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.
I check for leaks, fluid levels, and condition of belts and hoses. Anything iffy gets fixed before I leave. With scheduled maintenance, if it’s close to the due date I’ll do it before I leave. Otherwise, I have it done on the trip when it becomes due. If it’ll only be slightly late when I get home I’ll just wait and do it there.
You’re tow capacity is pretty sad and I’m unsure whether you’ll find anything light enough. Everything that goes in the Pilot has to come off that rating. But no harm in doing some research for some really light units. One option comes to mind used. Coleman made some light all-metal units back in the 70’s that might weigh in at 1000-1200# dry. They only had a stove, sink and furnace, no electronics and certainly no bathroom/shower. But they’d work fine for camping trips. The real trick would be finding one that wasn’t trashed. Good luck.
Shooting rattlesnakes? On "principle"? Although I'm convinced that most snakes are shot by fantasy roll-players who watch too much television, the following is worth mentioning (IMO):
Every snake that is killed increases the virility of the rabies vector in that area. A rattlesnake bite is easy enough to recover from if you're healthy, even without treatment. The Hanta virus (mice that snakes eat carry this) has a 50% mortality rate, while only one person in history has survived a case of rabies.
Most snake bites are on the noses of curious dogs or the hands of drunk men who try to pick them up, as said. And I would caution anyone who saw somebody on TV shoot a snake: If you're close enough to shoot a snake you're close enough to get hit by a fragment from your own bullet, even if you're sober.
No offense, greenrvgreen, but it strikes me you’re talking from the standpoint of someone who has little if any experience with the subject. If you’re talking about shooting snakes en masse I agree with your Hanta Virus comment. But we’re not talking about trying to exterminate snakes.
As far as an easy recovery from a snakebite, have you ever seen someone who has been bitten. A very nasty experience and some people don’t recover. And they’re not old and infirm. I doubt very much they would agree with your comment. Conventional advice is to sit and stay calm if you’re bit and wait for help. What help? You’re miles out in the boonies and you’re only option is to walk out and really get the venom coursing through your body. And this was decades before cell phones so you don’t have the option of merely calling for a helicopter to come and lift you out of there.
Your last comment about being struck by a fragment of your own bullet really stretches credibility into outer space. I wouldn’t say it never happens, but some idiots drive their cars through Circle K windows, too. I think one is far more likely to be hit by lightening. I target shot for years and ran about 3000 rounds a year. Plus I shot a lot otherwise. I started at 15 and I’m 75 so I think I’ve easily shot over 100,000 rounds and not once have I been struck by a bullet fragment.
"If you come across a rattlesnake, you will hear it. They warn before a strike, and once you have heard it, you won't forget the sound."
They do not always rattle, this myth can get you bit. I agree the sound is distinctive and unforgettable but I have been around lots of rattlers that simply didn't. I am amazed at all of the folks who have spent lots of time out here in the desert southwest who have never seen a rattlesnake. To these folks I recommend you pay a lot more attention as it is a virtual certainty you have been in close proximity at some point, probably a lot more often than you can imagine. They are all over the southwestern deserts and their camouflage is off the chart effective.
I worked as a Marshall on the local golf course and saw dozens every month, particularly in the spring when they are most active. Lots of good advice above such as not placing hands or feet where you cannot see, stay on the middle of the trails and above all pay attention. Do these things and you should not have any problems.
I second Desert Captain; I too am amazed how few rattlers people have seen who spend any time in the desert. I long ago lost all count of how many I’ve seen and I’ve shot a lot of them. And I don’t do that for sport, only if I think they’re in striking distance and a threat.
But my situation was somewhat unique, part of my job many years ago was developing maps and often that required surveying the country first. The old days, a chain and transit and you went in a straight line through brush or any other passable objects. Just the thing I advise people to avoid doing to avoid snakes. By far, most of the incidents I had with snakes were when I was working.
I recall stepping on one’s tail once but he wasn’t coiled, he was trying to get away and needless to say I got off his tail pretty quickly. The closest call I had was with a sidewinder who parked himself right next to an instrument I had put on the ground momentarily. I bent down and reached for it and there he was all coiled up and waiting. I saw him just in time and shot him just on general principles for not buzzing and warning me. And it’s true that rattlers do not always buzz, he wasn’t the first or the last.
I agree with Desert Captain that people are likely just not seeing snakes that are there. I still see them, even on trails in city mountain parks. But I think my senses are so highly tuned to watching for them from the old working days that I see things others may walk right by.
If it’s hot they stay in the shade of brush and rocks. When it cools off at night they come out on the blacktop and pavement and open ground to absorb the heat. So pay attention where you’re walking and don’t put your hands or feet anywhere that you can’t see. If you have a dog, keep it on a short leash and don’t let it stick its nose in the brush or rocks. It’s nothing to worry about, just be aware of your surroundings and and odds are you’ll never even see one.
Just a comment to correct a misstatement in packpe89’s post that most campgrounds in Yellowstone don’t allow PU’s. Only one campground there doesn’t allow canvas and that’s Fishing Bridge. You wouldn’t want to stay there anyway with a PU; it resembles an RV storage lot. But it’s the only campground with HU’s.
I recommended a TT over an RV and still do, but I think a PU is a viable option. Many of us went from tents to a PU to a TT or other RV type. I used one for many years and camped all over the country with two and often three kids and have no complaints at all. If you think that might be an option do a lot of reading about the different types of RVs and the pros and cons of each.
I’d favor the TT; I’ve used the same one for 25 years and camped all over the country. The DW has been promoting a small Class C or a Class B for a couple of years now. Her argument is everything is in one vehicle and the dogs can be in the same space we are. We can go to the bathroom without stopping and she can fix lunch while we’re on the move. True, but a weak argument in my view. I like to stop and take breaks and one can go to the bathroom then or have lunch. And I’d prefer not to eat lunch, even a sandwich, when I’m driving.
My view is it would work well for destination driving to see family with some stops along the way to sightsee. But with more shortcomings than I want if I want to camp rather than destination drive. My TT can do anything a MH can do and other things it can’t. Besides, my perception is that MH’s can be money pits compared to my TT. I know people who have spent more money to replace a set of tires than I have on my TT in 25 years. Well, until I took a recent $900 hit to replace the fridge. All RV’s have their pros and cons and it depends how one wants to use them. But if camping is the plan I think you’re better served with a TT.
Rving can be a good deal cheaper than hotels and restaurants depending on the RV you’re using. Many years ago I made a 4 day trip to San Diego. I calculated I could have made a 3 week trip to Yellowstone for the same amount of money. So I’ve never been back.
If you’re really new at this you need to attend some RV shows and get a feel for what’s out there and what suits you best. I agree with others, too, go used for the first unit. Then if you find it isn’t what you expected you won’t be hammered with depreciation expenses. Just have it checked thoroughly by someone you trust, water damage being the deal breaker. And focus on ones that your TV can pull without undue strain, pushing max ratings in no fun.Good luck.
That’s high elevation country and you will have a chance of snow. Once you’re there it’s not a big problem. I’d be more concerned about a storm on I-40, that could shut you down for a few days. If you’re going in March all you can do is watch the weather and have Plan B if you get caught.
The GVWR is the max your TV can weigh fully loaded to go, including everything in it plus the TT hitch weight. The towing capacity is more a marketing number and the least reliable of any of the ratings. With a ½ ton, payload is typically the rating that limits you, you’ll exceed that before you get near any tow rating. In any event, you don’t want to push the ratings if you want to enjoy the tow.
Scratch the Apache Trail, that’s not a road to pull any TT on. It could get very awkward if you met opposing traffic, which you will. The west has a lot of public land with unpaved roads that would fit the bill, though. Lakes are popular and though the roads may be unpaved they’re usually wide and well maintained and the areas scenic.
That’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any such tool. But if you post the specs for your TT I think it will be relatively easy to get some good suggestions. As a daily driver I suspect you’d lean toward a ½ ton TV. Assuming it has the payload and power to pull the TT without undue strain even in the mountains and assuming the TT is not so long compared to the TV wheelbase you get the tail wagging the dog.