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Old 06-12-2012, 02:38 PM   #1
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First time out west

We (dw and 3 month old) are going on our first trip west. We are leaving from Chicago area Friday and stopping in ogden Iowa for a family event. Then we are headed west for 10-14 days. I thought maybe Colorado and up to Wyoming (Yellowstone) and back east through the Dakotas. I was planning on kind of winging it with the help of you guys and any books I can find. Haven't been at the bookstore yet because of the little guy. We are traveling in a 40 ft dp and pulling a toad. I am envisioning taking in the scenery during the drive and small excursions in the toad as well as at the campground. With the baby I am sure our in depth exploring will be limited. I would sure appreciate any advice on routes, destinations and campgrounds. Thank you do much. Bryan
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:55 PM   #2
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I think your problem at this juncture will be getting reservations for places you may be interested in staying at. School is about out and the roads will be plenty busy and I would suspect alot of people have made reservations well in advance. You might try RV Park Review (on line) for some help on obtaining campgrounds in the area you will be traveling to get some phone numbers and do some calling to see if you can still get a reservation. A 10 to 14 day trip West may sound like a lot of time but believe me depending on what you want to see you'll be spending alot of time just driving. If your near a Camping World you can pick up a Trailer Life campground directory to have a hard copy with you. Also you may want to pick up a Western States Mountain Directory for information on grades that you will encounter on your trip. It's a very good read for some of the roads you'll be on and depending on your driving skill possibly keep you out of something you may otherwise not try and encounter. Everyone has there own fear factor. I've found in reading it they usually turn out not as bad as written but I've also spoken with some people that have experienced the same route that we took and said they would never do that again. Don't mean to scare you just take your time and enjoy the view. One thing you shouldn't be in is a hurry. That's when something can happen and usually does. Hope you find the info you need and have a great trip, if you've never been West before you won't believe the scenery. Don't forget the camera but usually the images best remembered are instilled in your memory. Have a great time.
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:46 PM   #3
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Hi brywit,
Based on the information provided in the OP, consider:
1. Forget Yellowstone it is too far.

2. Instead do Rocky Mountain National Park. You can see a lot as a windshield tourist. Drive up to the Alpine Visitors center. The drive, points where you can turn out and stop and the breath taking scenery are spectacular. For this trip consider staying on the East side of RMNP. Anywhere from Loveland to Estes Park is okay.

3. Next go North into Wyoming. In the Northeastern corner is Devils Tower National Monument. Do not take the coach to the monument. Camp nearby and drive the car. to the Monument.

4. Next head East into South Dakota, In the Southwest part of SD there is more to do than you have time. Consider focusing on:
4a. Mt. Rushmore
4b. Crazy Horse
4c. Mammoth Site (Hot Springs)
4d. Wall Drug (tacky but you gotta stop)
4e. Minute Missile Nat. Historical Site - You''ll find out our missiles are hidden in plain site. Visit the control room where two officers push their buttons and turn their keys to fire our missiles. Reservations are a must. Go to the web site for instructions.
4f. Bad Lands Nat. Park

Except for the week of July 4th you should not have any problems find a CG. For items 4a, b and c you can stay at the same CG. For items 4d, e and f you can stay at the same CG.

For items 4a, b and c consider Heartland RV Park & CG at 605-255-5460. For items 4 d, e, an f consider Badlands/White River KOA at 800-KOA-3897.

If you stay at the Badlands KOA, go to the NP amphitheater after dark. It is at the South entrance to the Badlands NP. Take a flashlight. About 90 minutes after sundown, the sky is about the darkest you will ever find. This is important because the sky completely fills with stars. For us who live east of the Mississippi it is a sight to behold. One can also see Russian spy satellites pass over, keeping an eye on our ICBMs.

Now it will be time to boogie back east.
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:10 PM   #4
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Hi and welcome to the forum.

Lots to see and not much time to see it all. I won't tell you what I think you should and shouldn't try to see in the time you have but will say that the Black Hills (including Mt Rushmore and Crazyhorse) remain one of our favorite spots and we continue to return. Pack an evening "picnic" basket... get in the toad... drive down one of the side dirt roads in Custer State Park... and watch the herds of Buffalo graze around you. Don't be alarmed when, around sunset, the entire valley begins to echo with the howls of (what sounds like) hundreds of coyote.

Yellowstone is, well, it's Yellowstone... a place like no other.

IMHO, Wall Drug and The Badlands are both good things to take in on your way... as opposed to being a destination. You can see the Badlands pretty well from the windshield of your coach and it'll take you about an hour to drive through and you'll be back on your way. Stop at Wall for lunch or an ice cream and browse a bit but you can be on your way from there in an hour or so too.

Like Gary, I was impressed with the Minute Man site and if you're into things like thermonuclear devices it's sure worth the stop.

We've been through the area at least three times during the summer. Each time was without reservations and we didn't have any trouble finding a place to stay. We travel in a rig the same size as yours.

Understand that the advice you get from some of us retired and/or full time folks is coming from how we like to travel. We would never consider trying to cover such a large territory in such a small amount of time but families on vacation have to do what they have to do so best of luck to you and travel safely.

Rick
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:52 PM   #5
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Thank you do much for your detailed answers. How many days would you spend at each of your destinations? Any favorite cg's at rmnp? It is a 12 hour drive from Ogden Iowa to Estes Park. I would assume there isn't much to see along the way. We would probably leave Sunday the 17th from Iowa and finish the drive Monday. We will have to be back in Chicago on the 29th. What would you suggest for an itinerary based on your plan above(which sounds great to me)? Thank you so much. Bryan
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Old 06-12-2012, 05:07 PM   #6
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Forgot to mention that we are Good Sam members so I would prefer them if everything else is equal.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:09 AM   #7
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Go out the NE Gate at Yellowstone and Travel Bear Tooth Canyon Road. It is near Cody,Wy.. It is beautiful and should be a part of the park. I am sure one of the Park Rangers can give you directions to this area. I would suggest reservations in the more remote areas of your travels since the peak travel season is approaching. don't take your MH to BTC.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:09 AM   #8
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My suggestion would be to try to cover less and stop and enjoy more! There are loads of things you can do to enjoy in all of the areas that you mentioned. Spending all your time on the road and in Yellowstone will give you time to see what is there and take care of the babys needs as well. A stressed out Mom and baby makes for a long vacation! The Black Hills area will give you lots to do as well! Remember to stop to smell the Roses.
Going to a book store can be helpful, however researching online will do it as well. Just Google any area and you will find more about it than you will ever have time to read. Same with finding campgrounds.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:07 PM   #9
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A handy planning tool is Microsoft Streets and Trips. Can download a 60 trial version if you want to use it for your trip. You can modify your route, get directions and has thousands of helpful stops (fuel, campgrounds, restaurants etc.)

Remember traveling in a moho takes more time than traveling in an auto. Your average speed will be much lower (or should be!)

Have a great trip.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:54 PM   #10
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Hi brywit,
For a CG East of RMNP, I don't like any of them. I usually stay on the west side. However, for a couple of nights and to save the time driving to the west side, any CG in the area mentioned in my earlier post should be okay for you.

For the Devil's Tower NM, I stay at the CG right at the entrance to the monument. I don't have my resource info with me so I can't provide a name.

For CGs in SW SD and The Badlands NP areas, check my earlier post.

For your trip consider:
From Iowa to RMNP area = 2 days one night.
RMNP is a two night stay.
Devil's Tower is a two night stay.
Southwestern SD is a 3 night stay.
The Badlands/Wall Drug is a 1 night stay.
This gives 3 nights to drive back to Chicago.
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