Some of the rocking could have come from uneven roads - we have experienced that on concrete roads, especially in northern states. If not the roads, it's possible your WD hitch needs some adjustment. As for the wastewater tanks, our last TT had 2 gray tanks, and one tended to fill faster than the other, just because of the way we used water. Showers will use quite a bit more than dishwashing. (As LadyRVer pointed out, one gray tank is for the kitchen and the other for the bathroom.) Makes it nice for multi-night stays, especially once you get used to the capacity of your tanks and how your usage pattern works with them.
I cook in ours virtually all the time - we don't grill out much, actually. Open all the windows and use the fan over the stove, and you can keep the rig smelling pretty fresh most of the time. Not a problem.
Some of this looks fine, but those 5-6 days in a row of drive, drive, drive near the end may be very tough on your family. Also, be aware that places like Grand Canyon, Tucson and Moab will be hotter than hot that time of year. Yes, I know you're from Florida, but have you really experienced 115-120 degrees in the strong western sun?
You have far too little time in Moab (wayyyyy more than you can see in one day, with 2-3 national parks and a state park in close proximity), Glacier (we spent a week there, and a day trip from Missoula will not allow you anything close to the time it's worth), Yosemite, and probably Crater Lake - again, I'd spend a full day in each one, not just an evening.
If the total time is more than you have available, then knock out a full location rather than cutting down the individual sights. To me, it's a shame to visit a place and leave without seeing all the stuff you really wanted to see.
Agreed. If your family are more interested in what the cities have to offer, then skip some of the national parks. If you are more interested in seeing those national parks, cut out the cities - I'd skip Las Vegas entirely (not exactly family-friendly anyway), and I'd also probably skip SFO and Seattle in order to allow more time for those national park areas. BTW, if you don't have reservations in the national parks, get them NOW - or at least immediately after you finalize your itinerary. Good luck!
Red Rock is fine but not likely to have open spaces. We were there in mid-September one year and it was packed. Early August is still in Yellowstone's prime time. I'm not into serendipity, so we have never tried to stay in/near Yellowstone without a reservation, but if you are able to arrive at the non-reservable CGs in the park by 9:30-10 AM, you may get one. For that time of year, though, I do recommend reservations, even at the CGs outside the park.
Welcome, and thanks for the review! You should consider going to www.rvparkreviews.com; you'll hear some complaints from those of us used to their old format, but they still offer lots (and lots!) of campground reviews, and you may very well find one for the one you're looking for. You can post a review of the place in Spearfish there too, if you like - in fact, folks would appreciate if you do. :)
All that said, I just checked and did not find Danceland in their listings - which means no one has posted a review of it on that site. Is it perhaps a membership CG?
Take your right turns wide and keep an eye on the wheels in your mirrors.
Ditto. We had a TT of similar size for 6 years and learned pretty quickly that it does track inside the truck a bit. Practice makes (nearly) perfect! Take it slow in the turns, especially while you're getting used to it.
Good info about the Badlands & Wall Drug, but those are east of Devils Tower by quite a bit. :) Between Devils Tower & Gardiner, the best stop along I-90 (IMO) is for the Little Bighorn National Battlefield. A couple CGs rated well are nearby; we stayed at the Hardin KOA, which was pleasant & a mile off the interstate (= less road noise). It's a good day's drive from the north entrance of Yellowstone.
The KOA at the base of Devil's Tower has a view that won't quit. Worth the stay.
You might consider visiting the Black Hills on your way back from Gillette, and heading south from there through western Nebraska to US 26. That will connect you to I-80 at Ogallala, and in the meantime there are some nice state parks and the sand hills scenery to enjoy on the drive.
Oregon state parks can be true gems. We sure enjoyed the 2 we were in last fall on our vacation (Champoeg - pronounced Shampoo-y- about 40-50 miles south of Portland, and Tumalo, near Bend).
I would say that Crater Lake is worth a couple days; haven't yet been to the John Day Fossil Beds but they sure look intriguing!
Another good base camp idea for Yellowstone is West Yellowstone; our favorite CG there is Grizzly RV, has everything you need, very clean & convenient, and close to the park entrance. If you don't mind a 15-30 mile drive to the west entrance, Island Park, Idaho has some nice NFS CGs (a few have hookups & take reservations) and Henrys Lake SP is nice, though not shaded. Gorgeous 360-degree mountain views, though!
I don't recall seeing what your camping rig is. That could make a difference for some of the recommendations when it comes to specific CGs.
Tragusa3, your trailer is small enough you could consider a 3rd option for GTNP: Signal Mt. CG. It's right next to Signal Mt. Lodge (food, gas, store) and that entire little area has a fantastic view of the Tetons over Jackson Lake. No hookups, but a nice place to be, IMO.
In Yellowstone, most of the smaller CGs do not allow generators. The larger ones (Bridge Bay, Madison, etc.) do, but only during certain hours (not at night). I agree with the suggestion that you split your YNP stay between Fishing Bridge and Mammoth or Madison CG - Mammoth to concentrate on the north loop (Lamar Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, etc.) or Madison to concentrate on the geyser areas.
I don't know how full they are, but you might check with Driftstone on the Delaware. It really is right on the river, and some of the back-in sites near the office are amazing - HUGE, shaded, and with electric (& I believe also water) hookups. They're not far from Stroudsburg, Shawnee-on-Delaware area, the Water Gap, etc. and there are tubing & canoeing - I believe you can even do it right from the CG.
You'll probably be somewhat over the truck's payload capacity with that many people & a heavy, big trailer, but with the proper WD/sway control hitch, you should be ok. The Tundra's engine & brakes are plenty capable, at least.
You may be ok with that size a/c - you can always supplement airflow with a small portable fan or two. As for the size of the slideout, I wouldn't be concerned about that either. Some people might even prefer a smaller one, to fit into heavily wooded campsites better, etc.
You may be right, 4runnerguy, but whether a permit is required or not, it's essential for one's own safety to check with rangers before heading out on a trail. Not only will they be aware someone is there should there be an emergency of the person gets lost, they can advise if there has been bear activity or other reason the trail is closed, or extra caution is advised. As for pepper spray, etc. - it may not be allowed to use it on wildlife who are not bears. And pepper spray won't faze a charging grizzly. Bear spray may. (Never a guarantee of safety anywhere in Yellowstone.)
Lots of good advice here! I will re-emphasize that you MUST get a permit and check in w/ rangers if you are hiking in the backcountry (i.e. away from the roads). If you are not easily discouraged, get a copy of Lee Whittlesey's "Death in Yellowstone" - there are a great many instances of tragic encounters people have had in the park with animals, hot springs, etc., and knowledge of these things could help you avoid any such incidents. Bear spray is essential if hiking the backcountry in Yellowstone, and some areas may be closed to hiking due to bear activity; rangers will have that information.
Be aware that the road between Norris and Mammoth is undergoing major reconstruction, which will make walking alongside it extra difficult. For that reason you may want to consider staying in Madison CG rather than Norris (though Norris is just on the edge of the construction zone).
A couple of details. Hitchhiking does occur in the park but is primarily done by concession employees - and folks won't take too kindly to someone pretending to be one. :) Folks do hike along the roadsides, and there are plenty of bikers, but the roads are narrow, often with narrow shoulders, so caution is always advised. Drivers aren't always paying full attention to the road, with all there is to see, and that's especially true when wildlife is spotted.
The CG at Bechler is indeed a NFS CG, located just outside the YNP boundary. It's reached by 18+ miles of gravel road east of Ashton, Idaho, and is not accessible to the rest of Yellowstone except by trails.
Canyon is a good base CG, as is Madison or Norris. Madison is probably the most popular one in the park, though - just FYI. I would agree that Grant is probably not the best choice for what you want to do, especially if you plan to visit the Tetons anyway. Check the park website (www.nps.gov, then follow prompts for Yellwostone) for information under "planning your stay" for CG, services & trail information. There may be some rules about holding a campsite if you are not staying in it overnight (just leaving your rig), and you may want to inquire about that before finalizing plans.
Great story, Paw Paw! Never have camp-hosted, but I did work in Yellowstone summers during college, and it never fails to amaze me how clueless some people are - even though warnings abound - about bears. Good luck to you, naturist!