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MrFindell

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Hey friends!

My gf and I are working out details for a month-long trip. 7/14 to 8/18 and thought I'd run this through the group here on suggestions or potential offshoots.

We're taking the first two weeks off then will have to be working remote and driving evenings/weekends the second half.

We figured we would camp maybe half of the time and split Airbnb and friends places the other half.
I attached some route photos and the rig.

Mostly we will find designated camping spots but I still need to dive into the apps to find some light off-road spots we could get to. The truck so far is still stock wheels, tires, suspension. So can't do anything crazy yet. Would love to hear from anyone on places we could offshoot to for some good forest service spots to camp.
Has anyone done anything like this and have any suggestions or just good general advice?
Again, not really an off-road trip more of a parks and beaches kind of trip.

Thanks ahead for any input

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Technically Omaha, Nebraska before and after but Google only allows 10 stops.
 

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ThundahBeagle

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Looks like you have a great trip planned! Enjoy!

Ok, this is exactly the kind of trip we did last month, although we had mostly different destinations. We started from Boston and did 5,742 miles in just two weeks. As a result, we only skimmed over a lot of places where I wish we could have spent more time. But you have a whole month do do similar mileage.

You may already have it, but if you dont, get yourself an America The Beautiful parks pass. $80 and gets you into any national park, which is usually $35 a carload per park. And it gets you half price at park-run campsites within the parks.

Unless you have a reason to take the first leg of your route as shown in your post, I feel you are missing out by headed directly west from your starting point

From your starting point, go directly north to 90 and follow it west through South Dakota (or just adjust your route northward and enter Badlands via Cedar Pass area). Theres a lot just off 90. I highly recommend the Badlands and camping there.

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Keep heading west and you pass Wall Drug, Ballistic Missiles site, the Black Hills then Mt. Rushmore then Crazy Horse. Custer state park is through there as well, and you can take 85 through Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, Sturgis...

Keep heading west and bump into Devil's Tower, gas up and take the 212 into Montana.

Entering Yellowstone via Gardiner is a great experience, as you reach the Yellowstone Store and see the Roosevelt Arch.

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Entering that way is closer to the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Grand Prismatic Pools.

When you are done in Yellowstone, head north/west to Big Sky / Gallatin Montana. You wont be disappointed as you drive through the Canyon on 191, then rejoin your original route and carry on.

I've never been west of Yellowstone, so I cant help you there.

Have a great trip, whichever route you take. Be sure to post here
 

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mamalone200

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Looks like you have a great trip planned. I have never been out west (besides a weekend in LA), but I'm planning a trip out to California/Nevada in January and have done alot of planning. I think you might want to drive through Joshua Tree National Park and/or Mojave National Preserve while your are looping back up from San Diego to Las Vegas. It'll make alot of highway driving alot more scenic.
 
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A.Bailey

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Another spot to check out is Point Reyes National Seashore; there are some camping spots over there. At Limantour beach you can have a fire on the beach if you get a permit from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. Totally free.
 
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MattLodi

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Looks like you have a great trip planned. I have never been out west (besides a weekend in LA), but I'm planning a trip out to California/Nevada in January and have done alot of planning. I think you might want to drive through Joshua Tree National Park and/or Mojave National Preserve while your are looping back up from San Diego to Las Vegas. It'll make alot of highway driving alot more scenic.
+1 i wouldn't skip Joshua Tree NP. Another place were i'd have liked to sleep during my West US trip was Trona Pinnacles area.
 
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Tundracamper

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You are going from Moab to Zion via interstate?!! I’ve been all over the country and I think one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever done is Scenic Byway 12 through Escalante. You hit Capital Reef NP and Bryce Canyon. May as well add Shafer Trail from Moab to Canyonlands and hit all 5 national parks in UT. We did that back in May and it’s one of the best/prettiest road trips I’ve ever done!!


Shafer Trail in Canyonlands NP
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RJ Howell

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I will second Tundracamper! We spent a month in Utah and still feel we skimmed through! I plan to return and spend a month just working around Canyonlands NP! It's hard to slow it down and take on less distance, yet the return is you see so much more! Utah's Big 5 is just the beginning of what's there! There's 5 minor's between the 5 majors, then there's the rest!!!

Just food for thought.
 

MrFindell

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Thanks, everyone! I appreciate all the suggestions. We have a few hard deadlines to certain destinations along the way which keeps us moving and limits our time in each park. We will be back in the same southwest region for a trip in October into November that we can hit the others. We also have to work during the entire California to Washington stretch. Seattle to Yellowstone will likely be a straight drive in order to get 2-3 days there before we have to be all the way back to Rockey Ford in Nebraska by the 14th of August for a canoeing trip. So hitting South Dakota and the Badlands is saved for next year on a Canada maybe up to Alaska trip.

Quick side question... @Tundracamper / @RJ Howell For that Scenic Byway 12 through Escalante between Moab/Zion... is my stock suspension, tires, wheels acceptable for that? Will I need to air down and get a compressor? I haven't done my bumpers, sliders, skid plates, lift, wheels and tires yet. Just bought this 2021 Off-Road in November and have been saving for those mods to do over winter and figured I'd just get out and visit some parks while I save for that. (My only add-ons so far are my Skycamp Mini, diamondback, and bed stiffeners.) We'll also have a bike rack on the back since we will be riding a bunch during this.

I do have my National Park pass also.

Some misc questions for anyone:
RTT camping... Is there a good resource you could recommend for knowing where I can post up and when I will need to book a designated camping spot in these parks/regions?
I have everything to be pack-in pack-out ready from my trips into Boundary waters but I haven't overland camped outside of actual campsite/RV parks.. and I want to tread as lightly as possible so If there is an overland handbook/checklist I'd love to read over it. I'll be sitting down this weekend to watch youtube and read more into these forums. but would love a link to your favorite resource.

Is a Rotopax style 2gal fuel tank worth it for this kind of trip? (being mostly highway)
I have my stock spare tire, stock jack, a plug kit, and some battery-powered road flares. Any other must-haves? (Air compressor?)

Anything else I should consider/anticipate about these regions between the months of July/August? High/low temps, wildlife concerns, closures, etc?


I will have to find a Toyota dealer somewhere along the way for my 10k mile Toyota Care service. (At 7500 right now) All was good two months ago when I was in for my 5k.


Thanks again, everyone. Would love your feedback on the misc questions section^.
 
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Tundracamper

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Quick side question... @Tundracamper / @RJ Howell For that Scenic Byway 12 through Escalante between Moab/Zion... is my stock suspension, tires, wheels acceptable for that? Will I need to air down and get a compressor? I haven't done my bumpers, sliders, skid plates, lift, wheels and tires yet. Just bought this 2021 Off-Road in November and have been saving for those mods to do over winter and figured I'd just get out and visit some parks while I save for that. (My only add-ons so far are my Skycamp Mini, diamondback, and bed stiffeners.) We'll also have a bike rack on the back since we will be riding a bunch during this.
Byway 12 is a paved road, so no tire concerns:). Parts of it are like a highway. Other parts, through Capital Reef on Hwy 24, you are going down inside a canyon. Very pretty, but not offroading. When you turn south to go to Hanksville from interstate, it’s very flat. But once you turn west, you go thru a variety of landscapes and different colored mountains. As RJ Howell, I’m planning to go back next year and spend more time in this area - and I live over 1,500 miles away!!

Oh, even if you don’t like coffee, plan to stop at Kiva Koffeehouse and get a drink - just before Escalante…yes, those are outdoor tables to enjoy your drink. Breathtaking!!


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RJ Howell

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Well, TC said it before I got here, so that's good! You should at least pickup a free version of a gps mapping software. I like Gaia, yet they're getting pricey now (since they were bought out), but any good software showing routes. My goal when we return is to travel through on dirt as it is feasibly possible. Good software will show you the routes.

I hardly ever 'book' a spot. There is just so much space out there and being federal lands, so many spots to overnight. It concerned me before I went, but once we got there and figured it out... there was no need for my concern. If you slow down a bit, you will have choices of places.

Your plan has you driving through so many areas of interest! You are going to find yourself wanting to pull in, but needing to travel on. I found this in so many places... It baffles me when I see so many traveling 12hrs to reach a destination when what they pasted over was just as amazing...

I headed for Baja last winter. Made it NOLA. I still feel I ran through the eastern interior to quick to hit the Gulf Coast. I'm still learning to slow down as well!

Safe Travels! Enjoy the trip!
 

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You're screwed if you did not book 5 - 6 months in advanced for the National Parks. Look at BLM land and National Forests just outside of the Parks for Dispersed or First Come, First Served type of sites. Bring at least 2g of fuel for peace of mind. Extra Water is good too as not all campsites have potable water.

I just came back from a 4,600 mile two week tour of the Northwestern portion of the US. It was great. Stopped through 10 National Parks and 9 other States. From what I see on your map, you are not driving through the Parks. Like from the East entrance and out the West Entrance. Or North and South. I would look at modifying the route so that you can see the entire park without wasting time going back and forth. Most parks have a scenic drive or byway that you should think about taking. It's a great way to see what makes each park unique. Fire restrictions are everywhere so don't bother carrying firewood. Just buy locally.

If you're going through Death Valley, DON'T. It's too hot this time of year. Wait till you come back in October.

Have a great trip!
 
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Tundracamper

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You're screwed if you did not book 5 - 6 months in advanced for the National Parks. Look at BLM land and National Forests just outside of the Parks for Dispersed or First Come, First Served type of sites.
What does this advice mean? Are you talking about camping in a NP? Then I agree. Are you talking about things like the shuttle in Zion? We tried and tried to get a shuttle ticket and were concerned we wouldn’t be able to visit the interior of the park due to not having one (were considering bike rentals as a backup). Well, we got to Zion around 3 pm and the shuttles had no lines going into the park. Granted, we didn’t get to spend all day there. However, we did wade a few hundred yards up The Narrows. So, we got to see a lot and were out of the park at least an hour before the last shuttle.

For places like Arches, I recommend going very early, like before the gate kiosks open, or later in the day. We went to Arches at 10 am and the gate was closed. We meandered around Canyonlands for a while (spectacular scenery) and passed by Arches entrance on way back to town. The line was only 5 minutes long, so we spent the rest of the day in Arches. The key is planning your entry around the crowds and learning that many of the parks are actially “open” even at times outside when the web site says they are open. Apparently the gates at Arches never actually lock except during the day. At 7:30 am, folks were driving right in past the closed kiosks (sign said self pay at visitor center). We didn’t realize that before going. And the annual park pass makes entering the parks a breeze.
 
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DrewKD

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You're screwed if you did not book 5 - 6 months in advanced for the National Parks. Look at BLM land and National Forests just outside of the Parks for Dispersed or First Come, First Served type of sites.
What does this advice mean? Are you talking about camping in a NP?
I meant for camping in the National Park. You can go and see the park without a reservation in most cases. Some parks close during the day to limit the number of visitors. "Covid" reasons are stated for midday Park closures but if you have a reservation then you're good to go. Many campgrounds in the Parks are still closed due to staffing. All that means is that they are having a hard time getting Rangers back to work.

I traveled a lot during 2020 and most of the National Parks were a ghost town. And I mean extremely busy places like the Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree and Yosemite. Zion in particular during the pandemic was very disappointing. The National Park service really let things go to crap. Simple services like Trash pickup was halted. They even resorted to locking trash bins due to lack of a pickup schedule. You had to fight the Roaches off on your way to the restroom and hopefully they were open because they instituted this rotating restroom schedule where some were open and some were closed on different days. All visitor centers were closed, most stores and other park facilities were closed, and many campgrounds that were open had no hosts.

They blamed Covid for everything. I lost faith and respect for the entire system. I love going to these places to experience the amazing vistas and wildlife. But the people and their policies just suck. I have seen countless hikers and Rangers with masks literally miles away from civilization and on trails with very few people. It makes no sense to me. You can't get anymore remote than that. It is the definition of social distancing yet they act like breathing fresh air in the middle of nowhere is harmful. Just me ranting about how disappointed I am with the Park Service.
 

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A couple of suggestions to check out or consider. You might want to check out Usal Beach as a dispersed camping spot if you're coming down the 1 along northern California. Usal Rd is right off the 1. Just don't camp directly on the beach, but you can get pretty darn close. It's a dirt road in, but you'll be fine with your truck.

Total biased opinion, but Sonoma County is a much better and bigger wine/beer region then Napa County. Assuming that's why you're going to Napa.
 

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I think your trip is very ambitious for just 1-month and you may want to consider thinking through how much driving you would be doing each day vs. being able to relax and enjoy your time where you are. I have travelled those areas before and I think in total everything you are planning took me around three months to do on separate trips but that is me. I do agree with everyone that if you are driving in Utah that Highway 12 is a must. If you are planning on staying in a National Park or any other campground requiring a reservation you will need to book now and if finding no availability doublecheck and confirm there are good options for BLM or other backcountry camping nearby. There are lots of dispersed camping options available out west but for some of the parks such as Zion there will be less options than other parks. The more popular National Parks are supposed to be more crowded than ever this year so if possible hit those mid-week but even then prepare for crowds. I would skip any serious desert exploration until after summer with an October/November visit being much more ideal.
 

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Great idea and a trip of a lifetime, post your travels, would love to follow along....
 

oldmopars

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I hate to steer anyone away from any National Parks, but you need to know what to expect at Yellowstone. It is going to be crazy busy, stop and go, no parking, huge crowds, etc.
I went before COVID and I was very disappointed and will not go back.
Too many stupid people that don’t care about others, they just stop in the middle of the road and block traffic. There were hundreds of rented RVs driven by people who have never driven one. It’s crazy and frustrating.
On a positive note, Zion is spectacular and worth doing. I would enter from the south end prior 8am. You will have no crowds or traffic. If you enter from the north end, be prepared for a lot of traffic. Either way, it’s worth doing.
Personally I would go to Glacier NP over Yellowstone, nicer park and fewer people. Glacier is hands down better.
 
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Speric

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I hate to steer anyone away from any National Parks, but you need to know what to expect at Yellowstone. It is going to be crazy busy, stop and go, no parking, huge crowds, etc.
I went before COVID and I was very disappointed and will not go back.
Too many stupid people that don’t care about others, they just stop in the middle of the road and block traffic. There were hundreds of rented RVs driven by people who have never driven one. It’s crazy and frustrating.
On a positive note, Zion is spectacular and worth doing. I would enter from the south end prior 8am. You will have no crowds or traffic. If you enter from the north end, be prepared for a lot of traffic. Either way, it’s worth doing.
Personally I would go to Glacier NP over Yellowstone, nicer park and fewer people. Glacier is hands down better.
I would also say the same thing about Yosemite. It's essentially a small city in the valley. I encourage folks to instead visit Sequoia or Kings Canyon if your that close. I went to Yosemite last summer when they were limiting visitors and it was one of the best times I had been there in a long time. No crowds, anywhere. I told the rangers when I was leaving that I wished they kept that system because it was a much more enjoyable experience. You have to plan more and can only go when you have a reservation date(s) but totally worth it.
 
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