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Old 02-26-2024, 07:40 PM   #1
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Grand Canyon advice late summer/early fall '24

Hi all,

My son is 45 and unfortunately has liver cancer. Outcome is uncertain -- he's undergone 2 rounds of chemo, 2 rounds of radiation to little avail, but his overall health and spirit right now is very good, and is about to start a different treatment soon.

He's wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, and I'm thinking about planning a trip late summer to early fall of this year for him, my 15-year-old grandson and me. (I really prefer not to.put it off until '25, not knowing what lies ahead.) This would obviously be a very meaningful and emotional trip.

We have a '22 Precept 31UL and a toad. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, and I'm looking for advice/suggestions. I realize I might be late to the game here in terms of reservations, etc. My son works, but has accrued a lot of time off and can use it at his will, and I'm retired. Apart from my grandson being in high school, we have some flexibility as to timing, and would plan to be there perhaps a week, which could be stretched out if we go into Utah or New Mexico.

Is this a realistic plan, in general terms of getting campground reservations? I'm also looking for any suggestions as to where to camp. Ideally, we'd start at the North Rim and work our way to the South Rim, but that may not be how it all works out. I have absolutely no idea beyond that, so perhaps a suggested itinerary would be helpful -- it's hard to know how long to spend at a given location. I do know that that part of the country is vast and there are plenty of places to go that are equally as good as the popular attractions.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you all might have.
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Old 02-26-2024, 10:54 PM   #2
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7 pines? Koa on I-40 a couple of miles east of the canyon exit packs them in so tight, my neighbors awning covered my utilities.
Check the burn bans. We could not use propane stoves/grilles outside. It pained me to pan fry that good cut of red meat inside the trailer.
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Old 02-27-2024, 12:50 AM   #3
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So sorry to hear about your son. Our thoughts are with you.

We visited the Grand Canyon and Utah parks two years ago in May. It was already getting busy, even though the North Rim had just opened. We started at the South Rim, then proceeded around east and up to the North Rim. From there, we went north and up to Bryce Canyon and back through Zion NP. Here are a few thoughts/second thoughts:

ó We stayed in Trailer Village at the South Rim but just got a few days. We booked four nights at Kaibab Camper Village, which is the closest RV park to the North Rim. If I were to do it again, Iíd spend far more time at Trailer Village. Itís a great park and very close to lots of trails and South Rim facilities. To get to the North Rim from Kaibab takes 45 minutes of driving. Itís far less crowded and just as beautiful but we spent lots of time getting there.

ó Rubyís RV park is very close to Bryce Canyon and a terrific park. We liked Bryce better than anything we saw. It is striking and very easy to access. Just start early.

ó There are a number of parks fairly close to the west side of Zion, but it is very popular and crowded. Use the shuttle to get in the park.

ó There are lots of great Utah parks nearby, and if we go again, Iíd hit those too ó Canyonlands, Moab area etc.

As I mentioned, we found all the parks busy in May and I suspect it will be the same for you. Getting reservations now might be tough. If you have a chance to go, though, itís well worth it.
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Old 02-27-2024, 09:15 AM   #4
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So sorry to hear about your son. Our thoughts are with you.

We visited the Grand Canyon and Utah parks two years ago in May. It was already getting busy, even though the North Rim had just opened. We started at the South Rim, then proceeded around east and up to the North Rim. From there, we went north and up to Bryce Canyon and back through Zion NP. Here are a few thoughts/second thoughts:

ó We stayed in Trailer Village at the South Rim but just got a few days. We booked four nights at Kaibab Camper Village, which is the closest RV park to the North Rim. If I were to do it again, Iíd spend far more time at Trailer Village. Itís a great park and very close to lots of trails and South Rim facilities. To get to the North Rim from Kaibab takes 45 minutes of driving. Itís far less crowded and just as beautiful but we spent lots of time getting there.

ó Rubyís RV park is very close to Bryce Canyon and a terrific park. We liked Bryce better than anything we saw. It is striking and very easy to access. Just start early.

ó There are a number of parks fairly close to the west side of Zion, but it is very popular and crowded. Use the shuttle to get in the park.

ó There are lots of great Utah parks nearby, and if we go again, Iíd hit those too ó Canyonlands, Moab area etc.

As I mentioned, we found all the parks busy in May and I suspect it will be the same for you. Getting reservations now might be tough. If you have a chance to go, though, itís well worth it.
Thanks Lucky Duck -- that's great info.
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Old 02-27-2024, 09:16 AM   #5
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7 pines? Koa on I-40 a couple of miles east of the canyon exit packs them in so tight, my neighbors awning covered my utilities.
Check the burn bans. We could not use propane stoves/grilles outside. It pained me to pan fry that good cut of red meat inside the trailer.
Thanks for the warnings.
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Old 02-27-2024, 09:39 AM   #6
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I'd spend time camping at the Trailer Park on the South Rim
Services are at your fingertips and the views are too
You can visit the Rim anytime and it's handicap accessible if ( hope not) comes to that
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Old 02-27-2024, 10:30 PM   #7
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I'd spend time camping at the Trailer Park on the South Rim
Services are at your fingertips and the views are too
You can visit the Rim anytime and it's handicap accessible if ( hope not) comes to that
Thanks Kim -- apparently Trailer Village is pretty popular, given the number of responses (I posted an identical thread at IRV2.) I know you've done a lot of traveling -- do you have a recommended route from New Hampshire (I know you're in Maine) to the Grand Canyon at that time of year? I-40? I-70?
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Old 02-28-2024, 06:48 AM   #8
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We don't have to pay attention to recommended routes or time
So we started by using 1 80 to Ohio visiting friends
then 71 or something to 64 to St louis.
then 44 to back roads of the Ozarks and 40 to New Mexico and wandering around then to Tuscon then Sedona up Oak creek csnyon to Flagstaff ( twisty windy steep two lane) abd then to GC
I am not the one to ask for efficient routes I will tell tou I hate Indianapolis and Chicago
I will also route you across Maine on logging roads for the scenery
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Old 02-28-2024, 12:09 PM   #9
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This is something you may want to consider. The ďGrand Canyon RailwayĒ in Williams AZ. We stayed at Black Bart Rv park in Flagstaff AZ. Flagstaff is about 20 or 25 minutes from the train station. This is a unique way to see the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It takes about 2 hours to get to the canyon, you stay 3 hours and then a 2 hour ride back to the train station. Itís a very entertaining train ride. You wonít have to fight the traffic or parking. If you Google ď Grand Canyon railway ď it will do a better job of explaining everything than I can. We have stayed at Black Bart RV park a couple of times. The up side is itís close to the freeway, the downside is itís close to the freeway and can get a little noisy.If your going to New Mexico I would suggest going to ď Carlsbad Caverns ď. I donít have the vocabulary to explain the visual experience, all I can say is itís absolutely Magnificent. I hope you, your son and grandson are able to have a great trip.7
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Old 02-28-2024, 03:09 PM   #10
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Dang, that's a tough break.

I think your biggest issue will be time. If you have only a week, and you're starting in NH, you won't be able to do the whole trip in less than ~2 weeks IMO.

That drive is upwards of ~2700 miles. Average speed on long journeys like this is 50 mph. That's ~54 hrs of driving. Figure 12 hrs a day, that's 4-1/2 HARD days of driving. One way. DW and I are in our mid 40's, in decent health, both are drivers, and I would have a REAL hard time with that journey. No way it can be done in one week. And you don't want to be pulling a Clark Griswold visit to the Grand Canyon for this one.

On the other hand, if you can get 2-3 weeks, you, your son, and grandson could have an absolutely EPIC journey, and IMO a once in a lifetime, unforgettable, special experience of a trip. That's what I would aim for if I were in your shoes. I would give virtually anything to be able to do a trip like that with my dad and my son. And in your situation, with your son in the position he's in, I'd say "damn the consequences". Wouldn't think twice about pulling the grandson out of school for the trip, and would encourage the son to burn the vacation. It'll be worth it.

Spread the trip out and put in a couple "layover" days in there and just see what there is to see. And there's LOTS to see between NH and Flagstaff.

Sorry, I can't offer up any suggested places to see or stay around Grand Canyon, as I've never been there. It's on my bucket list. What I can say is that my mom passed away when she was relatively young, when I was still a young man, and I would have given ANYTHING to have even just one more minute with her. For her to meet her grand daughters and her grandson. If I knew I could be running out of time, I'd make dang sure I was using it spending quality time with my family. Should be doing that anyway, because tomorrow is never promised, and every sunrise we get to see is a gift of immeasurable value.

I'd love to read how this all turns out for you, and wish you and your boys the best of luck.
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Old 02-28-2024, 03:46 PM   #11
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This is something you may want to consider. The ďGrand Canyon RailwayĒ in Williams AZ. We stayed at Black Bart Rv park in Flagstaff AZ. Flagstaff is about 20 or 25 minutes from the train station. This is a unique way to see the south rim of the Grand Canyon. It takes about 2 hours to get to the canyon, you stay 3 hours and then a 2 hour ride back to the train station. Itís a very entertaining train ride. You wonít have to fight the traffic or parking. If you Google ď Grand Canyon railway ď it will do a better job of explaining everything than I can. We have stayed at Black Bart RV park a couple of times. The up side is itís close to the freeway, the downside is itís close to the freeway and can get a little noisy.If your going to New Mexico I would suggest going to ď Carlsbad Caverns ď. I donít have the vocabulary to explain the visual experience, all I can say is itís absolutely Magnificent. I hope you, your son and grandson are able to have a great trip.7
Thanks, HW/HL-- the train ride looks like a great experience! Good to know about Flagstaff as well. It's honestly difficult to gauge distances out there using the road atlas, and I haven't yet tried to do it using digital maps.
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Old 02-28-2024, 03:51 PM   #12
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Dang, that's a tough break.

I think your biggest issue will be time. If you have only a week, and you're starting in NH, you won't be able to do the whole trip in less than ~2 weeks IMO.

That drive is upwards of ~2700 miles. Average speed on long journeys like this is 50 mph. That's ~54 hrs of driving. Figure 12 hrs a day, that's 4-1/2 HARD days of driving. One way. DW and I are in our mid 40's, in decent health, both are drivers, and I would have a REAL hard time with that journey. No way it can be done in one week. And you don't want to be pulling a Clark Griswold visit to the Grand Canyon for this one.

On the other hand, if you can get 2-3 weeks, you, your son, and grandson could have an absolutely EPIC journey, and IMO a once in a lifetime, unforgettable, special experience of a trip. That's what I would aim for if I were in your shoes. I would give virtually anything to be able to do a trip like that with my dad and my son. And in your situation, with your son in the position he's in, I'd say "damn the consequences". Wouldn't think twice about pulling the grandson out of school for the trip, and would encourage the son to burn the vacation. It'll be worth it.

Spread the trip out and put in a couple "layover" days in there and just see what there is to see. And there's LOTS to see between NH and Flagstaff.

Sorry, I can't offer up any suggested places to see or stay around Grand Canyon, as I've never been there. It's on my bucket list. What I can say is that my mom passed away when she was relatively young, when I was still a young man, and I would have given ANYTHING to have even just one more minute with her. For her to meet her grand daughters and her grandson. If I knew I could be running out of time, I'd make dang sure I was using it spending quality time with my family. Should be doing that anyway, because tomorrow is never promised, and every sunrise we get to see is a gift of immeasurable value.

I'd love to read how this all turns out for you, and wish you and your boys the best of luck.
Thanks, Camper Bob -- no, my plan is that we take a week to get there, stay a week, and another week back with rest stops and visits along the way. Maybe a layover in Nashville? You're right, there's so much to see between here and there, far more than can be done in a single trip, let alone multiples. I've spoken with several people in the past who have gone out West, and I've heard recommendations to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Ford trucks plant tour, not to mention the various other attractions and national parks along the way.
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Old 02-28-2024, 04:22 PM   #13
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Check the length restrictions at the national parks campgrounds.
I had a 34í fifth wheel and was told by the park service they had no sites with hookups I could fit in.
As for the parks in southern Utah, look at Sand Hollow state park in Hurricane.
Absolutely beautiful, good price and very well done full hookups campgrounds.
Made a very nice home base to see the parks in the area.
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Old 02-28-2024, 04:30 PM   #14
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Thanks, Camper Bob -- no, my plan is that we take a week to get there, stay a week, and another week back with rest stops and visits along the way. Maybe a layover in Nashville? You're right, there's so much to see between here and there, far more than can be done in a single trip, let alone multiples. I've spoken with several people in the past who have gone out West, and I've heard recommendations to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Ford trucks plant tour, not to mention the various other attractions and national parks along the way.
Donít mean to be a fly in the ointment, but a week at Grand Canyon alone (north or south rims) is barely enough to fully experience it, IMHO. Trying to see both sides would leave no time for any Utah parks unless you just want to quickly drive though them on the way back. If the GC is your highest priority (say, over the Ford plant), maybe you sacrifice things on the way to get there quicker and spend 10 days or more?

Looking back at some of the stuff I found when planning our trip, I came across this. If youíre a photographer (even amateur), it is helpful. It was to me. (If this isnít readable, PM me with your email address and I can send you a bigger file.)
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Old 02-28-2024, 04:52 PM   #15
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Ya know you are driving right past meteor crater, painted desert, and petrified forest.
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Old 02-28-2024, 05:08 PM   #16
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Thanks, Camper Bob -- no, my plan is that we take a week to get there, stay a week, and another week back with rest stops and visits along the way. Maybe a layover in Nashville? You're right, there's so much to see between here and there, far more than can be done in a single trip, let alone multiples. I've spoken with several people in the past who have gone out West, and I've heard recommendations to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Ford trucks plant tour, not to mention the various other attractions and national parks along the way.
That's going to be absolutely EPIC then!!

Still don't have a lot to add specifically. What we do on our longer journeys is begin with a "keystone" destination (the Grand Canyon in your case). Reservations for that specific destination are made as early as possible. We try to be as flexible as we can there, and will include nearby locations if we need to.

Then we begin planning the route. 50 mph is our planning speed (and over many years of travel, it's nearly always been right on, except when we have issues), and we try not to be on the road any more than 12 hours in any one day, and try not to have 2 of those days back to back. We know we're going to have days where we just need to log as many miles as we can, the goal is just to break them apart in a meaningful way. My job is primarily the basic logistics, so then I hand the planned route over to my wife, and she finds reservations if needed, and suggests activities or things we want to see on our "layover" days. The key here is that there's something interesting to see virtually ANYWHERE you choose to stop. And if by chance there isn't, then we've been known to alter the route slightly so that we hit something we want to see.

You definitely need to do a detailed write up on this trip. I know I would absolutely LOVE to read about it!!

Forgot to add that I threw together a potential trip, and my target was the North Rim. I wanted to spend 2 nights near there, then head North into Utah. I had chosen a somewhat random spot that was somewhat central to many of the parks there. I was thinking of spending several nights there and taking "day trips" to the parks nearby. One of my stops on the way out was going to be Carlsbad Caverns. I went there when I was a kid, and remember it being very "commercialized", but really neat. I remember there was a cafe down in one of the caverns, and I thought that was a bit inappropriate.
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Old 02-28-2024, 06:33 PM   #17
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This is more than a little disappointing with the diversions in recommendations.

the man wants to visit the Canyon. Adding Meteor Crater and an dozen other stops makes this a six month trip. Stick to the plan people!


The North Rim is much more beautiful and less crowded than the South but it has fewer facilities. Sure you can tour all of the NPs in Utah but if that is what you want to do you are adding weeks and complications to the trip. If you just want to enjoy the Canyon, worry about camping facilities at the North Rim, Or South Rim.



Williams is a good jump off point but an hour from the gates that does not include the wait at the gates. The facilities at the South Rim are good but you need to be making reservations now and wait times at gates can slow things down as can the volume of tourists so plan ahead.



My recommendation, check the facilities at Tusayan AZ for RVs and for reservations inside the park. Then check facilities for Jacob's Lake at the North Rim and make some decisions. By relying on the past experiences of many here you leave yourself open to what they like and not what you are looking for. Sorry to those giving advice but--much of it is, well anyway.
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Old 02-28-2024, 06:50 PM   #18
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Trailer Village at Grand Canyon South Rim has a 50 foot limit on RV's
Each park is different and no you won't fit in Mather next door
I wish people would research before opionating if they haven't been there. Googling is fine

And yes you can spend a week at the South Rim
We did
Your trip plans however are really up to your son as to how you want to spend your time.
IMO There is a difference between "doing it" and taking the time to enjoybthe little things
The changing light
the movement of the elk
the flight of the endangered condor
etc
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Old 02-28-2024, 08:56 PM   #19
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Check the length restrictions at the national parks campgrounds.
I had a 34í fifth wheel and was told by the park service they had no sites with hookups I could fit in.
As for the parks in southern Utah, look at Sand Hollow state park in Hurricane.
Absolutely beautiful, good price and very well done full hookups campgrounds.
Made a very nice home base to see the parks in the area.
Great advice Markb, thanks.
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Old 02-28-2024, 08:57 PM   #20
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Trailer Village at Grand Canyon South Rim has a 50 foot limit on RV's
Each park is different and no you won't fit in Mather next door
I wish people would research before opionating if they haven't been there. Googling is fine

And yes you can spend a week at the South Rim
We did
Your trip plans however are really up to your son as to how you want to spend your time.
IMO There is a difference between "doing it" and taking the time to enjoybthe little things
The changing light
the movement of the elk
the flight of the endangered condor
etc
Pure poetry.
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