National Park Camping/Road trip - how do you do it?

> No car camping or overnight vehicle parking is allowed in pullouts, parking areas, picnic grounds, or any place other than a designated campground.
> All camp sites were booked as soon as they were put on sale
> All backcountry permits are only available to "lottery" winners

Is this the PrepHole you guys speak of? Or is this Disney world?

In all seriousness, I know these are tourist destinations and they're just trying to keep scum like me out, but I have a truck camper and like a month off work (May, early June). I want to experience Yellowstone and the Cascades on a roadtrip from the Midwest. Do you all just give up on national park camping and camp in the surrounding areas then go in the park for the day? Can I count on doing a walk-up and asking for a backcountry permit and not being turned away? My original idea was to go without any reservations and split the time on my trip between car camping (no amenities needed) or tent camping in wherever I ended up, but now I see it could possibly lead to a shitty time without planning. What do you guys do if you're making a trip, plan ahead with the permits and pre-selected destinations or just wing it and do things that don't require permits? I just really wanna get out there this summer, it's my opportunity.

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  1. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Recreation.gov and its consequences have been a disaster for the national parks permit system.

    Too many richgays spend book up an excess of reservations for possible "just in case" dates, and then don't even show up to pick up their permits because that one weekend is a little too cloudy or didn't fit their work schedule 6 months later.

    They need to go back to walk-up only in-person permits

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      This. I have to book shitty primitive sites in a state forest eleven months out if I want to get people together; otherwise the only camping I do is off-trail. I have a feeling they'll try to start charging us for that too in the next few years.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      What does that have to do with being rich?

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        >What does that have to do with being rich?
        For a poorgay dirtbagger, $10 a permit/$30 a campsite isn't too pricey if you're booking a couple days for a special vacation. But it's enough to discourage you from overbooking several weekends in a row.

        For a richgay, paying $100-$300 to reserve 5 potential weekends in a row (and just choosing the one with the nicest forecast) is no big deal. But then they frick it over for the normal people who COULD have picked up a permit, if they weren't already reservde

  2. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Frick a permit, just do it.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      They tow/ticket your car overnight without the permit and this might be propaganda, but I read online that rangers patrol around for people outside designated campsites so if you try to light a fire or camp outside that they'll make you leave

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        I was in the wilderness and ran across a ranger c**t on my third day deep in the woods. She was interrogating the frick out of me. More concerned about my fire she probably smelled the night before though than whether I had a permit which she could have radio'd in to verify.

        Many parks do have % of permits reserved for walk-ins. Anyway you should stay away from easily accessible campgrounds and stick to wilderness. There's far less people and you get to camp wherever.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      but if the site is already booked and someone shows up to use they will not be happy for scofflaws

  3. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    It’s been a while since I had a park pass (2017 or 2018), there was always one campsite that was FCFS, and there is almost always shitty BLM or NF land that you can car camp or bike camp or whatever near the NPs.

    Yosemite was tough, there is only 1 FCFS site left, an hour drive from the village, no cell service, or a 4 mile 1 way walk down/up the valley walls. Really nice sites though, right on a stream, you might need a trailer or to ask a neighboring campsite to park there while you’re gone to save the site from poachers.

    There is NF in-between Tetons and the south side of Yellowstone with dirt road camping. Same with the east side of Yellowstone I think. And south of Tetons. Free or unmonitored campsites just outside the NPs.

    Up by Glacier is NF sites that are old horse camps, you will see corals and hitching posts and feed holders or whatever, a pit toilet, and a little field then a road with the campsite fire rings around it. I’ve seen those down in New Mexico too, never actually seen someone with a horse at one though.

    Zion NP has desert dirt road camping just before the southwest/main entrance, bring your own shade. Death Valley has a lot of dirt roads too.

    Great Basin has dirt roads with Pinyon Pine camping outside of Ely, there’s lots of space between the trees and you can just drive 30ft into the maze and car camp.

    Hot Springs NP is an urban park but there is a shit ton of camping on NF roads north and west of town.

    Dirt roads are the best road trip free camping. Sleep outside the park for free -> stop and use the flush toilet at welcome center -> go to trailheads or whatever.

    Otherwise just wing it, FCFS sites in the parks, bribe camp hosts, split a site with someone already there, get a reservation when you have to, bad lightning?…use weather as an excuse to break rules and camp in the village grocery store parking lot…

    Or get easier to find 1 night reservations in busy spots and maximize time there

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Wow thanks a lot. The dirt road free camping is good with me. When you're dirt road camping is there usually other people near you doing it too? Or is the idea to keep driving until no one's around

      >> All camp sites were booked as soon as they were put on sale
      In Yellowstone, they reserve a certain percentage of sites for daily first come first serve

      True but it sounds unreliable during the peak season and assuming the case in which it's denied the day I arrive, I wanted to get an idea how feasible it is to find a campsite (or just a place to park without being bothered) on a whim out there. Other guys are saying I'll be alright

      You can car camp on forest service roads in national forest land outside the park boundary.

      Backcountry permits are rarely lottery only except for the most busy areas. And even when they are, you can still usually pick up cancellations if you wait until the week before your trip.

      Also I haven't camped in yellowstone, but both of the above options are very easy in the Cascades.

      The only national parks in the cascades are North Cascades, Rainier, Crater Lake, and Lassen. Out of these only Rainier might be difficult to get backcountry permits.

      Thanks a lot. Yeah I'm probably trying to put together a trip based off national forest camping and not national park camping. And the backcountry permits for yellowstone are lottery right now but open in a few days. I imagine they'll sell out fast. I'm driving from indiana to seattle and it's kind of on the way so I wanted to do it.

      https://i.imgur.com/EB0Zy9k.jpeg

      Filthy casual here but done a lot of National Park roadtripping. I sleep in my vehicles, never pitched a tent in me life.

      I sleep at rest stops, random roadside pullouts (not in the NP), random dirt lots you can find on the side of a busy highway. It ain't as relaxing as waking up in a scenic nature area, but usually at campsites there are tons of other ppl around too, so it ain't that special or isolated or pristine.

      Just sleep in your vehicle, this is what all the vangays and overlandgays are hyping.

      Pic is the main highway going thru North Cascades

      Nice. Did you go solo? Are the dirt lots and pullouts places you're actually allowed to park overnight or do you just look for secluded enough and hope no one messes with you? I have slept in my car a few times in the smokeys and been caught in areas with no overnight parking signs everywhere and it sucks.

      • 1 month ago
        Anonymous

        >I wanted to get an idea how feasible it is to find a campsite (or just a place to park without being bothered) on a whim out there
        Also- there are A LOT of NF campgrounds surrounding the park- within 10-20miles which have much less people

  4. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >> All camp sites were booked as soon as they were put on sale
    In Yellowstone, they reserve a certain percentage of sites for daily first come first serve

    • 4 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      there are almost hike and bikes

      wish more would do this

  5. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    You can car camp on forest service roads in national forest land outside the park boundary.

    Backcountry permits are rarely lottery only except for the most busy areas. And even when they are, you can still usually pick up cancellations if you wait until the week before your trip.

    • 1 month ago
      Anonymous

      Also I haven't camped in yellowstone, but both of the above options are very easy in the Cascades.

      The only national parks in the cascades are North Cascades, Rainier, Crater Lake, and Lassen. Out of these only Rainier might be difficult to get backcountry permits.

  6. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Filthy casual here but done a lot of National Park roadtripping. I sleep in my vehicles, never pitched a tent in me life.

    I sleep at rest stops, random roadside pullouts (not in the NP), random dirt lots you can find on the side of a busy highway. It ain't as relaxing as waking up in a scenic nature area, but usually at campsites there are tons of other ppl around too, so it ain't that special or isolated or pristine.

    Just sleep in your vehicle, this is what all the vangays and overlandgays are hyping.

    Pic is the main highway going thru North Cascades

  7. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    >Can I count on doing a walk-up and asking for a backcountry permit and not being turned away?
    I've done this at Glaicer and while the highest demand campsites go by 6 am, you can get any other ones if you show up around mid-day.

  8. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    go to national forests. dispersed camping everywhere, and most national parks have national forests next to them.

  9. 1 month ago
    Anonymous

    Quite a bit of BLM land around here is open for camping with no permits or anything, just show up and camp. You can stay 2 weeks then need to move like at least 50 miles and can stay another 2 weeks.

  10. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    they always have campsites that can't be reserved until like a week or something in advance to prevent everything from being reserved at the beginning of the season.
    I agree though, this system is cancer.

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