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  1. #1
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    Default Is sleeping in a car allowed in AT parking lots?

    Anyone tried sleeping in a car while in AT parking lot?
    These are typically located on federal lands and, I imagine, governed by federal laws.

    I'm thinking about driving to a trailhead, sleeping there overnight and starting my hike as early as possible.
    Is there any law specifically prohibiting that?

  2. #2
    GoldenBear's Avatar
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    Exclamation Possibly illegal, definitely not recommended

    Sleeping in a car is considered "camping." In places where camping is prohibited outside of designated areas -- like national parks -- it would be illegal to sleep in your car.
    Many places have regulations against camping anywhere near a trail or roadside except at designated sites. Obviously a parking area at a trailhead is both near a road and near a trail.
    You'll have to check the regulations at the specific parking area you're interest in.

    I've done exactly what you describe,
    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/ent...hard-on-myself
    and I didn't bother to check its legality. I don't endorse my decision and I don't recommend anyone else repeat my effort.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenBear View Post
    . . . I don't endorse my decision and I don't recommend anyone else repeat my effort.
    Oh, come on. Own it. ;-)

    I've been very successful buying cheap shiny folding foam windshield sun shades and cutting them to fit into all my car windows as blackout curtains. Then, I can sleep anywhere I want and nobody trying to look in from the outside can see if anything. If it is clearly posted that no camping is allowed, at a trail head, there my well be pullouts or other access roads that you can exploit within a few minutes of the trail head that are not explicitly marked as no camping.

    Good luck.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your input, guys.

    I'm seriously questioning my idea.
    Too close to a highway, too uncomfortable. Probably makes more sense just to hike couple miles in and set up a tent.

  5. #5
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by igost View Post
    Probably makes more sense just to hike couple miles in and set up a tent.
    That's a much better idea. There are often perfectly legal camping spots within a couple of miles of a trailhead. These are generally a much better choice in every sense than sleeping in your car at a trailhead.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  6. #6

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    In the whites and I think the greens, the USFS has a restricted use area within 1/4 mile of the road. No camping in the RUA including parking lots. The state and local police on occasion drive through the parking lots and roust people from overnight camping.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    In the whites and I think the greens, the USFS has a restricted use area within 1/4 mile of the road. No camping in the RUA including parking lots. The state and local police on occasion drive through the parking lots and roust people from overnight camping.
    I'm thinking about VA and WV

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by igost View Post
    Thank you for your input, guys.

    I'm seriously questioning my idea.
    Too close to a highway, too uncomfortable. Probably makes more sense just to hike couple miles in and set up a tent.
    And you will probably get a much better night's sleep!
    The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
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  9. #9

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    If you're starting on a multi-day hike, then walking in a couple miles and setting up a tent is a great option. You'll be on the trail and ready to go early the next morning.
    If you're going for a super long day hike, that could be a great option as well. Though you'd need to carry your tent and anything related (sleeping bag, possible sleeping clothes, etc...) on a day hike. The featherweight day pack is now not so light. You could walk that stuff back to your car, but that chews away at some of your early start time.

    Where it doesn't always work (at least for me) is if you're hiking several days in a row from your car. That extra hike in and setting up a tent can be exhausting or necessary in the dark in an unfamiliar tenting area, or can mess things up the next morning.
    I've visited areas along the AT and bounced around doing several day hikes around areas I wanted to see or scenic vistas. OR also included local trails, or cycling. During these days, I'm often out hiking or exploring till dark or close to dark. As much as I love sleeping in a tent, I find it hard to get that going and usually end up choosing to sleep in my car instead. Trail head parking areas have worked, also remote roads.....closer to town, WalMart parking lots and highway rest areas work. I know that's not for everyone. Works for me solo though...

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by igost View Post
    I'm thinking about driving to a trailhead, sleeping there overnight and starting my hike as early as possible.

    This is my standard modus operandi....no one has bothered me yet. Tell me where you're going and I'll tell you where to park if I can. PM for privacy.
    Last edited by Teacher & Snacktime; 06-07-2020 at 14:13.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverbirchHiker View Post
    If you're going for a super long day hike, that could be a great option as well. Though you'd need to carry your tent and anything related (sleeping bag, possible sleeping clothes, etc...) on a day hike. The featherweight day pack is now not so light. You could walk that stuff back to your car, but that chews away at some of your early start time.
    Depending on what your hike plan is, if you have to return to the car the same way you might be able to leave your campsite set up and then pack up on the return - that way you don't have to carry everything on the day hike, and you also don't have to backtrack to the car and start again on the hike itself.Unless for some reason a particular area only allows use of a campsite one night, but most places that isn't the case.

  12. #12
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by igost View Post
    I'm thinking about VA and WV
    I'm thinking you'll be fine, done it many times worked all day ,drove all night, parked laid the seat back or climbed in the back and got a couple hours of shut eye . Even if you don't sleep just laying back with your eyes shut for a couple hours is amazingly energizing. Va, wv, park at bears den hostel even if you don't stay at the hostel. I think it's 3 bucks a day but you're save and secure there. You don't say how long you'll be out ,but from there you could go south to front royal and beyond to the snp,or north to hf.
    Last edited by JNI64; 06-07-2020 at 15:16.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    I'm thinking you'll be fine, done it many times worked all day ,drove all night, parked laid the seat back or climbed in the back and got a couple hours of shut eye . Even if you don't sleep just laying back with your eyes shut for a couple hours is amazingly energizing. Va, wv, park at bears den hostel even if you don't stay at the hostel. I think it's 3 bucks a day but you're save and secure there. You don't say how long you'll be out ,but from there you could go south to front royal and beyond to the snp,or north to hf.
    It's just a small section between Harpers Ferry and Compton Gap.
    I'll try to find parking in Harpers Ferry, get a shuttle to Manassas Gap, do out-and-back to Compton Gap, then hike north to Harpers Ferry.

    That of course, depends on availability of parking and shuttles. And whether backpacking is currently permitted there - still trying to find out.
    The whole covid thing sure adds a lot of variables to the planning.
    Last edited by igost; 06-08-2020 at 10:26.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by RiverbirchHiker View Post
    Trail head parking areas have worked, also remote roads.....closer to town, WalMart parking lots and highway rest areas work. I know that's not for everyone. Works for me solo though...
    Those places have all worked for me hundreds of times as well. The only 'trouble' I ever had was in Ouray, CO, a few years ago when a couple of bear cubs decided to use my vehicle as a piece of playground equipment in the middle of the night. No harm done, and I had a good excuse not to wash it for a while, as muddy bearprints make a minivan look a little bit cooler, I believe.

  15. #15
    Registered User gwb's Avatar
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    Iíve done it often. Worst thing thatís happened for me is bunch of cars coming in with kids late at night to party. Dang kids.

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