Surviving the California Coast on a Budget

33608609526_b3a3c1d1e1_z

The title may sound dramatic for somewhere so pristine and beautiful, but you may feel you are purely surviving this section of your road trip, due to the strict limitations enforced on freedom campers. In most large cities and Southern California towns it is illegal to sleep in your car, California is a travel destination that is favourable all year while unaffordable rent leads to more homeless. The problem is exasperated by lack of budget campsites and crowded sites at weekends, some people may view $30 as inexpensive, but for most travelers with modest funds this will eat away your daily budget.

Towns by the coast along highway 101 have strict overnight parking regulations, when evening comes you will want to drive a little further inland. Use your acquired knowledge to suss out a suitable overnight parking area; perhaps you find a park with few residential homes around it -but parking regulations in the parking lot, if there are no restrictions on the road you are also unlikely to be infringing on someone’s property in this area. Consider that if it is a dead end there will likely be little traffic or people disturbing you overnight. Finding a decent night sleep in Southern California is a bit of guess work and a lot of luck; ‘Walmart’ and ‘CampingWorld’ alike will refuse you overnight parking in this part of the USA, in some cases you may be able to ask a manager permission, but check for signage and restrictions first. If you have a car rather than a huge RV it is far easier to be subtle and not be noticed by cops or annoyed locals.

In cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco you may have to leave the area for the night, with car camping being illegal and the unsafe feeling in certain areas, it may be best to drive away for the night or pay for a campground. Weigh up the cost difference between paying for a campground or paying for gas and driving out of the city overnight. Another way to save those extra dollars is to try and share campground pitches with other travelers, most campgrounds allow for two cars in one space making it possible to share, it is also a great way to meet fellow travelers and share advice and information.

Hanging at the beach for the day gives you a perfect opportunity to use free benches and barbecues for cooking, as well as the chance to shower off the sand and sun lotion. There will always be fresh drinking water at beaches, so ensure all your water containers are filled before you head off.

Don’t be off put and avoid the California coast line on your Western USA road trip, Highway 101 and the surrounding coastline is too beautiful to miss. You can see why people love California life and never leave, you won’t want to either!

32835507513_12194a0846_z
Joshua Tree NP
Advertisements

Reasons to visit The Yukon this Summer

The Yukon is possibly one of the most underrated provinces to travel to during the summer, here’s why you should make it a top priority on your Canadian adventure.

33233449450_c7e4f28dfb_z

The wildlife
Bison roaming along the highway, herds of them, so many you will have to stop the car to let them past and capture a photograph. Black bears and moose can be seen along the calm roads, no need to leave the car if you don’t want to. There are fishing spots to take respite from driving and spot beavers swimming in the water, maybe even plunge in yourself to cool off in the summer humidity.

Learn about First Nations
In most provinces First Nations feel like an after thought in post-colonial Canada, the Yukon does not follow suit. Natives account for a quarter of the Yukon population, and compared that to the national population percentage of 4.3% that is a significant increase. The Yukon gives much more control and consideration to the Aboriginal population and runs a Self-Government system. Learning about the rich history of tribes and being amazed at the intricate art work can be done in one of the many museums, galleries and learning centres.  It is a chance to buy real native art and clothing, knowing that your purchase will make a difference in their community, rather than funding large corporations.

The Scenery
The Yukon’s official flower is Fireweed, as it grows in such abundance after the forest fires which occur throughout the hot summer months. Lakes are vast, surrounded by mountains and so undisturbed by people you can pull up by a river at the roadside and sleep peacefully all night.

33575670656_cc373efd5b_z
Dawson City
Gold rush history
Ghost towns and ruins of the gold rush era of the past are left intact in the wooden shacks that were once people’s homes; you will find tins of unopened food left on the shelves, as well as cars which have been left to rust over decades. Visit Dawson City and be met with full gold rush period costumes and buildings preserved in the style of the time.

With a population of just over 33,000 it is easy to escape the busy tourist traps and take your trip at a slow pace; while still soaking up culture, history and nature. Make sure to add the Yukon to your Canadian road trip bucket list.

5 FREE Campgrounds in Western USA

Car camping for free becomes trickier the closer to the coast and large cities you get, but there is still an abundance of free campsites scattered across the Western states. Using them comes down to whether they fit in with your route and if they’re car accessible, be sure to download Allstays Camp and Tent to help you find them, in conjunction with Maps.me. Finding a free campground is such a reward, you can relax, cook dinner and ask fellow travelers for advice. These campgrounds were memorable for all the right reasons

 DSC_0818Lowry Bridge GPS 47.51332, -112.00801 Montana

Pit toilet, river, bench, grill, grizzly bear

The scenery is otherworldly as you drive through Montana, the straight roads cut through the rolling hills of the landscape. Lowry Bridge offers you a resting spot to sit back and appreciate the landscape in peace. There is bear scat around and there have been sightings of a grizzly around the site, Montana is one of the only lower states in which they thrive, you should be extra vigilant with packing away food and cool boxes.

 DSC_0228Mill Canyon Road GPS 38.71268, -109.73934  Utah

Pit toilet, dinosaur footprints

This is a dispersed campground so it feels more a barren area to park up overnight, it can make a good stop on the way to Arches National Park, or Monument Valley heading through Moab. Don’t drive too far along the track, it becomes sandy and you will struggle to escape with a two-wheel drive. You feel the solitude of the desert and can witness a beautiful sunset, before finishing your beer and settling in for the evening. Mill Canyon Road has the added surprise of preserved dinosaur tracks, so don’t leave without seeing these, they are a sight to behold.

Sawtooth Canyon GPS 34.670375, -116.98407 California

Pit toilet, grill, bench, dinosaur sculpture

This worked as a stop en route to Southern California, winds can arise in the area so pick a pitch that has some coverage if possible. Benches and grills are built to be sturdy in concrete, so the facilities feel a little less basic. There is a dinosaur sculpture-come-play area, which is an apt touch, considering the fossils and prints found in surrounding areas. Be sure to look up at the surrounding rocks at dusk, you may just spot some wildlife.

 DSC_0986Tuttle Creek GPS 36.564857, -118.12591 California

$5, Pit toilet, bench, grill, drinking water

Located in Lone Pine, California, right behind the 48 lower state’s tallest peak Mount Whitney and Death Valley to the East, it is an excellent gateway to some of the USA’s best National Parks. Admittedly, the site is not free (it’s $5 per night) but the price is a steal, the campground is surrounded by an extraordinary panorama. You can hike in the area or simply rest before heading elsewhere, whatever your purpose drive slowly through Lone Pine, viewing the saloons against the mountainous backdrop.

DSC_0326 (1)BLM Lands East Zion 37.249128, -112.778939 Utah

There are no facilities at this campground, it is dispersed and not wholly obvious that you are able to overnight park there in the first place. The lack of facilities is remedied by the excellent location close by to Zion National Park, heading from Bryce Canyon. Views across the vermilion sandstone landscape are dazzling at sunset. This site as found using Free Campsites another excellent resource for overnight camping, the website isn’t the most user friendly, but it is full of great information.

7 best FREE campgrounds in British Columbia.

BC makes it easy for campers like you, there are hundreds of free campsites waiting to be used. Most have a pit toilet, grills, benches and a stream or lake at minimum. Some have boat launches, fishing docks and maybe even a slide. As always, pack out your garbage and belongings, leave the area pristine for the next traveler. Here is a list of my personal favourite campgrounds and recreation areas.

waitabitWaitabit Creek GPS: 51.501376, -117.184148 Golden

Pit toilet, river, grill, bench

Situated between Glacier and Yoho National Parks just before Golden, this campground is a small slice of paradise in the summer sunshine and a gateway into the larger parks. The water runs azure and glacier cold, carving through the landscape. The ground is dusty which could be a problem in days of dry wind, but otherwise it is a perfect resting spot. Hang your camping shower from a tree and brave the cold water to get clean, then sit and relax conserving your energy for hiking in the National Parks.

Lasalle Lakes GPS: 53.52322, -120.68035 Mcbride

Pit toilet, lake, grill, bench, boat launch

En route to Prince George from Mt Robson National park with wonderful sites on the beach. Fish or swim in the lake, you could head out to the dock in the middle and rest there. Avoid weekends if you can, there are excellent mountain bike trails nearby so groups come to stay. In August you may be lucky enough to witness the migration of thousands of tiny, black frogs; be careful not to step on them.

 Inga lakeInga Lake. GPS: 56.61790, -121.63547. Fort St. John

Pit toilet, lake, grill, bench, boat launch

Heading through Northern BC to Fort St. John, you will find Inga Lake Campground. The track to the site is full of potholes, so take care when driving a car that isn’t four-wheel drive. Sunset over the lake is something special it takes on a magical quality as mist rises from the water surface. Drink wine, play cards and cook on the grill as evening rolls in, maybe even try to catch a fish or two; it’s a place you will find utter tranquility.

DSC_0425Bulkley River. GPS: 54.601154, -126.85178 Smithers

Pit toilet, hut, books, information, fire ring

As you pull off Highway 16 you will find the small hut with a grass area to park at the front. An absolute gem of a sleeping spot for a rainy day, you can stay inside the hut so no sheltering in the car in bad weather. Be sure to sign the visitor log, and possibly write a thank you note to the volunteers that upkeep the shelter.

Clements.jpgClements Lake. GPS: 56.048656, -129.90194 Stewart

Pit toilet, lake, grill, bench, beach

Simply stunning. An astounding spot to pitch up on your way to Hyder, Alaska for bear viewing during salmon spawning season. In the sun, you are able to see the mountains that surround and you are encircled by glaciers along the road. The site is also beautiful in the rain, the clouds roll across the mountains, teasing you with a glance of scenery every few minutes.

EdwardsEdwards Lake. GPS: 49.097443, -115.10434

Porta-potty, lake, grill, slide

On your way South to the USA border, crossing into Montana, you will find Edwards Lake campground. There are no fixed sites, you can park anywhere in the large grassy area. Best to use specific directions from the Allstays Camp and Tent app to find the site, as it is tucked away. The lake has a slide in the centre, which you can swim out to and slide into the water (which is breathtakingly cold).

 BeaverfootBeaverfoot Road. GPS: 51.238343, -116.65594 Yoho National Park

This isn’t exactly a campsite per say, more a good place to stop for the night outside of Yoho National Park. A fellow traveler and cyclist directed us here, it helped avoid paying the park campground fee for one more night. There are some pit toilets over the river, it is basic, but beside the river and just before the park boundary. If you get to the toll booth you have gone too far, turn around heading towards Golden, drive under the bridge towards the river.