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  1. Default Visiting the Major National Parks

    Our family is planning a 4-5 week trip in the summer of 2012 during which we hope to hit many of the major national parks. My children will be 14, 11, and 10. The tentative route has us going through Colorado Springs to Arches, down to the North Rim, up to Zion, then Hoover Dam, a quick swing through LA area, up to Yosemite, over to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, than heading back east (PA is home) with a stop in the Badlands/Mt. Rushmore area. I am particularly interested in travel tips, best routes for an RV (28 ft. Class C motorhome), and suggestions for unique places to see along the way. Would also welcome thoughts about the North Rim vs. South Rim and advice about the best way to get from Yosemite up to the Grand Tetons. Appreciate any help that you can provide. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Some thoughts about the different Canyon rims:

    The North Rim is certainly quieter than the South, since the latter is where the majority of visitors venture. One figure I saw listed is that the North Rim gets only 10% of the number of visitors of the South.

    Between the two, the North Rim is about 1000 feet higher in elevation, and as a result you'll see more vegetation than the South.

    Having been to both, with the North Rim first, I felt the North was more tranquil and serene - perhaps less overrun - but each had its own merits.
    Last edited by Mass Tim; 07-03-2011 at 03:50 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From Arches to Hoover Dam can be done several ways, including any of the following: Zion, Bryce Canyon, North Rim, South Rim, Monument Valley.

    The most direct way from Yosemite to the Tetons is over Tioga Pass, US-395 to CA-167/NV-359 to US-95 to I-80 to US-93 to I-84 to I-86 to US-26 to ID-31 to ID-33/WY-22 to Jackson. That's a full 2 day drive. A good stop would be around Wells NV, there's a few RV parks there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Lot's to see and do.

    The NPS site is a great place to do some research and get info on all the parks. Some popular parks that you haven't listed close to your route would include Rocky mountain NP, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon. RV sites inside the NP's have limited availability and in the summer months can book up quickly so you will need to check the opening times of the booking window to your travel time and book the popular parks asap. You should also purchase the NPS annual pass for $80 as it will save you money over paying individually.

    With added detours I would think you are looking at a 6500 mile round trip and close to a couple of weeks driving in an RV so you have time for adventure. A "quick swing through the LA area" would be a slight understatement and is not an ideal City to be negotiating an RV around, which is something to consider.

    For routes and attractions at this stage, I would simply keep looking around the forums and road trip planning resources in the tool bars above and as you build your trip keep asking questions and we can help fill in the blanks. You will find thousands of ideas !

    Enjoy the planning!

  5. Default

    Hi yoder5,

    Well you are getting an early start on planning which is great! I'm going to assume you will be doing all your driving in the RV and won't have a tow vehicle. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

    Are you planning on seeing Rocky Mountain National Park while in Colorado?

    Not sure what route you will be taking from Colorado Springs, but if you end up on I-70 as you cross the Utah border then take Hwy 128 at Cisco into Moab. While at Arches you might want to check out Canyonlands Island in the Sky district and the Potash Road Hwy 279 where you can spot petroglyphs along the road.

    North Rim vs South Rim is always asked and each of us has our favorites. Mine happens to be the South Rim and I recommend it to first time visitors to the Grand Canyon. It's a lot more crowded in the summer than the N. Rim and will also be warmer. If you happen to end up here over any part of the 4th of July weekend, then go to the North Rim. You will need to make reservations at the North Rim if you want to camp there and you will because there isn't anything really close. The drive to the North Rim is slow in an RV...been there and done that!

    From Moab to the South Rim you can pass Monument Valley which is worth a stop. If you are going to the North Rim you might choose to go though Capitol Reef National Park, take scenic Hwy 12 thought Escalante-Grand Staircase, make a stop at Bryce and then make your way to the North Rim. From the N. Rim to Las Vegas make sure you at least drive though Zion National Park. There will be a $15.00 RV Tunnel fee, but it's worth it.

    We live in the San Francisco Bay area and go to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons often. If you want to hit, the Salt Lake Flats, Salt Lake and Salt Lake City, then just stay on I-80 all the way to Salt Lake. We've been a number of times so we usually like to avoid Salt Lake City and take I-80 to Wells, NV and then head north on Hwy 93 to Twin Falls and then I-86 to Idaho Falls.

    Since you are going from Grand Teton - Yellowstone area to Mt. Rushmore, you should probably visit the Grand Tetons first so you can exit Yellowstone at either Cody or Beartooth Highway and then head east.

    If you don't mind camping without full hook ups, I recommend one of the Yosemite Valley Campgrounds (Upper Pines, Lower Pines and North Pines) so you can leave your RV in the campground and ride the free shuttles or walk or bike ride around the valley. You will need to make camping reservations at Yosemite as soon as they open up your date.

    If you want to camp in Arches you will want to make reservations. There are no hook ups, but great views. It will be HOT in the summer. If you want hook ups, then you will find plenty of campgrounds in Moab.

    You will want to make reservations in Yellowstone too. The Fishing Bridge RV park on the east side has hook ups but the sites are right on top of each other. If you don't mind not having hook ups then there are plenty of campgrounds you can make reservations at. I like Madison Campground because of the location to the geyser areas.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default North Rim / South Rim

    My vote would go to the North Rim for all the reasons Mass Tim stated. See the Colorado river through Angels Window. Lovely short hikes and no worries parking. It was my first sight of the canyon, and now having been to both rims multiple times, far prefer the North Rim.

    Quote Originally Posted by Utahtea View Post
    ... or Beartooth Highway and then head east.
    Wow! that would be some ride in an RV.


  7. Default

    Utahtea ... or Beartooth Highway and then head east.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post

    Wow! that would be some ride in an RV.

    IT IS! We did it in our old 24ft 1986 Winnebago Class A in 2000! We pulled out at one of the short turn outs right after going over the summit and were on the south side and stopped and cooked breakfast. WHAT A VIEW!

    If the OP is towing a vehicle, then I'd would not recommend taking the Beartooth.


  8. Default

    Thanks! My wife and I were in Yosemite and in Rocky Mountain a few years back (2 separate trips) without kids. We'll probably skip Rocky Mountain this time. You are correct about driving the RV and not towing a vehicle. If you have been to the various Utah parks I'd welcome your perspective on which are the most "must see".

  9. Default

    Any opinion on which of the Utah parks are the most "must see"? My wife and I have been to Rocky Mountain and will probably skip it this trip. As to the LA area, work requirements (a 4 day conference) make that unavoidable. We'll probably take a day at Disneyland (kids interest not mine:) and would also like to get to the beach for a day. Any RV parks or campgrounds you would recommend that have easy (walking preferred) access to the beach?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Quote Originally Posted by yoder5 View Post
    Any opinion on which of the Utah parks are the most "must see"? My wife and I have been to Rocky Mountain and will probably skip it this trip. As to the LA area, work requirements (a 4 day conference) make that unavoidable. We'll probably take a day at Disneyland (kids interest not mine:) and would also like to get to the beach for a day. Any RV parks or campgrounds you would recommend that have easy (walking preferred) access to the beach?

    As for which parks are a "must see" in Utah: my opinion is ALL OF THEM, sooner or later. Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon are all part of the "Grand Staircase". Arches is amazing but in a different way. If you only have time for some and not the others, plan the others for a later trip.

    There's a mobile home and RV park in Huntington Beach - not far from LA and Anaheim - that has a beach right across the street. I'll try to look up if it's changed names or anything, but it used to be Huntington Mobile and RV Park. I'm not "recommending" it, because it's been a number of years since we stayed there. A 28' RV would be fine in there, but I wouldn't recommend anything much larger than that. (Backing can be a bear, and there were no pull-throughs. This is an older park, built when RV's were all still pretty small.)

    My father had the same opinion, years back, about Disneyland: "We'll go, for the kids." Well, he had more fun than us, I think!


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