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  1. Default Summer Road Trip from Ohio to Western US

    Hello everyone,
    I am planning on taking a road trip across the country later this summer with two or three of my buddies and was just wondering if anyone had any advice for me, including cheap places to camp, places to hike, visit, or anything that you could tell me to make my trip more enjoyable. I know for sure I would like to visit Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, and possibly even Lake Tahoe.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    oh, and I think we are planning on spending about 2 weeks doing this trip, which might be handy to know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The West is Bigger than You Think

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    It's roughly 2000 miles from Columbus to Las Vegas, which is in the heart of MOST of the places you've listed, making it a four day drive each way. If you then spend just a day at each of Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon plus a day or two for the drives between them, you've used up thirteen days of your two weeks. Yellowstone is a good day and a half from this area, and similarly Tahoe is a day's drive. So to make the trip more enjoyable, rather than just two weeks of driving, I'd suggest that you leave out Yellowstone and Tahoe this time. In consolation, you can add Rocky Mountain National Park just north of Denver if you use I-70 for one leg of your journey, and Petrified Forest National Park just east of Holbrook, AZ, and Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque if you use I-40/I-44. You can also take a little more time while crossing the plains to take in some of its attractions. With all the National Parks you'll be visiting, be sure to get a National Parks Pass. The cheapest places to camp are national forests where distributed camping can be as cheap as free. State Parks tend to run $15-25 for a tent site while the problem with National Parks, particularly popular ones such as you want to see, is not so much price as availability.


  3. Default

    Thanks for the help so far AZBuck, I appreciate it. As far as availability in the National Parks for camping...would I be able to call soon and request a site or is it probably even too late right now? Also can I find these national forests where you can pitch a tent for free on a map or website somewhere that you know of? Thanks again for all of your help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Camping

    Summer is clearly the high season for the parks you'll be visiting, so if you know when you'll be there and know that you'll want to camp, I see no reason not to call ahead and try to book campsites for the days/parks you want. Even if they tell you they have no more campsites available or don't book this far ahead, you'll have more info than you have now. State parks tend to be a bit less utilized, so if you do find yourself unable to get a campsite in a national park, be prepared with some knowledge of what else is available nearby. As far as national forests go, here is a guide to what's available there, but note that every national forest can have slightly differing policies.


  5. Default Camping Comment

    Just a couple of comments on this..

    You can check the availability of campsites at National Parks using the national parks camping reservation system. However the two difficulties with this site are you need to get registered before you can really use it (isn't hard, but not very self explanatory the first time I used it), and there are no descriptions of the campgrounds or individual campsites on the reservation system. I just recently went through this process for a Boy Scout troop, and it works pretty well, if you know where you want to camp. There's also the option of calling in to make the reservation.

    Secondly, most state campground reservations (at least in the Western US) are available through the ReserveAmerica web site. I've used this as well, and its more user friendly than the National Park reservations site, but sometimes slow and cranky. There's also a phone reservation option as well.

    Unfortunately there are also other campsites, some of which are very nice, not available through these two sites. For example, city and county park campground typically are not included in ReserveAmerica. But they may be available through the county, regional, or city web sites. In some cases I've actually found these to have VERY good information on the campgrounds and campsites, including in one memorable case where they included pictures of each campsite (That was Mt Madonna County Park, in Santa Clara County California, near Gilroy. Check the Santa Clara County Parks web page, go to camping and look for "virtual tours". is the starting point) Others will require you to call in to get reservations, and in my experience their responsiveness ranges from very good to horrid.

    A good campgrounds directory should tell you these campgrounds exist, but you'll have maybe do some looking to figure out if they are suitable for you, and to get a reservation. (Most camping directories give phone contact information at least.)

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