RV trip through WY/UT/AZ: Ideas to improve?

Old Sep 9th, 2018, 04:02 AM
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RV trip through WY/UT/AZ: Ideas to improve?

Hello all,
we (family of 4 with kids aged 13 and 10) are planning a RV trip in August (the time slot is pretty fixed unfortunately, I know it may mean crowds and heat).
The rough itinerary looks like this ... if you have any ideas or suggestions to make this trip even more exciting and enjoyable, we would love to hear all about it.
- fly into SLC
- pick up rental RV next day, drive to Yellowstone (worth going through Grand Teton NP, or rather take the quicker route via West Yellowstone?)
- 3-4 days in Yellowstone (any suggestions where to stay with the RV, what tours to take?)
- long drive to Bryce (Google says 11h net driving ... doable in one day? or rather pause for a night - if yes, where?)
- 2 days in Bryce
- 2 days in Zion NP
- drive to Page AZ, see Antelope and Horseshoe bend (any possibility of rafting?)
- 2 days at Grand Canyon South Rim
- 1 day in LV, return the RV (and proceed with trip part 2 in CA)

We are excited to see what answers we may get! Any ideas are welcome!
mac_kraut
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 06:42 AM
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Definitely include Grand Teton NP, awesome scenery, lakes and mountains.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 06:43 AM
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Book camping space inside all the national parks as soon as they begin taking 2019 reaervations.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 07:28 AM
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I would at least drive through Grand Teton even if you don't stay overnight. Fishing Bridge is the only campground inside Yellowstone with hookups if you want to be able to run air conditioning https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm I've never taken a tour in Yellowstone (except a snowcoach in winter) but it may be a good option so you don't have to always drive the RV. We've broken up the drive south near Salt Lake and also in Park City.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 03:59 PM
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Definitely at least drive through Grand Teton. If the family is interested in wildlife, chances of seeing moose and antelope is greater in GT than in Yellowstone. I would spend 3 in Yellowstone and 1 in GT. SLC or vicinity is a good stopping point or even take the route through Flaming Gorge and spend the night there and then head south to Bryce and Zion. If it were me, I would rather spend one night in Bryce and 3 in Zion. On your way to Bryce, take Rt. 12 for a more scenic drive that can take you through Capitol Reef. There are half day smooth water rafting trips on the Colorado out of Page. Antelope Canyon, I recommend Lower rather than Upper Antelope. It's not as crowded and you don't have to take a dusty ride in the back of a pick up across the desert to get there. But be aware that Lower does require climbing some kind of steep wood ladders so not recommended for those who might not feel comfortable with that or who are not moderately fit.
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Old Sep 9th, 2018, 04:24 PM
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We did the smooth water raft trip on the Colorado River when we were in Page, from the dam to Lees Ferry. It was a nice way to see the area.

We did see lots of bison and elk in Yellowstone. You might find parking in the RV a problem in Yellowstone you also have a car to get around in and leave the RV in the campground. You probably should have reservations for the campgrounds there and in Grand Teton.
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Old Sep 10th, 2018, 12:55 PM
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Thanks you all! Super helpful ... I will try to take these suggestions into consideration. Probably will come up with further questions in a new thread
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Old Sep 10th, 2018, 03:36 PM
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Have you considered staying at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon instead of South Rim? That will cut down a little bit on your driving. If you do that, go from Bryce to Page, then North Rim and finish with Zion.
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Old Sep 11th, 2018, 12:05 PM
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GC South Rim options

Originally Posted by WhereAreWe View Post
Have you considered staying at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon instead of South Rim? That will cut down a little bit on your driving. If you do that, go from Bryce to Page, then North Rim and finish with Zion.
Not a bad idea, but I already have been at North Rim (which was great), and the only time I made it to the South Rim I ended up in a heavy snow storm with zero visibility ... it was weird to be at the edge of a 2000+ ft drop and not see past 30 ft. So I want to use this trip to make up for this.

However, a question for the South Rim is:
Should we just stay one night (i.e. arrive in the afternoon after leaving Page/Horseshoe in the morning; next day see the sunrise and do some walking on the edge, then take off for LV in the afternoon),
or rather stay two nights with a full day to hike down? Is it possible (and worth it) to hike down all the way and back up in the same day? I imagine the August heat would limit this option; but then, is it worth hiking down and up only half-way? (if yes, which route?)
Or should we even stay three nights, hike down one day and back up the next? In this case: What are the accommodation options?
Any suggestions on this?

Thanks
mac_kraut
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Old Sep 11th, 2018, 12:10 PM
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Another question on detours: When going from Page to GC South Rim, is it worth to take the detour to Monument Valley? (it would add 3-4 hours net driving)
What about detours when coming south from Yellowstone to Capitol Reef, Arches, Escalante, Goblin Valley (all of these are mentioned in other threads, and each of them seems to be "just a few hours" away from the route, so it is always hard to tell where to best say "stop")?

Last edited by mac_kraut; Sep 11th, 2018 at 12:42 PM. Reason: added new detour options
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Old Sep 11th, 2018, 03:22 PM
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By detours do you mean just driving through and stopping during the day and not overnighting? I think Monument Valley is especially nice at sunset/sunrise. Moab/Arches would be a big detour on your way to Bryce and I can't see adding it without a few more nights. I think Capitol Reef is more doable as an add on and Hwy 12 is a beautiful drive. Grand Staircase Escalante is great and less crowded than the national parks but some of the roads may not be that suitable for an RV.
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Old Sep 11th, 2018, 09:25 PM
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August for hiking to the bottom of GC would be miserable. It could easily exceed 100 degrees at the bottom. Even with cooler weather, down and back up same day is not recommended for most. It is also not easy to get lodging at the bottom. Only one lodge and one campsite. You could hike part way down on Bright angel or South Kaibab trail.

Detours. Monument Valley is not worth the detour unless you spend the night to enjoy sunset and sunrise. Goblin Valley is only a slight detour off the road south to Bryce. It's well worth the detour. Rt 12 to Bryce is a nice route to get to Bryce and Capitol Reef is right there. I don't think of Moab as that big of a detour since you could be coming from WY via Flaming Gorge. I think the Moab detour to see Arches is well worth it. It's my favorite of the Mighty 5
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Old Sep 11th, 2018, 09:27 PM
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how about take a night away from GC and spend it in Moab instead?
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Old Sep 12th, 2018, 04:26 AM
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Here is a map with time/mileage chart that was posted here ages ago:

Southern Utah Map - OhioHick's Travel Tips

Which places are worth a stop and how long to spend in each area is very subjective and also very dependent on your interests and the weather conditions at the time. Only you can make that determination.
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Old Sep 12th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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IMO no trip to the grand canyon gets the full experience without going below the rim. I would recommend a hike down the south Kaihbab trail part way. Remember it takes twice as long to go up than down. Take lots of water, take your time and take lots of pictures. We hiked down for an hour or so and then turned around. The views were wonderful and you see a very different canyon. We took an early morning "hikers bus" to the trail head that went direct with out any other stops. Have a great trip.
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Old Sep 12th, 2018, 10:17 PM
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Thank you all for this inspiration, you guys are great!
As my planning progresses, I will certainly try to take as many recommendations into consideration as I can.
I'll probably most more questions along the way ...
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Old Sep 13th, 2018, 07:20 AM
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Have you weighed the convenience of driving the RV vs. driving a rental car in Yellowstone? Do you pay a drop fee for leaving the RV where you did not rent it? My thought would be to rent the RV for only the part of the trip to Yellowstone and then returning it in SLC and continuing the trip in a rental car and using motels. Depending on where you are going in California, you might want to return the car back in SLC or Las Vegas.
If you wanted the "camping experience" in Yellowstone, I think there are some yurts and some cabins within the park.
If you do stop in Yellowstone to observe wildlife, pull completely off the pavement so that through traffic is not impeded. I saw a video of a man taunting a buffalo in Yellowstone. He is serving some time in jail and is paying a rather large fine.
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Old Sep 13th, 2018, 12:16 PM
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RV vs car

Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
Have you weighed the convenience of driving the RV vs. driving a rental car in Yellowstone? Do you pay a drop fee for leaving the RV where you did not rent it? My thought would be to rent the RV for only the part of the trip to Yellowstone and then returning it in SLC and continuing the trip in a rental car and using motels. Depending on where you are going in California, you might want to return the car back in SLC or Las Vegas.
Thanks, tomfuller. This is indeed a question I am pondering. For the second part of the trip (LV, LA, SF) we will certainly use a van, as I don't feel like driving an RV through cities. For the first part, I am leaning towards RV, because it will allow us to avoid expensive lodging inside the parks and keeps us from having to going to restaurants three times a day. And of course the adventure factor. Final decision has yet to be made ... if you know any aspects I should consider, please let me know.
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Old Sep 13th, 2018, 12:29 PM
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I would try for lodging in/near the park and use a rental car there too. Parking is limited at the sites you will want to visit and trying to get a large enough space in the bus sized vehicle is difficult.

If you want the camping experience, rent a tent and sleeping mats etc. or buy inexpensive ones and donate them to Good Will or Salvation Army when you no longer need them.

For less costly food, go to a grocery store and buy an inexpensive cooler, fill with the kinds of things you might want for breakfast and lunch.
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Old Sep 16th, 2018, 01:23 PM
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All right, with all your great suggestions, we refined our itinerary to this:
- Day 1: fly into SLC
- Day 2: pick up rental RV next day, drive to Yellowstone
- Day 3/4: in Yellowstone
- Day 5: drive south, with a stop over in Grand Teton NP (spend night in GT, or further south ... where?)
- Day 6: looong drive to Moab
- Day 7: Arches and Canyonlands, another night in Moab
- Day 8: drive to Bryce via short stops at Goblin, Capitol Reef; camp at Bryce (doable in one day?)
- Day 9: sunrise and day hike at Bryce, drive to Zion in the evening
- Day 10/11: Zion
- Day 12: drive to Page AZ, see Antelope and Horseshoe bend
- Day 13: drive to Grand Canyon South Rim in the morning
- Day 14: drive to LV in the afternoon, return the RV (and proceed with trip part 2 in CA)

Does this make sense, or are we trying to squeeze too many things into 14 days?
Looking forward to even more hints and suggestions
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