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Old 05-06-2017, 02:06 PM   #1
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DC to Grand Canyon and Utah National Parks

My wife, two dogs, and I are planning a trip for 2018 (most likely in May to avoid the crowds) from Washington, DC to the Grand Canyon and then onto the Utah National Parks (Bryce, Zion, Arches, Capital Reef, and Canyonlands). Will most likely come back via Colorado (possibly stopping at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park).

We will be in a Coachmen Leprechaun 260DS (27.5' Overall Length) and will be towing a car. We prefer campgrounds with full hookups. Since we are both retired, time is not an issue.

I have already made a cancelable reservation for May 2018 at the Trailer Village RV Park which is inside of the Grand Canyon Park and which has full hooks ups.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions as to other places which 'should not be missed', preferred routings, campgrounds, or locations in Utah that would allow us to park and visit two or more National Parks.

I know this is a pretty broad question / request but I would appreciate any comments you wish to make.

Thank you
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Old 05-06-2017, 03:18 PM   #2
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don't know what you like but


grand canyon - consider Williams AZ and take the train to the grand canyon
Bryce canyon - ruby's rv park
zion canyon - willow wind rv park in hurricane, ut


lake powell az - wahweap rv park
any interest in mesa verde, co or Durango, co?
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Old 05-06-2017, 03:45 PM   #3
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If you are 62yo or older be sure to get an "America the Beautiful" pass, Google it for all the information. Get the senior version, $10 for a lifetime of use. It will save you a lot of money. Also get a Passport America member card to save money along the way. You may run into some snow at the high elevations, Bryce Canyon is about 9,000' and the Grand Canyon about 7,000'. The north rim of the Grand Canyon doesn't open until May 15th, a little more remote than the south rim and shouldn't be quite as crowded. Roads in Arches will be completed by then so that should be a great stop. Southern Utah is loaded with beautiful sights. You will have many memories of that trip, beautiful sights and views. Black Canyon is kind of a place not many people travel to, my nephew lives in Montrose and we went to the canyon on one of our trips to the west. You won't want to take you MH down into the canyon, a very steep road. On the ridge at the top is no problem.

Oh, make a little stop in Winslow, AZ, the town almost disappeared when I-40 bypassed it but it is being restored. A statue of Glenn Frey "standin on the corner in Winslow Arizona, take it easy". I'm sure you know the lyrics of the song by the Eagles.

If you travel the interstate highways take I40 in one direction and possibly I-70 in another. For myself I like to travel the "back" roads and stay off of the interstate as much as possible. Much more to see and at a more leisurely pace, more sights to look at rather than billboards. Especially across the Midwestern states. I travel from Atlanta to Houston (800 miles one way) to visit DD once or twice a year and get on less that 100 miles of interstate, another trip to Omaha (over 1,000 miles each way) was on less than 100 miles of interstate. You may be surprised how much 4 lane divided highway there is that is not Interstate.
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Old 05-06-2017, 04:10 PM   #4
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Sounds like a fun trip. I might suggest trying to visit Telluride, Crested Butte, and Durango Colorado while you're in the vicinity. If you can make Durango, the Durango - Silverton Railroad is a fun one day round trip adventure. Durango & Silverton Railroad Reservations | Tickets and Information for the Durango and Silverton Railroad
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Old 05-07-2017, 12:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BooBoo23 View Post
If you are 62yo or older be sure to get an "America the Beautiful" pass, Google it for all the information. Get the senior version, $10 for a lifetime of use. It will save you a lot of money. Also get a Passport America member card to save money along the way. You may run into some snow at the high elevations, Bryce Canyon is about 9,000' and the Grand Canyon about 7,000'. The north rim of the Grand Canyon doesn't open until May 15th, a little more remote than the south rim and shouldn't be quite as crowded. Roads in Arches will be completed by then so that should be a great stop. Southern Utah is loaded with beautiful sights. You will have many memories of that trip, beautiful sights and views. Black Canyon is kind of a place not many people travel to, my nephew lives in Montrose and we went to the canyon on one of our trips to the west. You won't want to take you MH down into the canyon, a very steep road. On the ridge at the top is no problem.

Oh, make a little stop in Winslow, AZ, the town almost disappeared when I-40 bypassed it but it is being restored. A statue of Glenn Frey "standin on the corner in Winslow Arizona, take it easy". I'm sure you know the lyrics of the song by the Eagles.

If you travel the interstate highways take I40 in one direction and possibly I-70 in another. For myself I like to travel the "back" roads and stay off of the interstate as much as possible. Much more to see and at a more leisurely pace, more sights to look at rather than billboards. Especially across the Midwestern states. I travel from Atlanta to Houston (800 miles one way) to visit DD once or twice a year and get on less that 100 miles of interstate, another trip to Omaha (over 1,000 miles each way) was on less than 100 miles of interstate. You may be surprised how much 4 lane divided highway there is that is not Interstate.


Be sure to get your National Parks Senior Pass soon, while it is still $10. It is going up to $80 soon.
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:10 PM   #6
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Enjoy your stay at the Grand Canyon Trailer Village. We were there several years ago, and a 12 point buck walked through the campground! Have lunch at the Lodge, their Indian Tacos are great. Same price as other concessions, but tablecloths, white napkins and great service.

If you want to stay in Williams, the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park is great, walking distance to downtown.

Going back this August for five nights. Happy Trails, Forrest
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:12 PM   #7
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We are doing a similar trip this fall leaving from Eastern TN. My first advice is to not stay just at full hook up RV parks. We are staying primarily in National Parks and CO & UT State Parks. Some have water and/or electric hookups. With conservation, your RV can go a minimum of 4-5 days between dumps. You will be in the parks, closer to the action, and avoid waiting in long lines to enter the parks.

Check out Utah's Kodachrome and Dead Horse Point State Parks as well as Watchman Campground in Zion National Parks.
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:25 PM   #8
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Grand Canyon area

Sounds like fun! We went there 2 years ago and loved it. Bryce was our favorite. Tried to stop in Zion but it was the "free" weekend and we couldn't even park anywhere, so could only drive thru. Whichever park you go to, go early in the day to get a spot to park. Great transportation buses in Grand Canyon, so once you park you don't have to move the car.
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:34 PM   #9
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We are planning this trip for next year, April 24-June 15. If you want to stay in the parks, begin making reservations now. Some, such as the Grand Canyon, take reservations 13 months out. Looking forward to reading other responses to this thread.
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Old 05-07-2017, 04:07 PM   #10
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Just returned from a 5 week that included Durango CO and Monument Valley UT. Will do Bryce etc next year on our return.
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Old 05-07-2017, 04:20 PM   #11
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We were at Arches and canyon lands last fall.
MAKE A RESERVATION somewhere well ahead of time.
We stayed in Moab as the home base for a few days.
I was AMAZED that in October, everyplace was booked up, was very glad we had reserved in advance.
We stayed at the KOA, nice place, little pricey, but had full hook ups etc..

Hope that helps
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Old 05-07-2017, 04:54 PM   #12
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Thank You to All Posters

First - many thanks to all of you who posted with suggestions.

I am over 62 (much older), and have had my Golden Eagle Senior Pass since I 'became of age'. A great deal and I use it in a number of east coast parks.

Due to the dogs we are little limited on our activities (have to either leave in the RV with A/C on for 4 hours max) or take with us where they are allowed - very limited in our National Parks.

Since we are towing a car I plan to leave the RV in a campground and drive through some of the Utah parks where we couldn't take the dogs hiking on the trails.

Sounds like I need to get cracking to finalize plan so I can make the rest of our reservations.

Again, thank you for your advice.
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Old 05-07-2017, 05:33 PM   #13
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Williams AZ is nice

We camped in Williams last November. It was very crowded at the Grand Canyon park. Traffic was bad. We arrived early in the day and were lucky enough to get a parking place. Given the traffic in the park, I'm glad we camped in Williams. If I go back, I'll camp at Williams again and drive to the Canyon from there.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 05-07-2017, 06:04 PM   #14
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Check out Bishop Castle

While traveling thru Colorado, going or coming, about 20 miles west of Colorado City is Bishop Castle. Well worth the visit. Unique castle built (and still being built) using rocks and iron work by 1 guy. You won't regret it.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:04 PM   #15
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This thread brings back so many fond memories of our family's early trips to various NP's in the West and Southwest. Our first ever trip to Yosemite Valley, the weather was so miserable that you could not see anything more then 200 feet above the Valley floor. My new wife went to the General Store and bought about a dozen picture post cards. Then we went to the places she knew, and held up the post cards one by one, and said, "See. This is how it looks when the sun is out!!"

We've been back many times to confirm what we should have seen.

With the huge snow-pack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains this year, campers in the Valley should be aware that the Merced River will crest each day about 10 PM due to the afternoon snow-melt. It takes several hours for the melting snow water to reach the Valley floor. Don't pitch camp next to the river in the afternoon or you will be wet by midnight.

There are too many great stories of our family's adventures in dry camping in the California wilderness to tell on this site. Go to the places you want to see, and ask the local National Park Rangers what they would recommend. Don't miss the great spots along the Eastern Slopes of the Sierra Nevada Range along SR 395. Boulder Creek in Lone Pine, Convict Lake, Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes, Reds Meadow, Devil's Postpile, Rainbow Falls, June Lake Loop, and all points north to Lake Tahoe and Reno, NV.
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:20 PM   #16
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I am jealous of your trip and of all those who have been. we retire in about 31/2 years and this will be on the short list of travels to get done.
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Old 05-07-2017, 11:21 PM   #17
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kennyairport ; When you are ready to retire, you are in for a treat by coming to the Southwest. The National Parks are outstanding, and the people around them are the best. We are planning a "Great Western Loop" RV camping trip with some friends for next year. and we will have lots of current information and recommendations by this time next year. Stay tuned.
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Old 05-07-2017, 11:41 PM   #18
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We just visited most of the national parks you mentioned, but in March. Still very crowded and you had to make reservations well ahead of time. May will be very crowded. Go as early as you can.

Take the advice of staying in Williams AZ and taking the train to the Grand Canyon. It was a fantastic experience and we loved Williams. Much better than fighting the crowds, traffic, and full VERY tight RV park in the park itself.

Have fun!!!
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Old 05-08-2017, 02:03 AM   #19
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Local information for Utah

I've lived in Utah for 60+ years. Here are some thoughts, especially if you have a car for independent travel from the RV. The country is best seen by foot, but most parks won't allow dogs on the back country trails. May can get crowded, since the Universities are out and everyone up north is going crazy waiting for spring. If you like places to yourselves, try April. The weather can get iffy and the high areas have snow. Avoid the UEA week (schools out) and the Jeep Safari in Moab (unless you have a Jeep!)

North Rim Grand Canyon
Paria river (hike involved)
Consider staying on the east side of Zions if you want quiet.
Kolob Canyon/Zions
Lake Powell, well worth renting a boat for a day!
Utah route 12 Bryce to Torrey - top scenery. I've pulled a trailer through there many times, but there is a pucker factor in places. Hit the 'Kiva Coffee Shop(? I'm working from memory) in the middle of nowhere. Also hike up to Calf Creek Falls.
The campground in Capitol Reef is in an old orchard. Great place to stay. We are going there next week.
Bicentennial highway: Hanksville to Blanding. Stop off at Natural Bridges. If you again can handle a high pucker factor, head south to Mexican Hat and the Moki Dugway! Maybe the best view in the Southwest. Monument Valley is close.

Head up through Monticello and visit the Needles part of Canyonlands. Also take the road out to the Needles overlook if you like vistas. If you like isolated camping, look for Windwhistle campground (see recreation.gov for directions). You will never see more stars.

Moab has all the tourist things. AVOID DURING JEEP SAFARI WEEK!!!!! The in-town campground places units right next to each other. There is camping along the Colorado River, but it fills up fast. Consider renting a Jeep and heading out into the back country, or take a commercial ride to Chicken Corners or the Schaefer trail (pucker factor!). See Island in the Sky (Canyonlands), Dead Horse Point. I like really early in the morning. In Arches the Delicate Arch hike is mandatory. Try to get tickets for the Fiery Furnace hike, the best hike in Arches by far. Usually you have to get them in person at the visitors center. Remember dogs aren't allowed on trails.
Drive up the river from Moab to see Fisher towers.

On your way back head through Cortez and see Mesa Verde. I love Silverton, but I would take the train from Durango for the day. Heading north to Ouray from Silverton in an RV is a true adventure! Also take a look at staying in Pagosa Springs instead of Durango. We love it there.

Sorry for the long post, but I think I have just made my summer plans!
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Old 05-08-2017, 12:07 PM   #20
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We just returned from Zion. We stayed at Watchman in the park. They have electric hook ups, a dump station and water available to fill your tank. Since Watchman is in Zion, you don't have to wait at the gate to get in, you just walk to the visitors center to catch the tram into the park. Highly recommend staying there.
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