February 24, 2016
If you’ve done a self-contained tour you know what I’m talking about: that jittery feeling you get when approaching a public campground at the end of a long day: Is there still room? Will they let me squeeze my tent into a swath of grass between the garbage and that RV with the satellite dish? How far away is the next campground if I get turned away? Can I stealth camp in those bushes beyond that guardrail?
When Nick Wright stopped at the entrance gate of Indiana Dunes State Park campground after a day of riding under the hot July sun, he expected to pay his admission fee, set up his tent, and make dinner before falling asleep to the waves of Lake Michigan lapping against the beach.
Instead, Nick was told the campground was full and that he would have to find accommodations elsewhere. But Nick had done his research and knew all Indiana public campgrounds had a no-turn-away policy, guaranteeing space for hikers and bikers in the event of a full campground.
He explained this to the park attendant, and then to the park’s security chief, and then again to the ranger, but none had heard of the rule. Instead of ending the day relaxing on the sandy beach, Nick was forced to get back in the saddle and come up with another plan before the sun set.
If a no-turn-away policy exists but only cyclists know about it, is it really a policy?
To date we have found only six state park systems in the U.S. that have officially recognized no-turn-away policies. Some states, like Indiana, have no-turn-away policies on record, but if park staff isn’t aware of it, it does nothing to help tired cyclists at the end of the day.
Adventure Cycling is working to implement no-turn-away policies for state and national parks all over America so that you’ll always be welcome at public campgrounds. Join the effort and help create the momentum we need to get all 50 states on board!
With past support from committed members, our advocacy team has already established successful partnerships with the National Park Service and state park systems. Help us build on this foundation as we push for safer roads, better access to and through parks, better accommodations for cyclists, and even better bus and rail travel options to parks.
Here’s what we’re advocating for:
This fall, we’re going to take this message of making parks more bicycle friendly with the launch of the first-ever Bike Your Park Day an unprecedented national event that will help thousands of people discover the parks and public lands in their backyards on a single day, September 24th. We want to make Bike Your Park Day a yearly event that will draw in more cyclists every year, show the power and popularity of bicycling, and demonstrate to parks all over the country that cyclists matter.
Join us in making state and national parks great places to ride. To thank you for your donation of $100-249, we’ll send you a Adventure Cycling field guide notebook with Greg Siple’s cover art to document your travels through our great parks. Donate $250 or more and we’ll send you a foldable Adventure Cycling backpack, perfect for off-bike hikes or short day rides.
Top photo Nick Wright | Bottom photo Chris Guibert
The Thomas Stevens Fan Club is brought to you by the development team, Annette and April. They share an office with a classic Parisian Metropole bicycle. Want to know more about how you can support Adventure Cycling and all the amazing work they do? Call them at 406-532-2760 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org