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Help planning RV trip Badlands/Yellowstone/UT/Grand Canyon

Help planning RV trip Badlands/Yellowstone/UT/Grand Canyon

Old Feb 10th, 2020, 05:39 PM
  #1  
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Help planning RV trip Badlands/Yellowstone/UT/Grand Canyon

I'm just starting planning for a July RV trip. It will be our first time traveling in an RV with our kids, 9 and 11. We have about 4 weeks to travel, but I want to make sure we're planning a realistic itinerary that leaves us some time for relaxation. Would love thoughts on route, timing and potential destinations.

We're planning on renting an RV in southern Minnesota, where we'll be visiting family. We'll be doing the Tetons and then Yellowstone, which isn't ideal from a route perspective, but those were the dates that we could get campground reservations for since I got a late start planning. Here's a rough outline of what we're thinking:

4 days to head from MN and explore the Badlands and Black Hills.
Overnight in Cody, WY to see the rodeo
July 13-16: Teton Wagon Train Trip out of Jackson (a lifelong dream of mine! We'll be riding horses and camping on a guided trip, so will be parking our RV for 3 nights)
July 17-20: Reservations at Bridge Bay Campground in Yellowstone

From here, we'd like to drive through Utah to the Grand Canyon (a must visit as far as the kids are concerned). The kids would also like to spend a day at Mesa Verde. I assume we would drive back to Minnesota through Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa.

What would be a reasonable 2-week itinerary for Utah, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde, and then back to MN? How many of the parks in Utah should we expect to hit in that time frame? I'm leaning toward Moab to hit Arches and Canyonlands, since that seems to be a good base for some rafting and four-wheeling trips. We also enjoy hiking and mountain biking. Would love any thoughts on best routes and timing, I really don't want to be too overly ambitious. Thank you for any tips or thoughts you can provide!
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 05:40 PM
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Help planning RV trip Badlands/Yellowstone/UT/Grand Canyon

I'm just starting planning for a July RV trip. It will be our first time traveling in an RV with our kids, 9 and 11. We have about 4 weeks to travel, but I want to make sure we're planning a realistic itinerary that leaves us some time for relaxation. Would love thoughts on route, timing and potential destinations.

We're planning on renting an RV in southern Minnesota, where we'll be visiting family. We'll be doing the Tetons and then Yellowstone, which isn't ideal from a route perspective, but those were the dates that we could get campground reservations for since I got a late start planning. Here's a rough outline of what we're thinking:

4 days to head from MN and explore the Badlands and Black Hills.
Overnight in Cody, WY to see the rodeo
July 13-16: Teton Wagon Train Trip out of Jackson (a lifelong dream of mine! We'll be riding horses and camping on a guided trip, so will be parking our RV for 3 nights)
July 17-20: Reservations at Bridge Bay Campground in Yellowstone

From here, we'd like to drive through Utah to the Grand Canyon (a must visit as far as the kids are concerned). The kids would also like to spend a day at Mesa Verde. I assume we would drive back to Minnesota through Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa.

What would be a reasonable 2-week itinerary for Utah, the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde, and then back to MN? How many of the parks in Utah should we expect to hit in that time frame? I'm leaning toward Moab to hit Arches and Canyonlands, since that seems to be a good base for some rafting and four-wheeling trips. We also enjoy hiking and mountain biking. Would love any thoughts on best routes and timing, I really don't want to be too overly ambitious. Thank you for any tips or thoughts you can provide!
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:00 PM
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We'd also be very open to doing the trip in the other direction, perhaps getting the less exciting Iowa and Nebraska driving out of the way first!
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:16 PM
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We have merged your two threads
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Old Feb 12th, 2020, 11:28 AM
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If you click on my user name, you will see trip reports for all of the Utah parks, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone and Jackson, with kids.

If you query this forum, you will find questions exactly like yours and replies with suggested itineraries. So start there. Use Google Maps to get an idea for how long it would take you to drive these distances. Realize you will go slower in the RV. You can't/shouldn't drive at night because of all of the wildlife on the road (and cows/livestock in some areas) plus you miss the amazing scenery. You will have long days in June so this shouldn't be an issue.

A rough loop would be Yellowstone to Salt Lake and then to Torrey. Spend a day there to see Capital Reef Park. Then drive to Escalante, Bryce(1 day), Zion(2), down to the Grand Canyon(1-2). From the Grand Canyon head east to Moab (2-3). See Arches and Canyonlands. From there go to Mesa Verde(2) and then home. I put in the minimum in each area. You need to start booking campgrounds now--that will determine your route as well. Remember it will be extremely hot that time of year--like 105 and in a convection oven. You will need to do activities early in the morning. It cools down in the evenings but then the rocks start releasing all of the heat they soaked up during the day. I would go to Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and that would be about it!

Last edited by StantonHyde; Feb 12th, 2020 at 11:31 AM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 10:22 AM
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I agree with StantonHyde. Exit Yellowstone through West Yellowstone MT and take US 20 to tie in with I-15 at Idaho Falls. Stay someplace north of SLC (Ogden or Brigham City). From there head for Capitol Reef. There is a campground at Fruita just south of the Gifford Cabin. There is a campground at Goblin Valley State Park as well. If you don't find the camping option you want in the Moab area, there is a nice campground along the river in the town of Green River.
Turn off US 191 south of Moab onto US491 to get to Mesa Verde. Leaving Mesa Verde, get on US 160 west all the way through Monument Valley through Tuba City to US 89. Make sure you leave Moab and Cortez with a full gas tank. The gas stations are scarce in this area of the 4 corners. There is a good gas station along 160 in Tuba City that I filled up at in November.
Turn off US 89 at Cameron to go to the east entrance of Grand Canyon NP. Not far inside the east entrance is Desert View with a wonderful stone structure that you can go up the interior stairs for a great view of the Grand Canyon.
On the way to Yellowstone, also visit Wind Cave NP and not just Badlands and Mt. Rushmore. Consider heading north on I-15 into Montana and taking I-94 all the way across North Dakota to get home. It beats driving the length of Nebraska and Iowa IMO (been there done that).
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 10:31 AM
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Just one quick comment: You say this is your first RV experience . . . If so I'd re-think things and consider a car/hotel trip instead. An RV can be great -- but biting off a four week trip . . . in July when roads and parks are at their busiest . . . and learning to handle an RV on twisty mountain roads. It might be better to do this by car. Just sayin'
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 10:48 AM
  #8  
J62
 
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I agree with janisj. In additon to the driving question, be sure you look closely at the costs such as...

mileage cost - typically in the 30 to 40c per mile. Your route is about 2000-2500miles each way, so figure an added cost of $1500 to $2000, or ~$50 -70 per day just for mileage. (on top of the vehicle rental cost)
gas cost - assume at least 2-3X what it would cost to drive a car
added rental costs (including linens, kitchen items). look for a complete package deal
daily camping fees, and understand whether these are reserved, or 1st come basis (and what you'll do if it's full.....)
adders to daily camping fees, including water, elec, and sewer dump costs. Primitive sites (no hookups) will be less, but you will need power/water/sewer.



Last edited by J62; Feb 17th, 2020 at 11:47 AM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 05:59 PM
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From Cody instead of entering Yellowstone you could backtrack east a bit and head south to the enormous hot springs pools at Thermopolis, perfect for the childrenís ages, then itís a beautiful drive south thru the Wind River Reservation and then west into Tetons NP.

Thereís no fast way from Arizona to MN, itís a lot of east/north/east/north/east/north right angles without the diagonal direct roads that you want. I would try to add Great Sand Dunes NP in Colorado again perfect for the childrenís ages, then drive east right thru the mountains (I think this is the top end of the Sangre de Christo mountains which run all the way from the dunes to Santa Fe).

If you head east of Colorado Springs thereís a way to head north from Peyton all the way to Roggen on I-76 bypassing all the Denver and Front Range traffic. In July itís a long, hot slog across Nebraska and Iowa.

Last edited by tom_mn; Feb 17th, 2020 at 06:02 PM.
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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 12:53 PM
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Thank you for all of the feedback! Taking all your opinions into account and doing some additional research on these forums and guidebooks, I think we are going to amend our trip and head north rather than south. We'll do a Black Hills/Glacier NP/Yellowstone/Tetons loop that allows us to spend more time in each place. I'll post other questions I have about this route separately. Thanks so much!
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