A petition is circulating at the WhiteHouse.gov website that requires the National Park Service to ensure an overnight spot to all self-propelled travelers, even if a campsite is full.
Mount Rainier wilderness camp
Finding space to camp at some popular National Parks can be a problem, especially if a bicycle tourist shows up late in the day when all the campsites are taken.
This would require the rangers to allow “self-propelled visitors” to camp for one night, even if the campground is considered full. They can’t be turned away.
Some state and federal park campgrounds provide so-called “bike-hike” campsites. These are often communal areas with a fire pit and a couple of picnic tables shared by people who arrive carrying everything on their backs, or bikes, or canoes.
I’ve camped bike-hike campgrounds in California and Washington and in Arizona at the Grand Canyon National Park. It offers peace-of-mind to know you can find a campsite at the end of the day — with or without a reservation — and in the company of other travelers.
Earlier this year, Virginia instituted a campground policy that requires state parks have a place for bikers and hikers to pitch their tents, even if the campground is full.
Although our great National Parks are popular destinations for people of bicycles, there’s no policy requiring they be granted a place to stay. If the campground is full, they can be sent on their way or must go begging to share a corner of someone else’s campsite.
Here’s the camping petition at WhiteHouse.gov. [You'll need an account to sign the petition]:
The National Park Service (NPS) currently do not permit a Park to allow additional overnight visitors if the campground is full.
Self-propelled visitors (SPV), a person arriving by foot, bicycle, canoe, or other mode of movement NOT utilizing a motorized vehicle, frequently arrive after the park campground has sold out. The vast majority of the SPV use a small tent. If a campground is sold out, a SPV may not be able to travel to the next available campground before dark.
Whereas a SPV visitor using a tent takes up very little space and has little environmental impact, we hereby petition the Federal Government to require the NPS to always allow SPV a place to legally camp for one night even if the campground is considered full.
This is just another way to encourage bicycle travel. Something like this is needed as more people take to the roads following the U.S. Bicycle Route System that links cities, national parks, and other destinations.