I've been doing it for 3 years now. Leave in 2 days for a month long 4,500 mi. adventure through Colorado and out to Utah, then back to Minn.
For an f-150 you must get a SuperCrew, 6.5 bed with the Heavy Duty Payload and Max Tow packages. The HD Payload is critical - otherwise there is no way you can carry the pin weight of the loaded fifth plus passengers in the truck.
Mine scales right at the max for payload capacity. The new Fords have more, though, so that is a plus.
We've done almost 12,000 miles, to all three coasts, and not had a single issue that could be blamed on "not enough truck". Sure, bigger is better - but at the time, I had to balance the costs, the daily driving need, etc. also.
The sad part is that while many 1/2 ton trucks can tow a fifth, only a tricked out Ford seems to be able to carry a fifth.
We plan to head from Cedar Rapids, IA to northern MN, such as Ely, Grand Rapids, Lake Itasca then back home. Would love to hear from folks as to what is a must see, do, great restaurants, good campgrounds etc.
Plan leave Sat. Sept. 17 and be on the road for about 2 weeks.
Thank you for your input.
Check out the state parks! They usually are the best accommodations around, with a couple of disclaimers:
Not all have electric sites, and very few have full hook-ups. All sites at all parks are now reservable - meaning even if you pull up to the gate looking for a spot, you have to go online (or have the ranger do it) to "reserve" your site. Electric can be hard to get, but since you are going in the late season, the odds of finding one are pretty good. Jay Cooke near Duluth and Bear Head Lake on the way to Ely are two great ones - but popular, so get online quick. Most are tight for "big rigs", but with your size 5th, you shouldn't have issues, just note the length of the site when reserving - what is reported is the total length available for trailer and tow.
Current routing for first leg is:
Page, AZ to Kanab, UT, then to Fredonia, AZ, through Colorado City to Hurricane, UT and the to Zion River Campground in Virgin for 4 nights.
From Virgin, up I-15, exit on Ut-20, then down 89 to Cannonville/Bryce Valley KOA for 3 nights.
Not my first/second/third choices for camping locations, but you take what you can get when you dawdle too much before looking for open spots to reserve.
Sounds like I should not plan on towing through Zion, and just enjoy it as a drive when off hitch!
Thanks all for the advice!
Heading out for a month to Utah, itinerary/reservations all set. Trying to finalize two legs of the route:
Page, AZ to Zion
and Zion to Bryce.
Yes, I know about the Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy 9 and its tunnel. Previewing on YouTube, it seems manageable with my fifth wheel.
Mapping software suggests from Page to Zion, to dive south through the Kaibab reservation, then back up to Hurricane, to bypass Hwy 9.
Ditto for Zion to Bryce - loop over the top, using I15.
Any comments on the "scenic" quotient of the alternate routes? If I'm comfortable with Hwy 9, is one alternate preferable over the other, even if not as dramatic? Just don't want a "pretty boring, but it gets you there" day of driving. But if one of the alternates is kinda cool, then I don't have to drive Hwy 9 twice.
Or should we just plan on the alt's while towing, and drive Hwy 9 separately when off tow, taking more time to enjoy the pull-outs (but at the expense of doing other things in the Zion area)?
Just mounted Firestones on my smaller rig. Used to get about 5-6" of sag at the rear bumper. Never an issue "bottoming out", even on rough roads before, but I didn't like the "uphill" feel of the truck, nor having to use the jacks to take up that sag before I could unhitch. Currently have only pumped them up to 30lbs when on hitch, and only have done a very short drive. Sag is now 2". Handling was fine. Off hitch, have been running the 30lbs for a couple of weeks. Not a lot of difference - a bit stiffer in the rear, but nothing my wife or anyone else has noticed. Using a bike pump, and while it does take a bit, it only takes about three times the number of strokes that my high pressure bike tires take. For the few trips a year, I can justify it as exercise. I'll play with pressure, but it may not need much more.
I didn't know about air-rides (I think that is the brand with the internal bumper) before I bought the Firestones. I might have considered. But so far, I have no issue with the Firestones. BTW - buy the separate air line Tee made for them too. That way you can fill both at once, rather than having two fill valves. Air-Ride Tees are cheaper than Firestone and work on the 1/4" air lines too.
And...I originally used the "no drill" bracket for the fill valves, that straps to the vehicles hitch. Location made it hard to attach the pump to the valves. I drilled a hole next to the license plate for the single valve, and it works well. I've seen examples where the valve replaces one of the plate screws, making it almost un-noticeable. But on mine, I would have had problems with getting the pump onto the valve.
The big test - leaving next week for a 1 month, 4.5K trip, so that will tell the tale!
So...if I put my handy carpenter level on the side rail of the bed, and pump her up when on hitch, that should be a good starting point?
BTW - the Firestone instructions say to run with a min. of 10lbs. I've done that for the last few days, and don't notice anything different from when it was stock....
Ford F-150 SC, 4WD, HD Payload, Max Tow.
Just added Firestone air bags.
While I know a lot of the adjustment will be on my perception of the ride and truck level, what initial pressures do you recommend for a) no load (daily driver) and b) max. load of about 2100 (near rated capacity of truck)?
I'll be using a hand bicycle pump initially. Don't anticipate varying pressure much otherwise, except when camping. Any recommendations for a light 12v compressor to use for the bags as well as bicycles?
Will be stopping at many places for 3-4 day periods on the upcoming trip. Do you adjust pressure for times when you are off hitch, or just leave it?
You will have no problem.
Bleach tends to break down fairly quickly, unless it has been very well sealed and not exposed to heat or light. So if yours has been sitting around for a while, it's concentration is already lower. Health departments make restaurants use bleach water for sanitizing tables, counters, etc., and they mandate that it has to be used within a pretty short time after mixing, just due to that issue.
Secondly, the bleach that is present will combine with any dust, dirt and soil in the grass, and dissipate very rapidly. Ask any pool owner about what happens to all his chlorine in a rain storm...
Just to complicate things even more - there are very, very few bike racks made that are rated for use on trailers (conventional or fifth wheel). Usually you have to download the manual of the make/model you are interested in, and read the disclaimers in the front. Most flatly say that they cannot be used. A few just note that any warranty is void. Swagman is the most referred to brand by fellow RV'ers, but again, only two of its models allow RV use.
A second vote for Betty's in Abbeville. Be forewarned, it is a bit different. Betty essentially graveled over her smallish back/side yards to allow for RV parking. It's tight, and has no amenities except hookups. Forget about kid activities, or even dog parks (dogs are happily permitted, just that the "CG" is really small!).
BUT - Betty also has an expansive covered patio, in which campers are almost required to attend the nightly "Happy Hour" - BYOB, and light snacks/appetizers. This is socializing, not a drinking party. Everyone chats about what they did during the day, places they found, where they ate, etc. Betty will very frequently host or organize tours and field trips to local events/attractions, based on the group discussion of the evening before. Or the campers may decide to have an impromptu crawfish boil the next night on site. Sometimes there's music, either by the campers themselves, or a local friend stops by. It's as close to being invited to stay at someone's house as you can get!
As noted, there is no simple test for bacteria. Test kits are for common swimming pool chemical balances. Most basic is ph (acid/base), and chlorine. Unless you are using gold mine run-off as a water source, the ph test is of no value for Rv'ing. Chlorine test kits measure from 1-10 parts per million, with 1-3 being the goal for a pool. City water never registers on the test strips - amount of chlorine is just too low. Ask any pool owner about what happens if they fill, but do not add chlorine - stinky swimming really fast! Sanitizing as posted above drives the level up to about 50 ppm, which kills everything in a few hours.
While RV tanks are a semi-sealed system, things like algae and bacteria can begin to grow, but it takes a pretty long time as there are few nutrients and it is dark. (As opposed to a pool that gets alls sorts of wind blown stuff in it, and gets full daylight).
The only test that you can do, without sending water out to a testing lab, is to smell it.
So, just sanitize - at least yearly, more often if you leave the same water in the tanks for weeks or months. Use the test strips if it makes you feel better about verifying that you have flushed all the sanitizing chlorine out of the system, but your nose works even better than the test strips in detecting small amounts.
You seem like pretty responsible owners, just by posting the question. I'll assume that you are already working on, and doing well, at basic obedience training. If not, well.....
But otherwise, the dog needs as much socialization to other people and dogs as you can get. The more he experiences it at a young age, the less problems you will have later. Worst would be to ban him completely until older, when behaviors/personality become more fixed.
That said - do it slowly, for limited times, in a controlled manner. Take him up for just a day or weekend. Make sure he is always on leash. Time outs work for dogs too - misbehavior, and isolate him in the trailer briefly. Talk to your obedience instructor about specifics, since they have experience with your dog. And remember the most critical - "A tired dog is a good dog". So lots of walks and running, and then introduce him to the new environment.
I panicked in the other direction! While I had looked at the site photos, both on recreation.gov, and the other sites noted, it was still hard to tell for sure. A call to the Park office, and they said firmly "Campsites are listed by total length of the tow vehicle plus the trailer". Sounded fishy, a 27' RV site is really small! But, I decided that it was better to not take the chance, and canceled.
While I will miss not seeing the GC, the trip will be packed with other places (Buena Vista CO, Ridgway SP, CO, Durango, CO, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Zion, Bryce). And gives me an excuse to head that direction again, and give it more time than just an overnight.
Now if I can just find 4 nights in Moab for mid-Oct., which is looking kind of hard to do......
Yes, calling is good advice.
Note that the only description when reserving is a notation "Max Vehicle Length: 27". They do not describe the actual siding length. Other rules talk about a max of 2 vehicles per site. Now if they both can max out at 27 feet....
A comment in RVParkReviews noted that the actual sites are much longer. Almost all sites have the 27' note. A very few note 40ft. Various on line photos show a variety of class "A"'s with toads in the campground. Hence the question.
Hoping someone that has been there can also advise.
Otherwise I cancel, and free it up for someone else.
Just grabbed one of the last sites available for the date I can be in the North Rim campground for the Grand Canyon. Listed as 27ft. My fifth says it is a 26.5, but actual nose to tail is 30' And then there is the 20' F-150. Site picture looked very clear - semi-circle pull through, no trees. But then there was that final warning I had to acknowledge about the size of the site and being turned away!
Was I too hasty?
Check with your city - ours requires a hard surface for what they deem "additional vehicle parking". So everyone has to have concrete or blacktop for their boat (or RV) parking alongside their house! But then again, having one is a huge plus for the resale value of the house, here in the land of 10,000 lakes!
Following is from what Minnesota DOT has to say. Also note that it is challenging to find a fifth with a hitch that will allow you to tow more than 3,000lbs. Can be done, but you are getting into custom modifications. So if the pontoon is heavier.....
I'll note that I thought about it with my 17.5' fishing boat, but a) the combined weight exceeds my towing capacity, b) the boat exceeds the hitch rating both in total weight, and tongue weight, and c) I'm pushing the length limit. Hence, it will never happen, although I'd love to take the boat with when going camping "up north to the lake". Consider instead a BIG truck, with a big bed camper. Probably the most practical solution to the "camping and boating" problem.
Recreational vehicle (RV): Minnesota allows an RV three-vehicle combination only if all of the following conditions are met:
? Only a “fifth-wheel” coupling is allowed between the pickup truck and the middle vehicle.
? The second trailer may only haul watercraft, a motorcycle, a motorized bicycle, off-highway motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, motorized golf cart or equestrian equipment or supplies.
? The total combination of vehicles does not exceed 70 feet.
? The towing rating of the pickup truck is equal to or greater than the total weight of all vehicles being towed.
? The trailer hitch assemblies, as well as the pickup truck hitch assembly, must
conform to MN Statute M.S. 169.82.
? The driver is at least 18 years of age.
? No travel within the Twin Cities Metro area during weekday rush hour times
There is a campground at the Running Aces Horse Racing place in Forest Lake, then, the next one that I know is at the casino in Hinckley, MN.
Not sure of the amenities at Forest Lake, as it has been several years since I was there, but they did have electric. The Hinckley cg is nice, fhu. Don't remember a pool, but there is a playground and probably a pool at the casino. I would recommend calling and get reservations at both places asap, I know Hinckley is very busy.
There are no references to camping on the Running Aces web site near Forest Lake. Grand Casino seems to be your best bet for hitting all the amenities you noted: http://grandcasinomn.com/lodging/rv-resort/
For the north country, consider renting or being on a boat. It's really the best (only?) way to get a sense of the parks. The BWCA is non-motorized, and requires permits for overnights (tents). The surrounding areas can be just as scenic, although there may be more traffic on the water, and places with shoreline development. Depends on how much wilderness you want.
For the novice to the area, get a good map of the lake you will be on - many have numerous little islands, and it is very easy to get turned around and confused as to how to get home. Don't go too far!
A number of places offer boat rentals, or are near outfitters that rent canoes.
As far as the suggested Lake Kabetogama - I spend a week there every June. Part of Voyageurs National Park. One section is commericial (where resorts/private homes are), but the majority is wild. There are pontoon sightseeing trips offered by the Park Service. The trip to the Kettle Falls Hotel is recommended. About 95 miles from Ely. Similar to BWCA, but different! It's also about 30 miles from International Falls, so if you want to say you've been to the place that is frequently the coldest in the US....