The Great Western Parks (U.S.)

Discussion in 'Travel' started by DGS49, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. DGS49
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    DGS49 Gold Member

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    I've done a lot of traveling, both domestic and international, but aside from a couple visits to the Grand Canyon I haven't seen much of the great western parks. Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, etc.

    One reason I have hesitated is that I don't want to be one of thousands of "families" crowding around some "attraction" in the height of tourist season. I like to do a bit of hiking, climbing, some trail biking, and that sort of thing, but not where it's crowded.

    My impression is that during the summer - school vacation time - that's what I would run into. So I'm thinking that a car or RV vacation at the end of Summer - 2 or three weeks - might be the way to go.

    Any insights out there on how to plan such a trip? Stay at lodges or elsewhere? Hidden or unknown gems? Places that are over-rated or to avoid?
     
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  2. Moonglow
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    Moonglow BANNED

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    Trump closed them so his buddies could do a little open strip mining..
     
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  3. gipper
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    gipper Libertarian/Anarchist

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    My beautiful wife and I will be traveling North America in this... while avoiding the national parks when the kids are on summer vacation. April or May are good times...and then after school starts in early September. National parks are much easier to get around then.
     

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  4. baileyn45
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    baileyn45 Platinum Member

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    You have the right idea about avoiding peak seasons. Places like Yellowstone become zoos. In the off season there are times you have the whole place to yourself(or so it feels). The trade off of course is you are generally going to end up visiting in colder weather, at least in the case of Yellowstone or Glacier. If you are going to head out west don't forget Utah. Zion & Bryce Canyon are incredible and less crowded than the Grand Canyon. Although they also have peaks.

    I lived in Montana many years ago and when friends/family would ask about alternatives to Glacier and Yellowstone, I could never bring myself to tell them not see both. While I knew of a bunch of beautiful out of the way places, those two parks are so unique and gorgeous. I just couldn't do it. They always got the "avoid peak season" response.

    Of course if you just like mountains and wilderness there are endless places in states like Montana. I lived in Bozeman and a 20 minute ride out of town offered endless hiking/fishing/camping. And don't forget the rivers, some awesome rafting/fishing opportunities. We used to drive out of Bozeman to Bridger Bowl skiing area, park and just wander off into the mountains. Same thing with Big Sky which was about an hour away(if I remember correctly).

    If driving out west take the opportunity to spend a day or two in some open prairie. At night the horizon to horizon stars is utterly breathtaking. My first strong memory out west was on the highway in South Dakota. In the distance I thought I could see the line of ridges of the Rockies. It turned out to be a single line of thunderstorms stretching as far north and south as I could see. It forced me off of the road for 15 minutes then I got out of my car and watched it continue east. Very humbling and very cool.

    I would make one suggestion about seeing the American west and it would be don't try to do too much. Pick an area and explore it. The Northern Rockies for instance. Yellowstone, Teton, Badlands, Devils Tower, Glacier, Banff, you could spends months in that area alone and not see it all. Keep in mind the distances as well, if you're from back east the distances and open space are mind blowing. And of course don't underestimate the weather. I got stuck on the side of the road for a full day one time in a white out blizzard outside of West Yellowstone, on June 6th.
     
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  5. WheelieAddict
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    WheelieAddict Gold Member

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    If you haven't you need to visit monument valley. It is absolutely beautiful. Pictures don't do it justice.
     
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  6. malnila
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    malnila Active Member

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    September in California could be downright hot. It's our hottest month of the year IMO. If you decide to make it this far west, you may want to try the coastal route through the redwoods and some nice beach rv parks.
     
  7. candycorn
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    candycorn Alis volat propriis

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    Well, one thing about Yosemite....stay in the park if at all possible. Mariposa is a town that is close. And you're about 10 minutes from the park. The problem is that if you're going to take any of the guided tours and other "guided" things, you have to drive to the HQ which is about an hour away. So stay inside Yosemite at all costs. That is my advice on Yosemite. Zion shouldn't be missed under any circumstances. When I visited, you had to take the tours--you couldn't drive but I don't know if that was due to weather or not. Sequoia is not to be missed either but outside of the trees (which are breath taking), there isn't that much to do. Bryce Canyon is unearthly. I recommend a visit in the winter to see it in all of its majesty. Temps can get down into the teens quickly so take caution.

    upload_2018-5-6_21-12-12.png
     
  8. DGS49
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    DGS49 Gold Member

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    Thanks all. I'm working on my itinerary now.
     
  9. candycorn
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    candycorn Alis volat propriis

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    Hows it coming along?

    Also remember that in many National Parks, they no longer sell bottled water; you can bring your own containers and have them filled free of charge if I recall (donations suggested). But if you're banking on buying some Arrowhead Springs from the park general store, you may be out of luck.
     
  10. IsaacNewton
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    IsaacNewton Gold Member

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    Always best to go in off peak months to any popular place.

    Yosemite will have you wanting to use up SD cards on your video recorder so take a lot of them. And the scenery is so large around you when in Yosemite Valley it isn't necessary to do any tours. You can stop off the road near El Capitan and if you have good binoculars spot climbers on the face. You won't believe people actually climb it and sometimes sleep staked to the face. Some of the hikes are well worth it, up to Bridal Falls, up to the top of Half Dome. You can come in the 'back way' to Glacier Point and get a whole other view of Yosemite Valley.

    I'd say to anyone that hasn't seen it, Yosemite is a must see in your lifetime.
     

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