Make Denali National Park the next stop on your Roadtrip

Every National Park his its own merits and misgivings, Denali National Park wins outright for freedom, escaping the crowds and that feeling of untouched wilderness. These are only achievable if you get off the shuttle bus through the park and hike, there are no routes, you can walk anywhere you like.
Here are the reasons to make Denali a must see on your next road trip:

d2There are no Backcountry Trails
Contrary to how this sounds, there is backcountry available, the novelty being there are no set routes. You choose an area (or areas) with permits available and make your own way around using a topographical map, or gut instinct. You will encounter many natural barriers, rivers, ledges, scrub; you must learn how to cross them and how to camp leaving no trace.

D3

You won’t see anyone for days
Hiking out in the park is an incredible experience and one that is extremely solitary, likely the only living beings you will see for the entirety of your hike are the caribou, moose and maybe a bear, if you are lucky. Other National Parks, especially in the USA, have a ‘theme park’ feel due to their popularity and accessibility to all.

Backcountry permits are FREE
That’s right, whereas most other National Parks will charge you left, right and center for all types of permit, Denali gives them out for nothing; so long as there is space you can get a permit for the area that appeals to you most. Before you are given the permit you have to watch a film to ensure you know how to be ‘bear aware’ and how to safely cross rivers as Denali has no bridges.

Have the ‘real’ wilderness experience
Following a set route with a well marked path is great fun and how National Parks will usually set up their backcountry, oftentimes you don’t have to do a whole lot of navigating or even consider where you should be camping. Denali allows you the freedom to decide for yourself and sometimes it is inconceivably difficult to know whether you have made the right decision, but ultimately the experience is so rewarding.

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There’s an abundance of wildlife
If you stay on the bus you will likely just see caribou for the entirety of the ride, head out into the wilderness and there are so many creatures from wolves to eagles. Imagine waking up in the morning, opening your tent and seeing moose running past; it is an extraordinary sight to behold.

Endless sunlight
…In the summer that is. Lost? No worries, it will be light until 2 a.m. anyway, so keep on walking. This also messes with your body clock, waking you up in the middle of the night and thinking it is morning; checking the time and realizing you still have hours of sleeping ahead of you.

Are you persuaded yet to make Denali National Park the next stop on your roadtrip? Great! Start planning your route along the Alaska Highway and enjoy the adventure.

 

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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.