Our Great Western Road Trip 2016
After 6021 miles, 35 days and a million splattered bugs we have finally returned home from our great American western road trip. We started out in Toledo, Ohio in mid-August just a few days after taking delivery of a brand new Rockwood Roo 19. Right away I would like to say that both the Roo and the Andersen WDH worked flawlessly. I know that some have had issues with their Hybrids but during the duration of this trip we used every possible system in the Roo and everything worked perfectly. I also would like to give some kudos to the Anderson WDH. We hitched and unhitched at least 15 times and the Andersen made this simple and easy. After packing up the Roo and the DW we headed west. Our trip took us first to 2 days in the Wisconsin Dells then onto Custer State Part, Mt. Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse monument for 4 days. From there it was a night in the Big Horn mountains and then onto 6 days in Yellowstone. Next was 2 days in the Tetons and what should have been a 2 hr drive turned into a 6 hr drive because of a fire in the Tetons that closed the road south from Yellowstone. We then headed into Utah for Arches, Canyonland, Bryce and Zion. From Utah we headed south again to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for 4 days. Our last park was the Petrified Forest east of Winslow. Except for a couple of days coming home in KOAís all of our camping was done in either State or National Parks. While the camping at most of the state parks were really good the national parks were absolutely amazing. IMHO we have great National Parks with some of the best camping I have ever done. Now I would like to share some of our impressions, likes and dislikes about this trip.
My choice for Best Parks.
1. Yellowstone National Park. What an amazing Park. This was our first time and now I see why it is at the top of the list for must see places. What an amazing park. We saw a lot of wildlife including a wolf pack in the Lamar Valley. There were tons of people. There were many different nationalities and heard many different languages, which helped make this a unique experience. Even though there were tons of people it never diminished from the natural beauty of Yellowstone.
2. Grand Canyon North Rim. (The DW was a little more partial to Bryce Canyon over Grand Canyon.) The lodge at the North Rim was an amazing place to sit on the balcony right on the edge of the canyon with a drink in your hand and watch the sunset over the canyon. Spectacular and I am sure the drink also helped.
3. Mt Rushmore. I guess I did not have real high expectations for Rushmore and I was really pleasantly surprised. I think that every politician today should take a trip to Rushmore. The quotations from some of our past and best presidents are displayed in the exhibit. You have to be dead if you donít come away with a really great sense of pride and awe over what a great country the USA is. I am 68 years old and served in the military but I canít remember the last time I felt such pride at being an American.
10. Petrified Forest.
1. Canyon Villiage Campground in Yellowstone. We had campsite 275 which was a pull thru site and very secluded. Everything in Yellowstone was convenient from there and the Canyon Village offered restaurants, delis, groceries, gift shops, gas and most any other stuff needed. The showers were really good and always available. Usually when dry camping I save the water for the DW who likes to shower in the camper. It also had a really good laundromat. There are no hook-ups and there is a length limit, but if you can tolerate dry camping for a while this is a fantastic place to camp.
2. Dead Horse Point State Park. While this is a State park itís location and seclusion made this park my second choice. It is about 20 miles from Moab and centrally located between Canyonland Arches. In fact from the campground you can see a portion of Canyonland. The visitor center was really nice. The campground sits at about 7700 feet up on a high mesa. The night sky was beyond description. You have to get your water in Moab and there are no showers but they had by far the cleanest bathroom facilities of any place we stayed at. They did have electric hook-up.
3. North Rim Campground. We had campsite 18 which was about a 50 foot walk to the rim of the Grand Canyon. Like Yellowstone this is a national campground and the facilities are top notch. There was only one shower for men and one for women, so you had to pick your shower time. There was a camp store and also a laundromat. There was wifi at the camp store, but it was iffy at best. The campsite sites at 8800 ft. which was a little hard on this old body, but it made the days pleasant and the nights nice and cool for sleeping.
4. Custer State Park. We had a campsite at Stockade North. Had electric hook-up. Really nice place and convenient to Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Cody Wy. Had a wildlife loop that included large Bison herds and wild Mules. Be careful of the Mules. If given a chance they will stick their heads right in your window looking for handouts. Sure surprised the DW. I havenít heard here squeal like that since, well never mind. I wonít go into that.
5. Kodachrome Basin State Park. Very secluded and a little out of the way from Bryce and Zion, but it was a special place. You are in a basin surrounded by multi-hued peaks and some very unique geological features. While fewer in number there were some Hodoís in the park. Full hook-ups, but no cell phone reception.
6. I also would like to mention that we stayed overnight in a very nice little campsite in the Big Horns along Rt. 16 No hook-ups but the restrooms were clean and there was a very large Bull Moose crazing in a bog very right in the middle of the campground.
1. Wasatch Mountain State Park. Between Dead Horse Point and Kodachrome Basin, we camped overnight at Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway UT. First it is almost impossible to find. The GPS had us going all over the place and the road signs were almost non-existent. It took me almost an hour and three stops to ask directions before we finally found the campground. I am after all only a man and after the third time stopping to ask directions, I was ready to pull into someoneís driveway and pay them to camp for the night. Once I found the campsite it was very difficult to back into because the road was very narrow. My TT is only 21 ft. If I would have had anything longer, I am not sure I could have gotten in. There was water and electric, but the electric was only 20 amp and then as soon as I started the AC the breaker would trip. Without anything else going in the TT a 20 amp circuit should have been okay to run the AC. This was the low point of the trip.
Most Difficult Inclines.
1. Since I am a flatlander from northern Ohio, I knew that I was going to encounter some mountains. However I was not prepared for the continuous ups and downs. I knew that the pull up the Bighorn Mt. was not going to be easy, but after that I did not expect what was ahead. My Roo 19 when fully loaded weighed in at about 4300 lbs. (Before we left I took my rig to a scale). My TV is a Lincoln MKT with ecoboost rated at 4500 lbs. I was also a couple of hundred pounds under my GCWR for the Lincoln. So I was close to my limits, which made pulling up some of the grades something of a challenge. I soon learned that once the turboís started to kick in the engine would start to heat-up pretty quickly. I learned that by watching my temperature gauge, I could tell if I needed to change gears. By dropping down my speed and my gear, I could control the amount of turbo-boost and my temperature. I also found that a short 8% grade up was easier to climb than a long 6% grade. The worst climb actually was on I-70 heading west towards Salt Lake City. We were heading towards Wasatch Mountain State Park from Moab. It was a very long climb and by the time I finally got over the pass I was down to 2nd gear and 20 MPH. Not fun.
I know this has been a long post, but I would like to say that this was a trip of a lifetime. The vastness of the west is truly awesome and the landscape and natural wonders and diversity found in the USA helps make this country a truly great country. It is great to be back home , but I would not have changed a thing except maybe the Wasatch Mountain campground.
2015 Roo 17
2010 Lincoln MKT