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Old 01-29-2009, 08:07 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 1
Hello Folks,

My wife and I have a crazy notion about taking our 4 kids (ages 11-17) to see the western US this summer (June/July). The idea is to fly out to California, rent a class C RV, and make a 3-4 week circuit of some national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, etc).

I've looked into RV rentals locally here in Massachusetts so I have a general idea of the rates and mileage costs. A class C seems the best fit for our 6-person family. An internet search of RV rental outfits in the San Francisco area turned up Adventure Touring, Cruise America, El Monte, Moturis, Family RV (San Jose), Road Bear, and others.

I have three questions that I'd love to hear an answer from an experienced Class-C type. Answer as many or few as you wish.
1) Are we completely insane?!!!
2) Can you recommend preferable camp sites or areas at any of the national parks I've mentioned? We would prefer to have a full hookup and something quieter out of the main activity. We love the woods and nature and don't seek out game rooms or playgrounds. We do like swimming and hiking.
3) Can you recommend an RV rental outfit? I know it's going to cost $3K-$5k. I'm really hoping to give that money to an outfit that is trustworthy, reliable, and service-oriented.

Any advice is appreciated.

Dan Williams
Leverett, MA
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Old 01-29-2009, 08:35 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: No. CA
Posts: 405

We live in central CA and can offer the following:

1.- No, not at all. There is a lot to see out here and the kids will remember this trip forever.

2.- In addition to the parks you mentioned you may enjoy the giant redwoods of the north CA coast and the beaches of central CA around Morro Bay and Pismo. We live about an hour and half from Yosemite and visit often, all of it is beautiful. We also enjoy the south rim of the Grand Canyon. If time allows, also consider Yellowstone, it is like another world set in the trees and mountains.

3.- We see a lot of rental units from Cruise America and El Monte but are not familiar with the others.

Also, as you have probably guessed, these parks will be at peak capacity during the summer months and most CA parks are on a reservation system with Reserve America. We've found RA to be a disaster to work with for making reservations, even 7 months in advance, hope you have better luck. Perhaps the rental agencies can help with reservations.

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Old 01-29-2009, 03:06 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 14
Cruise America and El Monte are the largest rental companies; they have offices in many locations all over the U.S. and would likely offer you the best choices of rigs and perhaps prices. Moturis and Road Bear are much smaller companies. Family RV is a small "only-in-San Jose" outfit that also sells rigs and has a small service department. I would suggest comparing prices for like RVs, and see what, if any, "perks" one company might offer over another. Also, check out very carefully *where* the pick-up and return locations are; you want convenience and as much flexibility as possible!

The best starting points for national parks are their websites; some examples:

www.nps.gov/yose (Yosemite)
www.nps.gov/seki (Sequoia-Kings Canyon)
www.nps.gov/grca (Grand Canyon)

The websites offer just about all the information that any visitor could want; I suggest that you start with the "Plan Your Visit" link at page left of each park's website. The formats of all the parks' websites are the same.

Don't try to do/see too much in one trip, or try to cover too much territory, or drive too long at a time; with four kids, you will need "downtime" for grocery shopping, doing laundry, spur-of-the moment plans changes, traffic or crowd delays, resting, and taking care of whatever else comes up. If you're scheduled too tightly and/or exhausted from long driving days and rushing to see everything on your itinerary, it's not fun! Also, western U.S. "distances" are often eye-openers for folks from the eastern U.S.; what looks like a "do-able" driving stretch on the map is often very different in reality.

Have fun!
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