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Old 04-12-2016, 01:04 PM   #1
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2016 Western National Parks Last Minute Trip Recommendations

We are planning a western national parks road trip beginning in mid to late May and would appreciate some recommendations from folks with more experience than us. Our jump off point is southeastern Indiana. We are somewhat flexible on time since we can work from the road - provided we have decent cell (Verizon) reception and/or wi-fi. We do have a cell signal booster on board as well as a wifi ranger. We have a 36 ft motor home with 3 slides and will be pulling a toad (dolly). It will be my wife and myself along with 3 of our kids ages 8, 14, and 16 - no pets this trip. Full service sites would be preferable since with the 5 of us and our tanks usually only last for about 3 days/nights. We have been as far west as Mt. Rushmore so this time we are thinking about pushing on into Wyoming and then maybe south to Utah and Arizona. Some areas that we have on our possibilities list are Grand Canyon (south or north rim???), Grand Tetons, Arches or Zion in Utah. Our youngest is wild about dinosaurs so maybe somewhere with fossils? I know this is a wide range and we are starting this waaaaaaay later than we should have, but we are hoping that someone here might have some ideas of how we could still put together a memorable trip. So here is the $1,000,000 question; Knowing what you know now; if you had a short time to plan, with our rig and our family size and dynamics what sort of trip might you plan? Thanks in advance for the help.
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Old 04-12-2016, 07:16 PM   #2
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Leaving mid to late May I'd advise that your first head to Arizona and Utah. June and the rest of the summer is one of the hottest months (100-115 deg) before the monsoons start.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is best for a first-time visit. The North Rim opens mid-May and is a lot cooler. For the South Rim, try to reserve in the park at Trailer Village - full hookups and the free shuttle stops at the campground and lets you get on and off wherever. It's great for short Rim walks. For an awesome experience walk down the Bright Angel trail if only for a short 1/4 to 1/2 mile. It will give you a different perspective from below the Rim. The campground is also very near the Rim - walkable distance. The North Rim doesn't have hookups. You'd have to stay in Jacob Lake (no lake, by the way) and it's a good drive. You'd enjoy the South Rim. Some folks stay in Williams but it's a long boring drive if you want to visit Grand Canyon more than one day - and you should.

From there you can visit Zion and Bryce Nat'l Parks and depending on your time, Capitol Reef. All these have full hookup parks just outside the national parks. Ruby's is good for Bryce and there are a couple in Springdale for Zion. There are a few in Torrey for Capitol Reef.

Arches has many full hookup parks to choose from. If you go there be sure to reserve the Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike. The kids would love it!!!

Then you could head north to Wyoming if you have time. The town of Vernal, Utah - on your way - has Dinosaur Nat'l Monument. You mentioned Grand Teton Nat'l Park which is fantastic. Colter Bay RV in the park is the best place to stay for full hookups. Nice hiking and a gentle raft trip down the Snake River in the park and you just might see a moose in the water with you. We did!

If you get to Grand Teton then you definitely have to go to Yellowstone. It's right next door. Stay in W. Yellowstone if you need hookups and good internet. Fishing Bridge RV in the park itself has hookups but the internet won't be strong enough for work.

By the way, it's best to rely on your own hotspot via your phone for internet and not on a RV park's which is meant for email and quick searches. It's not meant for conducting business or streaming.

Hope this helps getting you started. It all depends how much time you have. Good luck!
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Old 04-12-2016, 07:46 PM   #3
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Tips for your trip

We did a western trip 4 years ago and plan on going again this summer. We are going for at least a month and plan to head to Mesa Verde and then into Utah. After that we will head up to Glacier with stops along the way. When we went to Yellowstone we stayed at the KOA in West Yellowstone and loved it. They had an outdoor restaurant that we took advantage of several of our 6 nights. That same summer we did the south Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed at the Grand Canyon KOA on Highway 64. Make sure to check out Williams Arizona close by. Many neat shops and restaurant. Cool nostalgic town on Rt. 66. We spent 4th of July there and had a great time.
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Old 04-12-2016, 08:53 PM   #4
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We too will be heading west this summer. Our trip will be in the hottest time of the year, late July to early August. Hope our A/C holds up.

If you want to spend time at Grand Canyon you should call for reservations NOW! I wanted to get in the last week of July and found them full. We couldn't get in until August 5. We will be traveling in a 36' motorhome, not all of the sites will accept that size. FWIW I was not able to find any availability on the internet, called and talked directly to the reservation service, they found me a 50' site for three nights. My advice, call.

Our trip heads out to Philmont Scout Ranch to pick up our grandson following his 80 mile trek out there. We then will head up through Colorado spending a few nights in Colorado springs. Then heading up through Breckenridge for a visit with family.

West on I-70 to Utah where we will be spending a couple nights in Moab and taking day trips out to Arches and Canyonlands. From there we head south to Cortez, CO for three nights.

We plan to rent a car in Cortez to go out to Mesa Verde, four corners and several other sites in the four corners area. From Cortez we will be heading west through Monument Valley on our way to the Grand Canyon. We hope to enter the park from the east entrance at Desert View. Can anyone comment on the road in the park from Desert View to the Trailer Village campground?

We have three nights reserved in Trailer Village. That will give us two full days to explore the north rim and canyon village area. Wife and I have been there several times before, will be a first visit for our grandson.

When we leave the Canyon we will be heading back east on I-40 and take in Petrified Forest on the way back to Michigan.

This big circle is actually reversed from our original plan due to the reservation dates at Grand Canyon. Be flexible with your dates. The campground at Grand Canyon is very popular and reservations can be hard to get. BTW I called in early March and the August date was the best we could find.
There are several commercial campgrounds south of the canyon in Williams and at least one in Tusayan just south of the entrance.
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Old 04-12-2016, 10:08 PM   #5
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We did a trip last summer to SD, MT, and Wy. The Museum of the Rockies is in Bozeman and has one of the greatest dino fossil exhibits around. In Wy is the city of Thermopolis for dino digs. Utahs big 5 Nat'l parks are a must see. Arches, and Bryce were our favorites. South rim of the Grand Canyon is more developed and open year round. Williams Az. is a good place to make base camp. 45 miles to the canyon. It's near Flagstaff and other great areas like Sedona. A stop over in Santa Fe is nice too.

Good luck with the plans. Happy Trails!!!
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kazoo Tom View Post
We hope to enter the park from the east entrance at Desert View. Can anyone comment on the road in the park from Desert View to the Trailer Village campground?

We have three nights reserved in Trailer Village. That will give us two full days to explore the north rim and canyon village area.
Entering Grand Canyon South Rim from Hwy 89 brings you through the East Entrance. It's a very good road for RVers.

You mention you have two full days...if so, I wouldn't try to take in the North Rim as well as the South Rim. It's too long of a drive. There will be plenty to do at the South Rim where you'll be staying. Take advantage of the ranger programs for your grandchild.

Calling Trailer Village for a campsite is a good idea rather than just looking online.

Here's the park's web site. Keep in mind that every national park has a similar site with lots of good information. Check out every part of it.


https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
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Old 04-13-2016, 06:06 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for the great tips. This was EXACTLY the kind of info that I was hoping to get and you all came through for me with flying colors. We are going to take the advice and try for the south rim of the Grand Canyon and then head up into Utah, saving Grand Tetons and Yellowstone for another trip.

We have a confirmation on April 30th and a High School graduation on May 28th so I am going to try to find camp sites for dates in between these two commitments. I know this is a long shot so if we have to postpone the trip until later in the summer that's ok.

If I can't get into any of the campgrounds right at the canyon are there any private or state camp grounds nearby that anyone can recommend? We will have our toad so if we have to drive some it wouldn't be the end of the world...as long as it's not crazy far.

Thanks again!!!!
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:48 AM   #8
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Forgot to mention in previous response. You must take a helicopter ride over the canyon. I was afraid it might scare my girls (then 8 and 10). No, THEY LOVED IT. I've done the long and short rides. DO THE LONG ONE.
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:49 AM   #9
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Will do on the helicopter ride. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:33 AM   #10
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Thanks twogypsies for the information. I just wanted to make sure that we could navigate the road from the east entrance to trailer village without problems in a large vehicle. We intend to use the park's bus system for all out sightseeing after we set up.
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