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Old 01-15-2020, 01:25 PM   #1
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National parks RV trip in the West

Hi,

we are planning a family trip for next July. We are going to rent a RV in Los Angeles for 27 days. After much thought we decided on a route which covers most of our 'must dos'. We have been trying to balance two needs: the need to see as much as possible as it will be our 'once in a lifetime' trip (we live in Switzerland and won't be able to repeat such a long and expensive trip)...on the other hand, it's our first time with an RV and we are afraid to plan trips which appear feasible on paper but too stressing on the road. This is our plan:

July 2 - 225 miles

RV pick up and shopping in the morning.

Drive Los Angeles outskirts - Sequoia NP (Lemon Cove Village RV Park)

July 3 - no driving

Shuttle to Sequoia and park visit

July 4 - 220 miles

Sequoia (Lemon Cove Village RV Park) - Calico Ghost Town

July 5 - 150 miles

Calico Ghost Town - Las Vegas

July 6 - No driving

Helicopter ride Las Vegas-Grand Canyon

Visit Las Vegas

July 7 - 200 miles

Drive Las Vegas - Zion NP

July 8 - No driving

Shuttle to Zion NP and park visit

July 9 - No driving

Shuttle to Zion NP and park visit

July 10 - 90 miles

Drive Zion NP - Bryce Canyon NP

July 11 - No driving

Shuttle to Bryce Canyon and park visit

July 12 - 13 -14 570 miles in three days

Bryce Canyon NP- West Yellowstone NP

(via UT12 Grand Staircase Escalante- Capitol Reef- Fruita- Salt Lake City)

July 15 - 16 - 17

Driving through Yellowstone NP and visiting the Park

(we already booked at Grant Village for our RV)

July 18 - 70 miles

Drive Yellowstone - Jackson Hole

Rodeo night

July 19 - 260 miles

Drive Jackson Hole - Flaming Gorge

July 20

Visit and relax at Flaming Gorge

July 21 - 250 miles

Drive Flaming Gorge - Arches NP (Devil's Garden RV park)

July 22 - 45 miles

Visit and drive from Arches (Devils Garden) to Deadhorse Point NP

July 23

Driving to Canyonlands NP (Island in the sky) and visit

July 24 - 180 miles

Drive from Canyonlands NP area to Monument Valley

July 25 - No driving

Visit to Monument Valley

July 26 - 125 miles

Drive Monument Valley - Antelope Canyon

Visit Antelope canyon and Horseshoe Bend

July 27 - 28 (about 600 miles in two days)

Drive Antelope Canyon - Los Angeles Outer Area

July 29

Los Angeles - RV back to owner and evening flight to Switzerland

Well....I realize it is a very long trip. My questions:

Do you see any stretch of driving which looks too long or too arduous? Remember we will be driving a 27 ft RV for the first time. We have two youngsters aged 12 and 14.

Do you think it is a good plan or would you suggest changes?
I have posted the same questions on the Tripadvisor forum but most people simply tried to discourage me from doing this trip with an RV.
Is it really unfeasible? I'm asking the RV experts here...

Thank you for your patience in getting to the bottom, I realize it is a long reading!

XXX

Francesca
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:25 PM   #2
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Wink Long Days

We completed a 15,000 mile trip last year around the US. We found anything over 200 miles a day was long, and liked to keep each day at 150 or less. Especially when you are planning to visit sites, you need time to view sites, eat lunch and dinner, and get to and set up your rv park which all takes time. And then there are additional stops which you find as you are going along.

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Enjoy - but maybe shorten a few days.
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Old 01-15-2020, 02:35 PM   #3
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As for the long driving days: I've done a couple 600 mile days back-to-back. There is no way to do that and still enjoy, anything, on those days. Just note that it will probably take a couple days to recouperate from that leg of the trip.

As for "jamming in" that much activity, whereas most (probably including me) would not do that I have a friend that did a trip like this before. He took his family of 5 in a minivan on a whirlwind trip of the national parks from Southwest Ohio in about 2 weeks. They made it as far as California on that trip (Pikes Peak, Zion, Bryce, Arches, etc). I think he's crazy, but when you're on your first trip you want to see as much as possible then maybe on the next go back and see what was most interesting. (We've been back to Bryce canyon a couple times).


Just prepare the kids for those long days. They're going to be bored, and as long as you know that from the beginning and are prepared you'll do fine. After a while a rock formation will become just another rock formation. Look for little opportunities to stop along the way even if it's just for 1/2 hour to let them stretch their legs.
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Old 01-15-2020, 03:08 PM   #4
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Mapping it out and Sequoia seems really out of the way unless it's in the area of picking up the RV.

Also do you have any Rain Days? Maybe it never rains there, or it won't ruin the day.

Get your tickets for Antelope Canyon early.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:41 PM   #5
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Can I come along? LOL

If you are thinking about driving Navajo Nationís Monument Valley Park https://navajonationparks.org/tribal...nument-valley/ they do not allow Motorhomes on the trail. But there is several tour guides services in the area.

I think your days of 300 miles per day (or less) is about right. I think you showed a two day period of about 500 miles and another of 3 days 600 miles. Should work.

Remember LAX can be a royal pain getting in/out of during peak traffic times. Not knowing where you are dropping off the RV might be cutting your flight time close, and the TSA, doesn't really care about your scheduled. Same with arrival, can you get to your first destination early enough so you can see what you are doing?
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Old 01-15-2020, 11:26 PM   #6
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I think your trip is well planned and given your children's ages, they'll love the national parks and hiking (very early morning is best at this time of year in the Utah parks - it's a hot time). Try to sign up early when you make the reservations at Arches for the Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike. You will all love it!!! It's very unique. You've got a lot crammed in there but it sounds like you're young and the children are at good ages for covering the miles. You'll do just fine.

We've been to all of these areas and they're favorite areas of ours. All except... Calico Ghost Town .... don't bother going there. It's nothing.

For such a tight schedule in prime season I hope you can get reservations although there will be sufficient campgrounds available without reservation but they'll be without electric, also, and it will be HOT.

Have a great trip!!!
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Old 01-16-2020, 09:47 AM   #7
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While I'd love to do 200 miles a day, we'd never get to go anywhere if we did things that way. We're a working family with a week or two weeks here and there (pretty lucky, really, to have as much time as we do) to travel.

Due to holidays/shutdowns, by using 3 vacation days, we had over 2 weeks of time off over the holidays. We went from MI to CA. Looking at my logs, we went as much as 900 miles in a day (trucking across the country). We have an 8 year old and a 2 year old. We went 6585 miles in 2 weeks. Granted, we adored our non-stuck-in-the-truck days.

Naturally flexibility is required. We lost an entire day due to SNOW in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. It was 6-8" of heavy wet snow and they average 0-1" per year. Hadn't seen snow in 11 years. No accounting for that kind of stuff. Caused us to miss out on a $40/night reservation (only reservation we made on the whole trip).

Your distances would be leisurely for us. Seems entirely doable.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:05 PM   #8
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I too feel this is completely doable, though question some of your time allotment and choice of places to visit. I have not mapped out all your stops, but some seem rather out of the way, and you seem to be missing some of the other potential stops that are more on route on the way.


I have visited some, but not all of the places on your trip, including Grant Village campground in Yellowstone in the summer of 2017, as well as Antelope canyon, and the Grand Canyon last October. We have a 28 ft class A so very similar in size to the coach you will be renting.


Having said that I try to plan around 300-350 miles per day on travel days, and try to never do more than 3 travel days in a row without a 2 night stop. This is not to say that I always follow this rule, for example on a trip last year I drove 499 miles in one day, this was all on open interstate highway in west Texas where there is a lot of open space and low population density, in order to get through the city of San Antonio on a Sunday evening vs fighting the traffic on a Monday morning. This was a long and tiring day, and not something I would want to do if I had a better option. Driving a motorhome is much more tiring than driving a car, it also seems to take about 15-20% longer to get anywhere due to the combination of slower driving speed, more time to get on the road in the morning, more time stopped getting fuel, etc.


Now down to a couple of points that jump out at me,


1st, I would plan fewer miles on day 1, there will likely be delays already, and you need a little time to adjust to such a large vehicle. I would try to cut this back to 100-150 miles max, taking at least 30 minute breaks every 50 miles or so.


2nd, you should be aware that July 4th is US Independence day, one of the biggest summer travel holidays of the year, this year it falls on a Saturday, so may not be as bad as when it falls on a Friday or Monday, still expect some of businesses to be closed on Friday the 3rd to let their employees have a 3 day weekend. Campgrounds and parks will also be very busy that weekend, and expect many areas to have 4th of July fireworks displays going on.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:20 PM   #9
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I think one of your biggest issues will be full parking lots in all of the National Parks. Shuttles will help a lot, but if you are using your RV for sightseeing it's going to be very challenging.

Make sure you have reservations for campgrounds at all of your stops.

Hwy 12 is a spectacular drive, but mostly has no guardrail and is narrow with some sharp corners and some significantly steep grades. If you or your passengers are white knuckle driver/rider this route will get your attention.

This will be an amazing trip!!!!!
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:48 PM   #10
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Just a few follow ups, it is a rainy day here, so I plotted out your trip in google maps, and it appears to be just under 3,000 miles in 27 days, this is very similar to our trip in October to Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, etc. which was 3,200 miles in 26 days, though of course I have the benefit of having 15,000 miles of driving experience in my coach before starting out on the trip.


If I were to make any suggestion on this trip it would be to skip Sequoia off the trip as this would save 350 miles worth of driving, giving you more time to spend along the rest of the driving loop.


Also personally I would skip Las Vegas, and the plane flight over the grand canyon, in favor of a 2 night stop at the Grand Canyon north rim, as I just feel you really should see the grand canyon from the ground level, before seeing it from the air, and Las Vegas just does not fit the nature theme of the rest of the trip. Plus there really is not that much to entertain kids in Vegas.


This really is a spectacular region to see, and you are hitting a lot of the BIG attractions along the way, but don't forget there are also lots of lesser, but still spectacular places along your route. Let me share photos of just one, Gooseneck State Park outside Mexican Hat, UT, this is just about 5 miles off your route on the way to Monument Valley. $10 per night dry camping on the edge of the canyon (first come first serve campsite). A truly spectacular camp site when we were there in mid October, our nearest neighbors were about 300 feet away further down the canyon rim.
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:11 AM   #11
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"1st, I would plan fewer miles on day 1, there will likely be delays already, and you need a little time to adjust to such a large vehicle. I would try to cut this back to 100-150 miles max, taking at least 30 minute breaks every 50 miles or so.


2nd, you should be aware that July 4th is US Independence day, one of the biggest summer travel holidays of the year, this year it falls on a Saturday, so may not be as bad as when it falls on a Friday or Monday, still expect some of businesses to be closed on Friday the 3rd to let their employees have a 3 day weekend. Campgrounds and parks will also be very busy that weekend, and expect many areas to have 4th of July fireworks displays going on."


Thank you for your advice.
We actually added one day at the beginning just to take it easy on the first day...and we figured that being in Calico (just chosen because roughly in the middle between Sequoia and Las Vegas) would be better than say Las Vegas. Less crowded on the 4th of July. Although seeing some fireworks would be nice... :-)
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac-1 View Post

If I were to make any suggestion on this trip it would be to skip Sequoia off the trip as this would save 350 miles worth of driving, giving you more time to spend along the rest of the driving loop.


Also personally I would skip Las Vegas, and the plane flight over the grand canyon, in favor of a 2 night stop at the Grand Canyon north rim, as I just feel you really should see the grand canyon from the ground level, before seeing it from the air, and Las Vegas just does not fit the nature theme of the rest of the trip. Plus there really is not that much to entertain kids in Vegas.

Thank you for your suggestions.
We are actually revising our plans for the Las Vegas helicopter trip and trying to include a visit to the Grand Canyon as you suggested, although our youngsters would love to see Vegas...but for that it's just sufficient a night stop I think...

As for the Sequoia, it is out of the way I know, but we could't bear to exclude it as we really MUST see the giant sequoias, and we don't know if we will ever come back another time...
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Old 01-19-2020, 11:45 AM   #13
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In that case, let me say this about the Grand Canyon, having visited it for the first time myself a few months ago (after many canceled trips over the years). Pictures completely fail to give any sense of its scale, and seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time is sort of like seeing an ocean for the first time. You may have seen small lakes and rivers before, and had it described as a lake that goes on to the horizon, but until you see it yourself, it is hard to comprehend. You can stand at the canyon rim, hold your arm out stretched with your thumb covering just a patch of canyon floor, then be amazed by how much area was covered by your thumb.
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Old 01-19-2020, 12:26 PM   #14
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You get a real feel of how massive the Canyon is but getting on the Bright Angel Trail and walk down for only 1/8 - 1/4 miles or so. It is an altogether different experience that standing on the top. Don't be tempted to go much farther. I highly recommend doing this.

People don't realize what it's like to come back up! We once took a 9 day raft trip which began at the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail. We were all experienced hikers but we still felt the effects of the steep downhill on the trail that we needed to do in order to start the rafting. Close to getting to the bottom we met the group whose places we were to take on the raft. They had started their trip from upstream. They had to walk up the whole trail to get out. As we met them they were out of breath and asked "are we almost there"? We laughed. They had only gone up about 1 mile and had many miles to go!
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