Andrew G.

Fort Wayne, IN

Joined April 2019

Photographer, graphic designer, roadtripper, tent+car camper, and (somewhat) informed outdoorsman.

A not-so-crowded KOA

Stayed here on the way home from Yellowstone. Really frustrating to navigate, but all the good more private spots are in the back. Some of the full timers were annoying/drunk/rude as we made our way to our site, but otherwise not so bad. Bugs were definitely annoying too, but they make a spray for that.

The slightly less majestic but much less busy North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Loved this site. I marked the first one we came to which is where we stayed, but there should be much more just down the road. There's at least one that you can drive to that's practically on the rim. The position marked is near a paved trail head and parking area that includes a vault toilet, we chose that spot for that reason alone. If you want to be closer to the rim, there are many more FS roads off the main road further south that I'm certain has more opportunities for dispersed/car camping. Highly recommend getting up early and catching that sunrise over the rim.

Since the drive in is so specific only to the North Rim, here's our approach to the site, and a little bit of the sunrise.

Some of the easiest to access free sites in the Rockies

It can be a little bumpy going in, but its well worth it. We did alright in a HHR. We camped right on the river, got some amazing starlight, and one of the coldest nights of our adventure. (remember you're in the rockies so bundle up) Our neighbor dog was a klepto and stole ALL our pupper's bowls and toys in the night. :P The site marked is only the first one, there are a ton of sites, just keep going up the mountain. There is one in particular called Stunner Campground that is also free; it was our original desitination, it was just a long haul up that hill. There's plenty of exploring and fishing opportunities all along this road.

Here's a clip of the road in and a little of the site itself.

No Trash cans means more responsibility

….and some people just can't handle it. I want to like this place, but most people seem to be abusing this public area. Found a mound of trash near the exit that I assumed was from a local that made an effort to de-trash since the rest of the area pretty clean. If it weren't for that it would have done better. Plenty of space for tents everywhere, just little to no amenities. The lake was very calm, but difficult to access right in front of camp, I would suggest walking to the boat ramp for that. Nice and close to the Blue Whale of Catoosa and old route 66 which is partly how we ended up here.  I would stay here for more than one night if the need arose. 

a time-lapse of us packing up…just because.

Free rustic camping near Lake Michigan

There are plenty of really rustic pull-offs north and south of those coordinates on Green Rd. There are actually quite a few that are harder to find or even get a vehicle to without 4WD, but most of it is easily accessible in a 2WD vehicle. There are a LOT of ORVers so be prepared for people zooming up and down the road with super loud engines. Other than that, free is free.

Some of the best Indiana has to offer

My favorite of my home state's parks. I have camped and hiked here in droughts and torrential downfalls. Even so, never had a problem here. There's a camp shop on property and a canoe livery across the road where you can get your float on.

My old stomping grounds. Your basic Indiana woodsiness.

Came here a lot as a kid. Keep meaning to go back. Lots of pretty trails and canoeing opportunities. Last time I camped was near memorial day, and somehow it felt like the four of us had the whole park to ourselves. I can still smell the pine.

I thought I grew up in a small town...

The town is so small, the gas pumps still remind me of a rotary phone. Not much to write home about for this one-nighter. (Notice there's no pics) Felt a bit awkward pitching a tent here, although there were others doing the same and even car camping, and there were signs allowing it. I wouldn't recommend settling in at this one, let alone starting a fire. It's nice, though. Access to a bathroom with running water was nice, but I wouldn't drink from the sink, and the door wouldn't latch. Theres a small rope bridge over a portion of pond, and a covered area with tables, although I assume the latter is more for large get-togethers. Theres a small shop down the road that opens at a decent time and has coffee, as well as the afore-mentioned gas station. (gas was about the only thing they sold) Not too far off the beaten path, and Sioux Falls is a very short jaunt down the road.

You get a lot here for the low price of free

Great Yellowstone Basecamp just a few minutes from the entrance.

There are a ton of awesome campsites along snake river with about 2 sites per pull-off. Actually, most of these are a little bit more than a mere pull-off. On gmaps, the sites seem to continue all the way on into Idaho. The one we took, we almost missed because as usual, we arrived at nightfall and we turned onto a dark uncertain path with a lone RV parked off to one side, and sure enough, the was an empty space right there waiting for us, complete with trash, toilet, and even a bear box. Each pull-off has 1 toilet and 1 trash, but has a firepit, table, and bear box for each designated camping spot. The river seemed perfect for fishing. I hope to come back one day.

Not usually a fan of Chain Campgrounds

…but if you're planning on visiting Devil's Tower, this is a great choice. We got a basic spot with a firepit, but we just enjoyed the festivities around the Close Encounters 40th Anniversary viewing. All those people there and we were the only ones to have gotten there taking the same journey as Dreyfuss' Roy character. (Indiana to Devil's Tower, and in a Station Wagon, no less) The wagon has been dubbed "Roy" ever since. Clean bathrooms as well as the grounds in general. Good pricing too, considering everything.

Wide open spaces with plenty of room

We came in late, and although its seems like there are only about 10 designated sites with tables and the like, there's a bit off allowance for overflow and no one seemed to mind.  Got to the Badlands just in time to see it in the fading light while our eardrums got used to the silence. After that we had to force our way though a herd of bufallo, but they weren't hostile or scared. It's a long trek to get back there, just don't get in a hurry.

There is one vault toilet and some trash cans scattered about.

Perfect free spot just minutes from GCNP and Civilized conveniences

This was essentially our basecamp for our Grand Canyon Visit. Really close to anything you could need and your entrance to GCNP is covered for a week after paying the one time. Could not for the life of me find public water to refill my potable anywhere in GCNP, ended up getting a fill-up from the Tusayan FD. The general store at GC doesn't disappoint though, I got a decent camp chair and a new water receptacle for a great price, and breakfast at El Tovar in the park is highly recommended. You're almost guaranteed to see wildlife, especially elk. The elk calls at night can be eerie, but peaceful. Noticed A LOT of trash that I wish I could have picked up if we had room. Even some poorly-thought-out latrines. Do better, people.

Shot of us leaving camp and shortly after, the pup having issues with Smokey

The closest to Mars I'll get.

This was night four of our Grand Canyon Trip, and our only cloudy, starless night. I have heard such good things about the view at night, even so, it was one of our favorites. We put a speaker in a nearby bush we dubbed the "bluetooth bush" and piped in some native flute music. I'm here to tell you, there's nothing I recommend more. If the sweet serenity of the pure quiet doesn't do it for you, then get those old disembodied melodies going. There are no bathrooms or trash, so pack-in, pack-out. 

Our approach.

Helpful staff and relaxing atmosphere

Nice relaxing little stop. A little close to the highway, but it wasn't an issue. Very friendly and helpful staff. Their annual music show was a nice plus to our first night of our week-long adventure. A+ on the bathrooms.

A beautiful spot right on the lake and Dragonflies galore

Gotta say this was my first attempt at free camping and this place did not disappoint. Since my stay I have learned the area I camped has been designated as day use only by the ACoE, but I say as long as there aren't signs posted, (there weren't when I went) you're safe to set up camp. You turn into the park and before the pay sites, there are two left turns, the first is for RVs and the second is for tents and cars. We arrived the first weekend after Labor Day 2018 and we only saw 2-3 other campers there, and we even made a friend for the night. In total I would say there are about 7-8 official sites with fire rings, but there is plenty of space regardless. We arrived at dusk and as soon as we got our tents up we were greeted by the largest swarm of dragonflies I had ever seen in my life. Didn't have an issue with bitey bugs, but the bugs were plentiful. The lake is nice too, with cranes swooping in and out and we were treated to a wonderful sunrise. That place was just overall a good omen for the beginning of our trip. We plan to use this place as our main waypoint to the west.(Hope to run into you again someday, James!)

Good value, super friendly hosts

Not a fan of pay sites usually, but I wasn't planning on hanging out, so it didn't matter.

I got all checked in and paid for a load of firewood which they urged me to take more, which is always nice, so I had plenty for my stay. Electric and water on site was a nice surprise for the 25/night price tag, and the clean bathrooms and showers were an added bonus. Used this stay for my first time hammock camping, and honestly I was lucky to find trees suitable for it, but I did manage to get it hung and slept comfortably. This place is obviously popular with families and RV campers so expect to get past a crowd going in and out. Distance from Cumberland Falls and city amenities was a big help for me.

A quiet well maintained stopover, or a woodsy weekend retreat; your pick

Arrived late and took a minute to find the actual campsites. They aren't right next to the fireplace shelter, rather just around the corner. Had the place completely to myself on a thursday night/friday morning. Biting bugs weren't bad,(late May) but there were still a ton of other varieties. Several toilets on site, but no water. Picnic tables, tent pads, and fire rings at each site. There are only 10 tent sites, and the ones by the shelter are for picnics only. I wouldn't recommend a long RV up there, although there seems to be another 10 or so sites big enough for RVs and trailers. I was really impressed by the overall quality of the campground, but the distance from everything is a big negative.  The northern road in isn't all that bad, but the south road is what I NEEDED to use to get to my various destinations, and it was a rough one. I made it in and out twice in an HHR, but I was bottoming out on gravel and such. Overall, the HHR handled it fine, it just wasn't worth it, so I ended up only staying the one night. If not for distance from everything and the road conditions, it would've scored a 5.

Quiet Private lake not far from Lexington

Got there late and was greeted by the hosts, they led us back on a 4-wheeler, so we know what to expect on the the dirt lane back to the sites. They're first come, first serve, but all the sites have their own advantages. Some are a little slanted, but not so bad its disruptive for sleep. The stars can get pretty bright at night, despite the pollution from neighboring cities, so it makes for some nice stargazing. Apparently firewood is included, and if you let the hosts know, they're very attentive and will come right out to make sure you've got firewood, or even paddles for the boats that are available to use free of charge. There's a shed that is normally stocked with fishing gear, firewood, life vests, trolling motors and other goodies. (Though it was a little sparse on our visit) I wouldn't say it's entirely RV friendly, but maybe 1-2 sites could handle one. If I recall correctly, pets are allowed, but they must be leashed at all times since there's farmland nearby. Overall we loved our visit, and can't wait to go back since m'lady broke her ankle night one, and hence we spent most of our day in Lexington.  Getting into a boat can be a chore with a broken ankle, but once you manage it, its rewarding. HLF is a great place to go if you just want (some) privacy and to relax a bit.

Nice little off-season surprise

No fee in off season, but is limited to 3 tent sites and 2 RV pads near the entrance. Surprisingly quiet considering the proximity to the road. Toilet was clean and unlocked. We decided to try and boondock somewhere near Custer and visit on our way home since we love this area so much. Just happened to spot this in the national Forest. Good thing, because we went for a walk at Sylvan Lake later on and I decided it was so beautiful, that would be the place I'd pop the question, right on those rocks. I carried that ring around for a week straight…

She said "yes." :)

Free Dispersed Camping in the Rockies

Beautiful spot with a gorgeous view of a couple of mountain peaks (Thunderbolt Peak?) with the reservoir in the foreground.

-Camping is on the left as you approach the lake, there is nothing past the first big area you see.

-Many spaces available, just pick a primitive firepit and setup around it.

-Lake is technically private and the locals WILL hassle you if they catch you fishing/swimming/boating.

-We easily made the drive up in a low clearance car, and Rv's should have no problem.

- In total I'd say around 15 separate campsites could operate here comfortably on a busy weekend.