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First time RV trip

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First time RV trip

Unread postby TankieGirlie on Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:54 pm

Hi, I'm new to the forum because my family is renting a 30 ft RV to travel from CA to UT, WY, MT, ID, OR

I would really appreciate tips on stuff to see, and mostly stuff not to forget to bring! (going are me, hubby, hubby's dad and a great dane and a weimeraner)

Also, the skinny on campgrounds, what's good, what's bad.. and what the alternatives are.


Thanks in advance


Kelly
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby catmom on Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:09 pm

Welcome, Kelly! That's a big wide field of information you're looking for! I take it this is your first time RVing? If so, be sure to pay close attention - take notes if possible - when the RV rental place gives you instructions. There's a lot to it! Once in a campground or on the road, don't hesitate to ask other RVers for help if you forgot some of those instructions too! :)

Be sure that the RV rental place will allow you to bring dogs too. Virtually all campgrounds (CGs) will require you to keep those dogs leashed and in your control at all times, and of course it goes without saying you'll need to pick up after them everywhere you are. :) Check with CGs about any potential pet restrictions they may have; most are dog-friendly but some are not.

How much time are you allowing for this trip? What is your timeframe (i.e. when do you leave - soon? next spring? next summer?) Are there specific sights you want to see (for example: Yellowstone, Glacier, Zion, Bryce NPs, or any specific towns you want to visit in these states?) That will affect what sort of advice we give.

As far as what's good or bad about CGs, that depends on what you like. If you want to feel close to nature, you may want to consider national and state park or forest service CGs. Many of those offer no or minimal hookups, so you'll need to have a generator as well as battery power. If you want the "comforts of home" - clean bathrooms, laundry facilities, recreational facilities such as pools, etc. - you'll want to spend much of your time in private CGs. Invest in a good comprehensive CG directory, such as Trailer Life or Woodalls; they offer descriptions and reviews of each CG listed (which is a good majority of what's out there). Also check rvparkreviews.com for some good, unsolicited reviews of CGs, by people who have stayed there. Even if you prefer one type of CG to another, you might want to vary your experience by camping at some of each type. There's always a debate about reservations, but if you're visiting a popular tourist destination, I think it's a good idea to pre-reserve a campsite, or you risk arriving after a long day of driving, only to find that there's nothing available.
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby TankieGirlie on Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:25 pm

Sorry, not enough info!

We leave next month 12th.. For only a week

Rental takes dogs...the first I called didn't, most of the rest did(but 2 I think didn't) I've already bookmarked several campgrounds that take dogs... yes I will clean up ;)


I just need the idiot list cause I don't wanna get in the middle of nowhere and realize I forgot something stupid like towels LOL And what I need to know about filling emptying tanks and stuff, but you're right, CruiseAmerica will prolly give me a tutorial.

We plan to hit Salt Lake City...Grand Teton and are taking the route from there to Billings, Bozeman,then down into Twin Falls, Boise... Through Oregon and back to CA

I'd just appreciate any hidden gems to see or good places to stay.

Thanks Catmom
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby catmom on Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:31 pm

A week? Wow, that's a quick trip. Where in California are you starting from? If southern, then it's a REALLY quick trip. Lots of driving.

Have you been to Yellowstone before? If not, you may want to shorten your driving distance thru Idaho/Oregon and spend a couple days in the Tetons & Yellowstone. The latter especially is not a drive-thru park. If you must drive thru in one day, be prepared to spend most of the day just to get to Billings or Bozeman. Best to spend at LEAST 2-3 full days in Yellowstone (another day for the Tetons). A caution: dogs in Yellowstone MUST be with you at all times, and on a good sturdy leash. Too much wildlife for them to get interested in & try to take off after - dangerous for the dogs, the wildlife and possibly you.

Any reason you're going to Billings from the Tetons, then to Bozeman? If not, consider going right to Bozeman, up from West Yellowstone. It will save you some time.

Any reason you're going to Bozeman specifically? If not, you could head southwest from West Yellowstone to Idaho Falls, then west from there on US 20 will take you to Craters of the Moon NP. Quite an interesting place, and there's a KOA with hookups nearby if the no-hookup NP CG doesn't suit your needs. Worth at least 1/2 day stop there. Easy to get to Twin Falls from there.

As far as stuff, check with Cruise America about what kinds of gear they rent. I believe they rent linens, though you may want to bring your own. (I know I would.) Ask about RV toilet paper, hoses & extension cords. Whatever they don't provide (or you don't want to rent), you might want to plan your first stop at a SuperWalmart to pick up supplies & groceries.

Don't forget your camera! :) (And the batteries for it.)
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:55 am

My quick and dirty $0.02? You are not going to enjoy your trip - with the amount of realestate you want to to cover you will spend the majority of every day driving and have little to no time to stop and enjoy anything you are driving past or stopping at.

I did a quick and dirty trip mileage estimate of the states and places you want to cover and it's looking like you will be driving about 2500 miles. Assuming you have the RV for a FULL 7 days (the week you mentioned) that's about 350 miles per day worth of driving, or about 7 hours of driving per day assuming an average of 50MPH.

If you actually only have 6 useful days out of the 7 day rental period, the above number look even more unrealistic.

My advice? Shorten your trip. I know it sounds blunt, but you will enjoy yourself a LOT more if you pick one destination (Yellowstone or Grand Teton would be my suggestion) and double back, perhaps taking a few different roads on the way back just to vary the return trip.

The most common mistake that RV renters make (based on my observations) is planning unrealistic distances and I think you might have fallen into that trap. :D They quickly find out that the are spending from sunup to sundown just driving and by the time they stop there is minimal time left to actually enjoy anything.

RV'ing is MUCH more enjoyable if you have an enjoyable pace that allows you to stop and see anything interesting along the way, gives you time to actually enjoy your destination(s), and doesn't force you to spend all of your trip driving.
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby TankieGirlie on Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:40 am

We have since eliminated Montana from the itinerary... We kind of came to the same conclusions stated here.

We leave from Sacramento sat going to blow through NV driving all night. Short time in UT prob just the day (sun) and then to Casper where dad has family, we will spend probably 2 or 3 days in WY seeing Yellowstone and Teton. We will go on to ID (southern through Boise) probably spending one night there. the rest will be spent in OR(Eugene to Grants Pass) and driving home.

My hubby can't take more than a week off work, but has permission to be a day or two longer. so we already are pretty sure it will be at least 8 days.

It's going to be over faster than we realize, but it will be great just seeing what we will see and spending time together and seeing some family my hubby hasn't seen since 16.

We are also pretty hyped on finding at least 3 or 4 "Diners, Drive Ins & Dives" that show got us on the traveling/eating bug lol

I reallllly appreciate hearing from all of you in helping make this a "Reality Based" trip!!

Thanks Guys
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby TankieGirlie on Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:50 am

....Also, we have places to stay in Casper and Grants Pass due to family with land..

So are looking for places near Yellowstone, tho not necessarily in the park (I realize how BIG it is) I want the non touristy parts. I am more interested in mountains, rivers, lakes than I am in "Old Faithful"

Maybe Jackson... (the town I can see on map)

though if there is someplace IN the park that isn't going to look like Disneyland parking lot.... I hate to wing it...

Hoping that since it is after school is back in, it will be less crowded... but don't know that either.

I want to stay near Snake River Canyon in ID too...

Ahhhhh!! halp!
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby catmom on Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:31 pm

Boy, I hate to say it, but it still sounds like you are biting off more than you can chew. 1-2 days for Yellowstone AND the Tetons? Wow. It's quite a drive from Casper to there! There are no non-touristy parts of Yellowstone or the Tetons, just less touristy. OK, avoid Old Faithful and drive up from the Tetons to West Thumb, walk around that geyser basin (it's one of the prettiest, IMO), then up to Lake Jct, have lunch in the hotel, overlooking the lake, then up to Canyon. Remember, there's only one CG inside YNP which has any hookups at all, and that's Fishing Bridge; reservations recommended (you'll be there near Labor Day so still fairly busy in the park). If you want a CG that's attractive, a little less on the tourist radar and you don't need hookups, consider Grant Village. Grant Village and Fishing Bridge are near, though mostly not on, Yellowstone Lake. If you're lucky you might get a site at Grant that has a nice view of the lake thru the trees.

Jackson will be quite touristy; if you want to camp in/near the Tetons, consider one of the GTNP CGs like Colter Bay (not the RV Park, that's privately-owned) or Gros Ventre.

September is still a pretty busy month in Yellowstone, though the really big crowds will have eased off. Take some layers (sweatshirts/jackets/jeans) as it could be pretty cool there this time of year. Expect a few overnights to be at or near freezing. Days should be pleasant, perhaps cool (50s-70s).
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby TankieGirlie on Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:12 pm

thanks catmom

it just is what it is yanno? I would LOVE to take longer, we just can't not being independently wealthy and all :)


the tips you gave will def help...thank you much... looking into Grant Village now and colter bay

def will try west thumb/lake jct.


Thanks so much... you have no idea
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:38 pm

So how did it go?
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Re: First time RV trip

Unread postby cwit on Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:03 am

People want to know. :D
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