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Old 02-21-2021, 05:16 PM   #1
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First trip out west

Hi everyone! I think this is my first post. My husband and I are planning a trip to the western USA. We plan on visiting Arizona, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming, and more. We are planning on taking I-40 to Albuquerque or Flagstaff. We are a little overwhelmed as to what to see, routes, reservations (since we have no timetable), etc. We plan on being gone at least 90 days. As I stated previously stated we are in no hurry. We have a 37í Cardinal, planning on leaving in early May and we (ok, me) are nervous about the mountain roads. Any advice on routes, what not to miss, etc. are appreciated. This is our biggest adventure yet. Thanks yíall!
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Old 02-21-2021, 05:43 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by lailap View Post
Hi everyone! I think this is my first post. My husband and I are planning a trip to the western USA. We plan on visiting Arizona, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming, and more. We are planning on taking I-40 to Albuquerque or Flagstaff. We are a little overwhelmed as to what to see, routes, reservations (since we have no timetable), etc. We plan on being gone at least 90 days. As I stated previously stated we are in no hurry. We have a 37í Cardinal, planning on leaving in early May and we (ok, me) are nervous about the mountain roads. Any advice on routes, what not to miss, etc. are appreciated. This is our biggest adventure yet. Thanks yíall!
I also wanted to travel west, but found it difficult to figure exactlyl what I wanted to see and what I did not want to miss... I finally decided to book my travel through Fantasy Rv tours and I booked the 29 day Grand Caravan tour. Lots of things planned and free time also... Made it easier for me as they do all the rv parks, tours and many meals Fantasyrvtors.com
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Old 02-21-2021, 05:49 PM   #3
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Direction is relative.

In Oregon, anything east of the Snake river is 'back east.'

But heck, go that far and not visit the Pacific Ocean?
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:02 PM   #4
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If you do not have them, I would suggest getting some Tire Minders. Grease bearings, have good tires and Two Spares....



Plan....
Rough Plan....
Plan for needing a extra 2-3 hours per day when traveling as 'time' does get a way from you and the last thing you want to do is 'hurry' to 'make up' time.... Bad 'things' can and will happen when one 'hurries'. Don't, hurry...




Make reservations... not good to go on a 'hope and prayer' of finding spots to camp.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:07 PM   #5
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Thoughts

Durango and Silverton Railroad. Ride it.! Royal Gorge Bridge. Walk across it.! Cripple Creek Colorado KOA. Stay there.! Four Corners monument. Spread your arms and legs there.! Pikes Peak. Drive up it.! Carlsbad Caverns. Go in it.! Dinosaur Colorado. Visit it.! Mountain grades.? Your truck has a gearshift selector. Use it.! Engine braking saves your brakes.! Enjoy.!
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:38 PM   #6
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there's so much. where are you coming from? i'll off some suggestions of places we have been. but the decision is up to you.

new mexico - calsbad caverns is quite a way south of i-40. definitely make a side trip to santa fe. we like chama (take the train ride).
colorado - again a bit off of i-40. we like pagaso springs and the durango area. our favorite campground is riverside rv resort in bayfield, co. in durango there is a train ride up to silverton. west of durago is mesa verde national park.
arizona - grand canyon, stay in the park at trailer village of stay in williams and take the train to the south rim. take a side trip to sedona. we like wahweap rv park / marina in page az. meteor crater is right off i-40.
utah - byce and zion national parks. there are many, many other places to see.
wyoming. yellowstone, grand teton, and jackson hole
south dakota - mt rushmore, badlands, wall drug, missile silo, deadwood, custer state park, spearfish canyon.

many people will offer many other suggestions. you won't be able to see it all. pick what you want to see. i'd suggest making a trip plan pretty quick and getting reservations.

but whatever you decide plan plenty of time to sit back and enjoy!
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:40 PM   #7
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There are hundreds of places to see out there. It all depends on what interests you.

If you are going to be in AZ then you need to see the Grand Canyon which is not far from Zion which is not far from Hoover Dam which is not far from Las Vegas which is not far from Death Valley which is not far from Sequoia which is not far from... well, you get the idea.

If you list your must see sights there are people here who have been there and done that and we will gladly give our opinions on what not to miss in those area.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:46 PM   #8
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Go to Williams Az. My husband and I loved how small town it was. This was before our camper, we stayed in an air bnb in flagstaff but spent all our time with our boys in Williams.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lailap View Post
. We plan on being gone at least 90 days. As I stated previously stated we are in no hurry. We have a 37í Cardinal, planning on leaving in early May and we (ok, me) are nervous about the mountain roads. Any advice on routes, what not to miss, etc. are appreciated. This is our biggest adventure yet. Thanks yíall!
If you're worried about mountain roads, your choice to stay on I40 is a good one.
Start your trip with the southern destinations first. Many campgrounds in the northern states don't even open ti the first of June.
As to things to see and do.... what are your interests ?
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:13 PM   #10
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Those are some BIG states you want to visit. To give it scale, try out RVTripWizard, it's an on-line route planning program. They've got a free trial so you have the opportunity to try before you buy (it's not that expensive). You can try this route, adjust it, start another one....it's very handy and might give you a better idea of how far things are between stops. I use it by starting, plug in a few places I'd like to go and maybe one two/three states away....then fill in the blanks. The more you look, the more you'll see and with the program you can check out RV parks, read reviews, costs, etc.

I spend winters in Nevada or AZ, leave right about April 1st and have never had any problem finding an RV park heading back to WA/MT/ID/WY/SD - I also do not make reservations unless it's for an extended stay and even then it's usually less than a month in advance (sometimes a day or two!). I have made reservations when going to Northern Alberta because the town I wanted to stay in had one RV park! I made reservations in April and was there July 15th for a week. Then decided to visit Slave Lake, found an RV park that sounded good, called and stayed there the day next day.
I just don't always know where I'm going to be -and- change my mind a lot.

I've even found reservations at Glacier (Kalispell) the day I got there. So, yes, if you travel on a tight schedule, reservations are probably important in high density areas, but
for me, not being on that schedule works best.

When you narrow down your trip, come back and I'm sure we'll all have our favorite spots to tell you about.

Enjoy the journey - planning is half the fun!
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:43 PM   #11
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I agree with OldGal3. Try Rvtripwizard.com. You need to get something on paper to speak so you can start modifying your trip. Try the RVTW free 7 day trial. Start a route by entering your home starting point and then enter where you want to go letís say in Albuquerque. It will give you a route and tell you miles. Enter your next planned destination stop. You need to decide if your general route out and back so you can enter stops in some order to begin with.

We did a 3 month trip from Florida as far as Glacier NP and home. We went out on the southern route thru Houston all the way to Tombstone AZ. From there north to Grand Canyon, all the big Nation Parks in Utah ( a must see) on north to Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Glacier then headed east to Devils Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, etc.

We did this all with rvtripwizard and Had all the info, routes, reservations, notes all in one spot.

We drive about 300 miles a day. So obviously we had to fill in a lot of nights along the way. RVTW makes this easy. Give it a look.

Plan early and make reservations. All the national parks are very busy and book early. You didnít mention your age but I think at 62 you can get a senior pass for about $80 that will get you and 3 passengers into all the NPís free for the rest of your life. Enjoy..
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Old 02-22-2021, 08:55 AM   #12
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Thank you!

Thanks so much for all your advice. Itís been really helpful. I forgot to state that we will be leaving from Tennessee. We had already decided that we would take a southern route and then head north so we can avoid snow, hopefully. Iíve had enough of that this past week! We are definitely going to visit as many NPs as possible and we have the senior pass.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by lailap View Post
Hi everyone! I think this is my first post. My husband and I are planning a trip to the western USA. We plan on visiting Arizona, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Wyoming, and more. We are planning on taking I-40 to Albuquerque or Flagstaff. We are a little overwhelmed as to what to see, routes, reservations (since we have no timetable), etc. We plan on being gone at least 90 days. As I stated previously stated we are in no hurry. We have a 37í Cardinal, planning on leaving in early May and we (ok, me) are nervous about the mountain roads. Any advice on routes, what not to miss, etc. are appreciated. This is our biggest adventure yet. Thanks yíall!
You are missing the most beautiful place ďout westĒ. Oregon
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:42 PM   #14
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Mesa Verde National Park, in the southwest corner of Colorado. It is a couple of hours from Arches NP, Utah.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:56 PM   #15
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More sights

Lots of great ideas for an amazing part of our country! Iíd add Bryce Canyon when youíre in Southern Utah. Also, depending on your interests, just north of Kanab, UT is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no kill sanctuary in the US. 3000 acres in Angel Canyon. The tour is very interesting (visitorsí center in downtown Kanab to schedule). Weíre planning a week volunteering there with a granddaughter in June, COVID permitting. Had to cancel for 2020.
Also, if you come back east on I80, donít miss the Dignity of Earth and Sky monument at the rest area at Chamberlain, SD. Itís a beautiful tribute to Native Women and worth a bit of your time.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:06 PM   #16
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Oxygen Issues in Western Mountains

I loved our three month trip Out West but wished I had known then that one can buy oxygen bottles if the higher elevations are a problem! We are both very healthy and in good shape but I sincerely thought I was going to die when we got over 7000 feet elevation. We live in what we consider The Mountains of New Hampshire. What a joke when you see the REAL mountains! I could not sleep lying down at night and was just panicked trying to catch my breath. As we went higher and higher I felt worse and worse. I really wanted to see Donner Pass but we just couldn't. We later were told that bottles of oxygen, available without prescription, would have been the answer to my problem. It was a really scary situation. My sister travelled to Chile and she had elevation sickness terribly. A maid in her hotel gave her some pills out of her apron pocket and my sister (a registered nurse!) took them, she was that sick. No idea what they were but they solved the problem for her. A physician friend of mine told me later that it was probably a cocaine derivative, widely used in that area due to the very high elevations. We laugh about it now but it really is not funny when you feel that awful. I at least just had the terrible shortness of breath but I know next time we Go West I'm going with oxygen and maybe a prescription of something.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:12 PM   #17
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Utah parks were mentioned but I didnít see Arches and Canyon Lands. Yosemite of course if you get that far. Checkout Boondockers welcome website.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:13 PM   #18
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Get two books: Mountain drivijng -West and Fodor's America's National Parks which will describe most of what you will be visiting on yoiur trip.
If old enough, buy a life time Senior Pass or an annual Park Pass. Same price ($80) but will save you a boatload of money in entrance fees
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:17 PM   #19
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Thanks so much for all your advice. Itís been really helpful. I forgot to state that we will be leaving from Tennessee. We had already decided that we would take a southern route and then head north so we can avoid snow, hopefully. Iíve had enough of that this past week! We are definitely going to visit as many NPs as possible and we have the senior pass.

Thanks again!
Heading to NPs? Better get those reservations in ASAP. Including private places outside the park.

Sounds like an epic trip. If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon you may want to head there more or less directly before it gets too hot. Its a bit early to go through Taos, etc in N NM, a bit cold and not optimal. You will have plenty of optimal mountain weather later in the trip.

From there you have two main choices NW into Calif and Yosemite, Sequoia, Redwood NPs, or N into Utah. You have time to do the longer western trip but its late for Yosemite reservations. But your timing is good for Zion and Bryce in Utah weather-wise, reservations could be an issue. From there choose between NE to Arches and north to Grand Teton and Yellowstone or NW to Yosemite.

If you have the time and can do the driving from Yosemite you might as well see the Redwoods, hit the Oregon coast and get on up to Olympic. Olympic has the rain forest, scenic beaches, and snow capped mountains. From there I would probably just blast through N Cascades and get to Glacier. Some park campgrounds are closed in Glacier this year but I liked the KOA on the east side anyway.

Lots of things to see in Montana on your way to Yellowstone. Plan on extra days getting down there. All roads lead to Yellowstone, BTW. West Yellowstone may already be full. Likely too late for the park and I am not sure Fishing Bridge is open yet after reconstruction delays due to covid.

Colter Bay in Grand Teton is likely already full(call anyway as that is a great place to stay) but Gros Ventre is first come first serve and has 300 sites, not a problem getting in if you arrive early in the day.

For Yellowstone you may need to look west, there is a KOA(never been there) and NF places. Cody is a bit far form the park on the east side but has some world class museums on plains indians, etc. Plan a full day or more for the museums, the std pass is for two days anyway. Be there at the right time and there should be a rodeo.

Last time at Yellowstone/Tetons I was able to squeeze in everything in just 5 weeks. You may not have that long but that area probably deserves the longest stay on the trip.

I would try planning a tentative trip out on google maps to see how many miles and how many days driving for a couple different options. I don't mind 3 days of driving to go a 1000 mi, but then I like to stay put for at least 3 days before moving on. It takes some planning to avoid having too many days in a row driving all day and not having stops that aren't worth a 3-5 day stay.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:42 PM   #20
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Get two books: Mountain drivijng -West and Fodor's America's National Parks which will describe most of what you will be visiting on yoiur trip.
If old enough, buy a life time Senior Pass or an annual Park Pass. Same price ($80) but will save you a boatload of money in entrance fees
Post #12 mentions a pass.
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