Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1

    Default RV or car ? National parks in late April/May 16

    Hi there !

    New to this forum and eager to get advices. Planning a road trip in late april beginning may . Not sure if RV is the best choice at this time of the year ? Family of 3/ 1st time in RV
    Starting trip from Los Angeles and ending it in Seattle if RV or Vancouver if car(picking up a cruise in Vancouver).
    Have roughly 18 days- Hoping to visit main National parks. Las Vegas/Grand Canyon/Monument Valley/Vermilion/Zion/Bryce Canyon/Yellowstone....
    Is it too much ? What are our chances if we do not book ahead RV camps ahead ?Are we likely to have snow and unable to enter the parks...How safe is it ? Is the car/hotel/lodges better ?

    Thank you for your help :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    As much as I love RV's (used to own them), it may not be the most budget-friendly option, so if that's a concern, you might want to rethink it from that standpoint. For one family, it costs a lot to rent it, then all the stuff they charge extra for (cook package, linen package), plus extra fuel and overnights. Since some of the places on your list are not RV friendly (Las Vegas) or are at upper elevation (Yellowstone), you may want to rethink it for those reasons, too. (Upper elevations will have colder weather, particularly overnights, causing you to not be able to use anything that needs water in the RV, like the sink, shower, or toilet.) Also, slower travel from place to place in an RV.

    Rental car - chances are, you'll have to return it on the US side of the border if renting it in LA. Either way, you may get hit with a one-way fee, or maybe not, depending on whom you rent it through. We've heard that overseas consolidators can sometimes get those pesky one-way fees waived.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Spring travel adventure

    Welcome to the trip planning forums! 18 days is a very nice interval for making the drive between Los Angeles and Seattle. As you already know, you will be traveling in Spring and just about all of the parks on your possible route could still be under the influence of snow and winter-like conditions. In fact, most of the roads in Yellowstone National Park rarely open until the 3rd Friday in April. More about visiting Yellowstone in April here.

    I have personally traveled to all of those parks in Spring in an RV, but my rig was built for all-season travel and I had plenty of on-the-road experience. That being said, RV travel for families is a very pleasant way to travel. It is about 1/3 more expensive to travel in a RV than it is to rent a car and stay in motel and lodges. There are outfitters who can assist with first-time RV travelers. By far the best in the business is Tracks and Trails -- even if you don't use their services -- check out their web site -- offers plenty of tips.

    Spring is a great time to be exploring these parks -- less visitors and the animals are active.

    Certainly you would want to purchase the NPS Annual Pass -- it costs $80 and will admit you to all of the parks -- doesn't cover camping costs -- but it will pay for itself by the time you've visited more than two parks. More information here.

    What is your budget for this adventure?


  4. #4


    Thank you Mark for your comments. All interesting sites too. We are so unsure now...May be we just have to try and modify the route according to the weather...
    Many thanks :)

  5. #5


    Thank you Donna for your comments. It seems we are a bit too early for Yellowstone .... We had thought of starting the RV trip once we had visited Vegas stay in a hotel there .

    Thank you :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default It may be colder than you experience at home.

    Quote Originally Posted by laur16AUSA View Post
    We had thought of starting the RV trip once we had visited Vegas stay in a hotel there .
    One thing you need to be aware of is that most of the time, when you return a vehicle - any vehicle - to a location different from the pic up point, you will be charged a one way drop fee, to cover the cost of the company to get the vehicle back to base.

    If you pick up a car in LA and drop it off in LV, you will have a drop off fee. It may not be a great deal there. But picking up an RV in LV and dropping it in Seattle could cost many hundred or even run into 4 figures. Even a car can run into hundreds of dollars. Make sure you factor that into your calculations. Factor also the fact that you will be charged for every hour you run the generator to heat the van, and in most parks the hours they can be used are limited. Rental RVs are rarely as well insulated as Mark's professional vehicle was. Night's can still fall down to zero in some of these parks.

    Since this trip is still some time off, I suggest you get hold of some really good maps of the west coast. You don't say where you live, but if these are not available locally, You can buy a Rand McNally road atlas from the RTA store. You can access that via the link below. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks. It's probably the most commonly used road atlas in North America. Not only will you see a lot more detail than on a computer screen, but you will get a good idea of the lay of the land, elevation and forest. All details which can be extremely important when planning a trip like this, especially at this time of the year.

    Once you have the maps, you will be able to lay out your route and see just what other places of interest are along the way. It will also help you to get your dates settled, as accommodation in the national parks needs to be booked months ahead. That goes for both car and RV travel. It is usually recommended that you stay within the parks, if your budget will allow it.

    Enjoy the planning, you're in for an amazing trip.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The loop trip.

    If Seattle was more on the agenda as you were planning to head to Yellowstone, and now you are not, then you might consider doing a loop trip starting and ending in the same city. This way you can start out from the city that offers the best combination of air fares and rental costs. Without Yellowstone you could consider adding Yosemite and or Sequoia NP in the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific coast highway into your plans, all spectacular !! Note that some of the higher elevation places such as Tioga Pass in Yosemite and Kings canyon, twinned with Sequoia may not be open due to snow accumulation and Bryce at almost 10,000ft in places could be very cold at night. Another option to consider is to add 3 more of Utah's parks to the list instead of heading to the Sierra's, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands.

  8. #8


    Thank you Dave for your comments. Just gathering all the info and then decide..would still have liked to go to Yellowstone but after reading all the comments it sounds as if we are just too early in the season. Had put Seattle on the map just if we hired the RV as not possible to return it to Vancouver easily and if we decide to rent a car istead then we'll return it to Vancouver(we have to go there to start a cruise). I am aware of the one way fees.
    Many thanks :)

  9. #9


    Thank you Lifey for all your comments.We are from Australia . I have done a fair bit of reseach already and do have the AA 2015 road atlas and numerous guides so we have been gathered a a lot of info already about the route. My main pb is deciding Car or RV !!
    I am glad to read your advice on RV rentals in cold weather starts to sounds like a lot of worries compared to a car + hotel !! Just wouldn't want a holiday to turn into a too stressful experience !
    Many thanks :)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Are you sure?

    Quote Originally Posted by laur16AUSA View Post
    ... and if we decide to rent a car instead then we'll return it to Vancouver ...
    Have you actually checked that you can? It is very difficult to find any company which will allow you to drop a car across the border. No doubt the fee would be outrageous.

    You may also consider taking your RACV, NRMA, etc. membership with you. It will give you access to free maps and tourism information from the AAA/CAA all across North America.

    How long does the cruise give you in Alaska?


Similar Threads

  1. Camping in western national parks in late spring
    By martinhahn in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: 06-25-2012, 11:22 AM
  2. Replies: 21
    Last Post: 04-22-2012, 08:11 PM
  3. KY to CA trip....late April/early May
    By fropan62 in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 04-08-2012, 05:53 PM
  4. West Coast, National Parks, May.
    By keithg in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 44
    Last Post: 07-19-2010, 08:59 AM
  5. How does late April until May 4th look for southern Utah?
    By brownsnest in forum Spring RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-14-2009, 07:52 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name