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mbarto
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mbarto
PostThu Oct 15, 2020 10:04 am 
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I'm curious what people's opinions are about using 'closed' NF campgrounds as a place to sleep the night before a hike, vs. pitching a tent at the trailhead the night before.  I've driven past some NF campgrounds with closed signs that have several cars parked and people obviously camping.  I have just recently begun driving to a trail the night before and camping out until morning.  So far I have just stayed at a primitive NF campground that did not have any sign indicating it was closed.

What do you all do this time of year when many of the NF campgrounds are showing as closed on the NF website?  Is it illegal or discouraged to spend the night there?  Is it better or worse to just pitch a tent beside the car at the trailhead?

This is all new to me, so thanks for the feedback.  Also trip suggestions within 2-3 hours of Seattle for this time of year are welcome!  I'm looking for new adventures, regardless of the weather.

Thank you.

Michael
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Noheaperture
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PostThu Oct 15, 2020 11:24 am 
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I’m sure someone will pipe up with official rules on this but when If I’m trying to get an early jump on a tour or hike in the winter, I utilize closed campgrounds and just practice basic LNT principals, including packing out human waste since primary reason for closure is no maintenance services and bathrooms are usually all locked til spring in those designated campgrounds.
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pcg
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PostThu Oct 15, 2020 11:37 am 
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Gifford Pinchot NF, at least, gives good information on their website about specific campgrounds. For example, this is the current status of Takhlakh Lake...

"09/13/2020: Campground closed, not gated, dispersed camping is allowed. The back upper end of the campground is closed for any use due to hazard trees. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to Use the Day Use area."
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treeswarper
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Alleged Sockpuppet!
PostThu Oct 15, 2020 2:14 pm 
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pcg wrote:
Gifford Pinchot NF, at least, gives good information on their website about specific campgrounds. For example, this is the current status of Takhlakh Lake...

"09/13/2020: Campground closed, not gated, dispersed camping is allowed. The back upper end of the campground is closed for any use due to hazard trees. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to Use the Day Use area."

This.

Be aware that at some time, usually in the spring, you may get kicked out because it is time to cut down the hazard trees or do other work.  Not to worry, they are good about checking things out and having extra eyes on campground areas when falling happens. 

The GP may be more relaxed than other forests, so info from other forests might be good to here.

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Randito
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PostThu Oct 15, 2020 11:00 pm 
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I think if you aren't using a sawsall, bolt cutters  or cutting torch to open closed gates, there shouldn'tbe too much trouble.    The rangers I've experienced have dealt with "camping where not allowed" is a knock on the camper  door at 2am followed by"you can't camp here, please move".     

Of course following LNT style protocols will go a long way toward maintaining good relationships with the rangers.
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timberghost
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PostFri Oct 16, 2020 10:15 am 
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I am sure it depends on the ranger district. I see people camped at Money creek CG all the time. As long as you don't trash it I don't think there is a problem. Might give a call though
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Luc
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PostMon Oct 19, 2020 2:40 pm 
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Agreed - mostly about maintenance. Just don't break-in and be nice if confronted. Unlikely to be approached especially if you're there to get an early start the next morning.

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Schroder
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PostMon Oct 19, 2020 2:47 pm 
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If the latrines are locked (and usually are if it is signed as being closed) they don't want you in there.
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kitya
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PostMon Oct 19, 2020 4:31 pm 
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From the official okanagan-wenatchee forest page:

https://www.facebook.com/OkaWenNF/posts/3203052393145590?__xts__[0]=68.ARB2E0fvyK1lBWI68PcyJBYkrOL7tpZ4AhXqeUWJin_pOewRWWHBSsdhnlM-2B5iCm0JMn6khfEgTOM5mcISgPuCgcBvkYEnDxTWmF8c_hkXWoD5mhySABUtO7zca_8L17b0WNf2N1Lw5iKMCV9mX7zcZlkBH2ePztxG3yZJTazhNbQJNIYcK1we_gM4tvcYJJ2fspacjABueX6ZoRlRjCDZ6sTvlaKKr6_MTci8G1zuYDhGEbyU8qwLAu1LziswXp2km-PSfdm0K6zcNUgyh5fSFxiogvnkH81Js1V_6x8omFWHTQsOTwIVB45LGmqBsDAgycpgIpM-WRYBFUzYWXUq6g&__tn__=-R

" In most cases, once a campground is closed for the winter it can still be used but no services are available, such as water, garbage, and sometimes outhouses. Visitors need to bring water, toilet paper, and pack out all garbage.

“We ask people not to park their vehicles in front of the closed campground entrance gates as we still do some maintenance work in the campgrounds and need access,” Mulligan said."
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adamschneider
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PostMon Oct 19, 2020 6:02 pm 
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I once called a Mt. Hood NF office and asked whether it was OK to sleep in a closed-for-the-season campground, and the ranger cheerfully said "absolutely!" as if she'd been waiting for someone to ask that question.

She said it's just important to park legally off the road, and NOT in front of the closed gate.

(As it turned out, the toilets were still accessible, and there was even toilet paper in there. We had the whole place to ourselves.)

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treeswarper
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PostTue Oct 20, 2020 9:13 am 
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Outside of Randle, the Blue Lake Trailhead Campground is (or has been) kept open for folks to use.   They usually have folks out still cleaning the toilets all winter as they have snowparks to take care of.

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BigBrunyon
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PostWed Oct 21, 2020 9:58 pm 
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You can just camp wherever you want basically is the main point here

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