Tom and Patty,
We haven't stayed at any of the campgrounds along that route so we'll defer to others to help you out in that area. We've traveled it numerous times though so are familiar with other aspects of it.
We will be staying at Zion Canyon Campground
in Springdale. The shuttle service stops near there so not having a toad won't hurt you any. Leaving there, we will head towards Estes Park eventually, also. Taking your time is good because there is lots to see in both Utah and Colorado.
I hope you have a digital camera, otherwise bring lots of film.
Leaving Zion, you'll have to pass through the Mount Carmel Tunnel at the edge of the park. The park service will charge you a couple of bucks and then close off traffic at both ends so you can go through. You'll then drive down the middle of both lanes because the tunnel roof is rounded and you'd scrape at the corners if you stayed in your lane. Actually, this is good because you can go slow with no traffic pressuring you from behind. You'll have a great view looking out the 3 side portals that look into the valley as you pass by slowly.
Once you pass though the tunnel you'll see Checkerboard Mesa dead ahead, and on your right as you turn past it. You'll continue on to Mt Carmel Junction and then head north through some beautiful ranch valleys for 21 miles until you turn right on US-12 to head east again. Soon after you'll pass through Red Canyon. There's a forest service office there with lots of parking area so you can get out and take more photos and get literature, ask questions, etc. After that you'll get to the road south to Bryce Canyon.We plan on staying at the campground at Ruby's Inn
, which is right outside the park. You can fit in there with your coach and get full hookups. As far as seeing the park, it's going to be tough without a toad. Parking area is limited but Ruby's may have tours available.
Leaving Bryce Canyon you will encounter the most spectacular scenery changes that you'll ever see. From Zion to Moab is a virtual smorgasboard of scenery as you climb Utah's Grand Staircase. In Zion, you are down inside a canyon, looking up at dark cliffs that top out at 7,000' above sea level. At Bryce you are on top at 8,000' looking down into an arena of colorful fairy tale castle towers, sculpted by wind erosion. Leaving Bryce you'll go through some desolate areas of desert, pass some "oasis" type areas alongside the Escalante River, and begin a descent along a ridge surrounded by some real no man's land. Then, on the climb out, you'll go through Aspen forests, see mountain wildflowers, and the scenery changes dramatically. Oh yeah, be sure to pay attention when the sign says "Stock on Road" because there are a few sections of open range and cattle don't look good plastered on the front of your nice Alpine.
Once you get past the Devil's Backbone, between Escalante and Boulder, you'll head through some nice scenery around Torrey and then you'll go through Capital Reef Nat'l Park. If you have no toad you can't make too many of the side trips but there are enough pull-off areas you can get a feel for that park. Once you leave Capital Reef you'll get to Hanksville. Now you have a couple of options. The really good scenery is over so you just need to get to your next location. If you just want to get to Moab, head north and come into Moab via US-191. If you want to pick up Mesa Verde, at Cortez, CO you'd head south and pick that area up for a few days before going to Moab.
either way, at Moab there is lots to see but it all requires a toad. Fortunately Moab is the Jeeping capital of the world so you can rent SUVs or Jeeps all over the place or you can take tours, go rafting on the Colorado, etc. There's LOTS
to do in Moab. We'll be staying at Portal RV Park
, which is probably the one you had heard about previously.
Leaving Moab, you need to take what the locals call the River road, which is hwy 128 north towards the Cisco ghost town. You see some spectacular views along here with the red rock scenery framing the snow covered La Sal mountains and the Colorado River at your feet. Eventually you'll hook up with I-70 at exit # 212. The roads don't look good on the map but don't worry, all of the routes in this post are easily handled by your coach.
Leaving Moab, I'd stop at Glenwood Springs, CO. We're staying at Rock Gardens Campground
, which is now under new ownership and called Glenwood Canyon Resort or something like that. It's a very scenic area as the Colorado River runs through a tight (but beautiful) canyon. The campground is right on the river and they offer tours, rafting, etc.
Leaving to continue east you'll pass through some scenic areas of I-70 as you pass the ski areas of Vail, etc. There's some nice rest areas near Eagle, Parachute, and Edwards that are interesting "stretch" stops. There'll be a long uphill grade just before the Eisenhower Tunnel and then we take hwy 72 north, which you pick up just east of Idaho Springs. That's the scenic way into Estes Park. You pass through little towns like Nederlands and do some nice scenic climbs but it's worth it. The other option is to go the long way around through Denver and then Loveland to enter Estes Park but I wouldn't go that way, personally. We plan on staying at Elk Meadow RV Park
while there. It's right on the edge of the park and you'll probably see elk in the campground while you're there.
Anyway, this is a modified version of our upcoming trip. We're actually doing some things in reverse order and also throwing in Leadville and Ouray, as well as Kanab, UT and the north rim of the Grand Canyon, etc. But, I hope this info helps you out.
I gotta shut up now, this is turning into a huge post.
But you did ask.