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Can you sleep at Sierra Trailheads in your vehicle?

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Can you sleep at Sierra Trailheads in your vehicle?

Postby JJBrunner » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:37 am

For instance, if I wanted to climb Mt. Gilbert and I start at South Lake Trailhead, could I get there the night before, sleep in my truckbed, then get a super early alpine start to get done with the climb early the next day? Legally that is. If the big, bad PO-PO saw me would I get in trouble? I've never been to that trailhead, but I'd also like to know if you could do the same thing at the Glacier Lodge overnight parking then park in the day section and do something in a day. These are both without wilderness permits. If you have the answer and share it with me you will be rewarded with great karma!
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Postby The Chief » Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:44 pm

JJBrunner wrote:For instance, if I wanted to climb Mt. Gilbert and I start at South Lake Trailhead, could I get there the night before, sleep in my truckbed, then get a super early alpine start to get done with the climb early the next day? Legally that is.


Yes!

There isn't an issue of doing at the S-Lake PL for the Bishop Pass T/H. Just be discrete and low keyed. Simple.
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Postby goldenhopper » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:26 pm

The Chief wrote:
JJBrunner wrote:For instance, if I wanted to climb Mt. Gilbert and I start at South Lake Trailhead, could I get there the night before, sleep in my truckbed, then get a super early alpine start to get done with the climb early the next day? Legally that is.


Yes!

There isn't an issue of doing at the S-Lake PL for the Bishop Pass T/H. Just be discrete and low keyed. Simple.


Yep, I've done it dozens of times.
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Postby JJBrunner » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:45 pm

Cool, thank you guys. I'll just keep it low-key like you say. I'm sure the forest will find other ways to get its money from me :shock:
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Postby fedak » Sat Sep 04, 2010 7:47 pm

I've slept in my car dozens of times at trailheads and never had an issue.
Note the difference between "sleeping in your car" and "car camping in the parking lot".

If you are simply acclimating or wanting to get an early start and are crashing in the back of your truck then it is doubtful that you will have issues.
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Postby JJBrunner » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:07 pm

fedak wrote:I've slept in my car dozens of times at trailheads and never had an issue.
Note the difference between "sleeping in your car" and "car camping in the parking lot".

If you are simply acclimating or wanting to get an early start and are crashing in the back of your truck then it is doubtful that you will have issues.

Yep, I'd get there after dark and be on the trail very early. I don't know when it gets light but I'd probably start before then.
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Postby SpiderSavage » Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:46 am

JJ, It's always possible but you have to keep low key. Good idea to ask.

I've not done it at this trail head but you can also just head off into the woods in many places. Keep it low impact.

In after 10PM up and out before dawn.
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Postby KathyW » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:48 pm

Yes, you can sleep in your vehicle. I often sleep in the back of my truck at Inyo National Forest Trailheads, and I have seen people sleeping next to their vehicle on the ground plenty of times. I have never seen anyone set up a tent next to their vehicle and sleep.

When I tried to sleep in Yosemite at a trailhead once, I was told by a park ranger to move outside the park and sleep in my truck in the Inyo National Forest because that was okay.

I doubt if it's officially okay, but it's unofficially okay.
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Postby cab » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:01 pm

I slept in my car in Mineral King (Sequoia NP) this past Friday night because all of the campgrounds were full. I was expecting to get a flashlight in the face from a ranger in the middle of the night telling me to move, but it never happened. I got there at 10pm and was out hiking by 5:15am. Maybe as long as you don't pitch a tent in the parking lot, they will look the other way???
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Postby KathyW » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:46 am

I've slept in my truck a number of times in SEKI at trailheads including Mineral King without a problem. The only place I've had a problem is in Yosemite.
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Postby pmorash » Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:51 am

Like many of you I've crashed at the TH many times. Two weeks ago we did this at Agnew Meadows. We drove down past the gate after 7pm but came out around 8am and the forest service employee at the gate up top asked a couple good questions which we answered honestly and it became clear that we had camped at the TH. She then informed us that was not allowed and indicated she could/should give us a ticket for that! Instead she settled on charging us the $7/person "road access" fee which we thought we had avoided by entering late. We even went so far as to take the swing up to the Minaret Vista on the way out to avoid the gate. She didn't like that either! Threatened us with crossign a double soid line! We payed our $14 and went on our way!

Seems like it might not be kosher to sleep at the THs so as has been mentioned, be discrete!
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Postby MoapaPk » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:27 am

pmorash wrote:Seems like it might not be kosher to sleep at the THs so as has been mentioned, be discrete!


And be discreet as well! Just joking. Thanks for the very useful info.
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Postby David Senesac » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:04 am

What you are referring to is called dispersed camping. Go to the Inyo NF site:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/

Select their camping sub-page and the dispersed camping link. I've been legally camping so 95% of the time for decades. There are lots of lower use trailheads where it is legal especially on any dirt roads. I dislike public campgrounds because I hate paying good money for the annoyance of others disrupting my sleep. Note sleeping inside a vehicle is considered camping though as some have noted, even within non-dispersed camping zones, in national forests, one is not likely to be rousted. Mainly because of lack of manpower versus the national parks. If stealth inside car sleeping at trailheads gets out of hand as in sleeping on the ground, tenting or RV parking, the FS is likely to do more than just roust a few people. Note it is illegal to do so along all roads in the Bishop Creek drainage above the old Inyo kiosk entrance station at about 7k way down in the sagebrush. Anyone that regularly disperse camps ought to have a forest service map that shows where that can be done.
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