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Author Topic: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA  (Read 640 times)

RodrigoBarbosa

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New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« on: November 14, 2017, 12:00:13 PM »
Hi guys, my name is Rodrigo and I live in Brasil. I'm planing a trip with my wife and 2 girls (11 and13) to southwest USA beginning december (20). The idea is to rente a 30 foot motorhome (Cruiseamerica or El Monte probably) for 29 nights.
Mi biggest concern is regarding the operation of the RV in the snow. Cruiseamerica does not allow chains in their RV, El monte rents the chains for us$20,00 but is significantly more expensive. Do I need the chains to go to Mammoth?
The el monte Rv has slides and TV but costes us$35,00 more per night.
the intended route is as follows... I would appreciate any comments and suggestions regarding places to visit and campgrounds recommendations. (forgive me for any mistakes with the language)


20   Las Vegas         
21   Las Vegas   Death Valley   123   2 horas
22   Death Valley   Mammoth   200   3 h 40'
23   Mammoth   Mammoth      
24   Mammoth         
25   Mammoth   Lake Tahoe   140   2h 45'
26   Lake Tahoe         
27   Lake Tahoe   Mariposa /Yosemite   193   4h30'
28   Mariposa/Yosemite         
29   Mariposa   San Francisco   166   3 h
30   San Francisco         
31   San Francisco   Santa Cruz   41   1h
1   Santa Cruz   Monterey   66   1h 30'
2   Monterey   Carmel, Nipomo   182   4h
3   Nipomo   Santa Barbara/ Ventura   116   2h
4   Ventura    Val Verde   40   40'
5   Val Verde    Santa Monica    40   50'
6   Santa Monica   Los angeles       
7   Los Angeles   Long Beach   30   1h
8   Long Beach   San Diego   100   2h 40'
9   San Diego         
10   San Diego    Las Vegas   332   5h
11   Las Vegas   Grand Canyon   274   4h 20'
12   Grand Canyon         
13   Grand Canyon    Monumento Valley   175    3horas
14   Monument Valley   Page   122   2h
15   Page   Bryce   151   2h 40'
16   Bryce   Springdale- Zion   85   2h
17   Springdale- Zion   Las vegas   165   2h 30'


SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 12:47:20 PM »
Welcome to the forum. You are trying to put ten pounds of poop into a five pound bag. Your trip is way too crowded. All you will be doing is driving and not seeing much. You have certainly chosen some of the best destinations in the US but there are just way too many and way too many miles. Remove about 3/4th of the destinations and you will have a pleasant trip. The times and distances were taken from Google and those times are under the very best of conditions in an automobile. Double those times for an RV at least. San Diego to Las Vegas in 5 hours? Never going to happen, even in a car unless Mario Andretti is driving. You are going to Las Vegas three different times. Once would be more than enough except to return the RV so maybe twice. All the big cities you are driving through will really take a lot of time. And you must hit them at the right time to make sure you don't end up parking in a traffic jam for hours on end. You absolutely do not want to visit Mammoth or Lake Tahoe in the winter. Driving on snow or ice in winter is challenging in a car, with chains by an expert driver. I suggest leaving Vegas and head straight to San Francisco, then heading down highway one to San Diego, over to the Grand Canyon and then back to Vegas. There might be snow at the Grand Canyon, I have had it snow on me in June there. Your trip is very typical for foreigners who visit the US for the first time thinking they will never return and must see everything in one trip. It just is not possible. You will return so save something for the return trip.
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RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 01:01:03 PM »
SeilerBird, Thanks for your imput. I will take it in consideration. Thatís not my first time in the region. Spent 3 months in SD and 6 in SB back in 1995 and 1996 studying. Been to Vegas and G. Cannyon twice. The thing about Mammoth is that as Brazilians we never had a christmas with snow and the kids are really looking forward to that.
The observation regarding times and distances was perfect. Thanks.

SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 01:14:41 PM »
Then stay in Las Vegas for Christmas and take a rental car to Mount Charleston. They usually have snow in the winter. Highway 395 is a nightmare in an RV in the winter.
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Gizmo

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 01:17:16 PM »
Seilerbird makes a good point.  I made that mistake, once, trying to cram too much into the time I had available and I literally needed a vacation to recover from the vacation.  In the end, I went to a lot of places, yet saw very little.  As to your question, considering some of the places involve snow and potentially lots of it, I would opt for the El Monte and rental of chains, a wise investment IMHO.  Also, because of the potential for bad storms in some of your itinerary, be prepared to make a new plan.
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ArdraF

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 02:17:17 PM »
I agree.  Way too many miles packed into too few days!  Snow is definitely an issue.  Of course, it's unpredictable.  Some winters we have good snow and other years we do not.  I haven't heard any predictions yet for the type of winter they predict but if there's a lot of snow in the mountains it also will be cold so you'll need warm clothes and plan to use a lot of propane to keep the furnace running.

From Las Vegas to Death Valley requires going through Pahrump and Mountain Springs Summit between the two is over 5,000 feet.  Some years the pass has snow.  From Death Valley to Mammoth takes you over Towne Pass at almost 5,000 feet elevation from below sea level.  It's a 17-mile uphill road with no level stretches then continues down and up across the Owens Valley to U.S. 395.  Both Mammoth and Lake Tahoe have ski areas so there will be snow around the mountains.  I-80 between Reno and west of Lake Tahoe often has chain requirements in the winter and if there's an accident you might be stuck on the highway for hours (voice of experience).  Have you ever put chains on an RV?  It's not easy and after doing it once many of us opt not to drive when chains are needed.  On I-80 the California Highway Patrol puts up checkpoints in bad weather and you either put on chains or turn around and return to a place with clear roads.  Yosemite usually has snow and some of the access roads might close, certainly Tioga Pass westbound from U.S. 395.  It doesn't look like you want to go that route but if your plans change you don't want to include it because it usually closes at the first snow until after the spring thaw.

The San Francisco area and south shouldn't be a problem but heading east toward Grand Canyon might be.  I-40 can have snow east of Kingman and Flagstaff which is at 6,900 feet.  We've been in snow in Monument Valley (elevation 4800') in May.  The Grand Canyon is at 5,000 feet on the south rim and 6,000 feet on the north rim.  Bryce Canyon is over 9,000 feet and we've been there in snow.  The road getting from Bryce to Zion can be a white knuckle experience in a snow storm.

I agree with Seilerbird.  You might want to cut off that entire Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion portion of the trip and stay near Las Vegas.  You can visit Zion from Las Vegas because of lower elevations on the west side.  Skiing is available at Mt. Charleston (Las Vegas Ski Resort) and Brian Head in Utah just off I-15.  Brian Head Ski Resort is in the 9,000-10,000 foot elevation range and their season opens Nov. 27th.  You've been in the west before but may not realize that our mountains can be difficult to drive in the winter, especially for someone who isn't familiar with RV driving on snow.  I would say you should limit your travels to southern California, Arizona and Nevada but it sounds like you really want to see snow so I suggest minimizing your time traveling in it.

A "White Christmas" sounds lovely for your girls but please do approach it in a sensible manner so that you all have both a safe and enjoyable trip.

By the way, it also snows in Las Vegas at 2,400 feet elevation.  Please see the two photos from Dec. 30, 2003 and Dec. 17, 2008.

ArdraF
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 02:33:11 PM by ArdraF »
ArdraF
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muskoka guy

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 05:47:26 PM »
Not only will snow be a factor in lots of your destinations, but freezing temperatures are most likely. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and any other place of elevation. If you are not familiar with rv water systems, and can winterize it in a heartbeat if needed, you could possibly freeze the plumbing and cause a lot of damage. We did quite a few of those same destinations last winter. We could not go to Yosemite as it snowed two feet and everything was closed. We wanted to take the rv to Flagstaff and drive the car to the Grand Canyon and to southern Utah. The weather was below freezing at night, so we didnt want to have to winterize the coach for just a few days. We stayed in a park just north of Phoenix where it was warm, and drove the car up to the Grand Canyon and to Sedona. We didnt go to Utah as it was too far to drive in one day from Phoenix and still be able to see stuff. We were in San Francisco and tried to travel down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA, but a good chunk of the highway was closed due to landslides and a bridge out. Your trip has you travelling almost every day. We did 6000 miles in five weeks, staying for three days here and there in the major spots. . The Grand Canyon would be better to be seen in the spring or fall. Maybe exclude that part of the trip and relax and see more of the other parts. Rent a car and travel up to Tahoe for a night or even a day. I have been driving in the snow my whole life as I live in Canada. I wouldnt want to be up in the mountains in winter in an rv. Good luck and have a safe trip.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 10:38:02 AM by muskoka guy »

RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2017, 03:09:49 PM »
Guys, i couldn't be more thankful for all the inputs you gave me. We are right now re valuating all the itinerary. One thing is for sure... Mammoth is out of the map! I'm still thinking about the Gran Canyon part of the trip but will keep one eye on the weather forecast as the trip comes closer and if very low temperatures are predicted we will change everything again, after all that's one of the beauties of traveling on a RV (no need for so much reservations and therefor more freedom). I've seen some blogs of Brazilians that have made the same trip (with variations) and got away with it (Brazilians are stubborn folks ;-). the idea is to stick with the KOA campgrounds as often as possible and Always sleep pluged inn. My only concern right now is about freezing the pipes and stuff, but I believe that sleeping with the furnace on and the water heater on would limit that problem right?

SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2017, 03:18:58 PM »
My only concern right now is about freezing the pipes and stuff, but I believe that sleeping with the furnace on and the water heater on would limit that problem right?
Not necessarily so. That depends on the type of RV and the ambient temperature. Sleeping with a furnace on in an RV sucks. It gets way too hot too quickly. Some people may like to sleep like that but I don't. The weather in the Sierra Nevadas is highly variable in winter, but generally speaking it snows a lot. You really won't be able to plan your trip out in advance. I think you will have to figure it out from day to day. One thing in your favor is that not a lot of RVs are driving around that area that time of year so finding a place to camp will not be a problem. What would be a problem is if you went someplace like Yosemite for one night and a major storm moved in over night. You could be trapped there for a week or more. That is why I suggesting heading for the Pacific Coast where you are almost guaranteed nice weather in the winter. Of course you could run into wildfires or earthquakes. I wish you the best of luck on your trip. I am so jealous. I lived in California for 40 years and I have been all those places many times. You will have a great trip no matter where you end up providing you pay attention to the weather. Make sure to post some photos for us to see. ;D
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RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2017, 03:38:31 PM »
Sierra Nevada is out to! I may stop by Mariposa because I heard there is a Shuttle service that Will take you up to Yosemite, but that's only a possibility. What I'm planing on keeping is Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Page,maybe Monument Valley and Bryce. Other than that there will be all low altitude destinations.

SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2017, 03:42:00 PM »
Sierra Nevada is out to! I may stop by Mariposa because I heard there is a Shuttle service that Will take you up to Yosemite, but that's only a possibility. What I'm planing on keeping is Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Page,maybe Monument Valley and Bryce. Other than that there will be all low altitude destinations.
Bryce won't work either, it is over 8000 feet and it snows in the winter there. Too bad, it is incredibly beautiful there especially in winter. Same thing with Flagstaff which is over 7000 feet. The Grand Canyon is also at 7000 feet.
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Isaac-1

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2017, 05:24:23 PM »
I don't know how committed you are to this region, starting in Vegas, etc.     But I would like to mention  that so far this fall most of the western / southwestern  US has been experiencing very high seasonal temperatures, whether this will continue for the next 30-60 days is anyone's guess.     Given this unseasonably warm weather, and the ability of the weather to change drastically, I might suggest planning a departure point for this trip then choose your destinations based upon the weather forecast at the time.  Being December to January in addition to the question of insulation in a rental RV finding open RV campgrounds, and ones with water service turned on may be a challenge in the cooler regions, which is also a reason to try to focus on the more temperate climates.

As to mileage I suggest trying to average no more than 100 per day, spend 2-3 days in one place, then travel 250 - 300 miles and do it again, as mentioned those google map travel times are in a car, add at least 25% for RV travel accounting for set up and take down time maybe more.
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RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 05:37:07 PM »
The only thing that I can't change is Vegas. Trip has to strat and end there

RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2017, 05:59:17 PM »
One more question... Is it the bigger the better? I was planing on renting a 30ft but the size (looking by pictures) is a Little scary ;-). Since we are only 4 people a smaller unit would be enough, but my concern is about living space since outside temperatures will be low.

SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2017, 06:04:37 PM »
The RV will be used for living a whole lot more than for driving so bigger is definitely better. Four people in less than 30 feet is extremely small. I full timed in a 32 foot by myself and it was small. It is not just living space, but space for all your stuff and the size of the holding tanks. It is just as easy to drive a 25 footer as it is to drive a 40 footer.
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Tom and Margi

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2017, 06:19:15 PM »
I find myself agreeing with Seilerbird a lot lately.  How scary is that!!  ;D ::) ;D   We traveled for years in a 36 foot motorhome.  I drove it when I needed to, on short notice, due to illness and was amazed at how quickly I adjusted to its length and turning radius.  You'll be much more comfortable living inside by adding a few additional feet in length and maybe a slide or two.

SeilerBird

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2017, 06:30:51 PM »
I find myself agreeing with Seilerbird a lot lately.  How scary is that!!  ;D ::) ;D 
Don't tell anyone you will ruin my reputation. ;D
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Isaac-1

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2017, 06:52:53 PM »
I tend to agree with the others here, and would not want anything much under 30 ft for 30 days with 2 adults and 2 young kids.  Even at 30 ft you will likely find yourself on top of each other most of the time.  I have a 28 ft class A that I bought in 2016, my longest trip to date has been about 30 days and 4200 miles, which I feel was really pushing it.  This was a loop from Louisiana to Wyoming, with about 2 weeks spent in Wyoming, I drove up and back on my own, and my wife flew up and met me for the Wyoming portion of the trip (she had work obligations that limited when she could take vacation days) , 4 days driving up (1350 miles) through Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, 9 days on the more leisurely return drive through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas (1380 miles though it felt longer).

As to your concern about vehicle size, on the open road size itself will not be an issue, though handling may be, just remember, slow down you are on vacation.  You will be amazed how much better an RV handles at 55 mph vs 65 mph, and forget about trying to keep the speed limit which is 75 or 80 mph in much of the region.  Also you will have plenty of open road once you leave Las Vegas in just about every direction to get comfortable driving the coach, the first 100 miles are so may be a bit stressful, but you will get the hang of it, the next 200 will be better, and by the time you have drive 500 or so miles it will almost be second nature.  Just remember you are a lot taller than you are in your regular car, also a bit wider and longer, but taller is the one that tends to get people in trouble, watch for overhanging limbs (though this will not be much of an issue around Vegas as there are few trees).
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RodrigoBarbosa

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2017, 09:37:56 AM »
OK Guys, thanks to your help the RV reservations are done. Got a Apollo US Wanderer. 30-33ft with one slide. They don't rent chains but there is nothing in the contract forbiding it's use. I will have to buy a pair but I believe it's less than 100 bucks. Did the reservations using Motorhome Republic and got a better price than directly with Apollo website. Now it's time to go back to planing! Your help so far has been terrific!!! Thanks a lot folks!!!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 09:51:34 AM by RodrigoBarbosa »

OBX

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Re: New to Rv's planing a trip to southwest USA
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2017, 10:03:07 AM »
You may find that some campgrounds will be closed in snow country.  If so, some ski resorts have RV sites. 

You may want to buy some winter jackets and other gear when you get here unless you already have some.  WalMart or something similar would work for a short trip.  Heavy blankets or sleeping bags would be a good idea as well.

Have a great trip.  Merry Christmas!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 10:07:28 AM by OBX »

 

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