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  1. #1

    Default USA Bound from Australia

    Hi All, my family (1 husband & 2 kids), are heading to the states in Sept for a family holiday. We arrive in LA on 13 September and are spending the first 5 days in Anaheim. Buttering the kids up for the following weeks spent together in a motorhome. We are collecting our motorhome on 18 September 2009 from El Monte in Santa Fe Springs. I have booked a CS30 motorhome (much to my husbands horror. He is quite worried about the size, I however am working on the theory that a little bit more room for the kids just might mean the difference between all of us getting off the motorhome at the end of our trip alive!). This is the roadtrip we have planned:

    Santa Fe Springs to Needles -have no idea if this is a good spot to stop. We are unsure of what time we will get to hit the road after collecting our RV. Will need to shop and are also wanting to visit Calico Ghost Town.
    Needles to Grand Canyon (2 nights)-staying NP
    Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon (2nights)-staying NP
    Bryce Canyon to Zion (o/night)-staying NP
    Zion to Las Vegas (3nights)-staying KOA Circus Circus
    Las Vegas to Mammoth Lakes (o/night)
    Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite via Tioga Pass (o/night-staying NP
    Yosemite to San Francisco (3 nights)-Staying in Marin
    San Francisco to Big Sur (o/night)- via Big Basin Redwoods, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel (is this a little too much?)
    Big Sur to Pismo Beach (o/night)- via Heart Castle and San Luis Obispo
    Pismo Beach to Malibu (o/night)-via Solvang and Santa Barbara.
    Malibu to Santa Fe Springs-return motorhome

    Last 2 nights staying in West Hollywood before flying home to Australia.

    Looking for any pointers re plan. Also would love to know if there are any roads that should be avoided in the 30' motorhome.

    Look forward to some advise.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Your daily point-to-point distances all look pretty reasonable. One comment - I think I'd rather stay in Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, or Laughlin than Needles. You would be looking at anywhere from 4 to 6 hours+ to get to any of those places, depending on LA area traffic.

    Look at the costs involved - for a trip of that length it may be cheaper to rent a car and use hotels (and look at doing some tent camping) by the time you get done with the comparative rental costs and difference in fuel consumption. The only real reason to rent a RV is lifestyle preferences, not cost.

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

    Default Welcome to the States!

    And to the Roadtrip America forums.

    Your trip is easily one of the more popular trips we get questions about here. This post has links to numerous discussions that should be very helpful to you and give you lots of good ideas.

    I think your plan sounds great. You're not driving extreme distances any day and allowing a good amount of time to explore the areas you're going to. The only leg that I'm a bit concerned about is that first day to Needles. While 250 miles isn't a lot, it might seem like a lot on the very first day. Particularly since you're just getting the motorhome, getting used to driving it, and need to pack it, shop for groceries, etc. Also, it depends on what time you're getting out of the LA area. As you probably know, traffic in LA can be brutal. I sure wouldn't want to be leaving there in a motorhome I'm not familiar with when commuter traffic is at its thickest! Hopefully, you'll be leaving late morning when it should be relatively clear. Remember, "clear" is a relative term there. However, once you get on the interstate and away from thicker traffic, you should be able to make good time.

    Unfortunately, I'm not seeing a lot of campground between Barstow and Needles either to give you a closer option.

    Re the motorhome...well, a 30-footer is pretty good sized. I don't believe there are any roads on your route where you can't take a bigger RV. However, there are some roads where travel will be slow-going. In particular, the route from Grand Canyon to Bryce is almost 300 miles and most of this is narrow with a lot of curves and elevation changes. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a good 8 hours for you to drive. On the day you make this drive, just make sure to get an early start and you will be fine. There are numerous interesting places along the way to stop, have a look around, and stretch your legs. Just start early, drive at a slower pace that you're comfortable with, and break the day up with these stops and it will be a nice drive. If you get a late start, you might feel rushed and the day won't be as pleasant.

    Note that most states have laws about how many cars you can slow down behind you if you're driving under the speed limit. In my state, it's five cars. You could get ticketed for impeding traffic if you're not being considerate in letting people pass. So, some tips if you get some cars piling up behind you:
    * If you come to a straight stretch that would at least a car or two to pass, slow down even more and pull slightly over onto the shoulder. Sometimes the shoulder will be wide enough where you can get almost all the way onto it. In fact, some shoulders will even have signs saying that it's OK to use it in order to let other cars pass.
    * If there is two lanes, always stay in the right lane. Sometimes there will temporarily be two lanes to allow for faster cars to pass you on the left. Again, sometimes it will be a wide shoulder designed for this purpose.
    * If these options don't happen, sometimes you might just have to pull over in a parking lot or other large space that gives you plenty of room to pull over in order to let cars pass, and then wait until the lane is clear before pulling back onto the road. (Note: Don't do this is you have to start again going uphill as that will be a slow way to start again.)

    Believe me, the drivers behind you will thank you for your consideration.

    This road is not real heavily travelled so this shouldn't be a chronic problem but it is something you want to be aware of.

    Also, when you enter Zion from Bryce, you will need to go through a tunnel. You will need to pay a $15 fee for your rig as you will need to be escorted through the tunnel. More info here. Just something for you to be aware of.

    Other than that stretch, I think most of the rest of the way should be fine for you. However, the consideration rules would apply anywhere.

    I think your family will enjoy having the space in the motorhome.

    I hope you have already set about getting your reservations for campsites in the national parks. While September isn't as busy as the summer, you wouldn't want to find yourself without a place to camp!

    Anything else we can help you with?

  4. #4


    Thanks so much for your advise. There are certainly some good points that we need to take note of.

    Could you give me any advise on the Protocol for Tipping? I have the following questions:

    1. Do you tip in RV Parks (including National Parks)?
    2. Do you tip Tour Guides?
    3. Do you tip the Concierge at your hotel if you are asking a question or getting him to book something?
    4. What is the going rate?

    Also, so you know of any companies that you can use to get from one point to another. ie. Anaheim to Santa Fe Springs and Santa Fe Springs to West Hollywood? I realise that there are cabs, but would feel better if I could book a time with a transport company and know they will show up without us having to wait for a cab.

    Thanks for your help.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the advise. Have started to look into the places you mentioned. We might try and push it to Kingman. We have organised a early pickup for our Motorhome which is at 8am so hopefully we will get on the road by mid morning.

    Hiring a car sounds like a cost effective way of travel as well. My husband was really keen to do the motorhome as he did it when he was a kid and still talks about it (30years on). He has always wanted to do it with our kids.

    Thanks again for your help.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    1. No.
    2. Not if you have to pay for the tour.
    3. Not for simply answering questions, but if you are having him/her actually provide you with a service (such as booking or calling you a taxi) it's expected.
    4. Here are the going rates in the US.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    South Central Orange County

    Default Santa Fe Springs and points east

    Good news! If you are hitting traffic around 9:00 AM from Santa Fe Springs, you will be going against the flow of traffic most of the way. You will take I-5 south to CA-91 east. I-5 from Santa Fe Springs is almost always slow going in the morning, but it's a short drive to CA-91.

    Unlike PNW Judy, I think Needles shouldn't be too far to go in one day unless you have difficulties adjusting to driving an RV. I appreciate her comments about driving etiquette when using a larger vehicle. It makes life easier for everyone on the road!

    See how well you are holding up as you head east. If you reach Needles fairly early, you may want to move on to Kingman or even all the way to Williams. September can still be quite hot, so moving up to higher elevation as you move east will make your stay for the night more pleasant.

  8. #8

    Default Which Amp do you need 30 or 50

    Hi all

    Trying to find out whether we need to book 30amps or 50amps for our Motorhome. It is a El Monte CS30 (slide out). If anyone out there knows the answer I would be much abliged.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Wonderful !


    I am not sure but I think most sites have dual plugs to match the lead provided. If you overloaded a 30 amp hook up it would either trip the power switch or some RV's will automatically shut down the air con for instance if it senses an overload. We mainly booked 50 amp but if you have any doubt I would contact El Monte.

    Your trip looks fantastic and camping in the National parks is awesome. It shouldn't take to long to adapt to the size of the RV but you will need to take it steady the first day to get used to the handling characteristics and a 30ft is a good size. The two main things are the extra width behind the cab and the overhang behind the rear wheels. The main thing with the overhang is not to turn away sharply from the gas pumps or if you are parked close to another car or wall etc or you can clip them with the back end. [think of spinning around with a length of timber on your shoulder]
    As you are visiting a number of National parks it will be more economical to purchase an annual pass for $80 at the first park you visit which then allows you entry to all of them.

    I would consider another night at Zion as there are some great walks in the canyon and with a drive from Bryce and to Vegas taken from the time you have there, it won't really be enough time. Bryce is quicker to see as it's more about short walks to view points rather than exploring, but personally I would take a night from Vegas as you will be limited with the kids. When driving along the canyon road to the view points in Bryce it pays to go to the furthest point first and stop at the view points on the way back out as all the pullouts will be on your side of the road which will save you having to pull across traffic.

    If you have a little time feel free to have a look at our RV trip that covers a lot of the area you are going to.

  10. #10


    I was so excited when I got your husband and I sat up until 1am one morning ready your journal and taking lots of thank you for all the help you have already been!! I do have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind:

    1. What size was your motorhome? It looks of a similar size to ours but pictures can be deceiving.
    2. What is the storage like inside for our luggage? I have brought duffle bags on wheels and am hoping that there is some sort of exterior storage unit.
    3. When you were travelling between the Canyons, were there alot of Gas Stations along the way or are they few and far between?
    4. Your photos were amazing. I did read somewhere that you used a Digital SLR. Just wondering what lens you took with you. I am thinking about buying a 18mm-200mm lens so that I really only need to take the one.
    5. Who did you book your helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon with? We are going to do the same thing and were considering Papillon. Have read mixed reports.

    I had already contacted El Monte regarding amps and got 2 different answers. One person said 30amps and another said 50amps, so I am no clearer. The site we have booked at Zion is only 30amps so I hope we don't blow anything up!

    I think I had better call it quits with the questions for now. I hope you don't mind me picking your brain over the next 8 weeks if I think of anything else.
    Last edited by Gidget; 07-15-2009 at 04:11 AM.

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