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  1. Default Trip of a Lifetime: Summer 2011 RV Western trip to national parks with kids

    Hello and thank your for helping me plan this trip of a lifetime for my family.
    (I looked for this topic but didn't find it and I apologize in advance if this topic already exists.)

    Here are the details of our trip:
    My husband and our 3 sons (11, 8 and 6) would like to make an RV trip to the Western National Parks this July, 2011.
    We live in the Washington, DC area and plan to fly out West and back and pick up our RV out there.
    We have 7-10 days.
    We would like to visit any and as many of the following: Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion.
    We would like to travel beginning July, 2011

    Which itinerary would you recommend?
    Which city would be the most practical and cheapest to fly in and out of?
    What size RV and which rental company do you recommend?
    How far in advance would we have to make camp ground reservations?
    Is it worth it to book through a travel agent or can I do it all myself?
    What have I missed?

    Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my message and happy holidays to you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Work to do.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Which itinerary would you recommend?
    There isn't a 'one size fits all' itinerary, and one of the beauty's of the road trip is to go where you want at the pace you want. With 7 to 10 days you are not going to be able to see all of your 'wish list' unless you want to be driving the whole time and viewing from the inside of the RV.

    Which city would be the most practical and cheapest to fly in and out of?
    That will depend on your final choice, Salt lake City or Denver for Yellowstone, Tetons and Rocky mountains perhaps. Vegas/Phoenix for Grand canyon, Zion, Bryce and possibly Yosemite.

    What size RV and which rental company do you recommend?
    The longer they are the more there is to handle, but the larger they are the bigger the space. A 25-27ft class C would be a good compromise, a 29/30ft gives you a full size bedroom at the rear with more cupboard space etc but not so nimble.

    How far in advance would we have to make camp ground reservations
    For National parks, as soon as the booking window opens. Normally around 5 months before travel, but get all the info at, in peak season RV sites can sell out within hours.

    Is it worth it to book through a travel agent or can I do it all myself?
    I would build the trip myself, with a little help from the forums ! ;-) With 7-10 day's [I would take the 10] I would recommend Grand canyon, Zion, Bryce and maybe Arches, along with attractions like Monument valley, the National parks are relatively close together, meaning more time in the parks and less travelling.

    Have a good look around the forums for ideas and advice and when you have new questions just ask. You will find threads such as our RV trips that might be of help, you can find them here and here

  3. #3


    When deciding on the RV size, be aware that some campgrounds in the NP's have length limits. If you decide to do Yellowstone, Fishing Bridge Campground is very good, but get your reservation in as soon as the window opens. Also, plan at least 2 days there. Bring warm clothing. Even in July it can get chilly at night.

    At Bryce, Ruby's Inn RV Park is nice, located just outside the park entrance, and you can catch a bus into the park and back right there at the campground. Be prepared for hot weather - Utah can get pretty warm in July in the daytime.

    Yosemite will probably be VERY crowded in July. I was there in July a couple of years ago and the park is very beautiful, but the crowds were crazy. There are parking lots at the scenic and overlook sites and I sometimes had to drive around and around for 10 - 15 minutes until I got behind somebody leaving so I could park. Then it took 10 minutes more of working my way up to the front of the crowd so I could actually see the sight instead of the backs of people's heads. It didn't take too many times having to do that before I was pretty tired of it. That's the only time I've been there so can't say that's the way it will be for you though. Maybe it was just an aberation that day.

    Good luck on your trip and enjoy!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    With 7 days you'll only have the time to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP on a roundtrip from Salt Lake City. That'll make a wonderful trip though and less hot than the southern Utah destinations. With 10 days you can visit more places in the Yellowstone area like Beartooth Pass and Cody (Buffalo Bill museums, Nite rodeo) With 10 days you could visit Zion, Bryce, Capitol reef and the Moab area from Salt Lake City at relatively leisurely pace. No way to get Yellowstone and Southern Utah in a 10 days trip. With kids that age and time of year I would go Yellowstone. With 10 days you maybe could add Moab (Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Dead Horse Point, La Sal etc etc.) to this trip but it's a lot of driving combining Yellowstone and Moab.

  5. Default

    I am also planning a 3 week camping trip, but going in June. I am working on it now. I will share any infomation I learn.

    email removed in keeping with policy
    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-31-2010 at 05:00 PM.

  6. Default Family trip of a lifetime: thank you for your responses. Here's what we've decided:

    Thank you to all of you who took the time to respond to me. As I wrote earlier, my husband and I are taking our 3 young sons out west for an RV trip this July for 10 days.
    And as there were over 600 views, I guess it was a pretty popular request.

    We've decided to:
    -fly into Billings, MT and pick up class C RV
    -drive to Yellowstone via the Beartooth highway.
    -2 nights RV camping Yellowstone
    -2 nights Grand Tetons
    -2 nights at another camp spot in Yellowstone
    -1 night camping in Cody, rodeo
    -fly out of Billings.

    A popular RV travel planner has given me a quote on the above for $5300 (excluding airfare).
    I think I can do it for cheaper but need your help.
    Here are my questions:
    Can anyone recommend a good itinerary for the above trip? Which RV campgrounds should I try to reserve? Is it too late? Which activities, events, sights, etc. do you recommend for my 3 sons under 12?

    Thank you in advance

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    That sounds AWFULLY expensive for a 10 day RV rental!

  8. Default

    It is expensive. In addition to the RV rental, it includes 2 hotel nights in Billings, national park & camping fees, guided tour in Yellowstone, chuck wagon dinner, rodeo, plus some other excursions in the park.
    I just know I can do it for less with your help.

  9. Default

    Which company are you using for your RV? I am also planning an RV trip this summer and found Has anyone heard of this site? Are they reputable/do they actually exist?!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Much cheaper doing it for yourself.

    Plus much more personal as well, which is what the Roadtrip is all about.

    Just doing a very quick search you can get a large RV [30ft class C] from Cruise America in Billings MT in July for under $2500 including kitchen and bedroom kits for all. Camping fees and park entrance fees will most likely add up to around $300, $400 tops. That leaves around $2500 for a couple of nights in Billings and a chuck wagon meal with a tour and a rodeo thrown in. Yep, I think you can do better than that, or should I become an agent ? Lol. By doing your own research you might even come up with a cheaper deal, just type 'Billings MT RV rental' into your search engine and basically the same for 'Cody' and 'RV parks' and so on.

    You can find all the info on campgrounds within Yellowstone and pretty much everything else on the NPS Web page here, with the campground section here. Book as early as you possibly can, RV sites are very limited.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-18-2011 at 05:40 PM.

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