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  1. Default 6 Week Nat'l Park Tour w/Kids

    Well, I've read books, visited National Park, Forestry, State Park and even City websites and they all cover the surface really well. Now it's time to get into the nitty gritty detail. I've been perusing through this forum and others, and reading articles on this site, but I know I can't expect to find answers to my exact situation unless I join and start asking questions. I'm planning a 6-week roadtrip with my husband and two young children (who will be turning 4 & 6 during the trip) starting in early June. We'll be traveling in our Lance camper, towing an old 4WD Land Cruiser from Northern California to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, North Cascades (maybe), Olympic, Mt. Rainier then hopefully hitting some of our favorite camping spots on our way home. I'm anxious to get to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, so I'm opting to take the quickest route through Nevada and Idaho. Since the kids are so young we will definitely need to break up the driving time. I'm thinking it will take us two overnights to get there, one in Nevada and the other at Craters of the Moon. Someone in another forum suggested Blackfoot's Potato Museum, so I think we'll add a quick visit there as well. I've promised my husband that after we get to Wyoming I would stop pushing for a schedule. We want to take our time and enjoy the experience. However, there are logistical issues to think about. We're avid campers, but are still pretty inexperienced w/the Lance. We love to venture off the beaten path and are not big on crowds, so we're much more intersted in finding that remote little gem of a campsite than staying in an RV park, but I will need to schedule in time to dump the tanks, recharge the camper and cameras, do laundry, etc. In the summer, I'm assuming I will have to make reservations at a full service RV park to take care of these things, and that puts us back on a "schedule" again. Does anyone have other suggestions?

    I'm also looking for suggested stops along the way, especially from Yellowstone to Glacier, then to Washington and down through Oregon. I read a reply to someone else's trip that suggested Flathead Lake on the way to Glacier. This looks like an amazing place with activities to keep everyone busy.

    We're hoping to explore as much as we can, find some great camping spots, take in the scenery and the wildlife (I'm hoping there will be an abundance of photo ops), do some fishing (well, probably a lot of fishing - my husband wants to catch the BIG one this year) and give the kids some memorable and educational experiences. We've never had the opportunity to spend this much time away from the daily grind before and I'm really excited, but also a bit nervous.

    I'm thrilled to have found this site and am hoping for any input you all can provide.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Do you really need the "nitty gritty"?

    Quote Originally Posted by funfam View Post
    but I know I can't expect to find answers to my exact situation unless I join and start asking questions.
    Looks like you are well on your way to an amazing family adventure. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Here are some tips that might be helpful for creating this family road trip. I have no doubt that we can provide some suggestions for some of the niftier hidden gems --but I think you may already have enough information -- part of such a road trip adventure is being ready to pursue an unknown part of the trip.
    In the summer, I'm assuming I will have to make reservations at a full service RV park to take care of these things, and that puts us back on a "schedule" again. Does anyone have other suggestions?
    Just about every state park in the land provides free dump stations and most truck stops offer dump stations as well. I rarely booked ahead for RV parks -- with the exception of some of the more visited areas -- you can often find places to stay and take care of the re-charging matters.

    I will be back later with suggestions of my favorite hidden places....


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Your kids are going to have some great memories!

    What a wonderful trip you are giving them...and yourselves, too, of course!

    I have to ask because I'm curious...why tow the extra vehicle? Is it for 4-wheelin' reasons? Having done my share of traveling in a truck with a camper, I'm wondering if you might not enjoy the drive more without towing the Land Cruiser. Many places have 4WD rentals for day excursions. The money you save on the increased fuel consumption to tow it might go toward just renting something for the time you need it. Just a may not work for your plans.

    I agree that reservations are rarely needed at commercial campgrounds with hook-ups, laundry facilities, etc. You might find this to be true close to the entrance of major tourist locations, like Yellowstone for example, but farther from these places, you should be fine.

    There are some rest stops in WA state with dump stations. I'm guessing this is true in other states as well.

    This post has links to several discussions about traveling in WA, OR, and Northern CA that might prove helpful.

    I see you have a "maybe" about visiting the North Cascades. This is an amazing area. You will enjoy the Methow Valley on the east side of the Cascades if you like fishing and seclusion. Good fishing in places like Lake Conconnelly (sp?) north of Omak and Okanogan, for example.

    The North Cascades Highway is a wonderful drive. Very steep and windy in places so factor that into your decision. I've certainly seen RVs and people towing campers/boats over it but you will need to go slow. Only you know your vehicle/tow package set up enough to have an idea if it would be fine on that type of road. I think it would be important to make sure your brakes and any auxiliary brakes for your tow package are up to snuff. (Of course, this applies to your trip as a whole as well.)

    I life in WA and am most familiar with WA an OR. Let me know how I can help you further with your trip planning, especially in those areas.

  4. Default

    Thank you for your replies. This is great information! I thought dump stations might be pretty easy to find, but we've only needed to recharge the system once when we pulled a rookie move and depleted our batteries. At this point I don't really know how long we can go under normal circumstances before recharging. We'll probably align it w/laundry :-) It looks like I should just plan on doing these things in-between the Nat'l Parks.

    I have to ask because I'm curious...why tow the extra vehicle? Is it for 4-wheelin' reasons?
    We do like the flexibility of an extra vehicle. We'll probably set up a base camp and use the LC for day trips. I can also take advantage in the early morning hours before everyone else is up As for 4-wheelin', it will be mild w/the kids, but I know my husband will do some exploring on his own. I haven't yet figured out what the fuel cost will be, but I've seen some links to calculators on this site that will help.

    I see you have a "maybe" about visiting the North Cascades. This is an amazing area.
    I'm glad you are familiar with North Cascades! I'm not even sure why I had a maybe..possibly because I'm not sure what we'll have time for if we are in the "no rush" mode, but from your advice, I will make sure this is one of our stops. You mentioned The North Cascades Highway. Is this a drive, like Going To The Sun Road, that we can take as a day trip, stopping at various points of interest?

    I would love more information on OR and WA! CA too! (Being from CA, we have our favorite spots, but it's always nice to compare with those that others have visited.)

    I will be back later with suggestions of my favorite hidden places....
    I can't wait to read more on this as well!

    Thank you both again for all your input!

  5. Default

    A few years back, we spent time with family in Bozeman, and really got a chance to explore the area. I would heartily recommend stopping into Bozeman and walking up and down Main St. (downtown). Very cool place.

    Also, the Gallatin Gateway Inn is one of our all time favorite restaurants anywhere! I can still taste the incredible braised buffalo short ribs from our last visit. It ain't cheap, but it's a great experience.

    Bozeman Hot Springs is another spot that we really enjoyed. I believe that there's a KOA right in that vicinity as well if you're looking for an overnight spot.

    South of Bozeman was Hyalite Canyon. We did the Grotto Falls Trail and really enjoyed it. Nice little swimmable payoff at the end!

    We were totally unimpressed with Virginia City, but we've spoken to some who have loved it. It felt a little to contrived and fake as far as we were concerned.

    Lastly, Chico Hot Springs is another great destination that we found to be quite kid-friendly. Again, it's not cheap, but is very unique and really lovely.

    Oh yeah, and don't forget the Beartooth Highway. If you can swing it, don't miss it. Just leave the RV in the campground and take the Land Cruiser. It's absolutely phenomencrediblmazing.

  6. Default Some places to check out in Oregon

    I had taken quite a few road trips in OR when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Some places I would recommend would be Oregon Dunes National Monument, Oregon Caves National Monument and Lake Waldo in Central Oregon. There is also Crater Lake, but I felt it was pretty crowded for the size of the park. Lake Waldo, in particular, I have always meant to return to. A very lovely setting high up in the mountains and thought to be one of the world's purest bodies of water. Hopefully, it escaped the wildfires that way a couple years back.I don't believe that they have RV hook ups there though. Enjoy your trip.

  7. Default I think we're well on our way!

    Thanks everyone! This is a wealth of information! From your replies, and through reading threads from other trips on this site, I made a tentative route from Yellowstone. I think my only issue now is not having enough time to see and do everything. This seems like a pretty common issue. Anyway, between Yellowstone and our next camping spot, Bozeman is looking like a nice town to explore. A soak in the hot springs will be inviting and we will definitely work in a meal at the Gallatin Gateway Inn. It will be a good time to splurge a little! I think well take a drive on the Beartooth Highway while were still camped in YNP. We still have quite a stretch from Bozeman to Flathead Lake, but Im sure well find some points of interest along the way. After a night at Flathead Lake, the next stops will be:
    Glacier NP (2 nts)
    Stop-off at the Hungry Horse dam
    Spend some time on the Kootenai River
    Depending on how close we are to the 4rth of July, we might camp at Sandpoint in Northern Idaho and enjoy a fireworks show over the lake.
    Spokane, WA (1/2 1 day). Riverfront Park seems like a lot of fun for the kids.
    Conconully Lake, WA (1-2 nights) * - Thanks for this suggestion Judy!
    North Cascades NP (2 nights) *
    Olympic NP (2 nights) *
    I followed Judys links to information on Lake Quinault and Cape Flattery, and well include these stops on the trip.
    Visit friends near Seattle (1-2 nights)
    * Again, Im not sure of where well be over the Independence Day weekend. It will probably be difficult to impossible to find a camping spot during this time, so we may make it a plan to stay with our friends. Are there festivities that we should really try to see in these areas?
    Mt. Ranier (2 nights)
    Mt St Helens
    Ive always wanted to check out McMenamins Edgefield and the Portland area, but aside from McMenamins, I dont have other specifics.
    Lake Waldo This looks beautiful! Thank you Keri!
    Oregon Sand Dunes (or another area of the Oregon Coast?)
    Crater Lake (even with the crowds I think this is worth a stop)
    Oregon Caves

    Wow! It looks like we have a lot (probably too much) going on! I think were well on our way to a fabulous trip! Once we get a feel for a comfortable pace well be able to figure out if its all doable. I've seen people asks this question about their itenerary and I know there are calculators, but I still think there is a personal preference that can't be worked into the equation until a first timer like me actually starts out on one of these adventures.

    Thanks again for all of your help! Now that Im pretty much addicted to this site, I cant stay away!

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