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Old 09-10-2013, 09:15 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Erie, PA
Posts: 203
A Newby Plans a Trip

I am new to my Jayco travel trailer, my Ram truck, RVing, and this forum. We got the travel trailer in May, 2013 and took a bunch of small trips this summer as learning exercises (also lots of fun). We are located in Erie, PA.

I am trying to plan a six to seven week western trip in the summer of 2014.

I believe I have planned out the first half of the trip: the path will go west from Erie, PA moving along the interstates (I90/I80 across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa; north up I29; then I90 across South Dakota). This first phase will be pretty much just traveling.

The idea is to spend two or three days in the Black Hills/Mount Rushmore area, a couple of days around Devil’s Tower, and maybe a day by Sheridan, WY to take a drive up into the Big Horn mountain range to look for wild horses.

Another travel day across Montana on I90 until Livingston, MT. From there, south on US89, ending in Gardiner, MT, right outside the north entrance to Yellowstone.

Rocky Mountain RV Park & Lodging in Gardiner, MT will be the base for four days where the focus will be on Mammoth Hot Springs, the Lamar Valley, and a drive out the northeast entrance and up the Beartooth Highway (without the trailer – a day trip).

Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone, MT will be the base for three days where the focus will be on the geysers and thermal features.

Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone itself will be the base for five days where the focus will be on the remainder of the park not yet seen.

The next step will be a move down to Colter Bay Village RV Park in Grand Teton National Park for ten nights.

here is the part I am still tryong to work out:

Now comes movement from Jackson, WY to Grand Junction, CO. My initial thought is to take US189/US191 south out of Jackson, WY. The idea is to stay on US191 down to Vernal, UT. Does anyone know what the grades are like going south out of Jackson, WY and as US191 crosses a mountain range as US191 enters northern Utah – it crosses this mountain range as it leaves southern Wyoming and enters northern Utah before you come to Vernal, UT? US191 intersects with US40 in Vernal, UT.

I want to get from Vernal, UT to Grand Junction, CO. The maps shows that if I head east on US40 I will intersect with CO64 and be able to go south. CO64 will intersect with CO139, which I can again follow south to an intersection with US50/US6 and then east into Grand Junction, CO. It does appear that CO139 climbs through a mountain range – I see a lot of switchbacks. Does anyone know what the grades are like on this road?

I then want to get from Grand Junction, CO to Colorado Springs, CO. I think I could either go east on I70 and then turn south on I25 in Denver or I could go east on US50 and north on I25 when I hit Pueblo, CO. Is anyone familiar with the grades and mountain passes on these two roads?

I still need to work on the return path from Colorado Springs, but that will be mostly just travelling.

This is my rig:

Towing Vehicle:

2012 Ram 2500 CC 4WD ST Trim 6.7L Cummins and 68RFE auto tran
3.73 rear axle ratio
TransForce AT LT265/70R17 load range E tires
tire weight rating = 3,200
MaxBrake trailer brake controller
PML 68RFE Deep Transmission Pan: +4 quarts
BD Steering Box Stabilizer
Big Wig Rear Anti-Sway Bar

Travel Trailer:

1995 Jayco Eagle Series 304 BH
GVWR = 7,800 tandem axle
double eye spring suspension; equalizer
three leaves in leaf springs
Dexter easy-Lube axles with axle weight rating = 6,000 lb (each)
12 inch brake drum; electric brakes
Firestone TransForce HT LT225/75R16 load range E tires
tire weight rating = 2,700
Equal-I-Zer Weight Distributing w/ Anti-Sway Hitch: 12,000 lb

I welcome any comments and insights from those who have down this road before me.


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Old 09-10-2013, 12:52 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cleveland
Posts: 1,435
No comments other than the trip sounds awesome!! You will have to keep us updated with pictures and postings of the trip!

2013 Jayco JayFlight 26RKS
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: NW AR (God's Country)
Posts: 1,852
If you have the time, I would suggest investing in a booklet entitled; MOUNTAIN DIRECTORY WEST (they also make an East version). This will give you all of the grade info for all of the highways in the Western states. I used it last Spring for our trip out West and it was very accurate. Good luck...sounds like a great trip!

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Old 09-10-2013, 05:10 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Erie, PA
Posts: 203

Just went to the website and for the mountain directory and checked it out. Just what I was looking for!

In the last week of August we took a trip to soutwestern Pennsylvania and then down into West Virginia. I just did a google map of the driving route. The next thing I know I am heading up this hill on US 40 that had an average 9% grade over six miles, but varied from 7% to 12%. Sure would have liked to known that was coming in advance!!!

I will do more investigation and planning in the future!

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Old 09-10-2013, 05:45 PM   #5
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: south jersey
Posts: 39
Several years ago i went out to Montana. We went to Glacier National Park on the Canadian border. If you can fit it in i would go. I cant say enough good things about the park its just breathtaking. You cant take the trailer but there is a road called The Going To The Sun Road that goes through the park. Its a must see. It goes up to Logans pass and looks out over the continental divide. Im sure you can find more info on line. Have a great and safe trip.
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