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  1. #1

    Default RV trip from Deep South to Yellowstone

    I'm planning an RV trip from Southeast (Mississippi) to Yellowstone then to Grand Canyon and maybe Route 66. Any suggestions as to where to campgrounds, realistic driving schedules, places to see with kids (6 & 12) and realistic amount of time to do this. I was thinking this could be done in 3 weeks or less. Has anyone done this before or think the 3 week time is realistic? Also any recommended activities or things to see along the way would be most appreciated. Should I take a canoe, etc...
    Thanks for any input you may have!

  2. #2
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default The More Time, The Better

    Welcome to the Forum Tecque!

    I personally think that for your limited number of destinations, 3 weeks should be ok, but more is always better. I wouldn't try and reduce the number of days you have for the trip, it just might lessen the experience.

    I think you'd be able to use your canoe on Yellowstone Lake (and a few others possibly), so if you're into canoeing, go for it!

    I'll start looking into some of the other things when I can.

    Hope this helps for a start!
    -Brad

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    7

    Default

    I have a few suggestions.

    Taking an RV will be an enormous help with small ones.

    Make sure you have some way of playing DVDs, either a laptop computer or a dedicated DVD player. Buy a bunch of cheap, kid-friendly DVDs at Walmart. Large stretches of KS, OK, WY, eastern CO and TX are rolling grassland. If you do not have a degree in Anesthesiology you will need something to entertain the kids.

    If you can rent a canoe in Yellowstone, that may be better than lugging one thousands of miles for a day or two of use. More air resistance, worse mileage with a canoe on the RV roof.

    I would initially head north more or less, then go west taking in the Black Hills near Rapid City with all the attractions there, on to Yellowstone and then south.

    Consider Las Vegas. CHEAP in midsummer, especially during the week. Give your kids ( and yourself) a break from the confines from the RV for a day or two. There is much for kids in Las Vegas, the pool at the Mandalay Bay is especially fine. You can feed them cheap too at the many buffets. Check it out on the internet.

    From there you can go south on 95 to Needles, then cross the Sitgreaves Pass through Oatman (good fun for kids) to Kingman. This is old 66. Route 66 is basically I-40 now.Going east on I-40 there are many areas where some of old Route 66 is preserved.

    There are many websites on this topic. See the meteor crater near Winslow. Eat a 72 oz steak in Amarillo. If time permits, there is Six Flags in DFW. The kids will love it!

    Just my $.02 worth...

    -ken-

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default I've got mixed feelings here....

    I plugged Wall, SD (so you could see the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, and the famous Wall Drug), Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, into MS Streets & Trips. I assumed your starting point as Jackson, Mississippi. Obviously, you may have to add or subtract some miles depending on your real starting/ending point. This comes to about 4300 miles. Which would average about 205 miles per day. Since you will want to spend a few days at Yellowstone and probably a few more days at other locations, your traveling days are probably going to be more like 14 days instead of 21 days (just a guess). 14 days to travel would make it about 310 mile days.

    I'm really torn on this. For me, this would make a great trip. I love to mix up some 500+ mile driving days with days of staying put. But your kids might not like to be in the RV 10 hours or more at a shot and, quite frankly, my experience with driving RVs tells me that you might not like it either. I think it's much more tiring to drive a big rig like that than it is to drive a smaller, sportier car.

    So I guess I'm in the minority when I say I think you're trying to go too far and cram too much into 3 weeks and make it fun for everybody.

    When my kids were younger and traveling with us, we would do whatever we could to make it fun for the kids and, well, for us, too. Kids are too energetic for hours in the car. And I am totally opposed to DVDs and other such distractions while on the road. Of course, those things weren't available to our kids back then. We did let them bring their GameBoy and CD players when they got older but we seriously limited their time playing with them. They only got to use them once in awhile. I really wanted the driving time to be family time where we would discuss where we were going, where we had just been, and play games and even sing silly songs. These family fun times in the vehicle are some of my most precious memories with my kids to this day. And my kids both love roadtrips. I don't think they would have such happy memories of these trips if they had been glued to their electronic devices.

    Add to that, we usually planned trips that were shorter distances than the time allowed so we would only need to travel, at most, about 3-4 hours daily. Some days less. And some days we'd stay put. We did this on purpose so there was no feeling of being rushed. If the kids got wiggly, we could stop at a beach, at hiking trails, or at parks with playground equipment so the kids could burn up some energy and get those wiggles out. We rarely felt rushed so we could spend 1 hour at that beach (or whatever) or 3 hours. We let the kids basically determine when it was time to go. If they became a bit bored, we left. If they were having a great time, we stayed.

    The few times we really had to burn some miles, we would take turns driving all night with a planned stop the next day where we could take turns napping and catching up on sleep. So, for example, once when we were heading East and wanted to burn those miles, we left at about 8pm and drove straight through until about 10am the next morning with only minimal stops for gas, stretch breaks, and switching driver. My kids fell asleep shortly after we got on the road and slept all night until about 8am so they only had about 2 hours where they were aware they were on the road that day. We stopped at about 10am at Big Timber, MT, where we stayed in a great KOA that has a large, nice pool and waterslides. We spent the day and that night there before moving on. The kids had a fantastic day swimming and sliding and made a lot of friends with other kids. My husband and I took turns napping in the sun and playing with the kids. We were well-rested when we continued our trip the next day. If we had broken up the driving that first leg of our trip, we would have been going past places we had all seen a dozen times already and we wouldn't have had time to play at Big Timber. And this way the kids weren't awake and aware for the trip until we got into new scenery they hadn't seen so they enjoyed the driving time more.

    I really suggest letting the kids take the lead on when to stop and how long to stop....just don't let them realize they hold this power. LOL You will all have a lot more fun this way. And if you're not trying to burn too many miles, you'll have more time to meander and explore off your main route. Kids usually love doing this.

    I would suggest going to either Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon this trip and saving the other destination for another year.

    If you do Yellowstone, I think the Black Hills would still make a nice detour along the way. This would reduce your overall miles to about 3800 miles. And it makes a nice loop. You coudl go north through Memphis and Nashville, then veer west and north to Sioux Fals, then continue straight west thorugh South Dakota and Wyoming and see some wonderful sights along the way. On the way back, you could head through Cheyenne, Denver, Wichita, Oklahoma City, and Dallas (6 Flags! Fun last major stop for the kids), then home. This would make a nice loop.

    Or, if you choose Grand Canyon, you could also do a nice loop of about 3800 miles. You could go there via Dallas, Amarillo, then up to I-40 along the Old Route 66, and take time to veer off to explore the parts of that old route that are still there. You could still stop at the Meteor Crater like Ken suggested. And Albuquerque (an awesome city), too. Then explore Grand Canyon, then Bryce Canyon, then Zion NP, before heading onto Las Vegas for a few days. On the way back, go south through Phoenix and Tucson and then head east on I-10. There's lots of fun stops along here. You can veer off for a day to Tombstone, AZ, and see the OK Corral and other fun stuff from the Wyatt Earp legends then go off to San Antonio for a peek at the Alamo. Then head for home.

    Obviously, if you won't be able to make both trips over the next few years, you'll want to do the route that Ken suggested. I just think you'll see more of the country and have more time to meander and explore if you break them up. Take my 2 cents with a grain of salt and make the best decision for you and your family. I just believe the family togetherness and fun memories you create by making the trip fun for everyone is more important than getting from point A to Z in record time and packing as much sightseeing in as you can. YMMV.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    754

    Default I second that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy
    And I am totally opposed to DVDs and other such distractions while on the road.
    I have to agree with Judy on this one. I always travelled with my parents, even when I was just a baby and I never needed DVDs to be entertained. Like Judy's kids I did have a GameBoy, but it was just one thing out of the bunch, I had books, travel maps and guide books and I tried to follow our progress on the maps. We used to play games like the licence plate game, trivia games, chess (with magnets) and of course, we visited lots of attractions on our way.

    I believe the kids have to be somehow involved in the preparation of the trip and feel they are part of the decisions. I second Judy in her opinion that you might be pushing the envelope a little bit in a time frame of only 3 weeks. An RV is not as malleable as a regular car and travelling with kids require more pit stops, 10 hours a day in a RV might not be as fun for them...Especially if you pass by amusement parks and waterslides along the interstates without stopping.:o)

    Today, I think it's partly my parents' "fault" if I am such a road trip addict:o)) because they had the ability to make these long and sometimes stenuous drives look like a day at the beach.

    I'm planning an RV trip from Southeast (Mississippi) to Yellowstone then to Grand Canyon and maybe Route 66. Any suggestions as to where to campgrounds, realistic driving schedules, places to see with kids (6 & 12) and realistic amount of time to do this
    If you go through Biloxi, take a shrimping boat tour on the Sailfish. Some parks where you can stay overnight : Meaher S.P., Shepard S.P., Gulf Islands N.S. In New Orleans, check out the Voodoo Historic Museum. Don't bother trying to drive your RV through the narrow streets of the Vieux Carré though, you'd either end up stuck between two cars or won't be able to find any parking space.:o)

    As Ken rentiers suggested, I think The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX might make a great stop. Further west, The Alamo in San Antonio is worth a visit. Big Bend National Park is a little out of the way, but offers breath taking sceneries and a lot of cheap camping opportunities.

    In New Mexico, visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. For quirky stuff make a quick trekk north: Shrine of the Miracle Tortilla in Lake Arthur (here's a fun article about similar food-related discoveries throughout the U.S.), UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell and have an unidentified meal at the Crash Down Diner and, finally, pay a tribute to Smokey the Bear at Smokey the Bear Historical State Park in Capitan. On US 70, stop by White Sands National Park where for 3$ you can drive and hike through huge dunes of white gypsum sands.

    A great scenic alternative to I-10 is using US 60 from Socorro, NM to Phoenix, AZ. US 60 traverses several semi ghost towns and the Very Large Array featured in the movie Contact. Not many services on this road though. If you use I-10 to get to Arizona, stop by the ghost towns of Lordsburg and Shakespeare, NM. Take the Bowie exit in AZ and follow the directions to Ft. Bowie N.H.S. It is an easy 1.5 mile hike to the ruins and Visitors Center and it has great picnic spots. Bring plenty of water.

    Further west, make the trekk south to Tombstone, a fun tourist trap (OK Corral, Courthouse, etc). In the Tucson area, visit the Kartchner Caverns State Park, Biosphere 2 and Saguaro National Park.

    For a few ideas of other destinations further north in Arizona and Utah, take a look at that post. In Utah, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands are all must sees.

    Like Judy suggested, I think the Black Hills area is a perfect place for kids (and adults), lots of entertainment and beautiful landscapes! Here are some attractions in that region :
    -Corn Palace, Mitchell;
    -Badlands NP;
    -Wall Drug, Wall;
    -Black Hills and Mt Rushmore;
    -Crazy Horse Memorial;
    -Ranch Amusement Park (Go-Kart, wall-climbing, game arcade)
    -Sitting Bull Crystal Cave;
    -Wind Cave NP;
    -Rushmore Waterslides;
    -Steam Train Ride;
    -Cosmos Mystery Area;
    -check out this interesting field report on SD

    Happy planning!

    Gen

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    7

    Default

    You are no doubt right, Judy.

    One thing I do is to stop to eat at Cracker Barrels and utilize the CD books-on-tape exchange service when crossing the Big Empty. Satellite radio is another plus.

    With kids it really is the destination, not the journey. Also, I think your idea of splitting the trip into two separate ones is great. And, if there are two drivers and you can connect the dots with an overnight drive, the children will be much more content, I suspect.

    -ken-
    (of course I could be completely wrong)
    Last edited by Quebec Gen; 05-14-2006 at 08:43 AM. Reason: deleted inappropriate comment

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,498

    Default Not so, anymore!

    Quote Originally Posted by ken rentiers
    Consider Las Vegas. CHEAP in midsummer, especially during the week
    That used to be true, just like it used to be true that this town was "dead between the first two weeks of December", but times have changed. There really is no "down time" anymore here in Las Vegas. This is an expensive venue for families year-round. Once in a while you can find extremely low fares in the sub-$50 per night at the strip hotels, but most of the time they are in the triple digit ranges. There are less-expensive motels and hotels here, but there is no lodging that I would characterize as "cheap."
    You can feed them cheap too at the many buffets. Check it out on the internet.
    This is an expensive place to play -- It can fun, and there are some cool pools & places for kids of all ages, but it is no longer an inexpensive get-away. Some of the places we recommend and enjoy can be read about here.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    7

    Default Cheap Eats in LV

    Well the rack rate at the Luxor Monday July 17 is $99.00 per the net. Many roadside motels exceed that. I agree Las Vegas can be extremely expensive, but midweek, midsummer rates are very competitive imho. Buffets are $12-20, all you can eat. My kids used to clean off 8 plates! {snip}

    I stayed at a Marriott Courtyard in DFW last week, midweek, It was $120. And I got the geezer discount. Dinner in Dallas would easily run you $20.00 unless you are into Happy Meals.

    To use a Clintonism, it depends what your definition of "cheap"is. It's been a long time since I saw a room for less than 50 bucks, I would be apprehensive about staying there....maybe Anthony Perkins is running the place!

    -ken-
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-14-2006 at 12:48 PM. Reason: edited for borderline commentary

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,498

    Default How many years ago was that?

    Quote Originally Posted by ken rentiers
    Buffets are $12-20, all you can eat.
    A $12 buffet??? I will do some checking, but buffets here run $17.50 to $55.00 each -- It has been a long time since any casino felt it was necessary to give discounts on food or drink.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,498

    Default Roadtripping with kids -- is the best!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tecque
    ...places to see with kids (6 & 12)
    You might find Chris Epting's take on this subject useful and encouraging! Especially his opinions about DVDs and other distractions (I share his opinion on this one 1000%)

    Mark

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