National Parks of the West in 21 days

Feb 7th, 2013, 05:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 8
National Parks of the West in 21 days

I'm planning a trip for my family for late July/Early Aug. Not sure yet if we are tenting or getting an RV, but we are considering the following sites:Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, Badlands, Jewel Cave, Great Sand Dunes, Chimney Rock, 4 corners, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Moab, Monument Valley, Needles, Painted Desert, and Cheyenne. We have every question you might image. We're thinking of flying in and out of Salt Lake City. Good idea? We know we have too much on the list but what to cut? How many nights/days to spend in each place -- how would you lay out the 21 days? Would you finish in Yellowstone or start there and finish in Grand Canyon or Lake Powell? If we end up tenting, any recommendations about which places are best for camping and which for motels? What am I forgetting?? The voices of experience would be much appreciated as we are already late on the planning...
barbw4 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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There are several threads here that have done the kind of trip you plan, so first try the search box at the top of this page to see what others have done.

Decide on what kind of lodging you need and make reservations now as even camp grounds may be booked already.

Get a good map or go to one of the map sites like googlemaps or mapquest and try some routes using where you fly in to and then the add a destination to go from place to place.

Compare cost of rv rental to auto/tent and/or motel/hotel and be sure to consider the cost of fuel and limitations on miles.

You probably won't have time to visit everything on your list and some of your sites make me wonder why like why Chimney Rock and not Mesa Verde?

Get a bit more firm a plan and come back with specific questions.
emalloy is online now  
Feb 7th, 2013, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 182
A couple of things come to mind right off the bat. Skip 4 corners, it is an outlier on your trip and there is a fee to get in and see a bronze plate in the ground.

Tenting vs RV: as tempting as an RV may sound, they are a pain to drive around in some of the parks, Yellowstone in particular. You will also spend a significant amount more money on gas.

Badlands and Jewel cave are also way out of the way.
steve1218 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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These are the ones on you list I would emphasize: Yellowstone, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Moab, Monument Valley. To this I would add Grand Teton, Yosemite, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,479
Tenting might be cheaper. Stores like Big5 Sports or Sporting Authority, or K-Mart have cheap equipment that could be donate to Goodwill at the end of the trip. By the equipment in SLC and drop it off there at the end of the trip. A tent can be had for $35, sleeping bags (particularly for summertime usage) for less, etc.

For tenting, the obvious campgrounds are National Parks. However, National Forest campgrounds are less expensive and often less crowded. BLM campgrounds are often free. I use a book of campgrounds in the West which lists all the public and private campgrounds available; unfortunately it is 20+ years old and has never been reprinted. For the most part it is still valid.

I would decide to either stick to the more northern parks (Yellowstone, Grand Teeons, Badlands, Rocky Mountain National Park, Dinosaur national Monument, and maybe dip down to southern Colorado for Mesa Verde and then go back to SLC via Arches) or decide to do the National Parks and Monuments of southern Utah, Arizona and New Mexico (adding perhaps Mesa Verde in the mix).

To whet your appetite:
Michael is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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correction: Buy the equipment in SLC.
Michael is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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You can also rent tents, stoves, etc from REI. There equipment is far superior to "cheap stuff". It is far more expensive too, so renting is an option.
spirobulldog is offline  
Feb 7th, 2013, 08:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 8
Wow. Thanks so much for the great comments. There is already a lot of helpful stuff here that I hadn't thought of and you guys gave me additional resources to examine. Keep the advice coming and I will post updates myself as we make decisions...
barbw4 is offline  

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