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I-10 Corridor From Florida to Arizona-- June-July 2013


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#1 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:45 PM

I'm a teacher with the Summer off and a 36' 1998 Bounder, with a tag axle (51,000 miles) towing an HHR toad (and a 10 year old golden retriever).  I've been RVing for the past 10 years (every summer) and have never been west of the Mississippi River. 

 

I'm thinking of a trip west on I-10 and finding a few passport america parks in New Mexico and Arizona from which to call home bases while I tour the states in the HHR.  I want to see the painted desert, petrified forest, carlsbad caverns, and, of course, the grand canyon and Hoover dam. 

 

Here are my "worries":  Am I crazy to go to these places in the Summer?  I live in Florida and don't like the summer heat here but I think it is becuase I hate the humidity.

 

Also, having a GAS (Banks Power Pack Ford 460) motorhome, will I encounter steep grades on I-10 in west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona?  I'm scared to go too far off of interstates with the motorhome because it is so big and I always worry about getting "stuck" in a situation and not being able to back up (since the toad is attached.)  I'm alone so I have no one to go back and drive the car out of the way.  Anyway, are there routes off of I-10 that I should stay away from and do any of you have any passport america campgrounds that you would recommend in New Mexico and Arizona?

 

Thank you so much.

 

Jurisinceptor


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#2 wolfe10

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:51 PM

Will it be hot-- YES.  But very low humidity.

 

Suggestion-- drive in the very early morning and stop by noon. That will keep your driving temperatures in check.

 

Particularly if you drive early in the day, the grades on I 10 will present no issues.

 

Now, were it me, I would be headed west a bit further north (higher elevation).  As an example, while still in New Mexico, Angel Fire at 8,400' required no A/C for the whole month of July last year.

 

Yes, more mountains, but with cooler temperatures, not much of an issue as long as you are comfortable driving in mountains AND you have done basic routine maintenance such as changing brake fluid.


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#3 StellersJay

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 05:31 AM

We stayed at a Passport America park in Holbrook, AZ while we visited the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.  Be sure you have your Golden Age Passport.  The PA park was clean.  It was an old motel that had been closed, but it was OK.  The National Parks are just a few miles east of the PA park.

 

We always enjoy Benson, AZ.  We stayed at San Pedro Resort.  It is a clean park and has some good bird watching opportunities at the north end of the park at a bird feeding station.  We took a side trip in the toad to Tombstone, AZ and Bisbee, AZ.

 

You will need both ACs for the hot afternoons.  Main thing we found on the grades was to not get in a big hurry going up the hills and gear down and keep speed under control going down hill. 

 

We also took a side trip to Cortez, CO and stayed at a nice PA park.  From there, it is a very short drive to Four Corners and Mesa Verde.  Mesa Verde is well worth the trip.  Afternoon sun seems to be best for photo shoots.  There is a nice drive to Four Corners, but Four Corners itself is just an Indian Market and a monument at what was formerly thought to be the four corners.  You may want to get your photo while standing in all four states.

 

If you have a Smart Phone, get the Gas buddy app.  We used it a lot on the trip and found Sams Clubs to have the best price for most of our fill ups (worked for us since we use gas; diesel not available at many Sans Clubs). You may have to disconnect your toad at some stations.  We didn't, but some were tight. 

 

It is a looooong drive across Texas on I-10.

 

Sam


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#4 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 08:41 PM

Thank you Sam - good advice.


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#5 QuiGonJohn

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 09:09 PM

We stayed at that campground last September.  It is called Root 66, here is the Passport America link:

 

https://passportamer...root66rvpark552

 

Nice enough for a night, or even a few.


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#6 Howde

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 09:15 PM

Jurisinceptor, You might want to get a hold of 2 books - Mountain Directory East and Mountain Directory West.  These books are very helpful in trip planning to advise of steep grades and road conditions specifically for Trucker and RV drivers. 

 

Enjoy your journey!  


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#7 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 05:15 AM

Thank you for the passport park and thank you Howde for the tip on the books.  I will get them.

 

This is great advice and is exactly why FMCA is so great for me!!  Thank you!


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#8 chambo1

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 08:24 PM

My husband and I make the trip from Florida to San Diego about once every 18 months or so.  We never tire of the scenery, even in the barren West Texas.  Our last trip along this route in Nov 2012.

 

Some Texas pointers ... Texas allows overnight stops in their rest areas.  Texas is revamping their rest areas state-wide to make them bigger and more over night friendly.  However, it seems the last ones to be revamped are on I-10 west of San Antonio.  When we travel, we make sure we stop early enough to get a place at the rest areas.  All the Texas rest areas now have free wifi, which is a big bonus.

 

Traveling through El Paso can be challenging with an RV, as there is always lots of freeway construction going on.  Unless you are familiar with how Texas organizes its on/off ramps, I would not suggest stopping anywhere in El Paso.  You might even want to plan on driving through this town on a weekend day (and I am a seasoned, Southern California freeway driver). 

 

If you need gas to get through, there is a Flying J on the far east side of town.  Fill up there, and don't get off until you are in New Mexico.  If you are familiar with the Texas freeway system, feel free to ignore this hint.  Coming back, there is another Flying J at exit 0 on the east side.  It is easier to pull into than the Pilot at the same exit.

 

If you don't already have one, I would also suggest you get a copy of "The Next Exit"  which will give you all the rest area locations along the whole route, as well as what restaurants, etc are at each freeway exit,   We never leave home without it.

 

There are many nice parks in Arizona, as this is a big snowbird destination.  Many parks are PassportAmerica, and the deals are great during the summer, because the parks are nearly empty.  We routinely stay at Saddle Mountain RV park, which is west of Phoenix.

 

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.  We have traveled this route at least 50 times, 20 of them in the motorhome.


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#9 akadeadeye

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Posted 01 June 2013 - 11:32 PM

You will not encounter any steep grades on IH10 in Texas.  You will in central Arizona.  Brett is correct about the temp.  It will be hot but as you go farther west and north, the humidity drops rapidly, so it becomes a "dry" heat.

 

You have a great trip planned.  Enjoy it.

 

Don


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#10 StellersJay

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 05:31 AM

As an aside, when you get into Louisiana, take I-12 (North Route).  It is shorter and much smoother than I-10 which skirts the north side of New Orleans.

 

Rayne, Louisiana has a nice convention center and RV park just on the south side of I-10.  Spots are grass, but level and large.  It is easy walking distance to eating and grocery places.  If someone isn't on duty to collect, you can pay at the police station.  It is on the corner where you turn off the main street into the RV park.  I think the last time we were there they charged $20 per night.

 

Sam


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#11 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 06:46 PM

Outstanding information and advice!!!  Thank you all so much.

 

I wish that all states would allow overnight parking in our RV's.  They allow trucks, why not RV's?


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#12 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 04:10 PM

My husband and I make the trip from Florida to San Diego about once every 18 months or so.  We never tire of the scenery, even in the barren West Texas.  Our last trip along this route in Nov 2012.

 

Some Texas pointers ... Texas allows overnight stops in their rest areas.  Texas is revamping their rest areas state-wide to make them bigger and more over night friendly.  However, it seems the last ones to be revamped are on I-10 west of San Antonio.  When we travel, we make sure we stop early enough to get a place at the rest areas.  All the Texas rest areas now have free wifi, which is a big bonus.

 

Traveling through El Paso can be challenging with an RV, as there is always lots of freeway construction going on.  Unless you are familiar with how Texas organizes its on/off ramps, I would not suggest stopping anywhere in El Paso.  You might even want to plan on driving through this town on a weekend day (and I am a seasoned, Southern California freeway driver). 

 

If you need gas to get through, there is a Flying J on the far east side of town.  Fill up there, and don't get off until you are in New Mexico.  If you are familiar with the Texas freeway system, feel free to ignore this hint.  Coming back, there is another Flying J at exit 0 on the east side.  It is easier to pull into than the Pilot at the same exit.

 

If you don't already have one, I would also suggest you get a copy of "The Next Exit"  which will give you all the rest area locations along the whole route, as well as what restaurants, etc are at each freeway exit,   We never leave home without it.

 

There are many nice parks in Arizona, as this is a big snowbird destination.  Many parks are PassportAmerica, and the deals are great during the summer, because the parks are nearly empty.  We routinely stay at Saddle Mountain RV park, which is west of Phoenix.

 

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.  We have traveled this route at least 50 times, 20 of them in the motorhome.

Thank you so much for this information.  I hit El Paso on my return and you were exactly correct. The traffic was a nightmare.  The back-up was at least an hour and the temps were 105.

 

I did have an amazing trip.  I stayed on I-10 and traveled to Fort Stockton when I was going west.  Then I got off I-10 and proceded north to Carlsbad, New Mexico.  The area was awesome as well as the caverns.  I then proceded to Gallup, New Mexico and got off I-40 west and travelled through th Navaho and Hopi nations to end up in Conway at the Conway Trading Post.  This just happened to be the night of the LIVE WIRE guy crossing the little colorado river gorge on the tight wire.  I was there as it was happening!!!!  The next day, I met a film crew guy who was doing a live shot for the news and then as I proceeded to the Grand Canyon, I saw the area where the Jumbo Tron was set up and then farther on the actual area where the event took place.

 

Temps at the grand canyon were 66 that morning and the high was only in the 80's.  The Grand Canyon was incredible.  What can I say.

 

I then proceded to the Gila National Forest and Flagstaff, Arizona and finished the "Loop" off with a drive through the Petrified Forest, driving south through the park.  The Painted Desert in was cool.  I continued on to Deming, New Mexico where I got back on I-10 and headed East.

 

Texas is huge.

 

I am now in Louisianna, just east of Rayne at the Frog City RV park.  Its Friday the 28th of June.  This is a passport park and they don't honor passport on the weekends but they did in my case.  Why?  Because they are nice.  :)

 

This is a nice park.  The sites and roads are not paved but it is nice and open with a nice pool and big pull through sites.  I would definately recommend it especially since it is next to a big rig friendly gas station!!!

 

More later!


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#13 Howde

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 07:50 PM

Jurisinceptor, it's always great to hear "the rest of the story".  Most often, we read someone's plans and never hear about the journey.  So glad you shared your travels.  Continue enjoying the views as you travel home. 


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#14 wigginsjsr

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 08:25 PM

When you go thru El Paso you should consider taking 375 around the city.  May be a little further, but less hectic.


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#15 wolfe10

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 08:39 PM

Don't think I would take an RV over the Franklin Mountains on 375.

 

We just plan on hitting El Paso at non-rush hour.  Rarely get below 50 MPH on I 10.


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#16 desertdeals69

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 06:26 AM

On your way to Hoover Dam you may be passing through Lake Havasu City, which is where I live in the winter, and yesterday it was 124 degrees.


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#17 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:45 AM

I absolutely loved the desert south west.  The contrasts are amazing.  You can travel from ponderosa pine forests with temps in the upper 60's to the desert with temps upwards of 117 degrees in the same day.  This was amazing to me.

 

The dry heat is very different from the humidity of the east.  I was outside washing my tow vehicle in temps well into the 90's and didn't even sweat.  On the east coast, I sweat just sitting under the motorhome awning.

 

I can't wait to go back west.  I loved it!!!!!


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#18 jfxg48

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 02:28 AM

The dry heat is very different from the humidity of the east.  I was outside washing my tow vehicle in temps well into the 90's and didn't even sweat...

Oh, you were sweating alright..... you just didn't feel it because it evaporates so quickly. That's why and how dehydration is such a real and insidious problem in desert climates.

Glad you enjoyed the trip!
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#19 TBUTLER

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 09:22 AM

Interesting to read your report on your trip.  As Howde said, we often hear about plans but seldom get a report on how it all turned out.  The desert SW is great country.  I'll mention several spots that you missed.  These are favorites of ours.  In California, we really enjoyed exploring Joshua Tree National Park.  There are miles of trails to hike and the sights include a real desert oasis and numerous abandoned gold mines, and even an old gold mill.  We also loved Death Valley and spent two weeks exploring all over the park.  The scenery there is stark, mostly bare rock, little vegetation but that makes it even more beautiful.  There is a volcano, borax mines and refining works, sand dunes and Scotty's Castle in addition to the lowest point in the US.  Another favorite is Big Bend National Park in Texas.  Here the desert is penetrated by the Rio Grande creating a contrast between the desert and the river.  We visited Big Bend during spring break which is it's peak period and saw the desert in bloom.  What a fantastic experience.

 

These desert locations are all best visited during the early spring.  When we made our first visits I wondered why I hadn't been there before.  Then I thought about it, like you, we are teachers.  Teachers can't visit these locations during summer break.  We were looking for cool places and so we went to mountains and beaches, not deserts.  So when you retire from teaching, put these desert locations on your agenda.  I think you will enjoy them.


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#20 Jurisinceptor

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 04:43 PM

TBUTLER:  I have goosebumps of anticipation as I read the destinations you've highligted.  I cannot wait to see them.  I absolutely loved my trip this summer and it was made MUCH better because of FMCA and this forum.  I cannot thank all of you enough for your advice. 

 

While I was out west, I made a conscious effort NOT to see everything I could in the few weeks that I had.  I wanted to leave something for return visits.  That I one of the reasons that I appreciate you suggestions for future trips.


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