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Old 02-18-2017, 11:04 AM   #1
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Default Maryland to Grand Canyon in June 2017

This will be our first ever RV trip in our new Ascent (we take delivery in early May and plan to do several weekend break-in trips).

We only have 4 days to get there, and we already have our Grand Canyon activities planned. Happily, we have 8 days to get home, and it's about that return trip that I'm hoping for pointers. Any great places we should plan to visit? Hidden jewel state parks, etc?

Thanks in advance for any tips.
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Old 02-18-2017, 02:40 PM   #2
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I ride motorcycles, and Northern AZ has wonderful scenery.

if you can plan your GC trip midweek- it'll be less crowded. Plan on temps in 90's, dry and stay hydrated- cover up bare skin. you will be at 6000'+

from the GC come out the East gate on 64 to 89N, to 160E tuba city is good for gas, groceries- Navajo Code talkers museum.
I like 160, and East to Kayenta and 163N takes you into Monument Valley sunset is awesome.
continuing E to Mexican Hat, the san juan river goosenecks.
from there you can take 261 ( some gravel) to UT95 and natural bridges monument then Blandings and Moab,
or head for 4 corners- then take 160 again through durango and pagosa springs etc.

just get a map and trace out with your finger and see what sparks your interest.

( there is also North Rim and Bryce in UT if you want)

coming to into monument valley:




261- the Moki Dugway:



261- the Bear Ears- just protected by President Obama:



I/we have done long stretches of Hwy 60 ( it goes long beach to Virginia beach) and alot of it is nice 2 lane roads with mom and pop restaurants etc. the part across Southern MO is nice



Mike
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Old 02-18-2017, 10:05 PM   #3
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Your profile lists that you are in Maryland. Assuming you are leaving from there, allowing only 4 days to get to the Grand Canyon is tight. You will drive all day and more.

I use Travelmath to do a quick calculation of distances and stopping points. Nice site, here is the link, Travelmath trip calculator

Baltimore to the Grand Canyon is about 2300 miles and Travelmath estimates about 35 hours of driving.

Essentially getting across the country to Denver will probably involve the interstates. Once in Colorado you have several options:

(As you have more time going back, some of these places can be seen on the return trip)

1. Across Colorado, down the edge of Utah to Arizona

From Denver, continue across I70, actually a nice drive, to Utah where you have Moab are which has Arches NP, Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse State Park. Arches has a nice drive and easy views, Canyonlands and Dead Horse involve more getting out and walking to see the vistas. From Moab, head south and then south west to the Grand Canyon. The route is fairly obvious.

2. Go diagonally across Colorado to northern New Mexico then over to Arizona

Route 285 across Colorado is very nice. You will go through some nice places in New Mexico; Pagosa Springs and Santa Fe, which is a great city, lots to do, and the food is so good there. Then to Flagstaff and up to the Grand Canyon.

I f you have never driven in the southwest, be aware that as you look at a map, there may be roads that seem more direct and go from point A to point B, but they may not be suitable for an RV. Gravel roads in particular can be challenging, as well as high mountain passes. Not to say that it cannot be done, but rattling and shaking in an RV for 50 miles is not enjoyable, nor are blind curves and hairpin turns. One thing I have done to research a road is to look on wikipedia and there is usually a good description and often pictures to help you plan your route.

Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico all have nice state parks. One can often go in, take a quick look, take a short walk, have lunch and travel on, and some even have campgrounds. I use state road maps and state tourism sites to check out the state parks.


Moki Dugway (old uranium mine road, now a public road)

If you do plan on coming from Monument Valley be aware that as you travel north across the desert you will eventually come to a mesa in front of you with no obvious pass or tunnel. It is a 3 mile gravel stretch called the Moki Dugway, as shown in the post above. BE WARNED-this is challenging driving and it essentialy goes up the side of the mesa in a series of hairpin turns and blind corners with no guardrails. The hairpin turns do have a wide shoulders, but they are still challenging. I have driven this 3 times in cars and just this last September I was in a 2 seat convertible sports car and I felt confident. but I would to want to do it in a truck, van or Class B RV. Doable, but no fun. Also if you go up the Dugway, you will be on the outside edge and your passenger will be looking at the desert floor hundreds of feet below. If you love a challenge, as I did, its a great drive...in a sports, car not an RV!

See the picture below of what to expect.

One last suggestion, once you get to the Grand Canyon take 10 or 15 minutes and walk down the trail. Going into the canyon is so much different that being on the edge and looking down. Its worth it, but remember, "what goes up must come down" and in this case the opposite is true so plan on doubling the time to come up, especially if it is hot.

There is nothing like the scenery and rock formations in the southwest, especially northern Arizona and southern Utah to make you say "Wow".

Enjoy the trip.
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Old 02-18-2017, 11:13 PM   #4
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Your profile list that you are in Maryland. Assuming you are leaving from there and allowing only 4 days to get to the Grand Canyon is tight. You will drive all day and more.

I use Travelmath to do a quick calculation of distances and stopping points. Nice site, here is the link, Travelmath trip calculator

Baltimore to the Grand Canyon is about 2300 miles and Travelmath estimates about 35 hours of driving.

Essentially getting across the country to Denver will probably involve the interstates. Once in Colorado you have several options:

(As you have more time going back, some of the places can be seen on the return trip)

1. Across Colorado, down the edge of Utah to Arizona

From Denver, continue across I70, actually a nice drive, to the Utah where you have Moab are which has Arches NP, Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse State Park. Arches has a nice drive and easy views, Canyonlands and Dead Horse involve more getting out and walking to see the vistas. From Moab, head south and then south west to the Grand Canyon. the route is fairly obvious.

2. Go diagonally across Colorado the northern New Mexico the over to Arizona

Route 285 across Colorado is very nice. You will go through some nice places in New Mexico; Pagosa Springs, Santa Fe, which is a great city and there is lots to do, but the food is so good there. then to Flagstaff and up to the Grand Canyon.

I f you have never driven in the southwest, be aware that as you look at a map, there may be roads that seem more direct and go from point A to point B ,but they may not be suitable for an RV. Gravel roads in particular can be challenging, as well as high mountain passes. Not to say that it cannot be done, but rattling and shaking in an RV for 50 miles is not enjoyable, nor is blind curves and hairpin turns. One thing I have done to research a road is to look on wikipedia and there is usually a good description and often pictures to help you plan your route.

Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico all have nice state parks. One can often go in, take a quick look, take a short hike, have lunch and move on, and some even have campgrounds. I use state road maps and state tourism sites to check out the state parks.

If you do plan on coming from Monument Valley be aware that as you travel north across the desert you will eventually come to a mesa in front of you with no obvious pass or tunnel. It is a 3 mile gravel stretch called the Moki Dugway, as shown ing the post above. BE WARNED-this is challenging driving and it essentialy goes up the side of the mesa in a series of hairpin turns and blind corners with no guardrails. The hairpin turns do have a wide shoulders, but they are still challenging. I have driven this 3 times in cars and just this last September I was in a 2 seat convertible sports car and I felt confident. but I would to want to do it in a truck, van or Class B RV. Doable, but no fun. Also if you go up the Dugway, you will be on the outside edge and your passenger will be looking at the desert floor hundred of feet below. If you love a challenge, as I did, its a great drive...in a sports car not an RV!

One last suggestion, once you get to the Grand Canyon take 10 or 15 minutes and walk down the trail. Going into the canyon is so much different that being on the edge and looking down. Its worth it, but remember, "what goes up must come down" and i this case the opposite is true so all double the time to com up, especially if it is hot.

There is nothing like the scenery and rock formations in the southwest, especially northern Arizona and southern Utah to make you say "Wow".

Enjoy the trip.
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Old 02-19-2017, 10:10 PM   #5
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....also Sedona is pretty- camping at Beaver creek EAST of I17 about 7 miles on gravel- it is dry camping w/ vault toilets. or there is a campground right in sedona along oak creek- and other camping N of sedona along oak creek on 89a- this is very popular with phoenicians escaping summer heat- so will be busy on the weekends.

hwy 260 stretching east goes by strawberry, pine and payson- Zane Grey country...260 goes East to Show Low where you could pick up hwy 60 if you wanted.
highlights are Pie Town NM and the Very Large Array
The Very Large Array (VLA), Socorro, New Mexico

you are on the high plains here- I like it

Mike
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Old 02-19-2017, 10:15 PM   #6
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Mkguitar: More great advice! A question: What about traveling to Durango. From there to Montrose CO, and then east to home? Have you done that?
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Old 02-19-2017, 10:27 PM   #7
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yes, there are a million routes-

the problem with going too far north into CO is that you are then likely to yawn across the flatlands all the way to the mississippi...unless you have a reason or interest to see that area there is not much going on for scenery.

that's why I like hwy 60 so much, it is varied and small towns ( mostly) and really is what we mythologize rt 66 to be

hwy 60 has Pie Town !
I like pie

mike
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Old 02-20-2017, 05:17 PM   #8
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I did this trip with my son in 2010 following the ol' route 66 which is generally the new hwy 40. Having a theme helped us decide the itinerary. Ours was well known historical or natural monuments, county fairs & rodeos. Lots of quirky abandoned & renovated original 66 tourist stops - get off the hwy when you see a historical 66 detour to see them. Got to see the Crater, Petrified forest, dinosaur museums, 4th of July in Albaquerque will balloon rides, several Native American pow wows, funky road side architecture. We deviated from 66 to visit the Clinton Library, Graceland in Memphis, then on up to Gettysburg. We missed Asheville place of JPMorgan's country estate as our end point was NJ. Of course, we had more than 8 days.. with several heavy rain storms along the way. If you like being in water, I would recommend an inflatable kayak or raft as we ran into many lakes & rivers along camp grounds. Have fun!
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:26 PM   #9
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I agree that I-40 is worth considering. The drive across New Mexico is not to be missed. Make sure you stop at all the NPS sites along the way, plus the Acoma Pueblo. Do the science and atomic-themed museums in ABQ and visit Old Town. Then swing up to Santa Fe (allow several days there). Several more NPS sites around there--don't miss Bandolier NM. Head north up the Rio Grande canyon to Taos. Visit the pueblo if it is open and the museums in town. At this point you have two options: (a) head back down through Santa Fe (take the "high road" this time) and through Apache Canyon (stop at Pecos National Historical Park) to Las Vegas NM and then back down I-40, or (b) drive east from Taos over the mountain to Cimarron. Have dinner at the St. James Hotel. If you have a Scouting affinity, visit Philmont and the Waite Phillips House. Then continue East to Raton and get on I-25 up to Denver and continue on your way.

All in all, New Mexico can't be beat.
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