Never had one other than the bed, that's the way my first one was wired and saw no reason to change out as it has always done the job. Mine have always been just in front of the wheel well on the driver's side. However, there's still time to change for me as I have only been doing it this way since 1993.
First pickup in 1987 and kept it until 1993 when I realized the old 350 3/4 ton with a 4.10 rear end was not enough truck to pull both my fifth wheel and boat all the time. Last trip with it I got 5.3 mpg and almost didn't make it to the next town to fill up. Got a 3/4 ton 454 in 1993 with a manual transmission and had it 20,000 miles when we traded out for a new Vortec 454. Got rid of the 1993 because it had a problem with its sensors, it would simply start the speedometer toward the top speed, peg out and then go into limp mode. Dealer/friend tried everything to figure out the problem to no avail. He traded me out of it for $2,000 for the 20,000 miles I had on it and I got the Vortec 454. Really liked it a lot, but decided I "needed" diesel so got a new one in 2002 and used it for 103,000 miles and replaced the PRNDL switch four times, the last time the wife said that was enough, well she said I could get a new truck. So, in 2011, got a Dodge diesel, long-bed crew cab with a six-speed manual and a 3.42 rear end. As I was getting old, it got harder and more difficult to back the truck with both feet on the pedals and turning around to watch my backing, I know, I should use the mirrors. Also, hated the mileage and when I added to boat to the load, I was uncomfortable with the perceived lack of towing ability so, June 2012 bought bought another GMC D/A short-bed crew cab and have a little over 20,000 miles on it. Love the power, get decent mileage and figure this will probably be my last truck, absent mechanical problems, as I am now over 70 years old and don't have enough towing years in me to wear out this truck.
As you can see, I don't keep the trucks a long time but, in my mind, I had good reasons for getting rid of each one of them.
It will take you about 30 minutes to get to the Colter Bay entrance which is five miles from the junction to Jackson Lake which is five minutes from Signal Mountain Camp Ground and Marina. Then, it about 15 minutes to Jenny Lake and another 15 or so to the Moose Junction. If you then go to the main highway, it about 25 minutes from there to Jackson. On the way to Jackson, you can turn to Gros Ventre and take a little longer trip, only because of the crappy roads most of the way to Slide Lake. Then return by way of Antelope Flats and see a ton of Buffalo/Bison on the way back to the main highway. Take a right turn and about 20 minutes later you are at the Moran Junction entrance and about 10 minutes from one of the most photographed spots in the world, OxBow Bend on the Snake. Another 4-5 minutes you're back at the Jackson Lake junction. These are merely driving times and don't take into account stopping for sightseeing, photos, etc. and looking at the sights all over the park.
Headwaters is about a mile from the entrance to Yellowstone. It is a ways from the first junction, but it's a beautiful around Lewis Canyon and Lake, etc. before you get there. Probably will take less than an hour our of your day to get to the junction. It's no longer to get into Yellowstone from Headwaters than it is from West Yellowstone. Just get up a little bit earlier and you'll be fine. That's what we do when we go to Yellowstone from Colter Bay, just get up a bit earlier than usual for fishing, drive to Yellowstone, spend all day there and then get back to our FW while it's still daylight, 8:00 or so. Might even grab a dinner in Yellowstone or just get a late one at the FW. Honest to God, it's not really that far.
We haven't stayed at Headwaters, but it is probably the most centrally located campground in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area. It's just south of the Yellowstone entrance and just north of the Grand Teton entrance. We go by there when tripping up to Yellowstone from Colter Bay and, timewise, it's about half-way from Colter Bay to the junction to go to Yellowstone Lake and Canyon or go the other way to Old Faithful.
We took highway 49 last spring from Tahoe to Yosemite and, while it is interesting, in my opinion,it is not a great highway for those just wanting to get from one place to another. It is twisty, narrow and has true 15 mph curves. It would probably add at least an hour or more to your trip from Yosemite to Tahoe, in spite of the neat scenery. And, we were only pulling a 30' FW.
My door sticker says 60 in front and 70 in rear, I run a 2012 D/A crew-cab standard bed. If your truck rides rough, it might possibly be overinflated tires. How does it ride unloaded. With that type of pressure, I would think it would ride hard as well.
Riverton, Wyoming is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Grand Teton National Park. While it's a nice a little town, that's a long way to travel to see the Tetons when there are many campgrounds much closer to the Park, such as Colter Bay, Gros Ventre, etc. that are right in the Park.
Don't know about your carrying capacity, but Jayco has a Super Lite 23.5 FW that is pretty light. The next size up is our Super Lite 26.5 RLS and it weighed around 7,200 pounds from the factory with about a 2,750 cargo capacity for a final weight of 9,950 pounds. If you figure a hitch weight of 20%, which I think is a bit high, that gives you 1,990 pounds hitch weight. I will tell you that our GMC 2500 HD D/A combo crew-cab carries our 26.5 RLS very well and, without extra springs or helper bags, etc. the bed only drops 1" when we drop the FW on it. However, our 3/4 ton probably has a bit more carrying capacity than your 1500 but I'll bet you would be able to carry and tow it, unlike some of the others here are saying. With the hemi, you will certainly have the power. I shied away from a bumper pull because we have always towed our boats behind our FWs but that might be a good option for you.
Oh no, don't skip Grand Teton. It would be a shame. I believe the scenery is much more grand than Yellowstone, but nowhere near the features. However, you can take a boat ride on Jackson Lake and get right up next to Mount Moran at its base and look straight up about 6,000 feet. Even take a lunch or dinner cruise and eat in the shadow, kinda, of Mount Moran. Then, go to Jenny Lake, take the tour boat and take in Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Then on over to Moose Junction to the Craig Thomas Visitor Center, then to the Gros Ventre area and Slide Lake. Back around through Antelope Flats and hundreds of Bison/Buffalo for us hicks, and driving around you might see some Grizzly Bears, Moose, Elk, Deer, Antelope and all kinds of birds, including Bald Eagles. Then one night, get in your car and go into Jackson and over towards Teton Village and take in the Bar J Wranglers. Very nice dinner and a two or so hour show of great western music, think Sons of the Pioneers, Roy Rogers, etc. and they feed about 600 people in 20 minutes prior to the show. Jackson is about 45 minutes from Colter Bay and you get another chance to see wildlife as well as driving along the Teton range and seeing those majestic mountains. Grand Teton is not a park to miss. Or if you don't want to drive into Jackson, go to Leeks Marina and have a great pizza with beer out on their deck overlooking Jackson Lake. We have spent the last 10 -15 anniversaries on that same deck and it never gets old, even though I am.
But then, I am biased, I have been going there for over 50 years and go back about three weeks each year to fish and sightsee.
Well, you can't get reservations at the Colter Bay campground as it's first come, first served. If you were thinking about the RV park, then you will need reservations. For the past 50 years or so that we have been going to Colter Bay, the RV park sign always says full. We live about three hours from Colter Bay and usually just leave home around 6:00-6:30 and arrive at the campground around 9:00 or so and usually have no trouble getting a spot. Checkout time is 11:00 and people who have to be somewhere else usually leave pretty early. I don't think you will have any problem getting a site if you arrive around 9:00 on the 3rd of July. We usually don't go up until after the fourth since we like to stay here in town for, probably, the best personal fireworks show in the country. We have one little part sponsored by the city and the rest of the city is lit up for about four hours with fireworks all over the city. You shouldn't have any trouble getting a space in a very nice campground in one of the prettiest spots in the US. As you can tell, I really like Grand Teton and Jackson Lake.
You must have already been in Wyoming as it appears you are planning on by-passing us. However, if you change your mind, it's pretty easy to get here from Idaho or Colorado and take in the Snowy Range, up to Grand Teton, Yellowstone and then over Chief Joseph Highway, over to Cody and then to the Black Hills after going through Wind River Canyon and traveling the longest 1,000 miles on earth between Shoshoni and Casper (distance 96 miles). On your way to the Black Hills you can take a look at the Devil's Tower.
The shower area at Colter Bay have about 16-18 showers for both men and women. It's not a big deal to get in as they are open all day. That's what we use, most of the time, and the price isn't too bad as long as you don't take two or three showers a day. And, I am not sure that Gros Ventre has a shower area, I don't remember seeing one when we were there last June. We went to Colter Bay and used theirs.
The truck may be two models old, but I would guess it's a holdover and would receive new warranty coverage. If so, then you aren't too far off with that price. However, you might ask him to drop it another $5,000 or so or so as the value will probably really plunge when driven off the lot. You might also take a look at Edmunds value stuff and see what they say. I think they have columns for various pricing including what would it really sell for. Might be an interesting look.
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.