1st time Out West

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Fro29445

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My family of 4 and Inlaws are planning on taking a trip out west from SC and was wondering if 10 days would be enough to see Arizona, Grand Canyon, badlands, and mt Rushmore. Any advise and tip on the travel as we have never RVd before
 

Great Horned Owl

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It depends on what you mean by see them. If you just want to drive by, it might be possible. If you really want to get out and see them, no way.

Driving time:
SC to Grand Canyon                  3 days
Grand Canyon to Mt. Rushmore  3 days
Mt. Rushmore to Badlands          1/2 day
Badlands to SC                          3 days

That leaves you 1/2 day to see everything.

Joel
 

johnaye

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Great Horned Owl said:
It depends on what you mean by see them. If you just want to drive by, it might be possible. If you really want to get out and see them, no way.

Driving time:
SC to Grand Canyon                  3 days
Grand Canyon to Mt. Rushmore  3 days
Mt. Rushmore to Badlands          1/2 day
Badlands to SC                          3 days

That leaves you 1/2 day to see everything.

Joel

In my opinion Joel is optimistic on the time.  You did not say where you are leaving from, but according to Google maps, it is almost 2000 miles from SC to the Grand Canyon.  Assuming you can maintain an average of 50mph, including stops, you are looking at 40 hours of driving.  The Grand Canyon to Mt. Rushmore can probably be done in three days, but you will have some serious hills. 1/2 day to the badlands is good, but three days home is going to be a stretch.  My recommendation is to break the trip up into two years.  Go to the Grand Canyon one year and Mt. Rushmore the next year.  You will find this much more enjoyable.
 

Utclmjmpr

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You have no idea how huge the "west" really is,,folks from the "east" come here for the first time and marvel at all the raw and empty territory that HAVE NO PEOPLE ON IT!.>>>Dan
 

ArdraF

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You can drive the length or width of SC in one day.  Driving the length (north/south) of California takes several days.  Crossing Texas takes several days.  So no, your trip is not realistic.  When do you plan to visit?  If in the near future, summer is very HOT in the desert southwest so you need to think about the weather too.

ArdraF
 

Isaac-1

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I am like the others, pick one or the other, but not both, even then doing it in 10 days is really pushing things.  I don't know what sort of RV you have, if you have multiple drivers, etc.  However as mentioned SC to the Grand Canyon is 2000 miles driving time alone averaging 50 mph is 40 hours on the road each way. 

The most I have ever driven in a day in my coach is 500 miles in just under 12 hours, stopping for fuel, food and the occasional stretch break at rest areas, this was mostly on I-10 in west Texas, averaging speed of 42 mph, I could have shaved off a couple of hours with shorter stops, quicker meals, etc, but this was with me traveling solo, not dealing with a large group of people, bathroom breaks, etc. Though I really try to stay under 300 miles per day when possible while traveling.

A few years ago, I helped an old friend drive a U-haul truck from Louisiana to Montana, just over 2,000 miles, taking turns driving, his wife and young teen age son were following in the car, so we swapped out driving of 2 vehicles between 3 adult drivers.  We were on a time line to get there, and were 2 days later than planned departing, stopping for fuel, mostly eating on the road, I remember one meal at a truck stop in Colorado, stopping to sleep for at most 6 or 7 hours twice on the drive there.  We departed my house at noon in on Monday (after they had driven the first 150 miles solo), they had to be in Montana at 9 am on Thursday, at 5pm on Wednesday we arrived at a motel 200 miles short of our final destination, and wiped out collapsed and slept for 12 hours, before doing the final stretch at sun rise Thursday morning.

Not exactly the sort of driving that I would call pleasant, and not exactly the kind of thing I would want to turn around and do again 3-4 days later.
 

UTTransplant

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Yet another recommendation to break this up into two trips. Do the GC trip with additions of Oklahoma City (Cowboy Hall of Fame is spectacular and the Murrah Bombing Memorial is very moving). Spend a day or two in Albuquerque. Visit the GC and some of the nearby sights. On another trip visit the Black Hills including Mt. Rushmore, Custer State Park, Spearfish, and the Badlands. You are looking at an awful lot of driving no matter what, but combining them is not a good idea.
 

Broke Boater

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Sometimes you'll only have one chance to take advantage of a trip with a group people because of life getting in the way. I have made the 2000 mile drive ,, including many detours to site see,, serveral times to N. Minn visiting family within a two week vacation and that was with two of us driving. It's a short time, but Rushmore, Blackhills, and the many other destinations in that area can be routed to compress time. The Badlands are off the trail a little but plan a route and have a" must see to ok to pass up this trip " list. Arizona is pretty cool but way spread out, I suggest the Grand Canyon for sure, its amazing and photos cant even come close to seeing it in person. You have plenty of help driving to make up time, where you stop over night may not have any openings during the tourist season without a reservation.  If you have your crew and time off worked out, go for it, be flexible, and enjoy the trip, not the destination,,,gregg
 

blw2

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personally I'd think 10 days is even pushing it to do ONE of those destinations.... but it could be doable.... maybe....

when I was a bit younger I could stand to be behind the wheel longer than I care to now. 
Also, while I can drive a long day...or two.  But sooner or later I need a slow day or a break 
That's one variable...YOU

Another variable...are you the only person driving?

family + inlaws in one RV?  enough room?  What is their endurance for sitting all day, day after day.....


13 months ago we did a trip form NE Florida to the canyon and back.  19 days and approx 5,200 miles.  It was a good trip...no a really great trip.  We were all glad we did it....  It should have been a 4 week trip, but we squeezed it in.
it was rough at times though.  I did all the driving except for about 45 minutes, when DW tried for the second time ever to drive the RV.  Oh well.

I understand that for some it could be like my case, kinda of an opportunity, while not ideal, but something that can't be passed up.  I was offered the opportunity to take approx 3 weeks of work in one shot.  Not something I can do just any old time. So, where to go?  Well, DW & I had a great trip out to the canyon back before we were married, and she wanted to take the kids there.  Ok, what else?  Well my son wanted to see death valley, and I wanted to go to Yosemite and the big trees out in CA.  at least 2 more days just to get to CA, not counting time there and return time.  There just simply wasn't enough time to go past the canyon. After a lot of thought, we determined that the canyon would be the goal...it's about as far as we can go with the time we have....and that left really just enough time for the one destination.  I had hoped we would have a minor destination plan for half way out there and half way back.  I figured that would be workable to have around 3 days or so hard push driving before a day or so stop. 

So what we ended up with was a lot of days driving hard...but tried to have at least some sort of activity almost every day.... a museum, or even just a bit of tourist/shopping...either mid day as a break or afternoon/evening.  We planned on doing mostly overnight boon docking while enroute for quick turnarounds, places like walmart parking lots.
Well I learned that I don't rest as well doing that, so after around about 2 nights, or maybe 3 of doing that I really needed to find a "real CG" to plug in the RV and unplug my mind.

Well anyway, we ended up spending three nights at the canyon, 2 nights at Lake Powell, and the rest was basically stops along the way, doing at least a little something every day along the way..... It worked well enough for us even though we should have had a lot more time to do what we did in a truly enjoyable way.
 

beaverfever

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it takes "for ever" just to cross Texas and you are still not to Arizona. you will not be able to enjoy yourselves on a rush trip like this .pick one destination  and add a week to you itinerary.
 

blw2

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beaverfever said:
it takes "for ever" just to cross Texas and you are still not to Arizona. you will not be able to enjoy yourselves on a rush trip like this .pick one destination  and add a week to you itinerary.

ha ha, yeah no kidding!  the route we took on the way West resulted in two nights stay just to get through it!
Coming from SC though, I'd imagine they'd go through the skinny part on I-40
 

CharlesinGA

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I made a trip to the Black Hills last August, I also got to watch the eclipse from Alliance, Nebraska, after touring the Black Hills, I was gone from home in Georgia for 12 days and did not get to see near enough in the Black Hills, it was more of a scouting expedition for the next trip. The Black Hills is a trip unto itself, and you need to allow 14 to 16 days from SC for such a trip.

I have been planning a "four corners" trip to cover the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and a host of other lesser stops along the way, and quickly realized it would take two trips to cover everything I wanted to see.

Other issues, there are six of you, what kind of "RV" are you using, and what is the physical condition of the persons in your party. If your inlaws are older and have any mobility issues at all, this will slow down things greatly. Also allow for a "day off" from the touring to stock up on groceries, take a breather, relax, and just enjoy a view.

Many campgrounds out west, from everything I have read, do not have any hook ups, at least the Federal campgrounds, and some of the state ones. You need to be prepared with a generator and full tanks of water. Also if your RV is large (such as a 40 ft MH or even worse, a large 5th wheel and its tow vehicle) you will be limited as many of the public owned campgrounds won't have large sites. A trip like this takes immense planning. You will want the best tires possible on the RV. If a trailer you will want two spares, jacks and tools for changing them, as cell service may be spotty and roadside assistance may not be able to help you.

Your proposed trip is better broken up into a dedicated Black Hills trip, an "I-40" trip to cover the sights of New Mexico and Airzona, and lastly a Utah trip to see some of what it has to offer, and you still haven't seen the Rockies yet!!!

I know I keep plugging my thread on my Black Hills, Badlands, and Eclipse trip, but it is certainly worth a read here so as to give you an idea of the time frame involved in a trip like this.

EDIT: After re reading your original post, you state you have never RV'ed before. Are you planning on renting a Class C motorhome such as one from CruiseAmerica or ElMonte? if so, be aware these are usually on the smallish side and sleeping for six will be crowded. If you are renting, you are best to fly out west and then pick up a MH there.

If you are simply new to RV'ing and have bought something, relax, take a few local trips up into the smokies, the Blue Ridge Parkway and other eastern sights and get acquainted with the RV and the ways of RV'ing. Otherwise it could turn out like Robin Williams in the movie RV. https://youtu.be/foiHTT2rcso

Charles
 

Joezeppy

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Utclmjmpr said:
You have no idea how huge the "west" really is


Right...we first realized this when planning our "trip out west" in 2007. Yellowstone was the primary destination but we also had the GC on the list until we realized how far it was from Yellowstone. We scratched it for a future visit instead. We traveled for 3 weeks spending about 6 days in Yellowstone & the Tetons with shorter stops at Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Devil's Tower, and couple of other miscellaneous places along the route.


Utclmjmpr said:
folks from the "east" come here for the first time and marvel at all the raw and empty territory that HAVE NO PEOPLE ON IT!.


My favorite example of this was the "exits" on I-90 (in SD and/or MT, IIRC) that immediately turned into dirt roads that went off into the sunset with no visible buildings or other signs of life. My guess was oil fields or ranches.
 

Tom and Margi

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I've often thought the western version of Dixie was the old song "Don't Fence Me In".  Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above ... don't fence me in.  :)
 

Larry N.

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Joezeppy said:
...
My favorite example of this was the "exits" on I-90 (in SD and/or MT, IIRC) that immediately turned into dirt roads that went off into the sunset with no visible buildings or other signs of life. My guess was oil fields or ranches.
Ranch access exits are quite plentiful in the west, and are much as you describe. There are also exits (no services) to decent two lane roads (county roads or even state highways) that may go 5, 10, 20 miles or more to some small town.

A good example of distance vs people is that the Denver metro area has a greater population (2.9 million) than Wyoming (579,315) and Montana (1.05 million) combined, yet is spread out more than many eastern cities of greater population (the rest of Colorado is a couple more million). Except for Las Vegas and Albuquerque, Nevada and New Mexico are similarly light in population -- even Arizona, disregarding Phoenix to Tuscon, is light on population. Yet any ONE of these states covers more area than several New England states combined. Denver to Phoenix is a 16 hour drive.

Wyoming north to south is 276 miles, and is 365 east/west (roads are longer). It's nearly 500 miles east/west across northern Montana.
 

Alaskansnowbirds

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Larry N. said:
Ranch access exits are quite plentiful in the west, and are much as you describe. There are also exits (no services) to decent two lane roads (county roads or even state highways) that may go 5, 10, 20 miles or more to some small town.

A good example of distance vs people is that the Denver metro area has a greater population (2.9 million) than Wyoming (579,315) and Montana (1.05 million) combined, yet is spread out more than many eastern cities of greater population (the rest of Colorado is a couple more million). Except for Las Vegas and Albuquerque, Nevada and New Mexico are similarly light in population -- even Arizona, disregarding Phoenix to Tuscon, is light on population. Yet any ONE of these states covers more area than several New England states combined. Denver to Phoenix is a 16 hour drive.

Wyoming north to south is 276 miles, and is 365 east/west (roads are longer). It's nearly 500 miles east/west across northern Montana.

And if you get up to Alaska......The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Population less than 100,000.
 

ksbowman

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We did the Black Hills trip from eastern Kansas 6 years ago in a 5th wheel. It took us 3 days to get there in no hurry. We saw the largest waterfall in Nebraska (80'0 ) and stopped by Wounded Knee on the way. Had a great trip even though our oldest daughter told us on the 3rd day that we may as well turn around and come home. The total trip was 10 days (4 days in the Hills area) and it was almost too short. There is a lot to see on the trip that I wouldn't have wanted to miss. We stopped by the Badlands and went to Wall's Drugs and had a fantastic hot beef sandwich. Can't wait to go back again!
 

John Stephens

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I can tell you from personal experience that you cannot make that trip in 10 days.

How long it will actually take you will depend on several things, including how many drivers, how long you want to drive every day, and how long you want to stay at your individual destinations. Bear in mind that the trip out and back should also be part of the enjoyment of taking a vacation and not a chore just to get to your destinations.

In 2016, we drove from SW Florida to the west, making our first destination Gold Canyon, AZ, about 30 miles east of Phoenix. It took us six days to get there and I felt like I had been beaten up when we finally stopped. I was the only driver and we drove 300-350 miles per day. It took me two days to recuperate before I wanted to drive to our next stop. Long story short, we hit Fort Mohave, AZ, Las Vegas, NV, Holbrook, AZ to catch the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert on the way back on I-40, Hot Springs, AR, St. Louis, MO and back home. It took us five weeks and we felt rushed, unable to stop and see everything we wanted to along the way. Every time I had to drive more than three days in a row to get to a destination, I felt wrecked, and I used to drive OTR. If you want to stay safe, there are a lot of precautions you have to take when you're on the road, especially if you're towing behind you. If you're going to have dogs or kids along for the ride, that will also slow you down, plus, if you're my age (mid 60's), you're going to need your own pit stops every couple of hours to make the bladder gladder and keep the blood clots in your legs at bay. Experienced RV'ers will tell you to follow the 3/300 rule of driving: stop no later than 3PM every day OR stopping after 300 miles. I have found that is a pretty good idea, having tried to push myself to 400 miles per day and regretting it later.

We have already planned out our retirement trip next year that will take us from SW Florida to the Badlands, Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood, Devil's Tower, Big Horn, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Chicago, St. Louis, and Mammoth Cave. We are planning on it taking us between 90-120 days, depending on how long we want to stay at the various spots and giving ourselves extra time to see things we haven't thought of yet.

If you want to try to make that trip in 10 days by driving day and night, beating yourself up, not enjoying the trip, not seeing the sights and not wanting to hit the road again for a while, you can do it, but that's not taking a vacation - that's nothing more than over the road driving and if you're going to do that, you might as well get a job with one of the truck lines and get paid to do it. If your round trip is going to be 4,500-5,000 miles, depending on where in SC you live, it will take you 9-10 days at 500 miles per day just to make the drive, giving you no down time to relax or see the sights. If you follow the 3/300 idea, it will take you 16 days to drive the round trip and still have no time to see the sights. Keep in mind you won't drive as far each day as you would in a car. Average speed, especially when in the mountains, will be about 50mph, so if you drive 300 miles a day, you'll be on the road for about six hours. With stops for lunch and potty breaks, that translates into eight hours. That means driving 500 miles will take you 12-13 hours each and every day. That's hitting the road at 7AM and driving until 8PM. You can do that for one or two days, but after that, you'll feel wrecked. When you get to your destination, you won't want to drive back.

If you want to take a 10 day vacation on the road, I suggest you find a spot no more than a 3 day drive, meaning no greater than 1,000-1,200 miles away and give yourself 4 days at your destination to enjoy your vacation. If you want to see the Grand Canyon, I would suggest giving yourself no less than 16 days and then add an appropriate number of days for any other destinations you choose in addition to the first one.
 

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