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  1. #1
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    Summer Road Trip: Northern CA/Southern OR coast (Update: pics added)

    Update: See post #70 for TR and pictures.
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    Edit (original post below): Looks like a 2 week vacation in July, probably heading to the Pacific Coast (northern CA/southern OR). Looking for ideas of places to stay or avoid, things to do or avoid, for a family with camper anywhere along the coast or on the drive to/from the coast.

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    The Padded Room is usually good for some good advice or at least a laugh or two, so WWMD? Looking to take a one week (ie 8 or 9 day) summer camping roadtrip vacation. Alternatively, option 2 is go 8 or 9 days, and I fly home, and the wife and kid and dogs and camper continue on for another week or so. We live in Boulder.

    We have a 17' hard sided camper, 2 adults, 4.5 year old child, 2 dogs. While we are up for adventures, the nature of the camper generally means "campgrounds", but willing to consider non-campgrounds if the roads are good with ample spots to turn around.

    I don't want to spend the entire time driving, but the kiddo is a good traveler and we have a DVD player in the car, so we can go a good ways (I'd say max 12 hours of driving in a day, but less is better, because this is supposed to be vacation).

    As one possibility, the wife wants to go to Yellowstone (though your suggestions need not include that, it's just one option). I doubt we'd want to do the entire time in Yellowstone if we went that route, so where would we go from there? She had a whole Yellowstone then to the Pacific Coast loop mapped out, but that is an insane amount of driving with a kid IMO (unless we had a at least 2-3 weeks, which I don't). I think I dissuaded her from such an ambitious plan in the time allotted, but willing to listen to whatever you got.

    I'd rather just do a tour of Colorado, hit places that we can't get to easily from the front range. Wife is probably less into this idea, unless I have a very good plan.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Danno; 07-19-2015 at 09:31 PM.
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  2. #2
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    There's plenty east of the western border of Utah. Less driving, more happy children.

    Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Dinosaur National Monument (if your kid likes dinosaurs, this will blow his mind), Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Grand Canyon, Glacier NP if you really want to push north.

    A loop could look like Boulder--> Dino NM --> Grand Teton --> Yellowstone --> Glacier NP --> Missoula Airport to send you home --> she pushes westward to the coast or Southward to Arches/Canyonlands/Zion to her heart's content. Really though, she'd be best served staying east of the western border of Utah. I grew up doing big road trips and consecutive 10-14 hour driving days are the suck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJSapp View Post
    There's plenty east of the western border of Utah. Less driving, more happy children.

    Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Dinosaur National Monument (if your kid likes dinosaurs, this will blow his mind), Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Grand Canyon, Glacier NP if you really want to push north.

    A loop could look like Boulder--> Dino NM --> Grand Teton --> Yellowstone --> Glacier NP --> Missoula Airport to send you home --> she pushes westward to the coast or Southward to Arches/Canyonlands/Zion to her heart's content. Really though, she'd be best served staying east of the western border of Utah. I grew up doing big road trips and consecutive 10-14 hour driving days are the suck.
    You can fly Alaska out of Great Falls and Helena as well, probably have to go through Seattle though.
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    Maybe head down 285 to Salida / BV for a night or 2 in the Sawatch with a possible stopover at Mt Princeton hot springs. Then further south to Ouray / Silverton in the San Juans. Then turn back north and hit Gunnison and or CB. After that cruise up through Glenwood with an obligatory stop at the hot springs pool there before heading back to Boulder. IMO a couple of nights in each place would make for a fun week or 10 days of camping and touring around the high country without ever having to drive more than a couple of hours at a stretch.
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    Remember the Nat'l Parks kinda suck for dogs. We go to Yellowstone every summer, we love it so much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    Remember the Nat'l Parks kinda suck for dogs. We go to Yellowstone every summer, we love it so much.
    good point. I'm assuming we can at least walk our dogs around the campground?

    This may dissuade her from her chosen trip.
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    Having three young boys myself I can tell you the geology and wildlife of Yellowstone will be way more interesting to them than the vistas of Glacier. Something to consider.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    good point. I'm assuming we can at least walk our dogs around the campground?

    This may dissuade her from her chosen trip.
    Dogs on leash at all times. Not allowed on the trails AND you're not allowed to leave them unattended in the car so basically you're not allowed on the trails either. Ha Ha

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    Having three young boys myself I can tell you the geology and wildlife of Yellowstone will be way more interesting to them than the vistas of Glacier.
    I tend to only gush about Yellowstone to close friends, so I must be in a weak moment. When our daughter was 5 we just got to our room at whatever hotel and walked across the street to one of the cool restaurants. They gave us a pager for the 1/2 hour wait so we did a quick "nature trail" style walk. I was carrying my daughter, and we saw a few thermal features, the trail ran near the shore of Yellowstone Lake, and there were Elk bedding down alongside the boardwalk. My daughter says, "I didn't know there were places like this."

    Was a pretty cool next few days.

    We never take our dogs with on our trips there, and we often stay just outside the park like in Gardiner. Maybe there's a dog boarding place in W. Yellowstone or Gardiner? Jeez i am delaying calling this customer...http://www.yellowstonepark.com/2013/...g-yellowstone/

    BTW, I also love how the general consensus is that the place is crowded and full of morons. Yes it's too crowded, you'd hate it.
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    were all friends here, sounds like you dig yellowstone.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruiser View Post
    Maybe head down 285 to Salida / BV for a night or 2 in the Sawatch with a possible stopover at Mt Princeton hot springs. Then further south to Ouray / Silverton in the San Juans. Then turn back north and hit Gunnison and or CB. After that cruise up through Glenwood with an obligatory stop at the hot springs pool there before heading back to Boulder. IMO a couple of nights in each place would make for a fun week or 10 days of camping and touring around the high country without ever having to drive more than a couple of hours at a stretch.


    THIS!

    Or at least close to this. I wouldn't spend anytime on the east side of the Sawatch other than to access a pass like Cottonwood.

    South CO is more camper friendly, or it used to be.

    Could easily spend a week just doing a loop of South Fork to Lake City the around and down through Ouray, Silverton, and Durango. So much stuff down there, and not far from Mesa Verde.

    Black Canyons, Sand Dunes, Darango to Silverton Narrow Gauge.

    I'd probably try and hit the Dunes, then South Fork and see as much of the San Juans as you can, Creede, Silverton, etc., then Black Canyons, then Kebler to CB, and then Cottonwood to BV and home.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by capulin overdrive View Post
    THIS!

    Or at least close to this. I wouldn't spend anytime on the east side of the Sawatch other than to access a pass like Cottonwood.

    South CO is more camper friendly, or it used to be.

    Could easily spend a week just doing a loop of South Fork to Lake City the around and down through Ouray, Silverton, and Durango. So much stuff down there, and not far from Mesa Verde.

    Black Canyons, Sand Dunes, Darango to Silverton Narrow Gauge.

    I'd probably try and hit the Dunes, then South Fork and see as much of the San Juans as you can, Creede, Silverton, etc., then Black Canyons, then Kebler to CB, and then Cottonwood to BV and home.
    I'd ignore all of this and just focus on poking around lesser known places in MT and eastern ID. Not a bad jump through WY to get you there, then just poke and find. It's such nice country. Motels are cheap too. I love it up there and never regret a trip away from the parks just exploring.

    You have Colorado done done done. Plant yourself pretty close in the west and just explore. It's cheap, beautiful, and fun.

    I'd say hit western NM and Southeast AZ if you want a back up. The Chihuahuas, Dragoons, and the Silver City/Gila area are right up your alley. Not too bad of a drive to station in that zone either. You all would love it.

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    I'd do this CO to Yellowstone to Glacier to Banff. Why leave Canada out of the equation? The Canada part will trump most things west of Idaho. Rainier and Hood not included.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BS720 View Post
    I'd do this CO to Yellowstone to Glacier to Banff. Why leave Canada out of the equation? The Canada part will trump most things west of Idaho. Rainier and Hood not included.
    Because he doesn't want to be in the car for half of his vacation with a couple dogs and a kid?

    I'm sure there are dog day care spots in Gardiner and West Yellowstone. If not Bozeman and Livingston.

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    My preference this year would be to do something like capulin suggests, but I may not get my way. MTM, I do like your idea, except with a 4 year old and a camper trailer you don't get to "poke around" so much. And she's not as wowed by beautiful vistas. That same thought applies to the suggestions of glacier and banff, two places I would love to go to, but I think it's better if the kid is older. And concretejungle has it right, I don't see how that trip works in the time we have.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    My preference this year would be to do something like capulin suggests, but I may not get my way. MTM, I do like your idea, except with a 4 year old and a camper trailer you don't get to "poke around" so much. And she's not as wowed by beautiful vistas. That same thought applies to the suggestions of glacier and banff, two places I would love to go to, but I think it's better if the kid is older. And concretejungle has it right, I don't see how that trip works in the time we have.
    I think you should just go up to Yellowstone. There is enough stuff to do up there for a week. Your kid is probably old enough to appreciate the wildlife. And if this summer shapes up to be a scorcher, you have a better shot at tolerable temps. The only thing that makes it less than a slam dunk is the dogs.

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    N. Cal through Oregon coast is fantastic with kids, but probably more time driving out there than you'd want to spend.

    Down SWCO way, I thought Chaco Canyon is worthy as is the aforementioned Mesa Verde. At MV, take your kid to the Spruce House where they can grind corn and go down into a Kiva.

    I also thought the Dolores river from Lizard Head Pass down is really pretty with good camping and easy to start up from Mesa Verde.

    I can't remember the name of the road, but there's a dirt road that goes from Buena Vista over to the Taylor River reservoir that's awesome (Pass Creek?). Owl Creek is another one. Ridgeway reservoir is a good spot.
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    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
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    The American West is full of all types of great places. You know this. What does a great day look like on this vacation? 4.5 is a strange age. Some of them can hike all day. Some are super high maintenance and require a super flexible game plan. What about weather? Most likely the summer in the desert will be too hot for the dog and kids.

    If everyone is having a good time, it will be a good vacation. If not, the vacation will suck. Point being, be event and activity focused instead of destination focused. I see something like picking a couple of spot with a range of activities that everyone may like. Short hikes, swimming, interpretive trails and museums, and the like.

    More information is needed.

    National Parks may be OK for a day of drive through tourism but camping there with an RV and dogs will be a nightmare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    N. Cal through Oregon coast is fantastic with kids, but probably more time driving out there than you'd want to spend.

    Down SWCO way, I thought Chaco Canyon is worthy as is the aforementioned Mesa Verde. At MV, take your kid to the Spruce House where they can grind corn and go down into a Kiva.

    I also thought the Dolores river from Lizard Head Pass down is really pretty with good camping and easy to start up from Mesa Verde.

    I can't remember the name of the road, but there's a dirt road that goes from Buena Vista over to the Taylor River reservoir that's awesome (Pass Creek?). Owl Creek is another one. Ridgeway reservoir is a good spot.
    The road is Cottonwood Pass. And I agree that that the redwood coast and north is awesome, and my wife really wants to do that, but holy fuck the driving.

    I am going to try and push Mesa Verde as a spot, but Chaco is probably too hot and dusty, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    I have a friend with a 6 year old that has hit a lot of NPs this year, posting lots of junior ranger pics on FB. Definitely pursuing that if we do the NP thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    The American West is full of all types of great places. You know this. What does a great day look like on this vacation? 4.5 is a strange age. Some of them can hike all day. Some are super high maintenance and require a super flexible game plan. What about weather? Most likely the summer in the desert will be too hot for the dog and kids.

    If everyone is having a good time, it will be a good vacation. If not, the vacation will suck. Point being, be event and activity focused instead of destination focused. I see something like picking a couple of spot with a range of activities that everyone may like. Short hikes, swimming, interpretive trails and museums, and the like.

    More information is needed.

    National Parks may be OK for a day of drive through tourism but camping there with an RV and dogs will be a nightmare.
    Spot on, it is a difficult age. And in some ways, a little hard to predict what it will be like from this point in time, she might change her mind and interests! But yeah, the desert options are out in my book, just don't seem like a mid-July choice. And I absolutely 1000% agree that it needs to be an activity focused trip and not a destination focused trip, you are spot on with the "Short hikes, swimming, interpretive trails and museums, and the like" idea. My kiddo is a trooper and will definitely be up for hiking, but they will be slow and short hikes, not 8 hour affairs.

    The dogs are a big stumbling block, I'm seeing, because I do think yellowstone is perfect except for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    The American West is full of all types of great places. You know this. What does a great day look like on this vacation? 4.5 is a strange age. Some of them can hike all day. Some are super high maintenance and require a super flexible game plan. What about weather? Most likely the summer in the desert will be too hot for the dog and kids.

    If everyone is having a good time, it will be a good vacation. If not, the vacation will suck. Point being, be event and activity focused instead of destination focused. I see something like picking a couple of spot with a range of activities that everyone may like. Short hikes, swimming, interpretive trails and museums, and the like.

    More information is needed.

    National Parks may be OK for a day of drive through tourism but camping there with an RV and dogs will be a nightmare.
    this

    and trip it through to SW CO

  23. #23
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    Head to Yellowstone and send the furkids to some fancy Boulder doggy spa?
    Brandine: Now Cletus, if I catch you with pig lipstick on your collar one more time you ain't gonna be allowed to sleep in the barn no more!
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cruiser View Post
    Head to Yellowstone and send the furkids to some fancy Boulder doggy spa?
    possible. But one reason we bought the camper in the first place was cheap (if you don't count the cost of the camper) vacations. Adding $$$$ to the cost by boarding the dogs seems silly. But maybe we can find a friend.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
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  25. #25
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    Drive to Stanley. Camp by the river or one of the lakes. Either in the major campgrounds or the self serve ones by the river.
    Rafting, kayaking on the lake, fishing (yeah it's stocked, but they still taste good), lots of hikes of various styles, take the boat shuttle across redfish lake, pancakes at the rafting company, mountain biking of all levels and just awesome environment.
    It's easy to drive to ketchum for more developed things if that's what you need. I'd drive in over Galena pass and out by way of the big lost river valley. There's a cool mining ghost town along that way, custer and they have some events in the summer.

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