American West by RV - so many questions

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Jun 2nd, 2013, 04:36 AM
  #1
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American West by RV - so many questions

Hi Folks,

first of all, I'm Johannes from Germany and found this community while I was searching for more information about travelling the American West by RV. I've just registered and hope that you can help me.

We booked an RV from San Francisco to Las Vegas in July (End) and August. Our route contains the following main stops(so far): San Francisco, Monterey, Los Angeles, Calico, Bullhead City, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Bryce NP, Zion NP, Las Vegas.

There are many things I don't know about travelling the US by RV, but most important right now:

- We don't want to book all available RV campgrounds in advance because we're not sure yet where we want to stay for how long. We found many alternatives, for example: parking at Walmart or simply at the roadside. Is this possible? Can we travel this route this way, i.e. without any reserved campground?

The main problem is that we don't know any "best practices" and we would like to know what is possible before we arrive.

Many thanks in advance for your help..
Best regards, Johannes
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:27 AM
  #2
 
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You should have a look at web sites that specialize in travel by RV - since it is very different than traveling by car.

There are a couple of things you should know:

Part of the territory you are traveling in is desert and can easily have temps of more than 100 degrees in the middle of summer

In national parks there are rules about where you can park and you may find legal places already fully booked

If your RV is a large one there are some mountain roads you will not be able to drive on safely

As for just parking by the side of the road, don't know where this might be legal - or possible (electricity for appliances and AC, emptying tanks, etc)

And you will how to figure out transportation from RV campgrounds into the cities you want to see. LA is a special issue - since it really isn't doable by public transit and driving around/parking an RV might be challenging
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:39 AM
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Things to consider -
driving on right side of road if you don't normally drive on that side
driving a big RV
driving a big RV on narrow roads
poor gas mileage and high gas prices [not as high as Europe, but still...]

Many towns in the west/southwest do have dumping facilities but I would make sure to know where they are and how much room is in holding tanks etc. Not sure about how often you need to charge electricity etc]



ALL of your destinations listed from Grand Canyon on in your post are going to be very busy and you may find yourself awash with issues if you don't have some more definite plans or knowledge.

Do a search on here or use google to find other posts on same subject.

Better yet, check out sites that are RV centered, especially for first timers.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 11:26 AM
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Many Walmarts have stopped allowing RVs to park there and no you cannot just park your RV along the side of the road anywhere (although I have read this is possible in National Forest lands) or you might get asked to move on, or issued a fine.

Check out www.rv.net among other sites.
I do not think once you add up the costs that it will at all economical compared to rental car and motels.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 12:02 PM
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OK - have you prepaid for the motor home? If so you are sort of stuck. But if you have only booked/paid a deposit I'd VERY seriously consider canceling. The places you want to travel are not nice in an RV in the summer. You will need to run the air conditioning all night to hope to get any sleep. You would be able to cover more territory easier/cheaper/faster if you rent a car and stay in motels. In fact I'd even consider canceling if you've paid a non-refundable deposit - unless it is a huge amount of $$/€€

But if you have pre-paid in full, and must return the vehicle in Las Vegas then yes, you are stuck - I'd maybe consider changing plans and heading north-ish after SF and the coast (Lake Tahoe, the Sierra) and end up in Las Vegas to drop the RV. Or even head north of SF along the coast and then hit Lassen before Tahoe etc.

All the places you want to visit are wonderful - but all except the California coast will be EXTREMELY hot.

(DebitNM - they are from Germany - drive on the same side of the road)
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:14 PM
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Missed that first line. Ok, so driving on the same side of road, but everything else I said is still on point.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:23 PM
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>>but everything else I said is still on point.<<

Absolutely true - just lots and LOT of 'issues'.

Driving an RV around the West may have this wonderful/romantic image - but in the heat of summer - not . . .
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 02:13 PM
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I live here and wouldn't do it and I drive these roads daily. Not in a big honkering RV. Narrow roads - 1 lane in each direction that were not built for wide loads; steep drop-off with no shoulders; steep grades which are as tricky going up as down and the every present person who is nervous and rides their brakes only to have them burn; curvy roads where you can not always see oncoming traffic and all those other people driving RV's for the first time - in front of you, behind you and coming at you. Summer is my least favorite time to live in the mountains.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 02:17 PM
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This is not a very good place to get info on travel in Motor Homes . . too many are against it, regardless of personal preferences.

I have driven a Motor Home all over the US and never once regretted being in one.

Between truck stops, Private RV Parks and Public RV parks, I never was unable to find a place to spend a nite.

If that mode of travel interests you, do not be dissuaded by the negative comments here. Check our KOA website and Good Sams for some ideas on travel

http://koa.com/

http://www.goodsamclub.com/travel/ca...ndsandrvparks/
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:04 PM
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Despite my personal opinions, I suggested the OP look at sites that were geared towards RVing as did one other poster.

We'll see if the OP even comes back but it doesn't do any harm to let people see all sides of an issue, ones they might not even have thought about.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:46 PM
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>>I have driven a Motor Home all over the US and never once regretted being in one.<<

Absolutely nothing wrong w/ RVing (several of my friends/family have them). It is a great way to travel - when it makes sense.

What is wrong IMO is spending a huge amount of money for a one-way RV rental, over seriously twisty/narrow roads (Big Sur won't be hot but not a fun road in a motorhome) , in the heat of the southwest in August. Can't think of much 'right' w/ that plan.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 04:17 PM
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The economics is one issue . . the enjoyment is another . . If the OP has not priced the Motor Home he should before committing
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 03:38 AM
  #13
 
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I've full time RV'd for 4 years and thereafter and continuing this year to Sturgis Motorcycle Ralley and later to Baja California (Mexico). Higly recommend RV travel. BUT - look for a Class C RV about 27 feet that is manageable on any paved park roads.
This is a major company
http://www.cruiseamerica.com/?src=go...FUThQgodCn8Acw
Look at their 25 or 30 foot option.
to my knowledge they all have air conditioning.
And, generally, quiet. Note - air conditioners in economy to mid priced motels are very loud - so one is not better than that in a RV.
Germans use RV EXTENSIVELY in U.S. - your own food and drink.

This book has a large section on RV travel and on Utah Parks
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00COBH45M
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 10:18 AM
  #14
 
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In addition to the RV specific website already mentioned - www.rv.net I suggest you also check out www.irv2.com which is also RV specific. Both have many forums which cover all aspects of RV travel.

As others have pointed out, you may find trying to visit some of the paces on your list difficult in the RV. Another consideration is that even if you can access these places with the RV it means you have to "break camp" every day - stowing away anything you've taken out. We tow a Jeep behind our motorhome for these very reasons. Also, if you aren't accustomed to driving one, that could also be a factor.

As for finding a place a stay without reservations - much will depend on the day of the week and if there are any special events occurring at the same time you'll be in a given area. Some Wal-Marts allow overnight parking - others do not. If it's hot, you'll have to run your generator if you're "boondocking" - which is what most people call staying in an RV in a location which doesn't have electrical and/or water hook-ups. This doesn't just refer to Wal-Marts and such but also to some National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas.

I think you've been given some good things to think about before proceeding with your original plan.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 01:30 PM
  #15
 
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Guten tag Johannes.

Friends of mine who are doing a very extensive RV trip report the following:

They have not, for the most part, been reserving in advance - but then again, they sometimes have to arrive early in order to secure a spot in the more popular places.

Sometimes they have to take second choice, but they have thus far always found a place. I cannot say if this will be your experience as you are traveling at a different time of year - they were in Arizona late April and Utah, early May. In the Grand Canyon they did what they call 'dry camping' (no electrical hookups) and used flashlights, etc. instead.

To the best of my knowledge, they didn't do any 'free-camping' i.e. parking at the side of the road. I don't know if this was personal preference or because it was the local law, but they have always used RV parks. This may change once they get to the Yukon.

Before leaving home, they did a bit of practice driving. They are used to driving a truck, but even they found their RV to be wider than what they were used to. Also the turning radius was much larger - something to be aware of in gas stations. If you can, get in some practice with an RV of similar size before you leave Germany.

All of these things are probably covered in the RV sites that others have listed for you.

Don't be afraid to ask LOTS of questions from the RV dealer before leaving. Make sure everything works, and that you know where the fuse panel is!

Enjoy your trip.
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Jun 12th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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Sue: The OP may not see your post . . . he registered and posted this but has never come back.
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Jul 7th, 2013, 05:25 AM
  #17
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Hello all, yes, I see all responses.
I followed the first advice and checked some RV sites and forums and talked/read a lot from other people who already did such a journey. So, what I've done:
- Booked the first 2 camp grounds just to avoid any trouble at the beginning.
- Booked the last two camp grunds to avoid any trouble at the end
- and one in the middle (monument valley).
Other people told me that its not really secure to park at the road side (at least in California), so, we won't do that - in case we see others doing that, we will ask them...
Thanks for all your help!
Best regards, Johannes
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Jul 7th, 2013, 08:26 AM
  #18
 
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We have done a lot of camping--RV and tent camping--and the best website for info I have ever found is www.rv.net/forums

They are friendly and will answer any question you could possibly have about RV'ing--about the RV itself, campgrounds, routes, things to do, food, etc
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Jul 8th, 2013, 11:20 PM
  #19
 
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RV Campground selection

We are sensitive to noise, especially trains. If you also have this problem there are two solutions
1) When making a reservation ask about train and road noise
2) We use DeLorme computer map program that shows location of a railroad. Type in address of campground and see where it actually appears.
3) Caution. Many advertise to exit here and drive many miles to the campground. Usually, those miles are parallel to the highway.

RV is the best mode - again, >= 27 feet.

Vaga
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