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  1. Default Las Vegas to Reno with many stops!!

    I will \be taking a 24 day trip starting mid December. The destinations will be as follows;

    Las Vegas to Tombstone, AZ
    Tombstone to San Diego, CA
    San Diego to Newport Beach, CA
    Newport Beach to Apple Valley, CA
    Apple Valley to Bakersfield
    Bakersfield to Sacramento
    Sacramento to San Francisco
    San Francisco to Santa Rosa
    Santa Rosa to Reno
    Reno back to Vegas.

    I will be traveling with my two dogs and one other person (not sure who quite yet). I have a 1989 Ford Ranger that has been repaired to excellent working condition. I am planning on getting either cheap a towbehind trailer or a cheap cabover camper. I would like the trailer cause it will provide more space, but the cabover would work excellently as well.

    I will be taking about $1000 to $1500 with me and would like to know from you experienced road trippers, what should I keep in mind, do, see, make sure of...I want to know everything. Weather, road conditions, short cuts...ETC ETC>

    I'm willing to make stops and venture off the path a little for some great sights. If anyone can make any suggestions for cool places to visit along the way or a little out of the way, please do!

    I can also answer any questions on here as well!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Some thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Looking at your route, are stops in Apple Valley and Bakersfield essential? They kind of make it difficult to hit the coastal highway, which would be the route I'd want to take from Newport to San Francisco. You could then hit Santa Rosa and Sacramento on your way towards Reno.

    As far as things to do, on your first leg alone, you'd have the Grand Canyon, Sedona, AZ, not to mention the Pheonix and Tucson areas.

    For your camping set-up, I'd be looking strongly at a cabover option. You're going to be going over several mountain passes, and the additional strain of pulling a trailer is more than I'd want to put on a pickup that's pushing 20 years old, no matter how good of condition it is in.

    Your budget seems a little on the light side, if you are only planning to spend $1500. During your 2000 mile trip, I'd be planning to spend at least $500 on gasoline alone. That leaves you $40 per day for eating/camping/misc expenses. If you try and limit yourself to very low cost camping, and do a lot of eating out of a cooler, you should be able to get by, but you won't have much room to splurge.

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I agree with Michael

    I also think your budget is kinda tight. But if you are frugal by eating most meals out of your cooler (or your camper's kitchen), stay in inexpensive campgrounds, and make hiking and other outdoor pursuits the mainstay of your trip activities, you should be fine. But if you can squeeze another $500 or so out, that would be better. Of course, if you have a traveling companion sharing gas, groceries and camping fee expenses, your budget will be eased up quite a bit.

    Another reason why a camper makes a better choice is because it's easier to do some free camping along the way. When we had a truck/camper combo, more than once we would find ourselves either too strapped for cash to pay for campground fees or no openings at any nearby campgrounds. So we would sometimes just pull into a parking lot and stay there. Now, if you do this, you want to pull in fairly late and not be sitting up with your lights on for any longer than it takes to climb into bed. And then plan to pull out early. But it's an easier option with a camper as it's smaller and not as conspicuous. You could even park on a residential street doing this. Just don't call attention to yourself at all. Some Wal-Marts, not all, actually encourage campers to do this as well. But check with the store manager first and be sure you buy something there if you do get a free night's stay in their lot.

    Of course, our Editor makes a good case for not doing these things for liability reasons I won't get into here. But it's an option to consider. As long as you're careful and use good common-sense, I think it's a good option once in awhile.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your input. My budget is tight because yes, I will have a companion sharing expenses. And I also do plan to eat out of the cooler most of the time. I am stopping in AV and Bakersfield to visit friends. I'm not too interested in taking the coast route unless you think its something that cannot be missed. I'll probably be taking another trip in the summer, perhaps I could hit it then?

    Also, the trailer issue. It would not be a very large trailer. The problem I have with the cabover is the space. I have a 70 inch long bed with only 38 inches between the wheel well walls. I know from looking at campers that this doesn't leave me with much space. I kind of wanted a few amenities such as porto-potti and perhaps a sink and a stove. I know the size of camper that fits in my truck is either not going to have these things or make the space even more cramped.

    However, if you really believe that towing a small trailer would be too hard on my truck, speak again and I'll ditch the idea.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Its your truck...

    Its going to have to be your decision on whether you think your truck will be able to handle towing a trailer over this distance. You know it better than we do, and if it is in perfect condition, you'll probably be able to make it without any problems.

    However, in general, I'd say that If I had an average pickup that is 18 years old (and presumably has a fairly high number of miles), I probably would not feel confident in its ability to handle such a long journey when you will have to make several trips over significant mountain passes. The size of the engine will also play a role in that decision making. If its a 4 cyl, I'd be even less likely to make the trip than if it has a V6.

    There will be trade offs for either option. While having a full trailer will likely be more comfortable to sleep in, its also going to be more difficult to drive, not only over the mountains but also through the major cities your route will take you through.

    However, you'll have to weigh the tradeoff and decide what option works best for you.

  6. Default

    OK, I also have a 2003 Ford Explorer. Do you think that would be a better option for towing the trailer?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Much better

    As long as it is in good mechanical condition, I would feel much more confident pulling a trailer with the Explorer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default My take/Your decision

    Having traveled with a truck/camper, a truck/trailer, and in a car with a tent, I'll give you my take on all three.

    Truck/Camper: Easy to maneuver through traffic and to park. Difficult to go up and down elevations due to the extra weight. Need to travel at a slower speed due to the weight and how the center of gravity is different with the camper on. Nice to just pull up to a campground, crawl into the camper, and go to bed without having to do anything special. Nice to have a kitchen to pull over anywhere and prepare a good meal. Decreased fuel consumption.

    Truck/Trailer: Easy to maneuver but the need to be hyper-vigilant about the space needs for your extra length is tiresome. Difficult to go up and down elevations. Decreased fuel consumption. More of a hassle to go through small towns, to find parking for, and to get in-and-out of parking lots. Sometimes impossible. Can be difficult to get gas in older stations without a lot of space around the pumps. More of a hassle for camping with at night because of the greater need to level it and use supports to keep it stable.

    Car/Tent: Funner driving experience. No loss of fuel consumption. Bad if it's raining....not so much for the sleeping if you have a good, rain-proof tent but the putting up/taking down in the rain is not a good time. Can be bad if it's cold unless you have a very good tent, insulated bedding/sleeping pads, and extra blankets. If so, I kinda enjoy the fresh, cold air on my face while I'm nice and warm in my sleeping bag. YMMV. It's still easy to eat out of a cooler with a well-organized cooking/food prep set-up in your trunk for easy access.

    Personally, when we had the truck/camper or truck/trailer, we never strayed more than about 200-300 miles from home. Longer trips weren't worth it. We didn't enjoy the driving experience and the increased fuel consumption didn't make sense at all. With more miles, it made more sense to take the car, enjoy the fuel savings, and use it toward an inexpensive motel. We have always eaten out of a cooler a lot, no matter what vehicle we took.

    I would only travel long distances with a camper or trailer if I had the luxury of a very long (at least 3-4 months) trip. But for quick roadtrips, to me, it's not worth it.

    So, if it were me, I'd take the Ford Explorer. Pack camping gear. And then camp when the location and the weather are appropriate. And stay in an inexpensive hotel if bad weather sets in. But that's me. Again, YMMV.

    As for the Oregon Coast.....if you're going to be back up this way again, you could definitely save it for another time. It might be more fun in the summer anyway. But it is definitely a MUST-do. Gorgeous. Stunning. Really.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by sincitychains View Post
    Bakersfield to Sacramento
    Sincity- everyone is bugging you about the gear, but not the route. You have 24 days and you need to explore the Sierra Nevada inbetween Bakersfield (located at the tip of the southern Sierra) and Sacramento. Lot of history and neat stuff, ntm the Sierra Nevada Passes. You might consider going up and over Hwy 108 to Bodie Historic Ghost Town, then double back via Monitor Pass (Hwy 89) to Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4). Even just drive up Historic Hwy 49 (it's 330 miles long!).

    There are also THREE(!!) national parks between those two, and those at the very least should not be missed less you've already been there, or would make a special trip just for them. Namely Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite. They make them into National Parks for a reason, they're typically just stunning! Also note Glacier Point in Yosemite. Tedious to get there, but what a view!

    Won't post it, but Check this out!. Shot that last weekend at Glacier Point. And yes, it's straight down all the way to the bottom. Makes me want to take up base jumping. ;)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Or Vertigo!

    Quote Originally Posted by pashnit View Post
    Shot that last weekend at Glacier Point. And yes, it's straight down all the way to the bottom. Makes me want to take up base jumping. ;)
    Just makes me dizzy -- great angle though! Have you ever done the hike to the top of Half Dome? That is fun and just enough crazy to be appealing to you, I would bet.


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