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South West Trip Planning


jacwjames
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I've just started to daydream and plan for a trip out west with the caveat being I'm thinking about going Nov, Dec, Jan PLUS......

My bucket list is to visit as many of the National Parks as possible, , I have downloaded a complete list by state and noted which ones I've visited already 20 and counting so far.  On my trip in Jun & July I was able to knock off several in the central midwest.  Looking at the list there are a number in Utah, NV, California. 

Does anyone have any recommendations on places I could stay near Zion, Arches, Moab, Capital Reef, Canyon Lands??  Depending on temps I would boon dock, if it got too cold I'd have to seek refuge at a full hook up campground.   I've already checked some of the Corp of Army Eng campgrounds, quite a few available but most don't have power.  I also know there is dispersed camping available, which I'd consider depending on accessibility. 

I'll be pulling a Jeep so I'll be able to roam freely within a reasonable distance.  I did this when I was in SD, stayed at Elk Mountain Campground at Wind Cave NP and visited all the nearby sites.   Also interested in potential destinations, not interested in tourist traps or crowds,  more into seeing the country, hikes, photo ops, and at the end of the day relaxing with a good whiskey😄

Once I get out there I'll be planning the rest of the trip.  As much as I hate to it looks like I'll have to go into California since there are 8 national parts there and I've only been to one of them so far. 

So if anyone has any advice or recommendation please share. 

 

 

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Morning Jac, well Its looking like were gonna be hitting the road pretty much the same time, only difference is im wanting OUT OF CALIFORNIA, the weather should be more pleasant than the middle of summer, frankly though im not sure how far im wanting to travel only cause the CG overcrowding. What has been your luck with Army corps of engineers CG, I have heard folks talk about them however I have never used one before. Is there a website or do you use a app? I have a buddy that took off last month and right now is in Idaho he's saying most of the CG are shutting down for the season due to the upcoming weather there about to have to endure. One of my repeated locations is the desert, In the past I have enjoyed Quartsite, however this year I wish to try checking out Yuma just to get to enjoy a little warmer climate. As for the whiskey im with you, little brown liquor mixed with a bit of ice helps ease the saddle sores of a long ride, My go to is Makers however I had a buddy point out I should try Whistel pig, either way the results end up the same😴. I will keep up on the posts while were enroute, if were close I will be sure to come knock on your door. Safe travels

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24 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

Morning Jac, well Its looking like were gonna be hitting the road pretty much the same time, only difference is im wanting OUT OF CALIFORNIA, the weather should be more pleasant than the middle of summer, frankly though im not sure how far im wanting to travel only cause the CG overcrowding. What has been your luck with Army corps of engineers CG, I have heard folks talk about them however I have never used one before. Is there a website or do you use a app? I have a buddy that took off last month and right now is in Idaho he's saying most of the CG are shutting down for the season due to the upcoming weather there about to have to endure. One of my repeated locations is the desert, In the past I have enjoyed Quartsite, however this year I wish to try checking out Yuma just to get to enjoy a little warmer climate. As for the whiskey im with you, little brown liquor mixed with a bit of ice helps ease the saddle sores of a long ride, My go to is Makers however I had a buddy point out I should try Whistel pig, either way the results end up the same😴. I will keep up on the posts while were enroute, if were close I will be sure to come knock on your door. Safe travels

Over the years I've stayed at a number of COE campgrounds.  Some have full hookups, some just power, others primitive. They have a website that is not the easiest to navigate.   I found a map of the Utah COE campgrounds and check site availability in some of them. https://www.recreation.gov/search?q=utah&start=20

That time of year they are not that crowded so it will be hit or miss.  I looked at weather patterns that time of year and it is not the most ideal, especially at higher elevations. 

I always have the option of going to other areas first.  I've not made any firm plans yet.  Also may consider Quartzite if I am still traveling by then.   Other factors may play into the trip also, fuel pricing for one, although I usually don't let that stop me.  But fuel availability would be a consideration.  

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So after reading about the COE on your post i did some investigating, i found a book with all there CGs an pertinent info in amazon (go figure) so its on its way. As for fuel here in Ca, your lookin at $4.40 ish depending on the area maybe more😡 so i know the prices are all over the board, however i usually just use Loves out this way only cause i know its fresh, that an pilot. 

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I found doing internet search serves my purpose for finding COE camp ground.  Most have hosts and phone number you can call so if in doubt call.   I'll check it out though but would rather have it in PDF form. 

So I'll keep looking at options and watching the weather, may have to drop down in AZ and visit the couple NP's that they have. 

I've been looking at the daily visitation numbers by month and want to try and miss the peak crowds.  Some of the parks have web cams at the entrance, when I looked at Zion the line was backed up a long ways.  A friend of mine was in Zion late last month and he said it was very crowded. 

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Of the 6 western NPs we did in July, Zion was the only one very crowded. Crowds were not as bad this past summer, compared to 2020. By November you shouldn’t have any problems other than the cold, but probably the best time for Moab.

We are no reservations types staying mainly in Public CGs but many of them will be closed by November. Plenty of dispersed sites that never close. I would get the apps BoonDocking and FreeRoam-boondocking.

Edited by Ivylog
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56 minutes ago, Ivylog said:

Of the 6 western NPs we did in July, Zion was the only one very crowded. Crowds were not as bad this past summer, compared to 2020. By November you shouldn’t have any problems other than the cold, but probably the best time for Moab.

We are no reservations types staying mainly in Public CGs but many of them will be closed by November. Plenty of dispersed sites that never close. I would get the apps BoonDocking and FreeRoam-boondocking.

Dick, Thanks for the feed back.

Yup, the cold is going to be something I'm concerned about.  I don't have an aquahot and will have to rely on the propane furnace and/or generator and heaters. 

Looking for other options for a heat source.  i know they sell propane heaters that can be used inside, the one I'm looking at does have an oxygen sensor.  I know that moisture can be a problem with a propane heater.  Are there any other options for heating??

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I have AHot so heating isn’t a problem and about the only other option is some type of propane. I would look into Passport America 50% camping…that time of year you’re more likely to be able to use it.

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Hey JD. so where that pic was taken, were there any crowds? Looks like you had a awsome water side site. Did you get to do any exploring? It sounds strange, but what are you doing fortv or streaming? Hows your coverage been? I just finished all the services on my rig an now getting cabnits filled. Sounds like i need to put some winter clothes packed😒

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13 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

Hey JD. so where that pic was taken, were there any crowds? Looks like you had a awsome water side site. Did you get to do any exploring? It sounds strange, but what are you doing fortv or streaming? Hows your coverage been? I just finished all the services on my rig an now getting cabnits filled. Sounds like i need to put some winter clothes packed😒

It’s Riverside Ranch in Hatch UT. Cold front came through, snow in Bryce. We hit most of the overlooks today. Will get up early for Sunrise Point then Head to Zion. Phone is great (Verizon or ATT). The Park isn’t packed, we have been able to get a parking spot at each overlook. This park has decent WiFi, wife was able to get some work done. Strange as it sounds, the Dip had a wineguard traveler on it. We just grabbed our DIRECTV receivers from storage and turned them on, works great. 

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Beautifull, simply beautifull!!! Are you using any weather warning system, or just??? Because i had some friends get caught in a freek snow storm i use that knowalge to guide my late season camping. I bought a radio shack severe weather station however im not sure it covers snow storms… damm i sound like a little nervous Nelly🤦‍♂️😜

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3 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

Beautifull, simply beautifull!!! Are you using any weather warning system, or just??? Because i had some friends get caught in a freek snow storm i use that knowalge to guide my late season camping. I bought a radio shack severe weather station however im not sure it covers snow storms… damm i sound like a little nervous Nelly🤦‍♂️😜

I’m religious with my weather channel app. I pay for premium service and have all my places flagged. I look at it constantly, the radar is great, and it will send me alerts, as long as there is service LOL 

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JD,

Thanks for the information, exactly what I needed to know.  Sounds like the Riverside Ranch might be the place to look at as it is about as central you can get.  Do they offer extended stay rates??

What heat systems do you have?  Have you done anything extra to winterize the coach. 

I have done some cold weather experience and travel.  Grew up in  Northern Wisconsin and actually moved to Upper Michigan in late March 2011 for a job and stayed in my coach until Sept.  Had 2' of snow in April and snow on the ground into May.  Had limited power so I had to get by with 2-20amp circuits running small cube heaters, one in basement and one in the living area.  Used propane sparingly as I didn't have good access to propane.  Would be down in the 30's in the bedroom.  Had access to shower house to conserve water and tank capacity.   Hard to keep the RV warm but I survived.   In 2012/3 season they got +220" of snow. 

 

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I don’t know how long they stay open, but this area is littered with RV parks all over. We chose here as they didn’t care about the number of dogs. Most parks are 2 max. 
 

Right now we are not winterized. Just not hooked up to anything other than the 30 amps here. Running 2 portable heaters to conserve propane. The wet bay heater is on at night as well as the tank pads. No issues. It was 20 this morn. If it were me, I’d run down to Kanab. A solid 10+ degrees warmer. Hatch is at 7000’ 

 

I swear by this app

 

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/campendium-rv-tent-camping/id1191380095

View at Bryce was impressive for sure 

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Edited by JDCrow
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Thanks for the info.

I looked and Kanab is ~1 hour south of hatch.  Would all the NP's be within a driving distance from Kanab??

I'll won't make any firm plans until I'm actually traveling. 

If I can find sites with power I will be OK,  I'm kinda cold blooded anyway, actually like sleeping in a cold bedroom and doesn't bother me to be wrapped up on the couch.   

Thanks for the info, hopefully I can get some pictures like you posted. 

Jim

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1 hour ago, jacwjames said:

Thanks for the info.

I looked and Kanab is ~1 hour south of hatch.  Would all the NP's be within a driving distance from Kanab??

I'll won't make any firm plans until I'm actually traveling. 

If I can find sites with power I will be OK,  I'm kinda cold blooded anyway, actually like sleeping in a cold bedroom and doesn't bother me to be wrapped up on the couch.   

Thanks for the info, hopefully I can get some pictures like you posted. 

Jim

Zion and Grand Canyon are close to Kanab, Bryce about 100 miles away. 
 

Here’s Zion from the road. We can’t do shuttles because of dogs. Planing next trip now. Looking at Zion’s ponderosa park for the Zion visits and staying again at riverside for Bryce outings 

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Edited by JDCrow
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2 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

So my friend next door went to 37” plus the Raptor shocks rebuilder is here in No Cal, they rebuilt the shocks to his design. 2F12E063-EF53-443A-996B-F290F0251813.thumb.jpeg.cf45ca0af31c39aa63aa3a40aadfad8b.jpeg53606BE7-0901-4C76-8DB8-1E7A14ACDF06.thumb.jpeg.142751ae7b394486f33ef2313fd1c652.jpeg

I don’t know much about Gen 1. Gen 2 take an act of God to fit 37” with out a serous lift and or fiberglass fenders.

If you can stand listening to this guy. He does the trimming needed and shows SVC taking a sledge to the pinch weld 

 

 

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Frankly, depends on what your designing your truck to do… Tony uses his for fam trk in town an his 300 acres in the desert on his property, this suspension CANNOT TOW!!! Its like setting up his jeep, it just depends what your gonna do with the rig.5B036600-6AD9-42B8-9E5C-B7F16D2D9CC8.thumb.jpeg.8c209b6946e0e9739d92c66bd89be674.jpeg

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21 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

Frankly, depends on what your designing your truck to do… Tony uses his for fam trk in town an his 300 acres in the desert on his property, this suspension CANNOT TOW!!! Its like setting up his jeep, it just depends what your gonna do with the rig.5B036600-6AD9-42B8-9E5C-B7F16D2D9CC8.thumb.jpeg.8c209b6946e0e9739d92c66bd89be674.jpeg

Yeah we actually set ours up to tow. We tow the boat and a small utility trailer to travel. Went with +2 Deaver pack and SVC adjustable Bump stop bridge 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I decided to add tank pad heaters since my is prewired. 

I went ahead and decided to add 3 heat pads, two under the fresh water and one under the black and grey tanks. I ordered 3 of the 7.25" X 25" pads, ~78 watt of heating each and says they are rated for 50 gallons. Automatic thermostat, on at 45 and off at 67F.

These however will be controlled by the wet bay heater snap disc, the way my system is wired the relay that controls the tank heaters gets a signal from the snap disc. So if it is not too cold off I think the wet bay heater will cycle the snap disc off and on to limit how much the tank heaters run, in real cold whether the wet bay heater will have to run more.

I have easy access to the back side of my fresh, grey, black water tanks via a basement door. Makes things easier plush there is decent amount of storage next to the fresh water tank for longer items.

I drained the fresh water tank and disconnected the overflow fitting and moved it out of the way, this allowed me to lift the fresh water tank about 3/4". I took and peeled the paper off the heat pad self adhesive side, working it off/on several times to make it easier to release. I was then able to slide the tank pad heater under the fresh water tank and then peeling the paper off, rolling it off actually, came right off. I then lowered the tank and let it sit to get the adhesive to adhere to the tank. In the instruction it recommended cleaning the tank with denatured alcohol first but there was no way I could easily do that, but when the tank has water in it there will be enough pressure to hold the pads tight. Repeated the same for the second pad going under the fresh water tank.

The grey and black water might be a little harder since I can't lift them but I found that I could pry the platform they sit on down enough to slide the tank pad heater under it. I tested this out first to make sure I could slide it into position.

Each tank heater will have a 10 amp fuse connected to the 10awg wire that is controlled by a relay back in my passenger side electrical bay, the whole system is protected by a 30 amp circuit breaker. If I decide I don't need all 3 running I can simply pull one or two fuses.

When I get to cold weather I'll take some amp readings to confirm power draw.



So for a total cost of ~~$140 I was able to add 3 tank heaters.

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So i like hearing your rig is prewired, i know mine should be like yours. How did you find out the snap disk is run through a relay? Now the million dollor question, where did you get the pads?

Also is the pad under the fresh water tank going to be able to deal with the wieght of the water?

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31 minutes ago, Rikadoo said:

So i like hearing your rig is prewired, i know mine should be like yours. How did you find out the snap disk is run through a relay? Now the million dollor question, where did you get the pads?

Also is the pad under the fresh water tank going to be able to deal with the wieght of the water?

My wires were bundled up and shoved on top of the black water tank, red & white 10 awg wires in the black plastic loom. 

The wiring diagram I have showed the snap disc controlled the heat pad, this was different from a wiring diagram that Dr4Film posted.  So in doubt I tested by jumping the snap disc wires which sent voltage to the wires. 

I did some searches and found options on the heat pads Ebay actually had decent prices.  I bought 1 first to make sure I could slide it underneath and then bought a second one, and bought a 3rd one.  Might have save a little money if I bought 3 together.  Live and learn.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/184373907835?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

Not 100% sure on the weight of the water, but the tank bottoms are flat resting on smooth surfaces, shouldn't be move around.  So time will tell. 

Edited by jacwjames
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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I've started my trip for better or worse.  I am being completely flexible as to where/when which sights I want to see. 

For the first leg of my trip I took the ~420 mile Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to Natchez MS.  Gently rolling roadways rambling through woods and fields and occasionally a house or two off to the side.  I stayed in two of the free camping grounds down through the park, both had spots open when I stopped but seemed to fill up as the night approached.  Overall a good drive but slow, mostly 50 mph.

I then headed toward Big Bend National park in SW TX and am parked at a campground ~30 miles north of the visitor center.  Will do some exploring today.  Decided to stay here 4 nights, planning to relax a little before my next leg.  Probably heading toward SW AZ to see the two National Parks there.  Then onto Utah, watching the weather though!

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