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Old 02-19-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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We want to camp out West...

Although a little ways off on our calendar, our family of 5 would like to take a long camping trip out West (probably at least 3 weeks). We live near Harrisburg, PA. Our kids at the time of this trip will be about 7, 10 and 13 years old. When we think of West, we think of visiting places like ghost towns, natural beauty (desserts, rock formations), possibly being exposed to different cultures, and experienceing vast parks with the hopes of seeing wildlife. Our initial thoughts are to camp in a few campgrounds over the course of the trip that are central enough to activities/places that we can make day trips to.

I am interested in receiving feedback from others' personal experiences on what are must places to see, dos/dont's, the best time of year to go, how much time should be allotted for a trip such as this (is 3 weeks reasonable?) and campgrounds you might recommend....although full hook-up is desired, it's not a must. Although a 5th wheel is tempting, I am certain we will be pulling our 29L TT for this trip, however, we will definitely have a different TV (probably an F-250 with 6.2L gas). If there are planning guides out there that we would benefit from, I would be interested in hearing about them also.

Your input would be much appreciated.


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Old 02-19-2013, 10:54 AM   #2
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Check out Arches Ntl Park and Moab UT.

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Old 02-19-2013, 10:55 AM   #3
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Custer State Park, South Dakota
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:22 AM   #4
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From PA it could feel like a marathon trip. We are also headed out west this summer (19 days??). We have stead at Custer before, and will again this trip. I would strongly recommend Custer for at least four days, and more if you can do it. From there you have Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Wind Caves (??), the Hill City 1880s train is fabulous, also the wildlife loops. If you are comfortable with a little of the beaten path, drive the gravel roads in Custer, there are a lot less people and you see a much prettier scenery. There are lots of things to do in the area. From there I would recommend Yellowstone NP. I do not want to camp in one of the RV parking lots (only place to make reservations), so you have to show up early in the morning to get a site at one of the other NP CG. The Grand Tetons are great, I wish we had more time ourselves this summer, but we are skipping it this time. I would strongly recommend Glacier NP. The Glaciers are almost gone, and I have been told they will be in the next few years, so I would say you have to take the kids there, while there is still ice.

Have a grand journey!
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:40 AM   #5
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Also very close to Moab and Arches National Park is the Island In The Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. A must see if you're in the area. Also in Utah to the southwest of Moab, there's Bryce Canyon NP and Zion NP.

Just to the north of Utah you'll find Yellowstone NP, which could keep you occupied and entertained for at least a week. And just south of Utah is Grand Canyon NP.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:03 PM   #6
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Grand Circle in Utah

We did a great trip out West--stopping in Salt Lake City (different cultures), then on to Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. They are close enough together to stay near Capitol Reef and do day trips. You are also near north rim of Grand Canyon. On the way home we stopped at Mesa Verde & Great Sand Dunes. As you can tell, we love national parks--lots of hiking & tours which the kids should like.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:50 PM   #7
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I just planned a 70+ day trip out West.
What I did was used my map and GPS to see what I thought would be a comfortable drive and then seen where I could stop.
Researched the CG's and parks in that area.
Now we're retired, so we had more flexibility on time.
My travel tells me I average about 50 mph with stops etc.
I am limiting my driving to 250 miles/day. If I occassionally drive 300, I'll stay over 2 days.

Map + GPS and your estimated travel per day is a place to start.

Safe travels,

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Old 02-19-2013, 06:52 PM   #8
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Yep - the west is a big place. I live in the west (NM) and used 2 weeks to do a Yellowstone trip in 2011. Awesome trip - but I think you need to start by planning your destinations in preferred order and then go from there....

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Old 02-20-2013, 01:22 PM   #9
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If I only had one area to go to, I would definitely go to Yellowstone NP (and The Tetons right next door) with stops at Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore along the way. The problem is that you may only have 3 weeks and its over 2000 miles one way. Sometime either early or late Summer is best but not too early or late because they have some serious snow out there. Make your plans early and reserve campsites if you can because these are popular places. I've found the internet to be the best place to find whatever information you are looking for when traveling to any area.
Also you can use rvparkreviews.com to locate places to stay. This is a great site offering all sorts of info as well as reviews by actual campers, links to the campgrounds and maps . I don't take any trips without checking it out. Also, remember to post your reviews once your trip is over. It will help the next person out.
Maybe the most important is to remember that the road trip itself is part of the experience (especially with kids). I look back on our trips before we retired and some of the best parts were not of the locations but of the interaction between us family members.
We're headed out to Utah and Arizona this Spring for a two month trip (already did YNP and GT).
Good luck and HAVE FUN!

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Old 02-20-2013, 02:29 PM   #10
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I really appreciate everyone's feedback...these forums are very helpful.

Thank you very much, all. I will certainly be printing out your ideas and will take into account what each of you have to say as we eventually plan our trip.

Thanks again!!...anyone else can certainly add additional suggestions.

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