Renting a toad and tow dolly

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awidgery

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Aug 14, 2018
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My family and I are from England, and are planning a 1-month trip around the south west in a 32? Class C, rented. Starting and finishing in Austin, TX - and heading out west - Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Zion, Rockies.
I?m wondering about how we?re going to fare with a rig that size in towns and in some of the national parks (particularly Yosemite) and am trying to work out if we could use a toad.
My plan would be:
1. Rent a compact car for the month - these are all likely to be front wheel drive.
2. Rent a tow dolly (or buy a basic one for $1k which may be cheaper anyway - then sell it at the end for whatever we can get - we have friends who could help with this)
3. Enjoy the mobility of not having to drive a 32? RV everywhere

So, my questions:
1. Has anyone ever rented a toad/know of rental companies that would be OK with us doing this?
2. Apart from U-Haul, are there other rental options for the dolly?
3. Am I mad trying to do this on my first RV trip? (in my defence: I?ve driven large vehicles and towed in Europe - though nothing that would be quite as big as this)

Thanks!
 

captsteve

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crestview, fl
You would likely be better off renting as needed and not trying to tow. I don't know of any rental company that would allow it any way.

Getting around won't be too bad and most places will have an Enterprise rental office nearby. They will pick you up and drop you off.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At our Silver Springs FL home
I doubt if you will find rental companies that ok towing. It's a specialty thing and usually any such special use is avoided, if only because they know little about it and think that you don't either.

U-Haul is the primary source for tow dolly rentals, but it depends on the area where you rent. Some larger metro areas have more choices.

In some places you can rent a vehicle when you arrive. That takes some time to pick-up ad drop-off, but avoids the towing thing.
 

Isaac-1

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SW Louisiana
I too would look into rental at or near your destinations, my wife and I just did this last week, we have a 28 ft class A and don't have a car set up to be towed (yet).  For the most part we have no trouble traveling without a TOAD, though on our recent trip we did stop in a busy small tourist town for 4 or 5 days that is infamous for its traffic issues (during certain times of day you are better off on foot than trying to drive).  So while there we rented a car from Enterprise, they picked us up at the campground, took us over to their office to do the paperwork and pick up the car, then when we were done with it, we dropped it off and they gave us a ride back to the rv park.

As to traveling without a TOAD it is possible, lots of people do it, and is generally easier in the less populous western states, though it does take some planning, and there are places where you will not be able to stop.  I have traveled for over 10,000 miles without a TOAD in my current coach, and while a 32 ft coach would be slightly more limited than my 28 ft (29'5" bumper to bumper), it would not be all that different, as either one will generally fit into 2 full size parking spaces end to end.  Getting into big box store parking lots, like Wal-Mart is relatively easy, the only real problem I have found is when dealing with older small towns with limited public parking, in general I avoid larger cities.  Even then it is usually doable, though you may find yourself parking 4 or 5 blocks away from your intended destination.

I dealt with this on a recent trip through Fredericksburg Texas (about 80 miles west of Austin) where I spent 4 days.  Fredericksburg is a popular weekend tourist destination (google it), has a number of shops and dining establishments along its main downtown street, which is not RV parking friendly with mostly diagonal parking.  There is also the very impressive National Pacific War museum located in Fredericksburg, which may seem out of place in this small town until you realize it was the home town of Admiral Chester Nimitz.  What I found after doing some research ahead of time on Google Maps / Street view was that in this particular town there was a parking lot at the town visitor center 1 block off main street with RV parking, and there was ample street side RV parking on the block behind the Pacific war museum.  While there I used a combination of these as well as travel from the rv park to downtown (2-3 miles) using Uber (which had recently started operating in Fredericksburg), as I recall the Uber trips cost around $10-$12 each way, so if making two trips into downtown per day it would be price competitive with having a rental car..

Having said that, one thing most Europeans fail to grasp is just how big, and how empty much of the western US is, though it is substantially less empty than it was just 20 or 30 years ago.  To put the scale of the US into perspective for you, the driving distance from Seattle Washington, to Miami Florida, is just about equal to the driving distance from London England to Baghdad Iraq (actually about 50 miles more).  Texas itself is huge, I-10 the major interstate highway that crosses Texas east /west is almost 880 miles long.

Ike

p.s. you may note the specific example being given to Enterprise car rental, in the US most car rental companies operate out of airports (Hertz, Budget, Avis, etc.)  Enterprise on the other hand operates mostly with in town rental offices away from airports, and will pick you up and drop you off.  Enterprise seems to cater more to people needing a temporary car while theirs is being repaired, or for people that may be wanting to rent an SUV for a family trip, vs taking their compact car, etc.  In know people that choose such rentals for even weekend road trips to reduce wear and tear on their daily driving cars, though I question the economics of this.
 

SeilerBird

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Starting and finishing in Austin, TX - and heading out west - Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, Zion, Rockies.
This is way too ambitious. Typical of a trip planned by someone from Europe. The US is a lot larger than you would ever imagine. I think you would be better off flying into and renting from Las Vegas. It is over 1000 miles from Austin to the Grand Canyon, and that is a three day trip right there. You really don't need to worry about driving around at Yosemite, Zion or the Grand Canyon. All three parks have a free shuttle service that will take you everywhere you want to go in these parks. However you will have no problems driving a 32 foot class C in any of those places. I have driven a 39 foot class A at all of them. I agree you should just rent a car when you need one and forget the dolly.
 

grashley

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Allow me to put some numbers on this trip.  A drive from Austin to the Grand Canyon (1100 miles) to Death Valley (400 miles) to Yosemite (175 miles) to Zion NP (500 miles) to Denver - Rockies (650 miles) to Austin (925 miles) totals  3750 miles.  In an RV driving an AVERAGE of 50 mph for 6 hours a day equals over 12 days of driving.

By comparison, a drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley ( 150 miles) to Yosemite (175 miles) to Zion NP (500 miles) to Denver (650 miles) to Grand Canyon ( 680 miles ) to Las Vegas ( 275 miles) is a total distance of  2520 miles, or 4 fewer days of driving, 4 more days of sightseeing and over 1200 fewer miles driven and 150 fewer gallons of gas purchased (at 8 mpg) saving $450 at $3/gal.

My personal preference would be to visit Bryce Canyon, either in addition to or in place of Zion canyon.  Personally, I found it much more scenic.  They are fairly close together.

I randomly choose Denver CO as a point in the Rockies just for applying consistent numbers.  This mountain range extends from northern Canada down to Arizona.
 
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