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adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 05/16/20 10:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This summer with all of the virus mess we have found the silver lining in the cloud in that our summer for once is completely wide open. We have a 13 year old and 11 year old girl plus two twin identical newborns. Ordinarily our older girls would have a summer jam packed with activities making it nearly impossible to do any trips longer than a week. The virus however has changed all of that and so we are looking at taking this rare oppurtunity to do a long road trip around the Western US to visit as many of the National Parks we can. So far my proposed route looks like this. Note that Google Maps only allows for route planning with 10 stops.

Editing this proposed Route from my original post... The number to the left is the cronilogical night(s) we would stay at said location. My initial post had Yosemite and Death Valley but I wasn't considering them as stops more than just passing through since we are close to Yosemite and Death Valley is not a place worth visiting in the summer.

1 - June Lake
2 - Las Vegas
3,4, - North Rim Grand Canyon
5 - Grand Staircase
6 - Salt Lake City
7, 8 - Grand Tetons
9, 10, 11, Yellow Stone
12 Deer Lodge
13, 14 Glacier NP
15 Spokane
16 Woodinville
17 Queets WA
18 Astoria
19 coos bay
20 eureka, CA
21 Point Arena, CA
22 Gilroy

At the very early stages of planning, I am stuck with two approaches:

1. Stick with this loop that hits as many of the parks as possible and allot just one to two days to see and do everything at the parks.

2. Drop a few parks in order to increase the number of days we can stay at the remaining parks.

I know many of these parks to fully experience you need several days to do them justice and really explore each one. We only have maybe three weeks to work with however and because of the babies, most of the activities will be limited to what can be driven too (long hikes are out but we can probably handle hikes up to about 3 miles in length). It is very unlikely we will ever get the chance again to do a long road trip with our girls in the future so we have one shot at this experience.

So my questions for the community are:

1. Given these constraints, if you have visited these parks before, do you have any suggestions on which approach to take? IE, hit as many as possible or just focus on a few?

2. Out of these locations are there any MUST SEE destinations that are easily accessible via stroller or short hike (less than 3 miles) that need to be on the bucket list?

3. Camping Reservations we expect to be a challenege. Are there any great campsites / campgrounds either in or close to these parks that you know about that tend to be less busy?

4. We will be pulling our cargo trailer so our older girls will have their own space. Wife and I are debating on what "toys" to bring along. Bikes are always a pain so we are considering electric scooters because they are compact and easy. We have some blow up paddle boards but they only make sense if we might end up at a campground next to water that is decently warm. Any other suggestions on activities to bring for a trip like this?

* This post was edited 05/16/20 05:16pm by adamis *


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Lwiddis

Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area

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Posted: 05/16/20 11:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you want your kids to dislike RVing take your outlined trip. It’s too long in time and miles. Regarding Death Valley are you ready for 115F+? Grand Canyon 107F+? If you can get reservations I’d recommend CA1 & US101 north to Olympic NP and home.


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CarnationSailor

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Posted: 05/16/20 11:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Way too many stops and way too many miles for only 3 weeks. I think you would be better off to pick 3 to 5 parks that are closest to your home (and forget about Las Vegas).


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Dick_B

Palos Heights, IL USA

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Posted: 05/16/20 11:57am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The ultimate boring trip for teens. I'd suggest trying to hit as many theme parks as you can get to in three weeks. If they were boys I'd suggest visiting minor league baseball parks. Even campgrounds with outdoor pools might be of interest. BUT with the virus don't know how many of either will be open as we used to know.
After the kids are gone do the national parks as you have scheduled.


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Two Hands

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Posted: 05/16/20 12:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Eliminate Death Valley in the summertime unless you have a death wish. Do include the Grand Canyon. Camping in the park at 7,000 feet is not bad at all because of the altitude. Do the national parks with your kids, not theme parks. Our teenagers grumbled like crazy during the forced marches through the national parks. Now as adults they continually talk about their great memories of those trips. They never mention great memories of their visits to Disneyland and such.


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thedavidzoo

Tucson, AZ

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Posted: 05/16/20 12:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lwiddis wrote:

If you want your kids to dislike RVing take your outlined trip. It’s too long in time and miles. Regarding Death Valley are you ready for 115F+? Grand Canyon 107F+? If you can get reservations I’d recommend CA1 & US101 north to Olympic NP and home.

The ultimate boring trip for teens. I'd suggest trying to hit as many theme parks as you can get to in three weeks. If they were boys I'd suggest visiting minor league baseball parks. Even campgrounds with outdoor pools.


I disagree, partially. Starting in 2012-2017, from our home base in VA, with 2 boys 12 & 9 yo at the time, we have taken every summer to do a major trip out west such as the OP is suggesting, 4ish weeks in length, once 60 days for Alaska. Many times we were one of the only ones in the southern parks because of the heat. DV was so hot, our AC couldn't keep up. But we still had a blast. Our kids can brag that they have been to over 50 National Parks/Monuments when their classmates haven't even left their state. You really saw a real live bear??

My kids thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the parks, all the critters, exploring, doing hikes, etc. Our BEST memories as a family were made on these summer trips! We raised the kids to enjoy nature and hiking from the beginning. Our thousands of trip photos scroll on our TV background and we still comment on this place, or that animal, or remember when that crazy thing with the moose happened? Haha. How often will you have the chance to do an epic trip with your girls?

Boring? Our boys couldn't care less about baseball, or a ho-hum pool. Theme parks? Spend a long day at your closest one, that is enough of that.

However, for the time the OP has, the mileage and driving is too ambitious. And the twins will undoubtedly make things much more unpredictable and difficult and cranky in the car.
Pick one general area of the country and hit all the parks there in a more reasonable driving loop. Two days in any one of the big parks is really not enough to see and do it all, but better than nothing. We were able to get only 2 nights at Zion, not nearly enough, but better than nothing. We will have to go back. Yellowstone, for ex. has huge driving distances just between the several different areas to see. You'd be limited to seeing just the Old Faithful area.

We had to make campground reservations many months in advance in the past and plan the trip down to a gnat's butt to make the scheduling work, now who knows with the virus? Several parks will have Nat Forest land or BLM nearby for possible camping options, but adds to headaches of driving into park for the day, wastes precious time.

We hauled 4 kayaks, and 4 bicycles on our first cross-country trip, and while we kayaked in Yellowstone and Teton and later in Everglades, the bikes never got used. It is better to bring a minimal amount of baggage/toys along for such a trip. The time and logistics required to maneuver all that on a daily basis...when you are already on a rushed timeline and have 6 people to deal with...

Just my 2 cents.


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ppine

Northern Nevada

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Posted: 05/16/20 02:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Forget Death Valley. I go in February.
If you really have 14-21 days leave out Las Vegas, Arches, Grand Canyon and Glacier. Then chose a few that are left and close together.

Your trip is going to be driving all day, sleeping in famous places at night and taking pictures of NP signs if you don't eliminate 2/3 of your destinations.

* This post was edited 05/16/20 07:59pm by ppine *

TexasShadow

Spring Branch, TX USA

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Posted: 05/16/20 02:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would take in Sequoia National Park (drive through, going south, if the road allows),
but omit Death Valley. It will not be amenable to any of you in the heat of the summer.
Las Vegas won't impress the kids much since they aren't old enough, but an overnight with a drive up and down the strip might get their attention.

you can pass up the Arches, too (imo)

Olympic Park was not that impressive to me, after seeing Glacier and the Tetons, etc.
The Redwoods, on the other hand, were very impressive to me when I was 15.

Yosemite can be done in one, long day. Sequoia is good for driving through and stopping to see the biggest, etc. but I don't know if you can take your rig on the road. It's been a long time since we were there and we were in a jeep, so no problem for us.
Grand Canyon is not open to camping yet, but you can see a lot of it on a tour, in one, long day.
The Tetons offer a spectacular ski lift ride, and white water rafting. Gros Ventre campground has water and a dump station and restrooms and is close to Jackson for a "shootout" on the square and shopping and restocking your groceries at Albertsons.
Yellowstone will take you at least two full days, one for the south "loop" and one for the north. We like to plan on lunch or dinner at the Snow Lodge when we take in Old Faithful. Decent buffet style.
At Glacier, we like staying on the east side of the Park where it's more open to the view of the mountains.

Hope you get to make the trip. It's one your kids will remember all their lives, even if they gripe about the lack of internet service LOL


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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 05/16/20 03:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

21 days?

Glacier(Waterton?), Yellowstone, Tetons would be enough. Or do you plan to just do a drive-by tour?

Maybe some OR coast if you seem to have time.
Skip DV and Vegas due to the heat.


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RickW

Sacramento CA

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Posted: 05/16/20 03:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

IMHO there are too many hours (miles) of driving between too many destinations. Yosemite/eastern sierra is closer to home and can be visited on separate trips of a few days. I would pick a region, southwest, Wyoming or northwest.

I suggest 4-5 national/state parks max with small town destinations in between. You can enjoy a full week easily at Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. Maybe plan a day or two at a resort campground or hotel with nothing to do and all day to do it. Let each girl plan one destination or activity on the route.

Bon voyage


Rick
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