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Old 02-06-2013, 06:22 PM   #1
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Retirement Trip Planning - AZ

Wife and I will retire the 1st of June and I would like to plan a trip that takes in the painted desert in AZ. SO what am looking for are suggestions for the best route offering suggestions for camp grounds and points of interest along the way out and back.

All suggestions welcome

Thanks Joe

PS this trip will be made in a KZ Spree 200S.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:07 PM   #2
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Sorry, I can't help you out with trip plan for your retirement venture but I do wish you all the best. Sounds like an excellent destination and you should be able to find several nice places along the way.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:39 AM   #3
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From your profile, it's looks like you're driving from Massachusetts.

Many places along the way. St Louis arch, monument valley, petrified forest, meteor crater. Going to the grand canyon, Zion, and Bryce canyon NPs are options too!
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:34 AM   #4
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Wife and I will retire the 1st of June and I would like to plan a trip that takes in the painted desert in AZ. SO what am looking for are suggestions for the best route offering suggestions for camp grounds and points of interest along the way out and back.

All suggestions welcome

Thanks Joe

PS this trip will be made in a KZ Spree 200S.
I cannot help with the trip planning either, but I certainly think that's a cool thing you will be doing!

I'm seriously considering an August retirement and I wanted to take our Innsbruck TT from east coast to west coast, stopping where ever I please along the way (to take pictures).

I hope you will update us on your trip and tell us about the great stuff along the way <grin>.

-Tom-
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:02 PM   #5
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Wife and I will retire the 1st of June and I would like to plan a trip that takes in the painted desert in AZ. SO what am looking for are suggestions for the best route offering suggestions for camp grounds and points of interest along the way out and back.
For campgrounds, buy a copy of the Trailer Life Directory. Mine is the 2012 Guide to RV parks and campgrounds, which replaced older versions. Here's a link to the current version:

Trailer Life Directory

For "don't miss" points of interest, I'll assume you can take as much time as you need. For other than holidays, we usually use the campground directory and decide on which campground a few hours before we plan to arrive there, then Darling Wife calls them on her cell phone and makes reservations for that night. But for holidays, you almost need to plan ahead for enough in advance to have your reservation firm and guaranteed with a credit card before they are sold out. Big problem is the week of July 4th. If you are picky about which campground you want to stay at, then I'd make reservations for the weekends before and after July 4th and during the week of July 4th about a month in advance.

That ties you to a certain schedule, so we don't usually do that. We take a chance that at least one of the campgrounds near where we want to be will have a vacancy, and we aren't picky about demanding a KOA or Good Sam or luxury resort RV park, so if those are full we go on down the list until we find one with a vacancy.

Points of interest? We had a young lady visitor from Japan visit us for a coupla weeks in the summertime. She wanted to see things in the southwest "cowboy country", so here's where we took her:

Carslbad Caverns. Plan to spend at least one day underground, so get there the previous day and plan to stay at least two nights.

Mesa Verde. If you give a rat's hiney about our history, then you will want to spend a few hours touring Mesa Verde.

From there, several POI in southern Utah: Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Brice Canyon, Hovenweep, Natural Bridgews, Glen Canyon and Zion. And while you're nearby, visit the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Then go around to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon and plan to spend at least a couple of days there. If you and yours are healthy, then plan to hike down into the canyon, at least part of the way. I was about 70 years old when I took our Japanese visitor there, and we hiked down about half way and back out the same day. I probably could have easily made it to the bottom in one day, and then a hard day's hike back out the next day. But that would mean backpacking a tent and food for camping out on the river, so we didn't do that. Plus she was a sexy young thing and I was a dirty old man and Darling Wife couldn't hike that far, so camping out overnight was out.

When you leave the Grand Canyon, go back through the Navaho reservation and you'll learn what lousy desert land we gave to the Indians. I don't know how they can ever be expected to make a living in that desert. But as you approach the eastern border of Arizona, you'll be in the painted desert.

Next is Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona, surrounded by the Navaho reservation. That one is way out of the way, so I haven't seen it yet, but most tourist guides suggest it's well worth the long drive. Plus if you are into the history of the Indian wars in the west, you won't want to miss it.

And if you haven't seen Las Vegas, then you should try to include it in your itinerary, even if you don't gamble. Maybe from Zion N.P., scoot over to St. George, then take I-15 to Las Vegas. We've camped in a downtown Las Vegas RV park while touring the town. Black asphalt pavement campground - no grass or trees, so in July it's hotter than a two dollar pistol during the daytime, but fortunately our RV AC was good enough to allow us to get some rest in relative comfort at night. BTW, we don't enjoy gambling, so I buy $20 worth of quarters and Darling Wife buys $10 worth of nickels and we can play the slots until we're tired of it before the last coin is forfeited. Somehow we both wind up broke.

We brought our Japanese visitor back though El Paso, so she could visit a little bit of Old Mexico and add another country to her list of places she's seen. Because of the drug wars, crossing the border into Juarez is somewhat risky, but she wanted to do it anyway. So we crossed the border, but stayed in the tourist area near the International Bridge, which we assumed was less risky than going on deeper into Mexico. We didn't see even one Uzi or AK-47 nor hear even one gunshot while we were there.

One POI we always enjoy is Rocky Mountain National Park, north of Denver. Several campgrounds in and around Estes Park. Plan to drive (without the trailer) up the Fall River Road to the top of the pass. Then come back down on the much bigger/better/faster Trail Ridge Road. They usually have the Fall River Road open by Memorial Day weekend, but you will probably drive through snow canyons until late June.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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Sounds like a fun trip. I have been wanting to go out west, too! Congrats on your retirement.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:12 AM   #7
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SmokeyWren covered lots of great places in the southwest. I would add Arches NP near Moab, UT to the list. The "official" Painted Desert park is adjacent to the Petrified Forest park and while it's worth the stop, don't miss places like Arches, Bryce, and Lake Powell/Canyonlands.

Also be very aware of the desert heat in June to September in the southwest. It doesn't cool off much at night in places like Vegas. Here in Havasu it's not uncommon to see a high of 125 with 100 for a low. Try and camp in the Higher altitudes if possible, it's cooler.

Make sure your A/C's, tires, and RV cooling system are up to the task if you plan of traveling in the summer.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:26 PM   #8
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Best route? My choices would be to dodge the big cities and the high mountain passes when towing, and to the extent possible, stay off the toll roads.

So from Fall River, you know the best route to I-90. I-90 to I-84 to Scranton PA, then I-81 down to I-80, I-80 west to I-71, I-71 to I-70 at Dayton. Then hook-em west to Denver on I-70. Plan to drive through the Denver area between about 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Rush hour traffic is about as bad as it gets anywhere). From Denver to Estes Park, there are several ways. For a stranger, I'd suggest I-25 to Highway 34 at Loveland, then 34 to Estes Park.

When you leave Estes Park, again plan to drive through the Denver area between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Stay on I-25 and head South to Colorado Springs. Camp on the west side of Colorado Springs. Leave the RV in the campground then drive to Pikes Peak. Drive all the way to the peak unless you have breathing problems at high altitude.

Then leave Colorado Springs bright and early the next morning. Keep on going south to Walsenburg. At Walsenburg, it's decision time. Do you have enough tow vehicle to drag your RV trailer over 10,867 feet altitude Wolf Creek Pass, including a couple of 10% grades? If you do, then head west on US 160 to Mesa Verde.

If not, then go around that area by going south on I-25 and go over Raton Pass into New Mexico. Yeah, it's a mountain pass, but it's a relatively easy pass. It's not even shown on my Rand-McNally road map. Stay on I-25 past Santa Fe almost to Albuquerque, then take US 550 to Durango. It's a short drive from Durango to Mesa Verde National Park. And from Mesa Verde it's a short drive to Hovenweep Nat'l monument in southern Utah.

I won't try to route you through the numerous POIs in southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Get a good map of the area and decide your route, and whether you want to detour out to Las Vegas. If you haven't seen those gaudy lights at night, then you'll probably want to go there.

Here is a list of the various National parks and monuments and trails operated by the Nat'l Park service in Utah.

Arches
Bryce Canyon
California
Canyonlands
Capitol Reef
Cedar Breaks
Dinosaur
Glen Canyon
Golden Spike
Hovenweep
Mormon Pioneer (trail)
Natural Bridges
Old Spanish (trail)
Pony Express (trail)
Rainbow Bridge
Timpanogos Cave
Zion

One caveat: do not try to cross the Colorado River/Grand Canyon going southeast into Arizona at Laughlin NV. That is an extremely steep and long grade that Ford uses to test tow vehicles. If you are even close to the GCWR of your tow vehicle, then don't try it. If you made Wolf Creek Pass, you'll probably make that one too, but it will give your tow vehicle a real workout.

If you decide to go over Hoover Dam to get into Arizona from Nevada, check ahead to be sure it's will be open to RV traffic.

After you've seen enough of the southwest cowboy country, then head for El Paso. Decide if you want to chance crossing into Juarez in Old Mexico. When you leave El Paso, take US 62/180 to Carlsbad. You'll pass the park before you get to the town of Carlsbad.

After your cave exploring at Carlsbad, continue east on US 62/180 to highway 176. Then stay on 176 until it hits I-20 in Big Spring TX. Then to I-30 near Fort Worth, then to I-40 at Little Rock, then to I-81 in eastern Tennessee, then to Scranton PA. You can probably take it from there.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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Being That you will be retired after June. Do what many retirees do. Travel after Labor Day. Better weather (temperatures) and no crowds.
I like the list that SmokeyWren posted. Try not to miss Canyon Lands NP, Arches NP and Moab. They are near Canyon de Chelly (shea).
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #10
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[QUOTE="Dennis_K"Also be very aware of the desert heat in June to September in the southwest. It doesn't cool off much at night in places like Vegas. Here in Havasu it's not uncommon to see a high of 125 with 100 for a low. Try and camp in the Higher altitudes if possible, it's cooler.

Make sure your A/C's, tires, and RV cooling system are up to the task if you plan of traveling in the summer.[/QUOTE]

Lot's of great advice and recommendations for places to see and things to do....but have you ever been to this part of the world in the summer? HOT

Can't emphasize enough the importance of good AC and your vehicle maintenance.
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:11 AM   #11
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Wife and I will retire the 1st of June and I would like to plan a trip that takes in the painted desert in AZ. SO what am looking for are suggestions for the best route offering suggestions for camp grounds and points of interest along the way out and back.

All suggestions welcome

Thanks Joe

PS this trip will be made in a KZ Spree 200S.
We have taken I40 through AZ. many times and stayed at the OK RV Park not much of a park but close to the Petrified Forest NP. Williams, AZ. at the Canyon Gateway RV Park this was a Passport America Park 1/2 price if a member. About an hour drive to the Grand Canyon NP. A stop in Flagstaff and drop down to Sedona on 89 is well worth the visit, beautiful red rocks and of course you can always continue on up 93 out of Kingman to Lake Mead and Las Vegas. Lots to do and so little time enjoy and safe travels.
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