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Want to plan a trip from Minnesota to south Utah's Parks next summer. What is a good itinerary and campgrounds we can stay at? We will have two 45 foot class A's. Three weeks are planned. Thanks for any help.

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If you have never done so you are going to want to stop in Kearney, NE and visit The Great Platte River Road Archway http://archway.org/ as well as the Golden Spike Tower in N. Platte http://goldenspiketower.com  to view the worlds largest rail yard.  Yes, even Janet enjoyed the stop.

Since you only have 3 weeks and it's going to take 7-10 days for the round trip you are going to want to get into Utah without too many other stops as there is lots to see and do.  Obviously Arches and Canyonland in Moab are the top 2 and there is camping in the parks and in campgrounds all around the area.  Depending upon how far you plan to go there is also Zion and Bryce Canyon as well as Hovenweep.  So much to see and do.  Do you have a must see on your list or known destination?  Someone might be able to come up with specific camping recommendations.

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If you head west on I-90 you can literally do a drive through of Badlands National Monument.  The main road parallels I-90 and there are numerous places where you can pull out to get out and stretch, view the scenery and then continue on your way.   Stop by Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument near Custer, SD.  The monument is under construction and there is a nice Native American history museum on the grounds and a restaurant as well.  While in the area you may want to drive through Custer State Park.  Most of the roads in the park are motor home friendly and you may find yourself driving through herds of Bison. 

From there you can drop south on smaller highways toward Scottsbluff, NE where you can pick up a little of the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail history and early prairie history as well.  Drive south from there on smaller highways and you'll come to I-80.  From there, the easiest way to Utah will be on I-80 across Wyoming.  Coming into Salt Lake City on I-80 you will have an extended curving descent to the valley floor.  Use your engine brake and stay within recommended truck speed limits.  Then go south out of Salt Lake City to I-15 and then I-70.  That will take you right to Zion National Park.  Camp nearby, don't try to take the motor home into the park. 

From there you can visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  We stayed at a Forest Service Campground at Jacob Lake.  No hookups but nice large sites, come with full water empty waste and plan to run the generator.  This is the less visited rim of the canyon.  Tourist activity on the south rim is a summertime mob scene.  I wouldn't discourage you from a visit to the south rim but it is very busy.  Bryce Canyon from there would be a good choice.  There is a road from Zion to Bryce, Hwy 9, goes through a curving tunnel with an arched roof.  Large vehicles have to travel the center line to get through so they require reservations, there is a fee and you are escorted through at a scheduled time.  From Bryce we enjoyed the drive toward Capital Reef National Park. 

Continuing on east will take you to the area around Moab, UT and Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and a host of others.  You can access I-70 from there but you will experience some serious mountain driving on your way east into Denver.  It certainly isn't impossible but will require all your attention, stay with recommended truck speeds even when the trucks are passing you.

I would recommend a visit to Mesa Verde National Park in SW Colorado.  There are spectacular cliff dwellings here, some require a bit of walking and in a few cases, climbing ladders to get into and out of them.  Tours are ranger escorted in most cases.  We stayed in a park that is right across the highway from the entrance.  Not far from there is the Four Corners monument, a small fee, marker at the junction of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.  There are many Native American vendors there including some artists with quite nice carvings and other work.  We came away with some interesting works purchased directly from the artist.

Just east of Mesa Verde is Durango, CO, the home of the Durango to Silverton Railroad.  From there you can make your way through Colorado with some mountain driving or continue on east on US 160 to I-25 at Walsenburg which involves little driving that could be described as mountain driving. 

One alternate would be to stop by Great Sand Dunes National Park and then continue on north coming into Denver on the SW side of town.  That route has some mountain driving but the pass really isn't that high.  I-25 through Denver is very busy and a real challenge at rush hour.  Take the bypass on the west side to I-25 on the north side of town.

Another alternate of taking I-25 north into Wyoming and returning that way would be to turn east at Pueblo, CO and take US 50 into Kansas and across southern Kansas, visit Dodge City, Wichita on your way to I-35 north.

I haven't recommended much in the way of campgrounds.  We use RV Park Reviews on the computer and the AllStays Camp and RV app on smart phone/tablet to find the kind of parks that we like.  Summer travel can be a challenge near the National Parks and the more popular they are, the busier the nearby campgrounds.  Weekends tend to be busiest so we always try to find a park near where we want to be with an arrival on Thursday and stay through Saturday or Sunday night.  Traveling to and from, you will have less difficulty if you aren't near a popular recreation area.  Given that you are traveling with two large coaches you may want to make reservations in advance to get the sites that you want.

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To build on TBUTLER'S take on the trip, not in order. Mesa Verde does have an on site campground which is no suitable for you large coaches/. We were just there with 2 40's and barely made it into two spots. It was a very impressive place and indescribable history and inexpensive ranger hosted/guided tours. Bryce Canyon, spectacular as you look down on the site for the most part. The campground there terrific with reservations is best. If you have none ok but in the parking extension kinda bare and dry with all facilities.  If with reservations, in the trees and very nice. I would make this the next to the last park visited in this area as the drive out 12 headed East will take you to Capital Reef. Continuing East on 12 and the drive is nothing short of spectacular all the way up to Green River, Utah and I 70!!! Again start early it is an all day drive rubbernecking

Zion is something else again. We have not had the coach there. It is very tight for a large coach I might add that the best approcah to Bryce is from the West through Cedar City. It is quite a climb but the scenery is wonderful and worth the drive.

The Durango Silverton rail way a day experience and beautiful being in the back country of Colorado. A much better drive in my humble opinion is from the four corners area and one of Colorado's best kept secrets is the Colorado 145 the Delores River Road North up and over Lizard Head Pass toward Telluride. Telluride sits at the end of a huge impassible granite box canyon and s one of the premiere ski areas. Then staying on 145 north west to 141 up to Grand Junction. This road has everything geologically and forestry wise Colorado has to offer in the extreme on a very nice drive-able 2 lane highway. Start early, It is a marvelous drive and zero traffic from the south heading north on 141 beyond Telluride.

The bypass around Denver Tom refers to is C470  E 470 on the east side is a toll road and expensive.

Send me a PM if you would like more and there is a lot more. Welcome to the Forum

 

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Thanks Bill, great tips to add to my info.  I'll have to put the drive to Telluride on my to do list...

Had a nice Zin with dinner tonight.  Going exploring in the mountains above Fort Collins tomorrow.  We'll be off chasing the eclipse over the weekend.

Tom

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