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Utah/Wyoming/Montana National Parks in June 2018

Utah/Wyoming/Montana National Parks in June 2018

Old Jan 5th, 2018, 06:08 AM
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Utah/Wyoming/Montana National Parks in June 2018

Hi!

I am in my initial planning stages for a 3-4 week trip in June 2018 with my husband (we are in our early 30s) and daughter (she will be almost 20 months in June). We are both relatively fit and have done hikes with our daughter in a hiking carrier. We usually start our day early around 7-8am (option to slack till lunch) and typically do 1-2 activities a day depending on our mood. We end our day by 730pm or so. So we have a good 6-10 hour each day for activities.

We will end our trip in NYC and will spend about a week there (non-negotiable because we are there for a wedding + visiting friends). For the 2-3 weeks before NYC, we would love to focus on National Parks but are open to stopping by cities in between park visits. We've been to Yosemite, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier and Grand Canyon (I've been to North Rim; DH's been to South Rim) and would like to do something different this time round. I did some research and have come up with a very draft itinerary below and would love some feedback.

Zion National Park (3-4 days)
Bryce National Park (2-3 days)

>> Still not sure if I want to visit the rest of the Mighty Five
Antelope Canyon (1 day)
>> I've been before, but not my husband. Don't mind going again, but OK to skip.
Rocky Mountain National Park OR Glacier National Park OR Grand Teton + Yellowstone (?? days)
>> I'm quite unsure about how I should plan this.
Reasons for Glacier National Park: I love greens/blues landscape like Banff hence I thought of visiting Glacier National Park.
Reasons for Grand Teton + Yellowstone: nearer to Utah, spectacular wildlife
Reasons for RMNP: this appeared on my radar when searching for comparisons btw GNP and GTNP

Transport
DH and I stayed in a campervan for 16 nights while driving round Iceland and loved it. We are thinking of getting a campervan this time round. Will it be too warm to sleep in it in June? Any other considerations? Campground permits?

Flight
Should we fly into Salt Lake City? Or should Las Vegas? Or drive from LA? I am flying in from Asia, so we can stop anywhere I guess. Haven't decided if I will buy an open-jaw and fly out of NYC or take a domestic flight back to the west coast. Will check out the cost once I determine my arrival airport.

Thanks in advance!!
slothandrabbit is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2018, 06:53 AM
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You probably can get a car with no drop fee but I am not sure about a campervan.
You might have a problem getting campsites at some of the parks you want to visit. A car with an approved car seat is probably the best bet. Stay in hotels. Many of the campervans are not crash safe with a carseat.
Las Vegas usually has the cheapest car rentals and works well since you want to go to Zion and Bryce Canyon first.
The other park I would try to see of the "Mighty 5" is Arches.
Spend a night or 2 in Moab before heading north through SLC to Grand Teton. Spend several days in Yellowstone before heading north to see Glacier NP.
Glacier is every bit as beautiful as Banff/Jasper IMO. (I've been to all.)
Drop the car somewhere in the west (SLC?) and fly to your east coast destination.
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Old Jan 5th, 2018, 08:32 AM
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Skip Glacier and stick to the Tetons and Yellowstone. If a one-way rental of campervans is not available, or is prohibitively expensive, consider starting your western trip in Salt Lake City and doing a big loop going south to Zion and Bryce, continuing to Arches and maybe Mesa Verde, and then heading north to Rocky Mountain National Park and so on. The advantage of planning a circle route is that it can be interrupted at any time if you feel that you do not have the time to do the full planned itinerary.

To whet your appetite:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...176227912/show

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...636845987/show

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...124826386/show
Michael is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2018, 09:23 AM
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I agree with Michael on the loop starting in Salt Lake City.

2-3 days for Bryce is probably too much. 1-2 nights is enough. The park isn't very big and you'll probably only do one hike down below the rim into the hoodoos.

Plenty of slot canyons in Utah, so you can find another one to visit rather than detouring to Antelope. I'd also visit Arches since it's relatively easy to visit in a 1-2 days and is pretty much on the loop described above.

Sticking with that loop, you could do a relatively brief 1-3 day drive-thru/visit to RMNP on your way to Yellowstone/GTNP.

Depending on how many days you've used up by now, theoretically you could visit Glacier after Yellowstone for a few days. That also depends on how much driving you all can tolerate. You will need to firm up an itinerary and decide the camper van vs. hotel logistics and start booking campsites or hotel rooms fairly soon. It is tough to get lodging in Yellowstone in summer.
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Old Jan 5th, 2018, 11:48 AM
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Campsites should not be a problem. None available in Arches because the number of sites is so small, but there are a lot of National Forest campgrounds around Moab, some way up in the aspens. We had no problems in Mesa Verde, arriving there around 1 p.m. If a National Forest campground is not on a lake or stream, it generally will have sites available. The rule of thumb is that you can't keep on driving until the last minute.

Some of my trip report may be relevant:

https://www.fodors.com/community/uni...-june-2015.cfm
Michael is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2018, 03:35 PM
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Anyone planning on taking young children in any type of RV campervan should read and heed these warnings: http://www.procarseatsafety.com/recr...hicles-rv.html
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 03:27 AM
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Check the availability of camper vans in Utah. I have never found any for rent and I live here. Maybe things have changed since I last looked, but all you can rent in Utah are motorhomes of various sizes. If you search hard you moght find a pop up tent trailer, but that is something you wouldnt want anyway.

Campsites are not always available in the National Parks. You must have a reservation! The NPs are crowded beyond belief for the last few years and the numbers of visitors are continuing to grow.

If you are willing to take a chance on National forest campgrounds, just know you will most likely be driving a lot further and will have less amenities. Pit toilets and no showers are the norm. These are also very popular so if going without reservations plan to arrive no later than 9 am and circle to snag a spot when someone leaves.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 05:48 AM
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Michael's plan is fine, but if you really want a camper van, one site I researched, but did not use is:

https://www.jucyrentals.com/our-vehi...ini-rv-rental/

The vehicles are small enough to go into the parks easily, but still have the camping option.

They operate out of Las Vegas as well as LA and San Francisco. For this trip I would fly to Las Vegas from which you might be able to do a large loop.

Vegas to Zion to Bryce to* Moab, UT (for Arches and Canyonlands), to Jackson, WY(for Grand Teton NP) to Yellowstone, NP to Estes Park, CO (for Rocky Mt NP) back to Vegas. * Moab could be saved for the end of the trip as it is on the way back to Vegas, if that worked better for your whole trip. You would just head for Grand Teton after Bryce.

If you use some of the mapping programs right now they will not let you use the most efficient routes because it is winter here and some roads are not open (esp. in Yellowstone and RMNP). So you might want to get an old fashioned paper map and look at proposed sites. The computer maps will give you times but are often optimistic, since they don't take into account local conditions.

Do get a National Park Pass at the first NP you go to. It lets you into all the NPs and will give you some other perks.

In this part of the country, always fill your gas tank when it gets near the half way point, cary food and water and try to drive only during day light hours. Be on the look out for large animals (elk, deer, cattle, horses) in/near the road.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 05:51 AM
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I did not mention, but I would do the Utah parks earlier in the trip if possible as they will be very hot in July and GT, Yellowstone and RMNP probably will still have snow with road closures in early June.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 06:11 AM
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Echoing emalloy. I think RMNP wifi be open but some roads, perhaps major attractions, likely to be closed in Glacier until mid-June.

You might be able to hike all day with the baby, but could you outrun a mother bear worried about its own babies?
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 07:47 AM
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All parks roads in Yellowstone/GTNP are scheduled to open by May 25th this year but a late storm may cause temporary closures https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm There's no set opening date for the Going to the Sun Road at Glacier each year and it can be as late as July so I would head there last if you decide to include it. We both carry bear spray when hiking in Yellowstone/GTNP/Glacier and you can buy it in/near the parks.

Another rental option that's bigger than a Jucy minivan but smaller than a motorhome is a class B van https://rental.besttimerv.com/ If you rent one that's 21 ft or shorter you can drive it on the Going to the Sun Road https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsrinfo.htm I don't have any experience with this company other than looking at possibly renting one myself. Keep in mind that the majority of national park and national forest campgrounds don't have electric hookups and generator use may be limited or not allowed so you may not be able to run AC or other appliances any time you want.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 12:15 PM
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Family hiking book:


Wow Utah Canyon Country - ON Amazon

Do not buy any of Kelsey's books as they are for an advanced hiker into remote area.

Vaga
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 12:15 PM
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Family hiking book:


Wow Utah Canyon Country - ON Amazon

Do not buy any of Kelsey's books as they are for an advanced hiker into remote area.

Vaga
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 02:17 PM
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>>Campsites should not be a problem. None available in Arches because the number of sites is so small> RMNP probably will still have snow with road closures in early June.>You might be able to hike all day with the baby, but could you outrun a mother bear worried about its own babies?
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 04:27 PM
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That would be a far better option for someone visiting Arches than staying outside the park in a national forest campground.


But would facilitate a day trip to Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park. Since Arches almost forces one to drive from one area to the other, staying outside is not as onerous (you'll be driving anyway) than a place like Bryce where walking down into the area does not require, for the most part, driving from one location to the other.
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