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Denver RV holiday 20 days

Newbury, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
4 reviews
Denver RV holiday 20 days

My husband and I are flying into Denver in Sept with an overnight stop then picking up an RV for 20 nights, we would like to visit Mount Rushmore Yellowston, and Salt Lake please can anyone help with any sugestions? We are both interested in scenic, wildlife and places of interest. Thank you

8 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,137 posts
36 reviews
1. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

I'm a bit concerned that you are arriving in September (when exactly?) and that you don't have a firm plan in place, including where you will park that RV for 20 nights. Unless you want to experience an exercise in frustration every night, you really should have campground reservations in place before you leave the UK. They may be difficult to obtain at this late date. September is still prime tourist season in this part of the US.

A route from Denver that includes these places would look like this: This itinerary is based on assuming that you are flying out of Denver on Day 20.

Day 1: Denver to Cheyenne WY. 1.5 hour drive. Since it will take a good part of the day to pick up the RV and get it provisioned, you probably shouldn't make the almost 6 hour drive to Mt. Rushmore on this day.

Day 2: Cheyenne to Mount Rushmore. 4.5 hour drive. Overnight

Day 3: Mount Rushmore to Buffalo WY 3.5 hour drive. Overnight

Day 4: Buffalo to Cody WY. 3 hour drive. Overnight

Day 5: Visit museums in Cody

Day 6: Cody WY to a point in Yellowstone. 3 to 5 hour drive or more depending on where you can get a reservation in Yellowstone.

Day 7: Yellowstone

Day 8: Yellowstone

Day 9: Yellowstone

Day 10: Yellowstone to Grand Teton NP.3 to 4 hour drive. Overnight

Day 11: GTNP

Day 12: GTNP to SLC. 6 hour drive. Overnight

Day 13: SLC

Day 14: SLC to Moab UT 4 hour drive Overnight

Day 15: Arches or Canyonlands National Parks

Day 16: Arches or Canyonlands

Day 17: Moab to Glenwood Springs CO. 3 hour drive. Overnight

Day 18: Glenwood Springs to Denver 2.5 hour drive Overnight

Day 19: Return RV. Time in Denver.

Day 20: Fly home

The drive times listed are based on a passenger car maintaining highway speeds without any stops. You will not be able to maintain highway speeds and should add up to 40% to the above drive times.

If you aren't locked in to the RV rental, you should really consider renting a car and using hotels. It will give you more flexibility when touring places like Yellowstone which isn't RV friendly due to the narrow roads and difficulty finding parking places at points of interest. Also, you will probably have better luck getting hotel reservations over trying to book campsites for this trip. Additionally, you won't have to spend precious vacation time doing mundane housekeeping that comes with renting a RV - things like emptying the black and grey water tanks, securing everything before driving the RV. Also, early winter snowstorms are not uncommon in the Yellowstone area in September....storms bad enough to close roads down for a period of time. You don't want to be traveling in an RV in snow conditions.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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66,688 posts
249 reviews
2. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Southwest and Grand Circle Trip Planning

Everyone wants to visit the parks in the western USA. It's something that every family can and should do at some time. These vacations can be life changing and bonding experiences. Or they can be nightmares.

Most travelers equate being in the parks and outdoor environments with hiking. It's important to understand that hiking is not a requirement for enjoying the wilderness. Time is. This cannot be understated. One cannot begin to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the national parks unless and until they spend time there. It can be as simple as sitting at a single view point for hours, or as elaborate as day long hikes or extended back country camping trips. But arriving at a view point, snapping a picture, and driving on (a la Clark Griswold) is simply not going to do it. At the very least, most of the national parks in the southwest need a day or longer, just to self tour the many attractions and view points therein. Sunset and sunrise are generally the most peaceful and stunning times of day in the sun's rapidly changing light. So overnight stays at, or as close as possible, will enhance a visit to any park.

Logistically, it takes about a half day or longer to travel between most of the parks in the 4 corners states. Often, the scenic drives are enticing enough to warrant additional stops and detours along the way. Regardless, it takes at least two nights at any park or destination to have just one full day there. Many trip planners fail to understand this.

Driving at night in the high desert region is strongly discouraged. Roads are desolate. Ambient lighting is non existent meaning highways are very dark. Wildlife of all sorts and sizes populate the roads from dusk until dawn. Even domestic farm animals like cattle and sheep wander on the pavement.

When trip planners are also expressing a specific desire to include hiking as a regular activity at the parks, and asking for advice on which trails to focus on, they need to realize that they will probably need multiple days and nights at the stop in order to do the hiking or whatever other activities, beyond quick snapshots, they have in mind.

Everyone wants to 'see as much as they can'. What they fail to realize is that by adding more places and activities to a list, without increasing available time, they wind up seeing less and reducing the quality of their vacation time. It's far better to plan more time at fewer parks and destinations, than to rush around and do little more than touch all the bases.

Everyone wants to stay 'off the beaten path' and avoid the places that are 'touristy'. The path that's well worn is that way because it includes the best places already. If you're planning to tour the parks, you are by definition, a tourist. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you insist on avoiding the most popular sites and activities, you'll be planning a second tier, inferior, vacation. Do the top tier first, then come back to explore more in depth.

So when planning your family vacation in the 4 corners region keep a few points in mind.

0. Less is more. Fewer parks and destinations will mean more quality time at the places you choose. Odds are, if you do a proper vacation at just one or two places, you'll return again to focus on different parks in the future.

0. Advance planning and reservations will save you time and money. Park lodges book up as much as a year in advance. The most sought after accommodations go to those who plan and commit the earliest.

0. Traveling by RV is slower and usually more costly than using a car and traditional hotels and lodging. Even campsites book months in advance.

0. Information found on the Internet is helpful, but needs to be verified. Add 30% to most map app drive time estimates. Use park websites along with traveler review and forum sites like TripAdvisor. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last. But there is much you can learn from folks who have been there and done that.

Eagle, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,369 posts
3. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

I agree with the 1st post. You need to find out about campground reservations ASAP. The national parks have way fewer camp spots than people who want them and September can be still busy. Recreation.gov and reserveamerica.com can give you an idea if there is availability and that may determine how you plan your trip. You don't want to spend large chunks of your trip worrying about where you will spend each night because everything close to where you want to be is full.

RVs in the parks can be tricky. You need to pack up every morning to go site seeing. Parking at trail heads and view points is more challenging, and you can cover less ground than in a standard car. Also be aware of mileage charges, gas prices, costs to outfit the RV with cooking gear and linens and RV camping fees. Frequently an RV is about the same price as a car and hotel rooms.

N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
24,866 posts
112 reviews
4. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Good itinerary suggestions from Connie.

Agree with Connie that reservations for your Yellowstone nights are a must. The campground situation is slightly different (more restricted) this fall in Yellowstone than *normal*. The only campground that has RV hookups is closing early this year (on Sept 5) due to Road Construction in front of the entrance. There are other campgrounds in the park but they also need reservations and it will be specific to the length of your rig. BTW, you can only camp in designated camping areas in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. No boondocking allowed.

https:/…campgrounds.htm

There are campgrounds at the West entrance gate that have RV hookups.

In general though, Yellowstone is not a good place for an RV. The roads are narrow, the laybys are small. If you can change to a car and lodging you'll have an easier time touring. If you change to lodging DO come to the Wyoming forum for specific info on booking. There are some shonky 3rd party bookers and we want you to go with the official one!

Also agree with Connie in that I'd want to know when exactly you are planning to travel. 2017 saw winter come early to the high country. Snow moved thru on Sept 16 causing road closures for a days or so and this was generally the pattern thru the rest of Sept and in to October.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28973…

Fall of 2016 saw winter come around the 1st weekend of October, so wintry weather doesn't ALWAYS happen in September but it can.

Edited: 01 August 2018, 21:01
Newbury, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
4 reviews
5. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Thank you for your reply, I'm a little worried now! we have done several Motor Home holidays and never pre booked sites as we like the freedom that if you like a place you stay and move on when your ready, and have never found that we can not get a pitch. However I have listened to your advice and have book a site in Yellowstone for 4 nights. Thank you for your tip.

Newbury, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Hi Connie, Thank you for your reply, we pick our Motor Home up (already booked) on 10th Sept. We have done several Motor Home holidays including Yosemitie, Kings Canynon, San Fran down to San Diago and have never pre booked camp sites, we love the freedom of stay when you like it and move on when you have had enough. However I have taken your advise and booked a pitch for 4 nights in Yellowstone NP (Bridge Bay) . Are there many places in Yellowstone that are restricted due to the size of the Motor Home? the one we have is 25ft length.

Can you advise the best hiking trails within walking distance from Bridge Bay campsite.

Mnay thanks

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,137 posts
36 reviews
7. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Well, it's good that you have RV experience in the US and know what to expect with the day to day routine.

If you prefer not to make advance campground reservations, then you should at least do a good research of what the options are for camping at the various destinations you pick so that you can call in advance to check on availability as you travel.There's a difference in traveling in California where towns are closer together and you'll have more campground options and traveling in the Rocky Mountain west where towns and services are much further apart.

You really should post on the Wyoming forum with your questions about hiking in Yellowstone. I don't hike there.

Newbury, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Denver RV holiday 20 days

Thanks again Connie, your advise has been most helpful, very much appreciated.

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