First Big Trip

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Well-known member
Aug 7, 2006
Hi everyone! We are planning our first big trip, we have made several small trips throughout our state of Florida including the Florida keys and Ft Wilderness. We also have been to a few places in GA. We are now in the process of planning our big trip out west with our 2005 Fleetwood Discovery DP.
Can anyone give any suggestions on the roads, campgrounds and sightseeing?
Here is our basic itinerary:
Clearwater FL to Pensacola FL planning on overnite at the KOA
Pensacola FL to Houston TX planning on overnite at the KOA
Houston Tx to San Antonio TX
San Antonio TX to Carlsbad NM Planning on 3 nts carlsbad at the KOA
Carlsbad NM to Flagstaff AZ
Flagstaff AZ to Las Vegas NV? Planning on 3 nts at Outdoor Resort
Las Vegas NV to Zion Natl Forest Reservations at Zion natl RV Park
Zion to Yellowstone Reservations at Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone
Yellowstone to Rapid City
Then our trip brings us back home through St Louis, Nashville, GA, FL

We are very excited and welcome all advice and comments.
PS: We are traveling with our two kids one is 20 and my son is 15 plus we have two yorkies traveling with us but they are house dogs do not go outside and are litter boxed trained.

You seem to be bypassing the Grand Canyon.  If so it is a pity.  Take a few days using Flagstaff as a base camp and see the Canyon.

My first suggestion would be to get a Trailer Life Campground Directory. KOAs tend to be some of the more expensive campgrounds. Their nick name is Keep On Adding when it comes to fees.

Second, I hope on some of the trip legs that you described you are not trying to do it in one days driving. Example .... Carlsbad NM to Flagstaff AZ .... That's over 600 miles. That is too many miles for one day. Try to limit your driving to between 200 and 250 miles a day and you'll have a much more enjoyable trip. IMHO there are only three one day drives on your itinerary. Houston to San Antonio, Flagstaff to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to Zion.

Campground suggestions:

East of Flagstaff about 40 miles (exit 233) is Meteor Crater. Good campground just off the interstate. I'm sure the boys would enjoy visiting the Crater.

The campground just inside the west entrance of Zion is also good.

You didn't say how long you planned on taking to do this trip or what time of year. That information would help others making suggestions.

I'm sure others will also have many suggestions.

Above all, have a safe trip and enjoy yourself.

I agree with Alaskansnowbirds on the KOA's.? We try to avoid them but sometimes we don't have a choice.? If you are set on the KOA's then buy their membership - I think it is $10 a year and you get 10% off CG fees.? I would also suggest joining Good Sam, if you haven't already.

Since you have time to research CG, etc. the following site has proven useful for us in checking out what others have said on a particular CG:

It would also help us if we knew the size of your rig.? ?We have a 40' DP MH and some CGs just don't have sites big enough for us.? Also, with kids, are you looking for CG with any specific amenities to entertain them?

O.k. now on to some CG's:

San Antonio, TX - Traveler's World (Must sees - River Walk and Missions)

Flagstaff - Didn't stay in Flagstaff but enjoyed staying at the Railside RV Ranch in Williams (Grand Canyon and if you like Route 66 sites, check out Williams and Seligman)

Las Vegas - We stayed at the Oasis - it's pricey but you can buy a day ticket for the trolley and it picks you up at the RV park and takes you to Vegas.? It's not far but then no parking issues.? The only problem with the trolley is the Oasis is the first pick-up so you have to ride a while making the other pick-ups.

Yellowstone - We were there about 5 years ago and enjoyed our stay at Yellowstone's Edge (about 30 min. from the park) in Livingston, MT.? The park is on the Yellowstone River.? We checked out one of the parks inside Yellowstone and found it was too much like a sardine can - with not much space.

Rapid City (actually Hill City)- Rafter J Bar RV Park (must sees - Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the train ride from Hill City takes you through some beautiful country.

If you haven't already, please check out the National Park Service website:? If you are going to visit several National Parks or Monuments, you may want to buy a yearly pass to avoid paying a fee at each park.?

IMHO, with kids, I would reconsider the length of time in Las Vegas (or whether to go there at all).? I have enjoyed National Parks and other attractions more than I did Vegas.?

Planning the trip is half the fun!? Please keep us posted on your plans.

Go for Passport America card and forget the rest  Good Sams will stuff you mail and Email with junk, and for what  $2 off    not worth it.  Can't seem to ever get rid of them.    PA will get you 50% off.  And I agree on avoiding KOA.
Sorry - I typed in the wrong name on the CG in Williams, AZ.  I have edited my message to reflect the change to Railside RV Ranch. 

If you are going to Zion's NP, you may want to add Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Monument.  Personally, I liked Cedar Breaks better than either Bryce or Zion's.  Bryce would be my 2nd choice and Zion's my 3rd if I had to choose between the three.
Agree - Bryce is spectacular. Zion is pretty nice too, but not as memorable as Bryce.

I'd go to Vegas just to see the main street (The Strip) at night and to experience a major league casino, if you've never done that. That can be done in a day and then I'd travel on.  There's too many other things to see and do to spend much time in Vegas.
Shayne said:
Go for Passport America card and forget the rest? ?Good Sams will stuff you mail and Email with junk, and for what? $2 off? ? not worth it.? Can't seem to ever get rid of them.? ? ?PA will get you 50% off.? And I agree on avoiding KOA.

I agree with Shayne 100%.  I also STRONGLY recommend against joining Good Sam unless you have a desire for more Junk mail than you can ever imagine.  IMHO the benefits offered by Good Sam does not amount to much but the junk mail will.  Besides I just can't support an organization that tends to side with the campground owners when it comes to restricting where you can park your RV.

I do strongly recommend joining 1. Escapees  2. Passport America and 3. FMCA for motorhome owners.
What is so great about this forum is the different viewpoints you will receive.? I have learned quite a bit from the varying opinions.

I have been a member of Good Sam for about 5-6 years.? I don't have problems with junk mail but maybe that is because I am not home often and they probably send it other than 1st class mail so it is not forwarded to me.

I have used the mail forwarding service through Good Sam, American Home Base, for the last 5-6 years and have been extremely pleased with them.

We have the Good Sam Emergency Road Service which we have only had to use once but was pleased with the service.

Many CGs we stay at are affilated with Good Sam and we get a 10% discount on CG fees which is usually around $2-$3 per day discount.

Colleen - RV Roamer had an excellent suggestion on visiting Vegas.? I would suggest seeing the water/light show in front of the Bellagio.? The Venetian casino is awesome.? I liked the "old Vegas" casinos like the Stardust which gives a perspective of old and new Vegas.? The MGM has lions on display for a few hours during the day which the kids may enjoy.? Since your kids are too young to gamble and probably too old to enjoy Circus Circus for too long, they may become bored quickly.
Our Rig is 40' DP. Our trip will be just about 4 weeks from the middle of May to the middle of June, we need to make sure we are back in FL for hurricane season and then of course our annual trip to Key West for Mini Sportsman Lobster season. We tow our boat behind us for the key west trip which I have to admit I was a little nervous our first time but no problems what so ever.

We are only staying in KOA's on our overnites for the most part except I read good reviews on the one in Carlsbad that is why I choose that KOA. We are not making the trip in one day from Flagstaff to Las Vegas we are stopping in Aburqurque on the way for an overnite.  We will be taking a train ride through the Grand Canyon with a stop for some hiking as well. Yes we are going from Houston to San Antonio I agree to long of a day.

We have about two maybe 3 the most of long drive days like 7 hours no way to get around that but once we leave yellowstone we can be a little flexible.

We are members of the good sams club, FMCA, and koa, oh and we did join the natl parks. I perfer to not stay at KOA's but they have so many and in some cases it was a matter of convience.

I did pick up a book from campers world on the roads in the west seems pretty good tells you about the grades all kinds of stuff it is for MH and truckers.

We have been to vegas before and the kids loved it of course we stayed at the mgm and they have a theme park inside as well, they all had me add an extra day in vegas. No worries on where we stay kids won't have any problems being bored they entertain themselves pretty good and enjoy being with us.

Thanks for the info on the creater, we did want to go check it out I was not sure where it was.

We were thinking about either the Outdoor Resort or the Oasis in Las Vegas can anyone tell me which is better? I do like the fact of the trolley. Also we were trying to figure out how we could bring our golf cart and a tow, one thought was to rent cars when we need one, any thoughts on this?

I totally agree about all the junk mail from Good Sams Club, geesh. I will re-think about renewing my membership when that come up.

Thanks for all the great!!!! advice!!!! I will take all this info and when I have it solid I will post and for comments and suggestions once more.

You've got the makings of a real trip from hell! I calculated 3302 miles just to Yellowstone. That is 10 days just for the traveling outward bound and another 2300 miles to get home. I hope you have booked at least 6 weeks if not 8 for this mammoth project.
rhmahoney said:
You've got the makings of a real trip from hell! I calculated 3302 miles just to Yellowstone. That is 10 days just for the traveling outward bound and another 2300 miles to get home. I hope you have booked at least 6 weeks if not 8 for this mammoth project.

I've been making these trips since the 60's and it was always a time limit.  You can't enjoy a trip under those terms.  Besides the driver is going to be beat to death. Perhaps it's just my thick skull but what the heck does Albq have to do with the trip from Vegas to Flagstaff.  I'm certainly lost there.  More like a 3 and 1/2 day trip to me. I'd cut at least half of that itinery off for 4 weeks and enjoy the trip.  Cramming makes for irritating minds and arguements.  Been there, done that.  Sure wish I hadn't.  Good luck on a poorly planned trip in MHO

That is just too much crammed into too little time.  With a schedule like that I just can't see how it could be enjoyable.  The driver or drivers are going to be worn out and you may even be jeopardizing your safety due to fatigue.

May I suggest reviewing and revising your schedule so not to have to drive more than 250 to 350 miles a day and include some time to explorer the sights, smell the roses so to speak.
Hi Colleen,

Sounds like you have a whirlwind trip planned. 

We are on our longest trip in the motorhome so far and I thought I'd pass on somethings we have learned.  We used to do 400 to 500 miles a day just to push ahead.  We've even done a couple of 700 mile days.  But I can tell you from first hand experience that after 4-5 days of that many miles per day, you will be worn down.  You won't see anything and there won't be time for "just get the laundry done" moments.  We are in our late 50's and both of us drive the motorhome, so we are switching out drivers when one of us is tired.  But after that many days in a row of long miles; we both are tired.  I know you are excited about the trip; but you've got a lot to cover in a short amout of time.

You asked about Outdoor Resorts or the Oasis in Las Vegas.  The Oasis is really really nice.  You do know that it will be over a 100 degrees that time of year?  You mentioned you wanted to visit Zion and Bryce, be sure to add extra driving time because those roads are slow; and you will want reservations at the campgrounds.  The campground just inside of Zion only takes 35' motorhomes, so you will have to stay outside of the park.  The best campground at Bryce Canyon is Ruby's Inn.  Zion has wonderful hiking trails. Bryce is breathtaking and very different from Zion.

If I were planning your trip I'd allow 8 weeks so that you really enjoy it.

From SAn Diego now in Niagara Falls CAnada

There are so many things to see in the southwest and northwest that maybe you may want to consider splitting into two separate trips doing each thoroughly.  By leaving Yellowstone to a separate trip, you can explore Glacier, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado later.  If you concentrate this trip to the "south", you can explore the areas more thoroughly and enjoy them more rested.

I will post later on some of the things we have done in the last few months in the states you are planning on visiting.  Today is "moving" day and I need to get ready.  Our one week stay in northern CA has turned into three weeks since we had multiple problems getting tires from Michelin for our MH so we are anxious to get back on the road. 

As a quick list of places to consider:  Fort Davis near Alpine, TX; the Alamo Village in Brackettsville, TX; Coral Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, UT.  Of course, it depends on what you and your family are interested in seeing.   

Gotta go do dishes and pack - headed to Oregon - finally!!!
One thing you might want to check out,  if you are driving from Flagstaff or Williams headed for Las Vegas, you may have to detour down to Laughlin to cross over into Nevada.  Up until recently, I believe they would not allow MH to cross Hoover Dam on Hwy 93.
There must be some way to check this before you head out.
Good Luck and Safe Travels,
nowindtoday said:
One thing you might want to check out,  if you are driving from Flagstaff or Williams headed for Las Vegas, you may have to detour down to Laughlin to cross over into Nevada.  Up until recently, I believe they would not allow MH to cross Hoover Dam on Hwy 93.
There must be some way to check this before you head out.
Good Luck and Safe Travels,

Hoover Dam has been open to MHs for over two years now. No problem going that way.
Colleen    We are not trying to disrupt your planned vacation because we are envious, it's because we've all experienced the same intensions, as you have, in the past.  We KNOW for a fact what it does to people and for safety sakes and your piece of mind,  heed our crys and save your sanity..  You entered this forum, I assume asking for sane information and as far as I can tell everyone is basically on the same page that this should be no less than 2 trips or an 8 week adventure.  As yuou get into this trip you will find we are all on your side but advising the best methods of you and your family surviving the ordeal and still have some fine enjoyment amongst you  As Ron suggested 250 to 350 miles a day is a ton of mileage when RVing.  I have made the trip for St Louis, actually into IL, to Phoenix in little over 2+ days (1533 miles), but when I arrived I was done for 3 days.  No enjoyment on that trip and I vowed never to do that again.    Heed and have a safe and enjoyable trip.    Keep us informed.

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