Motorcycle Camping (Is it for you?)

Motorbike  CampingMotorcycle camping isn’t for everyone. But if you love to ride and you love the outdoors, it might be an experience worth trying. Lots of motorcyclists do enjoy the combination of riding and camping, but for this simple message, I want to speak to those riders who haven’t.

The term “camping” can be ambiguous, since it can encompass a wide variety of very different experiences.

Similarly, if one says they are a motorcycle rider, that can mean many different types of riding experiences, such as enjoying cruisers, or luxury touring bikes, or sport tourers, pure sport bikes, dual-purpose bikes, adventure-touring bikes, etc. Regardless, it doesn’t matter what kind of bike you have. Any bike can be used for motorcycle camping, even though some are better suited to carrying luggage and/or handling poor roads, if that’s where you might be venturing. The point is, if you’re interested in finding out about motorcycle camping, just go with what you’ve got.

Getting back to the term “camping,” as I was saying, it can mean very different types of experiences.

For some people camping means getting in a recreational vehicle (RV) and enjoying a luxury apartment out in a private campground that has a store, recreational hall, and lots of people. And if you’re a rider who is going camping by meeting someone out of town who has an RV, that’s fine, although not everyone would say that’s a true camping experience. Some riders might go to a National Forest on a dual-purpose bike and take off along a trail and break camp out where there’s no civilization or people nearby. Probably the simplest type of camping for a motorcyclist would be similar to “car camping,” whereby you pull up to a campground and pitch your tent right next to your motorcycle in a spot that has a picnic table and possibly a fire ring. There might even be an outhouse or bathroom nearby.

I’ve camped all over North America on a variety of coast-to-coast tours and have done lots more camping within a few days ride of home. The amenities can vary significantly from place to place. My favorite camping destinations are National Parks, National Forests and State Parks although private campgrounds are favorite destinations for other riders, since they often have more facilities.

Some campgrounds will include a shower with flush toilets and even a store with food you can buy. It might even be near a town and you can eat in a restaurant. Of course other camping experience place you far away from any town or stores and you will need enough food, water and warm/dry clothes for the duration of your stay.

If you’re going to cook over a fire, you’ll need some additional equipment, otherwise if you’re just camping for one night, you might be fine with whatever pre-prepared food and beverages you can stuff onto your bike. By the way, not every campground allows fires, so you might even need a small, gas stove if you want to cook.

There’s a lot that can be said about motorcycle camping but for this message, the idea is to emphasize that it’s not hard and it doesn’t need to take a lot of preparation. Grab a sleeping bag and a tent and strap them onto your bike. (Some riders don’t even bother to bring a tent, particularly if they’re confident about good weather).

The point is to just do it.

If you found the trip enjoyable, next time it will be even better, because you’ll have some idea of what to expect and if there are any specific items that can make the adventure even more suitable for yourself.

I should add that, particularly in my earlier years, it was easy to over-pack. If you make your first motorcycle camping experience a simple, one-night adventure, you can survive adequately with some food, a flashlight, a sleeping bag and a tent.

It’s easy to over-think the experience.

Again, the emphasis for this message is to just get out there and do it.

4 thoughts on “Motorcycle Camping (Is it for you?)

  • I’ve tried both and prefer a motel vs camping. Hot shower and usually hot food close by. I like to ride further distances, so camping takes away too much riding time to setup and take down your gear.

  • Well my trip to Moab was completed last April and have to say in one word – spectacular. Camping or hotel it didn’t matter. Having more time to enjoy, rest and take in more of Utah was preferred than setting up camp and worrying about your gear when you left the campsite. I brought my Sierra Designs Sirius tent just in case I encountered a breakdown, foul weather or no hotel availability. Never had to setup camp. Grand Canyon had plenty of rooms available at a cheap price. Excellent food was within walking distance, along the road through Kayenta and Mexican Hat, plenty of places for gas/food/lodging if needed. Moab is a thriving town, with plenty of amenities and easy access to hiking trails. Knowing my bike was secure for the night and my gear was stored locked inside the hotel room, was a great comfort. I will trade that in for camping. The return ride from Moab back to California was a challenge all the way through the Escalante Step, throughy Bryce, Zion and other national forests it was amazing. The ability to travel through rugged country in one day I feel is attributed to staying at a hotel and getting some solid rest. Motorcycle camping could be for me, but having a group to travel with and having that support structure would be key to making it viable.

  • I am preparing for a trip to Moab, Utah in 2009 and have read quite a bit regarding motorcycle camping. Having car camping experience and blending this with motorcycling sounds like a perfect fit. I plan on making a 2 night camping / 3 night hotel trip.

    I believe the purpose of the trip will dictate if camping or motel stays are appropriate. My trip crosses through the Grand Canyon and instead of staying in a city outside of the park, or staying at a touristy (crowded) hotel at the G.C. There are camp sites on the less populated north rim. So if the goal is to enjoy the G.C., camping is the best choice. Once in Moab, hiking, horseback riding activities will necessitate having a hotel room both for better rest and preparing for the activities.

    The ease of hoteling vs. camping is obvious, but then again so is the ease of driving a car vs. motorcycle. So it all depends on your perspective, your abilities and what type of experience you wish to have.

    Once I complete my trip, I’ll post on how well things went.

  • I have done motorcycle camping in the State of Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire, there is a park that I can go to that have a three sided shelter or like a log cabin missing a wall with a fire pit in front of it, I have been there a few times and some of them are researved a year in advance because they overlook the mountians,

    I have a system with touring with a sport bike, I have a riding suit with an undersuite and one or two changes of clothes, a pair of sandles, ((they pack real small)) plus are great for walking around even hiking,

    so when my clothes gets dirty I find a laundry matt to wash them, and while I am there I order food to be delivered or go someplace close to eat, I then go over the bike to make sure everythinng is in good working order and tight, then I eat dinner, find a place to sleep, and plan next days riding.

    I do not mind camping out but found out that a cheap motel is better with my age, you get a shower and a better nights sleep, so you are fresher and more awake in the morning, this makes my trip more enjoyable and makes the next days riding safer, plus I can cover more ground because you do not have to pack everything up and strap it to the bike.

    Mike from Boston Massachusetts

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