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Old 04-29-2012, 08:05 AM   #1
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Routing and Campground Advice West and Canada

We are two couples in the planning stages for a trip out west and to Canada this summer and fall. Most of our traveling has been in Tennessee, Florida etc. We estimate the trip to take 3-4 months. We are from the southeast and have never been on a trip out west before. We will be traveling in a 38 ft. diesel and a 34 ft. gasser.

We have some questions and need advice on routes and campgrounds from RV'ers that have made a trip like this. We have heard some horror stories from other RV'ers about roads that are not safe for motorhomes. Of course we love the scenic routes but safety is most important.

Sante Fe to Mesa Verde, what is the best route and we need campground recommendations.

Salt Lake to Grand Tetons best route?

Grizzly Park at the west side of Yellowstone what is the best route to Glacier? Is it better for RV'ers to stay on the western side of Glacier or the eastern side?
Is three days enough time to see Glacier?

Banff/Lake Louise how many nights to allow to see Jasper and Lake Louise? Recommended campgrounds?

Banff/Lake Louise to Eugene Or. best route and any must see or must stay places along the Oregon Coast.

Where would you recommend staying to see Crater Lake? We need a home base.

Crater Lake to Yosemite best route and recommended campgrounds?

Yosemite to the Grand Canyon best route and campgrounds? Where is the best view of the Grand Canyon southern rim or northern rim?

Sedona Az. best campgrounds?

Thanks in advance for any help we can get.

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Old 04-29-2012, 08:31 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by bobnshirlene View Post

Sante Fe to Mesa Verde, what is the best route and we need campground recommendations.
Just did this drive heading from our home in Durango CO to Roswell NM, 2 routes, one scenic and one on major roads. You can either go up 84 through Pagosa Springs and then across 160 W to Mesa Verde through Durango or head down 25 to ABQ, then up 550 to 160 W. Drive time is right about 5-5.5 hours on either. Personally I'd do the route through Pagosa, it's mostly 2 lane roads but not a bad drive at all and it's very pretty country. No issues at all in our 36' towing the Cherokee.

Can't help with Santa Fe camping but Mesa Verde has a campground in the park and a couple just outside the entrance. Info link HERE

Enjoy our little corner of the world

The above post is just my experience/opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it.

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Old 04-29-2012, 08:56 AM   #3
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Have to agree on the route from Santa Fe through Pagosa (we live in Pagosa) and then over to Durango and Mesa Verde. Take highway 84 north from Santa Fe to Pagosa, where it dead ends into highway 160. Turn left on 160, and you'll eventually end up in Cortez/Mesa Verde. Beautiful route, and far more scenic than taking highway 550 from Bernalillo NM (below Santa Fe off of I-25) through Farmington NM and up to Durango, where it meets highway 160. Highway 550 is a 4-lane road, if that appeals to you, which would make that route easier.

There are several campgrounds around Mesa Verde, including two just outside the entrance. There is a campground inside Mesa Verde, about 4 miles from the entrance. All are good choices!

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Old 04-29-2012, 09:00 AM   #4
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We lived in, camped, fished, hunted, etc., in the Four Corners area for many years, and presently live in Colorado. Have traveled much of the country you are going into, in our motorhome and on motorcycles. I can offer my preference on a few of the routes your are interested in.

From Santa Fe to Mesa Verde I like the drive on U.S. 84 north from Santa Fe through Espanola and Chama, NM to Pagosa Springs, CO, then U.S. 160 west to Mesa Verde - just west of Mancos, CO. Check your campground guides and you'll find numerous campgrounds along the way, and several choices at and near Mesa Verde. For a nice side trip along the way, stop over in Chama, NM and take a ride on the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge railroad from Chama up into the mountains for lunch, and back down to Chama. Or, take an all day trip over the mountains to Antonito, CO and back to Chama.

From Salt Lake City to the Tetons I like I-15 / U.S. 89 through Montpelier, Idaho, then up through the west side of Wyoming to the Tetons, then on to Yellowstone. Many campgrounds along the way.

Through Montana I like to come out the west side of Yellowstone to West Yellowsrtone then take U.S. 287 up through Helena, which is a neat place to visit with a couple of great museums, stay on U.S 287 north to Choteau, MT where you again take U.S. 89 north to Browning, MT and there you can decide if you want to go around the east or west side of Glacier. Either way is good and either is just as scenic.

My experience in Canada is that just about any way you choose is good, as far as scenery is concerned. My personal preference is take the east side of Glacier and go up through Waterton Lakes National Park, in Alberta. From there pick a route... it's all very pretty to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, etc.

Just about the most beautiful drive I've ever been on is to go from Waterton to Longview, AB on Provincial Routes 6 north, 3 west, and 22 north, then from Longview take 541 west to 40 north which winds up through provincial and national parks to Canadian Highway 1 between Calgary and Banff. I've made this route twice on motorcycles and as I recall it is okay for motorhomes, but check before you take that route in a big rig.

That's my "nickel's worth".
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:15 AM   #5
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I noticed that you do not have these on your itinerary
1) Bryce Canyon NP (Utah)
2) Zion Canyon NP (Utah)
3) Arches National Park (Utah)
4) Monument Valley (Utah)
5) Sequoia National Park (California)
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Old 04-29-2012, 01:49 PM   #6
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Western trip

I just saw your post after posting a similar question. Please don't use up all the scenery before we get there.
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Old 04-29-2012, 02:50 PM   #7
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You might want to look into a National Parks Pass for the Canada side stuff. They are pretty reasonable and if you are going to be staying at different parks, it will probably save you some money. How long you say? Well that depends. 90% of visitors to Banff and Jasper see about 1% of the park. There are scores of walking and hiking opportunities but I find that my budget hasn't really allowed me to enjoy some of the more spectacular things like riding into the back country. It doesn't have to cost a lot but Banff is is one of those places that really can get pricey if you aren't careful. It is one of the most beautiful places on this planet IMO. It rivals the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone so you could easily spend a week or two in the area. There are loads of Hotsprings in the mountains thereabouts too. Radium, Fairmont, Canyon and so on. Lots of choices, lots of activities. Sounds like a wonderful trip, enjoy!!
As for driving. The only roads in most of those areas are really primary ones. Trucking to and from Western Canada has to go through these places and consequently the roads are completely fine for RV's. Finding places to park your rigs might be a bit more challenging. Bigger rigs "40" foot and above are a little more rare in these parts. Consequently, campgrounds that may have all the ammenities you may be looking for with spaces large enough may be somewhat scarcer. I would recommend taking care of reservations long before you get to the area.

As for heading south to Eugene. Know that there are limited locations to head south across the border because of the terrain. You are either going to go East to go south or west into BC. Either can work but bear in mind that the price of fuel in this country is enough to make strong men weak. So I guess the message is that the sooner you cross back, the cheaper the fuel becomes Idaho looks like there is scores of scenic and historic routes. I just ordered some of the states tourism material. I plan to go soon.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bobnshirlene View Post

Where would you recommend staying to see Crater Lake? We need a home base.

Crater Lake to Yosemite best route and recommended campgrounds?

Thanks in advance for any help we can get.
2 years ago in june we boondocked at an indian casino near chiloquin, or. for 3 nights. besides the free parking, the casino has 24 hr. security, a great buffet restaurant, and cheap gas and diesel.
do not try to take a camera or computer into the casino or restaurant. they did have wifi.
it is about 50 miles to crater lake np. when we were there in june, the flies and mosquitoes were terrible. we were glad we didn't try to camp in the park. most of the campgrounds were still closed.
the road around the lake had just opened. the lodge in crater lake np has a very nice restaurant with a buffet. we spent 2 days in the park.

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Crater Lake National Park

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01 WINNEBAGO 35U W20.8.1L SW Wa, Hi. Good Sam, SKP. AMSOIL fluids. BANKS ecm program. SCAN GAUGE II w/ Ally temp. 2 LIFELINE GPL-6CT AGM Batts on their sides. TST tptts. K&N panel air filter. AERO mufflers. TAYLOR plug wires. ULTRA POWER track bar. KONI fsd shocks, toad '14 smart car
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:51 AM   #9
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How to get to Banff, see post # 4.
Banff you can stay 2 days on Tunnel Mountain Campground. Take a Bus to Downtown (just minutes away or walk).
Lake Louise 1/2 day is enough for us....proceed to Jasper on the most beautiful road in Northamerica
Jasper you might want to stay a bit longer. Lots of wildlife (right in town - keep a safe distance) and scenery.
Not so overrun as Banff by Tourist.
Parks Canada Pass might be the best way of going through all the parks.
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:51 PM   #10
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Some thoughts:

Heading north toward the Tetons, in Montpelier, ID, take time to stop at the National Oregon Trail Center. Great interpretive center and lots of room in the parking lot for RVs.

You could stay in W. Glacier for a couple nights, then go to E. Glacier. East on US2 to Browning, SR464 to US89 then South to camp at St. Marys. Spectacular view of the mountains. Drive the toad up to Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side - you'll not be disappointed!

North on US89, cross into AB then AB2 to Fort Macleod. Camp there and drive toad to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump some miles west.

Tunnel Mountain CG in Banff.

Ice Fields Parkway north to Jasper. Stop and take a sno-coach ride out to the glacier on the way.

Whistler CG in Jasper Nat'l Park.

From Jasper go west to BC5 and south to Kamloops, west to Cache Creek and south on TC1 to Hope, BC. On the way stop at the Hells Gate Airtram south of Boston Bar.

South on TC1 to the Abbotsford/Sumas crossing.

You can then work your way over to Bellingham, WA and I-5 and points south.

Been there, done that - no problem for our 39' MH and toad.

Enjoy the trip!!!!

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Old 05-01-2012, 04:38 AM   #11
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skigramp, we are planning to see some of the sites that you listed, we are trying to limit our questions to the (haven't got a clue) category right now. There is so much planning it is becoming overwhelming for 4 people that haven't been out west before. We are also trying to figure out how many days to get to XYZ because we know that we need reservations at places like Yellowstone and Glacier.
We appreciate all of the help and we hope that folks keep posting because it is a great resource.
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Old 05-01-2012, 11:16 PM   #12
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No problem. I always suggest you leave yourselves enough time to enjoy the sights that you encounter on the way. It is a holiday after all. Take the distance between points, figure out how quickly you can get there going your maximum comfortable distance per day and then add at least one day for some down time and leisurely spontaneous exploration.
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Old 05-06-2012, 09:24 AM   #13
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WHAT a wonderful trip you're plannin. Makes us want to get in line and follow. We've been full timing and traveling since 05 and still get excited when hearing other folks travel plans.

One thing though, you're last post above kinda gave the impression that you're getting a little "overwhelmed" by the planning. Our suggestion...DON'T DO IT !!!...we mean...don't plan it to death. Simply get some suggestions from folks here on iRV2, then kinda figure a general route, and ...HEAD OUT!! Go where the wind blows ya. Ya sure don't need to plan every overnight stop and every destination point. GO WITH THE FLOW...as they say, and your whole experience will be TEN times better.

Who knows, we might bump into ya some place along your way. HAVE A GREAT TIME!!

Steve & Lynette
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:08 PM   #14
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Chickadee, thanks so much for posting, you are right we do get overwhelmed with the planning. We are going to take your advice and not get caught up so much in thinking we have to have a detailed plan. We do have a general route, and we have mad a few reservations at places that we thought there was a need.

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