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  1. #1

    Default 3.5 week trip from Indiana to West and back with 4 kids

    We've been wanting to do this trip for years (husband and I did a similar trip without the kids MANY years ago) and feel like our kids are finally the right ages. They will be 5, 10, 14, 15 and are all very excited. They are pretty good car travelers and we drive to FL 1-2 times a year so they are used to being in the car for 12-13 hours in a day. However, we've never done a trip like this and are planning on being gone 22-24 days. We are camping most of the time, with a hotel stay about every 4 nights. We are also thinking of renting a house near Yellowstone for 4 nights so we can have a break from all the camping.

    Here is our ever-changing itinerary. We are planning on starting in early June.

    1 Drive to Walnut Creek State Park, Oklahoma KOA (10.5 hours)
    2 Drive to Grants, NM KOA (10.5)
    3 Grants, NM to Petrified Forest National Park (2 hrs) to Meteor Crater (1 hr 15) to Grand Canyon (1 hr 45)
    4 Grand Canyon
    5 Grand Canyon morning and Slide Rock in the afternoon (1 hr 45)
    6 Sedona area exploring?
    7 Drive to Sequoia National Park (9 hr 18)
    8 Sequoia National Park
    9 Drive thru Death Valley to Hoover Dam. Not sure where to stay yet (7 hr 40)
    10 Drive to Bryce Canyon (4hr 30)
    11 Bryce Canyon or Zion
    12 Bryce Canyon to Park City (4 hrs)
    13 Park City to Grand Tetons (4hr 30) Someone mentioned to travel Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway
    14 Grand Tetons
    15 Grand Tetons for most of the day then to Yellowstone (2 hr 20)
    16 Yellowstone
    17 Yellowstone
    18 Yellowstone
    19 Travel from Yellowstone to RMNP (6 hours)
    20 Visit RMNP and drive Trail Ridge Road
    21 RMNP
    22 Drive home (10ish hours)
    23 Drive home (10ish hours)

    My main questions are;

    1. we packing too much into one trip? We may not have the chance to do this again before the oldest heads to college as the following 2 years vacations are already planned.

    2. Will we go mad being on the road with each other for that long? Haha!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Real World Travel Times

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The big problem I see with your plan is that you have built travel time estimates from online map programs, that just aren't close to accurate in real world conditions - especially not with 4 children, where you'll be stopping more often, and your stops will be longer.

    You don't say where in "Indiana" you're starting from, but Walnut Creek SP to Grants NM is 750 miles, and there's no way you can possibly cover that distance in 10.5 hours. Real world, that's at least 13-14 hours, if you never stopped for anything other than gas. 750 miles a day on a trip like this simply isn't safe, and it is very good way to have your family exhausted and at each others throats from the very get-go.

    10 hours is perfectly fine for a few driving days as you get to/head home, but 10 hours a day in the real world, with traffic, construction, rest breaks, etc, is 600 miles, and that's the absolute maximum you should be looking to travel in a day on a trip like this. This is doubly true when you're planning to camp, where you need to plan some extra time to setup/tear down and get from the campsite to the freeway. I'm also assuming you're talking tent camping, and not pulling a trailer, which would require even more time.

    I think you'll likely need at least one more day planned at the start/finish of your trip because of that. The other big area where this will come into play is your plan to head to Sequoia. Those drive times are also significantly higher than you've listed, and if you need to trim something, that's where I'd start, because it is a long way away from anything else on your plan. If you're going to keep it in, then it would make much more sense to go GC past Hoover Dam to Death Valley, then head to Sequoia, and then add in Yosemite and cross Tioga Pass to get back east of the Sierras and drive across Nevada either back to Utah or directly towards Tetons/Yellowstone. If you do trim Sequoia, there is plenty more to do in Southern Utah, like Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands, or more time for Bryce or Zion that you could add in without adding nearly as many miles.

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

    Default Rushed in places.

    I agree with Michael and feel as though you are taking on to much in certain parts of your trip. I would consider cutting out Sedona, Death valley and Sequoia and going from the GC into Utah via Page AZ. That would allow you to break down your drive times to a more 'family friendly' fashion and have a little more time to enjoy the other places on your list. If you 'kept' Slide rock/Sedona you could head there first and then up to GC and Utah.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Accommodation.

    We are also thinking of renting a house near Yellowstone for 4 nights so we can have a break from all the camping.
    Do you have your accommodation near Yellowstone secured. You may find at this late stage - yes, anything near Yellowstone books out many months in advance - you may not manage to get anything even remotely near the park.... unless you camp in State Parks or on BLM land. Members have reported not being able to find accommodation in Jan for a July visit.

    You might like to look at accommodation within the park, if any is still available. Or you might be lucky enough to pick up someone's cancellation. Having four children to get ready each morning and the 'slow' drive in and out of the park each day, will eat up a lot of your allocated days

    Similar at the Grand Canyon, though accommodation is not quite so pressed there, and the drive in and out is at normal highway speeds.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    What type of camping are you doing? Tents or small RV? If it's tents, be advised that KOA's aren't usually built with the tent camper in mind. Their primary customer base are folks that want hookups: motorhomes and trailers. Tenters are sort of an after-thought, though these days, many of them have cabins that you can rent to do some "camping" with a hard roof over your head. When we tent-camped, we looked for state forests, state parks, national forest or national park campgrounds. (Our favorites were national forests, with an occasional state park or cheap motel for a decent shower.) State and national forest/park campgrounds are usually a better bargain than your commercial RV parks such as KOA's.


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