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  1. Default Moving to Seattle from Denver - will make it into an RV family trip, suggestions?

    We have two boys - age 4 and 6.5 for the adventure. Renting an RV after sending all our belongings on a truck west. We have about 7-10 days for the journey and would like to include the following destinations:

    (starting in Denver)
    Grand Teton
    Yellowstone/Livingston (family there = free room/board)
    Banff/Lake Louse
    Seattle

    I haven't RV tripped since I was 9 years old, but want to be realistic about travel times, and make sure we don't get cabin fever. Any advice on expected MPH or number of miles/hours to drive each day? We don't want to feel rushed! With those locations, the first leg and last leg are long - not sure if we should push it in one day or are open to other stops.

    Any advice on where to park/camp also greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Denver to Grand Teton is 500 miles, and in a RV will be close to a 12 hour drive. This is quite marginal for a 1 day drive. Livingston to Banff is even worse, 600 miles. Definitely not a 1 day drive in a RV and marginal in a car. Same with Banff to Seattle, 600 miles.

    If you want to stay in any of the parks with a RV, reservations are essential, as far in advance as they will let you. You legally can't just pull over and park for the night anywhere except campgrounds and private property with permission (i.e. truck stops and some Walmarts). You also have to ensure the rental company will allow you to take it into Canada, and you will need passports (adults) and birth certificates (children).

    A RV is definitely not going to save you money - rental, one way dropoff fee, fuel, and camping fees will be more than a car and hotels. It's a lifestyle choice.

    You have 3 long legs planned, none of which I would attempt in a single day in a RV. With a car you could probably get away with it in the summer, when it doesn't get dark till 10pm or so that far north.

  3. Default

    Oh - I completely agree! I know it's not the most affordable route, but we're interested in the family adventure. I'm looking for advice on what is a reasonable expectation re: avg MPH and hours to travel per day (I'm assuming folks on the forum have more experience than I do).

    Equally important is any feedback/suggestions for how to break up the three long legs (Denver - Teton, Livingston - Banff, Banff - Seattle) so that it's enjoyable. I have no interest in a 12 hour day. Thoughts?

    Thanks for the reminder about reservations - once we solidify a route/timeline I'll be sure to reserve.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Reiterating

    Some of glc's advice bears repeating, especially in light of your long hiatus from RVing. First and foremost, this will be an expensive RV adventure. RVs cost far more than cars to rent, you still have to pay for a place to park each night, and it will cost up to 4-5 times as much for gas to push it down the road. And finally, there's the cost no one has mentioned yet: the one-way drop-off fee. That can run two or three hundred dollars for a car. The fee for a one-way RV rental will be a whole lot more and is nigh onto impossible to get waived. Then realize that your children will still need to be seated and belted in while rolling down the road, with far less access to viewing the scenery and you can see why RVing appeals to a subset of RoadTrippers.

    Next is the 'cost' of the trip in time. No matter what you finally decide on for a vehicle, it is a minimum of two days to Livingston (including a minimal amount of time in Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Then it's another two days minimum to Banff, again with a minimum amount of time in those parks. Add another two days for the drive from Banff to Seattle (much of it over mountainous two lane roads, and including a possible long delay crossing back into the US) and you've taken up six of your available seven to ten days. That means you really only have one 'spare' day to spend at each of the major park stops and at your relatives in Livingston. Spending just that much time at each would completely eat up your available time.

    Finally, where to stop. If you don't already have reservations in the Yellowstone or Banff areas, you either need to make them very soon, particularly if you plan to 'camp' in an RV. Or you can take a different tack on the problem and look for places far enough from the major attractions that they won't be overbooked and/or too expensive. Such a plan would mean stops rather at places like Dubois WY, Lethbridge or Calgary AB, and Kamloops BC. Keep in mind while planning if you push each day's activities (driving and sight-seeing combined) to their limits, any delay or unexpected problem will set back your entire trip and/or cut into your sleep time. Build some leeway into your itinerary, particularly where kids are involved.

    AZBuck

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

    Default

    To estimate drive times from point to point in a RV, go ahead and use software such as Google Maps or Microsoft Streets & Trips, and add 30% to the computer generated drive time.

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

    Default The making of an adventure.

    Quote Originally Posted by rachelw View Post
    I'm looking for advice on what is a reasonable expectation re: avg MPH and hours to travel per day (I'm assuming folks on the forum have more experience than I do).
    When we went camping with our five children we made a point of never driving before 8am nor after 4pm. This gave the children lots of time to burn off energy as well as familiarise themselves with the surroundings where they would be spending their night.

    At the same time it gave their parents time to cook a good breakfast, clean up and break camp... and at the other end of the day, establish camp, cook a meal, clean up and plan the day ahead. Lunch was the major stop during the day, with smaller stops in the morning and afternoon. These were usually at places of interest to the children where one of us would prepare lunch, and the other went exploring with the children.

    Worked well. Never had children ask if it was far to go or complain about having to be restrained in their seat belts. Trips that were recalled for decades afterwards.

    Lifey

  7. Default

    Thanks for the encouragement, Lifey!

    I do realize that we're trying to cover quite a bit of mileage - and no one has suggested that the Calgary to Seattle leg has much to offer... It looks like the (potential) price difference between returning the RV in Calgary vs: Seattle (mileage and extra few nights) is only slightly less than flights for the family. That would give us the extra days deserved for the major stops!

    A few more questions from folks:

    1) Where do you suggest we stop for the night between Denver & Tetons?
    2) Where do you suggest we stop for the night between Livingston & Banff?

    And would two days each in Tetons, Yellowstone & Banff do it justice?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Can you even return a RV rented in Denver to Calgary?

  9. Default

    Yep! .

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    A few more questions from folks:

    1) Where do you suggest we stop for the night between Denver & Tetons?
    Do you know yet what route you're going to take between the two? If taking I-25 to US-20/26, Casper might be a good place. If going I-25/I-80/US-191, perhaps Rock Springs would work.

    2) Where do you suggest we stop for the night between Livingston & Banff?
    You might want to look into staying in Shelby, MT.

    And would two days each in Tetons, Yellowstone & Banff do it justice?
    It really depends on what you really want to do in each park. We found one day in the Tetons was plenty, but we didn't do any hiking, boating, or other outdoor adventures. Yellowstone, however, is huge. It took us the better part of 3 days to really see it:

    1) Day 1 driving the Beartooth Highway (highly recommended), and seeing the NE area of Yellowstone such as the Lamar Valley, Norris Geyser Basin,

    2) Day 2 circling the southern portion of the "Grand Loop Road" -- Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, Mud Volcanoes, etc. We hiked much of the Old Faithful area and a few other areas that day such as the Upper and Lower Falls trails.

    3) Day 3 circling the northern portion of the "Grand Loop Road", such as Canyon Village, Tower Falls, Mammoth Hot Springs, driving up to Gardiner so that we could go through the Roosevelt Arch.

    Bear in mind at these two parks, particularly Yellowstone, is that seeing many things (including Old Faithful) is going to mean trying to find adequate parking for the RV (not easy) and then walking to the interesting point. I will make the suggestion that you get out into the park around daybreak: you will see more wildlife and you will find parking a lot easier too. (We drove a large pickup truck, and there were a few places where we had trouble parking, such as Mammoth Hot Springs.)

    The last time we were in Banff, it was a part of a tour of Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise and Banff. I believe we spent 2 nights at Hinton while touring through Jasper. We stayed at a commercial RV park because we needed hookups and the campgrounds at Jasper NP did not have them. Then, we went down the Parkway,
    stayed three nights at Lake Louise (and went over to Yoho National Park) at the Lake Louise Campground and RV park. Back then, it had electric hookups, but you had to pick up a load of water before you went to your spot, and then there was a dump station when you were done.

    We spent two nights at Banff in one of the loops at Tunnel Mountain. Someone mentioned that Banff itself was rather high-priced, and it was both times I was there.

    We went from Banff to Shelby, MT on our second trip, towing a 5th wheel trailer. We stayed at an RV park there in Shelby, but not sure where.

    Hope this helps.


    Donna

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