Registration is now closed for RAGBRAI XLIX. Transfers are now open!

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!

41 Replies

Bob Kidd, April 14, 2018 at 10:00 am

You might think about signing up for a host in the overnight towns. Let them know what you want/plan to do and they might be able to help you out. Me and two others have two nights that we have no idea where we are going to stay (dragging an TT with us). We plan on sending letters to the two overnight towns in hopes of find a place to land.


Barry Schnoor, April 15, 2018 at 6:39 am

Sorry if I was offputting, Mary. I think my point was better made by jelly0317…RAGBRAI requires a degree of adaptability. In spite of the naysayers, I’m bringing my hammock, doggone it! (and now I’m strongly considering a backup tent, too!)

RAGBRAI, apparently, is attended by people who will get fat mattresses in hotels every night, and people who are okay sleeping on the ground under trucks. Surely there’s a place for hammock campers!

This will truly be an adventure!


Geoff Butland, April 16, 2018 at 9:12 am

I hope the original poster isn’t at all discouraged! I have to state the obligatory “last year was my first” disclaimer, but I remember seeing hammocks in use at several campsites during the week, so there are no rules prohibiting them. I’m a bit of a “planner” and uncertainty about whether or not I would be able to use my shelter each night would at least have me bringing an alternative. If your hammock is of the covered variety is there any way to set it up as a “pseudo tent” using a couple of staked-out tent poles to hold up the roof? I would think the bottom of the hammock is waterproof and could be used on the ground directly? Bringing the means for a tree-less bivouac is less weight intensive than an entire tent. On the other hand, you are not carrying the load, so throwing a small tent or a bivy sack in your luggage provides peace of mind if nothing else. To be sure, there was not a single treeless town on the route last year – I bet there are plenty of folks with trees in their yard who would be happy to let you tie up.


Marla Shifflett, April 16, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Mary, I don’t know if you’ve made a “mistake” or not, because I have no idea what kind of riding/camping you enjoy, other than that you like to sleep in a hammock. Since I am one of those “friendly Midwesterners,” I guess I’ll just throw in that most people on RAGBRAI probably find a reflection of themselves. If you expect Iowa to be wonderful and you look for the good, you will find it. If you enjoy nice, quiet, uncrowded rides with nice campgrounds with lots of trees and flush toilets, you might be disappointed. An alternative might be to contact the host towns on the May 1st date with your wristband number and a request to camp in someone’s yard and specify that it will be hammock camping and that you’ll need trees or something to which to affix your hammock. Many, many Iowans welcome complete strangers into their homes and their yards, but there just simply aren’t enough of “us” (Iowans) to accommodate every request. My team of mostly women usually camp with private residents, not in the main campground, although we do that sometimes, too. BTW, I thought the parking meter suggestion was a good one! I thought, wow, strong pole, about the correct distance apart, good idea! Also, now that I know maple syrup is available in dumpsters, I might take up a little dumpster diving, too! I know the next time RAGBRAI comes through my town, you are welcome to camp in my yard. I have a hundreds of trees on my farm. Good Luck! Hope to see you on the road in July!


mootsman, April 17, 2018 at 6:38 am


I think you got a wide variety of friendly responses here although if you provide a little more info the responses would be more helpful. Are you planning on going with the general RAGBRAI support, a charter, a team or maybe bagging your luggage on your bike? How workable it is would depend on the answer to “where’s your luggage?”.

Most hammocks I’ve seen on RAGBRAI were used for just daytime lounging and not overnight sleeping. The 2016 RAGBRAI symbol & jerseys featured a rider resting in a hammock.


mootsman, April 17, 2018 at 6:51 am

Oh and there are times we get rain, sometimes a lot of it, on RAGBRAI. A tent should be carried along and the overnight forecast checked. A few years ago it was a flat out thunderstorm with high winds.


Mary Stewart, April 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Thanks once again for all of the help. I apologize if I was a little cranky in my response to dumpster diving. It is 20 degrees and snowing here in Michigan (yes, it’s April 17th!), and I am feeling a bit irritable. I am still looking forward to the trip, though I’m not sure how much I will be able to ride in preparation for the trip due to the cold spring. Mootsman, in response to your questions, I am using the RAGRAI support. My daughter is a student at the University of Iowa and she will be dropping me off/meeting me at least once during the trip to help me switch out gear, clothing, food, etc. There is also a planned overnight stay in Iowa City, which i plan on taking full advantage of. Her help will allow me to take the minimal amount of gear possible (I should only need to carry supplies for 2 days, 3 at the most).


KenH, April 17, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Hi Mary,

I hope nothing I said discouraged you. Personally I found the dumpster diving story humorous, something I might have considered back in the day. It certainly represents topic drift as far as your question was concerned but I don’t think it was intended to be discouraging.

You’ve made no mistake, midwestern hospitality and RAGBRAI are the real deal. It could be that you, like some, will find that RAGBRAI is just too big a crowd for your tastes and that once will be enough for you. Even if that is the case I am sure you will be glad that you did it that once. Much more common I think, and certainly so in my case, is trying it once and becomming an addict. My wife has never been to RAGBRAI but the Iowa addition is contagious and we are strongly considering retiring in Iowa!

Hammock camping is rare enough at RAGBRAI that you might want to heed the advice to have a plan B, there are good suggestions above. But if that is what you love to do, bring the hammock, be a pioneer, and then next year you can be this forum’s Hammock Evangelist!


Steven Hardy, May 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm

My grandson and I will be riding this year. We live in Ames, just a few blocks from ISU. You’re welcome to hang a hammock at our place.


Mary Stewart, May 5, 2018 at 6:44 am

Thanks Steve! I will definitely take you up on your offer. I just sent you a friend request


Paul Pickles, May 6, 2018 at 12:44 pm

This is my first year also. I will bring my hammock along with a tent if weight allows, if for no other reason than to lounge in during the day. I thought about hammock camping also. If I do I will have a mosquito netting and a rain fly to keep off the dew and any rain.


Bob Card, May 9, 2018 at 10:07 am

Steven’s reply is exactly what I expect from local folks after what I’ve heard and read about RAGBRAI & Iowans. You just made my day a little brighter, Steven. Thank you.


Michael Morrow, May 10, 2018 at 6:36 am

Bring both… hammock & tent.


jwsknk, May 10, 2018 at 8:04 am

Ames camp sights are near lots of trees, Brookside sounds like the main Register campground, heavy forest on north end. the camping across from Hilton also has lots of timber bordering the creek. Sounded like they expect people with support vehicles to park across University in the lots south of Hilton and carry stuff across the road. Where it sounds line the charters are going, not so much IM fields east of Jack Trice Stadium. This isn’t official, just what I took away from the announcement a couple weeks ago


Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 41 total)

The forum ‘RAGBRAI XLVI – 2018’ is closed to new topics and replies.






Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found


Clubs, Teams & Charters

Friends of RAGBRAI