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Gypsy's Winnie
My husband and I are planning our first extended trip in our Winnebago Aspect (27 ft long 8 ft wide). He wants to go "Out West", Bryce canyon, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, he wants to do it all! We live in Akansas and will travel first to Kansas City and then to Denver, then on to points beyond. I am not sure about traveling so far from home on our first "real" trip out. We have made several 5 and 6 day trips and that is time away enough for me!

We have had our RV for a year, purchased so we could take our dog along on vacations plus I really hate lugging suitcases in and out of motel rooms! We had the idea one could just load up and head out on the 'open road', stopping when we got tired of driving or wanted to explore an area. Evidentally this is not the case. I have been visiting this site for the last year and it appears that, one must have reservations in order to have a decent place to stay the night. Don't mind making reservations and the reviews on this site help immensely.

Now, the question. OUr unit is 8 ft wide and we do not have a "TOAD". We bought small purposely so we would not have to tow. We are wondering if the roads in and around Denver, Breckenridge, Bryce Canyon, etc. are really RV friendly or will we get there and find we are unable to get to the sites we have driven so far to see. We have also heard horror stories about the Denver traffic and wonder if we should avoid that area entirely.

Hopefully you seasoned RV'ers who are familiar with these areas can give us guidance. After spending hours and hours trying to plan this trip I am thinking we should just take an easy five to ten day loop East ... seems the roads are better and the RV parks more plentiful.

Thank you in advance.

Denali
We have been on the road for nine years, most of it in the western US.

You do not generally need reservations for campground and RV sites unless it's a holiday weekend or a high-demand area (like the national parks you mentioned). We usually decide at lunch time where we want to stop for the night, then call the park to make sure there is a site available. Most RV parks will want to take a reservation at that point to hold a site for you if they are busy.

We have never had to travel further than our intended destination in order to find a campsite.

With a 27' motorhome, you won't have a problem with roads anywhere. Some of the national parks don't allow any private vehicles in parts of the park during the vacation season, so you will be taking the in-park transit systems for those locations anyway. The only park we have visited where you would be restricted is the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. If you want to see that particular part of that park, you would need to buy a tour ticket.

We have driven city streets all over the US in a 40' motorhome, towing a car. In general, I find the cities in the West easier to negotiate with a big rig than those in the East. With a 27' rig, you will have no problem with city traffic anywhere.

If you decide to spend time in an urban area or want to sightsee in a smaller vehicle, check out the cost of renting a small car. On weekends, I have rented them recently for as little as $10/day.

With the destinations you listed, you will have a great trip! Relax and enjoy it.
Gypsy's Winnie
Thank you for your advice. Just knowing we can get to those areas is a big relief.

Can anyone on this board coment on the Denver traffic? We have reservations at a KOA in Fort Collins so as to be close to a cousin but am thinking that we may need to stay further south so as not to have to navigate through Denver to get to Colorado Springs.
Texasrvers
Hi G. Winnie,

We have driven through Denver several times in a 37' MH with toad and have had no trouble. As with any big city, avoid rush hour. Now if you really want a nightmare city to drive through, try Houston or Phoenix.

We are not full timers, but we have traveled to many eastern and western states. With apologies to our friends on the east coast, we much prefer the west. We think the roads in the west are wider, less crowded, and in better shape. There are plenty of RV parks, and they seem to be better able to accommodate larger, more modern RV's that need/want certain amenities (50 amp, cable TV, WIFI, wider roads, longer/wider sites).

We generally make reservation about 1-2 days ahead. That way we have the flexibility to stay in a place longer if we want to, but we like the security of knowing we will have a place to stay after a long drive. The last thing we want at 5pm is to drive around looking for a place to stay.

Eleven years ago when we bought our first RV I had many of the feelings you do about long trips in unfamiliar territory. We started off with small trips that gradually got longer and farther from home. I still get a little nervous driving through a big city, but just remember you are much bigger than the other vehicles on the road so just run over them! Just kidding!!! Truthfully just take it slow and easy and you will do fine.

The main thing is relax and have fun. Have a great trip.

TX
Gypsy's Winnie
Thank you Texasrvrs and Denali. Your advice is very valuable.

Texasrvrs, any recommendation on a park between Austin and San Antonio? we have daughters in both cities and want to take the RV late this summer staying halfway between ... don't frequent San Marcos outlet malls, so away from I-35 would be better.

Thank you again.
pianotuna
Hi,

I've driven Denver. I'd avoid it next time if I could. Minimum speed on the express way is 55 mph--and the RV I was in goes....55 mph.

If you must go through Denver, plan the route carefully knowing where all the turns are.

I hate cities. Big, medium and small--I hate them all!

It sounds as if it will be a magnificent trip. My "travel rules" are one day a week I eat all meals out, and one day I week I stay in an inexpensive hotel or motel.
Fitzjohnfan
Denver native here: The traffic in Denver is not bad and like the advise before, just avoid the usual rush hour times and you'll be ok. If you are really worried about the traffic, there are several options:
1) as you approch from the east on I-70, you can get off on E-470 and avoid Denver altogether. This is a toll road though which will cost you about $5.00 - $7.00.
2) When you leave KC, head north instead and take I-80 and then head south to Fort Collins on I-25. This might be more out of your way though.
3) While driving I-70, don't be afraid to take a few "red roads" that would take you straight north to US-34 and then to I-76. When US-34 splits off from I-76 again, continue on this road through Greeley and this will join up with I-25 near Fort Collins also.
LSM55
QUOTE(Gypsy's Winnie @ May 17 2011, 12:06 PM) *

Thank you Texasrvrs and Denali. Your advice is very valuable.

Texasrvrs, any recommendation on a park between Austin and San Antonio? we have daughters in both cities and want to take the RV late this summer staying halfway between ... don't frequent San Marcos outlet malls, so away from I-35 would be better.

Thank you again.



Gypsy's Winnie
Grateful for all the good advice. We have changed our reservation to Chatfield State Park, Littleton area (based on reviews on this site) which is closer to the areas in and around Denver we wish to see. (The cousin has agreed to drive to us rather than us drive North to them).

As far as driving through larger cities, that is my husband's job. My daily driver is a Suburban ... have driven it through Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Memphis, on and on, but put me in that RV and I get paranoid. I don't mind driving it on highways but hate passing big trucks - even in the Suburban.

We will be headed from Denver to Breckenridge (Fox Run RV Resort). We are excited about seeing the Eisenhower tunnel and that area. Can anyone tell me about what to expect as to how much distance we can expect to travel in a day? My husband thinks with the mountain driving it may be difficult to cover as many miles as when one is driving the "flat plains"! Don't laugh, please. This is a first for both of us .. our only trip to that area was with our children in 1994 and in a Suburban coming from the south into Colorado Springs. Which, because of my being thrown from a horse when my husband and daughter just had to go horse back riding in the Rockies, curtailed what would have been a very nice trip!
Denali
QUOTE(Gypsy's Winnie @ May 18 2011, 08:13 AM) *
... Can anyone tell me about what to expect as to how much distance we can expect to travel in a day? My husband thinks with the mountain driving it may be difficult to cover as many miles as when one is driving the "flat plains"! Don't laugh, please. This is a first for both of us .. our only trip to that area was with our children in 1994 and in a Suburban coming from the south into Colorado Springs. Which, because of my being thrown from a horse when my husband and daughter just had to go horse back riding in the Rockies, curtailed what would have been a very nice trip!
We follow the "Two Thirty" rule. We stop after 230 miles or by 2:30 in the afternoon, whichever comes first. smile.gif

Seriously, we find that our daily average is around 50 MPH pretty much wherever we go. So if you are comfortable driving from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM you will cover around 300 miles. That takes into account rest and meal breaks, occasional grades and curves, etc.

Mountain driving on the interstates doesn't slow you down that much over the period of a day or two, because most of the time you are moving at brisk highway speeds. You are only on steep up and down grades or in slow curves a small portion of the time if you are on the interstates. Remember, they are designed for mild grades (no more than seven percent) and gentle curves. In our Bulgemobile, we are down to 35-40 MPH on those 6-7% grades, but they are never more than a few miles long.

Gypsy's Winnie
Thank you one and all for your comments and advice.
MelindaK
I drove through Denver with a 30' TT last August on I 25 from Colorado Springs on my way to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I had no issues even with the road construction. I think some of my luck had to do with I went through there on a Saturday. Again, if you can arrange to go through the big cities on a weekend you miss some of the traffic.

For drive time I like Denali's rule. I try to stay between 225-250 miles per day or no more than 4.5 hours of driving. To the drive time I add another 1.5 hours for lunch and gas stops. Something to keep in mind is to allow time for road construction delays. If I had no deadline for having to be back home by a certain time I would stick more to Denali's rule.

I usually make a reservation for the the first night and for our main destination and then make reservations along the trip. But if you are going to the National Parks I would recommend making reservations for those places.

When I got my TT I had never thought about doing long trips and then I did a trip to New Mexico and the rest as they say is history. If I could do longer trips all the time I would. There is just so much to see out there and the people I have met have been great.

You will have fun!

P.S.

With all the talk about the roads in the east you guys are making me nervous. I have always gone west this year I will be heading east up to Niagara Falls and over to Maine and then back to Texas.
Gypsy's Winnie
I must ask about your "driving rules" ... 230 miles or 2 hours 30 minutes and 4.5 hours or 250 miles. Is that because you are the only one driving the vehicle? Or another reason? My husband and I switch off every 2 hours and find that about 6 hours in Gypsy's Winnie is our "norm". However, our drive in the Suburban from Little Rock to Austin Texas we make in one day (8 hours) and make the 11 hour drive from Little Rock to Seagrove Beach FL in a day as well.

I would really like to hear about the Nigagra Falls trip. We have thought about making a trip up through Indiana and Ohio. Niagara would be a good destination then come back to Arkansas through West Virginia, Kentucky etc. Please come back and share after your trip.
Fitzjohnfan
Gypsy, Suprisingly, I have never visited Chatfield even though it's in my back yard! I think you'll enjoy it, just watch the weekends. I believe it fills up fast since it's so close to Denver.

As far as mountain driving, you shouldn't have any problems. Just shift down when you reach a long downgrade, especially the one after Eisenhower tunnel. A good rule of thumb is to go down the hill at the same speed as you go up.

My 33' MH goes about 35 mph up steep hills, so I shift down two gears on the Eisenhower grade when going down.

Texasrvers
Gypsyís Winnie,
Iím sorry to be so slow getting back to you. Unfortunately I canít be much help with parks between Austin and San Antonio because we have never stayed in any in that area, but there are many listed in and around both New Braunfels and San Marcos. However, some of those parks are on I-35 which you said you would like to avoid. If thatís the case and you donít mind driving a little farther, you might look at the parks around Canyon Lake. There are some COE parks there and also several private ones.

There are also some parks along the Guadalupe River between Canyon Lake and New Braunfels, but you mentioned your trip would be in the summer, and these places have a reputation of being a zoo during this time. There is a nice park in that area called the Summit, but it is also a Coast to Coast park and I donít know if non-members can stay there.

You might also look at the listings in Bulverde, Spring Branch, and Blanco. They are located along Hwy 281 which is a nice scenic back road from Austin to San Antonio.

Also Iím not sure what kind of park you preferónatural and rustic or concrete pads and landscapedóbut you can find both kinds in this area. I would suggest looking up the cities Iíve mentioned and reading the reviews for the parks listed. Then if you have any specific questions about the parks I would be glad to tell you what I know about them. Hope this helps and please let me know if you need more info.

TX
Denali
QUOTE(Gypsy's Winnie @ May 18 2011, 09:16 PM) *

I must ask about your "driving rules" ... 230 miles or 2 hours 30 minutes and 4.5 hours or 250 miles. Is that because you are the only one driving the vehicle? Or another reason? My husband and I switch off every 2 hours and find that about 6 hours in Gypsy's Winnie is our "norm". However, our drive in the Suburban from Little Rock to Austin Texas we make in one day (8 hours) and make the 11 hour drive from Little Rock to Seagrove Beach FL in a day as well.
The only reason for my "230 Rule" is that I don't enjoy driving longer than that. It becomes a chore after four or five hours. My wife doesn't like to drive the coach, and I get bored bing a passenger.

We are retired have all the time in the world, so we only travel short distances each day. We like to spend the majority of each day doing something other than driving. It's strictly a personal preference.
Gypsy's Winnie
Texasrvers: Thank you. We do have the option of staying with the daughters in their respective cities and not taking Winnie. I will follow your suggestions and research prior to our trip.

Denali: I totally understand the getting bored as a passenger, my hubby reads which I cannot do, and I knit or look at magazines. But as one gets older - or so it is with us - we find that sitting for hours and hours becomes quite uncomfortable. And, how wonderful to be able to make ones own schedule and not have to make every minute count when on a two week vacation! I am already tired from planning this one!!

If any of you ever get to Southern Illinois, look up Wittington Woods RV Park just east of I-57 north of Benton, Rend Lake area. Wonderful park, we stay there when in the area visiting family. New owners in only three years have made a wonderful difference. In fact, this trip "Out West" begins there.

Texasrvers
We used to drive 300 mi a day and that was plenty for us. However, on our last trip we dropped down to about 200-250 per day and found we liked that much better. It leaves us some energy for the evening. We also try to be off the road between 3-4pm. If you want to travel farther in a day, you certainly should. Just remember that trips are supposed to be fun, not an endurance race that constantly keeps you worn out.
Gypsy's Winnie
Read and understood and totally agree with. Problem on this trip is my husband has great expectations. I would be happy with a lesser distance and more days in an area to explore. We have dear friends in Breckenridge whom we have not seen since in nearly ten years. Right now that is our "stopping place" and I am hoping to convince hubby to head back towards home after Breck rather than continue on west. We only have 19 days to do this trip and by Breckenridge we will have been on the road 11 days.

To this end, can anyone tell me if there is a "good" route from Breckenridge south toward I-40 rather than heading back east to Denver or West to 15? Or perhaps I should ask what is the best and easiest way to get to I-40 from Breckenridge area?

I keep telling myself we can do it, we really can!!
pianotuna
Hi,

I would go south on highway #9 myself. At Pueblo get on #24 and head south. At Springer head east on #54, then turn south on #39. At Logan get onto #469 and turn east on I-40
RLM
Gypsie> Please understand that I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say that, from reading your posts, you appear to be more of a micro manager that I am. And if you ask my wife, thatís hard to accomplish. LOL!!

An RV awe crap day is no different that losing your luggage at the airport, a screwed up hotel reservation, lousy restaurant service, bad seats at the ball park, etc, etc. If one day doesnít go as planned for the both of you, and make no mistake about it being a team effort, then use that experience to make it better the next time.

Everyone who has replied to your post has given good, solid, experienced advice. America has many wonderful places to visit. Be flexible, let it flow, and take pictures to show your family.

If youíd like to PM me, Iíll provide some suggestions about campgrounds in the Austin area (Iím only 40 miles from there). I will be in Fort Collins at the end of next week and can help you with info on the area as well.
Gypsy's Winnie
RLM, no offense taken. And you may be correct .. never thought of myself as "micro-managing", but I do have a reputation for being thorough and very organized. It is extremely necessary that I be so in my daily life and in my work!

I sincerely appreciate all the advice given in all replies and am using every bit to plan this trip. I have two weeks off from work and want to make the best of it! He wants to drive and drive and drive and I would like to see some of the places we "drive" to! He laughed when I read your term "RV crap day" and said we can't afford to have more than one!

Thanks one and all!
MelindaK
Gypsy's Winnie,

When I first started out and had tight time constraints I would drive one day approximately 475 miles and then the next day approximately 245 miles to the next destination and then we would camp there two or three nights. this way I had the first afternoon to relax after the long haul. Then move to the main destination. The only problem with this was/is I am the only driver. After the trip I would feel exhausted. Now that I have a little more time when I do longer trips like many of other posts stated I try not to race to the destination. This makes the trip there more enjoyable for me.

For camping between Austin and San Antonio depends on what you like and how close you would like to be to IH 35. Outside of San Marcos there is Pecan Park. If you would like to know more just PM for details.

Have Fun!

P.S.
I will try to remember to post about Niagara Falls trip not going until September.
Florida Native
We are on a trip out West now from Florida. I have put about 3,500 miles on the coach and about 1700 miles on the toad (4 wheel drive midsized pickup). I had to use the 4 wheel drive 3 times yesterday on small out of the way roads in SD.) To me, having a toad and exploring is half the fun (or more).
Alessandro
QUOTE(Gypsy's Winnie @ May 15 2011, 03:50 PM) *

Bryce canyon, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, he wants to do it all!
Now, the question. Our unit is 8 ft wide and we do not have a "TOAD".
Thank you in advance.

My wife and I are retired and living in Europe. We made our first 4 weeks trip in the USA starting in LA. We hired a Winnebago A-Class 32' and did most national parks in the South West, incl. Grand Canyon and Bryce. Doing almost all these parks can easily be done. We traveled in the after season the first time in 2003. Still we had to make reservations in the National Park Camping grounds; most of them are dry camping area, so be prepared for enough water and empty holding tanks (black and grey). Yellowstone is another story. It's much too far away from the other parks in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and California. We made a 7 weeks trip to this area, starting in SF, again with an A-Class 32'. We advise 4 nights in a camping like the KOA in West Yellowstone. Just pack up and travel a part of Yellowstone each day with the RV. This is really easy and you can drive with open windows without any danger as you are higher above the ground than driving around in a private car. We never encountered any problem on any road. On the camping grounds in National Parks or National Forests we normally left the coach before entering. We simply checked out the place to avoid "surprises". Next year we hire a 39' diesel pusher and will start in Phoenix Arizona. We will travel from west to east and back in 7 weeks.
Our main advise to you is: never stay less than 2 nights in a National Park or National Forest. Take your time.
Alessandro
QUOTE(Gypsy's Winnie @ May 19 2011, 07:45 PM) *

RLM, no offense taken. And you may be correct .. never thought of myself as "micro-managing", but I do have a reputation for being thorough and very organized. It is extremely necessary that I be so in my daily life and in my work!

I recognize this very much. When I organized our 3 weeks vacations, I planned every day thoroughly to avoid. Then, when I retired it was very difficult to let it loose and live by the day. Now we take vacations of 6 to 7 weeks! And just RVing around and call the next camping ground to hear if they have place for us is on one hand relaxing and a more "South European" way of vacation, but on the other hand it stresses me a bit not to have everything under control. So, go on as you do now, because it suits you best. And one day you will retire and have the time on your side.
My wife and I live in The Netherlands and like cruising the USA for its space, nature, quietness and the American lifestyle.
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