I am curious if question about purely illegal activities are on topic. The specific question I have in mind is about freight train hopping in the US (which I am pretty sure is illegal everywhere in the US). While I am not sure freight train hopping qualifies as part of TGO, before I ask that, I figured it would be better to sort out the legal aspect.

Some other examples of illegal activities that are more clearly part of TGO:

  • The location of illegal, but frequently used, bivy sites in Yosemite National Park

  • Strategies for overstaying the limit on nights camping in Joshua Tree National Park

  • Rock climbing route descriptions for closed cliffs

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    We've faced a similar issue at Gardening and Landscaping, and have chosen to keep questions about the growing of things that are illegal, even if only in some states, off-topic. Here's the discussion. My personal opinion is as Liam's about it being a mine field. I don't want new users thinking they should ask these things, and I definitely don't want to be part of a site that's helping people get around the rules. This is just my opinion though, nothing more! Jun 17, 2016 at 21:03
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    @Sue - in general I'd agree, but there are many grey areas. The one that springs to mind is wild camping - many countries and parks have rules that prevent people on low incomes or on long, unpredictable walks from accessing the area. It can be argued that responsible stealth camping using Leave No Trace principles is justifiable in these circumstances (and is often tacitly accepted by the authorities). So I think it's a question of balance. Helping people work around stupid bureaucratic rules surely has a place here, but discussing how to steal rare bird eggs does not. Jun 27, 2016 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


couple of points of interest, one is the SE offical line(ish) from Meta:

I would be very conservative with that, as not all people on SE are from the same country and laws can be very diverse. I would comment on the answer that it breaks these [laws] in [country].

and also Is urban exploration on-topic?

TL;DR yes

so I'd say:

Could this be thought of as a "Gray area"

Well yes, in some countries, this is common pracice in some countries. So it's hard to blanket ban it.

Is it urban exploration?

I'm not convinced.

So I'd say the issue here is not necessarily the legality but more is it "Outdoors".

  • I agree that train hopping might not be "outdoors", but before asking that I wanted to handle the legal aspect. I tried to avoid the "world is varied" issue in my examples by focusing on localized things that are illegal.
    – StrongBad
    Jun 15, 2016 at 17:12
  • It depends on the question I suppose? Legality is a minefield that's like best avoided where possible
    – user2766
    Jun 16, 2016 at 9:03
  • I agree with Liam Jun 18, 2016 at 11:11
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    @StrongBad here's me playing devil's advocate: if I want to get to a remote location (clearly Outdoorsy) and I ask for advice on getting there by train-hopping... would it be on topic?
    – Roflo
    Jun 23, 2016 at 15:13

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