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  1. Default Chicago to Grand Canyon RV Trip via Zion and Bryce in 14 Days

    Hi All,

    My family of 4 (w/ 2 Kids Age 8, 4) are avid air-travelers but this is our first RV Road Trip! Needless to say with the entire world on lockdown, thought we could take this summer to visit our beautiful National Parks. We have about 14 Days and will be traveling via RV.

    The Grand Canyon North Rim (2 Nights?), Zion (2 Nights?), Bryce (1 Night?) are a MUST but any help on what else we could add along the Round-Trip would be great. I'm thinking Badlands/Mt Rushmore, Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches, Antelope etc.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,474

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    When is this trip? That's a tall order to do all of that in 14 days, too. First, the drive from Chicago to Grand Canyon North Rim is going to be at *least* 4 days. Then another day to see the GC. Another few hours to drive to Zion, and then time to see it (along 1 to 1-1/2 days), a few hours to drive to Bryce Canyon and then time to see it (about 1 day). If you want to hike into any of these places, you have to allow more time. Arches would be the next logical place, allowing about 6 hours to drive along UT-12 (a designated scenic highway) to get there. Then it's another full day to see Arches. Now you need another 4 days to drive home. You really don't have time, in 14 days, to add Badlands and Mt Rushmore.

    If you have to travel as the country comes out of lockdown, an RV is probably the safest way to do it. But you're going to have to take some precautions. Bring gloves to fuel up, have face masks for every member of your group, bring along your own hand sanitizer. Bring your own food and supplies.

    Try to stay 6' away from others in those parks you want to go to -- unfortunately, probably the most popular parks in the country are Zion, Bryce and Arches...even during the Pandemic. (It's easier to stay away from crowds at the North Rim. However, the campground is closed at least until July 1st, and the nearest one is a Forest Service campground about 25 miles north. No hookups at either one. The nearest place with hookups MIGHT be at Jacob Lake - about an hour's drive from the Rim, I think.)

    Anyway, I'd think about this trip heavily ... how much you can REALLY do without putting yourself, and others, at risk.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,532

    Default Time restraints.

    Hello and welcome to RTA!

    Do you own an RV or will you renting ? To maximise your time out west you could consider flying out and back and then visit some National parks if you are renting, starting out with a rental from Denver or Las Vegas. Otherwise time will soon disappear, so I wouldn't plan to much extra into your trip as it will get rushed with the drive out and back. Arches, Canyonlands and Capital Reef NP's are the other picks of Utah and you could drive along stunning UT24 and scenic 12 to Bryce. The problem (again) is time, in an RV you have 8-10 days of driving the whole route and you already have 5 nights accounted for in 3 NP's. I would forget about Badlands and Rushmore as it will take the best part of 5 days just to drive to Denver and back. Then you could slow the pace with (what boils down to) a 9 day trip through Colorado into Utah to the Grand canyon and back to Denver.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,943

    Default Less Driving, More Options

    As others have pointed out already, 14 days will disappear quickly. Just a quick survey of your proposed route means that you'd be spending at least 10 of your 14 days IN the RV and only 4 days at the sites you'd spend all that time driving to. That will be no fun for the adults and shear torture for the kids, especially the four-year-old.

    If you've got your heart set on an RV trip, I'd look at keeping your ultimate destination significantly closer to home and finding a destination with multiple attractions in a fairly compact area. You mentioned one such place in your post: Badlands/Mount Rushmore. Also in the same general area are Devils Tower, Wind Cave, and Jewel Cave. There are even a couple of quirky stops along the way that the kids might enjoy as breaks in a solid day of driving (or "being confined" in their view): Mitchell Corn Palace and Wall Drug. But the main advantage is that Rapid City is only 915 miles from Chicagoland rather than almost 1,700 miles to the North Rim (with no detours!) saving you at least 4-5 days of driving which can be better spent enjoying the places you have driven to.

    However, please note that on all the national park websites linked to above, there are restrictions on the use of the parks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to be prepared to deal with those restrictions, lack of facilities, and the chance that any particular site you visit may be closed of 'full' when you get there. That's another argument for picking a destination with multiple attractions in a compact area rather than the beautiful, but spread out, American Southwest.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-28-2020 at 05:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,944

    Default

    You also have to keep in mind that RV rental demand is very high now, before you make any plans you need to see if you can actually rent one for the time frame that you want.

  6. Default

    As an avid RV'er with 2 years van camping, 5 years pop up tent trailer, 10 years travel trailer, 13 years 24 ft motorhome and 14 years 30 ft motorhome ... I'm experienced! We've also been to all the parks you plan to go many times.

    Driving an RV whether it's a trailer or motorhome, it's more taxing on the driver than just driving a car. It's also a lot slower so when others say it will take 4 days to get from Chicago to the North Rim, they're not exaggerating.

    You don't mention if you're RV is a trailer or a motorhome. A motorhome will be more challenging for getting around the national parks. Currently Zion shuttle buses are not running and parking is very limited. They will close the park to new vehicles until others leave when the parking is full. https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/news/limited-operations-for-memorial-day-weekend.htm

    You are going to want to have camping reservations. Typically, reservations for camping in the national parks you mentioned fill up 6 months in advance. I have no idea how things are this year with the pandemic. If you don't camp at the North Rim, then it is a long slow drive from other campgrounds to the rim especially in a motorhome.

    You haven't mentioned what time of year this trip is. If it's summer be aware that Zion can be very hot in the summer. Bryce and the North Rim will be a little cooler because they are at higher elevations. Arches will be HOT too!

    I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    Utahtea

  7. Default

    Wall Drug is a fun place but first check if it is open. Some friends drove by a while ago and it was mostly closed up.

    You might not be permitted in Zion. Currently there is a 23 foot vehicle restriction. Shuttles are closed and only a small number of vehicles are allowed in due to the very few parking areas.

    With such young kids, you will probably see enough of the Badlands from the overlooks.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,944

    Default

    According to their website, Wall Drug is opening June 1.

  9. Default

    It's going to be next to impossible to get into the Zion National Park scenic drive unless they start the shuttle buses. Plan on more than one day if you want to see this park.

    I just saw this yesterday on Zion National Park Facebook page.https://www.facebook.com/zionnps/posts/3284187161612234


    Important information for trip-planners:

    Since resuming limited operations three weeks ago, a more consistent pattern is emerging for parking capacity and closures of the Scenic Canyon Drive.

    The Scenic Canyon Drive is a 6-mile road with roughly 400 parking spots and contains many of Zion's most popular trails. It can be entered from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM. When parking capacity is reached, the road is closed to vehicles until parking becomes available.

    These are approximate average times for areas to fill (even on weekdays):

    - The trailhead for The Narrows and Riverside Walk, The Temple of Sinawava, fills around 6:30 AM.

    - The trailhead for The West Rim and Upper Emerald Pools, The Grotto, fills around 6:45-7:00 AM.

    - The entire Scenic Canyon Drive typically closes sometime between 6:30-8:00 AM.

    The Scenic Canyon Drive will periodically allow more vehicles as space becomes available throughout the day, but parking turnover is infrequent, and the road is closed to vehicles most of the day.

    There is no waiting area or line for the Scenic Canyon Drive from SR-9, since vehicles cannot stop on the state highway. Alternatives to the Scenic Canyon Drive are trails near the Visitor Center, or driving State Route 9 itself.

    Follow our social media for parking information, or keep up with park operations at our website: https://www.nps.gov/…/…/limited-resu...operations.htm

    Utahtea

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Utahtea View Post
    There is no waiting area or line for the Scenic Canyon Drive from SR-9, since vehicles cannot stop on the state highway. Alternatives to the Scenic Canyon Drive are trails near the Visitor Center, or driving State Route 9 itself.

    Follow our social media for parking information, or keep up with park operations at our website: https://www.nps.gov/…/…/limited-resu...operations.htm

    Utahtea
    FYI - This link doesn't work (seems to have replaced some of it with ...).

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