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Old 01-17-2021, 11:30 AM   #1
tenderfoot
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bed in a box

ADK's are six hours from where I live. Hiking usually involves an overnight or two. We are comfortable 4 season backpackers, also occasionally glamp at front country campgrounds (two weekends ago, 8F at ADK Loj!). I dream of having land up there but for a variety of reasons that may stay a dream. Thinking about a small format RV - van camper, truck camper or teardrop. I am not really attracted to green parking lot RV sites, more along the lines of dispersed camping in ADK's (and elsewhere). Wakely Dam, Moose River Rd, Powley-Piseco, etc. This thinking got a nudge when we left ADK Loj and saw a truck camper at Meadows gate. This thinking also got a nudge when thinking of travel in this weird new world of ours - air travel and hotels slightly less attractive.

My question: I am thinking overnighting at trail heads (pulling in, climbing into sack, not setting up a full campsite) is usually prohibited. In the off season some of the above roadside sites I believe are closed. DEC campgrounds and state park are closed. ADK Loj does not allow RV's of any type. Looking for suggestions on any nooks and crannies in the Dak's that may be compatible with such activities.

Thank you
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:18 PM   #2
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Yeah, sleeping in cars/RVs/campers at a trailhead is technically verboten- it is camping within 150 feet of a road at a non-designated site (the regs are clear that sleeping in a vehicle still counts under the definition of camping).

Your options for winter RV/camper trailer overnighting in the ADKs are going to be pretty limited. Most of the roadside campsites (if not very nearly all of them) are going to be inaccessible. Not technically closed- you could still set up a tent and camp at them- but you're not getting an RV or a camper trailer down the several miles of unplowed road to the Cedar River Flow in the winter.

I thought that rest stops (such as those on I-87) might be an option (even if a far cry still from dispsersed camping) but some googling lead me to some sources that seem to indicate that the maximum length of stay at a NY State Rest Stop is 4 hours.

Also a far cry from dispersed camping, but does Walmart still allow overnight stays in their parking lots? There is one in Ticonderoga which is about an hour from many of the High Peaks trailheads (Keene, Upper Works).

As a possible alternative- maybe try to plan a week long trip, get a camping permit for a roadside dispersed site so that you're good for more than 3 nights without relocating, and set up a canvas wall tent with a wood stove? This would give you some of the comforts of a camper trailer or RV without the restrictions on where you can use it in the winter.
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Old 01-17-2021, 12:30 PM   #3
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Your profile says you live in Rochester. Does it really take you 6 hours to get to the ADKs? I can easily do 6 hours from here in Niagara, Canada.
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Old 01-17-2021, 04:16 PM   #4
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DSettahr, I thought about the rest stops. The High Peaks Welcome Center specifically - no gas so less visited. I think Walmart discontinued their hospitality to RVr's with Covid but that might have changed. The Van option has a plus on it for stealth camping but I do not wish to abuse hospitality of ADK's villages by snoozing where ever.

I am comboing this with another thread where someone asked about clubs. Many hunting/outdoor clubs offer camping. Checking into the seasonality of that (not hunting season).

And of course there is something to be said for supporting local economy with lodging.

And yes, we did a semi hot tent this last trip and it really took the edge off of the evening.

Ontario - Google says 5.5 from my house to ADK Loj. This is partly because we take i90 all the way to i87. We certainly have done it in less than that time but we use 6 for planning. We poke along at about 72mph. We usually stop at Stewarts in Keene area. A rest stop or two on the way. Over the years we have found that sticking to the interstates avoids traffic in towns, slow RV's on winding roads, poor weather conditions (Thruway better maintained), critters, and car sickness.
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Old 01-17-2021, 06:00 PM   #5
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Rochester area it depends on where you go. You can reach the western edge from most parts of Rochester within 3 hrs.

It usually takes me around 5-6 hours to get to the high peaks region. Now that's a big range because if I go to Wilmington/Jay, that's about the farthest and is probably around 6hrs. The western High Peaks just past Tupper I can hit in about 5, maybe less.

So my answer would be that from Rochester the Adirondacks are 3-6 hours, depending on what region.

As far as RV camping in the winter... pretty limited. I think that's also a little bit on purpose to help bolster the hotel and restaurants in the off season. In past years I'd typically do quite a few trips in the winter and hotels are pretty cheap and easy to book in most areas. The current situation might be prohibitive, but I actually don't see a lot of risk. You won't be in contact with many people - I never was at any hotels I used in the ADK region in the winter. Bringing your own food or ordering in may reduce some contact as well.

In terms for actual camping in the winter - it can be done. There are a number of sites that wouldn't be that far of a walk with a pulk - and some even more accessible if the water is frozen. A hot tent setup would be ideal. Thing is if your goal isn't just camping or hiking in the area where your tent is set, you'll waste a ton of time with getting to and from and setting up. It's more an activity I'd see in itself and not a good way to get a rest and dry out before another hike.
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Old 01-17-2021, 07:34 PM   #6
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Have you thought about trying options closer to home? The northern edge of the PA Wilds is a mere 2 hours from Rochester. Less than 3 hours of driving gets you to the Susquehannock Trail System, Hammersley Fork, Black Forest Trail, etc. Tons of decent options for hiking and backpacking down there.
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Old 01-17-2021, 09:23 PM   #7
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87? That's taking the long way. 81 to 3 or 365 to 28/30 to 3 is 5 hours from Rochester to LP.
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Old 01-18-2021, 01:04 AM   #8
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87? That's taking the long way. 81 to 3 or 365 to 28/30 to 3 is 5 hours from Rochester to LP.
I usually do 365 to 28/30 and that sounds about right for me (given I'm about 2 hours further than Roch). 81 to 3 is a bit shorter according to the maps, but it never seems quicker and is less scenic. I couldn't imagine choosing interstate over the Adirondack highways.
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Old 01-18-2021, 09:15 AM   #9
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Faster you go the less you see. We often have exited I-90 at exit 33 and enjoy the NYS country side on our way to Newcomb at the slower relaxing pace of the secondary roads. We make our travels more about the trip than the destination.
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Old 01-18-2021, 09:30 AM   #10
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All, agreed - our route appears bass backward. We have done the through the mountains route several times and although more scenic (only coyote sighting so far) the results personally don't work for us. Have not tried 81 and then across the top. We also take the mountain route if our destination is other than the northeast high peak region. Our last trip had us returning mostly in dark. Some of our trips up are afternoon departures, traveling mostly in dark.

I appreciate the routing advice, but the original post was "do you know of any places open to small format campers that are open all year." I am thinking moving forward with a teardrop or pop-top truck camper would really limit options. Van camper might enable us to nap in a rest stop for 4 hours, the stealthiest option. Trailheads are off-limits officially for sleeping in any vehicle. And some trailheads (Garden) just don't work for any type of trailer or larger vehicle.

Again - appreciate the routing advice. Sometimes a different "tool" works better than the one I ask about.
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Old 01-18-2021, 01:49 PM   #11
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All, agreed - our route appears bass backward. We have done the through the mountains route several times and although more scenic (only coyote sighting so far) the results personally don't work for us. Have not tried 81 and then across the top. We also take the mountain route if our destination is other than the northeast high peak region. Our last trip had us returning mostly in dark. Some of our trips up are afternoon departures, traveling mostly in dark.

I appreciate the routing advice, but the original post was "do you know of any places open to small format campers that are open all year." I am thinking moving forward with a teardrop or pop-top truck camper would really limit options. Van camper might enable us to nap in a rest stop for 4 hours, the stealthiest option. Trailheads are off-limits officially for sleeping in any vehicle. And some trailheads (Garden) just don't work for any type of trailer or larger vehicle.

Again - appreciate the routing advice. Sometimes a different "tool" works better than the one I ask about.
If you did go the teardrop camper route I think the Rhino's and Kong's from the Tiny Camper Company are pretty cool and very reasonably priced. The Kong's are rated for off road and are a couple thousand more than the equivalent road rated Rhino's.

https://www.tinycampercompany.com/
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Old 01-18-2021, 02:50 PM   #12
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Thank you! I did not know about those guys before.

I really like the height on what "Trailmarker" sells but there is a 12 month lead time plus they are pricier than some others.

I like the concept of CLCBoat's teardrop but it is a bit small.

Merge the two would be interesting - a larger boxy trailer made of marine-grade plywood with a fiberglass skin. The Trailmarker though is built with composite panels which really reduces weight.

And there are no shortage of people doing amazing things with prebuilt cargo trailers. I like the idea of dual-use.

But these thoughts are for a different forum.

The trailer concept is cheaper (maybe) and I would not have to worry about anything breaking that was not in my skill set to fix. Some of the used camper van options have me thinking of starlit nights, wind in the trees and the soft sound of snow crunching under my feet as I pace back and forth waiting for AAA.
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Old 01-18-2021, 03:29 PM   #13
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The tiny campers use a Rhino truck spray on liner for their outer coating. Seems like a really good idea for its strength, durability, and low-cost. I'm guessing they spray it directly on the plywood.
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Old 01-18-2021, 07:44 PM   #14
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If you're serious about having an adventure vehicle that can handle 4 season use I'd ditch the truck and consider a van.

There's a lot more you can do in terms of building it for 4 season use and also it's fairly stealthy. You can often get away with parking in a large parking area (like a Walmart or Tops) overnight.

Perhaps not as glamorous as you might have thought, but it's a whole thing these days.
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Old 01-18-2021, 08:30 PM   #15
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So yes, van was actually first choice. Stealthiest, can tow boat, multiuse. Price limits would push me towards a well used one but Econoline/Express have been around for years and commercial grade.
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Old 01-19-2021, 10:43 AM   #16
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I'd seriously take the time to check out the van options. I think in the long run it will be less costly and more effective. Outfitting it can be done in steps if it's well planned i.e. strip it and insulate it first, then install heat and electricity, and then work on storage and bedding. At first you can just sleep on the floor or hang a hammock inside.

Because this has become such a "thing", it's driven the longevity of much of these vehicles i.e. you can find parts still and keep them going for a quite a while. Also people seem to like to upgrade as budget allows, so perhaps finding someone else's "starter" van may be the ticket to your path to the perfect adventure vehicle.

I'd suggest really making some spreadsheets and exhausting all options. Trailers kinda suck for a number of reasons. The pop up tent tops look a little better to me, if you are camping only in the summer or in the desert. For our climate a van with solar electricity and a propane heater would be ideal.
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:18 PM   #17
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I sold RVs for a number of years...take into consideration of total $ you have spent and are going to spend vs the actual # of days it will be used...bottom line you are better off in a motel or B&B or someplace where you can put your head down and have a nice hot shower and maybe a meal...Also think about your tow car or truck that you might use...many new cars are not really good tow vehicles...that is why the truck market is so strong....good luck...been there done that....
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Old 01-19-2021, 01:14 PM   #18
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I sold RVs for a number of years...take into consideration of total $ you have spent and are going to spend vs the actual # of days it will be used...bottom line you are better off in a motel or B&B or someplace where you can put your head down and have a nice hot shower and maybe a meal...
This is EXACTLY why I never invested in one, or a second property. Even going most weekends during the winter and using hotels I never spent as much a year as I would paying on a RV. Spring through Fall camping is abundant, and often the main focus of the outing.


For me, the thought of an Adventure vehicle would be for when I had more free time - retirement? Then it would easily become economical if taking month long trips to Sedona and Moab during mud and bug seasons.
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Old 01-19-2021, 02:11 PM   #19
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Also think about your tow car or truck that you might use...many new cars are not really good tow vehicles...that is why the truck market is so strong....good luck...been there done that....
I was down that road, and again, it really depends on how much you are going to tow.

I was in a situation where I wasn't towing much more than a ton and I had both a V6 SUV and a V8 pickup. The V6 SUV was actually much better. It got better gas mileage both towing and not, it was much less expensive and it had a lot more features than the truck, and was more comfortable. As long as the vehicle has enough power and can be appropriately outfitted with a hitch frame that can carry your load, you're good. If you have to deal with a lot of hilly terrain, then you may want to overcompensate a little, but with 6 speed transmission most modern V6 will do well with a mid-sized load.

Trucks are better if you really need to get into the upper range of their load capacity, IMO... or perhaps if you are towing ALL THE TIME and in difficult terrain.
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Old 01-19-2021, 09:08 PM   #20
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I sold RVs for a number of years...take into consideration of total $ you have spent and are going to spend vs the actual # of days it will be used...bottom line you are better off in a motel or B&B or someplace where you can put your head down and have a nice hot shower and maybe a meal...Also think about your tow car or truck that you might use...many new cars are not really good tow vehicles...that is why the truck market is so strong....good luck...been there done that....
I completely agree with this. I know many people that own massive RVs but won't take them further than 3 hours. They also have difficulty finding sites in a lot of campgrounds due to the limited sites for long length trailers, so they end up going to lesser parks. I've joined them a couple times and really wouldn't want to go to these places if they were free. All this to camp maybe 3 weeks a year.

When you factor the annual depreciation, the extra gas to tow to the campground, the campground fees, having to pay for gas when driving the massive tow vehicle year round, maintenance costs, etc, they don't make sense to own.

I think you could justify the costs for a small teardrop though. I also think the numbers get a lot better for retirees camping near full-time.
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