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Old 04-13-2016, 09:06 AM   #1
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First time going west!

So we just bought out first RV - a Class A - and are planning to travel out west from PA - CO - UT - MT- SD etc for the month of June. We plan to start across south and then go across the northern states. We have never done anything like this and we have never been to any of those states so we are complete noobs.

We have 3 kids and one dog and one kiddo is severely handicapped - which is the reason we are traveling via the motorhome in the first place.

We have a basic idea of where we are going but wanted to just kind of go with the flow without too many set plans. My husband is a teacher so he has all summer off.

My question is...we prefer quieter and pretty campsites (I hate campgrounds like look more like a packed trailer park)... and we don't have any reservations anywhere, how difficult will it be to find campgrounds as we go? We don't need a lot of amenities.

Or should we work more on planning and try to make some reservations?

Appreciate any and all advice and thoughts!!
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:12 AM   #2
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In the Summer prime time I would try to make reservations ahead around any major tourist area such as Yellowstone ect. Just on the road you can probably find a place to overnight on the fly.
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irene67 View Post
So we just bought out first RV - a Class A - and are planning to travel out west from PA - CO - UT - MT- SD etc for the month of June. We plan to start across south and then go across the northern states. We have never done anything like this and we have never been to any of those states so we are complete noobs.

We have 3 kids and one dog and one kiddo is severely handicapped - which is the reason we are traveling via the motorhome in the first place.
Irene67. my first thought reading your post is that one month is not nearly enough time for all of the states that you listed. You will be spending a lot of driving time ( not to mention gas ) for a small amount of parked time. I would like to suggest that you pick one or two states closest to you , Pa and Ohio ? and investigate the sites there. You could stop at a half dozen places, with a week or so at each and have a more relaxed pace.
As far as places to stay, the wife and I prefer the KOA's . We have often remarked that we wish that we had the motorhome when our kids were young, as what wonderful places for children they are. There are also state parks, but they are somewhat more primitive.
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:36 AM   #4
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Irene67. my first thought reading your post is that one month is not nearly enough time for all of the states that you listed. You will be spending a lot of driving time ( not to mention gas ) for a small amount of parked time. I would like to suggest that you pick one or two states closest to you , Pa and Ohio ? and investigate the sites there. You could stop at a half dozen places, with a week or so at each and have a more relaxed pace.
As far as places to stay, the wife and I prefer the KOA's . We have often remarked that we wish that we had the motorhome when our kids were young, as what wonderful places for children they are. There are also state parks, but they are somewhat more primitive.
Thanks! But we live Western PA actually - I should have made that more clear. So our plan is to do a lot more driving the first few days - maybe to Indiana first day, MO the second etc etc to get as far west as we can, asap, and then slow for CO, UT, MT and a little SD, and ramp back up and just go home. We have traveled throughout most states east of the Mississippi and have no real interest in spending any time there for this trip.

And yes, when we were purchasing our RV the dealer said so many people wait until their kids grow up and then they do the rv traveling, but we are so excited to do this WITH out kids. And my SIL is most likely going to be following behind with her kids and her trailer.
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irene67 View Post
So we just bought out first RV - a Class A - and are planning to travel out west from PA - CO - UT - MT- SD etc for the month of June. We plan to start across south and then go across the northern states. We have never done anything like this and we have never been to any of those states so we are complete noobs.

We have 3 kids and one dog and one kiddo is severely handicapped - which is the reason we are traveling via the motorhome in the first place.

We have a basic idea of where we are going but wanted to just kind of go with the flow without too many set plans. My husband is a teacher so he has all summer off.
My question is...we prefer quieter and pretty campsites (I hate campgrounds like look more like a packed trailer park)... and we don't have any reservations anywhere, how difficult will it be to find campgrounds as we go? We don't need a lot of amenities.
Or should we work more on planning and try to make some reservations?
Appreciate any and all advice and thoughts!!
irene67
We have never had a problem getting a campsite when driving into any state park... or any COE, (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)... campground without a reservation.
Mel
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:48 AM   #6
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Remember that beside being prime time it can also get quite warm. Make sure your air conditioner is in good shape and you may want to plan your stops around water for the kids. Pools, lakes, etc. but these will also be the busiest.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:28 AM   #7
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I 2nd the KOA suggestion. A few more $$ but almost always activities for children.
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:44 AM   #8
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Back in '73 the wife and I made somewhat the same trip with a Opel Kadett wagon and a '50 something tent trailer from your neighboring state of WV in three weeks. Our speed was limited to about 60 mph because of trailer behavioral issues we didn't know about until we started the trip. It wasn't enough time, but it allowed us to see much of what is out here,and provided an appetizer for things to come later. This was in April which was a bit early, but still worked out well. As well as I remember we visited, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, A Pueblo Village, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Sequoia or Kings Canyon?, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Olympic NP. Possibly others I don't remember. I think we just kept going until we had just enough time to get back. Then we stopped visiting and made a beeline for home and back to my job. In July of that year we moved to Oregon, so you can see how that worked out for us.

We had nothing planned except the route and places we wanted to visit. We stayed in rest areas, parking lots, and an occasional KOA. I'm not suggesting that you should do this, only that there are many options. If you are going to visit very many places the trip time in between them should be kept as short as possible.

I think you are right to want to travel while the kids can go along. They will see things/places they will remember the rest of their lives. We have made many trips over the years with our kids and one with a grand kid. I think it's as much fun showing them as it is seeing it yourself, possibly more.

I'm thinking if you have never visited out here you will love doing it. It is LARGE! I wouldn't say it is any more beautiful than Pennsylvania, just different, sometimes very different.

Best of luck.

Steve
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Old 04-13-2016, 11:54 AM   #9
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I 2nd the KOA suggestion. A few more $$ but almost always activities for children.
My kids are 14 and 10, so not too little. I was wondering if KOAs are crazier/louder than other campgrounds? I am sure they are all different but I was under the impression that if there was a lot to do, there would also be a lot of people. I am not too jazzed about going on a trip to enjoy nature...only to be crowded in with lots of people who can get very noisy.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:05 PM   #10
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My kids are 14 and 10, so not too little. I was wondering if KOAs are crazier/louder than other campgrounds? I am sure they are all different but I was under the impression that if there was a lot to do, there would also be a lot of people. I am not too jazzed about going on a trip to enjoy nature...only to be crowded in with lots of people who can get very noisy.
irene67
Because KOA's prices are about double those at state parks they are seldom crowded.
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:27 PM   #11
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Welcome!

First, there's an ongoing post right now in this section titled "2016 Western Nat'l Park Last Minute Trip Recommendations". I suggest you read it along with others as many folks do what you're hoping to do and there have been many suggestions given.

You seem to enjoy RVing as we do surrounded by as much nature as you can rather than RVs lined up one after another. I would suggest for you state parks, Corp of Engineer parks and definitely stay in the national parks if you can. We're definitely not KOA fans and from what you state, I don't think you would enjoy them.

For your planned route for a month I would also suggest not trying to cram too many destinations into your trip. You will all enjoy more time sitting in one spot for 3-5 days rather than moving every couple days.

So you're first heading to Colorado, Utah and I hope, Wyoming. Montana is great if it's not out of your way but it's also huge and I don't feel you have enough time to make it worthwhile.

For Colorado, most folks think of Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park. I'll warn you that the park is extremely busy, including the entrance town of Estes Park so you'll definitely want reservations. None of the campground in the park have hookups so you'll probably want to stay in Estes Park.

However, there are other gorgeous areas of Colorado that aren't as busy. The SW part is awesome with small towns and lots of scenery. The kids might enjoy seeing the Royal Gorge at Canon City, the Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park near Alamosa, Pagosa Springs has wonderful hot spring pools - concrete, clean and of all temperatures. Durango is fun and if you can get an electric site at Haviland Lake national forest campground it's a favorite of ours. No showers though. From Durango you could take the train up to Silverton and neat old nicely-restored mining town. I'd recommend taking the bus option for your return or it will be a very long day. You'd have a couple hours to walk the town while there.

Mesa Verde Nat'l Park near Cortez, CO is a learning experience. Ridgeway State Park near Ridgway/Montrose has wonderful sites and there's also a hot springs pool in nearby Ouray.

The great southern Utah national parks will have warmer temperatures in June. Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park will be the coolest. Ruby's RV just outside the park entrance is the place to stay if you want hookups. Otherwise, there's a nice campground in the park.

Western Wyoming has the famous Grand Teton and Yellowstone Nat'l Parks which the kids would love. Full hookups at Colter Bay RV in Grand Teton or we enjoy Gros Ventre campground in the park with no hookups. It doesn't accept reservations but it and also Colter Bay campground (next to the RV park) each have 300 scenic spaces and they rarely fill.

Try to get into any campground as you travel by early afternoon for a better chance of getting sites without reservations. Stay nearby the previous night.

Yellowstone - Fishing Bridge RV in the park has hookups. There are many campground in the park that do not and some campgrounds are not reservable. For Yellowstone I'd suggest getting into the non-reservable campgrounds by 10 am. They fill fast.

Each national park has a great web site with lots of good information on the roads, campgrounds and things to do. Check them out. Look for the 'nps' sites. Here is Yellowstone's.


https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

After seeing how many neat things to do are in the West, you might have to limit your state plans to one or two states. Now you're probably thinking of returning home so pick your route of many possibilities.


You've got a lot of work to do as June is approaching fast. Good luck!
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:22 AM   #12
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:52 AM   #13
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Irene, you all are going to love the west. Have fun!
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:06 AM   #14
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Hi Irene67,

How lucky to be planning a trip like this with your family.........

Lots of good advice on here but one thing I would like to pass on to you is what I use to tell the military recruiters who use to work for me:

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!"

I understand this is a vacation and not work but in my view a little planning can make or break a trip. It might mean not having to stop at a camp ground or two before getting a site.....

As far as camp grounds.........Angie and I have stayed at all kinds, here in Indiana we are lucky to have great state parks.....

We have stayed at Federal parks........beautiful - quiet..........

Somehow I end up at KOAs when on the road. Yes - they can be a little more expensive. Yes - at that time of the year there will be kids..........I believe they have a family atmosphere and often during "The Summer Seasom" will have something going on in the evenings for family entertainment or there is always "The Pool".

I look at KOAs sort of like the Hampton Inns of the camp ground world. Although some are always better than others - you can pretty well be assured of what you are going to get.

If you are a Good Sam Club member - they have a fairly good Trip Planner on their web site - that will also show you all kinds of camp grounds along your route. The KOA web site also has a Trip Planner on their web site that will show you KOAs along your route........

I believe planning is have the fun - this coming from a guy who is a "Planner from he__!!"

Have a great trip!

g
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