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  1. Default Crater lake, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Grand Cayon

    I will be traveling from Seattle, WA to Crater Lake national Park, OR, Yosemite National Park, then to Zion, Bryce Canyon before heading to Arches and Grand Caynon in late June (3 weeks) and concluding before 04Jul14. I will be traveling with a family of five (3 kids all under 13) and a travel trailer. I am looking for the best campgrounds (national parks/State Parks) in the area of these national land marks. Thanks for the advise!!

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    My favorite campgrounds are the ones in the National Parks. It's been a LONG time since I camped at Crater Lake so I won't advise on that one.

    In Yosemite I prefer Yosemite Valley campgrounds. Upper, Lower and North Pines campgrounds. You will need to make reservations well in advance for Yosemite Valley. There are no hook-ups in the valley but there is a water and dump station. I have no experience with private campgrounds outside the park.

    In Zion we prefer Watchman campground because it does have electrical sites. You will need to make reservations well in advance. South campground has just as nice views but no electrical so you will have motor-homes running generators. It's a first come, first serve campground but you need to be there before Noon to get a campsite on most days. Zion Canyon campground is just outside the park in Springdale and they have full hook ups. It's not cheap. We stayed there last month during the National Park shutdown. They have great views and a pool.

    It's been a while since we camped in Bryce Canyon. Both campgrounds are in wooded pines. North Campground takes reservations and Sunset is first, come, first serve. We use to camp there all the time but as we've gotten older we've found we like the full hook ups once in a while so we've been staying at Ruby's Inn Campground. :)

    In Arches the Devil's Garden campground only has 50 sites and you will need to make reservations. The campground is in a very scenic setting among the red rocks but it's all the way at the end of the 18 mile scenic drive, so if you plan to do anything else in the Moab area like Canyonlands, it will mean driving back and forth. It get's very HOT in Arches in the summer. If you can't get into the Arches campground, there are plenty of BLM campgrounds on Hwy 128 and a few on Hwy 279. We've found we liked staying in the town of Moab so our boys could have the pool to cool off in. We use to stay at Slickrock Campground because it had a pool, but it has gone DOWN hill since the new owners took over. This year we tried the private campground in Moab called Canyonlands Campground. It has a pool too. It backs up to the Moab High School, but that shouldn't be an issue in the summer. The KOA has a pool too but we haven't stayed there in years.

    For the Grand Canyon we like Mather Campground at the South Rim. It will be best to make reservations in the summer. If you want full hook ups at the Grand Canyon there is the Grand Canyon Trailer Village. Campsites are very close but they do have hook ups. What is nice about camping at the South Rim, is you can pick up the shuttle buses from the campground and you don't have to worry about finding a parking place.

    Don't forget to purchase a National Park Pass for $80 at your first National Park. With all the parks you are visiting, it will save you money.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Trip order.

    Having stayed in an RV at all the parks other than Crater Lake I can only echo what Utahtea has said.

    I would alter the order you visit the parks as well and reverse your trip so that you visit Crater Lake last. Winter is harsh at Crater Lake and some seasonal roads can still be closed through June so the later you arrive the better. I would go to Moab [Arches/Canyonlands] first with at least one overnight stop to get there [2 would better with a shorter trip to Moab on day 3] and then Bryce, Zion, Grand canyon, Yosemite, Crater Lake. With a trailer and young family you have at least 8 or 9 full days of driving however you decide to split that up, although with 3 weeks that will leave you a couple of days at each of your destination points which will involve more driving. In other words your trip is doable, but I would say it's at the limit of what of what is possible and still fun with youngsters and towing.

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    Thanks! I will take your advice and hit crater lake last. The trip has another purpose too. I have to visit family in TX and figured I could stay 3 nights in Arches, two nights in Zion, four nights in both Grand Canyon and Yosemite. I can remove both Bryce and Crater lake. I can also visit crater lake at another time as it is only 8 hours from my house. Do you know when I can make reservations? On it states Feb 15 as the earliest date but want to make sure.

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

    Default Mapping it out.

    The NPS site is the one to be guided by regarding bookings but you should check each park webpage individually to see how your actual arrival date affects things. I believe Grand canyon's Mather and Zion's Watchman campground can be booked up to 6 months in advance, but in Yosemite Feb 15th would be the earlist booking date if you are staying between June 15 and July 14. Once you are happy with your trip plan I would book asap after the window opens.

    I think you will first need to re-think your plans, you have 13 over night stops accounted for in your post and like I said previously, you will need 8 to 9 days to travel the distance. Thats already 21 to 22 days and hasn't included a trip south to Texas and back to the Grand canyon area or time to spend with your family in Texas. Even if they are 'only' in Amarillo that's going to add another 1000 miles and a minimum of 2 days driving between Moab and the Grand canyon. Sure, you could cut a night short at Arches and spend just 2 nights in each of Grand canyon and Yosemite and just try to fit in Crater Lake as an overnight stop on the way back, but to book your nights you will have to first plan out your trip to suit you and map out the mileage. I wouldn't recommend trying to cover much more than 400-450 miles in any single day with 3 young Kids and a travel trailer in tow.

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    Southwest Dave, I agree with you that is it a lot of driving. I will be spending three weeks to get to TX, and then spend one week in TX before driving home in four days. I thinking the longest drive is 550 miles but towing it will take longer as I to drive slower. I attempt to leave at 0400 or so. This allows the kids to sleep for the first four hours thus I drive 200 miles before I am asked to stop. I love all the advice! Please keep it coming. If there are certain things I should do and/or see while I am in these parks, please chime in. I want to do a little hiking (3 mile max), horse back/donkey riding up the canyon etc.. I don't want to break the bank, but I want to make it worth my while too. THANKS again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Why are you doing all of your touring on the way to Texas (and where in that massive state are you heading)?

    How your trip sets up, it seems like it would make much more sense to see some things - like the attractions in Utah - on the way there, and then others - like your stops in California - on the way home. It should actually save you some miles, allow you to take different routes each direction, and make things easier on your family since you won't have the marathon 4 day stretch of "just driving," especially at the end of a long trip.

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

    Default That makes a difference.

    I will be spending three weeks to get to TX,
    That does make a difference. In your opening post you only mentioned 3 weeks from late June to 4th July so I presumed you was trying to fit everything into that time period. I would however agree with Michael that it would be far more balanced and less miles if you were to break your trip up more evenly and spend a week with your family in the middle of your trip. Heading to Utah's parks and then into Texas before returning via Grand canyon, Yosemite and Crater Lake would break it up nicely and give you the opportunity to see more. Generally it would make your trip more enjoyable for everyone as it turns a long 'slog' home into part of an ongoing adventure.

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    I guess I could reverse the order and do Arches, Zion, Grand Canyon first. See family for a week and then head to Yosemite and Crater Lake. If I do that, I will be going right through Salt Lake, UT and Boise, ID. Is there anything along that route worth seeing on the way down. I don't want to go out of the way, but would rather drive an extra hour or so to see something worthwhile.

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

    Default Many options.

    You may find it less miles to go direct to Zion [GC North rim ?] and then Bryce, Arches, Texas [GC South rim ?] Yosemite and Crater lake, depending on which rim you plan to visit.

    On the way Twin Falls with the Snake river canyon is a nice place with Centennial park, Perrine bridge and nearby Shoshone Falls.
    There are many places of interest along any given route, it's just finding those that appeal to your taste.

    Here's an interactive RTA map with listings from RTA contributors, just scroll in and click on a flag for more info. Of course there are many others you will find with a little research.

    It's not your only route option either and if you decided to head to Zion first you could take US93 south from Twin Falls and towards SLC on I80 past Bonneville Salt Flats or head further south on US93 where you will find Great Basin NP and Cathedral Gorge State park. If you were to go to Moab [Arches] first you could still take US93 to Great Basin and then US50/I70.

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