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  1. Default need advice: first time RV trip from San Jose to LV, GC and Utah NPs

    Hi- Our family of 4 and dog are headed on our first road trip this June. Starting in Las Vegas via Death Valley, then to Grand Canyon north rim, and then the Utah National Parks (not really in order: Zion, Bryce, Glen Canyon area, Monument Valley, possibly Moab).

    We are renting the RV (Class A 30') for 2 weeks. I am searching for some answers. First off, we decided to visit north rim of GC because south rim seems out of the way since we plan on heading north afterwards. But is that incorrect? is it easier to get to the South Rim (from Page, AZ) since the road is probably wider, easier to drive with an RV?

    Next question. Figuring we have enough time to go to Moab, we plan on making a loop (from Monument Valley north to Moab, then Route 70W and 15S back towards Nevada). Is this a somewhat straightforward route to get to Nevada? We are looking to avoid twists and turns, and we want to save time at this point, but we want something doable with an RV.

    Assuming we make that loop from Moab via a nice stretch of road, what should we do for our way back to San Jose? Do you suggest cutting through Nevada and heading through Yosemite (70W to 15S to NV375 to US6)? Or would that slow us down because the road winds while we're in Yosemite (btw, 'wind' has long "i" sound :) )? is it faster to retrace our steps via Vegas? We don't want a road that is really slow, nauseating and scary. But if it is not too long a stretch of road we can bear with the curves, as long as we're not wasting too much time (and gas).

    That's about it!
    Thanks in advance for your help!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default North Rim.

    Hi, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    There are pros and cons to visiting the North Rim. At the South Rim you have the IMAX theatre (just outside the NP) with the fantastic movie of the Grand Canyon, which really adds a lot to what you are about to see. It is also where most of the photos with which you will be familiar, are taken. On the other hand, the North Rim is just as scenic, less commercial and no where near as crowded. It will be much easier to find a parking spot, and you will be able to get around with the RV. (At the south rim there is a shuttle bus for various sections.)

    Having said that, the North Rim is by far my preferred destination. The view of the Colorado River (as seen in the IMAX movie) is an unbelievable photo opportunity. There are short walks and longer hikes, and chances are, if you want to stay in the NP, it could well be easier at this 'late' stage, to get a vacancy. There is nothing like a sunrise over the canyon, or a sunset over the rim.

    You will find that the roads to the attractions you have mentioned are travelled by motor homes much larger than 30', on a regular basis. You should not have any problems. It is amazing how quickly you get used to a larger vehicle. (I am in that position right now.)

    I will leave the rest of your questions for others to address. Just wanted to assure you that by going to the North Rim your experience of the Grand Canyon will be as great (if not greater) than the South Rim.

    Have a great trip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Keeping It Simple

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It takes roughly the same amount of time to drive from Las Vegas to either the South or North Rim of the Grand Canyon. But you are right, visiting the North Rim would put you in much better shape to then head for the other national parks and monuments in southern Utah. Also, you don't need ot go all the way to page to get to the North Rim from Las Vegas. From I-15 north of St. George, you'd take UT-9 to Hurricane, then UT-59 down to Colorado City AZ and AZ-389 through the "Arizona Strip" to Fredonia AZ. From there Alt-US-89 will get you to Jacob lake and AZ-67 down onto the North Rim. AZ-67 is a single two-lane road that provides the only access to the North Rim, but large RVs navigate it every day, and there is plenty of parking for your vehicle at the park. You'd come out the same way you went in. But at Jacob Lake you have to make a choice. Either you can go east (south) to US-89 north for Page and Glen Canyon, then use AZ-98 over to US-160 and Monument Valley, OR you can stay on Alt-US-89 up to Fredonia continue north into Utah to visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the other Utah parks and monuments.

    The route you've laid out from Moab back to Nevada, I-70/I-15 is a piece of cake. It's all Interstates which were built to handle the really big rigs. The one spot on your journey where your RV will become an issue is trying to cross the Sierra Nevada, and if you are at all uncomfortable or inexperienced driving such a large (and usually underpowered) vehicle, then you really should stick to going around the mountains, either to the south through Bakersfield, or to the north by way of Reno and I-80 to the Bay area.


  4. Default

    Thanks AZBuck. You answered a lot of my questions.

    Do you think there is a difference in routes 120 vs 108 through Yosemite? Do you know if 108 is just as curvy as 120? I'd rather not drive towards Tahoe or back down to Bakersfield if I can avoid it. I'm scanning Google Maps for possible alternatives. I like 108 because we can stop at Mono lake and take a look since the kids studied it in school.

    Another question. If we want to fit in Capitol Reef NP, how do you think route 12W from Moab compares to I-70? Choosing this route, we can see Bryce Canyon on the way down.


  5. Default

    Hi Lifey,

    I am taking your advice and keeping our plans to visit the North Rim. I decided to look for a movie/documentary about the Grand Canyon I can show the kids before we go or maybe on the way there. Poor replacement for IMAX, I know.

    In regards to CGs near the north rim, Jacob Lake CG (Kaibab Camper Village) still has lots of availability for June, but I don't know when we're going to arrive. They are the closest full hook-up CG to the North rim.

    Thanks for your reassurances. I feel much more comfortable about the trip!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Oooops!! an omission

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    The view of the Colorado River (as seen in the IMAX movie) is an unbelievable photo opportunity.
    Just realised ... that should have read 'The view of the Colorado river through Angel's Window...' (etc.)


  7. Default

    The North Rim had lovely views of the canyon with very few people so we were quite surprised to find a wedding, a very small one with formal attire, at a vista point.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default RV'ing.

    I think you can include Arches within your 2 weeks and get an overview of the parks you are visiting, as long as you don't mind keeping on the move. I would look at the GC NP web page and decide on what rim appeals to you the most, if you include Arches NP there is only 30 miles difference which is pretty insignificant over 2 weeks. If you were to not visit Glen canyon, going to the south rim would actually be less miles !

    North rim route; LV to Zion to Bryce to North rim to Glen Canyon to Monument valley to Arches to San jose.

    South rim route; LV to South rim to Glen canyon to Monument valley to Arches to Bryce to Zion to San Jose.

    If you get a couple of days at Arches you might also want to include Canyonlands and drive to Grandview Point. I have driven the Tioga Pass in a 30ft Class C RV and found it reasonably comfortable, as do many thousands of RV's that cross there. Only you can decide, but if you are an experienced driver and take it steady you should be fine. It gets a tight in places as you make your way down to the valley, but I don't recall anything that made it feel 'scary'. The 108 does not actually go into Yosemite and although I haven't driven it, I don't think you would be any better off and definitely not when you add those extra miles.

    As with anywhere you travel in an RV, if you are holding traffic up behind you on a slow winding road, pull into a turn out when it is safe to do so and let them by. You will be rewarded with a smile and a toot of the horn rather than a frown and a blast of the horn ! [Not to mention the International two finger salute ! lol]

    If you decide to take the Tioga Pass into Yosemite [one of my favourite NP's] then I would take the ET Highway to US 6 to CA120. From Cedar City take UT56/ NV319/US93/NV318/375 [ET]. Along the way you have the Little'Ale'inn, close to Area 51 with reports and pictures of 'other worldly beings'. Warm Springs is a derelict old stage post with a hot tub in the middle of nowhere ! After the old Mining town of Tonopah is Millers Rest, a rest area with a difference where you can sleep overnight, for free ! If you have the time, skip through this RV thread for a better idea of what I'm on about. [This bit will be in reverse order]

    Depending on which route you take , if you travel the Mount Carmel Highway out of Zion [or into] you will need a a tunnel escort that will cost you $15. [?] You can ask at the entry kiosk about it. You may have to wait a while to go through, but I doubt more than 30 mins and it's quite an exciting drive/. The road up to the tunnel is pretty windy though. If you were going to the north rim you could go back towards Hurricane and around.

    Finally, if you are visiting all the National parks listed [or more than 4] you should purchase the annual pass at the first kiosk you visit. It is $80 and is for entry to all parks, including everyone in the vehicle for up to a year. As with all entry fees, this does not include campground fees. Speaking of which, I think you will struggle to find any RV places within the parks, but I would certainly check it out asap and keep checking for cancellations if no luck.

  9. Default

    Southwest Dave-

    I looked into visiting the south rim GC instead of north rim. It saves *a lot* of time if we were going to bypass Glen Canyon and just go straight to Monument valley. But what I discovered when I looked into day trips/tours, it seems like the only mule and raft trips we can do within our limited time take place at the North rim GC and at Glen Canyon. The north rim has 1 and 3 hour mule rides (the 3 hour one goes into the canyon). Glen Canyon has 3 hour float trips. If we went to the south rim, they only offer full day or overnight trips on mule and raft. We have a dog and can't leave him too long!
    So we'll go the extra 50 miles or so to visit north rim.

    Do you know if it's legal to stop the RV on the side of the road (outside of a NP) or in a parking lot to sleep for the night? Do we have to find RV campgrounds?

    I think we will skip Zion NP. We were there once before, although in winter and most trails were closed. But we will go to Bryce Canyon on the way back from Moab. After Monument valley NM, we decided to see Natural Bridges NP, Natural Arches NP, Dead Horse SP, Canyonlands NP and then Bryce NP. Hopefully that is all doable in 3 days! Maybe 4 if we time ourselves well. It may be a case of: take a picture and get back in the car!

    I could have waited to buy the annual park pass, but I was at REI and they sell them, so I bought it. Will save time anyway.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Do you know if it's legal to stop the RV on the side of the road (outside of a NP) or in a parking lot to sleep for the night?
    Generally, no. You need to find a public or private campground. The only real exception is a truck stop - you can generally park overnight there to sleep with permission, but you can't set up camp. Some Walmarts will also allow this, but you have to ask due to some local ordinances and individual store policies.

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