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Old 02-14-2019, 10:42 PM   #1
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N'tnl Park Trek - Dream vs Costs

So been dreaming some day when I fully retire to go visit all the national parks I can reach via Airstream, (maybe even the ones in Alaska!) and it occurred to me that some fellow AS folk might have done just that.

So, I realize everyone's experience will be different, and your milage may vary, and all that, but a few basic questions:

Say I want to spend a week or three at each park (assuming the park will let me do that?), is that enough time to see and do everything worth doing at the parks? There are currently 60 parks (not including all the monuments, etc.) so this will take a few years to accomplish! Is a budget of $3000/month to cover all expenses a good planning target?
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:04 PM   #2
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Nat'l Park sizes and sights differ widely so the necessary duration of each stay varies if your plan is to see everything in a single visit [define everything]. You didn't mention your interests (photography, wildlife viewing, kayaking, etc.) which might also affect activities/timing. Some parks are better seen during different seasons as the flora and fauna change so dramatically (revisit?) or just too hot/cold to be enjoyed for long.

It is awfully hard to say what your budget dollars need to be without a timeframe (now or in five years?) or whether you will be full timing (solo/paired) or also maintaining a base of operations. Vehicle fuel type and mileage are also a major portion of your travel budget besides lifestyle choices like eating out, etc.

One of the lessor expenses will be campground and park fees as a senior though you might also fudge some of these dollars by staying nearby on other federal lands owned by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:05 PM   #3
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Your plan is very "doable". If you want to stay as long as a week in each park, it will be up to how you are able to coordinate reservations. If you go in the off-season, it will be slightly easier.

However, to "see" most National Parks a week is more than enough time. Some you can see in a day or two, but a week is plenty.

Get a National Parks pass to save a bundle on entry fees. If you are a gheezer like me, get a Lifetime Senior Pass. Free unlimited entry and 1/2 off camping fees.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:36 PM   #4
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I would like to think I could still be fully active when I get around to retirement age, but I can already tell I'm not 20 anymore So, photography, sure. Hiking, sure hope so - Rock Climbing, Mountain biking, Kayaking? maybe, but not likely as quick and nimble as I used to be, hence the extended "senior pace" Don't call it slow, call it a more detailed study...

I will def check out those senior passes, what is the age you qualify? Maybe I can get an early start!

Annual inflation has been averaging between 2-3% for the last 20 years or so now, and has been on the slow downhill, but I remember the 70's when it got as high as 14%, but gas prices have been all over the map, and I am assuming we'll still be mostly fossil fuel for TVs in 5-10 years. (All this assumes the "prepers" have an error in their calculations regarding the timing and extent of the impending collapse of our civilization, and California will somehow still be connected, both physically and politically)
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by skyguyscott View Post
I will def check out those senior passes, what is the age you qualify? Maybe I can get an early start!

Age 62, and I'll rub it in a bit and say I got one of the last $10 lifetime passes.
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/se...ss-changes.htm
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:24 AM   #6
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I have some of that same ambition, but there are a number of national parks that are not accessible with a trailer. Dry Tortugas near Key West, FL. Hawaii Volcanoes on the big island. Gates of the Arctic, Katmai, Lake Clark, Glacier Bay, and Kobuk Valley in Alaska.

Easiest thing is to work on the lower 48 states at first then make the trek to Alaska planning on flying into whatever time and money will allow.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:33 AM   #7
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We’ve been on the road full-time for the past 2 1/2 years visiting National Parks in our Airstream.

Our general rule is that we want to spend 2 weeks in most parks. There are a few that 2 days is enough. We like to hike, bike, kayak, attend some ranger talks while visiting the parks.

All in all, we are having a great time and have really enjoyed visiting the parks. I can’t believe some of the places that we have seen.

This summer we are off to Alaska. Should be interesting.

Budget - everyone has different needs and wants. Really hard to say if your budget will work but should be doable.

At 62 - half price camping at MOST National Parks with National Park Pass.
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Old 02-15-2019, 09:38 AM   #8
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I agree with See More’ s comments. It’s a hard question to answer. Last year I put 16,000 miles on my AS and we went to about 40 Nation Parks, Wildlife Preserves, Presidential Libraries, Monuments, State Parks (like Custer), parkways like the Blue Ridge and the Natachez Trace. You will want to stay at some for a week and some for a few hours. Do not expect to be able to stay at all of them unless you do careful planning and make reservations months of even years in advance. Some campgrounds in some parks you will not want to stay in anyway. If your old enough for the senior pass that will save you some money and get yourself the passport America pass that will save you money as well. I spent more money on fuel and food than camping expense. Campground cost vary depending where you are. I was able to stay in campgrounds outside of some of the NP for less that the NP and they were much nicer.
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:03 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by skyguyscott View Post
So been dreaming some day when I fully retire to go visit all the national parks I can reach via Airstream, (maybe even the ones in Alaska!) and it occurred to me that some fellow AS folk might have done just that.

So, I realize everyone's experience will be different, and your milage may vary, and all that, but a few basic questions:

Say I want to spend a week or three at each park (assuming the park will let me do that?), is that enough time to see and do everything worth doing at the parks? There are currently 60 parks (not including all the monuments, etc.) so this will take a few years to accomplish! Is a budget of $3000/month to cover all expenses a good planning target?
Staying at campgrounds is not that expensive. Being on the road moving is what is costly.
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:12 AM   #10
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Senior pass gets you into park for free and 1/2 price camping in some parks. Some national parks have a length limit for travel trailers less than 25 feet which may reduce your options.
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:18 AM   #11
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Your question can only be answered by you.

How long something takes, how much you want to see, how much you spend, only you can answer that.

Sounds like you are looking for validity for something you have already thought of.

With that said, it sounds doable.
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:33 AM   #12
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Totally doable. We have done it at approx. $3000 /month. If you want to save on camping expenses look into adding solar to your TT.
Yes it is expensive (ouch!!). I am in the process of convincing my wife that we will save money in the long run. I figure if you spend $12000 on a system divide that over the 90 days we travel each year, over 3 years it pays for itself just by saving the campground fees.That breaks down to $44.50 a night. If you have a solar setup is my thinking correct ??
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:50 AM   #13
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Brother and his wife are visiting all the NPs. They have this nice little book to collect stamps from a ranger at each park. However, they go again and again to Yellowstone. It is because it is not possible to see everything in the park in a single lifetime. We, however, have seen what we want to see in about 10 days spread out over three trips.

Our travel budget is about $35 a day for sites, $60 a day for fuel, $30 a day for food and $5 a day for wine. That ignores special events/attractions, healthcare and housing investment/maintenance as well as licensing, insurance and taxes. That would not be sustainable on your $3000 a month budget. However, we do not travel full time. We do it in 4-6 week sprints.

It is possible to stay at NP campgrounds for half price with your senior pass. That is $15-$25, so a better deal than our usual. We travel as opposed to sitting at a campground and hiking, so your fuel bill can be much less. Your other bills may or may not fit, but understand that your dream is attainable, given a patient approach and careful budget management.

Take care in your planning. Suspect that will be your key to success. Invest in off grid capability to make you comfortable in dry/semi-dry camp grounds. Search for Traveling Man's thread "Tell me where to go" and review his method.

Travel safe. Collect those smiles. Pat
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:02 AM   #14
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We are planning this same trip. And have that same budget number in mind. Starting in about 9 months. We havenít been as diligent lately about blogging our planning progress. But maybe this will help get you started. We are doing 58 parks including the non airstream ones such as Samoa, Hawaii, USVI etc. We plan on leaving the AS in Seattle and doing Alaska without her. Itís 2200 miles from seattle to anchorage alone. Looking forward to hearing more about your progress!!

https://chasingless.com/2018/10/26/planning-a-50-state-road-trip-day-1/
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