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How we find our next camping spot


KarenLukens
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For the most part we are really spontaneous and don't always look ahead of time at places to camp and most of the time we simply use "Trip Adviser" or "Yelp"when looking for a place. But then there's times when you just want to get away and really all that you need is a map. So I go to http://www.mylandmatters.org/ and download the USGS map that I want for that particular area. There are simple tutorials for this on YouTube but here's a quick run down

 

1st click the "Maps" button in the menu

 

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Then today we'll select "Recreation"first and it then opens the drop down menu below it and we're selecting "Topo Maps"this time but there's a ton of great maps on here and if you're a miner like I am then this place is my 2nd home -

 

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After Selecting this you click on the + button and then you can either keep hitting the + inside the map in the area that you want or I simply form a rectangle around the area that I want to see and let it enlarge that way on its own. To make a rectangle just put your pointer in the lower right hand section of where you want to enlarge and then drag it up and left to form whatever size area. Today we're going to Hohenwald -

 

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You can see the green and then look for state parks, etc. You can drag the map by hitting the button with the 4 arrows pointing in 4 directions then just drag the map up/ down/ etc... The arrows are above the most important button, which is the "i" or information button -

 

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After finding the area that you want the map of, you simply click the "i" and then click on your spot on the map and it will open the menu on the left in the picture above. Then simply download the map and open it up and you have the USGS Map of that area right in front of you -

 

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I zoomed in at the bottom so you could see the edge and also Hohenwald. Then I saw the green US Forest areas and picked one, the Laurel Hill Lake State Rec area and then typed that area into found a place to check out for the evening. Then we Googled Laurel Hill Lake and the rest is up to you. There's a ton of info all across the United States and this gives you a place to start. Honestly though it all starts with having a good GPS in your Vehicle. You can find them for under $200 in many stores - https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Nuvi-2589LMT-North-America/dp/B00N41UTCG/ref=sr_1_6?s=gps&ie=UTF8&qid=1482271268&sr=1-6&keywords=garmin+gps

 

Reed

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Happy Camping,


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Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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Here's a direct link to the Hohenwald Maps - https://geonames.usgs.gov/apex/f?p=262:18:0::NO:RP:P18_STATE%2CP18_SCALE%2CP18_MAP_NAME%2CP18_MAP_TYPE:TN,100000,67673

 

Just click the Download GeoPDF file of your choice, or all of them...

 

 

 

And DON'T forget to Google it - https://wyeastblog.org/tag/mirror-lake-trail/

 

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Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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We have camped at many sites within 100 miles of Hohenwald. This (Laurel hills lakes) isn't one of them. Their site says primitive camping, which sometimes means just tents.

Have you spoken to anyone there? I'll look forward to your review, as experienced campers.

Closer to town, and Oliver sales office, is the campground by the Meriwether Lewis monument. Free, big sites, often empty.right off the Natchez Trace parkway. Long walk from one section to the tiny brick lavs. No power or services, but it's free.and, quite beautiful.

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  • 3 months later...

Great information. I haven't got a trailer yet but I'm seriously interested in the "Ollie" and Airstream 23' $$$$!!!

 

I plan to use our 2007 M-B 320CDI to pull it and I noticed y'all had a M-B 350...how does it go???? any severe wear and tear yet??? I enjoy our mileage without towing, what's ot like towing???

 

Thanks for a response

 

L. West DDS, Tucson

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Great information. I haven’t got a trailer yet but I’m seriously interested in the “Ollie” and Airstream 23′ $$$$!!! I plan to use our 2007 M-B 320CDI to pull it and I noticed y’all had a M-B 350…how does it go???? any severe wear and tear yet??? I enjoy our mileage without towing, what’s ot like towing??? Thanks for a response L. West DDS, Tucson

 

It runs great and tows like a dream. No wear and tear other then replacing brake pads a little more often in the last couple of years. We have the Bluetec 4matic and have needed the 4matic more than once on muddy dirt roads. I'm averaging 16mpg towing :)

Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel


Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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  • 1 year later...

Thanks for posting this. We have only had our Ollie since Aug of 2017 but enjoying it when we can. I have been dismayed however at how fast the campgrounds fill up so far in advance. But no matter, as we really want to boondock on lakes and rivers anyway. Which brings me to my question; Do you know of places to go, or do you just plot a course and strike out? For the first 5 or 6, I am looking to know where I am going ahead. Trying to stay on the East side too until I retire and can just head out.

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Going -

Of course the answer to your question is - It Depends!

Are you simply going out to explore? Are you looking for a place to settle in, sit back and stay put for awhile? Are you going into an area that is know to be popular and therefore crowded? Are you looking to simply get from point "A" to point "B"? Etc., etc.

 

Usually I have a place(s) in mind before I leave the house. On routes that I've traveled many times I've gotten to know the where and when's of getting a spot that I want. However, even that can be a challenge at times - some parks and recreation areas require multiple days stay during holiday periods.

 

Here in the East I think that it is a bit more difficult finding places to camp as compared to those areas West of the Mississippi due to more people and less government land. However, there are so many tools that you can use either with a cell phone or without. To specifically answer your question - here in the East I try to plan my camping spots- particularly when my wife is along as she doesn't appreciate roughing it in Walmart's or truck stops. But if I'm going out West I do have a plan but only make reservations if there are spots known to be a "problem" due to either popularity or lack of space.

 

I'm guessing that the above is not really much help and each of us should develop a "style" of traveling that is most comfortable to exactly what they are trying to do. However, I would encourage you to at least test your own limits every now and then since some very nice and unexpected things can happen (i.e. find a new park, campground or other site that you would have never considered before).

 

The object is to have fun!

 

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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I have been dismayed however at how fast the campgrounds fill up so far in advance. But no matter, as we really want to boondock on lakes and rivers anyway. Which brings me to my question; Do you know of places to go, or do you just plot a course and strike out? For the first 5 or 6, I am looking to know where I am going ahead. Trying to stay on the East side too until I retire and can just head out.

 

Unfortunately almost all the accessible free public lands are west of the Mississippi R, the eastern lands are mostly National Parks or highly commercialized resort style campgrounds with no boondocking. When most of the rural land is private, you find it posted and often gated off for any casual visitors. Add in the high population density, and the result is few available sites.

 

Some National Parks and Monuments, such as Big Bend and Escalante, do offer dispersed camping at marked locations, but discourage random boondocking. The western National Forests and the vast areas of BLM land are pretty much wide open for this, if you can find a big enough wide spot, you are usually OK to spend the night there

 

Texas is a prime example of bad planning... Just after statehood the new government opened almost all land for private development, probably as a buffer against Mexico, saving very little for the future public. Now there are vast primitive areas, but they are mostly private farms and ranches, with no public access. I like Texas, but this is an idiot situation, unless you happen to own a 10,000 acre ranch.

 

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This is just one of many reasons we fled from TN in 1981 and never looked back. If you really want to boondock, other than parking lots, plan on lots of high mileage days to get there, or sell your home and move west. Utah would be a good central location. You could boondock in spectacular scenery the rest of your life and never leave the state.

 

The West Coast has great opportunities, but due to high population, in season many camping spots are very hard to find without a reservation. If you live within two hours of Puget Sound, you can just forget camping without a reservation from June through August. I moved from there too, 14 years ago.

 

I do strongly suggest reviewing sat imagery before venturing down any uncertain road, to make sure there is a turnaround..... or hike it first!

 

For a long road trip, if we have several fixed destinations, I will spend many hours studying the Ultimate Campground app and Google Earth (higher definition imagery than most nav apps, and the wonderful 3D tilt) and I will waypoint with comments all possible free or low cost camping locations close to the route, on GAIA, so en route we can easily find a spot when we start to get tired. Do your researching when you have extra time and fast wifi, rather than when cruising down a remote highway, with spotty cell reception and an expensive data plan. Use a good nav app and download the maps and images you need, before leaving home!

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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Which brings me to my question; Do you know of places to go, or do you just plot a course and strike out? For the first 5 or 6, I am looking to know where I am going ahead. Trying to stay on the East side too until I retire and can just head out.

 

The answer to your question depends somewhat on your personality. Carol and I are both planners and check list people. We like to know where we’re going and that there will be room for us when we get there. If it’s not summer, we usually have a destination planned but do not plan the return - we just wing it. If it’s summer, we plan the whole trip. We’re getting ready to leave for Colorado and will return through NM. We have reservations at BLM, COE and TX State Park Campgrounds for the whole trip.

 

Our go-to App is Ultimate Public Campgrounds. It’s very accurate and shows all the non-commercial places to camp. Mike

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Our go-to App is Ultimate Public Campgrounds. It’s very accurate and shows all the non-commercial places to camp. Mike

 

This is a truly useful app, however it is not 100% accurate. It relies on USER input to keep it current, which is as easy as sending an email, and they answer promptly, verify the info and make the update quickly for the next database download. If you send a link or gps coordinates and a description, rather than just saying, “this campsite info is wrong”, they will be very grateful

 

The data used in the app is constantly being reviewed, revised, etc. We have been working on the data for 8 years now, correcting current listings as we find more information about them, adding new locations, and even deleting entries that further research shows are not available for camping. An updated version of the app with the newest data is issued monthly. We have seen apps where the data has not been updated since the initial release of the app months ago. We encourage user-input to help ensure our listings are up-to-date.

 

In just a few months of use in WA I found and sent reports for:

 

A free campground that had been converted to a state parks commercial operation

 

Two close by camping areas, one state park and one Dept of Fish and Wildlife, that had their data merged, and only one was marked on the map.

 

My favorite Corp of Engineers lakeside campground that had the only access road removed by a huge landslide the year before.

 

OTH, we were headed for what I thought were free dispersed sites along a BOR reservoir, after reading some glowing Internet reviews, and I found that Ultimate Campgrounds made no mention of them, and when we arrived, we saw all the new Day Use Only, No Camping signs.

 

So, use it but always check and verify before committing to that side road.... so you don’t find this:

 

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and please report errors! Click the round Info button, top right corner, then submit a ticket at their website support page.

 

Great resource! .... http://www.ultimatecampgrounds.com/index.php/products/applications

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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My wife and I are sort of the opposite of Mike and Carrol I guess. It's very rare that we start the day knowing where we're going to stay that night. If we want to stay someplace crowded, like a National Park campsite, often we'll plan to camp outside the park the night before and then drive in first thing to get a spot. Our first choice is BLM or National Forrest land just outside the parks though. This past trip was unusual in that we stayed in organized campsites pretty much every night, but we had no trouble finding first come, first served camping at all the parks. Our advantage in that respect is that we always travel in the off season.

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Yes! - the off season is your friend. If you want a non-reserved site in Yellowstone during the "normal" season, you would be well advised to show up at the campground of your choice no later than 6 am. And even then you will probably not be first in line.

 

Bill

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Yellowstone can be tough even in the off season from what I’ve been told, so it was the only place we had reservations ahead of time this trip. In hindsight I wish we’d only made reservations for one night and then moved to a less developed campground, but that wisdom comes with experience I guess.

 

It’s amazing what a few weeks can make in Yellowstone. Mid May we only found crowds at the major stopping points and very little traffic but when we went back through on our way to Teton two weeks later it was bumper to bumper all the way around.

 

Not planning everything ahead gives you flexibility to adjust your trip as needed. We’d originally plannned to spend at least a week in the Dakotas this trip but the early hot weather meant 90 degree days there so we went north to Canada instead and enjoyed low 70’s and no crowds from Banff up to Jasper.

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We talk to fellow like minded campers, when we find them . Campground hosts, too. I use a number of apps, state and territory maps, and failing any of the above, we drive til we find something interesting.

We tend to drive through a number of campsites early in the day, knowing we won't stop, but keep notes for "next time."

Sherry

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I don’t care for organized campgrounds and we never make reservations anywhere (and yes, this includes all the major National Parks.) When we get tired or ready to stop, we pull over somewhere. Could be an empty lot in the middle of some small town, a rest stop on a busy interstate, a Walmart or Crackerbarrel even a wide spot on the side of US50 in the middle of Nevada. We’ve never not found some where to sleep and usually it’s free.

 

Recently, while traveling in Georgia with another Oliver couple, we met a man in a Walmart parking lot. He asked where we planned to stay over the Memorial Day weekend. We admitted we didn’t have any plans. He insisted that we come to his farm and camp there. He provided us with a gigantic pole barn to park in complete with 30 amp hookups, sewer and water. He apologized that his satellite dish was currently out of service. The barn also had a small apartment with a kitchenette, shower and toilet. Thanks to his generosity, we rode out 5 days of hurricane Alberto’s near constant rain and wind high and dry in relative luxury.

 

Have faith, there’s always somewhere to boondock.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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You're right, Steve. Camping isn't just about the places, and views. We've had so much fun meeting campers around the country, and around the world.

This past trip was a kind of waterfall of new friendships. At Boya Lake, we met a young couple who recommended Frances lake in the Yukon. At Frances lake, we met a German couple who really recommended following the dirt road to Faro..nso we did . It was wonderful and beautiful, and we likely would not have gone, except for our conversation over our fire..

At Faro, we met a couple from Juneau, who recommended Twin Lakes. So, we all went, where we met a really nice solo bicyclist from Germany... It was a Cascade of short hops, new friends, great campsites, and conversation over campfires. We found some great sites. But even better, we found great people.

 

In Australia a few years ago, our first night in the Blue Mountains, we met a really nice couple who camped four months ayear. Kevin gave us the address of a great canpground near the Tasmania ferry. We stayed in touch a few times in our five weeks on the mainland, and then as we were leaving for the ferry, got an email from Kevin and Jenny wanting to know our arrival date. The campground address was their driveway. We had a wonderful evening seeing them again, and got a lot of great recommendations. We stopped for coffee on our way out of Tasmania, and we've been emailing back and forth since.

When my niece's son did a "flat Stanley" project this year, Kevin and Jenny drove his flat Stanley to Stanley, Tasmania, and took photos for an unknown little six year old. Could not be nicer. We sure hope we will see them again... Here or in Tasmania. But, the magic is in the shared connection. We all love camping.

Sherry

 

[attachment file=flat Stanley at the welcoming sign at Stanley Tas..JPG]

 

flat-Stanley-at-the-welcoming-sign-at-Stanley-Tas..thumb.jpg.5a34ecadfcb7c8ec254e1bb296d2059c.jpg

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Have faith, there’s always somewhere to boondock.

 

Thanks, Steve. I like that encouragement. I got advice from some publication when I was first thinking of buying an RV (So glad it ended up being an Ollie!) to make a sign, like the following, to place outside of the camper (will this word, "camper" trigger an automatic link to the Oliver advertisement, as it did in my other post?):

 

DRIVER TOO TIRED TO CONTINUE

 

PLEASE BE AWARE OF DOG

 

IF URGENT, PLEASE CALL [Cell Phone number]

 

THANK YOU

 

We haven't used it yet, but keep it with us in case we park somewhere where we might get hassled. As I remember, the writer said that he was writing while he was camping in sight of the White House.

Onward through the Fog!


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