Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19
  1. Default Aussie family RV trip - Denver to California return in mid/late August

    We are a family of 4 (7yo & 8yo) looking to do a 4 - 6 week RV round trip from Denver, to Yellowstone, California Coast line, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Vegas (in no particular order) and back to Denver.

    Very intimidating and overwhelming process to begin planning. Any tips appreciated like:

    Planning the route
    WHen to go, not to go to certain places
    Booking RV parks which may be busy at that time of year
    Making sure we hit all the places we need to on the way
    Any must/mustn't do's for first time RV renters!

    Any help appreciated!

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

    Default A start.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Firstly I would recommend you get a large [wall] map of the USA and mark the places that are on your 'to do' list. Once you have started you can then begin to fill in the gaps and research places that you take an interest in. Reading around the forums and road trip planning pages here at RTA will offer up many ideas and tips about all aspects of rtoad tripping and RV'ing. As you move forward with your planning keep asking questions in this thread.

    Mid-late August is high season so you will have to expect crowds at popular destinations such as in the National Parks, however they are plenty big enough to get off the main trails and find some space. I prefer to use the National park campgrounds where possible and then look for private campgrounds [RV parks] for other stops. Note that you can;t just pull up anywhere and set up camp, you could be breaking the law or trespassing.

    For NP campgrounds go to and select the various parks you are going to visit. You will find all the details on each one and it will help you to decide where is best to set up camp for your visit. You will need to make a note of the booking window dates and book your sites asap after the window opens. There are limited RV sites for the number of visitors and they can all book out really quick, so that would be a priority.

    To book you will need dates, which will mean tying yourself down a little and working out how much time you have/want in between each park. So for example you will need to work on a leg at a time and see how long you might need between Denver and Yellowstone [and so on] to see what it is you want to see on the way. Itinerarys will often change during planning, when the realization comes that there is so much to see and do 'in between' that you have to chop and change.

    RV's are a lot easier to operate than you might think, compared to when reading everything on line etc. Once you are there and shown the basics you start to feel at home within the first couple of days and start adjusting your style of driving to it's size and weight. You have to allow for the fact they are big and cumbersome and everything is going to take that bit longer, so don't try and do too much each day. On the day of collection it will take at least an hour [depending on how busy] to sort the paperwork and to be shown around it, and then you need time to familiarise yourself with the driving of it and get things put away and to get some supplies in. So day one don't plan too much, from Denver you wouldn't go far wrong with a short trip to Rocky mountain NP for night 1 in Morraine campground located in the NP, and near the town of Estes park.

    From Vegas back to Denver you have many options to choose from as well as the Grand canyon. In southern Utah you have the amazing NP's of Zion, Bryce canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. In Colorado [as well as RMNP] you will find Mesa Verde NP, Black canyon of the Gunnison NP and other places of interest, like the mountian towns of Silverton and Ouray on the 'Million dollar Highway,' [US550] Colorado National Monument, Currecanti Nat Rec area, Garden of the Gods and so much more.

    You are probably looking at a 'bare bones' journey of just under 4000 miles, or 10 days of travel in an RV at a reasonably comfortable pace, although with regular stops and a little sight seeing, [not major] 300 miles is a nice day on the road. You certainly have a nice amount of time to make this an incredible trip !

    Keep asking questions as you plan !

  3. Default

    Ok so we have our RV booked for mid August out of Denver. Now planning to head to Yellowstone then down through Utah to Vegas, across to California and up the coastline before heading back to Denver mid September. 6 weeks in total.

    In terms of planning, we certainly understand we need to book ahead in some of the National Parks but don't want to lock ourselves into a rigid schedule! Any tips on how to balance the two objectives? How far ahead should we book NP campgrounds? we need to plan to be in an RV park every night of the trip or is it advisable to pull up at a nice spot and set up camp for the night? Can you do this in the National Parks?

    Any tips on how to start to plan the 6 weeks, including booking parks, recommended daily driving distances (keeping in mind we have 2 young kids) appreciated!
    Last edited by kenno72; 02-23-2013 at 02:13 PM. Reason: 'spelling

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    National Parks Camp grounds book up fairly quickly, and if you know now, when you will be in Yellowstone, you should book that a.s.a.p. For the other National Parks, establish your (rough) itenary and estimate when you are going to be there. Then get onto the National Parks website as soon as you can to book. The spots are few, and book up fast, sometimes within minutes of the booking window opening.

    You might find that going down the CA coast after Yellowstone would make for a better trip, as you will have the ocean on your side of the road. You could take the coast as far as Cambria, before heading inland to Yosemite and on to the great National Parks of Utah and the Grand Canyon, before heading back to Denver. Six weeks is a nice amount of time to do this trip.

    You cannot just pull over anywhere, and set up camp. You will find that it is either unsafe or illegal or both. Campgrounds will be your best shot most of the time. If you just want to spend the night somewhere, when on the road from one site to another, then truck stops make a good and safe stop. But you cannot 'camp'. You just park. In other words, you can't use the slide or the generator, or set up a bbq and chairs. Do not be tempted to use roadside rest areas. In the past that practice has proven deadly for some. The risks are not worth it.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 02-24-2013 at 03:03 AM. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default How we balance it.

    How far ahead should we book NP campgrounds? we need to plan to be in an RV park every night of the trip or is it advisable to pull up at a nice spot and set up camp for the night? Can you do this in the National Parks?
    Both myself and Lifey have previously answered this question, but just to highlight the importance of it, if you wish to stay inside the National parks in an RV [highly recommended] then it's of the utmost importance to book asap after the booking window opens. You can not camp for the night in a NP and outside of a designated campground. You will find private campgrounds outside the NP's but the nearest to the parks will also start to fill up during peak season. This could mean travelling quite a few miles and time to get in and out of the park with possible delays at the entry kiosks, especially at the larger parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. You will then have to consider having to find available parking which isn't always easy in a vehicle the size of an RV. A lot National parks have a free shuttle bus system so once you are settled in, the 'home' can stay where it is and you can go about the fun of exploring each day.

    I understand it's nice to remain flexible on such a trip and it's tough to get the balance right and it's not the same for everyone. What we usually do is work out a 'timeline' that will get us to each NP that we really want to see, plus the time we want to stay in each, before it's time to return the RV and head home. We then book those NP campgrounds and then have some flexibility to do what we want inbetween those 'major' stops with the time we have remaining. You then have a bit of freedom to stay longer in some places and less in others and time for those surprises you will stumble upon, but knowing you are keeping on track with time and have secured bookings in the NP's.

    It's not happened yet, but we always look at that if we turn up a day late, or leave a day early, the $18-$20 loss is worth it for the security of knowing it's booked.

  6. Default

    Thanks for the great tips. Ok a couple more questions!

    Is there a particular RV Park(s) you would recommend as a "must stay at"in Yellowstone? Keeping in mind we have a couple of kids and no car (other than the RV)

    If we were to book now, how many days in each camp ground should we book for. I know this is a bit of a silly question but given the amount of territory we want to cover I would think that somewhere between 2-4 would be about right?

    From Yellowstone would you recommend heading South through Utah and then across to the CA coast to do HWY 1`or head straight to the coast and travel North to South then through Vegas, Grand Canyon etc?

    This will help us book in the various block in the NP's (in order) then give us time to be flexible in between.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The only campground/RV park in Yellowstone with hookups for the RV is Fishing Bridge, and it has reservations. There are others that have reservations available, but no hookups. Book early -- and if you think it's too late, keep calling, and you may get in on someone else's cancellation.

    Two to three days in Yellowstone is ideal. Going north to south along the Pacific Coast Hwy (CA-1) is the best way, because the scenic view points are on the easy side of the road for you. (Going south to north makes you cross the roadway, and in many points, you can't see easily.)


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


    With the amount of time you have available you should be able to enjoy both the coast and southern Utah. Depending on your full itinerary, you could be better off heading towards the coast [which could mean the Oregon coast, Northern Cali Redwoods etc, or heading further south down to Yosemite and then heading to the Cali coast around the Bay area] and then visiting the parks of Utah [Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands] after visiting the Grand canyon.

  9. Default

    Thanks everyone

    Having never rented an RV, is it basically a no brainer to want to go to a park with full hookups or would you sometimes choose a better location over the convenience of having full hookup?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Location is my personal 'no brainer'.

    It's the same as the road trip itself really, everyone has their own preference and there is no single best. My view is that if the National park campground has a choice of hook ups, I'll take it. If the NP does not have hook ups, but a private campground out of the park does, I'll take the National park option without. For nights when I'm not near a National Park, I will try and locate a site that has the convenience of Hook ups, but with nice surroundings and good sized sites. For me it's more important than solely having a hook up that could be situated on something ressembling a parking lot.

    A lot of sites [including NP's] have dump stations and water stations where you can empty and refill your tanks, so that on arrival or departure you can get topped up and drained off. The RV has a back up battery as well as an onboard generator that you can use to run equipment and charge the battery. There are quiet hours at night/early morning where you can't run the generator, but this should not be a big problem as you should have finished with any heavy usage of power. Many sites also have shower and loo blocks so you can use them for saving on water useage if you are in one spot for a long period of time.

    When at a dump station the freshwater tap should be a good few yards away from the hose that is used to clean the dump station. Do not top up your water taps in the dump station area, make sure you go the fresh water tap ! [I witnessed someone picking up the cleaning hose and putting it down there refill nozzle to top up, not good but I managed to stop them and advised them to flush the filler pipe through before topping up] This whole process is very clean and much less daunting than I imagined it would be.

Similar Threads

  1. Family Trip from New York to Orlando return - HELP!
    By mandyfriars in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 03-21-2012, 08:06 AM
  2. Family Trip from New York to Orlando return - HELP!
    By mandyfriars in forum Favorite Routes in North America
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-12-2012, 02:07 AM
  3. Aussie family road trip LA to ???
    By Kerrie0112 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 04-19-2011, 11:02 PM
  4. Aussie family travelling Florida to California.... Help!
    By catgirl in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-15-2010, 12:12 PM
  5. Late August Trip - Portland to Denver
    By temiller in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 04-17-2008, 10:59 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name