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Anyone done this before?  The wife is interested in a trip from the Midwest to the west coast and back, stopping at various national parks, etc.  Thinking maybe 3 weeks or so total.  We wouldn’t need anything big since it would just be the two of us and a dog, but she does want a bathroom/shower on board.

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I looked at it for a trip last fall but the pet restrictions combined with mileage charges killed it for me. Much, much cheaper to rent a nice SUV with unlimited miles and stay in hotels. 

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We've got one rented for a trip west in a couple weeks - Badlands/Custer/Deadwood family thing.  Its our first time, but I can probably answer a couple questions based on our experience.

Keep in mind that most RVs charge for miles in addition to daily/weekly rates, and it adds up.  Also, if you are looking to stay in national parks, I recommend you start setting up the reservations asap.  

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We have had good luck renting campers before and will do it again, do you have a truck/SUV big enough to pull a camper?

There is no mileage charges on campers and they cost less to rent as well.

 

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Have never rented, but I have a truck camper and live out west.  There's a lot to see.

Start planning now.  Campsites in and around the national parks fill up months in advance.  I'd also consider flying to Salt Lake City and renting there to avoid driving across Kansas/Nebraska/Wyoming/Eastern Colorado.  Try Outdoorsy to get a good idea of what to rent and how much it costs.

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Also, while the national parks fill up very far in advance it is possible to boondock camp in much of south dakota, wyoming, Idaho, and montana. I am also pretty confident this is possible in washington or oregon, but i do not know about Colorado, Utah, Nevada, or CA. 

 

In all of my years living in the rockies I do not think I ever stayed at an official camp site.  Of course this also depends on what you want to see, for example the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming it is extremely easy to boondock, just pull down any dirt road and then find a camp spot off that road.

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We rented a RV in October last year to travel from Texas to Michigan to visit the in-laws. It was just my wife and I and our toddler so we had a 26’ RV. Ate our meals when stopped at a rest stop or travel center. We were avoiding people, due to Covid and visiting our son’s grandparents, so other than at our campsites we only got out of the vehicle at gas station pumps. First RV trip and would definitely do it again. We’d spend more time exploring next time. Rental was pretty pricey however. We were allotted a certain number of miles per day. Parked in Michigan for a week so that helped. Actual RV parks are inexpensive. Around $40-$50 per night. It was an adventure that we all enjoyed. Be prepared for the $$$. 

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RVs are awesome in that you’re self contained with your own stuff, your own pillows, kitchen, etc. 

Just be aware that if you’re planning on seeing national parks, some parks have areas that can be tricky to see if you only have the RV (especially depending on the time of year). Spots for RVs in parking lots can sometimes be limited and may fill up. Some areas/trails may not allow RVs at all. This is more likely to be true for the heavily visited parks than the lesser visited parks, but is something to be aware of. 

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On 3/23/2021 at 4:20 PM, CletiusMaximus said:

We've got one rented for a trip west in a couple weeks - Badlands/Custer/Deadwood family thing.  Its our first time, but I can probably answer a couple questions based on our experience.

Keep in mind that most RVs charge for miles in addition to daily/weekly rates, and it adds up.  Also, if you are looking to stay in national parks, I recommend you start setting up the reservations asap.  

Just to update - this was a fantastic trip.  Would do again.  Family of 4, 28' RV that ended up costing us about $1,500 all-in for a week.  We are in Wisconsin and saved some money and hassle by renting the RV from a place in Minnesota, so were driving our own car for a significant part of the beginning and end of the journey.  South Dakota is fantastic - unbelievable.  Early April is a bit risky with weather, but we lucked out and had a fantastic time at half-occupied campgrounds in the Badlands and Black Hills.

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I looked at flying to Vegas, renting an RV, and doing our version of the Grand Circle in 10 days. The cost was over 3.2K and as said up thread there are restrictions on mileage, propane usage, and generator usage. Well we decided screw that and just went and bought a Class C. We're ready to go make some memories. 

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On 3/23/2021 at 4:18 PM, Ron Swanson said:

I looked at it for a trip last fall but the pet restrictions combined with mileage charges killed it for me. Much, much cheaper to rent a nice SUV with unlimited miles and stay in hotels. 

Same here.

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On 3/23/2021 at 4:29 PM, MTskibum said:

Also, while the national parks fill up very far in advance it is possible to boondock camp in much of south dakota, wyoming, Idaho, and montana. I am also pretty confident this is possible in washington or oregon, but i do not know about Colorado, Utah, Nevada, or CA. 

 

In all of my years living in the rockies I do not think I ever stayed at an official camp site.  Of course this also depends on what you want to see, for example the Big Horn mountains in Wyoming it is extremely easy to boondock, just pull down any dirt road and then find a camp spot off that road.

This is the way to go. Really easy for 2 people to camp out of a pickup or SUV this way. Biggest drawback is finding a good place to poo, as we didn't keep a camping toilet with us. But the things you can see and places you can stay get pretty spectacular. 

Also can confirm that there's plenty of good boondocking opportunities in Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, California and Arizona. I would assume Washington also, but have never had a chance to check that out. Do some research on natural, non-commercial hot springs. There's always good places to boondock near those, and some of them are mind-blowingly excellent. 

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