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  1. Default Aussies RV trip Montana/Wyoming June 2013

    We are two active, 60 going on 30, Aussie couples that are planning a trip through Montana/Wyoming/SD and maybe Northern Colorado next June. One couple (my wife and I) have had the good fortune to work and live in the US for a few years and have seen quite a lot of your great country. We still have relatives and friends there and visit every two years or so. The two experiences we are looking for is the RV roadtrip and a visit to the Rockies. We're thinking a 30' to 32' Class A vehicle.

    Our friends are experienced travellers, but have never gotten around to visiting the US. The RV hire is a large part of the trip. We know we could make the trip less expensively and maybe with less hassle, but the RV part is essential. We will almost certainly have additional time to visit a few other places at the end of the RV part of the trip but it's the RV part I need help with. We're thinking around 18 to 21 days in the RV. We all get on very well but we're thinking that amount of time in a confined space will be enough, even for close friends!

    Our trip planning is in its very early stages. We're researching options that include a one way trip starting somewhere like Seattle and finishing in Denver or SLC; a loop that (for example) starts somewhere like SLC, tracks through MT and WY and finishes in Denver; or a straight start/finish in one city (say Denver) and a loop that takes us us the East side of Wyoming, a side trip to Mt Rushmore, then West across Montana to Yellowstone, GTNP and South to our starting point.

    We have set a target to average 100 - 150 miles driving each day depending on suitable stopping points. Right now, my main concerns are 1) finding a reputable RV rental company - the feedback and reviews on most are not encouraging! and 2) understanding if it is worth the effort driving to and across Northern Montana. I know the scenery is magnificent but are we missing extra days at Yellowstone or GTNP by driving in Northern Montana? Also, is Billings worth a visit or to be avoided?

    Once we figure out our general itinerary, I'd like to come back to get some not to be missed point to point routes.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to provide your comments and/or advice.

    Happy trails...................

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    A loop trip is going to cost you a lot less in one-way drop-off fees, so if it were me, I'd aim for that.

    1) Finding a reputable RV rental company: Cruise America has had some good reviews on here. So I'd start there.

    2) Driving across northern Montana: if I had a choice of an extra day in Yellowstone or driving across Montana, I would choose the extra day in Yellowstone. There is SO much to see in Yellowstone! Billings??? Couldn't say. All I think about when I hear "Billings" is that it was KOA's headquarters at one time, and that I spent too much time in the offices there with my parents one year.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Glacier National Park??

    For me, northern MT is bordering on the 'must see' of that great State. However, I agree that I would not do it at the expense of any time in Yellowstone. That's always the dilemna - so much is 'worth it'. If you are including both the Mt Rushmore/Badlands/Custer SP area and Yellowstone in your trip, as well as wishing to experience some of northern MT, have you thought of including Glacier National Park? Another of the great National Parks.

    Looking at northern MT - Big Sky Country - look in particular at route 200 and US2. You do not mention where in Oz you are from, but if I can put in a comparison, I would compare northern MT to the wide open spaces through which you travel to get to Lake Eire. For that part, at least, you would be looking at travelling much more than 150 miles per day... think more like 300 - 400.

    Spectacular!

    Lifey

    p.s. Don't count on being able to park in Walmart lots overnight. Many will not permit it. Check out 24hr truck stops as well.
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 07-18-2012 at 05:09 AM.

  4. Default

    Thanks Donna, I was rather steering away from the BIG RV rental companies as my perception was that they were the most criticised. I guess it often comes down to the person that looks after you on the day!!

  5. Default

    We're Sydneysiders. The 150 mile a day thing is a throwback to a road trip in a few years back where we underestimated and ended travelling over 8000 klms in 15 days out through Roma, Longreach, Tennant Creek, the Alice, through the Flinders and back across NSW. We vowed never again as the trip eventually became a chore, having to hit 500 klms a day. Making choices is tough, as you say "that's the dilema". I guess its going to be Yellowstone!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Now I see where you are coming from.

    Having lived in the US, you will be aware that there is no comparison to travelling through the Australian outback. (Last year I did a 4000km trip to Lake Eire, in ten days, and yes, it was a lot of driving... a lot of long days driving.)

    However, if this is your first RV experience, and you want to prevent it becoming a chore, it may be best to limit your daily distances. Just be sure the distances are realistic for the area through which you are passing.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Maricopa View Post
    Thanks Donna, I was rather steering away from the BIG RV rental companies as my perception was that they were the most criticised. I guess it often comes down to the person that looks after you on the day!!
    I actually think it has much more to do with simple volume. The bigger companies simply have far more people who have used their service, and thus can potentially complain. I think that's especially true when you're dealing with something like an RV rental, where the vast majority of renters don't have any real experience with an RV. A lot of people have really unrealistic expecations for RV travel and/or don't even consider the downsides of it, and then take out their frustrations on the rental company.

    That's not to say there aren't legitimate complaints or problems, its just one area where I really think you have to look at complaints closely to see if they are really valid, or need to be taken with some salt.

    One other very big thing I would think about if you are looking to go with a smaller company: What will they do if you have a problem hundreds of miles from their location. Going with one of the major companies, like Cruise America, El Monte, or Road Bear, gives you at least the piece of mind that you are dealing with national companies. Again, that's not to say there aren't local options that are just as good, or maybe even better, but I wouldn't assume that smaller is better.

  8. Default

    Well, I did live in Arizona so there were more similarities that you may expect....however, based on your comments I'm now researching making Spokane our destination after Yellowstone so we can visit Glacier NP rather than the run down to SLC. Thanks for your help.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    I actually think it has much more to do with simple volume. The bigger companies simply have far more people who have used their service, and thus can potentially complain. I think that's especially true when you're dealing with something like an RV rental, where the vast majority of renters don't have any real experience with an RV. A lot of people have really unrealistic expecations for RV travel and/or don't even consider the downsides of it, and then take out their frustrations on the rental company.

    That's not to say there aren't legitimate complaints or problems, its just one area where I really think you have to look at complaints closely to see if they are really valid, or need to be taken with some salt.

    One other very big thing I would think about if you are looking to go with a smaller company: What will they do if you have a problem hundreds of miles from their location. Going with one of the major companies, like Cruise America, El Monte, or Road Bear, gives you at least the piece of mind that you are dealing with national companies. Again, that's not to say there aren't local options that are just as good, or maybe even better, but I wouldn't assume that smaller is better.
    Michael, thanks for your thoughts. As a small business owner I'm acquainted with the "venting feedback" and the crazy expectations some customers have. I hadn't really considered the benefit of dealing with a national operator. Thanks again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Missoula, rather than Spokane.

    If you are looking at Glacier NP, then you would want to head to Missoula, MT. Spokane will be a good way out of your route.

    Just north of Missoula is the National Bison Range. Well worth a visit, though I am not sure if you can take a large RV through there.

    Another thing which just came to mind. How long are you planning on staying in Yellowstone? How are you planning to get around while there? It is a very large park with well over 100 miles of roadway, and to my knowledge, it is not one of the parks which has a shuttle bus service.

    Lifey

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