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Old 11-09-2015, 10:17 AM   #1
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Post Planning our "epic" 7 week, 8000+ mile, road-trip for next summer

I'm gonna need plenty of advice and recommendations for this one.
We're planning a "whirlwind tour of the west", heading out from Florida.
Our plan is to leave around Memorial Day, and get back home 7 weeks later.


Any advice on campgrounds, or specific places to visit, especially around any of our multi-night stays (rather than our 'just passing thru' stops) would be appreciated.
The only places along our trip that we've visited before are Chatanooga TN, Yellowstone, and Valley of Fire NV

We're hoping to mostly have full-hookup sites whenever possible, since that makes early departures so much easier


So far our rough itinerary is: -

Day 01 - Central FL to Chatanooga, TN - 580 miles
2-Night/1-day stay

Day 03 - Chatanooga, TN to Danville, MO - 515 miles
Day 04 - Danville, MO to Goodland, KS - 575 miles
Day 05 - Goodland, KS to Breckenridge, CO - 310 miles
3-night/2-day stay
Need recommendations for Colorado

Day 08 - Breckenridge, CO to Yellowstone (likely Grant Village) - 524 miles
3-night/2-day stay
We've spent a couple of weeks around Yellowstone, so know the area, but not the campgrounds.

Day 11 - Yellowstone to Glacier National Park - 440 miles
3-night/2-day stay
Need recommendations for Glacier


Day 14 - Glacier National Park to Banff, AB, CA - 310-350 miles
3-night/2-day stay (could extend an extra day)
Need recommendations for Banff area

Day 17 - Banff to Spokane, WA ? - 360 miles
Need recommendations for somewhere to stay, preferably scenic, somewhere in the Spokane area (or anywhere along route to Bend, OR or Portland, OR)

Day 18 - Spokane, WA to Mt Hood area, OR ? - 300-350 miles
2-night/1-day stay
Need recommendations again

Day 20 - Mt Hood, OR to Redwood National Park, CA - 420 miles
3-night/2-day stay
recommendations plz

Day 23 - Redwood Nat Park to Lake Tahoe - 390 - 420 miles
3-night/2-day stay
I've been told that South Lake Tahoe is a bit too touristy
so I'd rather find somewhere more nature-y
(but pref still with full-hookups)

Day 26 - Lake Tahoe to Yosemite - 195 miles
4-night/3-day stay in Yosemite
Campground and scenic spot recommendations plz.
(enjoy some moderate hiking, but nothing too extreme - lazy teenagers aren't used to strenuous hikes)

Day 30 - Yosemite to Carmel/Big-Sur CA - 200 miles
3-night/2-day stay
Thinking of staying at one of the campgrounds near Carmel, then driving without 5th wheel along to Cabrillo Hwy and back one day, and heading towards Santa Cruz the other day.

Day 33 - Carmel CA to Sequoia National Park - 240 miles
3-night/2-day stay in/near Sequoia Nat Park
More recommendations plz

Day 36 - Sequoia Nat Park to Valley of Fire, NV - 445 miles
(or possibly Lake Mead as alternative)
2-night/1-day stay in/near Valley of Fire

Sure hope our A/C (15K) survives summer NV temps
(it's ok in FL summer temps at least)

Day 38 - Valley of Fire, NV to Zion National Park, UT - 140 miles
3-night/2-day stay in/near Zion Nat Park

Day 41 - Zion Nat Park to Lake Powell, UT/AZ - 120 miles
2-night/1-day stay near Lake Powell
Thinking of doing a day boat trip or rental

Day 43 - Lake Powell, UT/AZ to Alburquerque, NM - 400 miles
2-night/1-day stay
Want to visit Sandia Peak/Crest

Day 45 - Alburquerque, NM to Wichita Falls, TX ? - 520 miles
Day 46 - Wichita Falls, TX to Jackson, MS ? - 550 miles
Day 47 - Jackson, MS to Florida Caverns State Park ? - 366 miles
2-night/1-day stay

Any suggestions of somewhere interesting to stop for a day between NM and FL, more-or-less along the route, would be welcome. (We've been to FL Caverns before, so would rather stop somewhere earlier, but don't want to spend a day somewhere just for the sake of it).

Day 49 - FL Caverns to Home ! - 345 miles

We're probably going to want to add an extra day or two of stays (to pad it out to 7 weeks plus an extra weekend), we just can't decide which stops to add extra time at. I'm thinking either Colorado area, or Banff area, or an extra day at Yellowstone to include Grand Teton (or even all of those)

Let the suggestions begin !
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:27 AM   #2
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Are you planning to go to the Grand Canyon? That should be a "do not miss" if you are in the AZ area. I would spend the extra days there.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:35 AM   #3
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I love seeing trips like this come together. You'll get countless posts telling you that you're insane for trying it and will be too exhausted to enjoy it. However, rock on and have fun!

I can say that the KOA in Goodland, KS is decent. Nothing spectacular and a little expensive, but they have some really nicely sized pull through spots. Unfortunately you won't be there long enough to enjoy much since it's an overnight stop, but nearby is a couple of things - "The Big Easel" which is the world's largest easel and an hour+ away is Monument Rocks. You can see my pictures from that area:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougse...57658533965618

As for Valley of Fire, NV - you're that close to the Hoover Dam and Vegas Strip. Hoover Dam itself is really neat and good for a tour down into the dam. The Strip, well.. it'd be a stark difference from the rest of the natural beauty that you're enjoying. There's a diner in Boulder, CO called the Southwest Diner - great food but amazing-er peanut butter pie.

Have fun, looks awesome!
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:41 AM   #4
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That's some pretty aggressive mileage between stops. You're going to have a few 10-11 hours on the road days. Figure 45-50 miles per hour average with meal and fuel stops. I haven't been that far west with a RV (been to 49 states) so can't make suggestions for campgrounds except about 35 miles east of Jackson, MS there is Roosevelt State Park just south of Morton, MS. Pretty nice state park only about a mile north off of I-20.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:46 AM   #5
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That's a lot of time behind the wheel. Just reading the miles driven per day wears me out, but I am 68 years old.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampingGator View Post
Are you planning to go to the Grand Canyon? That should be a "do not miss" if you are in the AZ area. I would spend the extra days there.
We actually went to the west canyon last christmas, and loved it. (we were in Vegas for a wedding, so went to Grand Canyon, Red Rock and Valley of Fire while there). Didn't get a chance to go to the south/east rim tho'
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
I love seeing trips like this come together. You'll get countless posts telling you that you're insane for trying it and will be too exhausted to enjoy it. However, rock on and have fun!

I can say that the KOA in Goodland, KS is decent. Nothing spectacular and a little expensive, but they have some really nicely sized pull through spots. Unfortunately you won't be there long enough to enjoy much since it's an overnight stop, but nearby is a couple of things - "The Big Easel" which is the world's largest easel and an hour+ away is Monument Rocks. You can see my pictures from that area:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougse...57658533965618

As for Valley of Fire, NV - you're that close to the Hoover Dam and Vegas Strip. Hoover Dam itself is really neat and good for a tour down into the dam. The Strip, well.. it'd be a stark difference from the rest of the natural beauty that you're enjoying. There's a diner in Boulder, CO called the Southwest Diner - great food but amazing-er peanut butter pie.

Have fun, looks awesome!
I sure I *AM* crazy for trying that many miles behind the wheel, but driving has never really bothered me. I used to drive rally cars and race cars competitively, tho' towing a fifth wheel is definitely the other end of the spectrum

I'm trying to keep it below 600 miles / 10 hours actual driving per day.
(will be putting brand new tires on right before the trip)

We're planning to make minimal stops through the mid states, just stopping for bathroom breaks, and to stretch legs etc. (Will probably just have food in a cooler and eat en-route or just do a quick stop at a sub shop etc for lunches).
So up at 7, leave by 8:30 and arrive around 7pm hopefully, on the longer driving days.

We were in Vegas last year, just before Christmas. While we never actually went onto/into the Hoover Dam we did fly (low) over it in a helicopter on the way back from a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon (and drove past it on our driving day-trip to the Grand Canyon too). We also spent several days on/around the strip so, while we'd like to go back, I think that's for another trip after another couple of years.

The Goodland KOA looked better than some of the other campgrounds along that part of the route, which is why I broke the trip up that way.

Not a peanut-butter fan (I know, most folks think that's another sign that I'm crazy), but my wife loves it, and I'm sure we could find something else good for me to eat there. Thanks for the recommendation
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:06 AM   #8
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Our original plan was even longer ...

FL -> Maggie Valley, NC (2 days stay)
NC -> Washington/Jefferson National Forest, VA (2 days stay)
VA -> Cedar Point, OH (1 day stay)
OH -> Niagara Falls (1 day stay)
Niagra -> North MI (2 day stay)
MI -> Superior National Forest, MN (1 day stay)
MN -> Winnipeg
Winnipeg -> Banff (2 overnights enroute)
Banff -> Glacier (2 day stay)
Glacier -> Yellowstone (2 day stay)
Yellowstone -> Boise, ID
ID -> Redwood National Forest

then the rest of the trip the same as our current plan.
Needless to say that was at least 1500 miles longer, and would've needed an extra week or two
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:17 AM   #9
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For your stay in the Banff area we would suggest the Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court (Parks Canada - Banff National Park - Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court). We stayed there this past summer (taking our advice from a friendly forum buddy from Calgary ) and it was fantastic for a base camp.

We did miss having a campfire though...so if that's important to you check out some of the other nearby National Park(s) campgrounds.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:47 PM   #10
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In Colorado go to Loveland and stay at Riverbend RV Park. It is just out of town on the Big Thompson River. Leave the rig and take the drive up to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Take the day and do the scenic drive through the park. One of the most epic drives I have ever done.
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