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Old 03-29-2021, 08:31 AM   #1
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Cross country

Hi all. I'd love some advice from you experienced rv'ers. We have a 2004 Damon daybreaker 32 foot class a and will be flat towing our Honda crv. We live in the Pittsburgh area and wanted to take 2 to 2.5 months to go out west and back. I'm sure that I am over extending ourselves with my desires or what to see. We are planning to drive from home to south Dakota and start our sight seeing there. Id like to stay at Pallisades NP near Sioux falls and I reserved two days at koa badlands and two days at Custer sp. We will hit Custer on Aug. 17, two days after the motorcycle rally but that's all I could get reservation wise. Id like to head to devils tower and spearfish/roughneck falls after that. We'd like to go to Montana (Big sky, little big horn and as far as Glacier), see Wyoming (Yellowstone, Cody, old faithful, Jackson hole, grand Teton), Colorado (pikes peak), Utah (arches, canyonlands, Bryce and Zion), (Las Vegas Nevada), Arizona (painted desert, petrified forest, Sedona, grand canyon) then back to pa. I'm sure I am way over extending this trip so if you would be so kind, please offer the best routes, organization, and focal points. I was looking into rv wizard but didn't know if it plots out the attractions or just the route and places to stay. We belong to harvest hosts. We like state parks but from what I have seen, a lot do not have full hook ups. Campgrounds are nice but that gets pricey. Thanks for all the help.
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Old 03-29-2021, 08:38 AM   #2
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As for Devils' Tower, Spearfish, ect. we based our stay in Rapid City and all of those sites were a day drive away with our toad.

Glacier was beautiful.

We haven't done Colorado but the I40 drive is pretty interesting. After Vegas drop down to Williams AZ and begin the adventure east. Lots to see, just take your time.

Welcome to the group. Lots more opinions will follow.
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Old 03-29-2021, 12:33 PM   #3
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Wow! Yes, that's a lot to plan on during your allotted time.

As far as routing, get a paper atlas and highlight all those places and then create your route. Get the 'Mountain Directory for Truckers and RVers' to give you a 'heads up' on the elevation drives. You don't have to avoid most of them but check them out beforehand. You'll see RVers on all of them.

Badlands can be done as a drive thru as can Painted Desert/Petrified Forest. They are loop roads and unless you're a big hiker you might want to consider this. Devils Tower can be done as a day trip unless you're planning to hike around it or climb it.

Pikes Peak is way out of your way. Do another trip and concentrate on Colorado and New Mexico. Lots to see in those states.

Glacier is also out of your way. You could do another trip coming across Hwy 2 from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Glacier and on to Washington/Oregon.

For Yellowstone I'd suggest staying maybe 2 nights in Cody and then moving to the West Yellowstone area. You can drive your RV right through the park from Cody to West Yellowstone. Yellowstone is huge and if trying to do it from Cody you'll have a lot of driving.

Then move down to Teton Nat'l Park by driving through Yellowstone into Grand Teton NP. If you need hookups, Colter Bay RV or Headwaters RV in the park are the places to stay. You can daytrip into Jackson.

Utah - Again, just so many awesome national parks to fit in. Don't try to base camp and drive in one day to the other parks... it's too far and you'll probably only do it once. Arches - stay in Moab and you can day trip both of the Canyonlands areas. Then head to Capitol Reef NP and take Hwy 12 to Bryce. There are a couple ways to get to Zion. Stay at Watchman c.g. in the park if you can get a site. Springdale has a RV park and the free shuttle stops there. You have to take a shuttle to see Zion. No cars allowed on the road.

Grand Canyon - stay in the park at Trailer Village. Again, the free shuttle stops there and you can walk to the Rim. If you stay in Williams I'd bet you'd only do the drive once. National Parks are worth more time than that.

I'd skip Las Vegas but that's just me.

Each national park has an awesome web site (Google the park name & use the nps.gov site) with lots of good information such as places to stay, things to do, special alerts (Covid, roads, etc.) and also a good park map.

Here is Yellowstone's:

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

If you can do without full hookups for some stops the prices will be cheaper and you'll get more scenic spots, usually. You should be able to last at least 5 nights on a full water tank and coming in with empty holding tanks. We could last 20-14 days but had a bigger RV so probably bigger holding tanks. Just conserve water. You don't have to do dishes every day. Don't leave water run when taking a shower. Wet down, soap up & a fast rinse. Even just an electric site is much more reasonable.

Just keep in minds that distances are great in the West and driving is slower because of the mountains and more to stop and see along the way.

Touring the national parks it's best to get a very early start... like at 7am. That's when you see more animals and the crowds will be smaller. Go back to the RV around 2-3pm for a rest and dinner and go back out around 5pm for the early evening critters... again, crowds will be smaller.

Once you decide on exactly what stops you're making then come back here and ask about the best roads to get there. Have fun planning! I love that part.
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Old 03-30-2021, 02:43 AM   #4
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Wow, thanks for all your time. All this info is so so valuable. I really appreciate it.
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:58 AM   #5
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I don't know if you are familiar with the heat out west at that time of the year.

Nevada and Arizona will see 110 degrees on a regular basis.

So make sure your engine cooling system is in good shape along with your air conditioner in the coach.

Gas stations can be few and far between in the Midwest so start looking for a gas station when you get down to under a half tank.

You may see a few road signs for Wall Drug Store on I 90 about 50 miles east of Rapid City. Go there and get an ice cream.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:46 AM   #6
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191 is one of the great unsung roads of all time. All the way from Bozeman to Lordsburg. Ironically the part through Utah is probably the least interesting; from an RV anyway. Personally I would skip Moab; peel off onto 12 through Capital Reef, past Bryce. Kodachrome state park is a nice camping spot. I'd then take 89 to Kanab, which is a great town. Take the toad through Zion as a side trip. I wouldn't take the RV through Zion, there's a long tunnel with not much vertical, and basically no horizontal clearance (like they will have to stop traffic for you)

89 on down to Flag is also a great road, for the first part you'll be up on the plateu which isn't as dreadfully hot, or as irritating as Vegas. Good views of the painted desert especially as you are climbing out of Page, that's a sunset you won't soon forget. You can peel off to see the south rim off 89, also I would recommend seeing Elden pueblo and Sunset Crater. Watch "Easy Rider" before you go Oh and don't forget Meteor Crater, which is pretty dorktastic.

The 40 east from Flag is nothing to scream about. Views aren't much and the road is in terrible shape. Can't see the painted desert very well and you can easily skip the petrified forest. I mean if it was really a forest, that would be cool. But it isn't. Two worthwhile "shortcuts" to consider:

1. Take 89 north out of Winslow, check out the Hopi volcanic field. It's kind of like Monument Valley. Amazing views across the painted desert especially at sunset. Hopi Pueblo is well worth the stop, Hopi art is just amazing. You can cut across on 264 to Window Rock, and then down to Gallup. Cuts off the loop of 40 that goes south to Holbrook and it's a fantastic drive. Bring a map, the desert is littered with RV's that got lost up there, and then the skinwalkers got em. Not really! People up that way are super nice, and they will point you in the right direction if the need arises. This route is kind of the hidden gem, it doesn't get a lot of press but it's magnificent.

2. Or, you could take 53 through New Mexico past Zuni. Zuni art is also pretty amazing, I love their pottery and their inlay jewelry is unique. El Morro is a *must stop*. Bone up on your archaic Spanish, people have been leaving graffiti on the rock for about 1500 years. Neat little puebloan ruin up on the mesa, if you missed Elden. There's a little RV campground there. From there, 53 will take you through El Malpais and drop you off in Grants, cutting off the loop that goes north to Gallup from Holbrook.

You can do both, just cut over from Gallup to Zuni, you get 90% of the thing.

As you make the downhill run into Albuquerque, you can consider peeling off to see old Rte 66 near Laguna, but that part of the 40 is actually pretty interesting. Any of the RV parks on the mesa west of town are very nice, we stayed a couple of weeks at High Desert once and it was nice. Also I see Rte 66 casino put in an RV park, the casino itself is a nice facility. The RV parks in Albuquerque proper are nothing to scream about.

Once you get past Albuquerque, you just have to suffer through, basically. On one trip east I found Rte 66 heading northeast out of Tulsa, that was pretty cool. Upper OK and lower MO are really pretty if you go that way. On that trip I crossed the Mississippi near Paducah. The interstates through KY are actually really pretty, good shape, not much traffic. If you go that way, do not neglect to stop at Pop's Barbecue outside of Morehead, oh. my. goodness. Maybe sneak into PA through West Virginia? I dunno. I pretty much hate driving in the East, that route was relatively less painful than some have been and wound up being enjoyable net of everything.
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Old 03-31-2021, 03:20 PM   #7
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191 is one of the great unsung roads of all time. All the way from Bozeman to Lordsburg.

Just a 'Caution' on 191 from Alpine, AZ to Clifton, AZ..... it's not big-rig friendly. Trucks are prohibited over 40'. The grades are 8-9% with constant curves and extremely narrow. Note: We found this out driving our 40' MH towing the Jeep. When we started reading signs there was absolutely no place to turn around. Luckily, it was a beautiful October day and we didn't meet any cars for the whole distance.
We had to take both lanes in some spots. It was after that when we got the 'Mountain Directory".


The 40 east from Flag is nothing to scream about. Views aren't much and the road is in terrible shape. Can't see the painted desert very well and you can easily skip the petrified forest. I mean if it was really a forest, that would be cool. But it isn't.

That depends what you're interested in. We didn't spend much time but it's definitely worth a drive through which can be easily done. There's a reason they're called National Parks.

1. Take 89 north out of Winslow,

89 doesn't go out of Winslow. 87 does.
The Native Indian lands are beautiful in many areas of NM and AZ.
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Old 04-01-2021, 06:18 AM   #8
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I started my booking and planning and we are leaving pa. Aug 1 and heading to south Dakota. I want to book Pallisades state park and then I already booked koa in badlands for 2 nights and 3 nights at Custer state park. Then I booked 2 nights at spearfish Montana and 2 nights at little big horn Montana. These plans are up to Aug 24 so I hope I'm not pushing this so far, lol. I have reservations at grand canyon in Arizona for 4 nights Starting sept 29 (trailer village). So what is realistic to see from Aug 24 to Sept 29. Id love to see old faithful, Yellowstone, Jackson hole, grand Teton, arches, canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Sedona, Winslow, painted desert and petrified forest. I know that sounds like a lot and I don't want to be too too rushed. If you can offer suggestions or routes and camping areas, that would be so so wonderful. Planning a big trip like this is overwhelming for a newbie. I was going to get rv wizard but wondered if it is of value if you just have the info on an app and how would I follow the route that it maps out. I will probably be using my phone and maybe ipiolet or waze or get a garmin rv gps. TIA
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Old 04-01-2021, 06:19 AM   #9
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Thank you for all the helpful info. I updated my post and would appreciate any further helpful info.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:00 AM   #10
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The Native Indian lands are beautiful in many areas of NM and AZ.
87! Don't tell my wife I did that, I've got her convinced I can read a map

Ever stay at Homolovi state park? It's on my list but have never been able to time it just right, looks like it could be really cool tho

Re 40 through AZ... yeah I gotta think back to the first time, if you've never been out west, the 40 is jaw-dropping, and the views of the painted desert heading east aren't terrible. That first trip I rolled through Winslow in the middle of the night -- had been helping with an archaeological dig down near St. John's, and got restless I guess and took off at like 3 in the morning. Running down the road trying to loosen my load, with a world of trouble on my mind. Pulled over at the rest stop for a combat nap, and woke up at sunrise in a Road Runner cartoon basically, it was pretty amazing. If OP is running short of time for a side trip, or if the COVID is still raging and he has to stick to the freeway, he won't be disappointed, for sure

OK.. so now we are filling in a month between Montana and Grand Canyon. If you scroll down a little, there's a whole thread on the west-to-east approach to Yellowstone. 191 will get you past Tetons to Jackson. I've stayed at The Virginian which was really nice but don't remember how much it cost. A lot, probably.

I really like 191 south through Rock Springs (good walmart for overnighting) and then down through flaming gorge. Might as well stay on 191 through Vernal down to Green River, then I guess you'll be doing Capital Reef, Bryce, Kodachrome, and then to Kanab for the side trip to Zion.

I'd make Kanab your decision point, it's not difficult to pick up the freeway in Hurricane to head down to Vegas if you have time. Circus Circus used to have an RV park right on the strip if that's your fancy. From Kingman, old 66 through Peach Springs is really cool. As you start getting close to Flagstaff, you can decide if you have time to loop south through Sedona.

If find yourself short on time, I'd take 89 from Kanab to Flag and use that as a base to see Sedona if you like. Flagstaff is a cool town. Otherwise you can go straight from 89 to the south rim.

When you leave grand canyon, exit east to 89. You can either run down to Flag and catch the 80 from there, or if you feel adventurous you could take 264 to Hopi and then come the other way down 87 past Hopi Volcanic Field to Winslow, which is what I would do. Homolovi state park should be right there, looks interesting but I've never stayed there.
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Old 04-02-2021, 04:19 AM   #11
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Is it realistic to get from little big horn in Montana on Aug. 24, through Yellowstone, grand Teton, old faithful, Jacksonhole and then to Utah, arches, canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion and to south rim of grand canyon by sept. 29. Those are two reservations I already have. We have a 32 foot class a and will towing a Honda crv. We have one dog so I'm hoping we can take her in the car with a lot of the toad rides. TIA.
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:23 AM   #12
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Is rv trip wizard worth getting to plan my trip or should I just map it out myself?
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:25 PM   #13
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Mapping

For me it's half the fun in mapping it on paper, yet I like the ele. GPS for in the MH distances and stops along the way.
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:51 PM   #14
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Is it realistic to get from little big horn in Montana on Aug. 24, through Yellowstone, grand Teton, old faithful, Jacksonhole and then to Utah, arches, canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion and to south rim of grand canyon by sept. 29. Those are two reservations I already have. We have a 32 foot class a and will towing a Honda crv. We have one dog so I'm hoping we can take her in the car with a lot of the toad rides. TIA.
I didn't calculate the mileage between all those stops but it's something you have to do to see what the driving time will be. On secondary roads in the West figure on driving 30-50mph. Then figure how many days you want to stop at each place. Then you might have to eliminate something or just do a one or two-day quick visit and come back for more the next time.

You mention Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Old Faithful and Jacksonhole. For those I'd plan on two stops. Don't try to see it all from one base. Perhaps stay in West Yellowstone and in Grand Teton at Colter Bay RV or Headwaters RV. From there you can easily day trip into Jackson - a very busy little town and a good place to replenish groceries at two big stores just south of town. West Yellowstone has a selection of RV parks and there are some nice State Parks nearby.

Arches/Canyonlands can be done from one stop.

Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon will be 3 stops or a long day of driving a day trip between Bryce & Zion. Check on the park's 'nps' web sites for up-to-date information. The big parks are now requiring even tram reservations or other special reservations which they didn't do a couple years ago. If you only have a day you may be out of luck for Zion because you can't drive your car on the main canyon road. You need to take the tram.

To me, I feel it's best to see a tiny bit of these parks rather than skip them altogether. You can always come back for more and zero in on details.

I'm a paper map planner. I only use a GPS when driving but I already know what roads I want to take to get there by looking at paper. The GPS only gives me a 'heads up' for turns or how many more miles to my destination. We rarely go by what way the GPS tells us to go. We like to explore!
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