WOW!!! I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of everyone's kindness to reply to a first timer. You have been of great help. What a great community! THANK YOU all so much for the warm welcome and I am glad to be here. Hopefully will be here after the trip!
All advice is well received and I will remove GC and not rush.
Was already planning a weekend trip close to home so I appreciate that piece of advice.
As some have asked, we are renting a 30' Monarch gasser with 2 slides. We have 2 kids 10 and 8. We have tent camped and all of us love God's great outdoors. I understand we will be cooped up indoors on the road and need to make regular stops.
So the route is changed and what I have heard here is to spend time in the Black Hills area. Now I'm thinking about Tetons/Jackson area first then YS and then BH area on the return trip.
Would appreciate your input on this thought. Oh, will we be able to comfortably drive the rv around all these places to sightsee eat out etc?
What are your thoughts on:
1 Best route from Memphis to Tetons
2 Favorite CG's
3 Time to spend in each area
Remember we only have 2 weeks!
Many thanks!!! Life is better with help from those who have traveled the road before you.
Another note, something that came up last night. Seniors travel club had a meeting, presented 2013 plans. Most are from commercial tour companies been doing this for years.
One included western National Parks, twelve days going to Sedona, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Cody, Sheridan, and ending in the Black Hills. They fly to Phoenix, fly home from South Dakota, so only two of the twelve days are getting there and back.
Some of those places I've been, and would want to go back for extended visits. Others are still on my western U.S. bucket list. That makes it attractive.
But to fit it all into 10 days, so much of it is drive-past with a photo stop, to satisfy the "been there, done that" clients checking off the places on their lists. Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are overnights in the park, but they are also travel days. Bryce and Zion the same day. 30-minute photo stop in the Grand Tetons.
So I am passing on that one, because my idea of visiting these parks is not to check them off, I want several day to explore each place, so I will have to do it on my own.
But this is the kind of trip you have when you there are too many destinations and not enough time. That is almost any trip trying to fit Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in less than two weeks, unless you are moving around by air, and missing what is in between.
However, for our friend in Memphis, if renting a RV, you could fly out to Las Vegas, rent there, and follow the Utah Grand Circle itinerary which has a reasonable pace for the number of places visited, and even includes the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Even with that itinerary, to extend it to the south rim in 14 days requires some compromises on the other visits. That might be a next trip.
Now that your plan is Yellowstone and back, through the Black Hills one way, you have more time at those destinations, or time see some other things along the way, one direction or the other. There are lots of possibilities, because there are many possible routes between Yellowstone (or Rapid City) without more than a day's difference in travel time. It would be the stops that matter to the schedule. There is no "best route" unless you mean fastest route. The best route will be the one that includes places you might want to see, or to show your children.
You might have time so see the Corn Palace as you go through South Dakota. You could come across Nebraska to stop in Minden at the Pioneer Village. You could go down the Front Range of the Rockies through Colorado, coming back through Kansas and Oklahoma following the Arkansas River all the way to Little Rock.
You could even go on down into the northeast part of New Mexico, but that one's kind of risky because it is a two-week destination all by itself.
Many of the most interesting places between the Rockies and the Mississippi are not along the Interstate highway system, they will be along the old U.S. highways that fill the gaps and make the diagonal connections between the Interstates, which connect mostly big cities. Especially for the pace of RV travel, these roads are just as good to drive and are not usually clogged with cross-country commercial traffic. Consider these in your travel plan, and if you are using a computer routing program, put in some towns you might visit, to force the planner off the Interstates that have such high preference in the map database.
Never done the Memphis to Tetons, but seems you have 4 options: 3 routes directly to Jackson, WY first (1> Memphis to St Louis then KCity & I-80 W. 2> Memphis to KC/I-80 W.
3> Fort Smith to Tulsa to I-35N to I-70 W to Denver/I-25 N to Cheyenne/I-80) or go directly to the Black Hills, then over to Tetons/Yellowstone.
On our first trip to Rushmore, we went there first, then over to Yellowstone & then down to Tetons. We camped just off the interstate & did a drive up to Devil's Tower, spend a night in Buffalo, WY (automotive problem), drove up to Little Big Horn BF, then up & over to Cody, WY & the Museums there, spend a night at a forest service just before the Yellowstone entrance, then a few days in YS then down to Tetons.
A few Mts. to cross on the route to Cody & into Yellowstone. Not much entering via the northern entrance by Gardiner, MT. Nothing in way Mts.& passes via the South via Jackson.
I'd spend as much time in Yellowstone as possible (lot of country to see & many animals), maybe two/three days at Tetons & two/three days in Rushmore/Black Hills.
We gone by Thermopolis, WY twice to do a soak in the hot spring water at the State Bath House. Very neat. We over nighted in the Wind River Canyon in Aug '09 & at one of the Boysen State Park campgrounds by the lake some years ago. A little out of the way on 14 day trip, however.
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Oh, will we be able to comfortably drive the rv around all these places to sightsee eat out etc?
What are your thoughts on:
1 Best route from Memphis to Tetons
2 Favorite CG's
3 Time to spend in each area
Sightseeing in the rv will be great as long as its not too big. Some places are difficult to navigate, just take a good look as you approach. If it seems extremely tight, look for an easier place to park close-by. You will take several parking spots, so plan accordingly. The majority of places have plenty of room.
As far as the route, remember to ENJOY the trip. The interstates are fine for getting from point A to B. But there are some great sights on the back roads. Pick some must sees and some nice to see. When we travel, we try to average around 325 miles a day, with an average speed of around 40 mph. I never go faster than 65 mph. This allows us to stop and smell/see the roses. As someone said, enjoy the first trip and there will be many more. Hate the first trip and its money wasted.
My kids, 20 and 17, love seeing all Gods creation from the rv. At least that's what they tell me
Some of those places I've been, and would want to go back for extended visits. Others are still on my western U.S. bucket list. That makes it attractive. .
On my first similar trip out west, I did not schedule many days at each location. thought that I would see what truly interested me and with a plan of returning to some favorites for a longer period. did have a couple of blank days scattered so I could extend each stop just a tad if desired.
I had 3 days scheduled for Yellowstone. N loop one day, S loop the next and then old faithful. got there fairly early on the day of arrival so caught Old faithful and left one day early. Honestly, was sick and tired of the sulfur stench. I was there not too long after a large fire so I could see "stuff" from the road. if it has all grown up by now, you won't see much but trees going from point to point.
and you can save time by skipping that tourist trap in Wall, SD.
It's been over 20 years since the big fire and a lot of the burned stuff has been covered up by new undergrowth and trees. While still visible, it now merely serves as a reminder of what did happen and how Mother Nature can repair the damage eventually. To just drive all that way and they fly by the wonderful attractions of the area would be a waste of time, in my opinion. I would shorten up your trip and do the south part one time and the north part another, taking a couple of weeks each time. My personal favorite would be the north part, but that's because I live here and get to enjoy it all the time. Grand Canyon and southern Utah are beautiful and worthy of a couple of weeks all by themselves, especially when you are driving all that way to see the area.
You have gotten a lot of good advice and I agree with all of it. But I am going to suggest something different. You say this is your first family RV trip ever. For that very first trip I would suggest a "starter" trip. One that is not too far from home and not for more than a few days. Take the family out to "get used" to traveling in an RV and close together. Do this before you head out for two weeks or more anywhere. Once you do this, you will find (hopefully) that they all love it and they want to go out right away for more. Then set up your two plus week trip and go!
the best advice given in this thread, IMHO.
Our first run was one night in a local state CG. That was some learning experience.
Before a grand endeavor with a new rig, ducking out for a weekend, even if it is to a CG that is only a few miles away, will help greatly with not just getting used to the ride, but being able to get items which one didn't think about the first time.
For me, the shakedown trip meant a number of items that I never thought of. A foam mattress topper for the queen bed, dehumidifiers, power strips, a macerator pump, a wall protector so the doorknob from the bathroom wouldn't punch through, an additional shaver and set of toiletries, a set of chargers for iPads, computers, and cell phones.
When trying to decide how far we can go I use Google Maps and determine the distance and travel time between point A and B and C and D, etc. and I try to keep any day's drive time to 5 hours or less. That works out to an average of more like 3 hours per day of a trip and 150 miles per day. To go 1500 miles distance from the house or 3000 miles round trip I would want at a bare minimum 20 days.
Some days there could be no driving and other days 6 hours and again this is the outside limit. It does provide for traveling segments where there is little to see and not much in the way of reason to stop except for food and rest breaks.
For 14 days of travel and spending time at locations along the route I would plan a trip that had a total distance of 2300 miles or less round trip. If going up to Canada or to the east coast I would fly to a central starting point, like Calgary for western Canada or Phoenix or Denver or Salt Lake for the western USA and rent an RV for the trip and then fly home. Total cost will be nearly the same and a lot more time will be spent where you want to be instead of on interstate highways in traffic.