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Old 06-17-2012, 01:10 PM   #1
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Summer Trip Out West

The DW and I are taking a trip out West this summer and instead of attempting to plan our route, campgrounds and activities ourselves – we thought it would be a great idea to tap the vast resources/experiences of the group for some input.

We have a 2003 38’ Pace Arrow and will be towing a Saturn Vue for the trip. I’m not opposed to driving 500-700 miles a day in order to gain more time in a great area, but don’t want to pass up a “must see” site or area just for the sake of time. We typically follow our GPS along with Street Atlas routing to navigate the trip, but there’s really no intelligence built into those devices regarding scenery, things to do or navigating with a large rig.

We are both very active and somewhat thrill seekers, so we don’t easily shy away from things that intimidate the weak at heart.

Our itinerary is fairly flexible for the 16 day trip and would like input about places we should stop/stay due to scenery or things to do, roads we should take and of course roads we should avoid.

Here’s the current itinerary. Of course our start and end points aren’t flexible as well as our stop in Vernal, UT. Everything else is up for consideration. This trip requires about 350 miles per day of driving, so a few of the days will be will require a longer driving day.

Charlotte, NC – Start (early am departure)
Atlanta, GA – possibly Stone Mountain
Shreveport, LA – no plans
Dallas< TX – Visit friends, no other plans (1 night)
Albuquerque, NM – No plans
Grand Canyon, AZ (not sure if North or South Rim)
Vernal, UT – Fixed Stop to visit family and Flaming Gorge (3 nights)
West Yellowstone, WY – Yellowstone NP (3 nights)
Mount Rushmore, SD – Mt. Rushmore National Memorial (3 nights)
Columbus, OH – Fixed stop to visit family (1 night)
Charlotte, NC – Finish (late pm arrival)


Thanks,
Bob & Dian
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Old 06-17-2012, 02:22 PM   #2
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Wow! That's a lot of time behind the wheel. In fact, I can't see how you can do it in 16 days, but then again I'm not doing the driving. As far as the canyon, you should probably stay at the south rim as it is easier to visit and with only one afternoon/evening to visit, that's what I would do.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:49 PM   #3
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A good place in Columbus , Oh is the Buckeye Lake KOA a few miles east of town not far from I-70.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:03 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JohnInAz View Post
Wow! That's a lot of time behind the wheel. In fact, I can't see how you can do it in 16 days, but then again I'm not doing the driving. As far as the canyon, you should probably stay at the south rim as it is easier to visit and with only one afternoon/evening to visit, that's what I would do.
Yes, it's a lot of time behind the wheel, but we're use to it. As for the South Rim, that would be our preferred location but have concerns about the roads and time to get from the South Rim to Vernal UT.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:24 PM   #5
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between the Grand Canyon and Vernal, UT you will most likely pass through Monument Valley, past Arches National Park and CanyonLands National Park ... it would be a shame to not spend some time appreciating the beauty of these and other sites in Utah.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:01 PM   #6
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That is a tremendous amount of miles, in a very short time.

I would skip all the fancy sites. Mark out a beeline for your fixed stop in Utah, and spend some quality time in nice places you find along the way. Let the Nascar drivers go 500 miles a day....

We're currently a day short of 2 weeks into a three week trip from chicago. We spent 4 days in Moab, with some off roading in the jeep, and a couple times into arches. We did a night in Gooseneck State park, that was incredible the views you get for free, Monument valley was incredible. I love colorado, we spent 2 days at chatfield state park south of denver, 3 days in Breckinridge (be sure to drive aroung the gold mines in leadville!) a day in durango (awesome town!) and are now in Silverton. Tomorrow we'll be in Gunnison, then heading to Boulder for a few days before heading back to the midwest.

I'm really enjoying the 2 lane highways, roads less travelled, incredible scenery, and meeting lots of good people in the campgrounds.
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:15 PM   #7
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Albuquerque, NM – No plans
Grand Canyon, AZ (not sure if North or South Rim)

Vernal, UT – Fixed Stop to visit family and Flaming Gorge (3 nights)
West Yellowstone, WY – Yellowstone NP (3 nights)
Albuquerque: lovely place, don't miss the aquarium and the children's park...really, its unique and worth the stop for adults.
Grand Canyon: South rim is the more touristy side, the place you have seen in all the photos. We like to basecamp in Williams, our favorite is Circle of Pines KOA. Really, it is a lovely well kept campground, a gem in the KOA collection. About an hour to the South Rim, which for us was good for a full day of touring. Crater of Sun is worth a visit. If you have the time a side trip to Sedona is well worthwhile. We enjoyed the Petrified Forest National Park. Again, if you have time head North from Flagstaff for a two hour drive into the Supersticion Mountain region.
West Yellowstone is great for at least 4 days. There is a cloverleaf pattern to the roads in the park, each circle is good for a day of travel...at least. Jackson Wyoming is also worth a few days of camping.
Enjoy you vacation, there is so much to see.
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:41 PM   #8
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Don't blow through Albuquerque too quickly. Try some New Mexican cooking with red and green chili... at Monroe's, El Pinto, Garduno's or any of the hundreds of great New Mexican restaurants. It's "New Mexican" not Mexican cooking! Stroll through Old Town, check out the Rio Grande Zoo, or ride the world's longest tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains. Contrary to popular belief, Utah is a beautiful state. Take your time driving to Vernal, be sure to see Monument Valley, and while at Vernal drive a few miles east to Dinosaur National Monument.
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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Albuquerque - take a hike through the Petroglyph National Monument, just west of the city limits.

Petroglyph National Monument - Petroglyph National Monument

Have to agree- El Pinto serves up some great New Mexican food in a beautiful setting outdoors/indoors.

Voted best New Mexican Restaurant in Albuquerque - El Pinto Restaurant and New Mexican Salsa Company

Sadie's of New Mexico is also excellent:

New Mexican Restaurant Albuquerque | Sadie's of New Mexico

Have to agree on the south rim of the Grand Canyon - easier access.

Mesa Verde is not to be missed IF you're in the area. Fantastic, and very educational. If you haven't been to Arches National Park in Moab - you need to see that one too.

Overall observation - wow - all that in just 16 days??? Impressive!!
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Old 06-18-2012, 06:58 PM   #10
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Suggestions you want? Cut the trip into Az out. It will be hot in Texas and New Mexico as well as Arizona. Concentrate on getting to the Yellowstone area, enjoy yourself there and then spend some time in the Rushmore area and the Black Hills.

Visit AZ some other time.
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:20 PM   #11
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Suggestions you want? Cut the trip into Az out. It will be hot in Texas and New Mexico as well as Arizona. Concentrate on getting to the Yellowstone area, enjoy yourself there and then spend some time in the Rushmore area and the Black Hills.

Visit AZ some other time.
I agree with this. If you do Arizona in the future there is a lot more than just the Grand Canyon (both sides). Sedona, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Lake Powell, etc. That is a trip by itself. Throwing Yellowstone and the Black Hills and parts of Utah into the mix seems like it is just too much for the time allotted.

The trip you outlined is really a 3-4 week trip, at a minimum. You simply don't have time to do justice to any one area. We did San Antonio to the Grand Canyon (both sides), southern Utah (Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, Monument Valley, Carlsbad Caverns, and back home in 15 days and it was too much in too little time. Never again. I felt like there should have been a checkered flag waving when we got home.

Slow down. There is nothing impressive about a string of 500 mile days. Too few for a trucker and too many for an RV'er, IMHO.

Have fun, no matter how you do it.

Don
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:14 PM   #12
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Like one of the previous posts that your trip should be 3-4 weeks or longer, many folks from the east don’t realize how far apart places are in the west. Inside Y’stone 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 by staying in West Y’stone there will be some backtracking each day.
We normally don’t 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. Y’stone to Canyon! We have lived within 100 miles from Y’stone and Teton NPs for 45 years, can’t even estimate how many times we have been to both we still haven’t seen all of either one!
Because of the distance that you are coming from, I would definitely stop at your family stops then omit everything else except Y’stone/Grand Teton NPs. Make Grand Canyon, Rushmore etc. some other time.
A quick calculation shows a driving distance of over 5250 miles (that doesn’t include sightseeing miles) with your estimated driving 350 miles/day gives 15 days of just driving from point to point. You would be seeing the good old US of A thru the windshield. Then with your planed 11 days stays o’nite that just doesn’t compute!
If you do go to the Tetons be sure to see the Bar-J dinner/show.
http://www.barjchuckwagon.com/
Their fiddle player has won the Idaho State fiddle championship 6 times and the US open championship twice! I guarantee you won’t 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!
Richard
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:56 PM   #13
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I have to agree with the others, 16 days is just not enough time. I would skip the southern route and focus on the northernly route. Cooler for sure. Safe travels and enjoy your trip. Stop to smell the roses along the way.
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:48 PM   #14
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Oops! Sorry!

Ref: post #12, I got my Km's and Miles mixed up, it is 40 miles from W. Y'stone to Canyon. But that doesn't make any difference it still took almost 2 hours.
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