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Old 04-14-2016, 05:02 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 1
First timer, planning a NP tour loop

Hello there.

We are the ambitious type and tend to over do it, we will need a vacation from vacation, but that's how it goes and we want to pack it all in and see as much as possible within the places we want to go. :-D

That being said, I needed to use PTO time by end of June or it would be lost, so we decided to take the first two weeks of June and go on a trip 6/3-18. The dog sitters we previously had for our service dogs are moving and unavailable anymore. That means >$1000 for boarding/pet sitting fees to go off to Scandinavia/Iceland/UK or something similar... OR the change in direction we decided on.
Renting an RV (Class C motorhome - 27' unit), and take them with us on a road trip adventure. We have never had an RV experience, we are typically tent campers and enjoy the outdoors. Have considered the tiny home/simplifying to an RV lifestyle... If nothing else, for retirement in the next 15-20 years, so this is an opportunity to get our feet wet
.
Taking my wife and dogs to a place we've not seen before and revisit another couple parks we saw long ago in previous lives.
What has made the list was Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone. Direction was not determined yet.
Because we live in Seattle area, and I hate returning on the same path I traveled on within the trip, we made a loop and extended the locations to travel.
Leaning toward this order:
Seattle-->Grand Teton NP-->Yellowstone-->Glacier (west side only GTTSR is closed to vehicle size and dates visiting)-->Banff-->Jasper-->Vancouver Island (Butchart Gardens)-->Seattle
Going inverse order is also an option and cutting out Yellowstone/Grand Teton if time becomes a factor.

I know this will sound like an awfully lot to digest. but some more about our style...
We like to drive, we typically will go on day trips to Vancouver BC or Portland, OR (175mi each way) for lunch and some sight seeing (6 hrs at the destination locations) for the day. Dogs are good at home alone for 12 hrs give or take.
We are mobility impaired so we don't do a lot of big difficult hikes, usually photos from the pull outs or walk on level, accessible type boardwalks, etc.

We drove the coast from Seattle to San Diego in 10 days, taking 3 for extended weekend in San Francisco 18 months ago.
Prior to that we explored the island of Bermuda 3 years ago and dont believe we missed any attractions there, all within 8 days.

Ive started researching places to stay and an outline itinerary. Most travel days are ~300 miles, and ~100 mile days exploring within the parks.
Ive also looked up the top 10-20 things to see/photograph within each park.

Basic forecasting is ~3600 miles, $1,200 in fuel, $600 in hookup fees, $500 in ferries, fees, etc. (we have an access pass, US NPS sites are no charge).

Here is what I am hoping to hear from the forum.
1) What are some of your must see features of these parks/areas?
* Vancouver Island
* Jasper
* Banff
* Glacier
* Yellowstone
* Grand Tetons

2) Where are the best places to stay within each? Ive seen a lot of options/opinions and not certain...
* In park
* Near park

3) Which is the better idea/way to go when finding a spot?
* Full hookups
* Electric only with dump station
* Boondocking/primitive

4) Anything intangible that I haven't mentioned that would be good to consider and know before I go?

Thank you for your time to read and reply!
Looking forward to the adventure...
Keith
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Old 04-14-2016, 07:01 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darthloco View Post
Leaning toward this order:
Seattle-->Grand Teton NP-->Yellowstone-->Glacier (west side only GTTSR is closed to vehicle size and dates visiting)-->Banff-->Jasper-->Vancouver Island (Butchart Gardens)-->Seattle
Going inverse order is also an option and cutting out Yellowstone/Grand Teton if time becomes a factor.



I know this will sound like an awfully lot to digest. but some more about our style...
We like to drive, we typically will go on day trips to Vancouver BC or Portland, OR (175mi each way) for lunch and some sight seeing (6 hrs at the destination locations) for the day. Dogs are good at home alone for 12 hrs give or take.
We are mobility impaired so we don't do a lot of big difficult hikes, usually photos from the pull outs or walk on level, accessible type boardwalks, etc.

We drove the coast from Seattle to San Diego in 10 days, taking 3 for extended weekend in San Francisco 18 months ago.
Prior to that we explored the island of Bermuda 3 years ago and dont believe we missed any attractions there, all within 8 days.

Ive started researching places to stay and an outline itinerary. Most travel days are ~300 miles, and ~100 mile days exploring within the parks.
Ive also looked up the top 10-20 things to see/photograph within each park.

Basic forecasting is ~3600 miles, $1,200 in fuel, $600 in hookup fees, $500 in ferries, fees, etc. (we have an access pass, US NPS sites are no charge).

Here is what I am hoping to hear from the forum.
1) What are some of your must see features of these parks/areas?
* Vancouver Island
* Jasper
* Banff
* Glacier
* Yellowstone
* Grand Tetons

2) Where are the best places to stay within each? Ive seen a lot of options/opinions and not certain...
* In park
* Near park

3) Which is the better idea/way to go when finding a spot?
* Full hookups
* Electric only with dump station
* Boondocking/primitive

4) Anything intangible that I haven't mentioned that would be good to consider and know before I go?

Thank you for your time to read and reply!
Looking forward to the adventure...
Keith

With this caveat: Given that your style is to drive fairly long distances...and once there do you sightseeing for the most part from the vehicle, I will jump in here.

Your preferred route would do just fine. Keep in mind that you will be in these areas during peak demand times. Planning on your part will be essential.

As a photographer I know that the correct ambient like is essential. The "magic light" occurs just before and after sunrise and sunset. For this reason, when given the opportunity, we always opt for camping within a park...not outside the park. You list that you are also a photographer. So this something for you to keep in mind.

Vancouver Island: Butchart Gardens are certainly a must see. We also enjoyed the drive over to the Western side of the Island. There is a little town Called Tofino. Very nice. The biggest issue is getting OFF of Vancouver Island. If you don't get reservations for a particular sailing your schedule could be way out of plan. Don't ask me how I know.👺

Jasper/Banff: since you are not hiking, focus your time on the Ice Fields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. This is a target rich spot for a photographer. If the weather is clear in Banff, take the tram. If not...save your money.

Glacier, even without the Going to the Sun Highway, is special...on both the East and West sides. Time permitting, I recommend that you look at the Waterton...Canada's NP that mirrors Glacier.

I hesitate to comment on Yellowstone and the Tetons, given your schedule. There is so much to see and do...even from your car seat. Yellowstone consumes way more time than you can imagine to go from point A to Point B. We like the contrast between the far North to the far South. We love capturing images of the wolf pack in the Lamar Valley. If you could at least spend a minimum of three days in Yellowstone (like you did in San Francisco), you wouldn't be sorry. This park is so target rich for a naturalist/photographer, if I left out anything to see or do, I would be doing you a disservice. So I won't list more...or less.

We like Jackson Lake in the Tetons. While you are there don't forget to visit and photograph the Moran Barn.

As for full hookups (FHU), v Electric/Water, v Dry Camping...I enjoy all three. You may not have a choice where you are going. You are talking June...so when it is hot...you may want to be able to have shore power to run your A/C.

Before I go on...welcome to the forum. You certainly did a heck of a job on your first post.


However you go, drive safely, but most of all, enjoy the journey.
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:27 PM   #3
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Looking at my math and your 3600 miles, that's 12 300 mile days. In an RV that leaves very little sight seeing time. With dog watering your watering and driving the roads at RV speed or a little above your looking at 10 hr days with a fuel stop most days. Think if I were you I would Seattle to Glacier, two nights west side and take the tour if the road to the sun if it is open(you can not drive the RV there). A night in Waterton . Then the drive to Banff for at least two nights and Jasper the same. Remember to count an xtra night if you want to see anything other than "yup been there drove through but really saw nothing". You have time get on the net and find what each park has for your interest. For instance there is a boat cruise just out of Banff 10-15 miles that is great, and the tram to the top to hike around a bit and the glacier bus ride at in Jasper to name just a couple. As for the Access pass, it gets you into the park but a camp sight still cost $$. If you do any hiking and wild life viewing you can blow a day so quick an really see what there is offered at each Park. I spent a week in Banff and did not see all of it.

LEN
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Old 04-14-2016, 11:12 PM   #4
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One thing I would recommend is to skip Butchart Gardens. Since you live in the Seattle area this would be a easy trip for you at another time and do the Olympic Peninsula. There's a ferry to Vancouver from Port Angeles and you can easily do Butchart Gardens via public bus as a day trip and have enough time to poke around near the ferry landing. Or you could go there, rent a car and tour the island for some time staying in B&Bs or whatever. Of course, the dogs may be a hinderance.

We always recommend staying in the national parks, if possible, for the best overall experience in beautiful surroundings. You may not find electric hookups but your rental will probably have a generator. The parks will have a water fill station for your freshwater and a dump station. Dry camping is easy to do and a lot cheaper.

Keep in mind that most national parks do not allow dogs everywhere, especially on the trails.

You're going to be busy for this short trip but if you're o.k. with the driving, go for it!
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