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Old 07-28-2020, 06:55 PM   #1
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Newbie - boondocking, trailer, East Coast dry camping

Hi all,


I'm new to this site. Looks like some great discussion and information. I look forward to it. The reason I joined is because I wanted to get some opinions on a pressing issue. I have a small towing trailer and plan to boondock from East Coast to West Coast, starting in the Northeast. I don't have a route or itinerary yet. I'm working on it.



My concerns are:



1) It will be September before I can hit the road, which starts putting the weather front and center in the Northeast and East Coast. Should I be worried? What month should I start to worry?



2) I want to avoid hauling out to the West to get good September, October, November weather. I'd rather take it slow during those three months and tour the East, Southeast, and head to the Midwest before moving out westwards for winter.



3) I want to stick to boondocking only. No campgrounds as much as possible. I won't be able to do Walmart I don't think because I don't think they allow trailers.



My questions are:
1) Is September too late to be traveling in the Northeast and East? I have a car and a small trailer I'm towing. Weather is usually great then. Wondering if too cold for boondocking and about night times especially.


2) How late do you stay out in the East as winter approaches? Obviously I want to be out of here when it snows. I also want to travel here until I have to move west. No sense is driving clear across the country until I absolutely have to for winter.


3) The bigger concern is boondocking sites. Or lack thereof in the East. I get the impression free car camping is almost non-existent. I've started to go through a few sites like Campendium and The Dyrt. Don't have a sense of what's available for boondocking right now. Are campgrounds the only option for trailers? Am I going to be stuck paying campgrounds? I really don't want to have to do that.



4) States are starting to require quarantine. Maybe more will require by the time I hit the road. Are you finding the need to stay in place for 14 days? How are you doing that when boondocking in the East?


5) I know things change in the West with BLM land and tons of national parks and forests. Not so much in the East. Am I right? Are you able to boondock even if national parks and forests are closed? Since boondocking, I suspect we don't care if they're open or not as long as we have water and things like that. Am I wrong in that assumption? Do we need them open if we plan to boondock?


Thanks, hope you're all safe, and look forward to chatting.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:10 PM   #2
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Allstays is a good resource for lot docking. Many Walmarts do allow overnights unless the city code in that area prohibits it. It is usually for one night however. Don't forget Cracker Barrels, Lowes, Cabela's,.... As far as BLM type land you can pretty much forget anything east of the Mississippi. If you are staying coastal something like a Thousand Trails Camping Pass might be beneficial.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:53 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. Allstays is on my list of apps. I think I'll start with them sooner maybe this weekend.

Walmart, do they allow trailers? I thought you had to be fully enclosed. Didn't know about Cracker Barrels. I'll add them to my list too.

I know BLM is out west. Are there no boondocking options out in the East? I know there are a handful of national forests. Not sure if you can boondock on the outskirts.

I guess my post boils down to one thing: how do you boondock in the northeast and east?

Thousand Trails looks great. My initial thought was $600 is a lot for a membership. Maybe a good idea for April/May to Nov. If you do a few months in one of their zones, it'd be more than worth it.

Thanks.
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Old 07-28-2020, 08:02 PM   #4
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First why you think the weather will be worse in the east is a mystery to me, unless you plan to stick to a southern route west of the Mississippi. The mountain states are likely to have unpredictable and bad weather once you get into October and especially in November or later.
I suggest getting https://freecampsites.net/, or campedium to scout out potential sites. I have Allstays but rarely use it. It is a pay app. I doees a good job on dump stations tho.



It's been a long time since I lived in the NE, but I didn't think snow was common before December. I have been snowed on in July in WY and ID. Altitude is all important, the higher you are the more unpredictable the weather is. And with few exceptions there are no high altitudes in the east.



As for the Covid foolishness, look at the state governor. Dem is likely to impose restrictions. The only state that I know of out west and not on the coast that is doing restrictions is NM. So avoid NM.


If you have not been doing a lot of boondocking then you will find that there is a steep learning curve. It's not as easy as it looks, for longer periods anyway. We hold it down to 4-5 day stretches ourselves. But anyone can do it overnight.

A lot depends on your RV so we need to know more about that.


So yes I think you need to re-think your plans. The worse weather you will likely see will be in th mountain states. Parks start closing roads in November. So getting there early is essential. Spring is actually considered to be ideal in the south west, June in the northern areas.



I would not count on boondocking in National Parks or Monuments. A few have 'primitive camping' sites but not most of them. BLM land is always open, National Forest Land varies with the managers. Learn about MVUM in tthe forests.


Last Walmarts do not ban trailers if they allow overnighting.
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:08 AM   #5
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Hi Agesilaus,
Thanks for the reply. I didn’t mean to suggest spring is bad weather in the northeast or East. It’s in fact great weather often times as you noted. It also does get cooler and I’m concerned about how cold it could be in a trailer at night times. May not be something to worry about.
Let me back up and answer your other question. I have a Mini Mate camper trailer. It’s something that motorcycle riders use as their trailer. Among my initial thoughts was one where I rode the country on a bike. I abandoned that idea for now since I already own a sedan. The reason the weather concerns me as a traveler in a Mini Mate camper become obvious when you realize the camper is soft shell. There is space between the outer house shell pinned to the camper when you set up each night. How much air will escape / enter, I don’t know. I think it’s safe to say this camper will be less warmer than a hard shell camper trailer, which I will understand as I hit the road and use it.
I plan on boondocking or dry camping or dispersed camping as much as possible. I have bought gear to make that possible, such as water containers and solar shower. It appears boondocking is possible in the East but harder to find. Clearly, west of the Mississippi makes boondocking easier. How difficult is it to find in the East and where to go about searching for boondocking sites is the major issue I’d like to sort out first. If lack of boondocking in the East means I have to move westward sooner than I’d like or if it means doing campsites to visit places in the East, then that’s what I want to get a better handle on.
I have other questions and concerns but those are less pressing than availability of sites in the coast. Wouldn’t be much of a concern it seems in the Midwest and further out west.
Thanks again.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:40 AM   #6
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National Forests are sometimes an option. Some areas aren't very far off major roads.
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:15 AM   #7
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I suggested that you try freecamping to find free camping sites. That soft sided RV may not be a great idea in bear country where you want a hard sided camper. That thing you describe sounds like a tent on wheels.
So do some research then get back to us.
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Old 07-29-2020, 02:41 PM   #8
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FWIW OP: We tend to boondock/disperse camp/drycamp 95% of the time on extended length travels and have done for over 20+ years. Did end April to late August 2019 (snow in northern Alberta, Sask) kept winterised in our MH RV until Manitobah, went all across the great lakes in Canada over on Ferry to Newfoundland/Labrador and then down into the USA NE states and back across below the Great Lakes. Didn't book into one CG or paid camping of any kind and only had to pay 3 times to dump (Canadian Tire, State Parks) remainder was free on fuel fills, or Visitor info centres.

These are resources we use: Ioverlander.com Freecampsites.net Campendium.com The Dyrt? Freeroam?? Sanidumps.com Arizona Trust lands, BLM, USFS MUV Maps Wildlife Refuge Managements WMA (awesome in Florida!). Over the years, we have stayed at everything from big box stores of all names, Church parking, restaurants, Boat Ramps, Marinas, invited mooch docking etc. We also love, love, love Casinos and only frequent those that offer free O/N's on principal. Walmart and Casinos are our most expensive free nights LOL.

Our favourite locations by far are the Forest Service Lands, BLM, Trust Lands and Wildlife refuge type places where we can be at one with natural environments.

Something else you might want to consider is Boondockers welcome and Harvest Hosts. We don't personally use them but lots of folks do, and they aren't that expensive to join.

When in areas like San Diego, San Francisco, Napa Valley, NYC etc we do stay in CG's and have successfully used Passport America one year to get a good discount. Mind you we've also dry camped in San Diego successfully for two nights.

As far as not staying in organised campgrounds, for us it's not purely about the cost, but saving that does help. It's the fact that we like the flexibility of not having to commit to a set time frame of arrival/departure and ....... the hassle of coming in registering, reading a list a mile long of restrictions and upsetting other campers when we as is often the case stop late at night or leave early morning.

Everyone has their own reasons for how they travel and what works best for them. This is us, use what you can from it.

Safe and happy travels.
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Old 07-29-2020, 03:01 PM   #9
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Friends had a camp trailer for their cycle similar to yours. They camped three seasons, including mountains so it can be done.

Carry a good warm sleeping bag and clothes you can layer. You'll be fine.

You've been given good links for boondocking... freecampsties is a good one.

If you want to pay then try to use national forest campgrounds or many city parks have campgrounds reasonably. You didn't state your age but there a national senior pass available for 62+ that lets you camp 1/2 price at national parks, national forest campgrounds, corp of engineers, national wildlife refuges, etc. Check it out if you that age.

Here's a good national forest campground site that we used a lot. It gives good directions and explanation of the campgrounds. To use it you need to know what forest you'll be in so you'll need a good atlas that marks national forests.

https://www.forestcamping.com/dow/list/nflist.htm

If you want to boondock on national forest lands you'll need to go directly to the particular forest online and look for 'dispersed camping'.

Good luck! Sounds like a nice trip.
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Old 07-29-2020, 03:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camper07 View Post
Hi all,


I'm new to this site. Looks like some great discussion and information. I look forward to it. The reason I joined is because I wanted to get some opinions on a pressing issue. I have a small towing trailer and plan to boondock from East Coast to West Coast, starting in the Northeast. I don't have a route or itinerary yet. I'm working on it.



My concerns are:



1) It will be September before I can hit the road, which starts putting the weather front and center in the Northeast and East Coast. Should I be worried? What month should I start to worry?



2) I want to avoid hauling out to the West to get good September, October, November weather. I'd rather take it slow during those three months and tour the East, Southeast, and head to the Midwest before moving out westwards for winter.



3) I want to stick to boondocking only. No campgrounds as much as possible. I won't be able to do Walmart I don't think because I don't think they allow trailers.



My questions are:
1) Is September too late to be traveling in the Northeast and East? I have a car and a small trailer I'm towing. Weather is usually great then. Wondering if too cold for boondocking and about night times especially.


2) How late do you stay out in the East as winter approaches? Obviously I want to be out of here when it snows. I also want to travel here until I have to move west. No sense is driving clear across the country until I absolutely have to for winter.


3) The bigger concern is boondocking sites. Or lack thereof in the East. I get the impression free car camping is almost non-existent. I've started to go through a few sites like Campendium and The Dyrt. Don't have a sense of what's available for boondocking right now. Are campgrounds the only option for trailers? Am I going to be stuck paying campgrounds? I really don't want to have to do that.



4) States are starting to require quarantine. Maybe more will require by the time I hit the road. Are you finding the need to stay in place for 14 days? How are you doing that when boondocking in the East?


5) I know things change in the West with BLM land and tons of national parks and forests. Not so much in the East. Am I right? Are you able to boondock even if national parks and forests are closed? Since boondocking, I suspect we don't care if they're open or not as long as we have water and things like that. Am I wrong in that assumption? Do we need them open if we plan to boondock?


Thanks, hope you're all safe, and look forward to chatting.
September is a great time to leave the northeast. Just head south and pick up I-10 before you get too far west that you hit the mountains. Arizona is loaded with BLM spots. Perfect place to spend winter. Southeastern California has lots of spots too.

Walmart allows all types of RVs.
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:42 PM   #11
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I have boondocked all over NY and VT. Lots of places to free camp down along 81. Most nice boondocing forest sites are going to be 30-50miles off your desired route.



I have a YouTube channel detailing many of the free campsites I have been to, and a lot of entries in FreeCampsites.net.


It would be helpful to know your age, and location your leaving from, and if you have a general idea of where you want to go. Other things to investigate are "Boondockers Welcome" and "Harvest Hosts".



You might also investigate a slightly larger trailer, like a Tab or Eclipse.
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:23 PM   #12
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Campendium and freecampsites.net work for me.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:36 PM   #13
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It is a tent on wheels. Works for motorcyclists who can't tow heavy and want to road travel. It'll be my first time with one.

So.....bear country. I've read up on precautions about food cleanup, storing, and disposal. Also having bear spray. Seems like there's more to it than that, which doesn't surprise me. What else do I need to know? Bears definitely crossed my mind with the soft shell.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Agesilaus View Post
I suggested that you try freecamping to find free camping sites. That soft sided RV may not be a great idea in bear country where you want a hard sided camper. That thing you describe sounds like a tent on wheels.
So do some research then get back to us.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:39 PM   #14
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I'm getting conflicting understanding on National Forests in the thread of replies and what I've read on other sites. I had a different understanding of NFs. I thought they were similar to BLM that you can find boondocking easily.

Are ya'll referring to NFs in the east? Not that there are as many than in the west. Or are you referring to NFs in general throughout the country?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinkerreknit View Post
National Forests are sometimes an option. Some areas aren't very far off major roads.
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