The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Hammock Camping?

Hello everyone! I am doing the RAGRAI for the first time this year, and I am wondering if hammock camping is permitted. From the pictures that I’ve seen online, it doesn’t look as though we will be camping in forested areas. Thanks in advance for your advice!

23 Replies

Kraig Pyer, April 9, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Mary, you are going to LOVE RAGBRAI, welcome. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride. As for hammock camping, it sure is permitted. But, the chances of finding a spot to camp with two good trees are probably slim to none. Most campsites are at high schools, county fairgrounds, county parks, etc. While there are some trees, your chances of getting a camp site suitable for a hammock every night are about nill. I would suggest alternative plans for your first year and you will figure out a lot after your first ride. Enjoy Iowa, see you in July!

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KenH, April 10, 2018 at 8:49 am

People have asked about this in previous years and a few here have hammocked their way through RAGBRAI. Hopefully some of them will notice your thread and share their experiences. I’ve never been overly impressed with this website’s search function but you can try searching on hammock.

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Juerg Tschirren, April 10, 2018 at 9:42 am

The search function on ragbrai.com is indeed not very helpful. Try Google instead: https://www.google.com/search?q=hammock+site%3Aragbrai.com

#1284572

kwags05, April 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm

If you get to the overnight town early your chances are pretty good of finding a suitable spot to hang a hammock. The best idea would be to have a tent as a back up in case you can’t find a spot for a hammock.

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knees36, April 10, 2018 at 2:12 pm

I would also recommend that you buy some mosquito spray to ward off those pesky little blood suckers (both types-poisoning them if they get close to you and repellent if they are anywhere near you and a searching for an easy meal.) Iowa’s summers can be very wet and a haven for those little guys and gals. Cheers. Knees36

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Bob Kidd, April 10, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Something else to think about is the humidity. There was so much of it a couple mornings last year you would have thought it had rained that night.

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mootsman, April 11, 2018 at 6:29 am

Knees & BK make very good points. Mosquitoes attack in waves some years. And the bug replant is rather unpleasant. Every morning I had to towel down my bike because it was outside the tent. If you’re not in a tent you’ll wake up very damp (wet really) each morning. Rarely will the RAGBRAI campground have the requires trees spaced correctly.

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Barry Schnoor, April 11, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Mary,

I asked this question a month ago, and got more encouraging replies. Reading this, I may actually bring a small tent…wasn’t planning on it…in my pack, and just ride with the hammock. My one worry is finding two trees to hang from. Having a backup plan is probably not a bad idea. I’ll look for you hanging around!

I’m not worried about mosquitos or dew in the mornings. We have that in Virginia, too, and it’s not much of a problem. Dew happens when a surface gets below the dewpoint. If you’re inside your hammock, you should keep it above what may be a 72-degree dewpoint! Let the dew collect on the grass…and on your bike!

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Rob Erskine, April 11, 2018 at 7:40 pm

Some people on Goba in Ohio sling their hammocks under the semi trailers. They use carabiners and are set up in minutes. They stay dry unless it really storms. The negative they are the first ones awake when people start putting their bags in the truck. I’m not sure whether the luggage trucks or charters permit it on Ragbrai. I saw a picture of the Pork Belly truck and the hooks they hang the bikes from the ceiling. That would work also. It might be a bit more toasty inside the trailer and again I don’t know if they would permit you.

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knees36, April 12, 2018 at 9:48 pm

I’ve seen people (young people that is) sleeping under the baggage trailers in past RAGBRAI’s, but not in hammocks, but just sleeping bags laid out on the cement. Solid sleepers, I’d say. Knees36

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KenH, April 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm

This discussion is now reminding me of something I saw a few years ago. A woman I occasionally chatted with at the train station told me a story one day and I smiled politely and treated her like a sane person even though I thought it highly unlikely and she was either pulling my leg or, well, maybe not quite right in the head. And then one day a year or two later I saw what she described that day for myself. I had been in the station reading while waiting for the last train before the shuttle to work headed out for the morning. The train pulled in and I left the station to head for the shuttle and I hear this odd scraping sound. Then I look at the train just in time to see two feet disappear underneath it! I bend over to peer under the train and there is a young man pushing his briefcase ahead of him as he crawls under the train to get to the other side so he could board it.

I expected to hear an eruption of shouting from the other side but there was nothing. I could see the legs and feet of people standing on the other side when I looked under the train; I knew there were people very close to this guy on either side of him as he emerged from underneath the train. So I board the shuttle and when the two or three co-workers who had been on that train, whose legs and feet I had undoubtedly seen from the other side come aboard, I say “Hey that was something about that guy crawling under the train, wasn’t it?” They are like: “HUH?” So I tell them the story and now they are mad that they were so fixated on their own thoughts as they waited for the train to clear so they could come over to the shuttle that they missed the “show”. The crawler was at least doubly lucky that day because (1) the train did not leave while he was under it and crush him to death and (2) no one on the other side saw him pop out from under it. If they had the conductors would have at a minimum refused to let him board the train and for such a spectacular violation of the law and common sense and everything else that is holy and just they may have held him for the police and prosecuted him.

There are risks to sleeping under a vehicle that you do not own and do not have the only keys for in your pocket while you sleep. Maybe people who drive big trucks for RAGBRAI know to check for sleepers but I can’t really recommend it. Be careful out there!

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Barry Schnoor, April 13, 2018 at 7:01 pm

Ken H., thanks for sharing that.

I lived under Interstate 81 Exit 313 for a few days one summer…not all that long ago. Not really because I had to (I had the means for a hotel), but because I was waiting for the mortgage to close on a house, and I was too cheap to spend money on a hotel.

The weather was good, and I had decent gear. And I was up for an adventure. I can tell you that the dumpster food at Cracker Barrel is far superior to that from Bob Evans. And I was amazed at how many little bottles of maple syrup I got! (I don’t think there are any Bob Evans restaurants left in Iowa, if they were ever there.)

Mary, bring your hammock. We’ll figure this out. Even if we have to sling between two parking meters on main street.

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Mary Stewart, April 13, 2018 at 8:39 pm

Thanks to those who offered good advice about hammock camping. I’m not sure how my question about hammock camping turned into a discussion about dumpster diving. There will be no slinging hammocks on parking meters. Nor will there be any sleeping under trailers on my part. I was really look forward to this trip and now i am wondering if I made a mistake. I have been to Iowa a few times and found the people to be very friendly and helpful. How have I gone from friendly Midwest hospitality to this?

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jelly0317, April 13, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Bring the hammock and a tent. Look around each campground when you arrive at the overnight. If a good spot for a hammock pops up, e.g. a fairgrounds grandstand, go for it; if not, set up the tent. RAGBRAI requires a degree of adaptability.

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Michrider !!!, April 14, 2018 at 7:49 am

Overnight towns have High Schools and athletic stadiums. I’ve seen hammocks hung under stands!!!

BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

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