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NPS bike policy - Desert view - What if full?

Old 05-15-18, 10:46 PM
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gauvins
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NPS bike policy - Desert view - What if full?

We're headed for Desert view (east end of Grand Canyon south rim) later this week. Can't be reserved and is said to be usually full by noon. We'll be leaving from Cameron such that making it to Desert View before noon is iffy at best.

I had assumed that the rangers would be accommodating, but was told in Zion (where we had reservations) that they couldn't have done anything for us had we not booked a site. (They were full).

One option appears to be "dispersed camping" in Kaibab National Forest.

If you have other fallback options to suggest, please do.
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Old 05-16-18, 04:51 AM
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I don't know what the sites are like there but if they're big RV or car camping sites one option would be to ride around and ask if you can share someone's space. Usually there's room for a tent on the grass in the big sites. Have a chat, explain your situation, and ask nicely. I've done this a few times and rarely do people say no. It's also a good way to find new friends and a cold beer or two also.
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Old 05-16-18, 06:07 AM
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Definitely try as suggested above. I made a lifelong friend doing just that in Yellowstone, another at Rabbit Ears Pass in CO even though there was plenty of room.

A nice dispersed camping site close to the South Rim Village (about ten miles away) is
.
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Old 05-16-18, 10:52 AM
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Just came back from tour and encountered a similar situation. My experience has been National Parks tend to be fairly rigid with the campground rules especially the popular ones. State NFS, ACOE and local tend to be more flexible. The popular National Park I was at 3 weeks ago let me camp near the volunteers' RV area with the warning of leaving no trace and I would be gone before 7am.
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Old 05-16-18, 11:40 AM
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Yes, I was somewhat surprised to find out that there are no primitive campsites for bikers in popular National Parks. Is there a way to suggest that they do?

Meantime, i think we'll go the dispersed camping way, if this comes to that.

Thanks for your input
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Old 05-16-18, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes, I was somewhat surprised to find out that there are no primitive campsites for bikers in popular National Parks. Is there a way to suggest that they do?
There are at Mather and North Rim.

But in general, I find that the National Parks Service attitude towards bikes is somewhat, well, hostile. They really don't want bicycles in the parks. National Parks are built for automobiles. Look at just the fee structure. Grand Canyon, for example, charges $30 per car load for any number of people in a car. They charge $15 per bicycle (as well as foot, park shuttle bus, Grand Canyon Railway and private rafting trip). Doesn't seem fair. We don't pollute, we don't cause traffic jams, we don't park willy nilly nor do we take up that much room.
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Old 05-24-18, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There are at Mather and North Rim.
Thanks for pointing this out. I hadn't noticed. We ended up riding to Mather from Cameron. Desert view was full. Had the best of times.

I'll write to the National Parks Service, though. A hike and bike at desert view would have been appreciated. (My guess is that there are bike and bikes at Mather and North Rim largely to accommodate hikers).
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Old 05-25-18, 03:02 PM
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Paying $15 to use tight roads with non-CDL peeps pulling large loads always gives me a warm fuzzy inside. Then, finding a place to camp when your actual arrival date is kinda fuzzy can turn potty mouth infused hassle. (Emigrant Pass to Furnace Creek...shiver)

However, bagging the north rim before the road is open to motorized traffic... Priceless.

Edit: But in general, I find that the National Parks Service attitude towards bikes is somewhat, well, hostile.

This.

I'll give Glacier NP a Pass out of all the high use NP's I have visited. At the rest I feel very unloved on the bike.

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Old 05-25-18, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes, I was somewhat surprised to find out that there are no primitive campsites for bikers in popular National Parks. Is there a way to suggest that they do?

Meantime, i think we'll go the dispersed camping way, if this comes to that.

Thanks for your input
I found that to be annoying at Crater Lake too. They did have two campgrounds, with the cheaper one being called "primitive", but no bike specific campsites.

They also reserve the entire primitive campground for the volunteers (driving cars?) for the car-free days, so cycle tourists/commuters for the car-free days are out of luck.

They do have "dispersed camping" which is a bit ambiguous, but refuse to recognize touring cyclists walking, or even carrying their bikes off the road, trail or no trail. You can not bring your bike to a camp site. You must lock it to a tree near the road. I would think a touring cyclist carrying one's bike could be one of the lowest impact for dispersed as they don't have to start at a road siding.

The other thing for dispersed camping is that they wanted one to camp 1 mile from the road, I think. So a pretty good hike in to the valid "dispersed" camping areas.

Anyway, before planning on wild camping, verify the bikes off-road policy at your park.

Anyway, I don't think the park rangers have any concept of ultra low impact camping.

Originally Posted by DanBell View Post
I don't know what the sites are like there but if they're big RV or car camping sites one option would be to ride around and ask if you can share someone's space. Usually there's room for a tent on the grass in the big sites. Have a chat, explain your situation, and ask nicely. I've done this a few times and rarely do people say no. It's also a good way to find new friends and a cold beer or two also.
Yep...

When I was at Crater Lake for the car-free day, they had the roads closed till 6:00 or so. Then when they opened the roads, a stream of cars passed me heading towards the campground, some even on the final descent.

A few people noticed me, and offered me a place to camp as soon as I cruised into the campground. I ended up camping in a corner of the camp site with two guys who were just returning from a Cycle-Oregon tour. I don't know if the campground filled that day, but it would have been pretty silly for me to take an entire campsite for just my tiny tend and my bicycle.
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Old 05-25-18, 05:06 PM
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The Concessionaire model you have for camping in NPs sucks in the states. We got turned away from some sites because they were "full" with obviously empty sites of an evening when what it actually was was sites booked (and paid for I guess) months in advance by European tour companies who rent out motorhomes. They'd block book campsites so their clients didn't have to think, instead paying in their tour the extra cost of all those empty sites. Then there were the sites where we had to pay for a full site, power, the lot, when nothing else was around... Could the concessionaire possibly accommodate two cyclists in a tiny tent? Nope... doesn't fit with the system and doesn't maximise their revenue.
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Old 05-25-18, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie View Post
The Concessionaire model you have for camping in NPs sucks in the states.
That sounds like a KOA campground, and not a public campground, but perhaps the two are getting blended with greater public/private partnerships.

I would think they would have some kind of cancellation / auto-cancellation policy, so for example, if a reservation isn't confirmed a week in advance, or the person doesn't show up by 6PM (or make other arrangements), then the site is opened up.

Cell phone power would be nice for a bike, but one certainly doesn't need full power/water/sewer hookups.

As mentioned, Crater Lake has two campgrounds, one larger full service campground, and one small primitive campground. And the primitive campground seems to have more than I really need...
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Old 05-25-18, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
That sounds like a KOA campground, and not a public campground, but perhaps the two are getting blended with greater public/private partnerships.

I would think they would have some kind of cancellation / auto-cancellation policy, so for example, if a reservation isn't confirmed a week in advance, or the person doesn't show up by 6PM (or make other arrangements), then the site is opened up.

Cell phone power would be nice for a bike, but one certainly doesn't need full power/water/sewer hookups.

As mentioned, Crater Lake has two campgrounds, one larger full service campground, and one small primitive campground. And the primitive campground seems to have more than I really need...
Nah, these were definitely NP campgrounds. Some pretty primitive. In Oregon and California. Seems the rights to regulate camping were sold off to private operators, who then employed people either living on site or driving around, to collect fees and run the campsites. We just avoided them like the plague and went for State and local campgrounds.
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