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Way Out West - Renting Camping Gear Rather Than Lugging It Along

Way Out West - Renting Camping Gear Rather Than Lugging It Along

Old Apr 30th, 2009, 06:07 AM
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Way Out West - Renting Camping Gear Rather Than Lugging It Along

I am beginning to think about a trip out west for next summer. Having always lived on one coast or the other, I don't even know which part of The West to see first -- Wyoming, Colorado, The Grand Canyon?

My husband would love to do some real camping. We wouldn't drive out West though, and with airline luggage restrictions being what hey are, the only way to camp would be to acquire the necessary gear at our destination.

Is it possible to rent camping equipment -- sleeping bags, tent, stove, etc -- at major parks? Have you ever done this?

This is just the first of 8 zillion issues....
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 06:16 AM
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REI rents very good camping gear, and you can also buy whatever small extras you need there. They have stores every western state (except Wyoming). Click on a state on this map and you'll see the locations:

http://www.rei.com/map/store

You might call one place and ask if you can rent gear at one store and return it to another. If not, you could easily design a loop trip so you return the gear to the same place you rent it. (You might want to do that anyway, to save drop charges on the rental car.)
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 07:23 AM
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You might think about renting an RV. It will come with everything you need. You will see lots of these out west.

We've traveled (and camped) all over the west and I would say a good starting place would be Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. They are very close and are two totally different kind of sceneries and things to do.

You don't say how long you will be gone. These two could take up a week with a couple of travel days to/from airports. If you have another 3 or 4 days, drive up to Glacier National Park on the MT/Canadian border--some of the most fantastic scenery you will see anywhere (and I've been to the Alps).

I wasn't sure if you were asking about this coming--2009--summer or 2010. You may have a hard time getting reservations in national parks this late but I would try anyway. If you are looking at 2010, make your reservations as early as they allow.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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There won't be rental places in most of the parks - but enzian's suggestion of REI would be good since it is a chain and might let you drop the stuff off at another location.

Another option, if you can't find a one-way rental, is buying used, especially if the trip is longer than a week or 2. Many Outdoors/Camping retailers sell used equipment. If it is cheap enough you might come out ahead even if you end up donating to goodwill in your departure city.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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Thanks to both of you -- some great ideas.

If we do this trip it would be summer 2010. There is so much to think about, and you've helped give me a jump-start.

We do have to make reservations early though, don't we? I understand some places offer reservations a year ahead. I'm a planner, for sure, but this has me amazed.

Thanks again.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 07:32 AM
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Make that all THREE of you; we were posting at the same time, janisj.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 08:20 AM
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You're right about the early reservations for national parks. You can learn about this & make reservations at www.nationalparkreservations.com. Where you go really depends on how much time you have. For classic Rocky Mountains, Colorado is great. Grand Canyon is a completely different experience. While it's amazing to see, unless you're serious hikers or do a rafting trip, I think it's less of a vacation destination...unless you group this with a trip to the national parks of southern Utah, which are also great. Montana and Glacier National Park are awesome (on the Canadian border) as well. Finally, we've lived in Utah for 20+ years and I have to say Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons are still my favorite, and a classic destination. If you can go early or late in the summer (i.e. before or after school starts & ends) you will have far fewer people.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 09:17 AM
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I would simply spend the $300 on cheap camping equipment purchased at Target, K-Mart etc. (REI is too expensive) once you arrive at your trip gateway. Assuming that you do your own cooking, you will come out ahead within a week. Make a list of your essential needs (tent, sleeping bags, mattress or pads, etc.), go to your local chain and price out the equipment so that when you reach your destination you are not stressed by the need to make choices; you will know what you want to purchase and what it will cost.

While not covering the same area, you might be interested in my camping trip reports to the Northwest. Just click on my name to find them.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 09:34 AM
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For campground reservations in national parks and national forests, you use www.recreation.gov

And for many other campgrounds and state park campgrounds, you can use www.reserveamerica.com

They do not take them a year in advance; each park has its own little window of opportunity. For Yosemite, for example, it is 4 months ahead, on the 15th of the month. For other parks, it is 6 months ahead to the day. so you have to check on this for each park you want to reserve. But it is well worth doing if you want to stay right in the park. for Yosemite, it is about the only way---all the Valley campgrounds are on the reservation system, and get fully booked up.

(And some campgrounds do not take reservations at all, including most of the popular ones at Glacier national Park).

For lodging (hotel) reservations inside the national parks, you can make reservations a full year in advance in most cases. I would use each park's own official concessionaire rather than nationalparksreservations.com---that is a booking agency and not the official concessionaire. They charge a 10% reservation fee. They do list accomodations outside the parks if you are interested in that, however.

You can find the link to each park's official concessionaire on the nps website for that park. For many of them, including Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon South Rim, the official site is www.xanterra.com Glacier, Grand Teton, Yosemite, etc. each have their own.

For a summer visit, especially camping, I'd stick to the more northern states and parks---Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, etc. It gets very hot in Utah and at the Grand Canyon (although the North Rim, at over 8,000 feet, is a nice place to camp even in mid-summer).
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Thank you all so much. I've planned a bunch of trips to Europe, but never something like this. It's a whole new world.

I really appreciate your help!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 01:18 PM
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Pack your camping gear into boxes and ship them ahead to your first destination. Naturally, you'll want to call ahead and arrange for them to accept the packages and hold them for you. We did this on a trip to Arizona...our first stop was an inn and they were perfectly happy to keep it for us. Naturally we didn't ship the propane cylinders we needed for our camp stove and lantern...we simply bought them there and left them behind with other campers when we left.

It is worth a try!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Thanks for the heads up & correction for national park reservations envian...sorry for the bad info!
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