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Old 01-14-2014, 04:21 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Help planning a long loop

This may take awhile to explain. Both retired, Eagle 322FKS, Ram Quadcab 4WD PU without cap, DW and small dog.

We're thinking of taking the TT to Gilbert, AZ to see one of the sons but seeing as much as possible on the way out and back. From Michigan to AZ starting in the spring on a southern route, seeing what is along the way then spending time near Mesa,AZ with my son and family, later Lake Havasu, AZ with SIL and families, and return on a northern route.

We've already stopped in Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Petrified Forest, and Phoenix proper.

We'd like to see the other NP areas, day trips from a CG stop, and more historical than entertainment types of areas. On the way back I'd like to get to Rushmore and Crazy Horse and whatever else will be along the route.

I'll be looking at planning this myself but am looking for help from you guys as to the time of year to start, length of legs due to terrain, and weather conditions to expect. I did get caught March of 2012 with the car in snow at Flagstaff when I-40 was closed. Seeing the canyon again will be good.

We eat simple, don't need restaurants, but aren't against quality homecooked meals. Don't have a Gen right now but would get one if it is advised.

We usually use State Parks but could boondock if needed. May also add the cap to the truck if that is suggested for security of a Gen. Garmin is uptodate but we both navigate well. Neither have major health problems but at 66 I slow down some when needed. I will look for Disc Golf courses wherever we stop. Hiking trails are always welcome but we are not into climbing too much. The dog is small and won't walk far so we leave her in the TT but leave the AC on when needed. Normally we stop every 2-3 hours as I refuel, gas, every 150 miles.

Timing on this is probably in 2015 or 2016 since my son is coming home this year.

Thanks for whatever help you can give and NO opinions will be rejected as we plan, for us, a big trip that may not be repeated due to cost.

Dale
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:49 AM   #2
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Don't miss the Grand Canyon and the parks in Utah. Depending on the time of year you could also spend a few days in Death Valley.
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:22 AM   #3
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If you go south through Texas, San Antonio is well worth exploring.
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Old 01-19-2014, 11:02 AM   #4
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Well.. we have done that route a number of times. Do I need to mention that the campground right across from mackinaw Island is amazing.. right near your home. Lots of water front sites. (haha.. you said all stops considered, and so thats a good one). I would suggest going through Missouri and stopping in Branson if you haven't been there before. Its like a family friendly Vegas, lots of shows, but not expensive. We stayed at the state park, but there are lots of campgrounds there. We also went to Hot Springs Arkansas a few years back and stayed at the state Park near the town, I cant remember the name but I can find it if you want. Great town, lots of history. Don't miss Colorado on the way back if possible because it is amazing and gorgeous. The drive up and over the mountain in Rocky Mountain park is a once in a life experience.
Also just remember that if you go to the Grand Canyon, you can camp there but you need to book your site almost a year in advance. I would recommend September or June for those travels.. Its very hot in the summer.. (We were there in the summer).. if there is any more info you want about the places I've mentioned.. just let me know.
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Old 01-19-2014, 06:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for all of the suggestions.

So far we’ve decided on the major route to Gilbert but not exactly when we leave. The thought is early April so the trip back will be a northern routed in mid to late May.

Beginning route is as follows:
I-69 out from Michigan thru Indy, I-70 thru Terra Haute then I-57, first stop at Percival Springs in Watson, IL.

I-57 to I-55 to I-40 past West Memphis, I-440 around Little Rock, I-30 to I-30 RV Park in Benten, AK

I-30 to I-20 thru DFW, maybe around, to Abilene KOA.

Final day is I-20 to I-10 to US-70 to Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction, AZ

Now I want to look at what along the route we want to see and know that it will add stops and delays along the way. This will change the time spent in each area.

So far travel starts no earlier than 9am and no later than 4pm.
I’ll check the major cities, States, and anything I can find along the route for attractions and interesting things to see from the stops.

Suggestions along this line will greatly be welcomed.

Half the fun is in the planning and altering the plan so it becomes easy and relaxing.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:20 PM   #6
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On your way back, I would recommend staying in West Glacier for 4-5 days. We liked Yellowstone but the DW did not like the traffic in the park, so we only spent about 3 days there, I would like to do it again but off season. We stayed at Custer State Park, for our Mount Rushmore visit, we enjoyed all the things we could do in the area. 5 days in my opinion is not enough time for the Rushmore area.
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:29 PM   #7
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I've been at Custer State Park on a work assignment in the past. Did Rushmore and Crazy Horse in a day so that would work. The other things in the area are what I'm going to look into.

The next thing I need to do other than looking for attractions on the southern route out is to determine the route back from the south rim of the canyon. Figure I'm starting at Flagstaff and heading for Rushmore.

What would be the best route north without getting into the extreme grades, up or down, and avoiding the problems with tooo much snow at the beginning of May.

I'll look at West Glacier and learn as much as I can. Thanks
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:35 PM   #8
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Just looking at your itinerary, you have listed your last day as Abilene to Apache Junction, my calculations show this leg as 822 miles and almost 13 hours.

That won't fit your 9am 4pm schedule
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:58 PM   #9
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Must have been an oversight. I have it in my file as Van Horn, TX. I've already divided a couple of the days in half as I find things to see and do in between the original stops. With an additional activity between the originals it adds two days with one of them only for the activity.

This automatically gives us some time to rest as we get two short travel days where shopping and laundry can be done in the other half day and then a full day for the activity. A practice that has worked for us in the past on other trips.

Thanks for pointing that error out.

With this not happening for another year I will be able to track the snow problems on roads we will be traveling a year ahead so I will have a better idea if my timing is right.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:45 PM   #10
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I think the route is starting to solidify with the understanding we will now start adding days at our stops to see more.
From MI I-69, I-70, I-57, I-55 to I-40 with a couple days in Memphis and Little Rock where we go off interstate to Crater of Diamonds SP in Arkansas for a couple days.

Then I-30/20 to Abilene and down to Balmorhea,TX and continuing west on I-10 to AZ191 before going north to Apache Junction. Planned stops every 200-250 miles for a day or so to look around.

Then 2 weeks with son and SIL in Gilbert and Lake Havasu City before taking I-15 thru Zion and Provo with 2 days in each area. Leaving I-15 to go around St. Lake City on I-215 to I-80 and then east to Green River, WY and Flaming Gorge NP for a couple days.

We then continue on I-80 to Rawlings and US-287 N to WY220 to Casper for the night. Continuing on to Devils Tower for a night and then another day to Rushmore area. 3 days near Rushmore and then we start towards home on I-90 to I-29 to I-80 with stops near Sioux Falls, DesMoines, and Utica, IL for whatever is in the area before the final leg home.

We still need to know, being flatlanders, where to be concerned with steep grades, I am getting the Mountain Directory West. I’m also wondering if I should expect to run into closed roads due to snow with the return from AZ being the 2nd and 3rd week of May. I know storms can happen at anytime and if that happens we will just sit until it is clear.

Help on here has been great and we are also looking for extras to see along the route. Waterfalls and some hikes are being planned in like when we walked the trails at Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon Village.

Since this is for Spring 2015 I’ve got a lot of time to change and add stops along the way. The longest day so far is 300 miles with most being under 225.
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