RV'ing without a car in tow?

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abearz504

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Hello, all.  I'm hoping to plan a winter vacation to the Pacific Northwest, location is still up for debate but our focus is on National Parks.  We'd fly to the destination and rent a small RV from there.  I've grown up camping in both travel trailers and tents, but never a motorized RV.  Since we're flying to our destination we won't have a spare car to sightsee with once we're there.  Generally speaking, will it be a big hassle to use the RV as our daily transportation?  For example, we'll likely want to go to different trailheads for a short hike, visitor centers, day trips through the park... stuff like that.  We like to explore.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Generally speaking, yes.  One hassle is disconnecting from the campsite every day and putting away your gear. Leaving stuff behind in popular parks is an invitation to theft. The other hassle is parking a large vehicle in popular tourist places. The parking is often congested for any sort of vehicle,  but bigger is always more difficult. Trail heads may or may not be a problem - depends on popularity and season.

That said, people do it and manage ok, so I'm sure you can too.

Some folks rent a car after arrival.
 

wstuart

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Nanaimo British Columbia
We travelled for years without a toad.  Plan ahead, only hook up water and sewer when required, dont leave stuff out all over the place.
Plan shopping with another outing.
Most important, have a great time.

Cheers!
 

SeilerBird

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I have been living full time in an RV for the last 9 years and I have not had a tow car ever. If I want to go somewhere I unplug and use the RV as my daily driver. When I set up in a campsite I only hook up the 110 volt power. I take showers in the campground shower so I don't bother to hook up water or sewer. About once every two weeks I have to hook up water and sewer and dump.

If you don't have a toad then there will be places you simply can't go to because the RV is too big or there is simply no place to park it. However these times are rare for me. Most of the time I unhook and have no problems finding parking where I am going.

If you do have a toad then you can't back up, the gas mileage goes down and it becomes harder to get gas. Also with a toad you have to purchase a vehicle, register it, insure it, repair and maintain it and drag it behind you. So it is definitely a trade off. I would suggest trying it without a toad and if you find it too inconvienent then rent a car at your destination.
 
B

bucks2

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I'd say a winter vacation in the PNW is an odd time to visit. Be prepared for snow, ice, rain and wind depending on where you happen to be. If you are planning to cross the Cascade mountains between western and eastern WA and OR for example, you will need to carry chains for the vehicle as depending on the day and hour you try to cross they may be required.

My S&B has been in western WA for 54 years now and I head south for the winters now that I can. Bringing a good set of raingear will be essential for sightseeing. For the parks, the good thing is that there will be few people during the winter months so parking should not be a problem on most days.

The ocean beaches are spectacular during a winter storm. A ride across Puget Sound on a ferry is likewise a fun trip during good or bad weather. For my money the San Juan Island run is the most scenic, (buy a walk on ticket to Friday Harbor on a boat that stops at the most islands, have lunch at Friday Harbor then back to Anacortes) Second would be the Seattle-Bremerton run, an hour ride each way with a relatively narrow passage between the penninsula and Baindridge Island.

Ken
 

Kim (skyking4ar2) Bertram

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We just spent two months in Washington state and near the Olympic peninsula, coming in from the southwest and Portland area, and exiting south from Seattle. We spent most of the time traveling on US 101 and I-5 but used the toad to sightsee.

Granted, we are in a 42' motorhome towing, but Hwy 101 is a long slow pull, and was very tiring for us. In a much smaller Class C, maybe not so much. But there is a lot of distance to cover between areas without a toad.

I will give you that you can stuff a Class C in most any of the parks and there are a large number of boondocking or limited service campgrounds. I think it's going to hinge on what you really like to do. If you are a camper camper, you will not be disappointed. If you require a few more amenities, like 50 amp service and hard surface parking, maybe not so much. They have a shorter season in that area and you will find that reflected in some of the accommodations and prices. And if you are coming in the next couple of months, be prepared to not see the sun.

We thoroughly enjoyed the area, especially Sequim, but the Olympic National Park is a huge park without crossing roads, i.e. you have to enter and exit the same road. There is just a lot of driving involved, lots of rolling terrain, but it is well worth the trip.
 

tonyandkaren

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We've been RVing for years without a tow car. It's nice to have food and extra clothing with us. When touring it's nice to hop from campground to campground without having backtracking. Rent the shortest one that you can and you should be able to fit in almost every where.

As has already been mentioned ,the PNW isn't a real hot vacation spot in the winter. Most roads and campgrounds in Olympic National Park will be opened but you can probably forget about Rainier or North Casades.
 

Campfire RV

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We spent four days at the Mather Campground in the Grand Canyon National Park last week and we had a great stay. The largest MH allowed in the campground is 30ft so we were perfect fit. The campsites are spread out enough to have your privacy. The restrooms were very clean and well maintained throughout the campground. We had deer and elk walking through the campground every day which was a really nice sight to see each day. There is a trail on the east side of the campground that is a little over a half mile to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the breathtaking views along the South Rim Trail. If you don't want to walk to the Visitor Center you can walk to the entrance of the campground and catch a bus. The bus system on the South Rim will take you nearly everywhere throughout the South Rim. We hiked nearly 13 miles throughout the park and enjoyed the beautiful views the entire time. My 4 y/o daughter hiked nearly the entire time, maybe when she is a little older we can hike down in the canyon.

If you are planning to camp in the Grand Canyon I recommend Mather Campground to anyone. One thing to know is that it is dry camping, there is a full hookup campground just about half a mile up the road called Trailer Village.

Josh
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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It's nice to have food and extra clothing with us. When touring it's nice to hop from campground to campground without having backtracking.

I'm trying to relate these two comments to motorhome camping without a car... and not coming up with any plausible answers. Could you explain a bit more?
 

Mopar1973Man

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New Meadows, Idaho
I use to do the motorhome thing. But the part I hated about it is after being setup for a day or two you always ended up having to pack up everything and clean house to go to the store or somewhere. So I gave up the Motorhome for a travel trailer because then I could drop the trailer and call it home and have my truck as the "Toad" in this case. So you have the best of both worlds allowing you to place your home and leave it hooked up but use your tow vehicle to get around without walking everywhere.
 

Tom and Margi

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Most responders have quite correctly responded to your subject line with advice regarding a tow car.  I think you would be well served, however, to pay attention to bucks2's response, particularly the first paragraph. 

A winter trip to the Pacific Northwest should be focused on weather:  in the mountains (snow), on the coast (heavy rain, strong winds, slides and slumps on 101, in the valleys (possible fog).  We don't want to scare away visitors, but there is much to learn and consider before planning a trip which you would enjoy. 

Margi
 

99WinAdventurer37G

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I love enterprise.  They will come to the campground and pick you up in most places.  I'd check first.  The advantage of using a rental car, is you can get whatever kind of car you like.  I've rented PU trucks, sports cars, SUV's, convertibles, and economy cars.  For all the places I go, I can always get a car if my bike is not what I want to drive.  I'd call the campground and see if rental cars are available in the area.
 

Jeff Brown

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We use public transportation when we travel, as we have no toad and neither of our cars is particulary well sutied to the task.  We often camp very close to the thng that we are planning to see and we dont spend enought time in one place to run out of grocerys.  We have talked about renting a car for some trips but we haven't ever actually done it.  At places like the Grand Canyon public transportation will take you anywhere for free, and we have found it very convenient and inexpensive just about everywhere.

Jeff
 

BLAKDUKE

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Salem Al.
Based on the comments made here I am sure most folks would dis-agree with me, but based on personnal experience I would NEVER go on a long trip without a toad.  That is an ulcer waiting to happen.  However to each his own and "do you feel lucky"
 

tswms

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We traveled for 2 years without a toad. I would hate to  go back. There have been several times when it was great to have a "spare". Such as the time in WY when I ran out of gas and unhooked and went into town, rather than waiting for ERS. Or the time we had to sit for two days for repairs in Knoxville Tn. We also go to FL for 2 mo in the winter, it is a must to ave a car.,  Plus the Saturn gets 32 mpg, the HM 7.
 

99WinAdventurer37G

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tswms said:
We traveled for 2 years without a toad. I would hate to  go back. There have been several times when it was great to have a "spare". Such as the time in WY when I ran out of gas and unhooked and went into town, rather than waiting for ERS. Or the time we had to sit for two days for repairs in Knoxville Tn. We also go to FL for 2 mo in the winter, it is a must to ave a car.,  Plus the Saturn gets 32 mpg, the HM 7.

I average about 45 mpg with my VTX motorcycle, but I don't think I'd want to strap a tank of gas on the back.  I could, but just the thought of it makes me shudder.  I guess that's why, about every time I stop, I fill up.  Paying an extra 20 cents a gallon every now and then is nothing when compared to putting gas in it on the side of the road.

And although I have the bike, if down for two days for repair, with the bike as a "spare", I'd still probably rent a car.  The bike is fun, a car is utility.  Driving a car through Zion National park just doesn't compare to riding a bike through, as well as the many other places I find myself in the MH.  But, now having been injured by a dog attack at the end of July, I still can't ride the bike due to the injury to my right wrist.  The doctor says nerves take time to heal.  But that does lead me to think that one can drive a car in many times where I wouldn't either want to/or be able to ride a bike.  I even drove my truck when injured, but never would have been able to drive a bike.  So maybe I put the bike in the back of the PU.  Hmmm....
 

Jim Dick

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We work at Yellowstone NP and the park closes to most vehicular traffic in the winter. I would expect most others will as well. Not sure how that would affect your plans but winter travel in an RV is something you must really plan. Most are not suited for such conditions.

Freezing temperatures can create problems with holding tanks and driving conditions on snow/icy roads is not one to relish with an RV. Given that I do not know where you plan to spend the winter conditions might vary but I'd be sure to do more research into climatic conditions before pursuing this venture. I hope it works out for you.  :)
 

Jammer

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Many good replies...

I will add that MUCH depends on exactly what kind of rig you have.  There aren't very many B-vanners on this forum, but the kind of trip you're contemplating is one that fits B-vans very well, especially 4wd B-vans like some of the ones sold by Sportsmobile and Earth Roamer.

When winter camping with a B van, in general you'll want to use campground or truck stop showers, and in general you won't use hookups because you're going to be using minimal water inside your rig and will have it set up with enough batteries to run the heat overnight.

It's a different approach to camping than what most RVers take.

Smaller pickup campers (also underrepresented on this forum) would also work, with similar tradeoffs.
 

tonyandkaren

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Quote

    It's nice to have food and extra clothing with us. When touring it's nice to hop from campground to campground without having backtracking.

Gary RV Roamer said:
I'm trying to relate these two comments to motorhome camping without a car... and not coming up with any plausible answers. Could you explain a bit more?

Sorry Gary - I just noticed your post. Because we don't have a car and our motorhome goes with us everywhere we always have all of our stuff available. Hungry? -stop and eat without having to go to a restaurant or having to remember to pack food. Go for a hike and get cold or wet - grab another sweater or dry clothes and also a hot drink.

Since we tend to meander as we travel ,we don't hookup at campgrounds unless we really need electricity so it's simple to just drive from campground to campground. For instance at Yellowstone , we start at Madison and drive part of the loop then stay at the next campground. We're small so we can usually get a site anywhere.
 

Jim Dick

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tonyandkaren,

In Yellowstone, it is quite possible that all of the campgrounds will be full. It really depends upon the time of year. During the peak summer months there are very few openings so one may find themselves driving many miles farther than intended. This can lessen the enjoyment of a visit fro some.

As far as the other points, I agree. Being at home on the road is a real benefit.
 

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