Western national parks

Nov 8th, 2019, 10:12 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,613
Western national parks

In summer of 2020 we’ll be hitting the road in our RV for about 4 months. Last summer we did 4 months from Phoenix to Florida, up to eastern Canada and back to DC with, obviously many stops in between. This year (starting in mid- May) we want to focus on the national parks in the west, as well as the Canadian Rockies. We prefer not to drive super-long days — up to 200 miles is ok. We are hikers - up to 10 miles of moderate hiking in a day, not every day (we will both be 69). Oh, we’ll be starting in Florida but we won’t focus on NPs until we hit Colorado.

So, first question - given the freedom of almost unlimited time and no need to be anywhere any particular day, how many days would you plan to spend at:

Arches
Canyonlands
Capitol Reef
Bryce
Zion
RMNP
Grand Tetons
Yellowstone
Glacier

Also, do you think we should add Black Canyon of the Gunnison and/or Great Sand Dunes (honestly, I’ve never heard of either one. )

I’ll be back for more so TIA!

(added: if weather won’t be good/warm that early, we could do California first and come back down through the above parks).



Last edited by sf7307; Nov 8th, 2019 at 10:21 AM.
sf7307 is online now  
Nov 8th, 2019, 10:20 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,613
Sorry, I meant to post this the USA forum. Mods, please move.
sf7307 is online now  
Nov 8th, 2019, 07:31 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,704
Are you planning on staying in the national parks? We camped in Arches last year at Devil's Garden, which I highly recommend, but I had to be pretty flexible with our dates when making a reservation. It was already getting hot in May so that limited our hiking and I wouldn't want to be there later in the summer.

We love camping at Moraine in RMNP usually late June until early September. So many options for hiking so at least a few days. Again make reservations.

If it's been a good snowpack season and Medano Creek is flowing, usually in May, the Great Sand Dunes are worth a stop for at least a few hours.

Your trip sounds fantastic!








wtm003 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:12 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,019
The Going to the Sun Rd can open as late as July some years https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/news/upload/Logan-Pass-Open-Close-Dates_Press-Kit-6-26-2017.pdf You'll also need a separate vehicle to drive it unless your RV is 21 ft or under https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsrinfo.htm I would allow a week in Glacier split between the east and west sides.

I would also allow a week for Yellowstone, maybe split between a northern and southern base. Are you planning to camp in the park? Do you need hookups? Fishing Bridge is the only campground inside the park with hookups but won't reopen until August next year due to construction. Also Dunraven Pass will be closed all of 2020 and 2021 so consider than in your planning when deciding where to stay https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm

Most people spend a couple of days in Grand Teton in conjunction with Yellowstone but the more time we spend there, the more we've come to enjoy the park.

June is a nice time for wildlife with baby animals.

I haven't been to RMNP.

As mentioned above you'll want to hit the UT parks early for weather. You could use Moab as one base for Arches and Canyonlands. Canyonlands has multiple sections so it depends on how much you want to include so at least 3 or 4 nights here.

At least one full day for Capitol Reef and a second day if you want to drive the Burr trail assuming you have a very small RV or separate car.

Allow time for Grand Staircase Escalante between Bryce and Capitol Reef. Take Hwy 12.

At least one full day for Bryce and 2 or 3 at Zion depending on whether you also want to see the high elevation parts (Kolob Terrace, Kolob Canyons) and not just Zion Canyon. Between Zion and Bryce there is a tunnel where you may need a permit due to size https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/the-zion-mount-carmel-tunnel.htm You don't have to go this way particularly if you're planning to also see the Kolob Canyons section as that is off of 15 and you can continue north and maybe include Cedar Breaks National Monument.

I've kind of listed everything backward. I think you should start in Zion as that will be the most crowded and comparatively low in elevation. Then make your way north through UT. Between Moab and Grand Teton you could consider Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge.

I don't know what weather conditions are like in RMNP and how best to fit that in. If you were going through southern CO, you could include Mesa Verde.

Leaving mid-May I don't think you need to include CA to avoid weather elsewhere (unless you're wanting to see CA too). I don't know how many days you plan for the drive from FL but if you're planning to drive slowly, I may consider leaving even earlier.

Last edited by Patty; Nov 9th, 2019 at 10:18 AM.
Patty is online now  
Nov 9th, 2019, 11:13 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,613
Sorry, forgot to mention we will have a towed car (we know you can’t drive some roads in the RV).

thanks for the responses so far.
sf7307 is online now  
Nov 9th, 2019, 01:15 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 5
Yellowstone and the Tetons could be an easy four or five days. One bit of advice, leave the bears and buffalo alone. I was in Yellowstone a few months ago and one man decided to go pet the buffalo, (in spite of the many signs saying not to cause they're very dangerous). Well lets just say the buffalo didn't appreciate it and the man got a bit of a flying lesson, fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt. I also heard from the locals that there have been a rising number of bear attacks, cause people are trying to feed and pet the bears (they call them GRIZZLY bears for a reason). Yellowstone's wildlife is beautiful but they should be admired at a respectful distance.
Connie59 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 02:05 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,019
I would carry bear spray on your hikes in Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier. We've seen grizzlies in all 3 parks. You can take bear spray into Canada as long as it's labeled as animal deterrent and not over 500ml. I think there's one trail in Banff that requires bear spray.

Elk can also be extremely dangerous especially cows with calves at that time of year.
Patty is online now  
Nov 9th, 2019, 02:27 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,938
Originally Posted by sf7307 View Post
In summer of 2020 well be hitting the road in our RV for about 4 months. Last summer we did 4 months from Phoenix to Florida, up to eastern Canada and back to DC with, obviously many stops in between. This year (starting in mid- May) we want to focus on the national parks in the west, as well as the Canadian Rockies. We prefer not to drive super-long days up to 200 miles is ok. We are hikers - up to 10 miles of moderate hiking in a day, not every day (we will both be 69). Oh, well be starting in Florida but we wont focus on NPs until we hit Colorado.

So, first question - given the freedom of almost unlimited time and no need to be anywhere any particular day, how many days would you plan to spend at:

Arches
Canyonlands
Capitol Reef
Bryce
Zion
RMNP
Grand Tetons
Yellowstone
Glacier

Also, do you think we should add Black Canyon of the Gunnison and/or Great Sand Dunes (honestly, Ive never heard of either one. )

Ill be back for more so TIA!

(added: if weather wont be good/warm that early, we could do California first and come back down through the above parks).


Camping at Arches is very limited, requiring reservations placed very early in the year if not now. But there are many NF campgrounds along the river close to Arches, there are more campgrounds high up in the mountains south of Arches and one about 5 miles south of Moab where we stayed. If you are pulling a car behind your camper, any of those I mention represent acceptable campgrounds within reach of Arches. A full day in Arches is sufficient, But within the same area is Island in the Sky of Canyonlands NP which adds a day to your stay around Moab. And if you want to take a raft trip on the river, that's another day. I think that the Needles area, with a very nice campground with limited space so get there early, requires two nights.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpnUR1m

Hovenweep could be a nice intermediate stop. Did you leave out Mesa Verde on purpose?

We did an overnight for Black Canyon of the Gunnison, arriving in the early afternoon. That probably shortchanged the experience.

The Junction of the Green and Yampa rivers in Dinosaur NP has a nice campground, perhaps more popular than it was 50 years ago and the road might have been improved.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjoyfnxZ
Michael is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 03:01 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,892
Here is a site that was posted years ago that I have found helpful for the southern part of your trip:

Ohiochickstraveltips.weebly.com

i also think that it would be good to start with the parka that are likely to be too warm to hike during this June. /July part of the trip earlier and saving Yellowstone, Grand Teton ND Glacier for the summer.

I would also look at the parks you will want to stayInsid which might need reservations ahead and arrange for an alternative outside if nothing is available now. Then call back frequently to check for cancellations when time gets closer.

Zion and Bryce
are close enough to make the order you visit then not a proble, likewise Arches and Canyonlands Island in the Sky.. Staying in the Mlab area would work for both. I do like the Needles district of Canyonlands too.

A day or two would be enough foe Grand Canyon, unless you plan on hiking to the bottom. Arches and Canyonlanda could take longer unless it is too hot to hike much during your stay. Yellowstone, the Tetons and Glacier are huge,so conditions will determine how much time in each. Fires sent my sister out if Glacier last year.
Have a great trip.
emalloy is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
texasbookworm
United States
33
May 11th, 2012 02:56 PM
KE1TH
United States
11
May 6th, 2009 07:08 AM
FaxMachineAnthem
United States
21
Mar 21st, 2008 08:23 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:20 AM.