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Old 02-05-2021, 09:58 AM   #1
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1st SW trip, from NC. Is my grand circle route OK?

We bought our first TT this past March, a No Boundaries 19.3. We are taking our kids on grand circle type trip this July, 22 days. Spent the last few days making reservations and looking at the Atlas. I was hoping to lean on you more experienced travelers to be sure my route below is a sensible one, and a safe one for newer campers such as ourselves. I don't want to find myself on some dangerous and steep mountain pass because I didn't research it properly.

Will be taking 40 west from NC and staying night one west of Nashville, lebanon koa, night two fort smith OK, and the last night in Tucumcari AZ.

Then heading up through Santa Fe to Durango CO where we will spend 4 nights at Aspen Rose. Unsure best route to take from 40 to Durango. Also wondering if any Indian reservations would be blocked off due to covid. We plan to see monument valley for example.

Then from Durango taking 160-491 to Monticello, Utah then 191 up to Moab for 4 nights at Portal. Then up to 70 west and taking 89 down to Panguitch for 4 nights. Any advice on seeing Zion and Bryce from Panguitch appreciated, not sure how much we can see in our truck, heard shuttles are required at some point. And heard about a mile long tunnel we hope to avoid while towing the TT.

Then heading south on 89 to Williams for 2 nights, either by taking 89 all the way to Flagstaff then west on 40 or taking 64 off 89 directly to Williams. Again, any advice on seeing the grand canyon appreciated, never been. Kids are 6&8, would like to avoid crowds to extent possible, although I'm aware the area will be crowded. Would afternoon be better than morning? Would paid van shuttle tour be better? Any suggestions valued, we only have one day here. Would like to explore north rim forest roads, 611? Etc, if we have time.

After 2 nights in Williams, taking 40 back across country to NC, again staying nights at Tucumcari, Fort Smith AK, Nashville TN.

Any suggestions of any kind would be greatly valued. We're taking this trip kind of the last minute plan. We had intended on going to Yellowstone this summer until this past week. We considered going through petrified Forest on way home, a few hours into our return trip along 40. Does anyone know if we can get through that park with our 24' TT attached? Same goes for mesa Verde, we considered trying to see mesa Verde and monuments on moving day between Durango and Moab. If taking camper there not an option, we will make a day trip to mesa Verde and monuments while in Durango.

Loading camper now, taking kids to SC state park when they finish their virtual learning. So if I don't post here till Sunday, just didn't want you guys and gals to think it was due to a lack of interest. Lol. This state park has very iffy cell service for us and weather is down today. We are very eager to hear any opinions or suggestions you may have, as always.


Dan
NC

Pic from badlands and rushmore from our 22 day trip in SD and Colorado this past August...
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Old 02-05-2021, 02:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danattherock View Post
We bought our first TT this past March, a No Boundaries 19.3. We are taking our kids on grand circle type trip this July, 22 days. Spent the last few days making reservations and looking at the Atlas. I was hoping to lean on you more experienced travelers to be sure my route below is a sensible one, and a safe one for newer campers such as ourselves. I don't want to find myself on some dangerous and steep mountain pass because I didn't research it properly.

Will be taking 40 west from NC and staying night one west of Nashville, lebanon koa, night two fort smith OK, and the last night in Tucumcari AZ.

Then heading up through Santa Fe to Durango CO where we will spend 4 nights at Aspen Rose. Unsure best route to take from 40 to Durango. Also wondering if any Indian reservations would be blocked off due to covid. We plan to see monument valley for example.

Then from Durango taking 160-491 to Monticello, Utah then 191 up to Moab for 4 nights at Portal. Then up to 70 west and taking 89 down to Panguitch for 4 nights. Any advice on seeing Zion and Bryce from Panguitch appreciated, not sure how much we can see in our truck, heard shuttles are required at some point. And heard about a mile long tunnel we hope to avoid while towing the TT.

Then heading south on 89 to Williams for 2 nights, either by taking 89 all the way to Flagstaff then west on 40 or taking 64 off 89 directly to Williams. Again, any advice on seeing the grand canyon appreciated, never been. Kids are 6&8, would like to avoid crowds to extent possible, although I'm aware the area will be crowded. Would afternoon be better than morning? Would paid van shuttle tour be better? Any suggestions valued, we only have one day here. Would like to explore north rim forest roads, 611? Etc, if we have time.

After 2 nights in Williams, taking 40 back across country to NC, again staying nights at Tucumcari, Fort Smith AK, Nashville TN.

Any suggestions of any kind would be greatly valued. We're taking this trip kind of the last minute plan. We had intended on going to Yellowstone this summer until this past week. We considered going through petrified Forest on way home, a few hours into our return trip along 40. Does anyone know if we can get through that park with our 24' TT attached? Same goes for mesa Verde, we considered trying to see mesa Verde and monuments on moving day between Durango and Moab. If taking camper there not an option, we will make a day trip to mesa Verde and monuments while in Durango.

Loading camper now, taking kids to SC state park when they finish their virtual learning. So if I don't post here till Sunday, just didn't want you guys and gals to think it was due to a lack of interest. Lol. This state park has very iffy cell service for us and weather is down today. We are very eager to hear any opinions or suggestions you may have, as always.


Dan
NC

Pic from badlands and rushmore from our 22 day trip in SD and Colorado this past August...
You wore me out just trying to understand the trip - If you want really good replies I'd look at possibly breaking it down into workable pieces and reposting - probably just me but.

North Rim should be looked into as it is closer to the Loop in Utah - Personally we have done both and the North is far and away our Favorite.

Zion is a Zoo in the middle of the Summer - if you are with Kids I'd look at saving it and possibly doing a few days on Lake Powel - Page - again Just a thought.

In Moab be sure to drive RT 128 along the Colorado River - Special!

Look at at least trying to drive through the State Parks as in Utah they are special and most not nearly as crowded.

While at Alpine Rose be sure to get into the San Juan's just Beautiful - and more forgiving in the Summer vs Utah Heat.

Couple of links that may help you out.

Family Trips - 20 summers of RV road trip travels across the USA and Canada | Lolo's Extreme Cross Country RV Trips

Stan's Photo Album - https://www.pbase.com/sparker1/root%26view=tree

4runnerguys Utah/Moab - https://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/f...d/29448394.cfm

Ouray - https://www.irv2.com/forums/f42/oura...it-442372.html

Grand Circle - https://www.americansouthwest.net/it...nd-circle.html

Not sure I helped or Hindered but there you go.

Best of Luck,

note - think it would be smart to see it RT 64 is open into GC as thought I heard it might be Closed for tribal Concerns.
Also be sure to check to see if the roads are open throughout as there are many Indian Lands you will be Near or in.
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Old 02-05-2021, 02:30 PM   #3
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If Santa Fe isn't a hard stop, you take I-25N from I-40 at ABQ, then go NW on Hwy 550 towards the four corners. Continue on 550 through Aztec NM to CO160, go west a few miles and you're in Durango.

If Sante Fe is a hard stop, then from there you can get on 84 and take that to Pagosa Springs, pick up CO160 and take that west to Durango.

Both ways are very RV friendly.

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Old 02-05-2021, 05:15 PM   #4
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I don't want to find myself on some dangerous and steep mountain pass because I didn't research it properly.

I highly recommend you get the 'Mountain Directory for Truckers and RVers'. It will give you a 'heads up' on some of the roads you, most likely, will be driving. Even if they're in the book it doesn't mean you can't drive them with your RV because many RVers will be doing so.

Will be taking 40 west from NC and staying night one west of Nashville, lebanon koa, night two fort smith OK, and the last night in Tucumcari AZ. I believe you meant New Mexico. If you want to go directly to Durango from there I'd suggest staying on I-40 and picking up 550 north of Albuquerque and taking that into Durango. If you wanted to stop in Santa Fe you have options. Stay on I-40 to 285 at Clines Corners, NM and taking that north to Santa Fe. From Santa Fe weave your way to Hwy 84 north taking you toward Chama and on to Pagosa Springs, CO. Your family would welcome a few hours of soaking in the warm springs - concrete, immaculate, overlooking the river and small town. Very relaxing. Pack a cooler. Then take 160 west to Durango.

Then heading up through Santa Fe to Durango CO where we will spend 4 nights at Aspen Rose. Be sure to do a day trip to Silverton. Awesome authenic western town... or take the train up and return via the bus option. (the train back is a very long day).Unsure best route to take from 40 to Durango. Also wondering if any Indian reservations would be blocked off due to covid. We plan to see monument valley for example. No one knows yet how Covid will be so you'll just need to check the closer you get.

Then from Durango taking 160-491 to Monticello, Utah then 191 up to Moab for 4 nights at Portal. Good route.Then up to 70 west and taking 89 down to Panguitch for 4 nights. Any advice on seeing Zion and Bryce from Panguitch appreciated, not sure how much we can see in our truck, heard shuttles are required at some point. And heard about a mile long tunnel we hope to avoid while towing the TT.I answered your hiking questions in your other post but I believe you mentioned Capitol Reef NP... if you want to go there I'd recommend from Moab I-70 to 24 at Green River, UT to Capitol Reef then taking Hwy 12 to Bryce/Panguitch.
You'll hear a lot of pros and cons on Hwy 12 but it's very doable with an RV and an absolutely gorgeous drive. By that time you'll be comfortable with some mountain driving and you should know how to use your brakes so they don't overheat.
Downshift before going downhill; not in the midst. Staying in Panguitch would be OK for Bryce but makes for a long day of not seeing Zion if you want to go there. I suggest moving to Zion. For Bryce, Ruby's RV would be better. It's a the gate of Bryce and the free shuttle stops right there. Either would be OK. Then to get to Zion if you don't want to drive your RV through the tunnels (it's a steep downhill but over fast! ) From 89 just north of Panguitch take Hwy 20 over to I-156 then south to Hwy 9 taking you into Zion. Easy drive. Springdale has a RV park and you can walk to the shuttle for Zion or even pick it up in this tiny town. Walk for ice cream and play in the river from your campsite. Shuttles run continuously. Check the national park's websites for good information. To get to the Grand Canyon from Springdale... backtrack on Hwy 9 to Hurricane, UT and pick up Hwy 59 which will become AZ389 taking you to Fredonia, AZ. 89A will have a steep downhill from Jacob Lake but you could take the short drive back into Utah and pick up 89 at Kanab, UT taking you to Page, AZ (Glen Canyon Nat'l Rec. Area) then continue on 89 toward Flagstaff. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is in Kanab and worth a tour. Awesome no kill facility for all kinds of animals in a beautiful red canyon setting.


Then heading south on 89 to Williams for 2 nights, either by taking 89 all the way to Flagstaff then west on 40 or taking 64 off 89 directly to Williams. Either way is OK but why not stay at the Canyon itself for the best experience? That's why you're going and you'll only be there 2 nights.
Stay at Trailer Village if you want hookups. Walk to the canyon and stores and the shuttle stops right there.
Again, any advice on seeing the grand canyon appreciated, never been. Kids are 6&8, would like to avoid crowds to extent possible, although I'm aware the area will be crowded. Would afternoon be better than morning? Would paid van shuttle tour be better? A van tour won't be any better than doing it yourself. Staying in the park itself would save you driving time from Williams and you could get an early morning start; rest up and go back out for sunset at the Canyon. Any suggestions valued, we only have one day here. Would like to explore north rim forest roads, 611? Etc, if we have time.

After 2 nights in Williams, taking 40 back across country to NC, again staying nights at Tucumcari, Fort Smith AK, Nashville TN.

Any suggestions of any kind would be greatly valued. We're taking this trip kind of the last minute plan. We had intended on going to Yellowstone this summer until this past week. We considered going through petrified Forest on way home, a few hours into our return trip along 40. Does anyone know if we can get through that park with our 24' TT attached? I-40 to Holbrook, AZ south on 190 to the Petrified Forest road and yes, take your trailer. The best interests are close to this intersection of 190 and the park road. Drive through and get back on I-40.Same goes for mesa Verde, we considered trying to see mesa Verde and monuments on moving day between Durango and Moab. If taking camper there not an option, we will make a day trip to mesa Verde and monuments while in Durango. Not recommended you do Mesa Verde on a travel day. It's too big. Even from Durango it will be a long day.
Best to just move to the park and stay there to tour.

Nice pics from your previous trip! You'll do just fine on this one. Don't let the 'hills' get to you. You'll be a pro in no time.
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Old 02-06-2021, 08:32 AM   #5
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i would ask you to relook at your planning. it seems like a lot to squeeze into 22 days, especially with younger kids.

from santa fe we take the road through pagosa springs and then west on colo-160 to durango. pagosa springs is a lovely place but expect slow traffic through the town.

will you be taking the train while in durango. it's an all day event. i'd suggest take the train one way and the bus the other way.

mesa verde is another all day event. it's just way to big to see in less than a day. they make you unhitch the trailer soon after you enter the park. they have a place to unhitch and store the trailer while you travel within the park.

rather than stay at panguitch why not stay at ruby's tight at the entrance to bryce?

you mentioned a one mile tunnel. i'm sure you are referring to the zion-mt carmel tunnel on the east entrance to zion. it has restrictions on the size of vehicles and trailers that are allowed through it. go to the website and verify if you are within the size restrictions. some vehicles require that the tunnel be closed to two way traffic so that they may pass through the tunnel in the middle. if you require this service you will need to pay a small fee and wait until traffic control opens the tunnel to one way traffic in the direction you are traveling. this tunnel is on the direct route between bryce and zion. if you cannot traverse the tunnel then plan on going using i-15 to traverse between the two.

another suggestion would be to stay in williams and take the train into the grand canyon. again it is an all day event.

you can take your trailer through the petrified forest. it's a drive through venue.

expect to see a lot of open land. you won't have a problem but make sure you start out with a full tank of gas and refill when at 1/2 tank or so.
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Old 02-06-2021, 09:07 AM   #6
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We are going to be done the "Grand Cirlcle Tour this May. We plan on about three week in the canyon area.

You might look at this site for information

https://grandcircle.org/
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Old 02-08-2021, 10:35 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the suggestions, we greatly appreciate it. Wife and I are following up on all the thoughts above now, looking over the Atlas. Leaning towards staying at north rim instead of Williams and south rim. Would be a longer first day drive back east on 40, and petrified Forest, but maybe a better way to see the grand canyon on this first trip. Look forward to seeing any further suggestions, and really appreciate you guys and gals letting us lean on your experience.


Dan
NC
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Old 02-08-2021, 11:16 AM   #8
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Utah is my favorite state and the parks are crowded. September and October 2020 Arches would be closes as early as 9am. It would reopen later as people left. Go real early and see sunrise through the Arches. Traffic south bound into Moab is bad because of road work. Nice all day drive on White Rim Trail in Canyonlands. It requires a permit from Rangers. Go online to Zion and get bus passes if they are still requiring them. No busses in Bryce but that can change. Go to each parks web site to check latest restrictions. Have a great trip.
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Old 02-09-2021, 07:58 AM   #9
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Would be a longer first day drive back east on 40, and petrified Forest,
Not sure if this rises to grand attractions but you'll be passing right by the meteor crater going down I-40 by Winslow. I had passed it I don't know how many times over the years and dismissed it as a world's largest ball of twine kind of thing but one time I said what the heck and stopped in. Glad I did, it was not what I expected, pretty interesting. Not quite on the same scale as the grand canyon but an Arizona attraction nonetheless. A couple hours will cover an out and back, longer if you take the guided hike (plus or minus covid restrictions going on). If you're into "space" the Lowell observatory is there in Flagstaff and in the past they would have nights open to the public. I'm not really into it but still found it interesting. If you're looking for a stopover after the grand canyon before you head east on 40 I've stayed at the Ft Tuthill campground just south of Flagstaff a number of times.

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Old 02-09-2021, 05:54 PM   #10
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If you do go to Williams, AZ, take the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim; they have a campground and hotel as part of the GCR.

https://www.thetrain.com

The kids will love the train ride. Include a bus tour of the GC, well worth it.
The north rim is also fantastic. Slower pace and a beautiful area, just not as many areas to see as the south rim; heck, do both! Sounds like a great trip, enjoy.
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Old 02-09-2021, 06:47 PM   #11
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If you go the Sante Fe - Pagosa route, you might think about staying in Chama NM and taking that train ride. I think it is better than the Durango train ride (they both are great).
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:05 PM   #12
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I really appreciate the advice and thoughts shared above. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us. This is our second big trip, so we are still learning.

We decided to cancel the reservation in Williams Az. Will spend 4 nights in Durango, 4 in Moab, and 6 in Panguitch. One of the days in Panguitch we will drive down to the north rim.

Any suggestions on where to go there for best view of the GC? Heard there are some long 40-80 mile dirt roads that lead to isolated overlooks. Or should we just enter at main north rim entrance and visit the provided overlooks and such? Appreciate any suggestions.


Dan
NC
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:46 PM   #13
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The national parks build their lodges, etc. at the very best spot. Drive straight into the park for good views. Some of the dirt roads can get very rough and very few drive them so getting fast help isn't guaranteed.
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Old 02-12-2021, 07:14 AM   #14
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The national parks build their lodges, etc. at the very best spot. Drive straight into the park for good views. Some of the dirt roads can get very rough and very few drive them so getting fast help isn't guaranteed.
As always good advice, We have done Sunrise Breakfast in the Lodge - Loved it! Once, for my Son's first visit to the Grand Canyon, some 25 years ago, it was Snowing, One of my Best Memories of the GC ever!

He has never forgotten it - Nor have I - Love the North Rim, just special.

If your Toad is 4x4 you will be fine on the back roads - just remember cell phone service is extremely limited if at all.

Take hundreds of picture as you will love sharing them later.

JMHO,
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