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Re: National Forests - camping

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avatar National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 11:12AM
i'm probably the last one to know, but i never knew that you can camp in a National Forest for free (unless otherwise specified). i went into a Ranger Station on my way to Yosemite a couple of months ago and talked to them about it. they did say you need a fire permit to have a fire though, i asked them how to go about getting one (thinking you had to get one each time), but they had me read some info and gave me a (free) fire permit that is good for the whole year..... (if you get one in Oct, it's only good until the end of the year, NOT until the following Oct.).

so ... you have camping...

1. free in National Forests
2. $20 at Yosemite
3. $30 at all California State Parks (imo, a rip off).

i drove through a number of dirt roads on my way to Yosemite (hwy 120) and found a number of places to camp for free (National Forest). not bad at all.... not sure if i'd want to camp alone, but with a few people or a group would be fine.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 11:29AM
Yeah - dispersed camping. It all depends on the jurisdiction though. Some NFs only allow "dispersed camping" in specific areas. In the Tahoe area, they only allow for free camping at marked sites.

Sequoia NF pretty much allowed people to print the campfire permit at home for 2010:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia/passespermits/campfire_permit/calcampfirepermit2010.pdf

They have a quiz, but basically all the answers are printed right on the permit. I actually got mine one year at an NPS visitor center. Over at Grant Village in Kings Canyon NP, the office is staffed by a combination of NPS, FS, and Sequoia Natural History Assn personnel. My permit was signed by a SNHA worker.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 04:13PM
Yeah, Stanislaus Forest is pretty easy on the dispersed camping. Check with each district of the Forest Service though, as each can have different rules. I found that out the hard way in the Los Angeles District.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 05:31PM
Ha!

If you'd read our website, we have page about this---the various regulatory agencies, what they control and what their regulations are.

National Forests are a great deal in many ways!
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 06:08PM
Quote
balzaccom
Ha!

If you'd read our website, we have page about this....


HA!
Forrest doesn't even read this site.

We've covered this topic several times over the past 5 years, most recently (if I recall correctly) about 9 months ago when someone was asking about camping along the Eastside.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 06:12PM
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 06:17PM
Quote
balzaccom
Ha!

If you'd read our website, we have page about this---the various regulatory agencies, what they control and what their regulations are.

National Forests are a great deal in many ways!

You need to enable signature so your website shows up....



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 08:10PM
Fair enough--I think I figured out how to do that.

And here's a link to our page about permits and processes:

http://sites.google.com/site/backpackthesierra/home/general-information/permits-and-processes



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 07:25PM
Just don't do what I did: Go camping on the first day of hunting season.....or logging season....or get in the way of the 4X4 as it obliterated the PCT....or disturb the squattors occupying the same spot for the last 3 years....or forget yer earplugs while sharing the wilderness experience with the snowmobilers.....

I love the National Forest system, but one has to bee mindful of the time of year if peace & quiet (and not getting shot) is what you like to do!!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2011 07:28PM by Bee.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 20, 2011 07:38PM
Quote
Bee
Just don't do what I did: Go camping on the first day of hunting season.....or logging season....or get in the way of the 4X4 as it obliterated the PCT....or disturb the squattors occupying the same spot for the last 3 years....or forget yer earplugs while sharing the wilderness experience with the snowmobilers.....

I love the National Forest system, but one has to bee mindful of the time of year if peace & quiet (and not getting shot) is what you like to do!!



Some idiots shoot at anything that moves.
Even tree leaves and mosquitos aren't safe.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 23, 2011 12:37AM
Had some experience disturbing 5-day squatters last year at Bernice Lake. It was a large Sierra Club group no less! They had taken all the good spots so I ended up pitching tent about 75' from one guy who was not mollified by the fact we were separated by some trees and bushes and not even visible to one another. I actually got a lecture on back country etiquite! Seems I was supposed to look for a less desirable site so as not to invade his perception of territorial rights. After I told him what I thought of their communal toilet with folding seat (in a large open clearing facing Vogelsang Pass) and the 3 tents in their group less than 100' from the water, I became as popular as a skunk at a lawn party. grinning smiley

Table Lake will be better.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 24, 2011 10:15PM
Who patrols National Forests? In 20 years of frequenting the same area, I have yet to see any agency presence.....!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 24, 2011 10:33PM
Quote
Bee
Who patrols National Forests? In 20 years of frequenting the same area, I have yet to see any agency presence.....!

Some years ago, I submitted a complaint regarding an event in a road accessible national forest campground in California to the county sheriff for that area. The officer took the report willingly and seemed to indicate that it was an issue appropriate for that department to investigate.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 09:54AM
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
Bee
Who patrols National Forests? In 20 years of frequenting the same area, I have yet to see any agency presence.....!

Some years ago, I submitted a complaint regarding an event in a road accessible national forest campground in California to the county sheriff for that area. The officer took the report willingly and seemed to indicate that it was an issue appropriate for that department to investigate.

If you believe Wikipedia, the FS has over 10,000 fire protection personnel and just over 700 law enforcement officers. From what I've gathered, the concentration of FS LE efforts has recently been on pot farms.

http://www.fs.fed.us/lei/



Here's a photo hosted on Flickr:



I tend to believe that the FS tends to let the local authorities handle a lot of what should be government duties; the NPS would tend to handle these things in-house. With recent reports on bear attacks (one in Eldorado NF and that fatal one at Gallatin NF near Yellowstone) the reporting has been that state wildlife officials did the investigations. Once I guided a lost high-school kid out of Desolation Wilderness, drove him to the Fallen Leaf Lodge where I could find a pay phone (cell coverage was almost non-existent), and called for help from the phone. The personnel who showed up were local fire department to take down his information and try to get him back to his group.

I've definitely seen Forest Service personnel before. One forest ranger gave a very good program on Mt St Helens at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. I met one working at the Grant Grove Visitor Center at SEKI, where they've apparently established decent interagency cooperation with the NPS.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 11:58AM
Quote
Bee
Who patrols National Forests? In 20 years of frequenting the same area, I have yet to see any agency presence.....!
They hand out tickets in my area if you don't have an Adventure Pass. Luckily the ticket is only $5, the same as if you bought the pass in advance.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 05:21PM
I see them. They show up when we (sheriff's search and rescue volunteers) go out on search, and they monitor/patrol day use areas and campgrounds whenever my hiking group ventures into NF land. A few of them are in my hiking group and show up on their days off.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 09:29PM
Thanks for the info. Perhaps it depends on how busy an area is as to how much of a presence of the different agencies there are. Where I go, there are no formal day use areas (other than at the trail head which rarely looks maintained) or camp grounds, so that probably places it in a low-monitor status.

What is an Adventure Pass and under what circumstances would one be required?



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 09:31PM
Adventure Pass is a southern California thing. I have used in some places (parking in Sespe wilderness trailheads) the Interagency pass without being ticketed, so I'm guessing that will work in some places as well. Adventure Pass seems to function a lot like the Interagency pass - some places on a hangtag for parking, sometimes a camping pass, sometimes an entry pass.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2011 09:32PM by AlmostThere.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 02:26PM
Quote
AlmostThere
Adventure Pass is a southern California thing. I have used in some places (parking in Sespe wilderness trailheads) the Interagency pass without being ticketed, so I'm guessing that will work in some places as well. Adventure Pass seems to function a lot like the Interagency pass - some places on a hangtag for parking, sometimes a camping pass, sometimes an entry pass.

You should be in the clear. The Adventure Pass is just a regional pass that extends to four NF units. They make it clear that interagency passes are acceptable in lieu of day use fees.

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/questions-and-answers.shtml#purchase

Quote

This is a pass to use designated sites and areas of the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests. Visitors to these four forests will be required to display the Pass in their vehicles when using the Forest for recreation purpose. The Adventure Pass is not a national pass like the America the Beautiful Interagency Passes. It is a local regional pass, required only on the four forests listed above. America the Beautiful Interagency Passes are also accepted at all locations where the Adventure Pass is required. Go to the page links below to view a listing of the Sites & Areas that require a recreation fee. These pages include additional links to maps and vendors sales outlets.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2011 03:53PM by y_p_w.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 06:05PM
Additionally, it doesn't include the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest: http://www.ventanawild.org/news/adpassnews.html

I thought they had handled the pass pretty poorly when it came to the Monterey Ranger District, there were relatively few places in the Bay Area where one could buy one, lots of places around LA, so...which area's closer to the Monterey RD?

EDIT: The Monterey RD can also be a bit inconsistent about fee/pass issues. I've used an interagency pass at Arroyo Seco. When I tried the same at Bottchers Gap I came back to a note on my windshield indicating the pass wasn't accepted there, the caretaker was nice about it, but the pass wasn't accepted. I called the RD later and found that it depends upon the specific contract the RD wrote with those maintaining the two different areas. Grrr.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2011 06:13PM by ttilley.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 06:54PM
Quote
ttilley
Additionally, it doesn't include the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest: http://www.ventanawild.org/news/adpassnews.html

I thought they had handled the pass pretty poorly when it came to the Monterey Ranger District, there were relatively few places in the Bay Area where one could buy one, lots of places around LA, so...which area's closer to the Monterey RD?

EDIT: The Monterey RD can also be a bit inconsistent about fee/pass issues. I've used an interagency pass at Arroyo Seco. When I tried the same at Bottchers Gap I came back to a note on my windshield indicating the pass wasn't accepted there, the caretaker was nice about it, but the pass wasn't accepted. I called the RD later and found that it depends upon the specific contract the RD wrote with those maintaining the two different areas. Grrr.

Yes, this frustrated me also - the Bottchers Gap rules are also different than other trailheads requiring a parking fee. The host insists upon charging by DAY whereas others like the lot behind the Big Sur ranger station will assume a 24 hour day, and go on a per night basis. In other words, park at Big Sur, pay $5, hike out, spend the night at Sykes, hike back, drive off. Park at Bottchers and overnight at Pat Springs and the host will INSIST on a $10 fee - 5 per DAY.

Interagency pass is no good anywhere in Monterey District that I've found.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 07:28PM
Quote
AlmostThere
Quote
ttilley
Additionally, it doesn't include the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest: http://www.ventanawild.org/news/adpassnews.html

I thought they had handled the pass pretty poorly when it came to the Monterey Ranger District, there were relatively few places in the Bay Area where one could buy one, lots of places around LA, so...which area's closer to the Monterey RD?

EDIT: The Monterey RD can also be a bit inconsistent about fee/pass issues. I've used an interagency pass at Arroyo Seco. When I tried the same at Bottchers Gap I came back to a note on my windshield indicating the pass wasn't accepted there, the caretaker was nice about it, but the pass wasn't accepted. I called the RD later and found that it depends upon the specific contract the RD wrote with those maintaining the two different areas. Grrr.

Yes, this frustrated me also - the Bottchers Gap rules are also different than other trailheads requiring a parking fee. The host insists upon charging by DAY whereas others like the lot behind the Big Sur ranger station will assume a 24 hour day, and go on a per night basis. In other words, park at Big Sur, pay $5, hike out, spend the night at Sykes, hike back, drive off. Park at Bottchers and overnight at Pat Springs and the host will INSIST on a $10 fee - 5 per DAY.

Interagency pass is no good anywhere in Monterey District that I've found.

Seems strange. I looked at a map, and Los Padres NF seems to cover a lot of areas that are extremely far apart. Sounds like the Adventure Pass is Southern California specific, and this NF is spread out between Northern and Southern California.

As for parking, I think it depends on whether or not it's considered a day use fee or a parking fee. The parking lot at Mt Rushmore NM doesn't accept interagency passes. They only issue $10 annual parking permits. They claim it's because a private company has been contracted for parking services. I do remember parking at the Pyramid Creek parking lot in Eldorado NF (under LTBMU jurisdiction) where there was a $3 parking fee. I later found out that my interagency pass and a hang tag would have worked.

It's just a bureaucratic mess no matter where it is.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 08:00PM
Behind the Big Sur ranger station is state park, you're paying $5 to California State Parks. Bottchers Gap is a day-use contractor, and you're paying $10 to someone w/ a USFS contract for that site. Arroyo Seco...it's also a day-use contractor, but their contract is to accept the interagency pass.

I can't find the link now, but when the Monterey RD was removed from the Adventure Pass thing...part of the online explanation was that, for some reason the Adventure Pass people couldn't comprehend, no amount of advertising _IN SOUTHERN CA_ could convince people _IN NORTHERN CA_ that the _CENTRAL COAST_ was part of the "Forests Of Southern CA", and therefore they couldn't figure out how to market the issue.

Idjits.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2011 08:06PM by ttilley.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 08:32PM
Except that I am not hiking into the state park from Big Sur. I'm hiking into national forest. You can't backpack in Big Sur. You backpack into Ventana Wilderness, after walking for half an hour across a tiny bit of state park. The ranger station is a multi-agency office. A parking fee is a parking fee.... and both the parking lot at Bottchers and the lot near the ranger station are for overnight trips into NF property.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2011 08:34PM by AlmostThere.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 08:39PM
I agree w/ you as a public land user, just noting in the Big Sur case who owns the parked-upon land and is getting the fee that's paid, and in the other cases what I was told when I complained to the Monterey RD about interagency pass differences between Bottchers Gap and Arroyo Seco. The Monterey RD situation seems a bit of a mess, beyond the "forests transplanted north from southern CA" marketing silliness.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 10:14PM
Quote
ttilley
I agree w/ you as a public land user, just noting in the Big Sur case who owns the parked-upon land and is getting the fee that's paid, and in the other cases what I was told when I complained to the Monterey RD about interagency pass differences between Bottchers Gap and Arroyo Seco. The Monterey RD situation seems a bit of a mess, beyond the "forests transplanted north from southern CA" marketing silliness.

I was reading some of the history, which includes 8 different names of National Forests and California Forest Reserves. They just started combining. The northern section used to be Monterey National Forest, which itself consumed Pinnacles NF and San Benito NF.

Ever seen Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest on a map? It's basically a bunch of unrelated forest areas from every corner of Nevada and some of California.

http://www.fs.fed.us/sopa/state-level.php?nv
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 26, 2011 10:49PM
I used to think that the Toiyabe Forest had to be enormous, because the sign kept popping up in all of these remote areas that I was driving, yet, there never seemed to be THAT much continuous woodland!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 09:21AM
Quote
Bee
I used to think that the Toiyabe Forest had to be enormous, because the sign kept popping up in all of these remote areas that I was driving, yet, there never seemed to be THAT much continuous woodland!

Still the largest NF in the lower 48.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 09:50PM
The National Forest Service management practices in Big Sur are extremely obnoxious. They allow a private contractor to control access to Pfeiffer Beach and the Sand Dollar beach parking/access, not accepting federal Interagency passes (which are supposed to handle exactly those types of fees). It's my federal land, and I pre-paid entry fees for the year, so WTF? How did this come about, did the contractor's owner pay someone off? Seriously. A congressman (or woman) with pull in the Dept. of Agriculture perhaps? Boxer? Feinkenstein? Someone knows... do tell.

Devil's Postpile National Monument does a similar same thing, rationalizing that their fee and refusal to honor federal Interagency passes is due to their offering a free shuttle... even when you arrive the first week of the year, before the shuttle is not operating and you have to drive your own vehicle in! It's totally inconsistent with other NPS properties like Zion which offers free shuttles (while also honoring Interagency passes).

Even Bodie State Historical Park took the cue and changed their previous $2 entry fee into a $7 per person fee so they could blow off their biggest fans who payed $120 for an annual pass (which is now not accepted). Want to get in a couple of hours early for photography? $50! Cha-ching! Get into a building? Sign up for a private photographer's tour... $195 or more... not a problem until you consider the fact that there's no other way to gain access - to gain access to your state's resources you need to be wealthy.

I certainly do love and appreciate open Forest Service land where I'm allowed to escape the din of established campgrounds, but the practice of allowing some of the best and most unique properties to "write their own rules" regarding honoring the agency's pass is obnoxious. Going even further to allow private profiteers to hold certain resources in our parks hostage is entirely unacceptable.

It's very reassuring that speeches at both the state and federal level lately have (finally) started mentioning rewarding merit, not seniority, among government employees. The context is mainly discussing teachers so far, but as agencies are forced to trim budgets, it's great that they'll finally start looking at the competence level of some of the "dead weight" they've been carrying for years. I'm considering organizing complaint drives to protest these policies which cheat customers/taxpayers out of the access they payed in advance for. Perhaps the complaints will facilitate the early retirement of bureaucrats who allowed these deplorable situations to come about. One can certainly hope so.



Jeff Sullivan
Blog: htttp://www.MyPhotoGuides.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/JeffSullPhoto
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 28, 2011 09:52AM
Quote
JeffSullivan
The National Forest Service management practices in Big Sur are extremely obnoxious. They allow a private contractor to control access to Pfeiffer Beach and the Sand Dollar beach parking/access, not accepting federal Interagency passes (which are supposed to handle exactly those types of fees). It's my federal land, and I pre-paid entry fees for the year, so WTF? How did this come about, did the contractor's owner pay someone off? Seriously. A congressman (or woman) with pull in the Dept. of Agriculture perhaps? Boxer? Feinkenstein? Someone knows... do tell.

Like I said, Mt Rushmore NM charges for an annual parking pass. It's $11 whether you plan on visiting for a day or want to return several times. They've contracted with a nonprofit for parking services.

http://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 10:03PM
Quote
Bee
What is an Adventure Pass and under what circumstances would one be required?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Forest_Adventure_Pass
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 25, 2011 10:42PM
Oh, okay -- this is sort of like the annual Snow Park Pass that I buy out of a sense of duty (and never use 'cause the parking lot is close to the part of the trail that gets snowed in)



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 01:46PM
Had a bad experience also with the Sierra Club guys once too. Was asleep in a campground and at 5:30 a.m.and they pulled into a cleary marked campsite next to me, with multiple vehicles, to do a day hike. Now they, better than most ,should know that campsites are not for day use. And how does the wilderness experience include waking up people in a campground at 5:30 a.m.? They all got out and talked very loudly getting ready ,were actually spilled over into my campsite, making their coffee (Latte, as they so loudly put it) etc.,for their hike at 5:30 a. m.. . They do some excellent things for us but sometimes they just don't see the forest through the trees....
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 08:07PM
We had an amusing experience: 6 of us were backpacking/camped out in a very small area in proximity of a lake. Just after we set up our camp, 25 Sierra Clubbers invaded our tentsite like a bad apt complex - tent to tent spacing! One of our girls decided that if she started shouting really loud about not being able to find the Vodka (and other items) with the addition of more than a few cuss words. In a matter of minutes, the tent city disappeared to the other side of the lake!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/2011 08:09PM by Bee.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 09:15PM
Quote
Bee
We had an amusing experience: 6 of us were backpacking/camped out in a very small area in proximity of a lake. Just after we set up our camp, 25 Sierra Clubbers invaded our tentsite like a bad apt complex - tent to tent spacing! One of our girls decided that if she started shouting really loud about not being able to find the Vodka (and other items) with the addition of more than a few cuss words. In a matter of minutes, the tent city disappeared to the other side of the lake!

That's awesome. (I'm serious)



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 27, 2011 09:18PM
Quote
chick-on
Quote
Bee
We had an amusing experience: 6 of us were backpacking/camped out in a very small area in proximity of a lake. Just after we set up our camp, 25 Sierra Clubbers invaded our tentsite like a bad apt complex - tent to tent spacing! One of our girls decided that if she started shouting really loud about not being able to find the Vodka (and other items) with the addition of more than a few cuss words. In a matter of minutes, the tent city disappeared to the other side of the lake!

That's awesome. (I'm serious)

On the Sierra Club trips I did I don't think we ever camped near anybody other than at LYV. Other than that Merced Lake was the closest we ever were to other people. Not that we were noisy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/2011 09:30PM by eeek.
avatar Re: National Forests - camping
January 28, 2011 03:27PM
I had to chime in on this thread, I haven't had any of the issues that people here spoke of in national forests. I've had nothing but positive conversations with hunters I've run into in the backcountry and have no problems with them at all.

As for enforcement, I agree with y_p_w_ in that most of their efforts are spent on eradicating pot farms. I could be wrong (and it wouldn't be a first time), but to my knowledge, the Stanislaus District (office located outside Groveland on Hwy 120) doesn't have any Rangers in the backcountry that patrol. I will say that every time I've dealt with that district of the FS they have been awesome. Any place that will leave a permit for you in the mailbox when you can't make it before they close is pretty cool with me!

I did have an "Adventure Pass" a few years ago, I was spending a lot of time in Angeles National Forest. For a while, if you were stopped anywhere in the Forest down there, they would look for the pass in your car. However, I much rather prefer the forests up here as opposed to So Cal.
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