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Old 06-29-2012, 07:48 PM   #1
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Question Help w/ Trip Itinerary for Our First BIG Trip

Okay, I'm usually the planner for all our trips, and I need some help.
I need to set up an itinerary for our very first Long RVing trip. We've only gone camping within a few hundred miles of our home.

We are thinking leaving Phoenix, in a week and a half or so.
We don't have reservations anywhere, but I've also read threads where people say, they never make them and have survived. That's the kind of guidence I need.

We have 32' and 24' Rigs. No toads, we will rent a car if absolutely necessary.

Here's our plan; from Phoenix head over to a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
After the Grand Canyon, we want to do Yellowstone, maybe do the Grand Tetons first?
After Yellowstone, we'll be heading to Mt. Reinier, then Crater Lake and Redwoods National Park.

We would prefer to boondock, rather than stay at RV parks. Unless we absolubtely have to at any of the parks. So please give me some ideas as to where we should plan on resting, stopping for boondocking or dry camping.
Any other places we should stop by and see while on this trip?
We don't want to miss any interesting or fun things. Especially since we're not on any kind of timeline.

I know this is very general, but we're not familiar with these areas. Let me know if there's anything we should be aware of.

ok, I will stop here and see what kind of suggestions I get to adjust our trip accordingly.


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Old 06-29-2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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Hi Tia and welcome to the forum.

Leaving Phoenix? This time of year? It's a balmy 113* today so I guess it is getting about that time. Seriously, we are just a few miles from you and getting ready to hit the road for 4 months so I know how you feel.

We are one of those folks you mentioned who travel extensively and hardly every have reservations. We've done more than survive, we've flourished traveling that way. However, we have all kinds of technology which helps us do this while traveling. When we decide that we want to only drive for another hours or so, my wife will get on line and see what CGs are available just up the road. She'll check on campgroundreviews.com to see what people have said about their experiences there and then she'll go to Google Earth to look at satellite photos of the park and surrounding area. Sometimes she'll then call them and ensure they have availability.

We've never had a problem doing this but we use common sense too. We wouldn't try doing it in a very popular area on a holiday weekend for example.

We've been to all of the places you are planning to visit and loved them all. The Black Hills of SD and Bryce Canyon, Ut are two places you might want to add to your list.

However, we don't boon dock and we always have a toad so I'm not sure I can offer a lot of advice for you as to how to proceed in planning your trip. Your statement about needing reservations... followed up by the one about wanting to boon dock as much as possible did confuse me a little.

Hopefully some of our members who are not only familiar with the areas you mentioned but also with how to best find boon dock sites and public transportation will chime in soon.

Best of luck


Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 06-29-2012, 08:15 PM   #3
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Thanks, Rick.

Yes, it's Hot! DH can't wait to leave.
The reason I mention we don't have reservations, is because I don't know if any or some of these parks require that you stay in a park. For example, Yellowstone, seems everything I read about it is which campground to make reservations at. Is there only developed campgrounds there?

Isn't technology great? I'm a little nervous about the trip, but I know my trusty "smart" phone and iPad, will make everything much easier.
A week ago I bought the Allstays app for my phone. I hope it's as helpful as the reviews.

See you on the road!
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:07 PM   #4
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Just for an example - Yellowstone: Here is the national park's website for campgrounds:

Campgrounds in Yellowstone - Yellowstone National Park

If you look under "Availability and Reservations" you will see a number of campgrounds that don't even accept reservations. Those would be your best bet for trying before Labor Day. All campgrounds in Yellowstone are dry camping (no hookups) except Fishing Bridge which is run by a concessioner and for that one you'd need a reservation because it is the only one with electric, water, sewer and is popular. None of the national parks allows you to camp outside of the campgrounds. However, there usually are places outside the parks. You'd have to do some research on finding national forests that allow dispersed camping (no campgrounds). It will be a little difficult to go without a car. However, since your RVs aren't that big you could drive them inside the parks for your touring but parking at scenic pull-offs might be difficult in places. For your first big trip it certainly is an ambitious one! For us, staying IN the national parks is a much better experience than staying outside and having to drive in each day, but it can be done. You will need to do a lot of research since the area you're covering is vast. Good luck and have a safe trip!
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:56 AM   #5
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Thank you, twogypsies. That link should come in handy.

How long should We predict this trip should last, if we only plan to stay a couple days at the parks? Grand Tetons a must?
We're all leaving dogs behind and need to give the dog sitter our approximate return date.

Yup! We are very ambitious! I'm a little nervous, but like I've said, we don't have to return by a certain date. We're just leaving extra dog food.
We've talked about a trip like this for years, and if we don't do it now, we'll just spend the rest of our lives planning it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:50 AM   #6
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phx lady, are thier two rigs traveling together?? if so you may have trouble finding a place to camp. my wife and i started full timing in 94 and have only made reservation twice. we tow a car because our rig is 36 foot diesel. if you are going to do a lot or rving you will need to tow. the 24 foot unit is not to hard to find a place to park but the 32 foot would be. i also perfer boondocking, but unless you are in the states that have lots of blm land. thats pretty hard to do anymore. also in the summer you are going to need your air cond. so you will need power. we do try to have a general idea where to camp where ever we are going. out side yellowstone west is a beaut. corp or forest service campground. the last time we were thier it was 10.00 no hookups. enjoy your travels benny
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:40 PM   #7
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Inside Yístone Park itself the loop road is 180 miles around! With a 45 mph speed limit (checked by radar), two lane roads with a lot of double yellow lines, bear jams etc. you should plan on a MINUMUM of one day for each loop and if you stay in West Yístone there will be some backtracking each day.

We normally donít go to the park after Memorial Day and before Labor Day however, we had a small family reunion last Sunday and it took us almost 2 hours to go the 56 miles from W. Yístone to Canyon! We have lived within 100 miles from Yístone and Teton NPs for 45 years, canít even estimate how many times we have been to both we still havenít seen all of either one!

If you do go to the Tetons be sure to see the Bar-J dinner/show.


Their fiddle player has won the Idaho State fiddle championship 6 times and the US open championship twice! I guarantee you wonít be disappointed!

Disclaimer- We have no financial or other interest in the Bar-J. Other than we see them 3 or 4 times every summer!

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Old 07-01-2012, 06:54 PM   #8
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If you do the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and or Bryce Canyon they both have good shuttles, with lots large enough for either RV by their visitor centers. You can get on and off at most of the overlooks and points of interest. You can also hike between points and hop back on the shuttles when you want.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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Thank you everyone for your replies and suggestions. I think we will take the shuttles at both canyons.
I'm still nervous about Yellowstone. Our trip there will be dependent on if we find a RV park. We know it will be difficult.
Right now we're even considering Mt. Rushmore!
We're adding a few more days to our itinerary, but should be very fun, we hope.
Thanks again!
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:45 PM   #10
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From the south rim of the Grand Canyon if you are heading north towards Yellowstone you should definitely stop in at Bryce Canyon (as RickO already said). There are plenty of parks and campgrounds in that area so you shouldn't need reservations, and it's such a different park than the others that it's a definite "don't miss." If you have time, stay at Red Rock Canyon (10 miles or so from Bryce) and have a look around there too -- beautiful, easy hikes and a terrific campground. Again, if you have time, go to Cedar Breaks National Park (~20-30 miles from Red Rock Canyon). It is much like Bryce but the wildflowers are stunning in July and make a gorgeous contrast to the red rock amphitheater...

After the vastness of the Grand Canyon and the fairytale spires of Bryce Canyon you might stop in at Bear Lake on your way north. This is the "Caribbean of the Rockies" and is a lovely turquoise color with a mountain backdrop. It has a campground right on the lake. A nice change after all those canyons.

From there the Tetons are breathtaking and be sure to take the road that skirts Jenny Lake.

Have a look at Campground Directory and National Forest Campgrounds to get descriptions of the NFS campgrounds for the Teton and Yellowstone areas, and find out where the ranger station is for that NFS district and stop in -- sometimes the rangers have good tips on where to boondock.

If you have time, on your way back you might take the Bicentennial Highway (route 95) that runs on a diagonal in utah's SE corner. This could take you through beautiful Capitol Reef NP to Zion, which is another stunning national park. The drive through Glen Canyon is awe-inspiring.

If you are continuing on to Mt Rainier from Yellowstone, you might stop at Sun Valley Idaho on the way. That is a beautiful little funky mountain town. And while in Washington you could check out the Olympic Peninsula.

But getting to Washington and seeing all the stuff in between without wearing yourself out really depends on how much time you have. Hopefully this is the first of many extended RVing trips for you.

We've got pics of what these places look like on our website if you want to see what the scenery is like... (not yet Bear Lake - we are here now!!)
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:50 AM   #11
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many Cabelas stores allow overnight camping and some even have dedicated spots for overnight RVers.
Bass Pro shops also will allow overnighters at some locations.
Superwalmart stores too. need to locate the stores and call.
there's a web site Boondockers Welcome | Be My Guest RV Parking that has boondocking spots listed. it's free to join.


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