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Author Topic: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice  (Read 1725 times)

R.J.

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1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« on: January 07, 2018, 01:43:58 PM »
Wife and I are recently retired. Planning a camping trip out to the the northwest. (Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming) and maybe beyond. Coming from upstate NY. Never took a camping trip of that distance or time. Thinking of next summer/fall. Looking for resources and advice.
What parks and attractions to see. What routes to take. Where to stay. What time of year, and what to avoid. I have been told to stay away from SD during the Sturgis rally. Any other hints?

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AStravelers

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2018, 02:08:42 PM »
I assume you are talking about a 4-6 month trip, yes/no?

What are your interests? 
--  Cities and mesums?
--  Outdoor activities, such as hiking, driving through scenic areas?
--  Are hookups a must for you?  Will you dry camp or boondock
--  Some of love to park in NF campgrounds w/o facilities (dry camping) does this interest you? 

What experience do you have with RV'ing. 

There is lots to see.  Be sure to spend lots of looking online for info about places you are interested in. 


Al & Sharon
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AStravelers

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 02:28:12 PM »
In general, assuming this is a 4-6 month trip:

--  Pick the places you want to see, such as cities, National Parks, etc.

--  Understand you are not on a vacation.  We typically spend our first few days with 9-10 hour driving days until we get to the area we want to visit.  Once there we stay several days to a week or more in one place or general area.  For example visiting Glacier NP, spend a week (or more) on the east side and then move to the west side for another several days to a week

--  I always make an itinerary listing every place I want to stay at or see, including where I hope to stay, see, do and how long I think it will take to complete our visit.  I usually put quite a bit of detail in that itinerary.  However, that itinerary is just a rough guide.  We never follow the itinerary.  We change our route and places to see and visit as we go along.  There are always things we didn't think about, or know about.  The itinerary is to attempt to access what we want to see, how much time it will take.  It really helps to have a good assessment of what to see & do.  That way you don't over plan your trip.  You can trim down all the places or things to see/do so you are not trying to see everything and are rushed doing everything.

--  If you plan on staying inside the NP's in the CG's, or even in RV Parks near the park, you need to make reservations NOW.  Even by today a lot of the places to stay are already booked. 

Relax and enjoy the travel.  If you don't see it this trip there is always next year. 
Al & Sharon
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jayc2640

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2018, 02:39:14 PM »
You mentioned summer/fall.  Be aware, fall in that area can be chancy.  My DW and I were in Spearfish, WY this past September, and Yellowstone had already gotten 12" of snow in the mountains,
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grashley

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2018, 06:15:14 PM »
My planning includes choosing destination locations, like the Grand Canyon, then searching a few travel  sites - Trip Advisor is my primary.  Search the main attraction as well as nearby towns.

If we plan to stay a week, I will list 10 or 15 places of interest - attractions.  I include web address, location & physical address for GPS, cost, time needed, etc.  I compile these in a "NOTE" on my computer.  I have another list of highly rated restaurants.  I do this for each location.

When we get up in the morning, we check the weather, then decide what to do today.  No research needed, just choose from the list.  All choices are good choices based on our interests.  I list more than we will have time to see or do.

If I do not have campground reservations, I will have several researched options near my desired destination listed as above.
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AStravelers

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 06:27:20 AM »
You mentioned summer/fall.  Be aware, fall in that area can be chancy.  My DW and I were in Spearfish, WY this past September, and Yellowstone had already gotten 12" of snow in the mountains,
Snow has happened in July & August occasionally.   

Snow is September will generally be plowed off the roads fairly quickly and melts in a day or three.  I would say being in Yellowstone for several inches of snow would be a real treat, not a negative.  To see the country side, the hot springs, geysers with snow on the ground would be great.

As I understand it, the park officials are good about making everyone leave if 2-3 feet of snow is coming.  Even if the park gets surprised by more snow than expected they will plow the roads so everyone can get out and then close the park. 

Being there in late September, early October you have somewhat fewer visitors than in July & Aug.  Still lots of people, but not quite as crowded. 

Having said that, if your RV can't stand 20 degree weather for 6-10 hours and 30 degree temps for 24-36 hours, you don't belong in Yellowstone in September/October.
Al & Sharon
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jackiemac

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 06:08:28 AM »
Also chat to the locals, you often get hot tips on things to see and places to go. Especially works for wildlife!
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Joe_T

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 04:15:05 PM »
We were at Mt Rushmore during Sturgis week. Campgrounds in SD were crowded, and filled with RVs towing H-Ds. Bikers were friendly, but they did crowd the gas stations. Never had a problem though. (But we never went into Sturgis itself . That would be nuts.)

We're from western NY too and generally took the 90 home from SD.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 04:17:08 PM by Joe_T »

Boonieman

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 07:24:03 PM »
  Actually, we go to Sturgis almost every year. It is a lot of fun for adults even if you arenít a rider,  just not a good kid scene. The prices go way up, but I just went to Disney World a couple weeks ago with my daughter and grandkids.....I went downstairs to a cafe at the resort they were staying in and it was about $35 for a simple breakfast just for me. That is crazy. And I felt stupid for paying it.
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R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2018, 09:38:29 AM »
After a bit more research, We're thinking around 6 to 8 weeks. Maybe 4 or 5 days from NY to S. Dakota, then a few fun weeks around S. Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Never attempted a trip of this length.  (both distance and time) So much to see. Planning is a bit overwhelming.
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grashley

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2018, 07:32:38 PM »
The route depends on your plans.  If you want to get there fast, run the interstate, but watch for toll roads.  Campers can get expensive on tolls!  If you want a more leisurely trip, there are some great stops along the way. 

The Ford Museum and Greenfield Village just outside Detroit is WELL worth a stop if it fits your agenda.  Plan one full day for each.

If you are a car buff, the ACD Museum in Auburn, IN may be of interest.  It is about 30 miles south of I 80 on I 69.  The museum is in the former National showroom and factory for the Auburn, Cord and Duisenberg automobiles.   Plan on 3 or 4 hours to see it all.

Supplies:  Take a few short trips before the "big one"  This will help define things and supplies you will need.  There are stores all along your route for any supplies you may need.  Do not overthink this too much.

Security:  Make sure insurance is in force and paid up and exercise normal caution.
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Yonder

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2018, 09:00:14 PM »
A couple of thoughts.... I'm a local to GNP since it's only half an hour away. If you plan to visit Glacier NP, understand that, from an access perspective, it is pretty much two parks with no 'in park' access for RV s from East Side to West. You will want to take Going to th Sun Road up to Logan Pass (continental divide) but there are distinct vehicle length restrictions. There are many convenient, off-park RV parks on the west side which is a goid thing because there are no reservations at Apgar Campground. No hook ups either. East side has more in-park campgrounds but virtually nothing private outside. Many Glacier campground is beautiful but, because they don't take reservations, we call it combat camping. Nonetheless, they don't call GNP, Crown of the Continent without reason!

As to routes: I have made several trips from NW Montana to the east coast. I'm never in a hurry and much prefer Hwy 2 over I80 or I90. Last summer I took Hwy 2 west from Michigan all the way home.
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Yonder

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2018, 09:28:20 PM »
Forgot to mention ... Going to the Sun Road often doesn't open until July and may close early September due to snow.
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RGP

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2018, 10:05:25 AM »
Our trip out west to circumnavigate AZ took 8 weeks. However, we stop to see every attraction and tourist trap along the way. We have found some really unique museums, visited some of the least visited parks, but rarely accomplish more than 250 or  300 miles a day.

Our trip to Glacier National Park  took 6 weeks. we took the northern route along RT 2 in MN and SD. Our trip to the Everglades took 5 weeks.

From our house to Phoenix is less than 4000 miles round trip but we put 8500 miles on the TV ; 5500 miles of which were pulling trailer. We are retired and use our TT a lot but at least 1/3 of our trip mileage is bouncing down some back road too some out of the way sight.

We only "camp" long enough to take in the local sights, usually less than 2 days, then we move on down the road until we reach our destination. This can be an issue if you travel during the tourist season and need to reserve a place on a certain day.

So as you can tell my advise would fit our camp style, but not everyone's.

For are first RV trip, we went to the Ozarks. We rented a trailer to see what it was like to pull one of these barns down the road. Obviously we liked it.     

Good Luck 
« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 10:07:02 AM by RGP »

R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2018, 08:22:18 AM »
Seeing some troubling posts. I'm thinking about traveling from NY to parks in the mid-west this July, August and maybe returning in September. I'm hearing that if we don't reserve campsites now they'll be booked, and the trip will be very difficult. Any thoughts?

Also security. Thinking of bringing a firearm for protection. Any thoughts as to if there is any legal issues with that?

Thanks in advance, all, for the help and advice.

R.J.

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SeilerBird

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2018, 08:35:56 AM »
Seeing some troubling posts. I'm thinking about traveling from NY to parks in the mid-west this July, August and maybe returning in September. I'm hearing that if we don't reserve campsites now they'll be booked, and the trip will be very difficult. Any thoughts?

Also security. Thinking of bringing a firearm for protection. Any thoughts as to if there is any legal issues with that?
That is all bull. There are millions of campsites in this country. There is only a problem if you want a very popular spot in a very popular place during a holiday weekend. And the guns are totally unnecessary. I have never heard of an RVer needing a gun to get out of a bad situation.
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Sun2Retire

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2018, 08:39:19 AM »
Seeing some troubling posts. I'm thinking about traveling from NY to parks in the mid-west this July, August and maybe returning in September. I'm hearing that if we don't reserve campsites now they'll be booked, and the trip will be very difficult. Any thoughts?

It is completely dependant upon exactly where you are going and what type (private, public, hookups, no hookups) of campground you are looking for. The best advise is to start looking at your various desinations and check availability.

Thinking of bringing a firearm for protection. Any thoughts as to if there is any legal issues with that?

While we avoid discussions on this forum regarding the pros and cons of firearms, there can definitely be legal issues if you are not aware of the laws which vary widely state-to-state. I would strongly suggest you get this book and review the laws for the states you will be traveling through
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kjansen

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2018, 09:02:26 AM »
Seilerbird is right, there are so many campgrounds where you are headed that reservations are not necessary.  If for some reason you want a special spot at a certain time, then maybe you want to check on reservations.  The Black Hills has so many campgrounds you will always be able to find one except during the rally. Ask at campground office for things to see as they know the areas of interest.  Area information offices are also good and we usually stop there first to find places of interest.

Security is just common sense.  Lock your doors when gone etc.  Not saying something could happen but the midwest is pretty safe.  I own guns and have a gun rack in the camper which only gets used when I go hunting and never when we are on vacation or traveling. Have never needed one then or found an occasion to use one.  Campgrounds are loaded with people out to have fun, not trouble.
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R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2018, 03:02:01 PM »
Never took my weapon when camping before. Folks at campgrounds are among the friendliest people around. Last year I was camping the east coast, and found myself in Charlottesville Va. during the racial issues they had. Made me reconsider security for my wife and I. I'm not really worried. Campers usually have each others back and keep an eye out for their neighbors, but on the other hand, you never know who might be in the spot next to you.

Yonder

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2018, 04:50:18 PM »
National Parks, in general, are required to allow/follow the firearms carry laws of the state in which they are located. Don't ask about Yellowstone but then MT, WY, and ID are pretty similar in the gun laws department. There are several websites that give you state by state info on their firearms laws.  They change so often that a hard-book can easily be outdated by the time it gets to print. Just do an on-line search for "firearms laws by state".  Read and/or download/print info from several sites to look for conflicting info.
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R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2018, 10:00:40 AM »
One more question. Also looking at national park campsites. We usually glamp in private campsites with full hookups. I have no problem with boondocking. Looking for a small generator mostly to charge my battery. "Suitcase" type generators are usually around 1600 or 1700 watts. Should be good?   

RGP

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2018, 11:34:28 AM »
We camped in the upper peninsula of MI in the height of tourist season. Near any town, campsites were hard to get, between towns, not such a problem.

We found Glacier NP better on the forested west side as opposed to the high plains desert of the east side. Unfortunately you have to drive about 100 miles around the south end to get to the west side. While on the east side of GNP campsites were hard to find, as it was peak tourist season. Reserving spots in the park was difficult because the spaces for TT was limited and booked a year ahead of time. We have a National Park Pass otherwise we would have had to pay an entrance fee every time we went in to the park.

We did a day trip up to the Canadian portion but I did not get a chance to check out the camping situation. Remember guns are not allowed in Canada without proper approval, usually before hand.

One other thing to consider which I know sounds stupid, but after 5 or 6 weeks of travel even the dog was a little home sick. 

We have found that while we dearly love to travel and rarely stay in one spot for any length of time, after 5 to 6 weeks it is good to touch base and reset for the next adventure.

Good Luck
       

R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2018, 11:58:04 AM »
we were planning big trip from upstate NY to the west for mid July to mid August, but wondering if big parks (yellowstone, G. Tetons etc.) are full and crowds are thick. Better time to travel.

Any thoughts?

Yonder

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2018, 10:26:33 AM »
We were not able to get in to Arches due it being full.  That was August. The problems are that many (most?) of the parks do not take reservations and if you go earlier or later in the year, the higher elevation parks may not be open.  Then there is the weather. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, we live near Glacier and, in many years due to the rate of snow clearing and the weather itself, it is open less than 3 months to the top of Logan pass. I read many on here that are okay with flexibility and catch-as-catch-can.  That just doesn't work for me most of the time. We are not yet retired so we just don't have that flexibility. So we have learned our lesson and now opt for nearby private RV parks that will take reservations. One of the benefits is full hook-ups which are rarely available in the NPs
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R.J.

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2018, 02:33:35 PM »
I'm leaning to changing to mid August to mid September. Kids back to school. less traffic. Do the parks stay open till mid-late September? Also hoping to avoid the Sturgis crowd.

RGP

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2018, 05:47:22 PM »
The common theme in all this is calling ahead.

It is not that you should be on a tight schedule but some places are just crowded or hard to get to because of there location.

We circumnavigated AZ in March, it was the off season so campsites were easy to come by; UNTIL we here going to Lake Havasu City in to see the London Bridge and hit the local spring break. Likewise when we went to Las Vegas there were lots of campgrounds but there we also a lot of full campgrounds also.

Our trip to Zion, Bryce and Arches required some planning because many of the closer campground were closed or still experiencing night temps in the teens, that meant the lower elevations campground were the only ones available to us. We never made it to Arches NP because the road were still closed in March.

A call ahead to the campgrounds in the area you expect to be in, about two or three days ahead of time, will tell you if you need  reservation or if they typically have open spots. We rarely book ahead unless campsites are hard to get, because we rarely stick to a schedule.       

Good Luck       

muskoka guy

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2018, 11:22:31 AM »
The problem with trying to book ahead is you cant always be sure you will be where you think you will be. We did 10000 miles last winter, and are doing the same this year. We are from Ontario, and are currently in Needles California. We never make reservations. We took a week to get to Flagstaff from Ontario. This was putting a few 8 hours days driving at first, then doing four to six hour days after that. We wanted to see some stuff along the way, and driving 8 or 10 hours a day, you bypass lots of interesting things. We have 8 weeks in total. Dont kill yourself getting there, or you will be tired for a few days. You might as well take a few extra days to get there and be fresh. Back to the reservation aspect. Last year we hit a chunk of metal on the road and blew a front tire. This set us back a day. We had a problem at one campground. The disconnect relay went and we couldnt retract the slides. This set us back a day and a bit. In New Brunswick years ago, we blew a transmition. This is the problem with reservations. If we had reservations, we would have had cancellation fees due to not being there on the date reserved. If the whole trip was reserved, you would have to skip something to get back on track. We have travelled probably close to 45000 miles in the last six years, and have never made a reservation, except calling ahead either the same day, or maybe the day before if you are sure you are going to get there. The only time we have had to stay at a rest area or Walmart, is if we wanted to. Buy a National park pass, it is worth the cost if you want to see the parks. It doesnt cover camping, but gets you into many great things.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 11:24:25 AM by muskoka guy »

Frank B

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Re: 1st cross country trip. Looking for advice
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2018, 07:54:18 PM »



Quote
This is the problem with reservations. If we had reservations, we would have had cancellation fees due to not being there on the date reserved.


Yep.


We thought about a really nice place on the Oregon coast for the trip home this year, but their cancellation policy is brutal. If they are as busy as they say, then they don't need me, and I don't need that kind of deadline pressure. Get enough of that at home.  ;D


We have found that if one is traveling in the off-season, reservations are never needed anyway. And there are tons of free or low cost places to overnight. The only time I would consider making reservations is if we had a specific destination that we were going to be at for some time.



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