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  1. Default First Family RV Roadtrip Out West (Summer 2012)

    Greetings Fellow Travel Enthusiasts!

    I have finally secured a Class A 30’ RV for our first summer vacation out west. It will be my wife and our two 13-year old boys for 11 nights in late July/early August. We are from Florida so the heat shouldn’t be too much of a problem for us. However, this IS my first time driving an RV. We will be flying into Las Vegas and departing from Las Vegas. Up to this point, that is all we have secured. The two main places we would like to visit are Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, with a number of points in between. I have been reading posts in this forum and around the Internet and this is what I am thinking. I am looking for advice in all aspects of the plan. For instance, are we taking on too much? Anyway, here it goes:
    1. DAY 1: Depart from Las Vegas around 1pm on a Saturday. Head towards Yosemite. Take 95 Northwest for about 5 -6 hours and find a place to stay for the night.
    2. DAY 2: Drive another 1 – 2 hours and reach the East Yosemite entrance from Lee Vining. We already missed the window for reserving a spot to stay within the park. I have heard traffic can be crazy through the park over the summer, especially down in the valley. I was thinking perhaps we find a good place to stay with hookups around Lee Vining and use the free transportation in Yosemite to see the park.
      • To reach Yosemite, should we go through Death Valley instead? I think we wouldn’t get there until 4pm which would be too late to start through that section.
      • Any recommendations on where we should stay?
      • Should we drive through Yosemite with our 30’ RV and stay outside the West side of the park?
      • Should we try to get to Yosemite early and try for a first-come-first serve RV spot? I know there are no hookups and generators cannot be run after 7pm I think. In late July, would you need air conditioning at night?
      • I would prefer not to be staying at an RV site where you are packed in to the point where you can almost touch the camper next to you.
      • We are not big hikers, but walks for a few miles are fine. With that in mind, any specific recommendations on must see places/views?

    3. DAY 3: See more of Yosemite!
    4. DAY 4: Head for Sequoia National Park and spend the night.
      • AAA is telling me that the road to the park (when going from 41) is rather difficult for RVs of my size. Extreme caution is advised. This has me concerned since I have never driven a 30 foot vehicle before. Is there an entrance to the park going south from Bishop (395, I think)?
      • What is the best way to see/enter the park via RV?
      • Where is the best place to stay for one night?

    5. DAY 5: Head towards Death Valley. If we can see Sequoia National Park from the 395 side then we would travel through Death Valley that same day and camp just outside of Las Vegas for the night. Otherwise if we are coming from the West side, we likely would stay the night around Bakersfield or Homestead. Thoughts?
    6. DAY 6: (Assuming we stay in Bakersfield) Drive through Death Valley and take in the sites. I’ve heard the “stories” that RVs (especially rentals) should not make the drive through Death Valley in the dead of summer. Our rented RV will be a 2012/2013 model, so I am not overly concerned. We will pack lots of water and spend the night outside Vegas.
    7. DAY 7: Tour the Hoover Dam and spend the night somewhere just outside Grand Canyon. Any recommendations?
    8. DAY 8 and 9: Stay in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
      • Haven’t researched this too much yet. Any recommendations where to stay for 2 nights?
      • Should we go to the North rim instead?

    9. DAY 10: Head towards Zion and spend the night there. I heard Watchman campground is pretty decent. Any recommendations?
    10. Day 11: Return to Las Vegas and spend the night in a hotel.
    11. Day 12: Return to Florida.

    What do you think? It’s about 1900 miles if we stay on the West side of Yosemite and enter the Sequoia National Park from that same side. The pacing seems rushed between Grand Canyon and returning to LV. I think I need more time (another day?) to see Zion and maybe Bryce Canyon.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I truly appreciate any thoughts on this plan.

    Initial Travel Map.jpg 650462_2.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Some thoughts.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !!

    To cover the point about Death Valley, a lot of RV Co's ban there vehicles from Death Valley during the summer months and by ignoring it you will be in breach of your contract. If you had something as simple as a puncture you would be responsible for all costs of getting someone out there to repair it and although unlikely, any mechanical failure would also be your responsibility. The main issue I believe they have is not of the mechanics , but the interior of the home. Plastic trims for example can become unstuck in the extreme heat. Travelling early or late in the day can help overcome it, but again whatever happens would be your responsibility and could get ugly if there was a collision for example.

    Anyway, That's a wonderful trip you have to look forward to !!

    If you decide to skip DV, [or not actually] then this is what I would most likely do. From Vegas head towards Seqouia NP, perhaps stay around the Lake Isabella area on night 1. You will only be able to enter Sequoia NP on 180 at the north end of the park. [near Fresno] It is the Generals Highway, from Three Rivers that gets real tricky and at the moment, nothing over 22ft is permitted. [You could keep checking though as this is [was] temporary.

    Head to Yosemite, there are campgrounds in Oakhurst [might make a good first night] and Groveland with one [ I think ] in Wawona. You could then exit the park over Tioga pass towards Lee Vining and head to Zion via Tonopah. There is an overnight rest area just before Tonopah called 'Millers rest' that is free. Watchman is great if you can get in !! About 20-30mins away there is the 'Zion River resort, although I think there is another closer to the town of Springdale. Bryce canyon has the 'Rubys Inn RV park' close to the entrance with shuttle buses into the park.

    You could then head down through Page to the South rim of the GC and back to Vegas via the Hoover Dam.

    I will look in later at this but I got to head out right now.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-12-2012 at 09:52 AM. Reason: Corrections.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default go west

    Quote Originally Posted by driek View Post
    [*]DAY 5: Head towards Death Valley. If we can see Sequoia National Park from the 395 side then we would travel through Death Valley that same day and camp just outside of Las Vegas for the night.
    Just to be clear, there is no access to Sequoia National Park from the East/US-395. The only roads to reach it are from the west side of the Sierra's.

    Along those same lines, the Yosemite Valley is really on the west side of the mountains too. While the Park extends all the way to Lee Vining, and Tioga Pass across the mountains is a big part of the Yosemite experience, most of the major attractions from the park (and I suspect the free transportation you mentioned) are going to be from the west side.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    You could then exit the park over Tioga pass towards Lee Vining and head to Zion via Tonopah. There is an overnight rest area just before Tonopah called 'Millers rest' that is free. Watchman is great if you can get in !! About
    Thanks for the reply. Would you recommend heading to Zion from Tonopah via 95 back down through LV or taking 6 through Nevada and 50 through Utah to reach Zion, Bryce Canyon, etc.?

    If we decide to try our luck at finding a first-come-first-serve RV site in Yosemite, do you happen to know how hot it is at night in late July? Coming from Florida, we take our air conditioning seriously!

    It sounds like we won't be able to get into Sequoia National Park due to the size of our rig. Is there other transportation, perhaps?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Where did you see that info?

    Quote Originally Posted by driek View Post
    It sounds like we won't be able to get into Sequoia National Park due to the size of our rig. Is there other transportation, perhaps?
    I've driven much larger RV's than 30-feet into Sequoia National Park. I can't think of any restrictions on RVs in the park.

    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A bit of both.

    You certainly can visit Sequoia, but as I mentioned previously, there are restrictions in place along the Generals Highway at this time. There has always been a 40ft limit in the GH but it is now 22ft. You have to enter via the Kings Canyon kiosk on 180, you can then drive south to the Giants Forest but no further. Find updates here.

    Would you recommend heading to Zion from Tonopah via 95 back down through LV or taking 6 through Nevada and 50 through Utah to reach Zion, Bryce Canyon, etc.?
    From Tonopah you will come across the small deserted town of Warm Springs, stop for a 'cuppa' and have a wander up the hill to the little Hot Spring. It's easy to find, just follow the path from the Hot pool ! It's hardly a town, it was originally a stage coach stop and you can see the old stone walled corals where they kept the horses. Bizzare place but worth 10-20 mins of your time imo. From here head down the ET Highway where you can stop at the 'LittleAlienInn' for an 'out of this world' experience. [Area 51 is tucked away out of sight in the distance]. From here you can head south to Mopa valley or east to Cedar City and to Zion NP, nothing much in it.

    You can see more on that route scrolling through this thread.

  7. Default More Revisions

    Okay, after a bit more research and success in booking a couple nights in Yosemite this past week, we are now contemplating the following:


    1. DAY 1: LV to Bakersfield, CA. Goal is to find an easy RV site with full hookups to get familiar with everything.
    2. DAY 2: Bakersfield to Sequoia National Park. See the sites and spend the night in Lodgepole Campground inside the park. ( I will have to come up through 180 due to the size of my RV. Makes for a longer drive but I think it would be worth it.)
    3. DAYS 3 & 4: Sequoia NP to Yosemite. See the sites and spend 2 nights in the North Pines Campsite.
    4. DAY 5: Yosemite through Tioga Pass to 395 south for a nice ride. Spend the night somewhere around Bishop(?).
    5. DAY 6: Bishop, through Death Valley, to someplace just outside of LV.
    6. DAYS 7 & 8: Visit Hoover Dam and arrive at the Grand Canyon (south rim). Spend two nights in Trailer Village.
    7. DAYS 9 & 10: Drive to Watchman campsite in Utah. Spend two nights. Visit Bryce Canyon and Zion.
    8. DAY 11: Head back to LV and return RV. Spend one night at a Hotel in Vegas with the family to decompress.
    9. DAY 12: Return Home.


    Now it looks like I might be able to spend one extra night in Yosemite. If that's the case, I might want to extend that leg of the trip by a day. I think it might be too special to pass up. I mean, we are from Florida after all. How often will we get to do this? :-)

    Visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon might be another stop to consider.

    What do you all think?

    Initial Travel Map - 0314 Revision.jpg

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Looks good.

    I think your plan will work nicely and make for a wonderful time !

    The one thing I would be considering is if there is a real need to head through Vegas 3 times. I would have thought that driving into Death Valley would be easier on Day 1, as it is only 3 hours from Vegas and would make an easier drive after your flight and RV collection, that can be time consuming. You could then still get to Lodgepole and Yosemite as planned.

    Having done Death valley you could get to Zion in one long day from east of Yosemite [Lee Vining, Millers rest, Tonopah]. It's not a big deal, but you did ask what I think. ;-) lol.

    Perhaps checking campground availability at Zion and Grand canyon could play a part in deciding.

    A night in a Vegas Hotel is a good idea, but you do have the option of the Oasis RV resort just south of the strip. It's pretty cool.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are renting a RV, you need to determine what the desert restrictions are. Generally, you are not allowed to take a rental through Death Valley in the summer, this would violate the rental contract.

  10. Default

    I finally did check into the fine print of the RV rental and sure enough, it turns out we cannot go through Death Valley in the summer. Slightly disappointing but that's okay, we will just re-route. My question now is, which way to Zion/Grand Canyon?

    Option 1: Exit Yosemite through Tioga Pass and take 395 south. I heard this is a very scenic, highly recommended route. Then catch-up on 15 back into the LV area for the next leg of our trip. Less mils than option 2 but it means we go back through LV (again).

    Option 2: Exit Yosemite through Tioga Pass taking 120 to 6, past Tonopah through Nevada. Enter Utah via 50 and head south towards Bryce Canyon and Zion.

    Which route would you recommend? Is the scenery really that great on 395 south if we have already been to Sequoia National park and Yosemite by the time we get to that part of the trip, or should we opt for the longer route through Nevada and Utah?
    Last edited by driek; 03-21-2012 at 10:56 PM.

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