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Old 10-18-2010, 11:05 PM   #1
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Boondocking in National Parks and Forests

Since we got our 19' CCD, we've been cruising all this beautiful terrain, mainly around California and mainly on or way to a reserved site at an RV park with hookups somewhere near good fly fishing water. I've begun to notice RV's tucked away in these beautiful unimproved sites on National Park and National Forest lands and I'm envious.

What are the rules for dry camping in the National Parks and Forests? I know you guys know! (I've tried to figure the rules out by looking at the various .gov websites, but that info isn't easily gotten to.) Is anyone willing to dish?
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:23 PM   #2
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It is my understanding that there is no camping in National Parks outside of established campgrounds. Dry camping is usually permitted in National Forests, however, there is probably some distance requirement from established trails and roads. Check with the ranger station at each National Forest.

Bill

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Since we got our 19' CCD, we've been cruising all this beautiful terrain, mainly around California and mainly on or way to a reserved site at an RV park with hookups somewhere near good fly fishing water. I've begun to notice RV's tucked away in these beautiful unimproved sites on National Park and National Forest lands and I'm envious.

What are the rules for dry camping in the National Parks and Forests? I know you guys know! (I've tried to figure the rules out by looking at the various .gov websites, but that info isn't easily gotten to.) Is anyone willing to dish?
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:28 PM   #3
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Hi Bard,

I see you're from the left coast, try the Borrego Springs area, it's one of my favorites!
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:34 PM   #4
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Hey Michael,

Are you coming to AB (Anza Borrego) this winter?

Bill

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Hi Bard,

I see you're from the left coast, try the Borrego Springs area, it's one of my favorites!
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:53 PM   #5
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National Forest offices are now required to have motor vehicle access maps available and sometimes they also have these maps on their websites. These maps show where you can take vehicles in the national forests. They are provided free because the roads and trails are usually not marked and you have to depend upon the maps to know how to avoid being cited for being in the wrong place with the wrong vehicle. (this since 2006, I think).

Where you can take your rig is where you can camp. On a forest website, search for the term "dispersed camping" and you'll probably be able to find any rules or regulations of concern.

As for National Parks, Bill makes sense. As for BLM lands, they haven't got the constraints NFS land does.
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Old 10-19-2010, 12:11 AM   #6
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We often camp in the Stanislaus National Forest outside of Yosemite. It is boondocking but we would rather haul water and conserve electricity than be in the most deluxe improved campsite with a thousand other RVs. BLM is the most lenient, USFS next, NFS the most restrictive. Do a bit of research on where you want to go, stop by or call the forest service ranger station for the forest you're visiting. They will also give you pointers on where the best "dispersed camping" is, give you a fire permit (and tell you what's permissible at various times of the year). During your stay you may be visited by a ranger or USFS law enforcement, they very much like to hear that you've checked in with the ranger station, even informally. Tip: they also sell a special edition of the USGS topo maps with all the forest roads marked. This will help immensely in finding things, as the roads are often marked with small signs that look a little like mile markers.
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:48 PM   #7
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I knew that the folks here had the answers! Thanks very much for the help. I go forth armed with knowledge!
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Old 11-08-2010, 01:04 PM   #8
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Federal lands

As I understand one can camp anywhere except where it says you can not. I take this to heart. I regularly (free) camp 10 mi past Standing Indian in NC near the top of MT Albert. The route requires one small stream crossing. There are approximately 10 sites between the Horse Camp and the end of the road.

My next favorite spot is above the Bristol Horse camp in Fires Creek Bear Sanctuary, near Hayesville, NC. These sites are about 7mi off the paved road. Both of these are in the Nantahala National forest
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:48 PM   #9
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I highly recommend that you touch base with the district USFS office on the rules for dispersed camping as they very from forest to forest. In the SJNF, you have to be at least 100' from any streams or lakes and you are encouraged to use existing campsites/fire rings. There is a requirement that you have to be X feet from the road. Dispersed camping is designed more for tent campers and back packers that RV's.
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Old 11-11-2010, 07:13 AM   #10
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I'm Irish. We have a history that includes 1/4 mi farms. Tis mine till told tis not. I take temporary use of public land as a right and allways leave the area better than I found it.
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Old 11-21-2010, 05:45 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the input, everyone. Your information came quickly, was authoritative and to the point. I knew I was in the right place...
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Old 11-21-2010, 06:19 PM   #12
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Lake Mead allows boondocking at Government Wash $0, 15 nights max) 1st come 1st served. Most of your neighbors will be car campers.

It's kinda neat. Not much scenery unless you like rocks, but about 3 hours after sunset the coyotes put on a concert.
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:08 PM   #13
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Northern California locations

If you happen to come to northern california, you may want to check out the Klamath National Forest. There are many areas that you can camp for free along the many Rivers that run thru the Klamath.

On the Scott River I like Kelsey Creek campground, located 20 Minutes down river from Fort Jones, CA. It is Forest Service campground and free to camp for 14 days. The Kayak people like to stage there and make the 15 mile run to Scott Bar pop. 40. In the summer the High School kids from the Scott Valley area like to go swmming there and junp off the bridge that crosses the Scott River just south of the campground.

The Klamath River has many dispersed campsites along the river and some of the river access areas are large enough to pull a trailer and camp. I think there are still some Forest Service campgrounds on the klamath that are free. Also you can go up some the spur roads off the Klamath river highway and camp for free.

The Salmon river highway is the most remote and the roads are very narrow, but once you drop into the river corridor from the Scott Valley, you will find so of the most amazing and beautiful county you've ever seen. I think all of the Forest Service campgrounds are free along the Salmon River highways, to remote to charge fees. Many swimming holes, and lots of kayakers in the campgrounds when the water is running high/fast during spring run off. Lots of mining history on the Salmon and all of the rivers in the area.

The Salmon and Scott rivers have some world class kayak runs... and if you want to try some whitewater that is more for the beginner try the Klamath, or you can go with a group and a guide if you want to spend some money.

There are minning "clubs" like the New 49ers that have campsites at there minning claims. One is located were the Scott River runs into the Klamath river. Not sure what it costs to join there club.

I lived/worked in the area for 10 years back in the 90's and loved the lifestyle.

Make sure that you stop by the Forest Service Headquarters in Yreka CA and buy a forest map before you travel down river. Most of the river highways intersect, so there are 100 to 200 mile loops that you can take, without backtracking on the same highway.

Trex, May Wally be with you and keep you safe during your travels.

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Trail Cr. Campground Whitewater on the Klamath
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:06 AM   #14
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I check with my brother, who is the Asst. Ranger in the Shawnee and he said FS policy is camping is allowed anywhere that is not a designated recreation area (I may hve my terminology off). Basically, no camping at picnic areas, feature markers, trail heads, etc.

He suggested always to chec in and ask at the FS office.
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