Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

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octopus15
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Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by octopus15 »

Hi All,

Last summer I slept in my CRV at North Cottonwood Creek before hiking Harvard, and loved being right there to start in the morning. I just finished building a sleep platform which should make the experience a lot better, and want to try one before the summer ends. Any suggestions on trailheads for 13er or 14er that would reliably have parking available if I drove up on a Friday or Saturday night, where it's acceptable to sleep in your car? I can do small stretches of Class 3 but would prefer mostly classes 1 and 2.

More general question - is it generally just a given that you can sleep in your car at a trailhead, or is there guidance around where/when that's acceptable?

Thank you,
Octopus
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TravelingMatt
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by TravelingMatt »

I avoid 14er trailheads because there's always a party or two rolling up and making noise when I'd still like to sleep. I also deprecate THs that coincide with developed campgrounds for similar reasons.

Otherwise, most 13er trailheads in the state fit the bill, the farther away from Denver the better.

The USFS doesn't have the resources to go around at 4am knocking on car doors, other than at a handful of places such as Maroon Lake. I'll leave it at that.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by mtnkub »

Unless there is a sign that says "no overnight parking" (well, or "no parking") you should be ok to sleep in your car. Doing so should not be considered camping, unless you are leaving obvious camping stuff outside around your car. This means you should be ok to sleep in your car at pretty much any 14er trailheads (even ones that say "no camping"); with the likely exception of Longs Peak trailhead in RM National Park. It is allowed even at Maroon Lake, at least if you have a parking permit (at least according to the camp hosts i specifically asked about that a couple of years ago).

Of course if a sheriff knocks at your car door at 2 am in the morning anyway, you will not get your sleep back; and you might be compelled to move and you might even get a ticket; but i doubt that you would be charged in court if you fight that ticket; which you might not want to do, especially if that court is far away.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by TravelingMatt »

mtnkub wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 10:50 pmyou should be ok to sleep in your car. Doing so should not be considered camping
The USFS considers this camping. The 14-day limit applies, for example. Otherwise, would it not be camping if you're in a big honking RV? That's a vehicle too. And then where do you draw the line, what vehicle is not too big/intrusive?

However, it's never been an issue for me.

I would obey any signs near population centers though, such as in Summit County or Vail, that a bored cop may cruise around.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by mtnkub »

TravelingMatt wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 10:56 pm
mtnkub wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 10:50 pmyou should be ok to sleep in your car. Doing so should not be considered camping
The USFS considers this camping. The 14-day limit applies, for example. Otherwise, would it not be camping if you're in a big honking RV? That's a vehicle too. And then where do you draw the line, what vehicle is not too big/intrusive?

However, it's never been an issue for me.

I would obey any signs near population centers though, such as in Summit County or Vail, that a bored cop may cruise around.
I'd guess your chance of getting out of that ticket in court with an RV (without outside camping stuff) is better than 50/50; in a CRV it'd give it a 90/10. Do you have a link that states USFS is considering sleeping in your car camping?
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by TravelingMatt »

mtnkub wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 11:12 pmDo you have a link that states USFS is considering sleeping in your car camping?
36 CFR 261.2

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/36/261.2

"Camping means the temporary use of National Forest System lands for the purpose of overnight occupancy without a permanently-fixed structure."

Whether you are in a vehicle is irrelevant. If you are there overnight and not within a fixed structure (building), you are camping.

Also at the same link, emphasis mine: "Camping equipment means the personal property used in or suitable for camping, and includes any vehicle used for transportation and all equipment in possession of a person camping. Food and beverage are not considered camping equipment."
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by jrbren_vt »

TravelingMatt wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 12:27 am
mtnkub wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 11:12 pmDo you have a link that states USFS is considering sleeping in your car camping?
36 CFR 261.2

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/36/261.2

"Camping means the temporary use of National Forest System lands for the purpose of overnight occupancy without a permanently-fixed structure."

Whether you are in a vehicle is irrelevant. If you are there overnight and not within a fixed structure (building), you are camping.

Also at the same link, emphasis mine: "Camping equipment means the personal property used in or suitable for camping, and includes any vehicle used for transportation and all equipment in possession of a person camping. Food and beverage are not considered camping equipment."
+1

The issue as I see it would be that if one or more humans are hanging around for 4-5+ hours the chances they need to do #2 are pretty high. I would also wager most people won't use a wag bag and carry it out in their vehicle. So it takes little imagination to envision what would happen if many people did this throughout the summer at a popular trailhead. Whether they slept in a tent, under the stars, or in their vehicle would make no difference.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by mtnkub »

TravelingMatt wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 12:27 am
mtnkub wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 11:12 pmDo you have a link that states USFS is considering sleeping in your car camping?
36 CFR 261.2

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/36/261.2

"Camping means the temporary use of National Forest System lands for the purpose of overnight occupancy without a permanently-fixed structure."

Whether you are in a vehicle is irrelevant. If you are there overnight and not within a fixed structure (building), you are camping.

Also at the same link, emphasis mine: "Camping equipment means the personal property used in or suitable for camping, and includes any vehicle used for transportation and all equipment in possession of a person camping. Food and beverage are not considered camping equipment."
Thanks!
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by CaptainSuburbia »

You should be ok at most trailheads. I almost always sleep in my truck before a climb and have never had an issue.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by IntrepidXJ »

jrbren_vt wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:03 am So it takes little imagination to envision what would happen if many people did this throughout the summer at a popular trailhead.
No imagination necessary. Just go wander around most popular trailheads to see it for yourself. :-&
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by peter303 »

A few parking lots may be in [federal] parks and patrolled by rangers. Longs and Maroon Bells to name couple. Or by private security patrols like Aspen Castle Valley.

Then you have consider noise of around the clock traffic noise. The after-work or after-school or drive-from-Kansas crowd may trickle in until 1 AM and make some noise having a beer and setting up tent. Then the avoid-storms early birds start driving in at 4 AM. The standard Harvard trailhead was one of these places.
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Re: Best Trailheads for Sleeping in Car, Driving CRV (< 2.5 hrs from Denver)

Post by octopus15 »

Thank you to everyone who has responded. This has been helpful. Based on the above, I feel pretty comfortable heading up to most trailheads and sleeping. I'll make sure to pack my poop out (if needed) to not contribute to that problem. Thanks!
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