2016: The Grand Tour

The travel trailer is now winterized and back in storage. I was also able to get the water heater fixed and get the hitch on the tow vehicle lowered (the Land Cruiser’s hitch was about 4″ higher than that of the Tundra).

It is time to put the plans together for the 2016 Summer Trip! Only 208 days until we roll out.

I am looking at a few different possible itineraries. Much will depend on if I am able to get reservations where I need to get them.

The mission will be similar to last year’s: exploring our National Parks. The wife has never been to Yosemite (gasp!) and it would be nice to spend some time there early in the season. I have never been to the Grand Canyon (gasp!) or any of the other major national parks in Utah and Colorado.

I really enjoyed my time at Glacier National Park and would like to spend more time there. We didn’t get to see all of Yellowstone.

For reservations, I already have them for Yellowstone and Grand Teton. They start accepting reservations two years out. Yosemite is a gamble. It is hard to get reservations there and I have to wait until January or February to try. Pretty much all the rest of the parks do not take reservations until 6 months out. That puts me at the end of November and the beginning of December to get my reservations in.

Most likely I will dash out to the West first. That will take four days of driving. If I can’t get reservations in Yosemite, I could always go to neighboring Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks. I have never been to either.

The fastest approach would probably be taking I-70 west until hitting I-15 in Utah. Then heading towards Las Vegas, take I-15 until I hit Barstow, CA. Alternatively, I could head south first, down to I-40 and make my way to Barstow, CA by way of Albuquerque and Flagstaff.

In California, we can stay either in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, or Sequoia. This would allow us to take a day trip (or overnight) out to the Bay Area to see relatives. I most likely would come in from the south through the San Joaquin Valley and approach from the west. Alternatively, I could head north up the eastern side of the Sierras to Lee Vining, CA. From there I could take Tioga Pass into Yosemite. But that would mean that Tioga Pass was open in early June and I had reservations for Yosemite. We will see.

Yosemite National Park

After California, I will head south and then east to Las Vegas, back up I-15 and head for Zion National Park. From Yosemite to Zion is 650 miles, making this leg a two day trip.

North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

After spending a few days at Zion, it is a 125 mile jog south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Zion National Park

A few days here and then up to Bryce Canyon National Park, a 150 miles north.

Bryce Canyon National Park

After Bryce Canyon, I can hop back on to I-15 and make my way towards Glacier National Park. This will be a three day trip with stops in Pocatello and Great Falls. It would be nice to spend two full weeks at Glacier. Probably mostly on the east side, but maybe the west too.

Logan Point Visitors Center on The Going To The Sun Road, Glacier National Park

From Glacier it will take one or two days down to Yellowstone. I have reservations for the Canyon Campground. I think this should put at us for a good location for exploring. We need to devote some time to see Mammoth Hot Springs. I think we could spend the day there, head east having dinner at Roosevelt Lodge near tower and then spend an early evening watching in wildlife in the Lamar Valley.

June 2015 – Bison in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park

After Yellowstone, a week in Grand Teton exploring much of went unexplored before is in order. Then generally heading the direction of home, perhaps a few days in Rocky Mountain National Park? When all is said and done, this could be a seven week trip – but could be tailored for less if needed.