i don't know about the rest of you,but when we travel we unplug.we also stop in at the visitor info place,of which there are in almost every town, in bc anyway,and we ask them about local attractions and campgrounds.also stop in at the local fly and tackle shops and outfitter shops.they know the best spots for camping/fishing and hiking/biking.sometimes it's just better to talk to people face to face.i should note that we rarely book a camping spot ahead of time.we're more the explorer type of campers.
That's us, too!
Major state welcome centers usually have brochures for camping spots. Texas has a great booklet for public camping - some listed that you would have a hard time finding online.
Local small town visitor center will have the information.
Many times the online stuff isn't as good as talking to people in the area. You find out so much more - unique restaurants, a hidden waterfall, etc.
That's why we travel the secondary roads and can really experience the local area.
If you hike you'll want to spend as much time as you can. The trails are awesome at every turn - lakes and waterfalls and vistas. If you bike the park has a terrific paved path along the roadway going right by the mountains. You can take a gentle raft trip down the Snake River and you might even see a moose in the water with you. We did. Naturally, there's fishing if that's your thing. The ski area of Jackson has a chairlift ride. The town of Jackson has a rodeo, shopping, restaurants and major groceries just south of town to replenish your pantry/refrigerator. We like Yellowstone but love Grand Teton Nat'l Park! There are two large (300-site) dry campgrounds with dump and water fill - no reservations and they rarely fill. We like Gros Ventre because it's more open with views of the mountains and with bison, elk and moose coming through. Colter bay is very wooded so you don't have the views. Next door is Colter Bay RV if you need hookups. Both are at Jackson Lake.
It is absolutely not difficult to go on your own...and you won't be alone. Thousands are going to the same places you are. You meet up with folks time after time in the campgrounds or other places. Canadians and Alaskans are great folks and will willingly help you in any way. They are proud of their areas and love to talk about places to see and go.
Have you driven construction areas this summer near your home? Alaska has only a short time to do their road repairs and summer it is. It's no different than the lower 48 although some of the areas will be longer in length. The key is to drive slow on the gravel areas. If you have the summer you have plenty of time to get there. Don't be in a rush. As soon as you cross the Canadian border there will be awesome things to see in Canada and the Yukon. Don't just make a beeline for Alaska.
There is a particular section of highway after you leave Tok, Alaska that is noted for it's frost heaves. Go over one and you'll know how to spot them from a distance - the road will be a little wavy. The highway department tries to put a cone or marker at these spots but doesn't catch every one. That's when you'll be taking it slow. Basically, about the only other major gravel area will be around Destruction Bay (rightly named). It is constantly under repair because of the permafrost under the highway. It will never be a smooth paved highway. You just go slow.
We didn't have one repair issues or windshield damage to our 40' motorhome towing the Jeep on our all-summer trip. People that do are either overloaded or drive too fast.
All you need to purchase online, is the Milepost book which is great for history and maps. We had it open every day as we drove and read to each other the history of the areas. Don't rely on it for campgrounds. They are paid advertisements.
Instead, purchase online Mike and Terri Church's book 'Alaskan Camping' which includes Canada and the Yukon. It will be all you need for finding RV parks, public campgrounds and great boondocking areas right along the highway in scenic areas. They lived in Fairbanks and traveled back and forth many years in their RV so they really have great descriptions and GPS coordinates/maps for all camping spots. The Provincial parks in Canada and the Yukon are great - similar to our state parks.
The last thing to purchase is the TourSaver 2/1 coupon book - again, online. Buy one admittance and get the other free. One glacier tour will pay for the book and you'll want to do at least one.
Some of the horror stories you hear are passed down over the years. The majority of driving will be on good paved roads. Don't hesitate to go on your own.
With a caravan you will be on a schedule. What if you loved an area and wanted to spend more days or hated it and didn't want to even spend the night? People say caravans reserve your campsite and arrange for your tours. That's a very simple thing for anyone to do. They're reserving for a large group that's why they need to reserve. Going alone you don't need reservations for the majority of places. Pull in early afternoon and you'll get a site.
The only reservation we had for the summer was the July 4 weekend and for staying 5 nights in Denali Nat'l Park's farthest campground you can drive - Teklanika. For those we made reservations 2 or 3 weeks prior when we could better judge when we'd be there. As it turned out for Denali, we were in the area early so on a whim we boondocked along the highway in a beautiful spot the previous night and drove into the park the next morning. We easily got 5 additional nights in Denali's front campground, Riley Creek. There was plenty for us to do in 10 nights and we saw 'THE' mountain 7 of 10 days (many never see it) and every large animal that resides in the park.
Yes, go on your own! Have fun planning and as you do, come back as ask detailed questions.
Also...go on this site to the Alaska/Canada forum - lots of good information there. Each year there is a specific post for those going that year. There is already one started for Alaska 2017. Follow it throughout the winter months - there will be lots of excited chatter!
First, since you seem to have the time, can you go mid-August or later rather than July? July is absolutely packed. How much time do you have?
I'd highly suggest you stay IN the parks themselves for the best overall experience. Each national park, the Canadian parks and basically all the state parks have excellent web sites with camping information, road information, things to do, etc. Explore them thoroughly and especially Yellowstone, look on the park map to see where the campgrounds are located. It's a huge park and since you have a small van you could choose 2 or 3 different areas to move and explore the more immediate area. It saves a lot of driving. With your van some nice campgrounds in Yellowstone are Pebble Creek, Slough Creek and Indian Creek and more centralized campgrounds are Madison, Tower or Canyon. Even in Yellowstone and the other parks, some campgrounds are not even reservable. If you get there early morning you would get a site.
Here is Yellowstone's:
For Grand Teton, there are two campgrounds that don't accept reservations. Each has 300 sites and they rarely fill, even in July. You'll get a site. They are Colter Bay and Gros Ventre campgrounds.
The Oregon/Washington State parks are awesome so be sure to stay there. We've gotten sites without reservations even with our 40' motorhome. Again...early morning is the key.
For the Oregon coast, choose to stay at the northern end, the middle and at the lower end. Then it's easy to cover the whole coastline with minimal driving.
Looked up a park recently on RV Park Reviews and Trip Advisor. Both painted two separate views. Will be interesting to see which one I would side with the most.
Yes, it would be interesting. Come back and make a new post on the site comparisons.
You said you're in a HOA...are there any words in the agreement regarding campfires? Are there other RV sites and do they have campfires? Not that it would help you or your neighbor but if campfires are allowed then you're just going to work it out somehow with the neighbor. It seems like it may be escalating with police involvement which isn't good for anyone involved.
A propane campfire was mentioned...although not the same feeling but perhaps that's an answer...or moving the campfire spot. That can't be a relaxing atmosphere for you to be in. Good luck!
First...every city has crime, even your hometown I would imagine, and the Gallop RV parks along the interstate would be no worry.
However, interstates are boring especially I-40 west.
It might be too late but if you have a week to use up I would have recommended from Santa Fe to head north on Hwy 84 (the painters' Georgia O'Keefe inspiration route) to Colorado 160 - stop in Pagosa Springs for an awesome soak in their immaculate pools overlooking the river, and then take that west to Durango and Cortez (Mesa Verde Nat'l Park and do a ranger tour).
Then take Hwy 160 to 162 into Bluff, Utah and south on 163 to Monument Valley. Stay at Gouldings - the only RV park and take a couple-hour tour of Monument Valley.
Then 160 to Page and on to Kanab. In Kanab is Best Friends Animal Sanctuary a no-kill facility. It well worth a stop and possibly a tour of this awesome place in a gorgeous setting.
Now about the North Rim of Grand Canyon.... check out this site for area fires (for any state) and you'll see one on the east side of the highway to the North Rim. There might be a smoke issue.
If you take I-40 west Flagstaff has a few nice places - Sunset Crater Volcano Nat' Monument and a half-circle drive to Wupatki Nat'l Monument Indian ruins. Bonito national forest campground at the entrance booth of Sunset Crater is a lovely place to stay - no reservations and you're very likely to get a site if you can get there early afternoon. There's also Walnut Canyon Nat'l Monument and perhaps a chairlift ride up the ski hill of Arizona Snowbowl. You would also be close to Sedona, Arizona for some gorgeous hiking. We like to stay in nearby Cottonwood to tour Sedona. We stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. There are also more Indian ruins in this area - Tuzigoot Nat'l Monument and Montezuma Castle Nat'l Monument.
That should keep you busy! :)
Olympia Nat'l Park - definitely stay in Port Townsend which is a terrific little town with lots to do in the area. Fort Worden state park is great - right on the water.
You can easily do day trips to Hurricane Ridge - Olympia NP, or take the ferry out of Port Angeles for a day at Victoria, Vancouver Island. Pick up the city bus to take you to Buchart Gardens and back to the ferry landing for nice restaurants.
From Port Townsend drive a short distance south to Bainbridge Island and pick up a fast ferry to Seattle's waterfront. It docks at the Aquarium. Then pick up the monorail to take you to the Olympic Space Needle. Then back to Pikes Market for lunch and shopping and walk down to the ferry for your return.
Pick three state park along the Oregon coast for the best experience on seeing the whole coast. At Astoria on the north end is Fort Stevens State Park, mid-coast is Carl Washburne by the famous Heceta Head Lighthouse (we gave tours there :) ); and at the southern part Cape Blanco at Port Orford has huge lovely sites and a quiet beach to walk and another lighthouse to tour. We've also stayed at Beverly Beach, Bullards Beach and Harris Beach. All are state parks.
Washburne and Cape Blanco don't take reservations but we've never had a problem getting in, especially if you plan it for in the morning when folks are leaving.
Have fun planning your trip!
As long as you're in Yellowstone, have you been to Glacier yet? That might be an option. Also on the W. Yellowstone side in Montana is Virginia City and there's a nice RV park in Ennis (fly fishing, too) or Bannack State Park and stay in Dillon. Both are very nice ghost towns. The capitol in Montana at Helena is beautiful and the tour is great.
Our average use is 10G of water between the two of us per day.
This just made me smile and think of a single friend of ours. He allows 2 gal of water/day which includes drinking, cooking, washing... and he's a very neat, clean person. :)
Once again, and I've stated this often, you most definitely can fit into national parks, national forests, state parks, Corp of Engineer, county and city parks. We've done it all during our 16 years of full-timing with our 40' motorhome. I think those that say "no" haven't tried.
Granted, you will not fit in all of them but neither will a 25' RV fit in all. We've seen parks with a 16' limit.
Also, we've found the Midwest and western parks have the most opportunities for big rigs, not the northeast and eastern states. In those states you'll just use alternatives. . . no big deal once in a while.
We've used public parks in Florida, Alabama and up to Michigan and in every state westward. We've also used Canada and the Yukon's Provincial parks and Alaska's public parks. We've gotten our 40' in some gorgeous boondocking spots along a river or lake.
Many national forest campgrounds have been renovated with paved sites and even hookups. Some national parks even have full hookups or at least electric and give a size up to a 40' RV. There is absolutely no difference in fitting into a site between a 38' or 40'. We've even fit in sites stated for 35'.
Don't get hung up on the site size that you may read in a description. We found those to be an average, not a given. We volunteered in Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park and one of our duties was to examine every campsite and make a chart to be used for site assignments of what size RV would fit in what site. The rangers were amazed at how their old chart was so different. We found many more sites that would hold a 40' RV.
You do have to do your research though but we've never found when we got to a campground that we have researched that we couldn't fit. We always did.
What's nice about a motorhome towing a vehicle is if you're not sure if you should drive down that 10-mile gravel road and into that forest service campground, all you do is unhook the vehicle at a store or even on a wide shoulder on the highway, and drive your vehicle to the site to make sure everything checks out.
Without reservations (as we very rarely made them) we have fit into Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Zion, Bryce, Glacier, Big Bend, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and many public parks too numerous to mention. We've fit in many coastal state parks in Oregon and forest service campgrounds in California. State parks in California? No, and besides there are other nicer public parks in California than the state parks. We've used every single Arizona state park along with awesome county parks. It can be done!
I don't see the problem if a little black water gets into grey tank when equalizing. What would it do? It will come out at the next dumping session.
You have a 189 gallon tank and you most likely use full hookup sites.
However, if a RVer had two small tanks of black & grey and he wasn't on a sewer site but had to make a run to a dump station or perhaps the monitors were faulty, and if left to equalize there's a good possibility he wouldn't get the tanks dumped when full and the black water mix will back up into the shower. I'm sure this has happened at one time to all of us. It's bad enough with grey water backing up into the shower but I sure wouldn't want black/grey backing up!:E
I surely can't pick your CG but here they all are - Binged
I've never used Bing before to locate campgrounds but just clicked on your link and moved around it to some popular ones we've stayed and they don't show on Bing.
realize it's a function of tank sizes, but how many days between emptying tanks are realistic / typical for 2 persons when "boondocking" (hookups not available)? or maybe a range?
I don't know what you're going after. What size are your tanks? Then we could possibly help with how long you can go when conserving water.
We could go 12-14 days but that's on OUR tanks.