Feb 16 2014, 12:52 AM
Hi, We are living in New Zealand and have traveled and loved visiting the beautifuly diverse USA many times! we have often wondered about hiring an RV..now our kids are 5 and 8..and we are heading back to Denver for a conference (end of May)..we actually arrive in the US on april 25th and need to be in Denver around 15th May , then home shortly after..we have seen a deal to take an RV from Chicago to Denver for $39 per day including one way fee, generator and mileage of 2500..so that seems quite reasonable compared to renting one. We don't know the size until we get there...
I have a few questions for you seasoned Rv ers..roughly how much is the petrol/Diesel cost per day/tank?
And any suggestions on route? We really enjoy the National parks and last year visited Rocky mountain, Black Canyon of the Guinnson, Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon..this time we were thinking to either come in to Denver up the top through Dakota way or alternatively via New Mexico..or as another option, heading over to Great Smokey and then back over to Denver (prob least likely to do this one as a bit far maybe?)
the other thing we are unsure about is camping in the National parks where there have no power hook ups..I take it this means you have no ability to use the shower in the RV or toilet?? As you can see we are really new to this! so if you can direct us to any books on basic use of Rvs or websites..that would be great..thanks alot..
Feb 16 2014, 02:06 PM
Hi, I cannot answer all of your question because I don't live in the US but I would recommend going via New Mexico where the weather will be more forgiving at that time of year. The Dakotas could still be open for some serious spring snows and judging by the weather so far this year I'd head south. St Louis is a great city, heading south and you could even find a ball game going on at Busch Stadium. Great atmosphere and a truly American adventure going to watch this. There is also th St. Louis arch. Well worth a visit and a tour up inside.
For gas prices, check out www.gasbuddy.com. This will list petrol (gas) or diesel for what ever sate or city you are looking for. If you are a Costco member, they sell the cheapest gas but not diesel. They are also good for the cheapest propane refills in my experience. Right now petrol is hovering around the U$ 3 per gallon mark with diesel about U$3.75.
Most, if not all RV will have a battery operated pump that will enable you to sue the showers and toilet. Water for the RV shower would be heated through the inboard propane tanks. You should be able to find a potable water supply and fill your water at most campgrounds. If you plan on staying in NP don't forget you also need to buy a park pass in addition to the site fees. The US National Parks Service has a good web site (www.nps.gov) that will provide you with a wealth of material.
Not too much to go on but I'm sure others will offer their advice too. Have a great trip whatever you decide to do.
Feb 16 2014, 02:36 PM
I’m curious what you meant by “a deal to take an RV from Chicago to Denver for $39 per day including one way fee, generator and mileage of 2500..so that seems quite reasonable compared to renting one.” I have heard about programs where people are hired to drive an RV from one destination to another; for example, from one dealership to another, or from the manufacturer to the purchaser. Is this possibly what you are referring to? I guess I’m just not familiar with a way to use an RV without renting it.
Feb 16 2014, 03:48 PM
If that is an "RV transportation service" I can't see how it can possibly "hire" people to drive someone else's RV without a lot of background checks, etc. Something just doesn't smell right.
Feb 16 2014, 05:56 PM
Hi, I guess I didn't explain that correctly, yes..it is an RV rental company and they class it as a 'relocation deal.' so yes we are hiring the RV..but the rate is cheap, we feel at $39 per day for a max of 14 days and we have a set time (quite generous ) to get it from point a to b.
Feb 16 2014, 07:04 PM
It sounds as if they want to get an RV moved from one place to another so they can rent it to you for a low price since you're doing them a service.
Feb 16 2014, 07:13 PM
Yes, that's right..however..we think it is still quite cheap rental seeing as it includes a generator hire and mileage of up to 2500 before we have to pay per mile..we are going to be going to Denver anyway, just looking for some suggestions of routes and other tips. Thanks.
Feb 16 2014, 07:55 PM
Wouldn't it be better to fly into some place closer to Denver and maybe rent an RV there? If you aren't used to RV'ing would you know how to hook up the sewer, know when it was time to dump the sewer, know about any problems that could go wrong while driving and staying in someone elses RV? Are you used to driving a motorhome? There are so many variables that, if I was you, I would want to rethink that idea. I wish you luck!
Feb 16 2014, 08:19 PM
Your rental plan sounds better now that you have explained it. I just wanted to be sure you were not involved with delivering a new RV to a dealership or customer. There are some pitfalls to be aware of with that situation.
And if I were you, I would really try to get an idea about the size of the RV before you get there. There is a lot of difference between driving a small coach compared to a 42' one, and there will be things you need to consider. For example, parking: I am assuming you will not be towing a car to drive to get around to attractions, so you will have to find out whether or not there is RV parking available where you want to go. Getting fuel is something else to think about. Gas stations are abundant, but many times they are built for cars without easy RV access. Many of us use places that are designed more for large trucks and which have RV lanes, and you should familiarize yourself with their locations and plan fuel stops accordingly. A few of the more well known places are Flying J, Pilot, TA, and Loves.
As for a route, you should definitely consider what is called Route 66. It is the historic highway that went from Chicago to the California coast back in the early to mid 1900. It was eventually replaced with a 4 lane interstate (with new highway numbers), but parts of the old highway are still there, and it is worth getting off the interstate to visit the cities and attractions along the way. The highway now runs from Chicago down through St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, and Albuquerque where you would pick up I-25 up to Denver. There is a short cut you can take and not go through Albuquerque, but it is a really neat town, and the long route would also take you through Santa Fe which is interesting. I’m sure there are bunches of websites and books that tell about the attractions along Route 66, so do some looking to get an idea of what things you might like to see. And you should also check out Colorado Springs, just south of Denver. It has neat stuff to do also.
Hope this helps.
Feb 16 2014, 09:40 PM
Hi, Thanks for your replies_ and concerns
the company is an RV rental site, so I am pretty sure they are not going to supply us with a 42 RV..seeing as we do not have a driver's liscence for such a vehicle anyway! we are a family of four and have enquired, and been told we'd likely get a four-five bed Rv..camper van style model.
We do have a Costco membership (travelled extensively round Denver/Rockies and Colorado last April/May)..I am hoping and guessing they won't just throw us in it with the keys..I imagine they provide some education as to the emptying of sewage tanks ect if only to save on the call outs (they provide 24hr roadside assist as part of the package).
Those are not our concerns..mainly just asking for some suggestions on routes, which a few of you have been helpful in giving..thanks..we'll keep investigating..and yes, we could 'just fly into Denver' but as explained in an earlier post, we did that last year and have wanted to give an RV a try..we have the option of returning it early if it doesn't suit.
Feb 17 2014, 07:43 PM
FWIW if you want to do the Chicago to Denver route then I would definitely drive through South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and even the Wall Drug Store, if you enjoy that sort of thing. Then you can continue west into Montana and visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield (AKA Custer's Last Stand). Go across Montana and take US191 south to Yellowstone National Park. Cut across the park and exit via Cody WY to return to I-25. From there proceed to Denver. It's a lot of driving but it will be the experience of a lifetime.
Feb 17 2014, 08:02 PM
Hi docj, thanks..that is route we are tending to favour as we have not seen any of the parks you mention bar briefly visiting Yellowstone. We gather that there is a lot of scenery along that route you mentioned? and that Montana is quite spectacular?
We find Americans very friendly and have never had a bad experince as a tourist in the USA (bar Vegas which is not our style!) we are sure we love what ever we find, and in particular the different forrests and nature to that of NZ. Thanks for the tips and help.. we are excited to give it a go!
Feb 19 2014, 02:11 AM
I would like to 2nd docj's comment on mount Rushmore and add that you should try staying in one of the campgrounds in "Custer state park" in the area, very scenic! There are several national parks and sites in the area, such as wind cave and jewel cave, as well as the crazy horse monument, and devils tower in montana.
As far as your question about the shower and toilet running when not plugged in, they work off a small pump that runs off your batteries. The get charged every time you drive the vehicle or run the generator. The heat for the hot water is generated by propane.
Feb 19 2014, 09:58 AM
Does anyone else see visions of the movie RV?
But it sounds like a great adventure.
Not having a towed vehicle with you will be an inconvenience because you will have to stick with tourist places that have a parking lot big enough for an RV. Will the RV be equipped with linens, dishes, pots/pans, etc? If not, that's an added expense for you.
Until you get comfortable with driving and operating the RV, then I would suggest that you stick with campgrounds that are close to your route and have good size pull through sites. Since visibility is not like being in a car, you have to be aware what's overhead, on each side, and behind you. You can find something suitable in the review section of this website.
Your fuel expense will include what the RV gets for gas mileage. Rental units are usually Class C types and get about 10 mile/gallon. Mountain driving will decrease that. As previously mentioned, Gasbuddy is a useful tool for finding cheaper fuel but again there are RV access issues to consider. Also be aware that some of the cheaper places in a particular city may be some distance off your route. The best way to use the site is as an indicator of what price to expect. If you find any station with a similar price then stop there. Be aware that generally the closer to an Interstate highway the more expense the fuel. Same can generally be said for out- of-the-way smaller towns if you head out into the country side.
Having been in this country before you may already know this, but if you are going to travel via Interstates, then be aware that the first rest stop you come to when entering a state is generally one that has a lot of free tourist publications for that particular state. Every state has a Department of Tourism where like info can be obtained. If you decide to do South Dakota then this site will provide lots of tourist info. http://www.travelsd.com/
The Rapid City, SD area has so much to see and do that you could easily spend 4-5 days there.
Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN is not far off your route if going from Chicago to SD. The kids would love it. Google it to see what it's all about.
Don't forget that Colorado Springs, Colorado has lots to see, one of which is Pike's Peak at an elevation of 14,000. There is a rail car ride to the top.
From Rapid City to Denver on I-25 you will pass the Budweiser Brewing Company factory located just north of Fort Collins, CO. It's a neat tour and I saved the most important tip until the last.........they give free beer samples after the tour.
Feb 19 2014, 04:23 PM
Another issue is low temperatures. For example Rapid City (near Mount Rushmore) had a low for the week of April 25, 2013 of -11 C. It would be colder up in the Black Hills.
Feb 20 2014, 02:56 AM
Hi, thanks everyone for all the great tips.. I did not know about the first rest stop and the free publications (although I have seen these publications..thanks).
I did chuckle at the comment about the movie RV..and I'll have to come back and post any newbie dramas for you all to chuckle at !!..I hope we won't have too many though! and yes, it will be an adventure.
The RV is supplied with crockery ect..not sure regarding linen..I need to double check that..we may hire or bring our own.
I am taking note of all the interesting places you have mentioned to look up in further detail..I m sure my husband will be a taker for the beer tour! We have been up Pike's peek as my children love trains- that was a great trip! and a beautiful part of Colorado.
We are getting very excited..so thanks everyone for your input.
Feb 20 2014, 07:36 PM
QUOTE(gpop @ Feb 20 2014, 02:56 AM)
The RV is supplied with crockery ect..not sure regarding linen..I need to double check that..we may hire or bring our own.
You will not be able to "hire" (in the US we call it renting) linen. That would be a health issue covered by way too many governmental regulations that we have here.
Once you see and pick-up the RV that you have been assigned, just drive to the nearest WalMart store and pick out what you think you will need. If you forget something then you will find many WalMart stores along your route. WalMart in the US is compatible to Warehouse in NZ.
Another trick is to shop at a Goodwill store. Those are run by a national charitable organization where most of the pre-owned merchandise is donated for resale. The logic of buying used/pre-owned from Goodwill is that it's cheap. And, since you probably won't be taking it home with you, it can be given back to them or trashed as you so chose.
Feb 21 2014, 12:18 AM
...not to mention that snow is still possible in the Black Hills up to June.
Feb 21 2014, 11:56 PM
I have to go along with those who are warning that the weather around May 1st in the Black Hills area (Mt.Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Wind Cave National Parks, Custer State Park, etc.) of South Dakota can still be cold and wintry. According to my weather almanac, typical temperatures at that time of year are lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s. Of course, it could be 10-15 degrees colder or warmer. Although the the above tourist attractions are open, many other things may not be ready for tourists yet. This includes some RV parks. According to Woodall's for example, most of the Custer State Park campgrounds don't open until mid-May. While most commercial parks will probably be open by May 1st, they won't be at peak season level (pools not open, water may still be off, etc. If you do take the South Dakota route, don't forget Badlands National Park 100 miles east of the Black Hills and Devil's Tower National Park (Wyoming) 100 miles northwest of the Hills You may also have a problem finding open RV parks on your way from Chicago to the Black Hills area the last week of April.
Have a great trip.
Mar 13 2014, 11:57 AM
Though the Montana and Dakota's are a dream trip for me coming from the Western New York State area, having never been there, I would think the time frame the OP is speaking of would be a little early for this neck of the woods. Or, just plain too cold. Route 66 would be a blast and much warmer heading south and back up through New Mexico which is beautiful in its own. Either way, OP, Good Luck on your trip and enjoy all that our beautiful country has to offer.
May 23 2014, 10:49 PM
Hi everyone who offered help, we just returned to NZ this week..our RV trip was fantastic..better than expected..we did go down to St Louis then up through S dakota and through the Black Hills and on over to Wyoming, Salt Lake . Yes, we got some snow but it was all fun and manageable..saw heaps of wildlife in Yellowstone. Only had a few minor hitches..the RV from El Monte..was not in as great a conditin as we'd been lead to believe by the rental company, the heater broke in St Louis so we had to delay our travel by a day to wait for it to be repaired prior to heading North..the other thing that astounded us was the price of fuel..this thing was thirsty! a 6 bed RV ..it cost $150 every 2nd day..but I guess that is standard...otherwise it was so much fun and we learnt lots..we'll do it again. But try to go as small as we can in terms of size of RV..to see if that makes it cheaper. There are lots of factory relocation specials, so daily rental fees are not high. Thanks all for your input.
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