Where to camp

6:18 p.m. on March 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I generally travel on well established trails, since I do not trust my navigation skills, and have on many occasions camped in places other than the designated backcountry campsites (somewhere else off-trail). I definitely find an area that is durable so I can leave as little or not trace as possible. Am I wrong in doing this? I make doubly sure to find a durable campsite. I do not see wrong in doing this, but I would also not want to offend someone who might think I am not showing respect. Thanks.

12:24 a.m. on March 30, 2008 (EDT)
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MTB416 -
I suggest you read through Leave No Trace principles (http://www.lnt.org and here on Trailspace). Basically what you describe is in line with Leave No Trace principles. The only thing missing is that some areas have requirements that are a bit different than the general guidelines that LNT provides. For example, some require that you stay in designated campsites. Another example is that the distance from trails and/or water sources (lakes, creeks, etc) may be given as 50, 100, 200, or 300 feet, and some areas may have designated "no camping" zones. There are also some specific LNT guidelines on disposal of waste (including human waste), campfires (generally discouraged, but there are methods that leave no sign that a fire was ever lit in that location), not disturbing others who might be in the area (e.g., no boom-boxes or loud playing of instruments - amazing how well sound carries across a lake), and others.

6:23 a.m. on April 6, 2008 (EDT)
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I live in a country where free camping is the main rule on unfarmed land. We are also permitted to pick all kinds of wild growing fruits (nuts and berries). In England and the most of Europa it is not so. They have something they call "wildcamping" meaning putting up a tent without spesific permission by the land owner.

From USA I have only seen "Brat Camp" and other tv-series from the wilderness. Is it the same rule for camping all over USA or do every state have their own rules? Are you allowed to pick wild growing berries?


7:42 p.m. on April 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Otto -

As far as I know, the principle of "all men's right" (if I translated it correctly - Alle mens recht?) is only in the Scandinavian countries. In the US and Canada, in many places you are restricted to camping only in designated campsites, except in some parts of the national forests and national parks, and a few state parks. In some areas of national forests, parks and other federal lands, and in some state parks, you can camp wherever you want, subject to the restriction that you must be more than a certain distance (varies with the land manager, but typically 30 to 100 meters) from trails and water (streams, lakes, etc). In designated Wilderness Areas, you are not allowed to take anything (meaning no picking of berries, collecting flowers or rocks, and especially no collection of archaeological or anthropological artifacts). The exact rules depend on the local land manager for public lands (national parks, national forests, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Fish and Game, State Parks Department for the particular state, and in some cases the particular city, county, or Open Space District). Some private land owners permit camping (including some forestry companies on their tree farms and some electric utilities around reservoirs for their hydroelectric plants). There is enough variation that you need to contact the land manager of the particular area to which you are going to find out the particular rules.

I should add that there are parks where you can pick wild berries. When Barb and I lived in Boston, we used to go up to Acadia National Park in the state of Maine each August and September and pick buckets of wild blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, mountain cranberries (similar to lingonberries), and red and black raspberries. The tourists traveling in their cars would look on in horror as we stuffed our faces as well as filling the buckets with the delicious and sweet berries. But, no, you can't do that everywhere.

It sounds very rigid and restrictive, but there is actually so much open space, especially in the Western US and in much of Canada, that there is a huge amount of area that you can camp wherever you want. You can sometimes go for days without seeing another party. Mexico has some similar restrictions, particularly along beach and other coastal areas, as well as in their National Parks (Parques Nacionals).

7:50 p.m. on April 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Thank you Bill for the very good reply. The more I know, the more privileged I feel. Good for you that there is some places in western US and Canada where you can go freely like we do.

Btw, Denmark do not have "allemannsretten" as we do in Norway and Sweden. Finland I'm not sure, but I think they have it also.

May 22, 2018
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