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  1. Default Summer 2015 trip to Western National Parks

    My family wants to do a 2 week trip next summer to see some of the Western National Parks. Would love to include Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon. We are not sure where we should fly into from Richmond, VA and, if we should rent an RV or just rent a car and stay in hotels/motels or park cabins. Quite frankly, I was not prepared for the cost of the RV rentals. One place in Billings, MT was about 4000.00 once you included a kitchen kit and 3 personal kits. Not to mention, additional mileage. Was wondering if Montana was even the best place to fly into, or if I should be looking at Colorado or Nevada. Would love some help. Been on line for the better part of a day trying to figure this out and get an early start. I know we have to make reservations for park accommodations/RV spots sooner than later. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Summer time in the 3 parks you mentioned will be busy, so it's good that you are starting to think of this early on. Yes, RV's are expensive to rent. You might want to check out this thread to decide about the RV vs car+motel/park cabins. These days, especially with the cost of renting the RV included, an RV is more of a lifestyle choice than anything. The biggest advantage is having your own bed and kitchen aboard, but you pay more for mileage, fuel use, and camping spots are not always cheap.

    Some folks like to fly into Salt Lake City or Denver to do Yellowstone/Grand Teton. SLC is a bit closer. Then between Jackson WY (south of Grand Teton) and the Grand Canyon, you have about 800 miles to drive. In an RV that equates to two very full days on the road; in a car, it's about a day and a half.

    Either way, RV or motel, you'll need reservations at any of those parks asap.

    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Salt Lake City would probably be your best bet for Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. If time permits, you can see some more parks in southern Utah, they are all spectacular.

    I'd rent a car, and try to make reservations for lodging inside the parks when the booking window first opens up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Vegas ?

    You have a nice amount of time to research your options for such a trip and to see what else appeals to you and what airport and rentals offer the best value. With the Grand canyon and southern Utah parks in mind even Las Vegas would be a possible start and finish point that might offer better flight and rental deals and if you haven't been before can be quite an experience. You could be in the Tetons within 2 days, spend a few days in Yellowstone and then head towards Utah via Flaming Gorge to Bryce canyon, the North rim and Zion NP back to Vegas. It would add a couple of hundred miles to your trip, but over a 2 week trip is not a lot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I checked airfares for this summer (who knows about next summer) and from RIC, LAS is considerably cheaper than SLC. Car rentals are pretty similar.

  6. Default

    Thank you all for your advice. I will definitely check out Las Vegas and SLC. Donna that thread and related articles on RV vs Car/motel. Lots to think about. We have done RV travel once before and enjoyed it. It was the sticker shock for a big trip that made me pause. When can I actually start making reservations at the parks for either RV spot or accommodations? Don't want to miss the window. If we do decide to fly and RV, any advice on gear. The RV places all have kits, but is there anything else I should try to bring with us?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Research each park on NPS.GOV, keep an eye on each park's site for reservation window dates.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,747

    Default RV rental, try again.

    I have to say I am surprised at the quote you got for an RV, maybe it was to do with the fact that it is so far in advance, or that it was from a little used location for RV hire, or a combination of both. I would suggest you take a look on the Cruise America website, click on 'Hot deals' link, start and end in Las Vegas with this summer's dates to get a clearer idea of cost. Once you have done so and have some numbers to work from, you can start shopping around. For next summer, I would be looking to book an RV this winter when things are quieter and there is a better chance of deals flying around. CA often have 'Early bird' specials for those that are prepared to book well in advance just to keep some money coming in during those quieter months.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I have to say I am surprised at the quote you got for an RV, maybe it was to do with the fact that it is so far in advance, or that it was from a little used location for RV hire, or a combination of both. I would suggest you take a look on the Cruise America website, click on 'Hot deals' link, start and end in Las Vegas with this summer's dates to get a clearer idea of cost. Once you have done so and have some numbers to work from, you can start shopping around. For next summer, I would be looking to book an RV this winter when things are quieter and there is a better chance of deals flying around. CA often have 'Early bird' specials for those that are prepared to book well in advance just to keep some money coming in during those quieter months.
    Do you have any thoughts about this Route: SLC to Grand Teton, to Yellowstone, all the way down to Arches (past Flaming Gorge) to Grand Canyon (North Rim?), then to Zion and/or Bryce back to SLC. Is this too much for two weeks? Its about 1800 miles and I know the Google maps aren't the most accurate. How much time should we allow for each park? Is there one you would take off the list? I'm torn because I want to do Yellowstone and Grand Canyon and they are at opposite ends.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default It's possible.

    You could do this trip in 2 weeks, but then again you could easily spend a week in Yelllowstone and the Tetons and therefor comes down to the pace you want to travel at and whether or not you can see a future trip that will bring you back. I would plan on spending at least 3 to 4 days for Yellowstone and the Tetons, so lets say 4 days with the journey from SLC. It would then be 2 comfortable days to Arches NP, perhaps with a little sight seeing when you arrive. Next day, more sight seeing and maybe visit Canyonlands. That's a week gone. Week 2. Drive to Bryce canyon where you have the option to take UT24 to Capitol Reef NP and Utah scenic 12. Bryce canyon and to Zion NP and spend a full day there, 2 nights. Next day to the North rim and spend a further 2 nights before driving back to SLC.

    That's just one way of going about it of many, but having visited all of these parks, it's how I would divide the time up to fit. They are all equally spectacular but some can be seen quicker than others when time is an issue. As your main aim is to see Yellowstone and the GC you could only shave off about 300 miles from your total mileage anyway, but you could take a more direct approach, so that any park you dropped from the list would be more time spent elsewhere. One obvious choice would be to drop Arches NP and use I15 to connect Yellowstone and Bryce canyon, you could get there same day if you stayed over in Jackson WY.

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