What better way to count down to the longest night of the year – Friday, June 21st for us northern hemisphere folk – than by putting your first summer s24o in the books? While I’m a sucker for big time adventure (hello, epic cross country camping road trips!), I love a short and sweet local overnight. Over the next 4 weeks leading up the first weekend of summer, I’ll be sharing the basics on how to easily organize your first bike camping trip of summer 2019!
“s24o” stands for “Sub 24 hour overnight” and the gist of it is you can pack a ton of fun, close to home, in 24 hours. Being close to home means fewer things to consider when planning, and bailing out is easier if it turns out to be not so fun. There’s also something to be said for the minimal time commitment. For me, these little trips really fill my adventure cup during busy seasons of life when longer trips aren’t an option. And the funny thing is, I have just as many memorable moments from these little trips as I do from the bigger ones!
Before we dive in, check out these inspiring s24o trips:
Path Less Pedaled – Family Bike Camping
So let’s get down to brass racks! (buh dum tss)
Planning your s24o: WHERE?
Finding a place to camp not far from home might be easier than you think. When I’m looking for places to camp, I look on my state park website, Recreation.gov, ReserveAmerica.gov, or the local US Forest Service office. I have a National Forest located just south of town where dispersed camping is an option. Another option would be to look up “Camping near [your city]” or “Camping in [your state]” or “Camping in [your county or nearby county]”, which can help you find other websites where campsites might be listed. If you live in a place with Bureau of Land Management managed land or National Park managed land, these are options as well.
There are also private campgrounds but in some cases these are just a parking spot for RVs and not really conducive to a camp fire kind of camping. If you are considering a privately managed campground, do some research by reading online reviews and looking on Google Street View to see if it’s the kind of campsite you are looking for. There are definitely tent camping private campgrounds out there, but in my area they are mostly RV parking.
That said, some folks live in places where it’s just darn near impossible to find an easy to bike to camping spot close to home. Or say you’re riding with kiddos and they can only ride 3 miles in a day. No worries! A s24o ain’t all or nothing. In the case of not having accessible lands to camp on or if you have circumstances that make reaching those lands challenging, here are some other options that can be equally enjoyable:
- Drive somewhere with your bikes and gear and head out from a location other than your home. Is there a bike path a short drive away that would make accessing camping easier? Drive to the trail head and begin your adventure there!
- Use public transit to get closer to a spot where you can bike to a place to camp. If you live in an area with access to transit, you can use trains, ferries, and buses to get closer to your camp site.
- Don’t camp! While sleeping under the stars is dreamy, you can have just as much fun on a s24o staying in a cabin, rental, lodge, friend’s house, you name it.
Once you have found the “where”, another key step is knowing whose land you are riding on and the history of its people. In the case of Tallahassee, Florida, my family and I are riding on the unceded homelands of the Apalachee, Miccosukee and Seminole. (Unceded meaning land that was forcibly taken by settlers from First Nation people). Knowing the history of the land on which we ride is key to showing respect and recognition. When camping somewhere new, I simply look up “Native history of [city or place I’m visiting]” and take some time to read about the history of the land and its people before heading out on my ride or trip. When camping with my kiddo, I also use this as a chance to share with her whose land we are riding on and what the area is called, if I have that information.
Planning your s24o: WHEN?
Setting a date on your calendar will play a huge role in making your trip a reality. While riding solo will only require the consideration of one schedule, if you plan on riding with friends or kids and want to camp on the summer solstice, start the conversation now. What I do is check with my partner to make sure he doesn’t have anything planned. I’ll then text a group of friends I adventure with and suggest some dates and we all try to work around each other’s schedules. The more people invited, the less likely it is that all schedules will line up but we don’t let that stop us from putting something in the books for the folks who are available. You can always plan another trip later!
So come up with a few “whens” and start figuring out which “when” is the best “when” and write it down in your calendar! This way if things come up, you will see you’ve already got epic plans for that weekend and you won’t unintentionally double book or forget your trip.
The “when” can also affect the “where”. In Florida, late June is not an ideal time to be camping where I typically like to ride to from my house for winter camps. This is due mostly to biting insects – ticks, gnats, mosquitoes, yellow flies, chiggers – and heat. So for a summer camping trip, I take the “when” into consideration in determining the “where”. For a June trip, I would take the heat and bugs into consideration and plan my trip where there is swimming, shade, fewer bugs and a breeze from the Gulf. For me, that would likely mean driving closer to a camp site and biking from there, or staying overnight in a bug-free, AC lodge at a local state park 😉
You are now that much closer to your first camp trip for Summer of 2019! This weekend, take some time to figure out your “when” and “where” and tune in next week for the “What to pack?” part of planning your Summer s24o!