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  1. #1

    Default 29 nights in RV doing loads of National Parks in the West

    We returned a few days from our 6 week adventure, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. You can find the planning stages in this thread.

    You can read the whole trip report on our blog Sorry that I didn't share it here sooner, but we wanted to keep it a bit private whilst we were away for so long. Hope you understand. It does mean you need to go back to the September posts to read them in the right order.

    It would be a serious understatement to say that we had a fantastic time, I can't believe what an amazing time we had, it surpassed all our expectations. We are so glad that we decided to go with the RV option, it was probably the best decision we made for this trip. We can't wait to do another trip like it (but that won't be any time soon, unfortunately).

    Hope you enjoy it. :-)
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-05-2011 at 04:10 PM. Reason: Added link to planning thread.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Cool.

    Welcome back !

    I am pleased to hear you had a great trip and enjoyed the RV lifestyle ! Feel free to share any favourite places, highlights, words of wisdom etc with us here in the thread !


  3. #3


    Places we loved:
    Yellowstone, by far our favourite of all the places we went to. We spent a day longer than we had planned because there's just so much to see. And we loved that it was so quiet. We went to Lake Yellowstone and it was deserted, had the place to ourselves. It was so serene.
    Bryce Canyon. Probably the coolest looking place.
    Stagecoach Museum in Lusk, Wyoming. Little museum, but utterly adorable.

    Not too bothered about visiting again:
    Crazy Horse Memorial. It just didn't do it for us.
    Also, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We went to the North Rim first, and it was lovely. South rim was just too touristy.

    We were also very happy with the time of year we visited everything. Although it meant that many things had already closed for the season, like ranger programs and such, we never felt like we missed out anything really. And it also meant that pretty much all the places we visited were really quiet. We did have some days were temperatures barely got above freezing and were well below during the nights, but we had packed all the right clothing, so we were prepared for that. Before the trip I did worry about the RV, thinking it might need to be winterized, but there was no need for that. I think the lowest temperature we got to was about 21F. We just kept the heating on in the RV and made sure the tanks weren't too full and never got cold or had any problems. We did find that it got cold by the window in the "bedroom", but we just covered it with an extra blanket to keep the draft out and that was fine.

    We were really lucky at 2 points with the weather. First when we entered Yellowstone through the South Entrance. It had started snowing, quite substanstially actually, and about an hour after we went through, they closed that entrance. By the next morning, all entrances expect the West Entrance were closed. The other time was when we reached Rocky Mountain NP. Trail Ridge had been closed for about a week or so due to snow (I had been following the twitter feed). But by the time we got there, the weather had turned really lovely and sunny and it opened for 2 days, so we could cross! Then it started snowing again.

    Favourite experience: all the campfires we had. Any chance we had, we made a campfire, cooked outside and roasted marshmallows. We just didn't need any other entertainment. Staring at the fire and gazing at the stars above kept me busy for hours. I even made up my own constellations!
    Also staying at the campgrounds in the National Parks and Forests was way better than any commercial campsite we stayed at. The facilities are nice at those (and ideal if you need catch up on some emails and do the laundry). But the other sites were just way better in terms of getting that feeling of being right in the middle of it all. And they were also always far more idyllic. We also saw a lot more wildlife that way. Elk, deer, bunnies, squirells, chipmunks, ... All from the comfort of our camping chairs.

    What we learned for next time:
    - Bring an axe. There were plenty of places where we could just gather firewood and if we would have an axe, we could have made it even better (nicer pieces and spliced some of the bigger logs we had). Gathering firewood is way more fun than buying it.
    - Also no need to buy firelighters. We managed to find lots of small kindling anyway. Pine needles, autumn leaves, pine cones, ... all perfect to start a fire, just need 1 match. And again, more fun.
    - A shovel could have come in handy too to clean out some of the fire pits at the campsites.
    - Some cardboard or plastic boxes. We put all our food in the cupboards in the RV, but those cupboards were very long and your can of soup would travel from one side to the other. A box would just help with keeping things more organised.
    - Don't bother with paying for the generator in advance. Our rental package included unlimited generator use. Hardly used it, less than 5 hours in our 29 nights. Even with keeping the heating on all night, we never drained the batteries. The lowest the main battery got was 3/4 full, and the auxillary battery always stayed completely full. We hardly used the microwave (for which you need the generator or an electrical hookup), maybe 5 times at most, used the stove the rest of the time. We had a coffee maker, but on days where we didn't have a hook up (most of the time), we would just boil the water on the stove and put it through the coffee filter, easy.
    - Do bring a 12v adaptor for laptop. That would have been handy.

    Not buying a certain christmas decoration when we were in Grand Tetons. We buy a christmas decoration for every vacation. I saw some really lovely ones in Grand Teton NP, but as it was early in trip and thought we'd find loads more, I didn't buy it. Turns out, those were the nicest of the whole trip.

    Low points:
    Me getting altitude sickness in Yellowstone during a hike. That was pretty scary actually, I think I was about to pass out, vision had gone all blurry and all.
    The husband getting an accute case of vertigo in Arches NP which was really odd (he's never had anything like it before, and we go hiking in the Peak District whenever we can). He just couldn't move and when trying to get him to walk on a steep and narrow path, he kept putting his feet in the wrong direction. I kept telling him to put his feet straight and he knew in his head that was the right thing to do, but his feet just wouldn't listen. And he managed to really hurt his knees in the process.
    Oh well, all in the name of adventure.

    Also, the RV used less gas than we anticipated. From the website, it stated it would 8 to 10 mpg. On average, we got 10 mpg, sometimes up to 11mpg. Even when driving through mountains and high altitudes. Quite happy with that.

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

    Default Happy memories.

    Thanks for the summary and some good tips.

    Favourite experience: all the campfires we had. Any chance we had, we made a campfire, cooked outside and roasted marshmallows. We just didn't need any other entertainment.
    I can totally relate to that. A time to chill out and reflect among natures finest offerings.

    Thanks again !

  5. #5


    Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I would love to rent an RV or camper for our next trip out west, seems like it is the way to go. Love your blog and pictures!

  6. #6

    Default Our Road Trip Video

    In case anyone wants to see our adventure that took us over 4255 miles of amazing US scenery in an RV, including Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, ...

    video is at the bottom of the page, password is 4255miles
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-21-2012 at 09:48 AM. Reason: Merged with original report.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good effort.

    Good to see you here again ! That's a cool video and having done a couple of 'simple' efforts myself can appreciate the work you must have put into it.

    I have merged your threads so that people can get the 'feel' of your adventure which might encourage more to click on the video link and watch. I enjoyed it. Thanks.


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