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  1. Default New Jersey to Grand Canyon and back in 4 weeks

    Hoping to take 3 adults and 2 kids on a road trip from NJ to the Grand Canyon with as many fun things as we can fit in on the way out and back. We have the camper, we are used to all being together on a boat of similar size and have been on a few weekend trips with the camper. Towing camper with a pickup with extended cab and all fit well and easily. Don't ever want to drive more than 5-6 hours a day even though all 3 adults can drive. Hoping to go sometime in the fall- October-early November. Any tips? Advice? Do we sound crazy?
    Definitely looking for route recommendations, camp ground recommendations, and things we shouldn't miss along the way. Kids are 10 and 11 year old girls. We hike, bike, climb, zip-line, raft- you name it we will try it (the grandparents will watch, but also hike and bike.) Love nature but are ALL in for anything touristy as well. Love history and landmarks. Just excited to give this a try and take our time thanks to virtual work and virtual school!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,672

    Default Sounds wonderful !

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    4 weeks for a trip of 5000 odd miles means you should be able to pick from thousands of routes and attractions and keep to the relaxed pace you describe. Of course having only a start and finish point listed and so many options it leaves us with a tough task trying to make meaningful suggestions, especially when it comes down to specifics such as which campgrounds. First of all I would get everyone to sit down with a decent map (including the kids) and do a little research and find out what the common areas of interest are. I would certainly look at a different route each way so you see new things throughout your trip. Get the kids some travel diaries so they can make notes each day and will have memories to cherish as well as learning about the history of the areas along the way. You can choose to proportion your time the whole trip or get out west and spend more time there, once you have chipped away at your starting itinerary we can help fill in the blanks, make suggestions and answer any specific questions you have. Personally I love the 4 corners region and in particular the National parks of Southern Utah and Colorado, along with the Grand canyon of course. If you choose a more northern route one way and a southern route the other way, keep north on the way out as winter can come early to the Rockies. RMNP, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol reef, Bryce canyon and Zion NP are some of those you could enjoy on route to the GC which includes some great drives and small towns. Use the RTA site as a research tool, if you search the forums and search links at the top and bottom of each page you will find lots of info, routes and maps etc.

    Anyway, I hope that helps to get you started and just keep asking questions as they arise.

  3. Default

    Thank you!! I didn't (and still don't!) know how to be more specific at this point. I started last night and just got so overwhelmed. I guess I need to take a look at a few possible routes. I think the game plan is to mostly get out there fairly quick and spend more time further away as we can always take shorter trips to explore what is closer later. I appreciate the tip to do the northern route on the way out to avoid the early winter weather! I also really like the idea of the journal for the kids! I will do some further research today on the places you suggested. I think I will continue to be slightly overwhelmed until I get a more general idea about the directions we are headed. I know we have lots of time but as much as I want to shove lots of experience, I also want a nice slow pace and we do have to take work and kids school work into consideration. My biggest concern at the time is finding campsites with availability and booking in plenty of time to reserve. Thank you again for all your help. I will check in as I make some progress with what you have given me so far.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,114

    Default Skeleton First, Then the Flesh

    I completely understand your feeling overwhelmed at this point. It's a huge trip and you're just getting started on your planning. One way to make the task simpler is to do just one thing at a time.

    First, lay out a broad outline of the trip, the skeleton if you will. This is nothing more than basic routes and timing. You've actually already done a good bit of that...northern(ish) route out west, more time there than on the road, southern(ish) route home. That is already the bare-bones skeleton of your RoadTrip!

    Next, start putting some flesh on those bones. Find the three or so spots/areas that you'd really like to explore and decide how long you'd like to spend at each of them. Just as an example, using the only destination you specifically listed, there's far more to see near the Grand Canyon than 'just' the canyon. There's also Wupatki National Monument (NM), Sunset Crater Volcano NM, Walnut Canyon NM, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. Monument Valley and Four Corners aren't that far away either. This is where you want to sit down with your family and show them the skeleton and get their suggestions for what they'd like to see. Given their top five or so places they want to see, look around those places to see what else there may be in the immediate vicinity and think about spending a few days there. I also agree with Dave that southern Utah and some of the Mighty Five would be in order.

    Only then, once you know what you want to do, where and when and for how long, start looking for and booking lodging. I would suggest that if you plan to spend several days to a week in one place at the western end of your trip, that you at least consider the possibility of renting a whole house. These can be surprisingly affordable when compared to motels (and even camping in some instances) and would give you the chance to relax with a bit of room, have some more complete home-cooked meals, do laundry, and just relax. Just do a web search for 'vacation rentals {town name}'.

    Finally, look for stuff in between your major destinations, both along the road and near the places you'll be spending the night. If you're only going to be driving 5-6 hours a day, you'll have time for at least a small adventure every day. We can, and will, be ready and willing to help you at each step, but taking it step-by-step will help you feel far less overwhelmed.

    Just a couple of final suggestions. Since you're apparently going to be visiting a number of national parks and monuments, buy a National Parks Pass. Since these are time limited, wait until you come to the first entrance station that asks for a fee and buy it there. And your children are the perfect ages for the Junior Ranger Programs. These are a series of age appropriate activities for kids to do to help them learn more about the parks and on completion they will receive badges, certificates, or other memorabilia that can go in their journals.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,676

    Default

    AZBuck, I think they're camping in an RV.

    You can do similar, though - if you want private campgrounds, you just search "RV parks near (where ever). If you want public campgrounds, some will be closed by the end of October, but there may still be a few open with hookups. We have an entire forum dedicated to public campgrounds along the major interstates and highways of the US.

    Bear in mind that the only rim of the Grand Canyon likely to be open at the end of October will be the South Rim, as it is the year-round rim. It's at almost 7000 ft elevation, though, so it's likely to be a bit chilly. If your "camper" is a pop-up type, be prepared to be a bit cold. (My family camped at the South Rim in April one year, in a pop up. Brrrr!)


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,114

    Default I Know

    Donna (and Erin): I was aware that this trip would be by camper/RV when I made the suggestion. By 'booking lodging' I simply meant to include all reservations, including campgrounds. I would still recommend that the poster and her family look at booking a house at the far western and of their trip (about halfway or two weeks into it) if they're going to be in the same area for a while. That's for the reasons stated and because a month in the confines of a camper/RV can wear on even the most experienced users of such a mode of transport and lodging.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-12-2020 at 11:55 AM. Reason: Typo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,676

    Default

    I think it depends a lot on the individual family, the type of camper they have, and how much time OUT of the vehicle and camper they take. When I was a kid, my family practically lived in an 18' travel trailer during the summer. I can remember when we stayed at someone's house overnight occasionally, but our trailer was "home away from home". Never stayed in a hotel or similar when we were out traveling! When hubby and I had a 5W, we took the girls on a 6-week trip and never once stayed in any sort of other lodging. In both cases, though, outdoors was a normal way of life. The trailer was for cooking, eating, and sleeping. Unless it was raining (which did happen a lot on that 6-week trip), we were outside!




    Donna

  8. Default Making progress!

    So I sat down with my parents this weekend an presented my ideas and the tips from you guys. We are doing really well with the parks we want to visit once we get out there and the first few days. We are definitely going to do our first stop in Pittsburgh, which we think will give us an initial 7 hour day of travel, and stay 2 nights, leaving early the second morning. From there, I don't know what to do! Most of what we want to see really is out west and I'm having a hard time zeroing in on things along the way. Not sure if we go west to Columbus or Indianapolis, or go a little south and go through Kentucky. Some of the parks my father is interested in are just too far north to add in so we adjusted to focus on stuff closer to the Grand Canyon. Haven't even started on the return trip!! But the Junior Ranger program has really helped zero in on a few parks I think my kids would love, so thank you for that!! Any suggestions for days 3-6? Things to not miss in either area? Good campgrounds along the way to our next desired stop of Gateway Arch National Park?

    - - - Updated - - -

    I LOVE the idea of a house for a few days and my parents are on board too. Our camper is not big and it will be the first time we would be in it all together for more than 2 weeks but we don't spend much time IN it. The idea of cooking real food in a real kitchen will probably sound real good about 2 weeks in. So awesome idea, thanks!!

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