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Old 01-11-2016, 01:43 PM   #11
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Blackbear55 & Gone campin,

In the past, during 2 different summers we took a 5 week trip with our kids, one in 2000 to the Southwest (Grand Canyon, Las Vegas) and the other in 2003 to the Northwest (Yellowstone, Canadian Rockies) both from Western New York. Both trips we did from the end of June to the end of July time frame.

The Northwest trip, we probably could have used 6 weeks, 5 weeks was a little rushed for what we did.
Each trip total miles were ~6,000 and we drove between 200 - 250 miles (~4hrs / day) so that we had time to relax and see the sites of the areas we just stopped overnight at.

Here's some places you may want to consider stopping at.
NW Trip:
- Mitchell, SD - Corn Palace
- Needles Highway
- Custer SP
- Thermopolis, WY - hot springs
- Grand Tetons - Colter Bay CG, Jackson Hole

Yellowstone is huge, if you've never been there, it can be a shock to us easterners for the vast area it covers.
We spent 3 nights at Rapid City (Mount Rushmore area) - could have spend another 1 or 2 nights.
We drove through Bad Lands on the way to Rapid City - that was good for us. Was able to stop with the trailer at many locations to get out and walk around.

At Yellowstone, we stayed 2 nights at Fishing Bridge CG in the part which was centrally located. Also stayed 2 nights at Yellowstone RV Pk in Gardner, MT, which was convenient to Yellowstone's north entrance.
In between we steps 2 nights at Colter Bay RV Pk, Grand Tetons - could have spend another day or two here.

At Glacier NP, we camped on the St. Mary, MT side at Johnsons of St. Mary CG because it was convenient for heading to Canada. Only stayed overnight, should have stayed longer.

We only made a couple of reservations because we didn't want to be tied to a schedule. The only place we made reservations for were Yellowstone - Fishing Bridge and Colter Bay. We had no problem finding campgrounds all the other nights.

SW Trip:
- St. Louis - a lot of stuff to see here (spent 3 days and didn't see all we wanted)
- Oklahoma City - overnight here and saw the memorial.
- Cortez, CO - Mesa Verda Area
- Four Corners - just stopped to see it on the way to Mesa Verda / Cortez, CO.
- Painted Desert / Petrified Forest - just drove through this & stopped at various site-seeing spots.
- Sedona, AZ - definitly worth the stop - spent 3 days here, could have used another.
- Grand Canyon - spent 3 days here - 2 probably would have been enough for us (more because we're not hikers).
- Hoover Dam - worth the tour.
- Memphis-Graceland

Again, we didn't make reservations because we didn't want to be tied to a schedule. The only reservations we made were at St. Louis and Grand Canyon.

Places we didn't go and wish we would have when we were out there were:
- Bryce Canyon
- Zion NP

Hope this helps to trigger some thoughts and ideas.

If you're interested in the specific campgrounds and locations where we stayed I would be happy to post them.
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:07 PM   #12
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ROC-REQS - I thought about splitting it up into a NW and SW like you did, but my reasoning for not doing it is I am afraid we won't make it back the second time. When I was a kid, my family did the NW trip, but never got to make the Grand Canyon and SW trip. You gave a lot of great input!

Like Cdash, my wife and I agree that we would rather put in 3 long days to get to SD and have more time out there - same on the trip home. My kids are 3 and 5, so they don't get a vote LOL! Anything we could get to with a 2 week trip, we would skip on this trip (i.e. St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis).

I know it is never enough time, no matter how much you have... I would rather see as much as we can, and if we do make it back some day, hit the stuff we missed.

Blackbear55 - sorry, I'm not meaning to hijack your post! I'll hush up now
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Old 01-14-2016, 06:21 AM   #13
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Blackbear55,
If you are going to Mt. Rushmore for two days consider camping in Custer State Park. Wonderful scenery and fairly close to Rushmore.
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Old 01-17-2016, 11:12 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the ideas, I thought I had a good plan until all these ideas were posted, back to the drawing board.
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Old 01-21-2016, 03:17 PM   #15
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Gone Campin
You might want to check your route in Colorado. Rather than going to Denver, consider going to Ridgeway, CO. Stay at Po-Ca-Chu-Puk (state campground). It is a fantastic campground and the area absolutely gorgeous. Lots of hiking, biking, fishing, 4WD driving, shopping, exploring. You can use it as a base to explore the Million Dollar Highway, Silverton, Durango and Telluride. We have been there many times and there is tons to do in that area. Then head south to Mesa Verde before going to Grand Canyon and home. I can give you more specifics if you want.
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Old 01-21-2016, 04:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by bethcb View Post
Gone Campin
You might want to check your route in Colorado. Rather than going to Denver, consider going to Ridgeway, CO. Stay at Po-Ca-Chu-Puk (state campground). It is a fantastic campground and the area absolutely gorgeous. Lots of hiking, biking, fishing, 4WD driving, shopping, exploring. You can use it as a base to explore the Million Dollar Highway, Silverton, Durango and Telluride. We have been there many times and there is tons to do in that area. Then head south to Mesa Verde before going to Grand Canyon and home. I can give you more specifics if you want.
Thank you - that would work great because we don't really want to go to Denver (was just using it to get the basic route), but we do want to go to Silverton and Durango for sure (we are train fans and hit every train we can). Thanks for the input!
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:38 PM   #17
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vWe traveled from our home here in Central Missouri to Billing, Mt. on our Gold Wing trike in 2007. If any of your route includes I-90 or I-80 I can tell you that when we rode there, around July 1, it was VERY windy !! Cross winds were very tireing. Also semi tractor trailer traffic was very heavy. We are trying to plan a return trip to that area this summer but we may try to avoid the 2 routes mentioned. Enjoy, really beautiful country.
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Old 01-21-2016, 05:50 PM   #18
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I forgot to tell you that from Ridgway, you can also do a day trip to Black Canyon and go to Ouray. Ouray is one of the most beautiful towns you would ever see! Spend at least a week in that Ridgway area. If you need specifics on stuff there, let me know.
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Old 01-22-2016, 10:33 AM   #19
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My wife and I have made 3 trips "out west" from NJ (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming & South Dakota). The first was with our Pop-up.

We share the driving for the most part, but this last time I did most of the driving. We attacked the long drive to SD this way: Day 1 we left early in the morning (2-3am) and did most of the driving -- we drove 14 hours and made it to mid-Illinois. The second Day, we left at 5am we made it to Mitchell, SD (9 hours). We checked out the Corn Palace, had some dinner and went to sleep.
The 3rd day we got onto the road early again, went to Custer State Park (4 hour drive). On the way, we stopped at a Sod house, Wall Drugs (a must-see tourist trap) and drove through the Badlands. Pretty cool.
So, all in all, we did the trip in 3 days. That has worked consistently for us on all our trips to Colorado and Utah. We do the longest drive on the first day because we are the freshest and excited to go.

BTW, Custer is a beautiful state park with a fantastic campground. Definitely a must see, especially when you consider they have buffalo in the park.
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Old 01-22-2016, 01:37 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Blackbear55 View Post
, glacier for 3, and yellowstone for 3
A few years ago we took out teardrop (TT at the time) out west for 5 weeks (7k mikes) and we found you need to spend enough time in 1 area to really see what it has to offer. I would consider going to either Glacier OR Yellowstone, not both. You end up spending a lot of time traveling & setting up and taking down camp. We have a 6 hour a day driving max. Slow down and smell the roses.
We spent 3 days in the Black hill SD and could have doubled that. (We went to Mt Rushmore and was there 2 hours and was more than enough).
Bottom line - we went to too many places.

Part of our 5 week trip:
TierDrop Travels
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