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Old 12-04-2014, 11:50 AM   #1
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Westward Bound

We are relatively new to RVing and are planning our first trip out west in 2015 from New England. I do most of the planning while DH concentrates on the maintenance, repairs and mechanics of the 31' RV and tow vehicle, Jeep Wrangler. I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed and wonder if I have thought of everything. There are about 20 places to see on our "wish list" ....Sedona, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone etc. Our style of travel is more relaxed and we don't rush from point A to get to Point B just because it is on the list. If we don't see everything, that's OK because we understand we will more than likely get side tracked!

We are headed out April 10 and want to be home by July 4th. Do you seasoned RVers think this is enough time to scratch the surface of many places? My biggest concerns; will we be OK not having confirmed reservations anywhere. Since I don't know where we are going to be, it's hard to make reservations for a certain date. I plan to make reservations a day or two in advance since I will have a much better idea of where we are headed. I realize I should confirm something for Memorial Day weekend. I expect we will be staying in campgrounds anywhere from 2 to 7 days at a time. Our desire is state, COE and National Parks but also private campgrounds for laundry facilities etc.

My other concern is we do not want to be in the parks while the kids are out of school so June looks like the time to think about heading home.

I have a triptik from AAA and Good Sam for reference purposes. We have a GPS, iPads, Smart Phones, maps, books, insurance cards, senior passes (just turned 65, Happy Retirement) health cards.

What am I missing?!

Sorry this is so long, did I mention I'm getting overwhelmed?!


Thank you all.





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Old 12-04-2014, 12:02 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are prepared IMO. Taking your time, be prepared to adapt to the conditions you encounter will make your trip as enjoyable as possible.

Hope the weather is fine for you.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:27 PM   #3
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Check on National Park websites for opening dates. Yellowstone's roads won't be fully opened until June 11, 2015. Hiding or avoiding school age kids has never been an issue in National Parks. DisneyWorld, Disneyland, yes, National Parks no.
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Old 12-04-2014, 12:43 PM   #4
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I think the length of your rig provides a lot of options. A no drama personality, relaxed emotions, and patience should do it, with lots of planning the night before and some occasional scouting of the trail ahead. That's how I did it with my old dolphin motorhome on a toyota chassis...it was really short as I remember.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:29 PM   #5
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It can be overwhelming if you overthink it. We left for our first trip out west and never made a reservation anywhere. Not even on Memorial weekend.(We got lucky) We had a general idea of where we wanted to spend a few days and knew our final destination was Barstow CA. We will be going west again this spring, by a different route and plan on playing it by ear all the way. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:57 PM   #6
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You may want to try and make a reservation in Yellowstone to stay inside the Park itself. They book far in advance. We did all the places you mentioned in 2 weeks. We missed a lot and we will be going back but we also saw a lot and had a blast!
We did stay in West Yellowstone @ Grizzly Park but the trip into the park each day is a PITA. I will try to reserve a spot inside the park next time.

Are you an Elks Lodge member? Out west you can camp at many Elks facilities many with electric and water for very little $$. Sedona for instance was a beautiful spot for $25 far less than nearby campgrounds and that was the most we paid at any Elks and we used about 15.
You don't really need to plan too far in advance because it takes a lot of fun out of traveling for me. You can always do a Walmart in a pinch. We get off the interstates so often on other highways so we never know where we will end up!!

You have plenty of time to even visit Idaho and Oregon and see Couer D Alene and the Oregon coast. Beautiful!
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:54 PM   #7
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Since you have an iPad, I would suggest an App called RV Parky. You can use it on the road to find places to stay and it includes maps, web sites and phone numbers. (sometimes reviews)

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Old 12-04-2014, 07:27 PM   #8
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I bought a book, Next Exit, it tells you what is at each exit, Pretty neat, you can plan your lunch or fuel, gas or what ever is listed. Mine is 2013, Amazon.com
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Old 12-04-2014, 07:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spritz View Post
I bought a book, Next Exit, it tells you what is at each exit, Pretty neat, you can plan your lunch or fuel, gas or what ever is listed. Mine is 2013, Amazon.com
My Garmin GPS does the same thing, most GPS do. I keep my Garmin updated, which in your case requires buying a new book. In addition, an iPad or iPhone can also help scout out things down the highway. Years ago I used to use such paper and ink aids, now I find technology does it better.

By the way spritz, your holiday image had the longest address I've ever seen! I did a Google search for the image, it's used all over, called "Christmas card Father Christmas." Merry Christmas to you!
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Old 12-05-2014, 12:40 AM   #10
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It sounds like you're doing very well. It definitely can be overwhelming thinking long-term about a big trip. However, you're very wise not making reservations as that puts an added stress on you to get to places at a certain time.

Even with our 40' motorhome we rarely make reservations. For instance, here is a link to Yellowstone's official park site. Explore all the clickies on this site for good information and even as you get close to the park, check again for accurate road conditions. Things do change. By the way, the campgrounds begin opening in Yellowstone on May 1.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisi...ellowstone.htm



All the parks will have web sites like this and they can be very helpful.

Anyway, as you can see Yellowstone has some campgrounds that don't even accept reservations. Those are the spots we would seek. Stay outside the park the previous night close by and drive to the non-reservable campgrounds early morning as folks are leaving and you'll get a site.

While you're in the Yellowstone area don't pass up Grand Teton National Park right next door. Both parks are completely different. Grand Teton is like a miniature Alps and has two wonderful campgrounds that are not reservable: Colter campground (not to be confused with Colter Bay RV right next door, and Gros Ventre campground closer to Jackson, WY. Both have 300 non-reservable sites and you will get a site. We love Gros Ventre because of the open lightly-treed surroundings where you can see the Teton Mtns. Also, there is much wildlife in the campground and nearby. It's close to Jackson for major grocery shopping just south of town and for the trinket shops and restaurants.

For a route, I would first head for Grand Canyon in Arizona and gradually move north to the Utah parks and then Grand Teton and Yellowstone for the best weather conditions.

Don't worry about June being crowded. July and August are popular vacation periods with children.

Keep in mind that all the national parks you hope to visit have many campgrounds just outside of them if you can't get a site in the park but I really don't think you'll have problems. For Memorial weekend it all depends where you'll be. Perhaps you can stay near one of the major national parks and explore other areas and then move into the national park after the holiday when weekenders leave. For those major holidays we also stay away from anyplace with water - lakes, rivers, swimming pools, etc. We let the weekenders have their fun and we choose a nice quiet spot.

Have a great trip!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:42 AM   #11
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This sounds like a memorable trip. I would highly recommend spending at least one night in Cody, WY & then heading into Yellowstone through the east entrance. Cody has a world-class museum--Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The Erma Hotel has a gunfight every evening that is great fun! We loved Bryce & Zion.

The best piece of travel advice I ever got was to assume that if you love a place, you don't have to try to see everything. Just assume that, because you love it, you'll be back at some point in time. And gosh. We live out here & know that we could take 6 weeks just to really experience the SE corner of Utah.

Have a wonderful time--you're traveling to what we consider the perfect places--that would be just about anything from the Rockies west! Happy Trails!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
My Garmin GPS does the same thing, most GPS do. I keep my Garmin updated, which in your case requires buying a new book. In addition, an iPad or iPhone can also help scout out things down the highway. Years ago I used to use such paper and ink aids, now I find technology does it better.

By the way spritz, your holiday image had the longest address I've ever seen! I did a Google search for the image, it's used all over, called "Christmas card Father Christmas." Merry Christmas to you!
I bought it (the book) before the GPS and its kept updated, I know the last update we did a few weeks ago took almost 10 hours on the computer (Dell Precision 690) It is a lot better now, always told me to turn left LOL
Plus the book keeps the co-pilot awake!!!!!
I collect Father Christmas's and was really happy too find that site.
Thanks and back atcha, Check these out...

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Old 12-05-2014, 07:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
It sounds like you're doing very well. It definitely can be overwhelming thinking long-term about a big trip. However, you're very wise not making reservations as that puts an added stress on you to get to places at a certain time.

Even with our 40' motorhome we rarely make reservations. For instance, here is a link to Yellowstone's official park site. Explore all the clickies on this site for good information and even as you get close to the park, check again for accurate road conditions. Things do change. By the way, the campgrounds begin opening in Yellowstone on May 1.

Campgrounds - Yellowstone National Park (U.S. National Park Service)



All the parks will have web sites like this and they can be very helpful.

Anyway, as you can see Yellowstone has some campgrounds that don't even accept reservations. Those are the spots we would seek. Stay outside the park the previous night close by and drive to the non-reservable campgrounds early morning as folks are leaving and you'll get a site.

While you're in the Yellowstone area don't pass up Grand Teton National Park right next door. Both parks are completely different. Grand Teton is like a miniature Alps and has two wonderful campgrounds that are not reservable: Colter campground (not to be confused with Colter Bay RV right next door, and Gros Ventre campground closer to Jackson, WY. Both have 300 non-reservable sites and you will get a site. We love Gros Ventre because of the open lightly-treed surroundings where you can see the Teton Mtns. Also, there is much wildlife in the campground and nearby. It's close to Jackson for major grocery shopping just south of town and for the trinket shops and restaurants.

For a route, I would first head for Grand Canyon in Arizona and gradually move north to the Utah parks and then Grand Teton and Yellowstone for the best weather conditions.

Don't worry about June being crowded. July and August are popular vacation periods with children.

Keep in mind that all the national parks you hope to visit have many campgrounds just outside of them if you can't get a site in the park but I really don't think you'll have problems. For Memorial weekend it all depends where you'll be. Perhaps you can stay near one of the major national parks and explore other areas and then move into the national park after the holiday when weekenders leave. For those major holidays we also stay away from anyplace with water - lakes, rivers, swimming pools, etc. We let the weekenders have their fun and we choose a nice quiet spot.

Have a great trip!
Thanks for the great write up.
I was planing on leaving from Quartzite (sno-birding) End of Mar beginning of April. Coming home thru Calif. Oregon Wash, Idaho, Mont SD to Mpls
Your advice sounds even better,
Thanks, Tim
Happy Holidays,
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:49 AM   #14
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My gosh, thank you all so much for the valuable information and positive responses. My confidence has been restored! I will stop over-thinking this. I have downloaded the RV Parky App. I will take the advice and hope we will be able to stay inside Yellowstone as suggested by Dakrism.

No, not an Elks member, but wish I were. Sounds like a great way to go! Grand Teton NP is definitely on our wish list and look forward to Gros Ventre CG, also suggested. Gradually moving north for better weather conditions is the plan. Ditto on letting the weekenders have their fun.

Wondering if Yosemite should be added to our list? I thought it might be just a little too far. And what are your thoughts about purchasing Passport America? I read conflicting reviews about it.






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