Epic trip travel planning

Have you ever planned an “epic trip”? We’re in the process of planning one right now. I tend to be the travel planner around our house. We think of ideas together and I research and make the arrangements. The trip we are planning right now is a big one…. “All American Epic Road Trip Out West” is what I’m calling it! (kind of catchy, no?)

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If you’re seen National Lampoon’s Holiday Vacation, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Normally I would say that being in a truck together, pulling a camper for DAYS would not be something that interests me… but it’s all about the destination people!!

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After we bought our bigger camper in April we started talking about a summer road trip that we both wanted to take. We came up with a list of the highlights for the vacation:

  • Mt. Rushmore
  • Yellowstone Park
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Zion
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Four Corners
  • Estes Park

I didn’t even know where most of the destinations were on the map. So I busted out our old school paper Road Atlas and pinpointed the locations. That’s when we came up with the order of destinations and estimated drive times between them.  We’re going to be going to a lot of states on this trip!

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The first question to answer was the driving timeline. Roughly how long will it take us to drive to Mt. Rushmore? Is it logical to think we could drive for 13 hours in one day?? 8 hours?? Only 4 or 5 hours??

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Planning this trip has been a whole new learning experience. To begin with, I had a very educated guess (backed by some research) that the national parks started accepting reservations 6 months in advance. Based on our timeline, I figured we had to make camping reservations in January. Oops. 6 months is actually in December! By the time I figured that out, I started scrambling for some spots. A whole lot of them were already reserved!! Then I found out that they actually started taking reservations in May 2017 for June 2018! DOH!

I had to laugh when the reservations guy told me that there are 3 seasons in Yellowstone: “July, August, and Winter”. I had no clue there was still going to be snow on the ground in early June at Yellowstone! Good to know :)

Then I found out that our new camper is actually quite large for some of the campgrounds that we were looking at. What the heck, my camper won’t fit in a lot of the sites?? So basically we are limited in the campgrounds we can stay at. But no problem, the private campgrounds are all about the amenities!

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We still have a LONG way to go in our planning, but I’m getting really excited about our trip!  The wheels are in motion.  There will be plans, maps, and itineraries to be made!  Side note:  I had to giggle when Alan was looking at the map for Yellowstone and mentioned with excitement that our campground was right next to a park trail.  He said “Great place to run!!!”.  I said – “Aren’t you afraid of bears?? The campground *is* named Grizzly RV Park….”  :)

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Q: Have you visited any of the destinations I mentioned?
Any travel advice would be appreciated!

Q: Do you have any trips planned for 2018?

Q: Are you the travel planner in your family?

13 Comments

  1. Drew Pearce

    I have been to Estes Park several times since it is close to Denver where I visit friends. The kids might enjoy a side trip to the Stanley Hotel there to take the ghost tour. Paranormal activity at the Stanley Hotel was the basis of Stephen King’s book The Shining although the movie wasn’t filmed there. I have been to the Grand Canyon and I would like to go back again to do the Rim to Rim hike. I bought a lifetime senior pass for the National Parks that only cost $10 (before the current administration jacked it up to $80) but I have not had a chance to use it. All of my trips for 2018 revolve around races so not any camping or sightseeing. Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Ft. Collins, and DC on the calendar so far.

    • You’ve got some great places on your travel calendar! We have been talking about going to DC for a while, but still haven’t scheduled that one yet. I will have to look into the Stanley Hotel tour!

  2. I am definitely the travel planner in the family but haven’t been to those destinations. My parents visited Mt. Rushmore when I was in high school though (didn’t take me). I love National Lampoon’s Vacation and always thought it would be fun to take a road trip like that one summer, but now I’m a little more impatient and would rather just fly to the destination!
    Amy Lauren Scott recently posted…Chronicles of Cross Training: Dec 11-17My Profile

  3. You guys are going to have so much fun! I am definitely the trip planner in our family and I really love being in charge and making all of the decisions. 😉 Planning a huge trip like that is a fun puzzle to me. How can you fit everything in so that it makes the most sense time wise and financial wise?

    Three years ago, we took an EPIC trip. We flew to Denver and spent 1 night with Paul’s cousins there. Then we drove down to Manitou Springs, CO and spent 1 nights there. Next, it was down to Santa Fe where we spent 3 nights. We LOVED New Mexico. Then we drove to the Grand Canyon and spent one night there. Then we drove to Vegas and spent a night. Then it was off to San Diego for 3 nights and flew home from there. It was EXHAUSTING but so much fun.

    We went to Estes two years ago and I am so excited you are going there! I know you ski in CO all the time so I may suggest something you’ve already done, but here are my recs:

    1. Tour The Stanley Hotel- it is where they filmed Dumb and Dumber and it was THE hotel Stephen King stayed overnight at that gave him the idea for The Shining.

    2. Hike Lumpy Ridge to Gem Lake.

    3. Drive Trail Ridge Road (it goes over the Rockies… SO FREAKING COOL.)

    4. In RMNP, do the hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake. (You pass dream lake and Nymph lake on the way.)

    Here are links to blog posts about our time in Estes wish some pics of the things I am telling you about:

    http://meggorun.blogspot.com/2016/06/colorado-day-2-gem-lake-and-stanley.html
    http://meggorun.blogspot.com/2016/06/colorado-day-3-trail-ridge-road-and.html
    http://meggorun.blogspot.com/2016/06/colorado-day-4-land-o-lakes-and-homesick.html
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Weekend Wrap Up!My Profile

    • I remember your trip!! You went to some beautiful places. It’s simply breathtaking out there!! I’m hoping our trip won’t be too exhausting – but the schedule is pretty packed. I think we’ll be camping in most of the places just two nights, then moving on to the next stop!

    • I haven’t been to the upper peninsula in years! It is very pretty up there though. I didn’t realize Grandma’s was in in MN. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it though. Sounds fun!

  4. Alan Willford

    But think of how fast my splits would be if I encountered a bear? Probably set like 3 new records on my Garmin! Fastest mile, highest heat rate, shortest run!

  5. OMG this is literally going to be such an amazing trip! I’m so jealous just reading about it and looking at the pics. I love traveling but I hate planning intricate trips because it stresses me out. I would go nuts planning driving routes, camp sites, etc. but I am sure any stress will be worth it in the end. This will be a trip for the memory books!

    I am the travel planner even though I don’t love doing it because I am a control freak and cannot let someone else plan LOL! We are planning to go to Greece in the spring and I am excited about that for sure since neither of us have been!
    Kristina recently posted…Day in the Life: Miami EditionMy Profile

    • Greece!! That would be incredible! I’m jealous of that! Hopefully I’ve planned enough days at all of the locations on our trip. We’ll only be at each place a couple of days, so it means driving and setting up camp several times, but I think that’s the way most people do it (I hope so!). My travel books have all been purchased too, because you just never know when technology is not going to be available. Should be epic for sure!!

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