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Old 01-23-2016, 08:18 AM   #57
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In my mind, there is no question: September and October.
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:22 AM   #58
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Best times for AZ Dec-Mar
Best times for UT Apr-Jun
Best times for CO Jun-Oct
Best times for NM Sept-Nov
Then start allover again
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:04 AM   #59
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Mojo, not quite at the point where I can do that plan. Shoulder season of Sept/Oct might work out better.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:23 AM   #60
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Also agree that right now is not too soon to get reservations. I have had our reservations for Yellowstone campground (in the park) for several months now.

The national park service has a lot of good info.

Also do remember if you have not had much time driving in the mountains, that the speed limit is much lower due to all of the turns and hills, and that you may encounter stoppages due to single lane roads where traffic, Literally, stops to look at wildlife.

Maximum speed (i.e. top speed) is 45 MPH, so this can make you average speed about half as high as highway speed.
Some years ago, I began my "summer" vacation the week after Labor Day. By the time I got to the entrance to Yellowstone & needed gas, I was the only car in the 96-pump gas station. I asked the attendant "Why the 96 pumps?" He said that only a week ago, there was a line to the gas station for gas, & that after Labor Day, they might as well close for lack of customers.
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Old 01-23-2016, 11:56 AM   #61
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Having criss-crossed the country east to west and north to south, I can say with confidence that your itinerary is far too ambitious. Focus on one area as your destination and enjoy the journey to and from there at a more leisurely pace. There is much to see in this great country from Pennsylvania to Wyoming and you don't want to spend the majority of your time on the highways rushing to your next destination to take a quick look and move on. All the national parks in the west will be very crowded in August and it definitely takes away from the true enjoyment of these national treasures. Be prepared for hoards of tour buses at visitor centers.

If your route takes you through the Black Hills into Wyoming, don't miss a stop at Devil's Tower. There's a campground at the base. Safe travels.
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Old 01-23-2016, 02:07 PM   #62
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Pulling your camper it'll take you 4 days each way to get to Yellowstone/GrandTetons. That's 8 days you're losing just driving. Add another 1-2 days to see Mt. Rushmore (half a day), Little Bighorn (half a day), etc., so that's 10 days already. Yellowstone deserves three days (and you WILL see bison), with another 2-3 days in the Grand Tetons (located immediately south of YNP) hopefully hiking Kevin's Paintbrush and/or Cascade Canyon (take a small tent and overnite at Lake Solitude), then reward yourself dining/shopping/quaffing in Jackson just down the road. At that point you need to decide one of two things: Do I visit the closer Glacier NP and enjoy the Going-to-the-Sun Road, or do I head further south to the great Utah NPs (which are incredible). Problem with visiting Bryce and Zion etc is that your return trip back to NJ will be longer and more convoluted (read it will take more than 4 days). One final bit of input...as soon as you work out your itinerary, make sure you contact Reserve America/Recreation.gov to (try to still) get a campsite at Yellowstone/Glacier/Zion.. they go fast. Enjoy the planning (which I think is pretty exciting), and safe travels. jon
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Old 01-23-2016, 02:18 PM   #63
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Best times for AZ Dec-Mar
Best times for UT Apr-Jun
Best times for CO Jun-Oct
Best times for NM Sept-Nov
Then start allover again
Mojo - understand the concept and all the recommendations, except Utah. Would you be so kind as to provide your logic for going in Apr-Jun and any down side to Sept-Oct? Pat
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Old 01-23-2016, 02:35 PM   #64
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Yellowstone and the Tetons are beautiful in September. Most of the tourist are gone, and you may get some fall color. You may also get some early snow toward the end of the month.

Southern Utah can be spectacular in October and early November. I spend the first week of November in Zion NP most years. It is my favorite fall trip.

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Old 01-23-2016, 05:19 PM   #65
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Mojo - understand the concept and all the recommendations, except Utah. Would you be so kind as to provide your logic for going in Apr-Jun and any down side to Sept-Oct? Pat
Tongue in cheek recommendations...Sept & Oct is fine in UT, although it can still hit 100 in early Sept. Weather is very unpredictable in the mountain West, so always have to plan for blazing heat or freezing snow.
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:13 PM   #66
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Got it. Thanks for the clarification. Glad I can visit CO in Oct too. Hold the snow back for us and don't warn the trout. Pat.
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Old 01-24-2016, 12:34 AM   #67
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AWCHIEF, September is fine but can be surprisingly hot at low elevations. October is good but you can actually get snowstorms at high elevations as the season progresses. So maybe do the high country first, then work your way down.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:02 AM   #68
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Trip out west

Hi,
My wife and I have lived full time in many RV's and travel Trailers over a 5 + year period. We bought a new flying cloud 30' in Nov. and are enjoying it in the SW at this time. As a current Resort owner 20 minutes from Glacier Park, we have a lot of knowledge on National Parks and traveling. After reading the reply's you have received, they have given some good advice. Since we book our place a year in advance, I am not trying to sell you on it and per forum rules. Also, it is a vacation rental only. We are just giving you info on what we have experienced. You will be very unhappy trying to rush to see so many places in what we call a short time frame. You don't want a stop and go trip trying to get to too many places. Plan out a couple trips over different time frames. Our country has so much to experience.

A good trip site that will give you campground destinations routes & timetables is "Good Sam" trip planner. It is fairly accurate.
It does not necessarily give you all the best campgrounds, but you can research ones prior and keep a list of one's alongg yourroute. Also check weather aa you might need to spend a few nights extra somewhere or take a slight detour. Avoid going on too many windy, no service hwys.

Pick a place like Yellowstone as a destination. You can easily spend a week in that area alone. It is
the country's most popular park. The Badlands, Mount Rushmore , Custer State Park would be good to stop at on your way. Again, you''ll want to stay a few days at each. The town of Sturgis is not worth staying in unless you are going to bike around there or attend the big rally. Have done that. This summer there will be more people out due to lower gas prices. Try to call ahead for campground space. Every Nat'l Park has its own special traits. After seeing Glacier and the Flathead Valley in 2006, we fell in love with it. It just met our personal criteria and has become more popular every year. We live on site on a Lake and and creek at the base of the Rocky Mtns. No humidity and very few bugs. Always cool nights & sunny summer, wonderful weather.

Take your time and enjoy the travel.

Tom Montana
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Old 01-24-2016, 05:48 AM   #69
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My 2 cents. My wife and I retired two years ago and have done all of "your" trip two years in a row, almost. The distances you plan on covering just to get to say Yellowstone and back may look doable on Mapquest etc, but once you get rolling, set up-take down every day you'll probably come to the realization it's just too much.

One person noted "Sturgis Bike Week". It is the week of 8/8 in 2016, HOWEVER, it is almost as crowded the week before and the week after or parts of each as it is the actual week. The even has actually become three weeks - been their many times. We now, in the AS avoid the area like the plague. A ride through Custer SP that would normally take an hour +, can take four hours or longer. Campgrounds are full and people are partying much of the night. Motels and restaurants are packed and yet it's one of the prettiest areas around - The Black Hills, Mt Rushmore etc.

Therefore, if going three weeks, I suggest on your travels you plan on averaging 55 Miles per hour, which would include very brief stops for fuel, eating and bathroom breaks. Then I'd suggest you make reservation at places like KOA. These are easy in and out, take and hold reservations, place for kids to play in playgrounds, usually clean and full hookups as you won't want to spend much time dumping etc.

Further, I'd concentrate on getting to Yellowstone area, Tetons included. Then on way back if mid August stop in the Black Hills for their rides and beauty. In Yellowstone I recommend West Yellowstone KOA, very nice, big and clean. We stay mostly at KOAs as we travel with two dogs and they have off leash parks.

This way you see Yellowstone, which will take days to see as it will be very crowded. Glacier would be the same as will the Grand Canyon, in fact all parks will be very crowded.

I would strongly suggest targeting an end destination, then research what to do and see around there and make the Journey part of the getting their and returning. Places like Ft Laramie, WY, small park that still has Wagon Wheel ruts from the wagon trains going west. Last summer we spent hours here just walking around and thinking about what was. I would blow through PA, IN, ILL, IA and or MN depending on how you go out and then slow down a bit and take it in. Then go back and hit The Grand Canyon and places like Zion, Bryce etc. Then up to Glacier and after head out to the coast.

Regardless you thought process is ours, do it now, one never knows. Two years in a row now we had reservations in FL for three months over the winter and my health have prevented us from going, both new and totally different issues. BUT, next summer I am volunteering for seven weeks in Spearfish SD, a place you must go and "Ride the Canyon Road". One of the prettiest roads we've seen.

Bud
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:19 AM   #70
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Over the years I've been to most places mentioned above. Every one is worth while but some stay with you forever in particular the Little Big Horn. This piece of history in a must see. The battle field Custer & his 200 + soldiers died on has for the most part been left untouched except for a cemetery & amphitheater where park rangers explain how the battle evolved.
BTW, we're doing that trip again this summer & like last time no reservations, but also no time restraints. Have a great time.
I feel the same way about the Little Big Horn.
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