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Hi my husband and I are planning a long trip west (LA) to east coast (Orlando) next year including some parts of Route 66. We have already booked the RV and I am using RV trip wizard to help plan. So far I am loving it and enjoying reading up on all the destinations we plan to visit over our 6 week trip. I have a few questions and I am sure to get more along the planning stage but one for now is do you think we should book parks for all our stops well in advance or just have the phone number to call ahead. if we don't book ahead how many days notice do they usually need and do they get very busy. We would like to be flexible but don't want to get caught short. We will be traveling end of August to mid October.

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First, 6 weeks is not enough time. Most people don't realize how big the US is. If I had just 6 weeks I would stick to the west. You don't want to spend the entire trip traveling the highways.

For more info look at the website roadtrippers.com, they have lots of things to see.

Parks should be no problem at that time of year unless you plan to stay in Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

You will need to give us some guidance as to where you want to travel and what you plan to see.

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we have a week in LA before we set off and a week in Orlando when we arrive .....using RV trip planner it appears to be enough time and in that time we are driving 6000 miles stopping off 1- 2 nights along the way with 3-4 day breaks in one two places. Trip planner seems to think it is enough time and I have certainly put in the hours investigating ....but we will see.... 

I looked at road trippers and it is the same as RV trip wizard which I am using

Edited by virginiasean

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First of all, welcome to the Escapee forums and also to the USA! We will do our best to help and to answer questions you may have. 

12 hours ago, virginiasean said:

do you think we should book parks for all our stops well in advance or just have the phone number to call ahead. if we don't book ahead how many days notice do they usually need and do they get very busy.

The answer to these questions will depend on both the date that you expect to arrive in each area and also where that location happens to be. As you start your trip the weather is going to be very hot in the desert stretches and since you do not mention any route I'll have to assume that you plan to head east from LA. You should plan for temperatures to exceed 100°F (38°C) in the daytime most anywhere on that desert route. If Grand Canyon Natl. Park is on your route you will probably be traveling along Interstate Highway 40 and that will mean desert most of the trip once you are 100 or so miles to the east of LA.

I would expect to need reservations in the Grand Canyon if you wish to stay in the park as it will probably be full much of the time. You will likely also want reservations for whatever place you plan to be on our Labor Day which is the first Monday of September.  Once September arrives you should be fine just calling ahead to a park a few hours prior to your arrival as schools here resume classes around the first of September and most family travel abates so only weekends would be very busy. If you will share your expected route, we could be more helpful. 

While those of us who are retired can find things to do and see to spend far longer in the trip that you have planned, by taking 6 weeks you will be able to see most of the major sites along the way. Return and ask as many questions as you wish as we are here to help!

 

Edited by Kirk Wood

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Welcome to the Escapees Forum!!!

The time of year that you are planning on traveling should not present major problems in finding places to stay. As mentioned, if you want to stay inside the National Parks reservations would be a good thing. If you are not aware of it, Labor Day (Sept. 2, 2019) is a popular holiday three day weekend. Depending on where you are planning to be at that time, reservations may be necessary. In general, we find that calling a couple to a few days in advance works well for us. We try never to just drive into a park, but at least call ahead about noon. If you are prepared to dry camp (no electric, water, or sewer connection) your chances of finding places to overnight or stay in public parks will be greatly increased. No one website lists all the possible campgrounds, RV parks or overnight stops.

Here are some links to websites I use:

RV Park ReviewsPassport America, Allstays  RV Parky,  Good Sam,   Free Campsites, U.S. CampgroundsNational Forest Campground GuideUltimate Public Campground Project, Corps of Engineers Campgrounds, Reserve America, Recreation.Gov  

We have found that traveling 250 miles in a day is a good pace for use. That means that your 6000 mile trip would take us 24 travel days. That would leave 18 non-travel days to see things along the way. Driving farther on travel days would leave more days for longer stops.

Again, Welcome to the Escapees Forum!!

Edited by trailertraveler

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thank you everyone......I am investing lots of time into planning this so will be sure back with many questions...the ones re labor days and holiday are good tips thank you I am also reading lots of reviews and deicing on groups to join etc.....I will show you my route next post....

Edited by virginiasean

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Sounds like a fun trip, but, how do you plan to drive 6000 miles?  That would take lots of zigzagging across the USA.  LA to Orlando is about 2500 miles.  Figure 3000 miles with some wandering and about 250-300 miles per day gives you 10-12 days of driving.  These short days gives you plenty of time each day to explore assuming you drive 65mph.  Enjoy the planning and the trip!

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Your 4 weeks of travel (1 week in LA, 1 in Orlando) reminds me of some 4 week trips we've taken in the past. We did make reservations on one trip in two places, both 6 months in advance as this was the earliest that we could, because we were going to backpack into the back country in both the Grand Canyon National Park & Rocky Mountain National Park. In each park the truck was parked for 5 days and we still managed to put 5000 miles on it during the 4 weeks. Between the parks that we had the reservations in, all we did was zig zag through some extremely scenic areas in Utah & Colorado staying just one night here & there and stopping often to take pictures. We visited National Monuments, National Parks, and several roadside attractions along the way, with a mix of staying within the park and places along the route. We didn't have an itinerary beyond the two parks that we'd backpacked in, just used the map & explored. Many times we'd get some info from someone to assist in the experience.

On other 4 week trips we would choose an area that we wanted to explore and go there straight away, taking 2 or 3 days to get to the region, explore, and 2 or 3 days to get back. Those travel days at the start & finish were about 400 to 500 miles as we wanted to get set up, eat, relax, & enjoy the park a little before turning in, then an early start the next day. We discovered that staying within a region was more enjoyable than trying to see too much or get to too many places within our time frame. As mentioned, one trip was Utah & Colorado with just a little of Northeast Arizona. Another was Minnesota to South Dakota and down through Nebraska. Another was Pennsylvania and Central New York & up to the Adirondack Region. And on & on :) Each trip we would strive to get to an area and enjoy it thoroughly, then get back to the start straight away. In the 4 weeks that you've allotted for your trip, I believe that you could enjoy yourselves immensely going about it this way. You'll enjoy the ride on both ends & the time in the middle could provide great memories, and perhaps incentive to do it again heading towards another region. Happy Trails!

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A critical thing you mentioned is that you will be visiting the USA. That means you can't easily go back to catch things you missed. It's can be hard for full-timers to remember that not everyone can travel their way.

Given that, I would still plan to not travel more than 200-250 miles a day. Driving an RV is tiring. Driving in unknown territory is tiring. If English is not your first language that will also be tiring.

So, I would plan to drive one day then spend the next day or two visiting sites in that area. Then I would repeat that pattern across the country. That will allow you to see a lot while still allowing time for things like grocery shopping and doing laundry.

For me, I would not plan to spend one week in one place at each end of the trip. There's way too much to see in between your origination and destination for me to want to give that much of my time at each end. But you may have reasons for those extended visits that I am not aware of. You need to take YOUR trip, not mine or anyone else's trip. 

So, tell us more about what you have in mind and we'll see what we can help with along the way. That's what we're here for.

Linda Sand

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9 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

you plan to head west from LA

Heading west from LA (Los Angeles) is not a good idea as it would put you in the Pacific ocean.😀 However going east seems to fit Kirk's likely route.

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2 hours ago, sandsys said:

For me, I would not plan to spend one week in one place at each end of the trip. There's way too much to see in between your origination and destination for me to want to give that much of my time at each end

I can see some logic in the stays at the start and end destinations given all there is to see at each location.  I am assuming the lure of Orlando is mainly Disney World.  There is certainly way more than enough to see along the route.

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Thanks for all your comments very helpful so please keep them coming. 

Ok to clarify. The weeks either side are not included. 6 weeks are on the road! We plan a week of luxury seeing Hollywood Santa Monica Malibu beach etc in a hotel. The reason for ending in Orlando ( the RV will be returned the day we arrive) is that my son lives in Florida so the visit is to see him. I have other family who have lived in Florida for 35 years and have visited many times so have an insight into driving US roads etc. Also we have an RV in UK. Anyway back to the trip this is what we plan so far ( good job I am retired I am spending close to 3 hours a day planning hahah) 

Our trip involves driving from Santa Monica up Big Sur to San Francisco  from there to Yosemite then down to Route 66 seeing Oatman, Williams, Seligman keeping on 66 where possible visiting Elephant Butte then back up and along to Albuquerque. Carrying on we plan Hot Springs park then Memphis, New Orleans, Fort Walto Beach, Great Smokey Mountains then Orlando, we plan 4 hour drives ( have plotted it in the the RV trip planner at 50 miles per hour) have about 5 one night stops and several 2-5 night stops. The trip planner (RV trip wizard) is so far up to 38 nights and 5400 miles so we still have 4 nights and 500 miles in case of mishaps. We have asked if we can extend the RV rental at short notice should we want to extend and the company think it’s feasible at that time of year. Constructive comments welcome. 

Edited by virginiasean

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Welcome to the forum!  From your last post I think you have it pretty well thought out.  If you are going to make reservations at campgrounds in advance about the only thing I would suggest is that you always ask about their cancelation policy.  Many that time of year would probably be pretty good about not charging if something happened on the road and you had to cancel.  Depending on your exact routes you may want to consider purchasing an EZ-pass for tolls or setting something up with the RV rental company in advance.

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Are you thinking to take highway US101 between Santa Monica and San Fransisco? I would assume that to be your proposed route, as it is far more scenic? 

Is the Hot Springs you refer to, Hot Springs National Park  in Arkansas? Looking at your route you have clearly planned in some side trips for your mileage and it should be workable. It seems that you are not unfamiliar with at least some parts of the planned route? While it isn't quite what I'd plan, no two of us do things exactly the same way so that isn't too surprising.

One thing that you haven't included in your route that you should definitely see if you have not done so previously is a visit to the Grand Canyon Natl. Park. How set is your plan and are you familiar with the possible alternatives of places to see and things to do? There are literally dozens of things that you will be passing by along that route and there are also many possible changes to your route. For those of us who are retired and who have little by way of time restraints, it would take several months for us to cover your planned route but there is little doubt that it can be done in the allotted time. Since we know little of you or how you prefer to spend your time, I hesitate to suggest alternatives without knowing a bit more. Am I correct in assuming that this trip is a couple and does not include any children?

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You mention wanting to follow Historic Route 66. Unless you have a specific reason for visiting Elephant Butte, it will take you well out of your way. From Seligman, AZ to Oklahoma City, OK; Interstate 40 overlays most of US-66. There is a lot to see along this route including, as mentioned, the Grand Canyon which is just North of Williams.

In the Flagstaff area are Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, and Walnut Canyon National Monument. Sedona/Camp Verde/Cottonwood are about an hour South of Flagstaff with Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well National Monuments, Tuzigoot National Monument, Palatki and Honaki Ruins, V-Bar-V Heritage SiteVerde Canyon Railroad, Fort Verde State Park,  Cathedral Rock, Gold King Mine, and Jerome State Historic Park in the area.

East of Flagstaff along I-40 are Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater and Homolovi Ruins State Park. You can stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona as in the popular song.

Between Gallup and Grants is Acoma Sky City. It is said to be the longest occupied location in the U.S. They give tours of the pueblo and there is an RV park next to the casino. 

In and near Grants are the Mining Museum, El Malpais National MonumentEl Malpais National Conservation Area, El Moro National Monument and the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano.

In Albuquerque there is Petroglyph National Monument, the Pueblo Cultural Center, the  Turquoise Trail and the Sandia Crest Highway.

Santa Rosa is a Route 66 town and has the The Blue Hole and Santa Rosa Lake State Park which has a nice campground Tucumcari still has dinners along Historic Route 66 and numerous murals painted on buildings plus other attractions like the Dinosaur Museum. In Amarillo, there is Palo Duro Canyon State Park which has a nice campground and the Big Texan on Old Route 66. In Oklahoma City there is the Federal Building National Memorial.

If your primary reason for stopping in Memphis is to see Graceland, you might also consider a visit to Elvis's Boyhood Home in Tupelo. MS. It has a nice museum. When we were there a few years ago, some of the volunteers actually knew Elvis as a young boy in Tupelo.

 

 

Edited by trailertraveler

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It's good to learn more about your week long stops at the beginning and end. They make sense now. Thank you for that.

We drove Historic Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica and blogged about it along the way. Since you will be starting from the other end, if you want to check out our blog you can start at https://sandcastle.sandsys.org/2008/11/day-36-route-66/ and work your way backwards to where you plan to leave that route. Your choices of stops will probably be different than ours but this will give you our opinions (OK, mostly mine) of the stops we made.

Linda Sand

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Thank you tailor travelor I will certainly be investigating all the places you mentioned. Kirk Wood please don’t hesitate to suggest changes as I am all for it hence why I came on here. We have actually been to LV a couple of times and once was there for two weeks during which time we flew via plane and helicopter to the Grand Canyon and hiked, took a boat trip saw the hoover dam and skywalk etc so we feel we have seen a nice chunk of the Grand Canyon so while we are happy to see new things we are not too focused on visiting it again this time if we have to miss new experiences. The reason I have chosen Elephant Butte is due to the pictures of the place it looks so lovely and different from anything we have seen before. A great place to relax after the fun of Williams etc ... we will be riding the train into Wild West Country and doing some of the touristy things. So yes a bit of everything really. We like some museums but not too many. Mostly we love scenery and water ( would love to see the water falls at the Indian village can’t remember the name begin is with H) The petrified forests is on the list of possibility and we like the idea of all the old towns on Route 66 ....keep the suggestions coming if you don’t mind. 

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I think that TrailerTraveler gave you a pretty good list of possible things to do and see for the proposed route. I would add a visit to Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma since you enjoy lakes as this is a very large and scenic one. I might also suggest that you take a look at the state travel and tourism site for each state. Most of the states will have a free tourist travel guide, with this link leading to one for Arkansas. Most of them will even mail a paper copy to you, at no cost.

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Depending on your start/stop dates you may have at least 2 other federal holidays being Columbus Day around 12 Oct  and Veterans day on Nov. 11.  Columbus day is now set as Monday holiday but Veterans day is always on whatever day Nov.11 falls on. Depending on where you are it could somewhat affect availability at some parks and all banks and post offices are closed those days.

I may be missing something  about Elephant Butte Lake.  I think it is fine but would not likely go that far out of my way to see it. I may need to do some more research on it.

 In the Memphis area there is an upgraded commercial park near Graceland and 2 TN state parks in that area. One is Memann Shelby St. Pk. North of I40 and not as convienent to Graceland as the other but definatly my choice.  The other is T. O. Fuller. south of downtown.  The area there might bother some folks but I don't know of any issues in the park.  Also there can be an "aroma" issue there on occaision, but it would be more convienent to Graceland.

If you have the time I would suggest scheduling a tour of St. Jude children's hospital (tours must be schedule and can be done on line and very near there is a giant Bass Pro shop in the the giant glass pyramid.  There is also the Lorraine motel , now a museum, where Martin Luther King was killed and also Beal St.

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While state travel guides provide a lot of information, they cover the whole state and can only include so much information on any single location. Once you know what specific route you will be traveling, in my experience you will get more site specific information by doing an internet search for "Things to do near X-City/Town" or "Hiking Trails near X-City/Town".  Sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Trails.com will have information focused on the specific area you will be visiting. 

Edited by trailertraveler

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