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Old 06-11-2017, 09:01 AM   #1
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Four State Tour - Looking for advice/recommendations

We are planning a 6 week trip (late August to early October) through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico before returning back to the Atlanta, Ga area and looking for input from those who have gone before us.

We love the national parks (have the senior pass), hiking & photography and plan to spend roughly a week in each state with flexibility.

I don't "like" to be bound by advance reservations so have made none yet but reading the forum am wondering if we can just wing it? Prefer parks with at least electric but are prepared to boon dock some.

We did Alaska & Canadian Rockies last year with no reservations (except Yellowstone) and had very little trouble finding a place to camp and hoping to do that again on this trip.

Interested in your thoughts on the reservations and any "can't miss" stops along the way.
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Old 06-11-2017, 09:22 AM   #2
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We did this last year for 3 months May-August. We made reservations for campgrounds in the National Parks. The parks I would strongly recommend reserving are Arches, Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce. It is possible to arrive early and wait for a site that you might not get and you have wasted your time . We stayed at a lot of places where we didn't have reservations ie National Forests (more pristine and cheaper w/senior pass) but for the big natl parks we reserved and were glad we did. Stay in these parks if you can. They mostly don't have electricity but with solar power in a place where the sun is always shining, it was enough. There is so much to do in the evening that you will miss out on if you just visit for the day, plus the crowds are down. I have a lot of recommendations and good info if you want more.
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Old 06-11-2017, 09:58 AM   #3
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The southwest part of Colorado is a great place to visit: Crested Butte, Telluride, Silverton (the Silverton-Durango train). Plenty of places in that part of the state to dry camp.
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Old 06-11-2017, 10:19 AM   #4
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WDW0528,you will quickly find out that 1 week per State if you visit/hike/photo the National Parks and other Points of interest will "Gobble Up Days Fast"! Travel time comes into play also! Plus People you meet will tell you "While you are in this area you also need to see"! Youroo!!
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Old 06-11-2017, 12:42 PM   #5
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Too much too fast

What - are you running a marathon or something?

Took us awhile to learn, but you are better off to travel less and see more. You are trying to cram too much into too little time. Slow down and enjoy some areas. You are not in a race!

Example: you could easily spend a week in Capitol Reef. Much there to see and explore. The Arches/Canyonlands/Deadhorse State Park area is rich with exploring possibilities. Fisher Towers is a must hike; Potash Road is a blast; there is hiking in Canyonlands and multiple spectacular views. Arches is chock full of great hikes. The ranger led hike into the fiery furnace is a must do. So between just those areas you could spend three weeks easy.

Add in Zion and there goes a month, easily. What on earth are you rushing around like a mad man for??? Regardless of where you go, slow down and smell some roses, man. A month in Colorado easily. We are camped just outside Gunnison right now...for a month. Then to Ridgway for another month. So much to see and do, and you can't do it fast...you have to do it s.l.o.w.

My 2 cents.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:00 PM   #6
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robsshots, I agree with you but in defense of wdw0528 perhaps that is all of the time that they have. To some, it is better to see some of all than all of some or even none at all. I say see as much as you can so you will know where you want to go next time. To each his own.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:24 PM   #7
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Carlsbad Caverns is a must see. Also, White Sands National Monument is unique, geological formation. Santa Fe and Albuquerque have museums (the National Atomic Museum provides the US nuclear history that you will not find elsewhere). Northern NM forests are beautiful. If you are a Vietnam veteran, visit the Vietnam memorial in Angel Fire. There is also a beautiful roadway called the Enchanted Circle you can take from there. Looks like you will be busy; take time to enjoy it.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:27 PM   #8
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Yup, lablover - to each his own. No need to defend someone bent on a whirlwind journey - we see it all the time as full-timers; still shake our heads. The stress, the hassles of repeated moves, you can't get a deal on RV space, you miss great stuff (like Fisher Towers) because one is in a hurry. A disease of our culture. Hurry hurry hurry. Drive 70 mph because we have to see it all NOW. Yup, to each his own. But he asked for advice, so I gave it.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:28 PM   #9
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lablover - see reply below in thread.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:43 PM   #10
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We stayed at Rubys outside of Bryce and went to the National Parks from there. Bryce will take your breath away it is so beautiful. We went to Zion, Bryce, and then went up to the Arches NP. We also went to the Grand Canyon. All are great to visit.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:49 PM   #11
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Many of us have time constraints when traveling. With travel time you only have 5 weeks in the 4 state area. I would suggest stopping in southern Colorado at Mesa Verde NP and while there ride the Durango/Silverton railroad. Then travel west to the Grand Canyon. I prefer the northern rim because it is cooler and less crowded. From there it is a short drive to Zion and Bryce Canyon. Find a convenient campground and visit both of them without breaking camp. If you get a chance, stop at some of the slot canyons just north of Zion. From there go north to Arches and take plenty of water. That will allow you to head east on I-70 through central Colorado. If you have the time, camp in Rocky Mountain NP (by Estes Park, CO) and take the ride west over the pass (Rt 34) to Grand Lake, have lunch and return over the pass. It is not a road to take a trailer. Then it is a long haul through Kansas heading back home.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:51 PM   #12
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If you go to Zion and have bikes with you, take them on the bus to the top, hike in the river some at the Narrows and ride bikes back down. Beautiful ride. We also liked Bryce as well since it is as close to being on another planet seeming out of this world. Least favorite was South Rim of Grand Canyon because of the crowds. We did enjoy North Rim, Arches and Capital Reef. Didn't camp but visited Mesa Verde which was fascinating. Not sure about August and Sept. but though it was hot during the days, it cooled off at night and was very pleasant with camper opened up.
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Old 06-11-2017, 02:06 PM   #13
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If you have time on return to Ga. stop at Palo Duro SP just south of Amarillo TX. Who knew there was a massive canyon in Texas?
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:03 PM   #14
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We have traveled from central Fla to Denver to Norcal and Norcal to I-10 to Fla every year since 2010.

If you have an idea of which routes you want to take and return I might be able to help on some things to see on the way and RV Parks to overnight. We usually would stay two nights every other night and sight see on the second day.

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Old 06-11-2017, 08:48 PM   #15
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I can't help much on the park reservations since I like to have all the ameneties but by state...here's what I wouldn't miss with limited time.
Colorado... RockyMountain Nat.Park, Colorado Springs/Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak (take the cog railway), GrandJunction/Colorado National Monument.
Utah... Moab/ArchesNat'Park/Canyonlands Nat.Park, Capitol ReefNat. Park, Bryce & Zion Nat. Park AND the separate entrance northern section of Zion I-15 Kolub Canyon Rd. Entrance.
Arizona... Grand Canyon, Winslow (Rt66 corner)/ Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Holbrook Wigwam Motel & Greys Petrified Wood store.
New Mexico... Albuquerque Musem/Rt66Diner/AtomicEnergyMuseum, OldCity. Don't know anything else there.
I'd say not to divide your time equally between the 4 states..Colorado and Utah have much more to offer & see. Also...you're gonna pass through Vegas...not a bad place to spend a night or two! Have fun!!
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Old 06-11-2017, 10:30 PM   #16
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I just spent 5 weeks in Colorado last fall photographing the aspens. A very prime place is Maroon Bells outside Aspen, best time last 10 days of Sept for photographing aspens. Stayed at Basalt campground north of town. Typical RV campground, but had heated pool I had to myself in the afternoons as all my photography is mornings and evenings. You will need reservations ahead of time for this area in late Sept. Kebler pass is fantastic and so is the Crested Butte area for aspens.

For SW Colorado a convenient place to stay is Ridgeway State Park, maybe half full or less end of Sept into Oct so no worries on reservations. Spent the first couple days at at an expensive RV campground(before moving to Ridgeway which is where I will go in the future) in Ouray that was not full. I would not recommend traveling south of Ouray with a big rig unless you are very experienced. The million dollar highway is very tight but very scenic. Could do this area following Arches at end of trip as aspens should be good somewhere through first week or so of October.


Started Colorado trip at RMNP. No aspens but the Elk were very active when I arrived in mid Sept. Reservations will be required in the Estes Park area. Next went to Steamboat Springs for a couple days. Too early for the aspens but its a nice town with scenic surroundings. KOA campground was not full. Aspen and SW Co preferred for shorter visit.

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Old 06-12-2017, 11:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdw0528 View Post
We are planning a 6 week trip (late August to early October) through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico before returning back to the Atlanta, Ga area

Interested in your thoughts on the reservations and any "can't miss" stops along the way.
Recommend highly to Ten X USFS Campground just outside the entrance to the Grand Canyon. With your Sr pass it is cheap. Dry sites but dump and fresh water. Camp design is sure that no one comes or goes without the attention of a vigilant Camp Host. Felt much better leaving to rig there than on one of the many Free areas on open USFS Roads, but still we avoided pulling the trailer through the caous that IS a national park.

No pass through NM would be complete without a stop at the World Famous Albaquerque International Balloon Fiesta. October 6-13. Last I looked, General Camping still had alot of availability. It is dry camping in well graded dirt, but still a fabulous experience. Chalked off spaces. Ours last year were about 18X50 feet. Near event. Free transit shuttle a must do. We did five nights last year and booked 11 nites this year. FABULOUS.
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Old 06-13-2017, 06:57 PM   #18
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great train ride in cottonwood az. it goes up the verde river canyon. very scenic, desert canyons with flowing river. 2 hrs up the canyon and back, cost around $75 ish.

Sedona, very red rock scenic, quite busy, lots of traffic.

grand canyon, north rim, not easy to get to, but very nice. not the huge amount of crowds that go to the south. the south rim is still great to see also.

canyon de Chelly, north az. is on my list to do soon.

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Old 06-13-2017, 08:18 PM   #19
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Thanks for the input

I appreciate all of the input.
I already knew we were packing a lot (maybe too much) into the time we have and your input just confirmed it. We are adjusting the trip and may even consider another trip in that direction again soon.

We are retired but not full time RV'ers so we have other things/commitments on the calendar. We will make the most of this time and begin planning the next one.

Again - thanks for the input!
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:12 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by wdw0528 View Post
I appreciate all of the input.
I already knew we were packing a lot (maybe too much) into the time we have and your input just confirmed it. We are adjusting the trip and may even consider another trip in that direction again soon.

We are retired but not full time RV'ers so we have other things/commitments on the calendar. We will make the most of this time and begin planning the next one.

Again - thanks for the input!
We just completed a four week trip visiting eight national parks and three national monuments in CO, UT and AZ. Yes you can spend more time at each place but you can also visit more places to see and enjoy their differences. The choices are up to you. You may well find sites you want to go back and spend more time at.

I think people have mentioned all the key spots already. Don't skip Colorado National Monument, however - it is spectacular, especially the Rim Rock Drive which is tight but doable. Also don't miss the "scenic drive" in Capitol Reef National Park. The sign is a gross understatement as the views are also spectacular. Stop and turn around where it becomes a dirt road. The view on the way back are different and also great. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a bit of a hidden gem that often gets overlooked (and its campground has electricity). Lastly I'll just say if you visit Mesa Verde, read up and be prepared. The drives up into the park and then back down after a tour are long and strenuous with multiple switch-backs. They are best done with a toad or rental car, not with an RV. You will find Mesa Verde days rewarding but quite tiring so plan accordingly.

I was just posting in another spot our final itinerary for our trip so I'll drop it here in case you find it helpful. We like to "wing it" sometimes too, but for a trip like this we were much more planful and wanted reservations at all the busy spots. We like staying in the national parks and forests but on this trip we really wanted at least an electric hookup most nights both for heat and air conditioning where necessary (and we had our dog with us). So that meant staying outside most of the national parks except Black Canyon. We were very glad we did this because we experienced both very cold and very hot weather and we used the furnace a lot and the air conditioning heavily in some areas (though we strongly prefer windows open, the RV gets hot fast in the baking sun even when it is not that hot outside!).

One other very important consideration is that most of these sites under discussion are at high elevations and our Dometic refrigerator simply does not work on gas above around 6,000' (the manual says 5500'). The gas jet is NOT adjustable to allow in more air flow. This made it more critical than we had realized to be able to plug in at each site. Often times while driving during the days the refrigerator would not work at all so we had to be careful with it and catch up in the evenings. Sites where you may experience this include Arches (up in park, not in Moab), Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion (some parts), Grand Canyon, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde.

Have fun and enjoy our national treasures!
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File Type: pdf SW Trip Spring 2017 v4 (final).pdf (88.3 KB, 21 views)
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