I think you’ll find the Class C will be the most expensive to operate. Buying though, the B’s are more expensive. We looked at both B’s and C’s for just traveling, not camping, and I doubt you could get a B that didn’t need a lot of expensive maintenance work for the budget you mentioned. But who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and stumble on a smoking deal.
As far as the TC goes, you realize that unless you can find a really light camper you’re likely going to need a ¾ ton PU to carry it? Your budget imposes a lot of restrictions on what you can get. In your shoes I’d probably exhibit a lot of patience and search for someone who for one reason or another was getting out of RVing and selling their PU and camper.
“RFRYER - Did you mean 4wd RV? so you've tried a 4wd RV, pickup with camper and a travel trailer?”
I was referring to a 4wd Class B. Not many of those around and B’s are very expensive anyway. My TV’s were a Ford Bronco and an F150, both 4wd. I towed a Coleman PU and a 16’ TT with them. I don’t have any firsthand experience with a TC. A friend had one but that was eons ago and I don’t remember it well enough to even comment on it. But I see them in the boonies all the time and they do well off pavement, unless they have conflicts with low tree branches in heavily forested areas.
Speaking in generalities, I think you’ll find any type of MH will be more expensive to operate than a TV and a towed RV. One example doesn’t prove anything, but my 16’ TT is 25 years old and until the frig went out a couple of years ago I had put $2000 in new tires and repairs into it. I know people with Class A’s who’ve spent that much replacing a set of tires.
My theory about conserving is that it costs me a good deal more to replace my TV than a car. So my F150 is mainly my TV and I use an older car for my local traveling. But it needs driven at least once weekly, vehicles do not like extended periods of sitting idle. Whether that’s cheaper than using the TV as a daily driver I don’t know, I just suspect it is and that’s the way I do it.
I agree with brholt’s comments. If you want to do any serious boondocking you need to think small, high clearance, and 4wd. Small might conflict with your “showers in the winter” idea since small units have limited capacities for water, propane and battery power and boondocking is generally an exercise in conserving resources. I don’t know if there’s a “type” of RV most suitable for 4 seasons, I think it’s primarily whether the type of unit is built for severe weather.
I’ve driven a lot in severe weather conditions in the mountains on hunting trips with a 4wd TV and a PU and small TT. While I wouldn’t call it white knuckle, neither was it “easy”. There’s always a degree of tension about hitting a patch of ice, navigating narrow, rough roads, especially if they’re snow covered and you can’t see the ditches, and getting stuck in the mud. I’ve stuck my 4wd a number of times. Sometimes I could get it out, others I just hunkered down and waited until the middle of the night for the ground to freeze and then drove out. I rarely used the TT, even my 16’ 3000# TT was a handful in those conditions. The PU worked OK, but it wasn’t ideal for severe weather. Again the issue of capacities and keeping it heated.
I wouldn’t consider driving a Class C in those conditions. Maybe a TC or 4wd B. Even my small TT was OK if I didn’t try to get much off the pavement. Of course in good weather conditions just about anything would work for you. But for boondocking I go back to my small, high 4wd comment. Good luck.
I’ve done it many times in sub zero weather. Mostly winter hunting and scouting trips in the mountains. That was typically in my wall tent or PU, I rarely used my TT, it just wasn’t suitable for getting well back off the pavement in the weather conditions. Winter camping trips I usually stay in the lower elevations of AZ which can be below freezing but not sub zero. Most of my camping, though, is at high elevations in the spring to fall.
All the numbers being thrown around aroused my curiosity and I looked back at some of my camping trip costs. Costs are close but not precise. My costs per day averaged $53.00 unless we took the two granddaughters, then they were just shy of double that. Mostly attributable to gifts, souvenirs and such we bought them in the parks and traveling.
I didn’t include costs I’d have had anyway, i.e., if I spent $100.00 for groceries and I would have spent that at home it wasn’t charged to the trip. Add to that about $6000.00 in depreciation and $2900.00 in TT tires and repairs spread out over 25 years and you have a pretty good idea of total costs. It doesn’t include countless weekend camp trips I took when I was working. I was gone at least two weekends and sometimes three every month, at least until the boys got into school sports and that dented my camping trips some.
I also looked at two long destination drives to FL I made, one with my F150 and one with my car. The former ran $204.00/day and the latter $153.00/day including motels and restaurants. Take it FWIT worth, but no way could motels and restaurants compete with my camping costs.
Yellowstone is a huge park and I’d suggest staying in the park rather than outside to reduce your travel time. Last trip there I put 400 miles on just driving around in the park. At your TT size you should have a lot of options for campgrounds; a few will be off limits. You will be off the grid if you camp there unless you use the RV storage lot – read Fishing Bridge. Both Yellowstone and the Tetons have only one campground with HU’s. Most cg’s allow generator usage, again a few of the more pristine don’t allow them.
Don’t be concerned about dry camping, you’ll adapt fast. It’s just a matter of being more frugal with your resources. I’ve camped for over 50 years and could count the times I’ve used HU’s on my fingers, or at least my fingers and toes. Considering the size of Yellowstone you could pick an area you want to see and select a cg there. Then to see another area just move to a cg in that area.
If you’re in Yellowstone you’ll likely want to check out Grand Teton, too, it’s directly south and spectacular. If you do that you’ll have to decide how to split your time up. I’d suggest a little more time in Yellowstone only because there’s more variety of scenery. Two weeks is a decent amount of time for the trip but I suspect you’ll find it not enough for everything you want to see and you’ll come back again. Have a great trip. A last thought, stock up on food and such before you get there, nothing is cheap in the parks.
An almost impossible question to answer, as other posters repeatedly pointed out there’s simply too many variables. If we all got together compared notes we’d be all over the map. If you’re talking a big RV or MH and stay in commercial parks with HU’s I’d say no way could you beat the motel route. Depreciation is the big hit, meals out can be next depending on family size.
Now if you have a small TT like mine, dry camp in national forests for free or less than $10.00 a night, get decent mileage, keep it for 25 years to spread the depreciation out, and so on, you can beat the hotel costs. I once spent 4 days in San Diego and calculated I could have made a 3 week trip to Yellowstone for the same money. The longer you’re out the more the RV pays off, too. Most buy RVs for the lifestyle, not to try to save move over hotels and restaurants.
If you have a fit problem I would guess it would be with national forest campgrounds. I haven’t seen many that will take a 35’ unit, either because of site size or the road into the cg. There are probably some highly developed ones along the pavement that you could get into, though.