Date: Fri, 9 Oct 2009 10:00:58 -0400
Sender: Vanagon Mailing List <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Dave Mcneely <mcneely4@COX.NET>
Subject: Re: VW Campground Reviews
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Here are the current rules regarding pass use in federal parks and other
facilities. So far as I know (I have used federal passes so long as
they have been available, now use the "Senior Pass") the four person
total rule has always applied. For six persons to get in on one pass,
two of them would have to be hidden (which they might be in a motor home
I suppose) and sneak in.
The rules don't reference bicycles, but at two different parks I have
been told that persons on bicycles are treated as persons on foot (ie,
four would be admitted on one pass, perhaps thanks to you, Don). My
wife and I each have our own senior pass, since we sometimes travel with
our daughter's family, thus having five people together. The senior
pass costs $10 for a lifetime, and is available to anyone 62 or older
(as many of you probably already know). Don, I don't know when your
experience at Yellowstone occurred, but your pass was a Golden Eagle, so
it was some years ago, I suppose, and the rules posted below likely have
been updated since. But, they still don't explicitly reference
My experience with park (or other federal) personnel is that they
generally know the rules very well. What they often don't know is how
to apply the rules with any sensible flexibility. That usually protects
them from the wrath of supervisors. I was told in one national park,
where recreation vehicles were separated from tent camps but I was
allowed in the tent camp with my WV camper (sensible flexibility) that I
had to use the dump station for my gray water. I attempted to explain
that tent campers generated as much gray water as I did, but that they
put it on the ground at the camp site. I was told that I could move to
the RV sites, that the rules had already been bent once for me. I
asked, "what if I don't use my sink, but do all my cooking and washing
outside?" In that case, I was told I should do what the tent campers
do. I did use my sink (with a catch bucket under the drain), but poured
the gallon and a half or so of "gray water" on the fire when I left,
thus saving the amount of water I would have had to use to put out the
fire otherwise. Probably would have been fined had the same ranger
showed up again.
Another time, in the Long's Peak campground at Rocky Mountain National
Park, I picked up some of the stones around my campsite and used them to
construct a wind break on the table for my backpacking stove. A camp
host told me that if a ranger came around, I likely would be chastised
for doing so, and would have to put the stones back on the ground. I
was sort of flabbergasted, and so the host explained that the rangers
there were required to enforce all rules very strictly. No rangers
showed up while I was there.
I would be quite happy for the parks to treat a trailer as a second
vehicle, and charge accordingly. Makes sense to me, so far as impact is
concerned. Certainly, many folks who drive into the parks in a house
tow a car behind. To me, that is a second vehicle, and if they only pay
one entrance fee, then they are getting more than their share. For that
matter, simply by being there in their house, they are consuming more
than their share. A Westphalia camper is not a house. It is a van (one
vehicle). So, I would feel fine about each VW camper having to pay a
fee for the campsite (no "doubling" except where the rules explicitly
allow two vehicles per campsite, which is many), but the portable
(barely) houses that folks drive should have their own category, and a
larger fee charged (including for geezers like myself). Folks should
have to pay extra each trip if they have a senior pass and arrive in a
portable house, whether they use hook-ups or not.
Just my feelings on the matter. I have shared them in the past with the
NPS, and was thanked for my "input."
On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 11:02 PM, Don Hanson wrote:
> One way to 'defeat' a rule so silly is to connect the Westies with a
> hitch..Call one of them a trailer and you are 'in compliance'..
> often sleep a couple of members in a vehicle and the others in their
> trailer...same with two Westies 'hitched' together in one site...
> This sort of blind enforcement of rules happens often. A large
> group in a
> motorhome with a trailer will probably have more impact that two small
> VWs...but 'that's not the point'..."rules are rules" but rules can be
> We encountered a similar 'rule' once in Yellowstone, where we often
> through or visited, living so close in Jackson, Wyoming. We were
> camped on
> the Madison River just outside the park and decided to ride our bikes
> the park one day, right from our camp, without the vehicle. So we
> rode our
> bikes up to the gate and were told that our Golden Eagle pass was only
> for one 'vehicle' and we would have to pay for the second vehicle..
> people on two bikes...While we watched large bunches of people pass
> the other gate in motorhomes with second vehicles in tow...Mom, Pop,
> and Grampy, Uncle Jim and aunt Flo...all on one Golden Eagle....No
> charge...This was in early season, so the gate monitors were quite
> strict....I tried to point out that we could go get our pickup truck
> return with the bikes in that. We would just have to park the vehicle
> the gate and get back on our bikes...I asked if he could just think
> about it a sec. and let us in, without the stupid truck....nope..Not
> After a second for me to think, we pushed our bikes back a few feet
> of the toll area and I got my SO onto the cross bar of my bicycle.
> She held
> the handlebars of her bike and we re-entered the toll area...."OK,
> Now we are two people in one vehicle, towing another, and here's our
> He let us through...and within a week, that rule had been 'revised'
> . I
> went right to the Park Service and pointed out how it penalized bike
> and promoted vehicle traffic...It helped that the chief ranger was a
> who also rode bikes..
> Don Hanson
> On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 3:23 PM, Jim Arnott wrote:
>> I DO! I DO!
>> In Washington State Parks, they care not whether you're driving a 50'
>> Prevost or a Westy. ONE camper per site. Extra vehicle cannot have
>> facilities. Oregon State Parks (at least on the east side of the
>> state) are
>> more flexible. 50' Prevost = 3 Westies. One at full rate, two at
>> vehicle' rate. Put as many Westies in as the campsite will hold. It's
>> really a money thing, it's mre a togetherness thing. It's difficult
>> to do
>> group campout when the rigs are scattered all over the bloody park.
>> it's against MY principle to camp in a parking lot (which is what
>> park 'group sites' are.)
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Dave Mcneely" To: Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 2:08 PM
>> Subject: Re: [VANAGON] VW Campground Reviews
>> Who knows what "Westy Double Up," means in these reviews? Thanks,
>>> Mc SD