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Author Topic: Advice re the South West National Parks please  (Read 3734 times)

Sian Harrison

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Advice re the South West National Parks please
« on: June 27, 2012, 05:45:26 AM »
Hi all,
We are flying from UK to Las Vegas on Christmas Day and plan to hire an RV for 8 nights (finishing back in LV) to travel round the National Parks.  We have never hired an RV before and have never been to this part of the States, so we are complete beginners.

Which are the best RV hire companies/which to avoid;  with only 8 nights, which are the 'Not To be Missed' National Parks;  where will it be warm and where cold;  are many campsites open that time of year; can our 21 year old daughter drive the RV  etc etc????

Any advice welcome. Thanks!

captsteve

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 05:54:24 AM »
Welcome!

Try Cruise America for rentals, there is another but it won't come to me this minute.

As far as your daughter driving, No. They restrict you to drivers over 25 years old.

The temps. should be mild but colder at altitude.

As far as parks, I'll leave that to some of our resident pros!!!

Hope you have a great time!

Steve
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Tom

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 09:02:23 AM »
Hi Sian, and welcome to The RV Forum. Click the Resources button above and scroll down to RV Rental. Also check out the articles in our forum Library, specifically Places to see and things to do. Here's one article on Touring the Western states that might be of  interest. Weather will be a limiting factor that time of year, as noted in the article.

I have to ask .... with a name like Sian, do you  have roots on the west side of the Severn Bridge?
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Pierat

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 09:37:11 AM »
Welcome! Sounds like an ambitious plan. You might want to camp for your first night near to the rental place, just to try everything out and be able to go back for help if needed.

That time of year, there can be storms. Many of the parks are at elevations of 7,000' to 9,000' or so above sea level (e.g., Grand Canyon), so wind, snow and ice can be factors. Hope you get good weather. If not, that kind of weather is less likely in places like southern Arizona. You can study the maps and get an idea of which parks you would like to visit, and develop some alternate plans. Remember, the distances "out west" are quite large compared to the east or Europe, so you may have a long day's drive just to get from one spot to the next.

Not all of the parks are national ones, although there are quite a few of course. You will find national, state and even county or city parks, monuments, forests, etc. Some are nongovernmental, such as the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson, Arizona, that is quite a good place to see, right next to the Saguaro National Park (West Unit).

Good luck and please let us know what you decide.
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Wendy

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 10:36:44 AM »
Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve are delightful in December and you could easily spend the entire 8 days exploring the desert in eastern California and around Las Vegas. Start out spending a day or two in Las Vegas exploring the Strip, take a tour of Hoover Dam, get used to the RV. Then drive north to the north entrance of Death Valley and visit Scotty's Castle, stay at Mesquite Springs, the NPS campground near Scotty's. Then drive south thru the valley to Furnace Creek and spend several days there. Exit the park at the southern entrance and continue south to Mojave National Preserve. Head back to Las Vegas.
 
You could also go the other direction from Las Vegas and visit Grand Canyon but it will likely be cold and you may even get snowed on. If you go that direction, there are also Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Volcano National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff. But again, snow is not unusual in that area in late December.
 
Have a great trip and have fun planning.
Wendy
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loddy

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 07:51:00 PM »
I have just come through Death Valley and Furnace Creek is close for renovation,  I don't know how long for

Loddy

Wendy

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 07:55:27 PM »
I have just come through Death Valley and Furnace Creek is close for renovation,  I don't know how long for

Loddy

The Furnace Creek campground is but Sunset and Texas Springs campgrounds are both open in the Furnace Creek area.
 
Wendy
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ArdraF

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 08:44:49 PM »
At that time of year you'll need to be very flexible and willing to change direction if the weather changes.  Last winter was mild compared to the previous year so you just never know what to expect.  Wendy mentioned higher elevations.  It might be useful for you to understand that there are a series of five plateaus in the southwest.  The lowest in elevation is the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Next is the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which is 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim.  They rise going north so that Bryce Canyon (one of my favorites) is in the 8,000-9,000 ft. elevation range.  Highest is the Cedar Breaks National Monument in which the Visitor Center is at 10,000 ft. and will probably be closed at that time of year.

I think what we're saying is that, as new RV drivers, you'll not want to be in some of the best areas because of weather.  You should stay farther south at lower elevations, as Wendy suggested.  Monument Valley Tribal Park is interesting but might be too cold even though it's "only" at 5,200 feet.  We've worn shorts in Death Valley in January - but we've also worn jeans and warm jackets so it's totally unpredictable.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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Bob Maxwell

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2012, 05:17:06 PM »
Ardra pointed out our geographical features that make winter iffy on our SW plateaus. You do not want to get caught in a SW blizzard around Flagstaff and north.

The one hopeful word I have for you is that our winter here in the SW seems on track to an El Niño winter -which means milder and perhaps more moisture via rain. Keep an eye using Google on "El Niño and La Niña winters" and the advance weather forecast using the weather forecaster of your choice. The weather will determine 1. if you might have to stay lower, per Windy's suggestions which are great and you might even get several nights in the Anza Boreggo area south of Palm Springs; or

2, it may break mild and be perfect for you to head to the S rim of the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff with Sunset, Wupatki, and
Option A: perhaps even a quick "there and backtrack" to Monument Valley and Navajo Natl Monument/Park. 

Spend two nights in Verde Vally S of Flag seeing the monuments, etc and Sedona AZ and the red rocks.

Take two days to do Tucson's Senora Desert Museum. Plan to drive over and spend New Year's Eve with RV Forum members at the Catalina State Park, driving to Las Vegas on NY Day with the next day to turn the RV in, decompress and get on your flight back home.

It would be a full week, but a great one!

The Catalina Rally info is here: http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=54576.0
Adiós. . .

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Carl L

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2012, 06:10:25 PM »
As others have said, it will be cold -- maybe very cold because of the high altitudes of most SW national parks.   The major Pacific storms are tracked days ahead and you should be able to track them on TV news programs.  You should be willing to hole up if one is about to hit you.   

Suggestion for parks:

1. Death Valley -- it is at its high season over the Xmas holidays.   It could well be very crowded.   Temperatures are usually quite mild and the scenery is spectacular.  Your elevation in the camps will be around sea level or below.

2.  Grand Canyon, South Rim -- This is possibly do-able but you should expect snow on the ground and very cold nights.   Stay at a full hook up park, or in a hotel at the Village.  Make local inquiry before going.   The Canyon in winter is spectacular but your elevation will be at some 6800 feet.

3.  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA -- A huge California state park with 625,000 acres of very accessible desert.   The altitude will be aound 1000 feet and you can expect it to be about 25ºF warmer than the Grand Canyon, just from the effect of altitude alone.   Nights will be quite cool tho.   Rental Jeeps and guided 4WD tours are available.  The facilities are small-town American desert town.  The scenery is spectacular but not as much as the previous two parks which are world class.

4.  Tucson, AZ -- not a park but rather a city with loads of parks and sightseeing in and around it.   The altitude is around 2400 feet and the climate is relatively mild in the winter.  Xmas is nice season in the town.   They share in the Mexican celebrations of Navidad which tend to be colorful and cheerful.

5.  San Diego, CA -- possessed of the finest climate in the USA, bar Hawaii.   SD is a marvelous tourist town:  beaches, mountains, Old Town, Mission Bay, Coronado, Scripps Acquarium, Balboa Park and its museums, the great San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, the US Navy, fishing, hiking, etc. etc.   Lots of RV parks.

With 8 days, consider a loop around LV - Death Valley or Anza Borrego - San Diego - LV.   Another possiblity might be LV - Grand Canyon - Tucson -  LV.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2012, 07:00:31 PM by Carl L »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Sloop

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2012, 06:32:31 PM »
I'm prejudice, since I live in the San Diego area, but I would start by visiting the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area and then swing down to Anza Borrego State Park and then over to Mission Bay in San Diego.  Leave a couple of days to drive from San Diego back to Vegas (although it can be done in one day) and that should leave you sufficient time to visit each area for a couple of days. Cosmopolitan desert, pure undeveloped desert, a seaside resort and a beautiful drive. In December all these areas usually have pretty mild to excellent weather though since you will be traveling between Christmas and New Years you better have reservations..
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Tom

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2012, 06:41:15 PM »
Adding to Carl's excellent list:

5.  San Diego, CA: Add Sea World.
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Wendy

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2012, 06:44:41 PM »
You could also put together a loop that included Salton Sea, which hallelujah isn't closing yet, Anza Borrego, and San Diego. The southern California coast can be cool and sometimes rainy in winter but it's still a wonderful place to visit.
 
Wendy
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
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Tom

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2012, 06:55:09 PM »
Quote from: Wendy
The southern California coast can be cool and sometimes rainy in winter ....

Coming from the UK, they'd be used to that  ;D
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Sian Harrison

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2012, 04:15:50 AM »
I am so glad I joined this forum; the amount of information I've received in only a couple of days has been fantastic!  Thank you very much.

I wanted to thank everyone individually, but can't work out how to do that.

Sian
 

Carl L

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Re: Advice re the South West National Parks please
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2012, 01:18:12 PM »
I am so glad I joined this forum; the amount of information I've received in only a couple of days has been fantastic!  Thank you very much.

I wanted to thank everyone individually, but can't work out how to do that.

Sian
 


You just did.   You're welcome.   ;D
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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