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Old 09-08-2016, 08:33 PM   #1
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1984 34' International
Harrisonville , Pennsylvania
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Colorado, Wyoming road trip advise.

I am in the beginning of planning a trip from Pennsylvania to Colorado and Wyoming. I have never taken my rig more than 70mi from home. I will be traveling with 2 young kids (3 and 7). I have a 34' International travel trailer. Looking for any advise or tips.

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Old 09-08-2016, 10:25 PM   #2
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When making long haul trips, we try to limit the to/from miles per day to less than 300 so we can enjoy the voyage verses cramming as many mies per day into crossing the great prairie to reach the Rockies. I hope you have a co-driver.

That said...
1) Prepare as many meals as you can before departure to minimize prep time if you are going to drive two or more days in a row on the out leg.
2) Combine fuel & food stops where possible, one pumps & the other prepares sandwiches/drinks/fruit salad/etc (mid-day). Avoid foods with sugar as much as possible/snack on energy bars/yogurt/etc. No cooking during run. Grab cold snacks from frig when stopped.
3) Stop every 90-120 minutes for a few minutes, walk around and check rig out, stretch legs, refresh drinks, change visual focus & let the kids/pets out.
4) Despite the mileage goal, set cruise for 62-63 & avoid feelings of urgency.
5) Carry tank of water (nearly or full), adds stability & TV mpg doesn't care. You'll always be able to stop for the kids' restroom request.
6) Limit run days to 400 miles. Typically we do ~250-300 a day or less.
7) Never do more than two "make miles" (dawn to dusk driving) in a row; you'll get depleted. We limit these to crossing the midlands/heartland in the summertime to beat the heat and use the late sunset.
8) On mileage runs, we stay at rest stops/Walmart/etc., stay self contained and minimize stop time by not setting up camp (no kids). If necessary, navy shower in rig. Black & Grey can last days so no need for dumping or connections.
9) Before or after long runs: normal travel days & campgrounds, dump tanks when we can, always stop & setup well before dusk to lounge and make a gourmet meal (reward).

"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

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Old 09-09-2016, 11:30 PM   #3
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Is the 7 year old interested in dinosaurs?

If so, they might enjoy Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado-Utah border.

I found this site on dinosaur parks and museums in Wyoming:

Of course, there is Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in Wyoming. These parks do tend to be extremely popular, so reservations are recommended.

Colter Bay in the Tetons apparently usually has space. We've stayed at the Grizzly RV park in West Yellowstone when we knew the park campgrounds would be full. Expensive but nice, with helpful staff. Yellowstone is a huge park with a low speed limit: the biggest concentration of thermal features are on the west side.

SeeMore has great ideas on traveling with small children. The national parks have a junior ranger program that seems to be popular with kids.
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Old 09-10-2016, 05:17 AM   #4
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How exciting. We live closer to your destination, and did a Colorado and Wyoming trip this year. Had such a great time we are going again next year. Here is that thread I started on that topic from before we went.

Here is the review/wrap up I posted once we got back home.

And here is a thread about water management if you decide to camp in the national parks where the campgrounds usually don't have hookups.

Couple of questions for you to consider.

What time of year will your trip be? If during the Memorial Day-Labor Day time frame, you can expect that on any given day the high daytime temps will be 90 or more, making running the AC at night to be able to sleep a high priority. That means you will need electric hookups.

Getting gassed up with a rig that long may be your biggest consideration along the way. Strongly suggest that you heed what we learned and do not look for the best gas price, but look for the bast facility for your rig to gas up. And please note that often times on this trip we found that the "best" pump on the end was Out of Service. At more than one place.

Also suggest that you make reservations now for any national park campsites. They do fill up a year in advance.

Here are some commercial campgrounds we stayed at to/from that we liked and would use again:
Kearney RV Park in Kearney Nebraska.
Wind River KOA in Dubois WY (90 miles from GTNP and Yellowstone)
Limon CO KOA (between Denver and Colorado border on I-70)

Also advise if going into the Denver area to study up and pay the extra money to take the tollway around the metro (they will mail you a bill, you do not
stop at a toll booth. They use cameras and look up your license plate number) Denver traffic is always a pain, so any pain relief is welcome.

One last thing is that we found, with our sport 22, that the campgrounds in the Tetons were small. Pay attention to getting something there for a unit your size.

Oh, and I did a geeky spread sheet to estimate our driving time each day. (be sure to take time zone changes into account also) I took the distance, divided by average speed of 55 unless in the mountains, and then rounded up. This worked pretty well for the open road and fuel stops. I however learned to add at least 30 minutes for any small city and 60 minutes for any larger city. Found it to be true.

Piggy Bank
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Old 09-10-2016, 11:42 AM   #5
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Rocky Mountain National Park

We summer in Estes Park so can be of help. First suggestion is try and come during the week. We never go to "town" on the weekends. There are 2 campgrounds in the park, Morain Park and Glacier. If you have to stay at a commercial park, I believe KOA has good reviews as does Elk Meadow. Check them out. Have been to several others but we would not stay at them. Highway 34 next year will possibly be closed so you will need to use 66 from I-25 and then 34. If we can be of help, let us know.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 09-10-2016, 12:12 PM   #6
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Best thing you can do is to make sure all of your tires are in excellent condition, both trailer and towed vehicle. Even better is to change out the ST tires to LT 16" tires and wheels. At the very least install a tire monitoring system.
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Old 09-10-2016, 12:45 PM   #7
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Cody, WY, is a must see town. Be aware that Yellowstone Park closes in early November and many mountain passes are suseptable to snow closures from October on.
Paul Hoffman
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Old 09-10-2016, 01:40 PM   #8
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Pappy19 has got it right. Be sure you can trust your tires to get you there and back. Don't forget the spare! If not absolutely sure, get new ones. Be sure you have all the basic tools to address any likely problems. In your planning, try to hit the big metro areas on the weekend or before or after rush-hour. There are lots of ways to get from here to there. Once you have a tentative route mapped out, check on this forum about road conditions. Some highways are nightmares, while others present few problems. Good luck! I remember my first western trip with my young family. Many mistakes, but also many adventures and great fun!
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Old 09-10-2016, 01:41 PM   #9
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2009 27' FB Classic
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Getting sites at national Parks and ForestService Parks

We have done several western trips win our 2009 27FB Classic, sometimes the two of us and others with teen age grand children.

Typically we cross Texas in a single dawn to dusk day and limit mileage to about 200 miles per day after that. The first day is Dallas to Santa Fe, great forest service camp , Black Canyon, on the ski road. We typically have some idea where to stop when we start the day but frequently, just take our chances.

If we know we want to stay at a national park, or some place likely to be crowded, we will plan to arrive about noon when people are leaving. We have never failed to get good sites this way, even on weekends. Some parks where this has worked include Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Flaming Gorge, Dinosaur Monument, and more.

Have a great trip
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Old 09-10-2016, 01:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by racer57 View Post
I am in the beginning of planning a trip from Pennsylvania to Colorado and Wyoming. I have never taken my rig more than 70mi from home. I will be traveling with 2 young kids (3 and 7). I have a 34' International travel trailer. Looking for any advise or tips.
When my wife and were young, as in the 1970s, we traveled back and forth across the USA with a shorter trailer (23') and three kids. You don't say whether there will be one adult or two, with the two small children. If there are two adults, you will manage, but if you are driver, navigator, and child care superintendent, I would suggest you borrow another adult to accompany you. The 7 yr old isn't old enough to manage all of the 3 yr olds needs, and you can't be turning your head and trying to manage whatever is going on in the back seat, and drive a 34' triple axle Airstream at the same time. Just saying.

The second issue is your tires: check them or have them checked for age, condition, air pressure, and if you don't have a tire pressure monitoring system for both trailer and tow vehicle, spend the money and get them. Have you had your AS bearings lubed recently, and your brakes checked? If not have both done. You don't want to break down in Wyoming or Nebraska or Western Kansas get the idea. If you have a GPS with a larger screen great, if not your navigator will need good eyesight, and you should have maps as well.

You don't say what your tow vehicle is. Your tow vehicle will need HP and Torque, but if you pull the mountain grades in Western PA you should be alright. As your elevation rises in the West, the HP of your vehicle drops. If you are in Eastern Colorado and Eastern Wyoming less of a problem, if you are going over 7000 it is more noticeable.

The other advice from Posters you have been given is right on: limit your total driving to 300 or less, take many stops and exercise the kids, insist that they go potty every time the vehicle stops, fuel, rest stops, whatever. I don't have to isn't an acceptable answer. Have finger food in small baggies to keep them busy, along with iPads or equivalent, preloaded with their favorite games and diversions and cartoons.

Good Luck, and have two adults. I'm in my 70s and I've done this for a long time; kids and grandkids, and pets.

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Old 09-10-2016, 02:52 PM   #11
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Having just finished a long trip the below tips are spot on.

We fueled mostly at Loves, Pilot and other truck stop types of stations for ease of entry and long fuel islands.

Lots of snacks in small plastic bags. Small bin of food and small cooler in vehicle, bigger cooler in back. Each child gets water container and fills it at each fuel/potty stop. Ditto to all people potty at all stops!!!! Each child gets a tote bag or backpack for their fun stuff. They pack it they carry it. Headphones if they do electronics it can get noisy.

National parks are very kid friendly.

Have down time and let each person pick an activity, event or item to see.

Buy a Rand McNally, teach map reading, show them where you are going, what's in between, what do the symbols mean.

Do a daily recap on 3x5 cards at dinner. Whst did you do, see, was it warm, funniest moment of day. Each person gives their favorite thing if the day.

Each person has logistics so all are involved in the trip, from planning, research, daily set up, water run, windshields etc.

Enjoy making your memories.

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Old 09-10-2016, 04:18 PM   #12
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1988 32.5' Airstream 325
Vista , California
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SeeMore hit the nail right on the head up there!

Chris and I made boil in the bag meals with a seal-a-meal type thing I have. Lots of brown rice in the freezer seal-a-meal boil bags. These can be either boiled or 'nuked', (as we call it), in your microwave. Then we pour various cans of nice thick soups over them. Fast and easy. Bags of Salad we pre-made ourselves, Sandwiches are easy too. Cereal or boiled eggs or bagels/cream cheese for easy breakfasts.

Our snacks were usually Potato Chips. Mostly because we like chips is all. He does tortilla chips, I like cheddar cheese and sour cream chips with the ruffles have ridges thing. Beef jerky is another snack we like. Cheese is good too.

I don't normally do this because our world is in so much trouble, but you may consider paper plates, bowls, and cups just for the driving part. With just Chris and I, we don't dirty much, but there are four of you.

Have a plethora of games, little toys, crayons, colored pencils, paper, deck of cards, little books, etc, on hand for the kids. Hand them out one at a time. If they are all new, the kids will be delightedly surprised as each one is presented. Teach them new songs, play the road games with them that your parents played with you. When my kids were little I did not have a car or a license to drive; we took buses and trolleys everywhere. Most trips were one to three hours long. They have great memories of these trips, and all their friends were jealous of that. I used to memorize poetry to recite to them so I wouldn't have to carry a load of books with me.

As long as you remember the journey is just as much part of the experience as the destination, you will very much enjoy yourselves. Have fun!
Dysfunctional Veteran- does not always play well with others. 22 a day is 22 TOO MANY. (this number recently revised to 23 a day )
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Old 09-10-2016, 04:26 PM   #13
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We've taken several long trips out west with 34' trailers. Tips above are all great. Making sure your rig is up to the task is foremost. Tires, brakes, hitch, capacity, etc. Planning such trips has always been a joy for us. Slow down, take your time. Don't set such a tight schedule that you can't stop and enjoy a spot longer if you want to. Don't obsess about having reservations everywhere. Even with a 34, you can usually find a spot. If not, it adds to the adventure. I envy you. We've been many places, but the area you are visiting is high on our list, along with the Glacier NP area and Alaska.
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Old 09-10-2016, 05:48 PM   #14
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Royal Gorge (Canon City) Co and Devil's Tower WY are great kid places.

Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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