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Old 10-17-2016, 09:49 PM   #1
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Western States vacation

Posted By: Meffrig on 10/17/16 09:35pm

On my bucket list is a trip out west in summer or fall of 2017 for my wife and I. We have a 35 foot Class A motor home with a tow vehicle. We have about 3 or 4 weeks and will be leaving from Louisville, Ky. We want to see the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Bryce Canyon, and Yellowstone for sure but would like to see other places as well. We have no desire to go to Las Vegas or into California. Should we do reservations for campgrounds or just play it by ear? Any travel route ideas would be helpful as well. I know there's a bunch of places to visit. I really don't want to drive more than 6 hours per day. This will probably be the only chance we have to go so we want to see as much as possible. Thanks in advance for your help. All ideas are appreciated.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:34 PM   #2
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If I were you I'd head out around mid-August and head north first - Mount Rushmore, Glacier Nat'l Park, Yellowstone NP, Grand Teton NP (both next to each other), then south into Utah for Arches/Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce NP, Zion NP, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon NP.

You will avoid much of the family vacationers as they'll be preparing for school so crowds will be thinner.

Each park has an excellent web site with things to do, campground information/closing times, road information, maps and more. Our 40' motorhome fit in all except Arches and Capitol Reef but there are plenty of nearby RV parks or Dead Horse Point State Park is an excellent place.

Here is Glacier's web site to get you started: https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

We don't do reservations and never had a problem. Some campgrounds aren't even reservable. We'd stay outside the parks the previous night and move in early morning when folks are leaving. I know many folks couldn't travel like that so if you feel more comfortable, then make reservations.

For Glacier we used Apgar campground, Yellowstone was Mammoth (not reservable), Madison and Bridge Bay (both reservable campgrounds but we pulled in and got sites without reservations. There are always cancellations.) Grand Teton - we like Gros Ventre campground and Colter Bay campground as second. There's also Colter Bay RV park - full hookups and reservations needed for that one. Zion is Watchman's campground, Grand Canyon - definitely Trailer Village in the park - full hookups near the Rim.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:48 PM   #3
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We only make same day reservations as we never know where we will end up. We start early and stop early, maybe 2-3pm. Then kick back where ever we are.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:55 PM   #4
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Western States vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by meffrig View Post
Posted By: Meffrig on 10/17/16 09:35pm



On my bucket list is a trip out west in summer or fall of 2017 for my wife and I. We have a 35 foot Class A motor home with a tow vehicle. We have about 3 or 4 weeks and will be leaving from Louisville, Ky. We want to see the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Bryce Canyon, and Yellowstone for sure but would like to see other places as well. We have no desire to go to Las Vegas or into California. Should we do reservations for campgrounds or just play it by ear? Any travel route ideas would be helpful as well. I know there's a bunch of places to visit. I really don't want to drive more than 6 hours per day. This will probably be the only chance we have to go so we want to see as much as possible. Thanks in advance for your help. All ideas are appreciated.

Bucket list trips are special indeed. Know that you will have approximately 10- 12 total travel days on this trip. So budget your time accordingly.

The primary constraint on your campgrounds is going to be Yellowstone. My choice is always to stay within a park when ever possible. So I would recommend that you absolutely book your CG's here.

Because of the size of YNP, the speed limits, and the Bison ... Who hog the road without recourse, really try and stay within the park. I would spend a few days in the northern part of the park, then a few days in the southern (or vice versa depending on your overall route. If at all possible, don't miss Grand Teton NP if in the area.

Mt Rushmore is wonderful. A good day trip while there is the wildlife loop at Custer State Park.

There are many wonderful parks in Utah and Arizona. So while you are there at Bryce and the Grand Canyon, try and work in Capital Reef, Arches, Zion, Monument Valley, and Moab. Kodachrome Basin State Park is worthy of a day trip as well.

Let me first say that the route I would take would be defined only after deciding to hit the road in Summer or Fall. Weather could be a factor.

If you could possibly do it, try to do this in two trips. One to Rushmore, YNP (easily a week or more here) and Glacier NP. The second trip to Utah and Arizona

TwoGypsies is/are very knowledgeable of this region. You might score big on advice if they respond to your question.
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Old 10-17-2016, 10:56 PM   #5
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I type slow. Super!!! Twogypsies already responded.
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Old 10-17-2016, 11:20 PM   #6
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This sounds like a great trip.
If you plan on driving up to 6 hours per day I would plan on using at least 3 weeks to do it instead of your possible 2 weeks.

Have fun !
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Old 10-18-2016, 06:36 AM   #7
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I would amend BRex45's recommendation to say take as long as you can possibly take. We did a 4750-mile round-trip this summer from roughly Memphis, TN, to the Grand Canyon. To simplify our route, it was basically I40 out then south to I10 to San Antonio, then up to Dallas and I30 to Little Rock and back. We took three weeks, and there were some days where we felt like we never got out of the truck. Just barely scratched the surface of what there is to see. Won't do it like that again.
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Old 10-18-2016, 07:21 AM   #8
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The hot season starts in AZ about 2nd week in july and runs through mid September. 100 to 120 degrees. I think the grand canyon out of Williams is best seen in the winter. The Dakota's I liked best in the fall when the trees change. If you can go during the school year you will miss all the European student moho tours. AZ as well as New Mexico has some really cool looking cliff dwellings that if you get a chance to stop at, would make for a fun tour. But, after a few, they all start to look the same. Check out boondockerswelcome.com you may like it.
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:24 AM   #9
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Mt. Rushmore: if you go in August, Sturgis motorcycle ralley is close by and in August.
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Old 10-18-2016, 10:09 AM   #10
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The only problem I see in time is your 6 hours a day equals 300 miles. Between National parks most time 6 hours will get you to the next park, but from home if you can put some more time in getting west you will have more time for the parks. As to reservations for Yellowstone Yes as for on the road you can call ahead the same day and be good. As to the other parks there are many private CG's near by if you can't get in the park. As to route and time, Sept. Start time north to I90 then Mnt Rushmore as a rest stop, then Yellowstone and Tetons, Glacier I love but may cost two many days to see or stay north side of Yellowstone and day trip Tetons. From Glacier south and the SW Parks. This puts you in a bit milder weather for the touring and now you are near I40 for a return home.

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Old 10-18-2016, 10:20 AM   #11
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Meffrig:

Those places are "back East" for us. We're in the Washington State San Juan islands, on the only one you can drive to. It's 50 miles south of the Canadian border and about (guess) 100 miles from the Pacific coast.
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Old 10-18-2016, 10:53 AM   #12
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My wife and I just returned from a trip to the 4 corners areas. We had a great spot at Goose Necks state park in Utah. From there, we took the Jeep on the valley of the God's loop. There are no utilities there so it is strictly dry camping. They have vault toilets and a picnic shelter. There are a total of 11 nonreservable sites some with table and fire ring. Get there early in the afternoon like 12-3pm to get your choice or in the morning and wait until people move out. The scenery and sun set/rise are breathtaking. I attached some pics of our site there last week. You might consider a day at Mesa Verde in Cortez, CO. if time allows. Happy Travels you'll love it!
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Old 10-18-2016, 11:06 AM   #13
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Kanab, UT is a great centrally located place for Bryce, Zion, and the North Rim of the GC (less crowded and much more scenic than the south rim).

Be prepared to stand in line with lots of Asians and Europeans.
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Old 10-18-2016, 11:17 AM   #14
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We did a very similar trip last year followed up this year with some of the places we missed plus a revisit to Grand Canyon and Santa Fe - and for a total of about 13,000 miles over the two years. We left the 3rd week in August and did our touring after kids went back to school in the West and never saw much in the way of crowds except Mt Rushmore - and even that wasn't too bad.

I would recommend all those places mentioned plus Zion NP, Moab, Capital Reef, Durang/Silverton, Colorado (but not necessarily the narrow gauge 8-9 hour train ride) then Petrified Forest/Painted Desert if it's on your way.

We used KOA for many nights for ease of reservations as most were fine but somewhat more expensive.
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