns to Winnemuca, Winnemuca to Tonopah, Tonopah to Pahrump. But what if I get tired of driving? It's a big open desert, but I'm sure you just can't pull over and stop for the night anywhere.
 

highdesertranger

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waldenbound yes YOU CAN just pull over and spend the night just not on the side of he highway. find a dirt road drive a little ways back and spend the night. yes it's as easy as that. I do it all the time. there are a few areas along 95 where you can't but they are marked. if it was me I would take 395 to Reno and cut over to the 95 somewhere south of Reno. IMO 395 is much prettier. or take 395 all the way to Bishop and cut over to 395 on highway 6. highdesertranger
 

MrNoodly

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LoupGarou said:
2-2-2

Travel no more than 200 miles, arrive no later than 2pm and stay for 2 days.

In the summer, when there's high demand for campsites (even dispersed camping) I try to arrive before noon. First come, first served and all that.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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When I first started out I would start looking for a campsite just after lunch.  This included checking all the internet sites and DeLorme, Benchmark, NF, BLM and USGS maps.  I talked to rangers every chance I got.  I would choose the first decent campsite I found.

Now, I don't worry about it.  I have learned that in the plains and Mountain West (where I do all of my traveling) I am not going to be at a loss for good camping sites, so I have gotten kind of picky about where I camp.  There is no substitute for experience; you have to get out there to gain some.  

IMO camping in developed sites, NF, State & National Parks, or commercial can get very expensive.

During tourist season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), getting off paved roads usually gets me away from crowds.    The exception to this is hunting and fishing openers.  You might want to plan for some in city camping during these weekends.

 -- Spiff
 

TrainChaser

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There's a nice book available, 851 pages of nothing but cheap campgrounds, free to $12 max:  The Wright Guide to Free and Low-cost Campgrounds.  It gives road directions and GPS location, price, number of campsites, facilities available (incl. handicapped), whether or not drinking water is available, day limit, RV length limit, and local attractions (boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, bike trails, petroglyphs, horse corrals, wildlife viewing, cliff dwellings, rockhounding, etc). Also smallish maps of each state w/numbered campground location.  And you don't need cell towers to read it!
https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Free-C...&sr=8-1&keywords=wright's+guide+low-cost+free
 

rvpopeye

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Thanks TC!
I bought that book back in the 90s hope it's been updated since then.
Does your copy have a date somewhere?
 

Lisa Truck Gypsy

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I plan on traveling in Northeast Texas the whole month of September. Then I will be going to the following places for the months of Oct and half of Nov. Here is my itinerary and I plan on taking interstates to get there faster.

Dallas area/Palo Duro or Caprock Canyon in TX/ somewhere in NM/ Sedona, AZ/ Grand Canyon South Rim/Mojave Preserve/Death Valley/LA/Joshua Tree/Slab City/Lost Dutchman SP/City of Rocks SP, NM/somewhere else in NM within 200 miles/Ft. Davis, TX (McDonald Observatory)/Marfa, TX/ Maybe Big Bend NP, TX/Magnolia Beach in TX Gulf Coast

Thanks for the 2 2 2 rule. That seems to be pretty much what I had planned anyway so I'm glad I'm on the right track. I could use some recommendations for somewhere in NM between Amarillo, TX area and Sedona, AZ and also somewhere in NM between City of Rocks SP and Ft Davis, TX.
 

akrvbob

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I deleted all the 2-2-2 posts. They are 100% off topic and not helpful to her.

THE QUESTION IS HOW DOES SHE FIND CAMPSITES IN FRONT OF HER AS SHE TRAVELS.

Your advice to stop more often and need to find even MORE campsites is not helpful.
 

MrNoodly

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Spaceman Spiff said:
...getting off paved roads usually gets me away from crowds.

Usually, but in areas with large populations of outdoorsy people (like where I am now, in Colorado) even remote spots can be crowded sometimes.
 

Almost There

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I know you said you used freecampsites.net but did you try using the trip planner that's available on the site.

I use it for all my cross country trips as a first resource and only turn to Allstays.com drivers section for WalMarts and casinocamper for casinos if there is no free camping in the area where I want to stop for the night. I also have the Flying J's RV Guide (ask for it at the counter) which lets me find which locations have RV parking. While I don't take up an RV space with the van, it lets me know which ones have large lots.

Between the 4 I have never been stuck for a place to stay, usually have my choice of at least 2 places, most often more than that. Oh and check out which states allow overnights at rest areas for when you're really stuck.

I went from Elk City OK all the way to South Haven MI last spring and only had to use a W/M once and that was because I didn't want to drive the next 30 miles to a free campground. It was all done on secondary highways...no interstates.
 

Lisa Truck Gypsy

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Thanks everyone. One of my biggest concerns is West Texas if I get too tired or run late on the road. There is NOTHING out there but wide open plains and a truck in the middle of nowhere is kind of conspicuous. What would you do in that situation if you were a woman alone?
 

Van Lady

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Lisa Truck Gypsy said:
Thanks everyone. One of my biggest concerns is West Texas if I get too tired or run late on the road. There is NOTHING out there but wide open plains and a truck in the middle of nowhere is kind of conspicuous. What would you do in that situation if you were a woman alone?


I am a woman alone. I drive from Phoenix to Houston often.... doing it again next week.
When I get tired, I pull into a Love's or Pilot and sleep. There are always others doing the same thing. Always a lot of activity going on.... very well lit. I sleep very well, some complain it is noisy, and it is, but my dog and I sleep with no problem. I feel safer there than rest stops due to all the activity going on ... if you were bothered by anyone it would be noticed immediately and truckers are packing and very helpful should you have need. Most have cameras covering the parking lot too.
Try it.... you will like it!
 

Almost There

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I AM a woman driving alone.

Last fall on the way from home summer base to AZ for the winter I saw 14 states and was on the road for over a month. This past spring I saw 9 states before I crossed back in to Ontario.

I've been full time on the road for over 16 years accumulated.

This said just as a confirmation that I've BTDT.

One thing I will tell you is that I always plan where I'm going to stop for the night and usually, most often, have at least 2 places where I'm okay to park. If the first place doesn't appear suitable to me on arrival, I have always got a second place in mind.

I also try very hard to make sure I'm pulling off the road BEFORE I'm so tired that all I want to do is go to bed. I'd rather have a couple of hours to relax and unwind than drive to tired state. Not only is it dangerous, it's pointless, you probably won't be able to fall asleep immediately anyways.

While I can appreciate that you have serious concerns, please know that there are thousands of us, both male and female, travelling alone that don't run in to trouble, EVER.

My 'rules' -

  • park facing outwards so that you can put it in to drive instead of having to back out of a parking spot.
  • Leave the drivers' seat clear of 'stuff' so that you can get in it without delay.
  • Put your car keys where you can find them easily and always in the same place....mine are in the left drink holder on the engine housing.
  • I choose parking areas that are NOT in large metropolitan areas but rather in smaller urban communities...lower crime rates and more upscale neighborhoods.
  • I actually sleep in a t-shirt nightgown so that I don't have to throw any clothes on if I have to drive.
You specifically worried about West Texas - yes, been there, done that a few times across I 10. If you're intent on driving until you can't drive any more then you're most likely to end up in rest areas - I've never been in one overnight where there weren't at least 2 or 3 other RV's in the rest area. Simply park with them. If you plan ahead, worst case scenario is that you'll end up in a W/M or Cracker Barrel parking lot - again, I've never been alone in one in West Texas. Maybe in the middle of July where it's so hot at midnight that everyone has gone to a campground but never through fall through spring. The concept of 'truck in the middle of nowhere' is greatly exaggerated. The only time you'd encounter that scenario is if you drive miles out on the plains on BLM land, which is NOT something you're going to do for just one night when you're travelling.
 

bigsallysmom

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[quote pid='304589' dateline='1497992322']
I could use some recommendations for somewhere in NM between City of Rocks SP and Ft Davis, TX.
[/quote]

Perhaps you would like to boondock in Sacramento Mountains in Lincoln National Forest an hour and a half north of el paso.  in october november the quaking aspen are awesome.  Probably won't be freezing but it will be cool.

City of rocks is about three and a half hours from there.  Just got back from there a couple of days ago.  Hot but awesome.
 

TrainChaser

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RvPopeye: "I bought that book back in the 90s hope it's been updated since then. Does your copy have a date somewhere?"

I responded and Bob apparently deleted my four-digit reponse. Here it is again:

2015.
 

TrainChaser

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LisaTruckGypsy: "There is NOTHING out there but wide open plains and a truck in the middle of nowhere is kind of conspicuous. What would you do in that situation if you were a woman alone?"

Try to park so the main door you'll be using and the area on the side of the rig that you will be most active on, does NOT face the closest road. Don't wear clothes that will mark you as female from a quarter-mile away.

Also, you can stay overnight (24 hours) in New Mexico rest areas if you don't sleep outside your rig. One-day overnight parking is also permitted at Texas state picnic areas and rest areas (no tents).

Here is a site that gives the rules for rest areas: http://www.interstaterestareas.com/overnight-parking-rules/

NOTE the difference between the meaning of rest area signs that say NO OVERNIGHT PARKING, and the ones that say NO CAMPING. 'Camping' is sleeping outside of your rig or in a tent or on a picnic table.
 

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