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Can I choose indoor camping at the last minute?

I’d prefer my tent and being outdoors if possible. But if needed, are there places with indoor camping available at the last minute when you roll into town? Maybe churches or schools, but I don’t want to reserve in advance.

5 Replies

jwsknk, July 11, 2016 at 4:29 pm

maybe. especially if there is bad weather in the forecast places will open up.


Juan Medium Moose, July 11, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I’m not sure about indoor camping, but there is usually shelter to be found if the weather gets too rough for tents. I’ve only done RAGBRAI twice so far, and the worst weather I’ve seen wasn’t bad enough to send me indoors. Still, such things are possible. If conditions get that extreme, we probably won’t be worrying too much about sleeping. We’ll probably be crammed together hoping that the roof holds up.

I’m not very good at camping, by the way (my kids are much better at it than I am). I panic if there isn’t a shower or clean water for brushing my teeth, and I always pack way too much stuff. I have learned, though, that a decent tent will weather a storm without getting you soaked.


KenH, July 11, 2016 at 10:41 pm

There was a bad storm the first night of my first RAGBRAI in Marshalltown. The campground was the county fairground or something similar and there were a mix of tent and RV campers. Some of the tents were pitched under an open sided but roofed shelter, our motorhome was parked next to a steel fair building. When the weather hit full force the campground officials chased us all into that building until the worst had passed. I suppose the solid walls of that building were reassuring but I think it could be argued that we would have been as safe in our motorhome as we were in that building if a tornado had hit. The next year a nasty storm hit when a similar mix of campers were deployed around a sturdy brick high school. They left us motorhome residents in our vehicles but the tent campers had a nice, safe shelter to use.

The moral is that while they probably have an emergency plan for those who stay at the official campgrounds, the best available shelter may be of questionable quality. A town of 4,000 might not have emergency storm shelter facilities for 10,000 of us. And I will be in tent this year. The last time that happened was about 30 years ago.


toddsecoy, July 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm

My two times (1980s) I did not own a tent. I recall two stormy nights. One time they opened up a gymnasium for us to sleep in. The other time I put my sleeping gear under a semi trailer.


RoyBoy, July 12, 2016 at 2:32 pm

The chance of getting an indoor camping spot at the last minute is close to zero. Not likely but it is possible. Good luck.


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