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Old 08-25-2015, 03:12 PM   #1
MrKawfey
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Question Car Camping Spots

I was wondering if there is any resource that would list quasi-official campsites that are reachable with a car.

For example, if you drive into Whitehouse there are a bunch of spots near the end of the road that are not part of a DEC campground, but they are recognized by the DEC and I believe they are listed in the UMP for that area.

Over the years I have noticed dozens of spots on dirt roads (and even off the major roads) and I always said I should keep a journal of the locations. Of course I never did and now I can't remember most of them.

I seem to remember spots like this along Jessup River road as well but it's been a while since I have been down that way.

I've never seen a map that has them listed (Gazetteer or NatGeo don't, even ADK maps don't) but it would be great if there was one resource where you could look to find them.

Any suggestions or even just shoutouts for a spot you know of would be great.
Thanks
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Old 08-25-2015, 04:09 PM   #2
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do a search on this site. numerous past posts with great info supplied by regular participants here.
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Old 08-25-2015, 04:52 PM   #3
Cold River Bob
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Moose River plains
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_for...rplainsmap.pdf
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Old 08-25-2015, 04:59 PM   #4
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There was a study of first-come, first-serve car camping sites that came out of ESF a few years ago. A couple of graduate students literally drove around the Adirondacks, inventorying roadside campsites. You can find a copy of the study, including maps, here: http://www.esf.edu/nywild/publications/docs/Pub18.pdf

It's probably the most exhaustive resource concerning the location of car-accessible sites in the Adirondacks, but it is my no means 100% complete. It is also important to note that they inventoried both designated and non-designated (illegal) sites. They do make some distinction between the two within the report and on some of the maps. It is important to make sure that you use only designated sites if they are on state land and are within 150 feet of any roads, trails, or water. As a reminder, designated sites are marked with the yellow plastic disc that says "Camp Here." If it doesn't have the disc, it may very well be an illegal site (even if it is obvious that people are using it).
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Old 08-25-2015, 06:49 PM   #5
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Holy crap D, quite the document - interesting, thanks!
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:21 PM   #6
MrKawfey
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Wow! I'm almost speechless looking at this document. Talk about thorough.
I really didn't expect that something like this existed. At best I had hoped for a little discussion with some recommendations.

I did a little searching in the forums before posting and didn't find much. It's the kind of thing where the search terms are so generic that you get overwhelmed with irrelevant results.

Also, while I haven't looked through the report yet, I wonder if they discuss legal but not designated sites. As I was looking through some UMPs the other day I noticed a few places where the DEC discussed sites in their inventory of legal camp spots that were non-designated. In other words, sites that fit the criteria for setbacks, follow all the rules and are DEC sanctioned, but just haven't been given the yellow disc (disk?).

Thanks for posting that info, that's going straight onto my server.
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Old 08-25-2015, 07:25 PM   #7
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Also, What an awesome summer project for a couple of students! Throw some gear in a car and start slowly driving every little road in the Adirondacks. Don't come back till you've touched them all.
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Old 08-25-2015, 08:58 PM   #8
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Soooo....only problem is the data's not available. I know, I know, now I'm just getting greedy. But it sure would be nice to have a zoomable map with an icon for each site that when you clicked it would show you all the data about the site.

...just sayin'
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:00 PM   #9
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Just a thought...
Car camping sites tend to be pretty popular. There are countless roadside campsites throughout the Adirondacks, legal, and illegal. Unfortunately many of them get overused, trashed, and abused....like Whitehouse during the summer months.
I'm not sure if listing them publicly on a free internet forum or map is a good thing to do...
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin View Post
Just a thought...
Car camping sites tend to be pretty popular. There are countless roadside campsites throughout the Adirondacks, legal, and illegal. Unfortunately many of them get overused, trashed, and abused....like Whitehouse during the summer months.
I'm not sure if listing them publicly on a free internet forum or map is a good thing to do...
I did think consciously about this before posting the study. I decided to share it anyways based on the following rationale:
  • The document is already freely available on the internet. Anyone with good Google-fu can stumble across it online anyways.
  • It has already been posted here (or on the ADK High Peaks Forums) several times already in the past
  • While I agree with the premise that if people have to work to find campsites that they are less likely to trash them, I also think that the easier we make it to find information about legal campsites, the less likely people will be to illegally camp. Illegal camping is also a significant issue that can negatively affect natural and social resources on public land.

Last edited by DSettahr; 08-26-2015 at 12:06 AM..
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:23 PM   #11
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I did my own study last year or the year before last... can't recall. But anyway what I found was they were all listed, with maps, in the UMP for each wild forest unit. I've checked most of them out physically, and some are no longer marked and others have been relocated or added, slightly, but for the most part, I think the info is publicly available.

I wasn't as thorough as the college students because it was for my own use, but I also cross referenced many other sources, some of which are still available online if you know where to look. I keep a folder with all the maps and locations. I suggest you do the same if you frequent the Adirondacks - it makes it handy to know where to go next if your first choice is not available.

I'll also say this - the Paddlers maps show a lot of roadside AND back-country campsites. It's almost the most complete source that I've found. Some may say that's a bad thing... might be? It's pretty easy to find a place to camp in the park with those, that's all I'll say, but having a boat opens up a lot more options.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:01 PM   #12
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So this interest in car camping is a bit new to me. With young kids I now have to rethink my strategy for outings a bit. My wife wont let me backpack alone with our oldest (safety concern) and our youngest is still too young to backpack with. This puts my wife on the sidelines for a year or two.

In the past I have actually had really good experiences with DEC campgrounds and give them high marks for the way they're managed. However, drive up, non-campground sites seem to be a good way to capture a bit of the adventure while allowing the whole family to come along. Also, my wife is ok with letting me and my oldest go alone. This could be real handy for those spur of the moment trips when I can't find a friend to join us.

Given that this is something I haven't thought much about, it brings up two interesting threads for discussion
1) Does making information more available improve the situation or worsen it and,
2) What actually constitutes an acceptable car campsite.

To address the second issue first, here is my understanding:
  • You can camp anywhere on state land as long as you are more than 150ft from water, trail or road and less than 4000ft elevation.
  • Just because there is no disc doesn't mean it's not allowed
  • Any more than 3 days in one spot and you need a permit

If you satisfy those bullets, technically it should be legal.
Am I correct in this thinking? The only time a DEC disc is required is if the campsite violates the location rules but DEC still approves of the site.

The reason I put the last bullet in the list is because the ESF report highlights some opinions in the survey section regarding the idea of "site saving". Some people indicated annoyance at campers that "save" sites by leaving their stuff for extended periods of time. Other people implied, while acknowledging a true lack of ownership, that they had a certain level of entitlement because they have been using a spot for so long.

Does anyone know if the permit system applies to these kinds of sites when staying for an extended period?
Does the DEC ever patrol these sites, even infrequently?

Over the years I have certainly seen many trailers parked in roadside sites where the trailer is clearly buttoned up for an extended period. Few things irk me as much as people who willfully inconvenience many other people in exchange for a small benefit to themselves. Preventing others from using a site so that you can be sure to get it for your annual hunting trip is about as selfish as you can get.

As for the first question (more info - good or bad) I'll leave it open for debate.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:56 PM   #13
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Have you looked into a spot/PLB device for emergencies? They are pretty reliable and I think that there is a good chance that if you used one, your wife's opinion of hiking with only one of your children might be swayed.

I think pretty much any car camping site would need to be designated in order for it to be legal. If it's far enough (150+ feet) from the road that it need not be designated, is it really still a car camping site?

Camping equipment may be left unattended on state land for a maximum of 48 hours. After that point, the state may take it down/remove it. The exception to this is with a permit- such as during the fall big game season, during which you may get a (free) permit to maintain a camp on state land for the entirety of the season. Car camping sites are popular places to do this, although as the big game season starts relatively late in the season, there generally isn't much competition or displacement as a result of sites being occupied by the permit hunting camps.

There are some other elevation rules in the High Peaks Wilderness (designated sites only between 3500 and 4000 feet) but they don't affect car camping any.

Most car camping sites are regularly patrolled, due to their popularity.
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Old 08-28-2015, 12:53 PM   #14
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I had a short love affair with primitive car camping when my daughter came around. I developed my own map for about 50 sites throughout the Adirondacks. We did three big trips. Each year we would hit up to four different sites on a big loop through the park over the course of 10days. This was always after labor day, since she was not in school. For instance, we went over to the Old Forge area, spent a few days, moved onto Wilmington, dropped into a state campground for a shower, then went down to the Crane Mountain area to round out a week. Camped out of my Jeep with tents and full car camping gear. All primitive car camping for free.

The results of those weeks out? It was an adventure, but not an awesome adventure. Now that we are all old enough to return to the backcountry, you'll never find me searching down a dead end road in the dark for a spot along Mason Lake again, haha. Read the Dacy Clearing thread in the General Discussion today, errr.

Have fun car camping for free in the Adirondacks, but never take your eyes off going into the backcountry via boots, canoe, etc. I would resist putting too much time and effort into perfecting free car camping for yourself. Seek to leave the car behind. If you are able, the backcountry is there for the few still; why not make that your main ambition. There you can find real peace when you are away from motors.

Last edited by PaulK; 08-28-2015 at 02:17 PM..
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:05 PM   #15
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That link to the car-camping sites is no longer available. If you have a copy, could you post a copy, or maybe share it on Google drive or some such online place? Would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:58 PM   #16
fvrwld
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I just traveled cross-country and relied heavily on this site:

freecampsites.net

I did not pay for one night of camping until I got to the Sierra and that was only because I preferred the luxury of a bear locker. I did sleep in my 'converted SUV' but all the sites would have accommodated a tent.

It looks a bit incomplete for the Adirondacks but it's a start.



Pics: my SUV conversion and a beautiful free site in UT
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Old 08-14-2018, 12:51 PM   #17
cuterocky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummmers View Post
That link to the car-camping sites is no longer available. If you have a copy, could you post a copy, or maybe share it on Google drive or some such online place? Would be greatly appreciated.
Active link

https://www.researchgate.net/profile...ping-Study.pdf

Note that this study is 8 years old so I'm sure there are campsites that have been moved or closed

Edit: Noticed the link to the Moose River Plains was broken too. Active link below
https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_fo...riversouth.pdf
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