We have camped at both the Colter Bay campground and the RV park(only once). We love the Colter Bay campground, even if it is "dry" since it's so close to the lake and in basically in the middle of the Park. Gros Ventre is a very nice campground, closer to Jackson for what that's worth, but a little farther away from the prettier parts of the Park. Both Colter Bay and Gros Ventre have about 300 dry camping spots, both have some spots with electricity, but these "pads" with the electricity are basically or handicapped campers who need a constant source of electricity. Doesn't mean you can't get one, but they keep some of them aside for handicapped campers until later in the day. We have camped at Colter Bay for about 50 years and hit Gros Ventre last spring for the first time. I prefer Colter Bay but different strokes for different folks.
We stayed at Gros Ventre last June when we couldn't get into Colter Bay. I really like Colter Bay better as it is a much prettier campground being close to the lake and having a great view of the mountains. Gros Ventre was fine and we had a couple of moose wandering around our campground one evening which was neat. Also, we took a trip up to Slide Lake and saw a herd of Mountain Sheep up there. However, it's about 30-35 minutes from Gros Ventre to Jackson Lake and we fish up there so it was a little inconvenient as we take the boat out every night and launch in the morning so we had to trailer the boat each day. Cost of both campgrounds will be the same and they both accept the Senior Pass so it's probably going to be about $12 a day this year. Both campgrounds have some places with electricity for handicapped campers but no FHU. The electric spots at Colter Bay may be able to be used by non-handicapped folks as they save a number of them for handicapped, but release them, I believe, later in the day. Also, at Colter Bay, you are in the middle of the park as opposed to the lower side at Gros Ventre. As far as Signal Mountain, it's a beautiful campground, but, as noted above, usually for smaller camper outfits. Pretty tight even just driving around, but nice and close to the lake and all that beautiful scenery. I'm probably a little biased as we have been camping at Colter Bay for about 50 years, in tents, campers, and FWs. Wherever you decide to go, you will have a wonderful experience.
I would get the bid sheet on that one from RVWholesalers and take it to your local dealer to see what he can do. That's kind of what I did with my Jayco in 2011. I had a price from RV Direct and was over $13,000 less than the "local" dealer. When I told him the price, he came back to me with a price that was slightly over $2,000 more than RV Direct and I didn't have to travel 2,500 to 3,000 miles to pick the FW up and bring it back home. Your dealer might be able to deal, but if not, I would suggest talking again to RV Wholesalers, I think they have a dealer network, at least that's what I remember from my prior research.
We bought a Jayco HT 26.5 RLS about three years ago and it is, indeed, a light trailer with a total capacity of 9,950 according to Jayco. However, in the literature we got it specifically said this type of FW was not acceptable for full-timing. Tow things come to mind, one is the available space. Ours is about 30' long with two slides. On a 20-day trip last year, it was more than adequate for our purposes, but I do think it would be a little tight for full-timing. It might be doable, but not spacious. Might get on each other's nerves in this size of space. Second is that these FWs are not built quite as stout as the full-timing FWs, like the Premier or the Pinnacle in the Jayco line. Their frame probably has bigger I-beams and the cupboards, appliances, countertops, etc. are most certainly going to be closer to top-shelf than the ones in my FW. I do think the FWs with "arctic" packages are probably going to be as protected from cold and heat as are the higher end ones, but I really doubt you will be full-timing in Alaska for a long period of time. If you are planning on full-timing in the south, just make sure you get the second AC and you should be fine.
We got our first senior pass about 8 years ago at Lake Powell, which is a National Recreation Area, but allows the use of the senior pass. My wife got one about three years later, yeh she's a lot younger than I, and when we go to the gates, she usually pulls hers out along with her driver's license to give to the attendant as she prefers I pay attention to my driving. Has worked every time at the gates. And, they are not "good" for seven days, they are "good" 365 days a year, 24/7. We usually spend about three weeks in and around Grand Teton National Park and this senior pass has saved us a ton of money, $20 or so every time we enter the first time, and about $12 a night camping, so for 21 days using the senior pass this past year we saved a bit over $300 on entrance and camping fees. However, we didn't use the RV park with FHU as they don't give much, if any, discount for the senior pass. Best bargain ever received from Uncle Sam, bar none.
I would assume, scary I guess, that they have different heights of mechanism to accommodate the differing height requirement of the various fifth wheels out there as well as the bed depths. The one in the video doesn't look like it's adjustable.
I don't believe you should be concerned with the Lippert frame with the 300 pound hitch. I have a Jayco HT 26.5 RLS that I had a hitch fabricated on right after buying it. I have towed by 19' Crestliner for three seasons with no problems, and it has a Lippert frame. I did, however, take it to a professional welder who reinforced the frame about 6' toward the axle and fabricated the hitch with three-inch square oil field tubing. I would assume he did a very good job as they spent around four hours to fabricate and weld the hitch and wire up the trailer with a seven-pin plug. Total cost was around $500 and was money well spent. I would not put on a pre-built hitch that attaches to the bumper because I don't believe the bumpers are designed to help carry that kind of weight.
Boy, parking on the downside of Sylvan Pass makes for a beautiful, but long, commute each day you want to go into the park. I would echo the folks who suggest trying to find a campground or park in Yellowstone. It will probably take you over an hour to get into the park from the Valley RV Park and at least an hour to get back to your trailer. However, that's not really too bad as you would enter Yellowstone at a junction that will allow you to tour each of the loops and see some wonderful scenery. Just take it easy and enjoy your trip, don't worry about the time. And, by the way, make sure you take time to go see the Buffalo Bill Museum. It is a wonder and will take you at least one full day to go through it all and enjoy it.
Our Jayco HT has some under-step lighting that comes on when the outside "porch" light is turned on. However, like yours, the switch is very high on the control panel right inside the door. Since I don't make it a habit of going outside when it's pitch black without turning on the "porch" light, it's not been problem for me. I guess you should take a look at "door jamb switch" as noted by vietvet66-67.
That could be a great trip, go to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and then back through Utah to Arches, Bryce, Zion (maybe some others as well) than Grand Canyon and home. That could take a while so you might want to set aside a whole bunch of time to do this. That could be a great trip up and own the width of our western part of the country along the Rocky Mountains, etc.
Our Jayco HT 26.5 RLS is listed with overall length of 29'7". I believe that's from the front of the hitch to the end of the back bumper. I saw the specs on another HT with 27 in its title and it showed overall length as 30'7". When I was looking for a FW a while ago, every web site I looked at showed the model designation and overall length. I think you could go to the sites and find that info. Every manufacturer has its own way to designate the model numbers and, at times, it doesn't seem to make sense, but they must have some idea of what they are doing. Now, if you are looking used, the web site idea won't help you much but you might be able to find something similar on the site to what you are looking at that might be of some help.
We camped beside a FW with a Honda 3000 a couple of years ago and the noise was not objectionable. Probably louder than one of my Honda 2000s, but not when both are running at full load. I really like the idea of the low weight of the Honda 2000s compared to the 3000. Had a 4500 industrial generator a few years ago and wife hated the noise and I hated putting it into and taking it out of the truck, that thing was heavy and I was getting too old and weak to move it around.
When you were running down your truck batteries, how did you start the truck to recharge the batteries. Starting batteries are not designed to work at electric power for anything but the truck, you should only use deep cycle type batteries for that purpose. Too many discharges, and not very many at that, will ruin a starting battery that you describe. I echo the ideas above about upgrading your RV battery system, adding a generator, etc.
We stayed in Palm Desert last May at Emerald Desert RV Resort. I haven't had a lot of experience with full-service resorts, but this one was very, very nice compared to the others we used on our 20-day trip from Wyoming, to Idaho, to Nevada, Yosemite, Sequoia, Palm Desert, Zion and Salt Lake City. Very large spaces, all with concrete, full hook-ups, swimming pool, exercise place, etc. Only dislike were the trains that were pretty close to the park, about 100 yards from where we parked. There was a wall between the tracks, but it didn't block all the noise. Price was about $55 a night, but compared to the Yosemite Lakes campground, it was a bargain. It's rated 10/9.5/10 in the Good Sam RV Travel Guide, for what that's worth.
If you have a 23' TT, what size is your AC, if you have one. If it's a smaller, less than the standard 13,500 one I have on my FW, a Honda or Yahama 2000 should be able to start and run it, I would think. If it's the 8,500 AC, then certainly the Honda or Yahama will be able to start and run it. Might not be able to use anything else at the same time, but judicious use of each of the electric items would make it work.
I have a FW with a big back window and wonder about mounting the camera on the inside of the window rather than outside of the FW. I realize a person would probably still have to run the wire forward towards the TV, but I don't think that would be too big a deal if you were running the wire anyway from an outside mount. I wonder if a wireless one would be more usable from inside the FW than it appears to be, from reviews I've seen, from the outside of the FW?
Actually Colter Bay. If you google up Coulter Bay, you might miss it. But I agree with spending time at Colter Bay, we go there about three weeks every summer to fish, boat and sightsee. If you are in the campground rather than the RV park, you have great views of the Tetons and it's a short walk to the lake. Cruise boat on the lake, rent boats, canoes or kayaks and get out on the lake. It's a beautiful place that we never get tired of, no matter how many times we go there.
Yes, a day at Yosemite is certainly better than never getting there. However, a day might not be enough to see all you would like to see. With the crowds and the roads, it's a little difficult to get around. Will you be pulling a sightseeing vehicle or a trailer that you drop so you can sightsee? Makes a big difference is how much you get to see in the various parks. Also, I think you might want to skip the cities you have listed, Las Vegas and San Francisco as they are just cities and will take away time from seeing the beautiful sights of our country. We took a 20-day trip last May from our home, Lander, Wyoming and hit Nampa, Idaho to see grandkids for a few days, Elko Nevada to see some of wife's extended family, Lake Tahoe for a day and a half, Yosemite for 2 1/2 days and Sequoia for 1 1/2 days before heading to Palm Desert and then back up through Zion and then home. We put 3,800 miles on the truck and about 3,400 miles on our FW. If you have only six weeks, I would suggest you narrow down your sights to really wondrous ones rather than stopping in cities. Just my two cents. I would also have suggested you take in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Black Hills, etc., but your suggested itinerary just wouldn't be able to fit that in. Maybe another trip in the future?
The day you spend driving to and back from Glacier can be better spent in Grand Teton, in my opinion. As far as hiking easily in Grand Teton, the hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake is a very easy hike as well. Also, the hike to Phelps Lake, in the Laurance Rockefeller Reserve, the newest part of Grand Teton, is really pretty easy and is very beautiful, especially when you get to Phelps Lake where the compound was that has now been totally reclaimed. Look out over the lake and see Death Canyon as well.