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  1. Default Help with planning 3 week trip, Detroit to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon

    HI everybody,

    We took the plunge and booked a 31' class C rental out of Michigan for the last two weeks in August and first in September. We have 20 days of travel available. Traveling with me is DW, DS and DDx2. We are in our late thirties and the kids are 11,9 and 5. The general route under consideration is 90 to Yellowstone than south to GCNP(south rim) than Route66 back home. We would like to take in all the regular sights along the way. Kids won't "hike" much beyond a short few hour loop/tour so we are pretty much road bound. We do plan on three or four days in Yellowstone. We humbly request of ye wise forum sages the following advice?

    1. Too ambitious?
    2. How many days drive out and suggestions on where to overnight on way to yellow stone?
    3. class c around Yellowstone or rent a car?
    4. Average driving mile/day recommendation ?
    5. Other than 14 and 14a through bighorns any really hairy roads/portions to avoid?

    Jeepers, so many questions! These five are a good place to start. I'm a bit overwhelmed. Thanks in advance for all your wisdom.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    While this does sound like a nice trip, your fears (in Q.1) about it being too ambitious are right on the money. At 4600 miles (figuring from Detroit) in a 31' rig, you're talking 12-14 days of driving. You need at least 2, possibly 3, days to see Yellowstone and a full day at Grand Canyon.

    As for how many days out, it would be a 4-day drive to do the almost 1750 miles to Yellowstone. That's without sightseeing. Add a day if you do a lot of sightseeing stops. Then 2 days from Yellowstone to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. From CGNP, it's at least 5 days home.

    You'd probably have to rent a car around Yellowstone, as most of the parking lots can't handle long rigs. The ones that can, they are often full. Or at least, that's what I noticed last summer when I saw a large RV driving around and around.

    In a big rig, you'll be doing well to get 450 miles per day. The kids cannot just get up and move around in an RV, any more than they can in a car. They have to wear a seat-belt and/or be in a car seat (your 5 year old). If you were to drive your own car and overnight in motels, you could reasonably expect to drive 500-550 miles in a day.

    Hope this helps!


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A shorter loop.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    .If you were to drive your own car and overnight in motels, you could reasonably expect to drive 500-550 miles in a day.
    And save a whole lot of money as well.

    As well as the timeline Donna laid out, if you would like to take in all the regular sights along the way note that you will be going through, or within a short distance of some half a dozen (or more) national parks. Even if the children were into hiking, with a five year old your distances would be limited. But don't let this translate that there is not a lot to do for the young ones in the NPs.

    At each NP or NM you visit be sure to enrole the children in the Junior Ranger program. It will help them (and you) understand a lot more about the place you are visiting. The children will have activities to complete towards this understanding, and when completed these will earn them some nice souvenirs to take home. All the children are at the right age to get the most out of these activities, as they are age appropriate.

    Although taking a car and staying at motels you would cover a lot more ground in a shorter time, I feel going all the way to the South Rim is a bit ambitious. If you were to shorten your loop and include places like Badlands NP, Mt Rushmore, The Tetons, Dinosaur NM, Colorado NM, and Rocky Mountain NP, it is likely to be a much less rushed trip. This is especially important with three children on board. 500 miles day in and day out with youngsters can get trying on all of you.

    If 14 and Alt 14 over Big Horn are hairy for you - I thought they were spectacular routes - then I won't recommend that you take the Beartooth Highway over Beartooth Pass into the north east entry of Yellowstone. Pity, as it is one of the great drives in the US.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    I agree with Donna and Lifey. Your plan is too ambitious. As Lifey points out, you should shorten your loop to include the Badlands, Black Hills Region, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Flaming Gorge, Dinosaur NM, Moab, Colorado NM, and Rocky Mountain NP. I also agree that this trip should be taken in full size car, minivan or SUV and stay in motels that offer a discount and free breakfast. No roadtrip vacation is any fun when rushed, especially with young children.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    If you are taking the RV because it may save you in motel bills, here is an older thread that discusses the pros and cons of RV's vs Car/Motel. With three children, there are motels that either will do a roll-away bed for the 3rd child, or adjoining rooms, or a family suite. As far as food is concerned, you *can* save a lot of money with the RV, as long as you take your staples with you from home. But there are ways to save money on food while still staying in motels -- we do it all the time.


    Donna

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

    Default A forum for everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    But there are ways to save money on food while still staying in motels -- we do it all the time.
    As do I.

    This forum may give you some ideas.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I'm going to give you a different perspective - I think you've got a plan that certainly can work, and you certainly can do it in an RV.

    RV's are about lifestyle and if you're looking for a way to bring some of the comforts of home with you, as you explore the great outdoors, they're perfect. They're not without downsides - as others have mentioned, it will not save you money, they take a little more time, and they can be kind of cumbersome when it comes to parking and the like - but it could still be an excellent way to help make a memorable trip.

    I will also say that with 3 weeks, it's not out of the question to do both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. It will be a very full trip, but I think you could make it work. You need at least 3.5 days to get out to Yellowstone, a long day to get from there to Grand Canyon, and at least 4 to get back. Now, I would recommend you break up some of those drives, but essentially, that means you've got 10 days of driving, which leaves you 10 days to explore. That's a busy, but manageable trip.

    Out of those 10 exploration days, I could see you do something like a day or 2 in the badlands/black hills, 3 days in Yellowstone, a day or 2 in the Tetons, 2 days to explore around Utah (Zion, Bryce, etc), a full day at the Grand Canyon, and then a day to play with for exploring some old Route 66 sites on your trip home.

    That's just a rough template to start with, and that is a quick pace, but even in an RV, I think you could make it work and have fun, without being exhausted.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default What about the children?

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    That's just a rough template to start with, and that is a quick pace, but even in an RV, I think you could make it work and have fun, without being exhausted.
    Sure you could make it work..... for you.

    But what about the children, especially the five year old. It is no fun sitting in the back of an RV restrained in a seat belt for hours at a time. In a car is bad enough, but in an RV, where they most likely will not be able to see out the front window.......

    I would never have imposed that on my children.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    My suggestions were made fully aware that this is a family trip.

    We're talking about a trip where they would be in the car for at most 8-10 hours a day, and many of the driving days would be less. That leaves plenty of time in the day to get out of the RV for several breaks and make things enjoyable, even for children, even in an RV.

    I guess I just don't believe kids are quite as fragile as you're making them out to be, and I don't have a problem "imposing" a tiny bit of sacrifice of having to be in the car for a few days, so they can experience some of the most amazing wonders of the world. I know it was very much worth it for the trips I took as a child, and the trips I've taken with my own family.

  10. Default

    I see you are renting a class C motorhome. Having rented several RVs in the 30 foot range, let me remind you that these are trucks and ride like trucks. I find it very uncomfortable to even approach 70 mph, and that is with no gusty winds. The point is that you will likely drive far fewer miles per day with the RV. You will also average 8 mpg. That adds up to a lot of gas just getting to Yellowstone. That being said, RVs vacations can be a great experience!

    If possible, consider flying out west (or even driving a car/minivan if you can find one with lower one way fees) then renting an RV at your first destination and making a loop from there.

    Good luck!

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