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Grand Canyon trip in RV

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Nov 4th, 2012, 09:15 AM
  #1
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Grand Canyon trip in RV

Hi,
We are two families with children aged between 11 and 18 yrs, planning a trip in April of next year to Zion national park, Bryce national park and South rim of Grand Canyon in that order. We are renting an RV in Las Vegas for this trip and we'll be spending one night each at Zion and Bryce and two nights at Grand Canyon. If any of you has done a similar trip before, I'd love to hear any dos and don'ts and pointers towards what we should pack, campsite facilities such as availability of water and hookups, sights or activities not to be missed (keeping the age of our kids in mind), etc. I have been reading up, but I love the practical tips that I get on this forum. In the past they have been invaluable for my trip planning. So any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance
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Nov 4th, 2012, 11:57 AM
  #2
ltt
 
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seems like a really quick trip to breeze through such a beautiful area. if you can, add a night or two to bryce. you only have daylight from about 8-8 at that time of year. with the gorgeious views, catching at least one sunrise and one sunset would be nice. anyways, just my opinion. too much driving with not enough time to enjoy the areas. you might want to get on an rv forum to get better info on where to camp and you better reserve asap.
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Nov 4th, 2012, 07:41 PM
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> campsite facilities such as availability of water and hookups

Inside Grand Canyon NP, there's not much choice. Mather Campground has no hookups, RV Campground has full hookups.

No campgrounds within either Bryce or Zion have any hookups.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Most national parks do not have hook ups but your RV is made to work without hook ups. You will have a generator for elec, propane for heat, hot water and to run your refrigerator, a large tank for fresh water and large tanks for grey and black water (sinks and sewage). If you have never used an RV the RV company should do a walk through with you and maybe a video showing you how to do everything. The campground will have a place to fill your fresh water tanks and to dump your sewage.

A great forum for anything RV related--about the RV or about locations--is www.rv.net/forums

Ask what all is included in your RV and then make a shopping list of all the things you will need to buy so you can quickly get your shopping done and get out of town.

I don't know how much cooking you want to do. It is a great way to save time and money when you have an RV. There are restaurants at the rims and in Springdale (outside Zion). Bryce is a little more limited as far as restaurants.

I'd like to suggest you go to the north rim of the GC. It's my favorite of the two. Mostly I think the views of the canyon are better because there are points that go out into the canyon. Plus, it 's much cooler (higher elev) and much less crowded. It's a long way around to the south rim.

The one thing the south rim has over the north rim is better views from the hiking trails down into the canyon if anyone is planning to do that. Ask for a good turnaround spot so you don't go down too far. It will be much slower coming back up! I don't know if there will still be snow on the trails but if there is don't let that stop you. A pair of Yak Traks ($15) will give you sure footing. I never felt unsafe on the trail with snow and ice while wearing them.

In Zion the fun thing to do is hike the narrows. The water will be cold the time of year you are going but there is an outfitter in town who rents special booties that helps with the cold and walking on slipper bowling ball size rocks. At the beginning of the narrows you will find sticks people have used and left. Most people use one and still have a lot of trouble. I used BOTH of my hiking poles and had a much easier time of it.

You can see a lot more of Bryce in a shorter period of time if you do the mule ride. We chaperoned high school students on a trip to the area and they really enjoyed the mule ride and hiking the narrows in Zion.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 07:03 AM
  #5
 
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One more thing....

On the south rim, your views down into the canyon will be MUCH better from South Kaibab than from Bright Angel. It is steeper but it gives you almost instant huge views of the canyon. BA is more in a fold and your views are limited for a long way.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #6
 
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In addition to the RV specific website Connie mentioned, I can recommend another, www.irv2.com for getting some great info from friendly people who have tons of RVing experience. I've found both sites to be invaluable to us in our 3 years of first time RV ownership.

I've been to each of the Parks you mention, but in our pre-RV days. You mention the number of nights you have in each place, but what about full days? To me, that matters more.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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Visitor services at the North Rim don't open until mid-May. The road in might be open if it's been a mild winter, but they aren't committed to plowing and keeping it open until mid-May either.

I would cut one night/day from the Grand Canyon and add it to Zion as it is more hiker friendly.

Not sure I would rent an RV for such a short trip, seems like by the time you get used to it and settle into a routine it will be time to go home. And with 2 families it might actually be nice to have 2 vehicles and separate rooms at night so you can get some down time from each other. That also gives you the option of splitting into 2 groups if some people want to do certain hikes and the others don't.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 09:35 AM
  #8
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Thanks a million all of you for all those wonderful tips and leads. I will definitely do some more research on the websites you've mentioned. I wish we could have had a longer holiday but we are really constrained for time. But nevertheless we would like to cover Zion, Bryce and Grand canyon (unfortunately yes, the north rim will not be open yet). The other family is my sister's. This is going to be our first RV holiday and we are all so excited about it. I totally agree that by the time we are used to it, it would be time to return; But we are keen to do it purely for the element of adventure that it brings on. Thanks again.
Can any of you tell me if will need thick sleeping bags for the cold nights? Connie would you remember the name of the store in Springdale who rents those booties?
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Nov 5th, 2012, 09:43 AM
  #9
 
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About 6-7 weeks ago I was at the Spring Valley cabin (with bunkhouse) about 12 miles north of Parks Arizona. I worked as a Passport in Time volunteer for 5 days staying there. It is available to rent. http://www.reserveamerica.com/campin...O&parkId=75306
For only $100/night it might be worth it to get hot showers, a real bed to sleep in and a real kitchen. The bunkhouse will work for the kids and there are 2 nice bedrooms in the cabin.
Going north from Parks General store, the road is paved for about 6 miles with good gravel road from there to the cabin.
There is a road that cuts over to the road to the south rim without going into Williams.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 09:45 AM
  #10
 
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http://www.zionadventures.com/

Bryce will be cold, that's a certainty. I assume the RV has heat but if you have sleeping bags and room to take them on the plane then you should take them.

As Connie said, the South Kaibab has much better views so if you're going to hike one trail down into the canyon for a little way, that should be your choice. Bright Angel is more convenient because to get to, but it is much more crowded and the scenery does not compare to South Kaibab.

And again, I would urge you to spend 2 days in Zion and just one at the Grand Canyon.
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Nov 6th, 2012, 08:57 AM
  #11
 
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FYI- most RVs get about 8-10 MPG---Even if gas prices "go down" to $3.50 gallon. (presently $4.02) takes big chunk out of travel budget. Also must have 2 days at Zion...the hikes are awesome..We stayed at Park RV campground- of course no hook ups..but clean and lots of space. In May there was a shuttle that took people into Park...not sure when that starts?? That brings up another issue..
If shuttle is not running, there is very limited parking AND often do not allow RVs in parking lot,
Also "walking" up the Narrows at Zion totally depended on weather conditions--if it rains up in hills---streams is closed--too dangerous. We did the "walk" May 1st. (dry year) and it was easy except my feet got sore from the rocks--I did wear "water sandals'--or I would have never made it.. Also, a walking stick helps with balance.
Good Luck
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Nov 6th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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The Zion shuttle begins on March 31, 2013 so that's not an issue.
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Nov 6th, 2012, 03:01 PM
  #13
 
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Your RV will have heat and the company you rent from will check you out on the operation of all systems. You will probably have the option to have it outfitted (sheets, towels, pots, pans etc.) per person, which makes life easy if you are flying into the starting point.

As I recall there is one campground in Zion NP that has electric only. NPS.gov should have all the info you need.Just a heads up, you will need to arrange escorted transport thru the tunnel in Zion for your RV. (Assume due to the number of people you have the unit will exceed the drive alone limit.) You can also get that info on the park website.

Do go over and research your trip and ask all RV and route info on RV.net forums, they are great.

Have fun!
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Nov 8th, 2012, 07:59 PM
  #14
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All of you awesome folks, here's the update:
We've finished booking 2 nights at watchman campground in Zion (after your input we're seriously wondering whether we should stay 2 nights at Zion and 1 night at South rim) and 2 nights at Mather camp ground on the South Rim. Once we've firmed up our itinerary, we'll cancel one night that we don't plan on using. If any of you has stayed in the North camp ground at Bryce, can you please tell me how good or bad the coin operated showers are? Are they clean? We still need to book at Bryce.
I'm thrilled that the Zion shuttle begins on March 31st. That's great news, because I had assumed that it would not start until late April.
We are also planning on taking 1 or 2 tents with us to use if and where possible. Your thoughts...
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Nov 8th, 2012, 08:34 PM
  #15
 
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So you have 4 adults and a few teens? How big an RV are you renting? Has the driver ever driven one before? Are you from US and used to driving on the right? Just wondering....
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Nov 9th, 2012, 05:02 AM
  #16
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The RV accommodates 6-7. We are four adults and 3 children - 10yrs, 11 yrs and 18yrs (technically adult I guess).Yes, we are used to driving in the US - my sister's family lives there, but this will be our first time in an RV.
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Nov 9th, 2012, 07:14 AM
  #17
 
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Indigo,

I'm glad you found the Watchman campground at Zion. Yes, it's the one with electrical hookups offered.

During a normal snowfall year, you can't hike the Narrows in April. Spring runoff will make the water too high. Spend your time hiking all the other trails instead if it's closed. There are plenty of great hikes.

Bryce will be very cold and may still have snow. North Campground has very few camp sites big enough for a large RV. Sunset Campground has large RV sites, but personally, I like North better. The shower buildings are just fine, but I would always suggest flip flops in public showers.

Ruby's commercial campground just outside Bryce offers full hookups, but the campground is not much of a campground. More like an RV parking lot.

I don't know when the Bryce shuttles start. Probably not as early as April, so do try to stay IN the park so you can walk to the canyon and trails.

Better check out in detail the exact measurements and configuration of the sleeping for the RV. Usually some of the beds realistically will only accomodate small children, not all adults and teens! I'm sure you will use those tents.

If you are flying to your RV pickup, you will need to spend extra $$ to rent bedding and kitchen equipment. What about camp chairs?

Hope this helps!
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Nov 9th, 2012, 08:23 AM
  #18
 
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We've rented RV's twice and all the bedding and kitchen/bath equipment came with it. I think we had to buy things like paper towels and personal hygeine products but everything else was included. The company will let you know.
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Nov 9th, 2012, 09:01 AM
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Connie,
What company did you use? My experience was with CruiseAmerica and these items were additional. Mine was a local rental, so I took my own stuff.
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Nov 9th, 2012, 10:08 PM
  #20
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So Bryce will be really cold. In North campground is it mandatory to switch off the generator between 8 pm to 8 am? In which case it will be freezing! If that is the case we should probably think of some other campground.

Connie even I would like to know the name of the RV rental company. We will be flying into Las Vegas and picking up the RV there.

Thanks both of you.
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