Renting with Cruise America Review

If this is your first time visiting our page, welcome! This post was inspired by our 18-day honeymoon which was spent visiting 6 National Parks while in a Cruise America RV… if you are new, go to our page to read all about our trip. Spending 18 days in an RV, driving just over 2,500 miles, was an amazing experience and we are here to give you all the information you need if you are considering renting with Cruise America. *Cruise Canada is also an option but we are unsure if any of the information below is the same for both.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

As stated on their website- Take the comfort of home with you next time you travel by renting an RV from Cruise America. The stress-free convenience of vacationing with your room on your back affords families and friends the opportunity to travel in comfort and style, while allowing time for a great opportunity to grow closer as you travel to and from your destination. With Cruise America, the journey is a rich part of the reward.

For us– When looking for an RV rental company, Cruise America seemed to offer all the things we were looking for: one-way travel options, easily accessible locations for pick-up and drop off, multiple rental options, friendly staff, and the freedom. Cruise America also offers free insurance and 24-hour service which was a plus.

LOCATIONS

Cruise America has 129 pick-up and drop off locations spanning the United States and Canada. Click HERE and scroll to the very bottom of the page to see a list of their locations.

For us- When picking the start and end destination for our trip, we made sure there was an airport and a pick-up/drop off location relatively close to each other; we used Lyft to get from the airport to the Cruise America location and back (San Jose and Salt Lake City airport). Do your research before, there was another airport just as close in California but the flights were a lot more expensive.

TYPES OF RVs

There are 4 types of RVs you can choose from when completing your booking process (click HERE for an overview of all the RVs and what is included or to look at each one separately/take a 360 video view):

Large RV- 7 passenger

Standard RV- 5 passenger

Compact RV- 3 passenger

Truck Camper- 2-3 passengers

For us: Greg and I kept going back and forth between renting the compact RV and the truck camper. Ultimately, because we booked a one-way trip, the compact RV was what we got “approved” for. In the end, we were very happy with what we had; it was just the right amount of space we needed without feeling like we were bumping into each other the entire time. We slept in the upper bed and store our suitcases under the kitchen table so they were never in the way. One other bonus of the compact RV compared to the truck camper was that I could easily get up and grab a snack/go to the bathroom while Greg was driving- with the truck camper you would have to pull over.

  • The compact RV and truck camper will fit in a regular size parking spot. All others will need to be parked in an RV spot.

BOOKING

After doing your research, you have the option of booking online or on the phone. If you are wanting to reserve a one-way trip, you must call for your reservation.  

For us- The booking process was stressful, frustrating, and difficult. We spent a few weeks deciding on where we wanted to go on our honeymoon, researching fights, and beginning to plan our trip before contacting Cruise America to actually book… when we did, and submitted our reservation, it was declined… again and again! We were told one-way trips are tricky because they must keep specific inventory of their RVs in certain locations. We spent so much time e mailing back and forth offering other pick-up and drop off locations (redoing our trip each time) only for it to be declined. In the end, I stopped e mailing the original staff member we were working with, contacted another member, told him to pick 2 locations for us (we would plan a trip around where he could get approval), and we were able to book that same day (he got us approval to pick up in San Jose/Newark, California and to drop off in Salt Lake City, Utah because he knew we wanted to visit the National Parks)! So, I am not sure if we were paired with the second staff member in the first place if we would have been successful but we will never know… it all worked out in the end. I have no problem sending his contact information if you would like to book with him from the start, he was great.

* You are allowed to cross the boarder of the US and Canada but you cannot pick up in 1 country and drop off in another, we tried as we wanted to visit Banff National Park.

CANCELLATION POLICY

If for any reason you need to cancel your reservation, call 1-800-327-7799 and provide your confirmation number. You may cancel your reservation up to 7 days prior to the pick-up date and you will be refunded your reservation down payment. With less notice and with all one-way reservations, you will forfeit your reservation down payment.

DEALS

Cruise America offers many deals, but unfortunately, as we were looking, none of them applied to us. Examples of their deals that were available during the time this post was written are as followed:

One-way specials: One-way trips happen all the time, just like we did, and the RVs need to get back to their original location somehow. Cruise America has special reservations such as the one below. If this works for you, you can receive a discount… just have the RV to its destination by the return date.

Half Price Miles: Check their website and see what is offered for half-price miles. Bookers can receive 50% off rentals between September 7 and December 31, 2019 using the discount code (FRDM). *Not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer, and applied to new reservations only. Not available on one-way rentals. The offer may be withdrawn at any time.

Enjoying a Free Night: This special offer applies to any size motorhome for rentals of 4 nights or longer from any North America RV Rental Centers departing September 7 to December 31, 2019. To make a reservation call our reservation center or reserve online using the discount code (FRD31). *Maximum of 1 night free. This special offer is applied to new reservations only and is not combinable with any other specials or promotional rates and may be withdrawn at any time. One-way rentals are not available with this special.

Alaska- 300 Miles Free: This special offer applied to any size motorhome from Anchorage AK Rental Center returning by October 15, 2019. Call to make a reservation or book online using the discount code FRD300. *Not combinable with any other discount or promotional offer and applies to new reservations only. Not available for one-way rentals. This offer may be withdrawn at any time.

PRICING

To check specific pricing or obtain a quote, visit their website and put in the appropriate information for your trip. From there, you will be able to select the RV of your choice and select add on options as you desire- click Next and that’s it, you have your quote! If you have questions click the online chat or call their number 24/7.  

For us- As this blog is meant to help others, I have no problem sharing what we spent on the RV.

We chose to add the kitchen kit, we believe this was a good add on for the price (plates, cups, bowls, utensils, pots, pans, strainer, cutting board, broom).

We chose to pass on the other add on options (personal kit for bedding, zero deductible plan), we stopped at Wal-Mart before we began our trip- this ended up saving us money.

We were charged $400.00 for a one-way rental.

We estimated our trip would be 2,800 miles at .35 cents a mile, we only drove 2,500 miles so we were refunded $105.00.

We were refunded our $500.00 security deposit.

Our total cost for the RV was- $3,368.13. A $300.00 deposit is required when you make your reservation and will be applied towards your fees. All other fees are due at the time of pick-up.

AFTER YOU BOOK/BEFORE YOUR TRIP

After you book, a confirmation e mail will be sent with all your information. We recommend you print this out and keep it with you during your trip.

Before your trip, Cruise America will contact you and send you videos you must watch before you pick-up your RV. They were very educational and answered questions we knew we would have. We also referred back to these videos during the trip when we could not figure out how to turn the shower on the first day.

RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST

As stated above, when booking, you have the option of adding on to your rental. Below is a recommended shopping/packing list if you do not choose ANY of the add on options or bring anything from home. We brought some items with us from home but made a stop at Wal-Mart as soon as we picked up the RV and saved a ton of money by doing this.

Plates, cups, bowls, utensils, pots and pans, dish soap, dishwashing sponge, napkins, paper towels, pillows, blankets, fitted sheet, top sheet, memory foam mattress topper (click HERE to see the one we purchased which was great for our 18 days), laundry detergent, bath towels (we bought 3, 2 for us and 1 for the floor as you exit the shower), washcloths, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, matches, phone chargers, car invertor (HERE this was great for nights we did not have electric hookup and could charge our phones and camera- it worked while the RV was not running), camera, and clothes .

You will also need to buy food but don’t buy too much… most places we stopped at had a general store where we could buy additional food as needed. We did have extra unopened food in the end we just gave to a neighbor.

For us- We packed liquids from home such as dish soap, detergent, body wash, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash, etc. in THESE so we did not have to buy bigger bottles once we flew out, and it also saved room!

PICKING UP

A few weeks before your trip you will have to call to select your pick-up time slot. Pick-up times are Monday through Friday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Saturday pick-up times vary by locations with some closing as early as 12:00pm. No available pick up times on Sunday so plan accordingly.

For us- Picking up our RV was so much fun because we knew what we were in for the next 18 days. The process took about an hour because they will walk through the RV with you and go over everything including how to dump waste, hook up electric, hook up/refill water, etc. The staff will complete an inspection and write down everything they see so you are not charged upon your return… if you see something, let them know! There was a very small crack on our windshield from a rock we let them know about so we did not get charged for it upon delivery.

Download the Cruise America app before beginning your vacation.

DROPPING OFF

RV return times are between 9:00am and 11:00am, late charges are automatically applied starting after 11:00am.

Additional fees may be added during drop off if you do not refill the propane tank, do not empty your water, or if there is damage to the RV.

For us- Dropping off was a sad moment as it meant out trip of a lifetime was ending. When you drop off, they will walk through your RV and sign off if everything looks how it did when you picked it up. This process took about an hour as well so plan ahead if you have a flight to catch. We arrived at 9:00am and by 10:00am there was a line and people had to wait for their RVs to get inspected.

If you have extra food or items you would like to donate, you can do this at any of their locations for people just beginning their trip.

PURCHASING

Cruise America also sells their used RVs, check out their website for more information.

OUR EXPERIENCE

We had an amazing experience with this company and would definitely book again, if we don’t buy our own RV in the meantime. Cruise America was hands down the most common RV rental company we saw during our 2,800 miles on the road- it was fun waving to others while driving by and even talking to other renters.

If you have any other specific questions that we did not cover don’t hesitate to reach out. We learned a lot while spending 18 days in the RV!

Bryce Canyon National Park Guide

(This post is part 5/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

Our second to last stop on our honeymoon was to Bryce Canyon National Park.

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

Day 1- Tuesday

We left Zion National Park at 8:00am (if you remember, RVs can only travel through the tunnel from 8am to 8pm) and arrived at Bryce National Park around 10:30. The drive was very easy and scenic as you pass through the Red Canyons on your way. Because we could not check into our campground until 12:00pm, we hopped on the shuttle and headed towards the visitor center to pick up our maps and get more information on the park. From the visitor center we headed to complete our first hike, the Wall Street/Queens Garden Loop (with an accidental trip on the Navajo Loop).

Navajo Loop

Distance- .5 miles

Time- 15 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 6 (Sunset Point)

The Navajo loop is longer than what we completed but it was closed at the bridges, we accidently ended up on this loop and went .25 miles down until we saw the “closed” signs and back. The views were incredible though so if you have an extra 15 minutes, hike down.

Wall Street/Queens Garden Loop

Distance- 3.4 miles

Time- 2.5 hours

Shuttle- Stop 6 (Sunset Point)

This loop is recommended to be completed in a clockwise direction because there are steep switchbacks or declines down wall street if you complete it counter clockwise. Greg and I realized we would rather go down a steep decline than up an incline and completed it counter clockwise. Either direction is fine and people were going both ways. This loop has great views of the hoodoos and walls- make sure to look up and around! In order to complete a full loop, we completed part of the Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point (where we started). If you want to complete just this part of the hike without the loop I listed above, you can.  

Rim Trail (Sunrise Point to Sunset Point)

Distance- .5 miles

Time- 15 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 8 (Sunrise Point)

The Rim Trail is a total of 11 miles but you have the option of getting off at various shuttle stops and completing short parts. We found this to be the best option as an 11 mile straight hike was not for us. We still got great views of the canyon and hoodoos!

We took a mid-day break from hiking and went to lunch at Ruby’s Canyon Diner. Unfortunately, we were very unpleased with our meals and did not return. We ordered the 15 inch pizza to share/have leftovers for $25.00 only to realize the 7 inch pizza was $6.50… we could have ordered 4 of the 7 inch pizzas for the price of one. We asked to modify our orders to our preference and it was not respected. I ended up ordering a chicken sandwich because of how the pizza looked and after two bites, I threw it out. I am not writing this to warn everyone not to go there, but this was just our opinion. Feel free to try it out! I am sure if you visit you may have a different experience. After lunch we checked into our campground, Ruby’s Inn and Campground. Ruby’s Inn had full hook up, laundry, general store, and a shuttle stop. After checking in, we took a two hour nap before our last planned hike for the day which was another section of the Rim Trail, Bryce Point to Inspiration Point.

Rim Trail (Bryce Point to Inspiration Point)

Distance- 1.6 miles

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 3 (Bryce Point)

Once again, this trail is a section of the 11-mile Rim Trail. We hiked from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point because it was mostly downhill. If you complete it the other way, you will have more of an uphill hike. We took advantage of the lookout points and snapped many pictures- our favorite was the Upper Inspiration Point lookout, to the left of that is the Amphitheater. Everything looks fake and we said we felt like we were on a movie set.

After the hike, we hopped back on the shuttle to get our RV- RV’s are only allowed to park at most places after 8pm. We asked for recommendations on where to see the sunset and ironically were told Upper Inspiration Point. The sunset here was very pretty but we enjoyed turning around and looking over the canyon with the color change. We definitely recommended you hike up here to see the sunset, you will not be disappointed.

Our night ended with us being so tired, we once again did not want to cook dinner. We were told the Cowboy Buffet and Steakhouse was good so we decided to eat there. We both got the buffet for $22.00 (each) and I would say it was worth it- you were able to choose from: chicken, pork, rice, pasta, soup, salad, and dessert.

Day 2- Wednesday

After so many days packed with hiking, our bodies were getting tired. We found ourselves picking shorter hikes rather than longer ones but that was okay, we deserved to relax on this trip too. Well… a little since we were still very determined to hit 100 miles! How do you think we are doing so far? Do you think we will hit our goal? Day two at Bryce Canyon was only filled with two hikes, the Tower Bridge in the morning and the Mossy Cave Trail at night to look at the stars (one of the shuttle drivers recommended it).

Tower Bridge

Distance- 3.2 miles

Time- 2 hours

Shuttle- Stop 8 (Sunrise Point)

The Tower Bridge hike is a part of the Fairyland Loop. If you plan on doing this loop, do not complete the Tower Bridge on a separate day! The Fairyland Loop is a total of 8 miles which is why we decided to just complete the one section. This hike is listed as easy but was far from that. First, you hike 1.6 miles down into the canyon and then when you are tired and hot, you have to hike 1.6 miles out- we were exhausted but took many rest periods and drank lots of water!

Before going out for our evening hike to Mossy Cave, we went to the Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill for a country concert- you have the option of eating dinner at the buffet but it was a little too expensive as neither one of us was super hungry ($30-40 depending on what you want as your main meal). The concert was great so if you have time, check it out! It’s $10 if you are not eating dinner and just want to attend the concert.

Mossy Cave Trail

Distance- .8 miles (total out and back)

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- No shuttle stop, this trail is outside the park, about a 10 minute drive

Okay, so here is the thing… this hike was only .8 miles but we didn’t complete it for a few reasons. As we were walking in everything was fine, a couple was leaving and said we were the only ones there and to have fun because we would be all alone. As soon as it got dark, all I could think about was the movie Wrong Turn (if you haven’t seen it, google it, and you’ll know why I was scared)- yes, I know I am a baby. Greg also warned me of the animal life we may run into including mountain lions and coyotes, I wasn’t too concerned about them until we saw a really big snake and I thought “Oh, the animals must all come out at night,” which made me even more scared. Greg agreed to forego the rest of the hike after about .3 miles in and on our way back all we could smell was a skunk- now my fear of being sprayed by a skunk on my honeymoon set in! Overall, this hike looked like it would have been great so we recommend completing it in the daytime or nighttime if you aren’t scared like I was. Let me know if you go at night and how the stars are!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM– There is a free shuttle here at Bryce National Park. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire loop or you can look for crossover points to shorten your trip. The bus drivers were all great and can help with anything you need.

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here, the rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have, you can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.  

SERVICE- We had service and WiFi at our campground which was nice for a change, we were immediately able to send pictures to our family. 

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There are many restaurants, cafes, and stores in the town of Bryce City and the staff can provide recommendations if you are craving something specific. Our reviews of the restaurants we ate at are above.

LAUNDRY– There was a laundry facility at our campground but we did not need it or know how much it costs.

WEATHER– It was hot! Luckily, there were some shaded parts during our hikes but definitely bring lots of water.   

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Attend a local event- concert, rodeo, etc.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE- Views from in the canyon: Wall Street/Queens Garden, Views from on top of the canyon: Bryce Point to Inspiration Point.

Zion National Park Guide

(This post is part 4/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

Our honeymoon continued with a 3.5 day trip to Zion National Park. Despite most of our planned hikes being closed because of water levels and falling rock, we still enjoyed our time here so much. Our planned hikes that were closed include the following: Narrows, the Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon Trail, and Kayenta Trail.

Day 1- Friday

After our packed day from the Grand Canyon, we arrived at Zion National Park around 7:30pm. Upon getting to the entrance to show our National Park Annual Pass, we were told we must purchase a “tunnel ticket” in order to get through. This is something I did not find during my research- RVs must pay an additional $15.00 because in order to get through the tunnel they must stop traffic and allow for one way travel. The ticket is good for 2 trips so entering and exiting. Unfortunately, one of our planned hikes was on the other side of the tunnel so if we wanted to complete that hike, we would have had to buy another ticket. Because of this, we decided not to. The tunnel is “open” from 8am to 8pm but you are allowed to drive through whenever you want. * If you are an RV traveling through outside of these hours and something happens, you are on your own as it is not recommended.

Our first stop after driving through the park, (our campground was on the other side) took about 25 minutes. We stopped at the Zion Brewery for dinner and drinks. We LOVED this place. Greg ordered the elk burger, I ordered a regular burger with their specialty fries, and we ended our dinner with a brownie sundae. They have indoor and outdoor seating and if you can, sit outside to enjoy views as you eat. No worries about the heat, they have misters to cool you off!

After dinner we made our way to the Zion Canyon Campground and we both said this was the best campground so far. It was $54 a night for a full hook-up pull through RV spot, laundry, pool access, shower tokens, free shuttle to the park, a playground, WiFi, and GREAT views of Zion.

Day 2- Saturday

We woke up and headed towards the Visitor Center by foot. We decided not to take the Springdale shuttle so we could take in the views. When entering the park by foot, you must have your pass, a receipt from parking, or pay to get into the park. Once again, we were able to get information on recommended hikes as well as add to our patch collection here. Our first hike of the day was the Watchman Trail. We began around 10:00am.

The Watchman Trail

Distance- 3.3 miles (total out and back)

Time- 2 hours

Shuttle- Stop 1, start at the visitor center.

The Watchman Trail had great views but was a steep incline for the entire 1.75 miles leading up to the view. That okay, because that means a nice 1.75 miles of downhill on the way back. Greg and I found out we love hiking downhill, especially in the heat! The trail was not as crowded as we thought so we were able to enjoy ourselves starting. *Once you get to the top you must complete the Loop Trail in order to get to the scenic overlook (this is included in the trail distance).

From the Watchman Trail we hopped on the shuttle and got off at stop 9 for the Riverside Walk.

Riverside Walk

Distance- 2.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- An hour and a half

Shuttle- Stop 9

Handicap Accessible

We started this hike around 5pm and it was amazing; the sun was behind the canyon and walking next to the river gave off a nice cool breeze. We definitely recommend this hike later in the day. This trail has 2 access points- the first is a paved road and the second in a sandy path right by the water. Look for the sand access points as you will get a better view of the Virgin River while completing this trail. This trail is also handicap accessible with some assistance. The trail ends where you would begin the Narrows Hike so if you plan on doing the Narrows, wait to complete this then.

Our last hike of the day was the Lower Emerald Pool.

Lower Emerald Pools

Distance- 1.2 miles (total out and back)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 5

Unfortunately, we were very disappointed with this hike. Arriving to the Lower Emerald Pool, it looked more like a rain puddle to us. The views of the canyon were better. (This is not to say you shouldn’t visit! This is just what it looked like when we arrived)

Our day ended with dinner again at the Brew Pub where we had a great meal. Our service however, was not so good. We had a different waiter than the night before and we were not impressed.  

Day 3- Sunday

Well… we finally took a step back and had ourselves a day where we didn’t set our alarms and we SLEPT IN!! We knew this day was going to be short in anticipation for our strenuous hike on Monday so we decided to take in some much needed rest. We woke up around 10:00am and ate breakfast. We bought food from Hoodoos General Store– walking distance from Zion Canyon Campground. If you go, check out their market, they have almost anything you could possibly need. Following breakfast, we headed into the park.

We decided to plan our hikes from the furthest to the closest and riding the shuttle back to the campground stopping along the way. Our first hike of the day was Weeping Rock.

Weeping Rock

Distance- .4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 7

This was a great, easy hike with views of the canyon. The only downfall is that some of the trail was pretty steep. Also, the water runs off the rocks above so you may get a little wet even if it has not rained.

From Weeping Rock, we traveled to complete the Grotto Trail.

Grotto Trail

Distance- .5 miles

Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 5 or 6, start at one and walk to the other.

The Grotto was a nice, relaxing hike with views of the canyon. The trails were mostly flat which made it more enjoyable. We were also almost all alone the entire time which we also enjoyed.

Our next hike was probably the shortest hike in the park, an uphill 100-yard hike to the Court of the Partiarchs.

Court of the Patriarchs

Distance- 100 yards

Time- 15 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 4

You will not find this hike on the hiking guide from the visitor center but all of the shuttles will inform you of it. Once at the top, you have views of 3 cliffs- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Although this was a short hike, I would recommend if you need something to do in any spare time.

Our final hike of the day was hiking along the Pa’rus Trail.

Pa’rus Trail

Distance- 1.75 miles (1 way, we completed 1 way)

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Stop 1 or 3, start at one and hike to the other or complete a round trip

The Pa’rus trail was another trail where we were almost completely alone. The trail is almost all paved and has multiple bridges that provide a great photo opportunity. As you are completing this trail, turn around and look at the views of the canyons behind you.

We concluded our day of hiking with beers from the Zion Bew Pub. Greg and I loved their beer and this was a great way to unwind. If you go, let us know what beer was your favorite! While there, we asked for recommendations for dinner and were told the Bit and Spur and Oscars were great and nearby.

We chose to eat at the Bit and Spur (Springdale shuttle 6) for dinner and it did not disappoint. We both loved our meals! The prices were a little high but if you sit out back you have great views of the canyon. Watch out though, as we were eating a flash flood warning came in and we were rushed inside!

Day 4- Monday

Our alarms went off at an early 5:00am in preparation of Angels Landing. We were told to be at the visitor center by 5:30 as the 6:00am shuttle is almost always completely full. We arrived at 5:45 and were number 31 and 32 in line. Luckily, we made it on the first shuttle. Others weren’t so lucky however, and had to wait for the next shuttle.

Angels Landing

Distance- 5.4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 4 hours

Shuttle- Stop 6

This hike is not only listed as strenuous, but is also listed as one of the most dangerous hikes in the states.  Look up pictures and videos online and you will see why! The 2.75 miles to get there is completely uphill- I wanted to give up so many times but Greg was there to support me. He waited as I stopped about 15 times on the way up to “look at the views” aka catch my breath and make sure I was still alive (lol). After you complete 2 miles, there is a lookout point called Scouts Lookout where many people stop, take in the views, and turn around. If you decide to keep going, the rest of the trail is a narrow trail with people going up as others are coming down, with only a chain to hold onto on one side (scary!). I completed the first section of the chains but turned around after that. Greg continued on and is now able to say he completed Angels Landing (it gets its name because someone once said it is so high only angels can reach it). This hike is not intended for those with a fear of heights as there are 1,000 foot drop offs on either side as you are hiking up and down the trial. Prior to completing, there is a sign that warns you that many people have died completing this hike! Only complete this if you are 100% confident, if you start and do not feel comfortable like I did, turn around! The views from Scouts Lookout are just as nice.

After completing the first half of Angels Landing, we continued onto the West Rim Trail.

West Rim Trail

Distance- As long or as short as you would like- we hiked a half mile in and then a half mile out for a total of 1 mile

Time- As long or as short as you would like- 30 minutes

Shuttle- Stop 6

You can only access the West Rim trail from Angels Landing, it is a continuation and a complete 14 mile trip if you decide to do the entire trail. Greg and I hiked a half mile to a lookout point and then turned around as we were getting tired and hungry.

I guess you can say we were pretty tired after these hikes. We went back to the RV and both passed out for 3 hours. The rest of the day was spent sitting outside, drinking beers, making smores, and talking with our neighbors. We have made so many friends along the way so far that we hope to keep in touch with. We encourage you to make friends on your trip as you already have one thing in common- your love for traveling!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- There are two shuttles at Zion National Park. The first is for the town of Springdale which we used to get to the entrance of the park and the other for inside of the park. The shuttles inside the park runs every 15 minutes until 8:30am where they then run every 5 minutes. The shuttle stops around 9:30pm depending on where you are inside the park and 10:00pm outside the park using the Springdale shuttle. Be aware when riding the shuttle, you are on the right side of the road depending on where you want to go. 

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here, the rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have, you can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.  

SERVICE- We had service and WiFi at our campground which was nice for a change, we were immediately able to send pictures to our family. 

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There are many restaurants, cafes, and stores in the town of Springdale- you will definitely be able to find what you are looking for foodwise here. Like I mentioned above, we ate at the Brew Pub, Bit and Spur, and Hoodoos and would recommend all three. Oscars was also recommended but we did not make it there this trip.  

LAUNDRY- There was a laundry facility at our campground open 24/7- $2.00 to wash and $2.00 to dry. 

WEATHER- It was hot but luckily, the sun was occasionally hidden by the canyon. The rangers recommend two liters per person while hiking. 

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Find time to relax if you can.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE– Greg: Angels Landing or the Riverwalk, Meg: The Watchman.

Grand Canyon National Park Guide

(This post is part 3/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

After what seemed like forever in the RV (12.5 hours) we made it to the Grand Canyon from Sequoia National Park. We originally had 2 days planned here, but after talking to some new friends at Yosemite, they said to pack everything into 1 day and explore other areas of Arizona- we ended up rerouting our trip include Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Prior to arriving at the Grand Canyon entrance, we stopped at a visitor center outside the park.

We then made our way into the park and to Mather Campground. At Mather Campground we paid $18 a night, no hook up but very close to everything. The campsites are very large and have a picnic bench as well as a fire pit. There is a laundry facility by the entrance to the campground. The Grand Canyon village is also very tourist friendly and includes things like: a general store, restaurant, post office, chase bank, clinic, a chapel, and multiple visitor centers. Be on the lookout for elk, they won’t bother you but remember to keep your distance (2 bus lengths).

Day 1- Thursday

Our first planned hike was Ooh Aah point but after talking to one of the rangers he said it was not recommended to hike into the canyon between the hours of 10am- 4pm. At that point, we took the free shuttle to the visitor center in order to get to the Rim Trail.

Rim Trail

Distance- As long or as short as you would like- we hiked a mile and then turned around for a total of 2 miles

Time- As long or as short as you would like- 2 hours

Shuttle- Yes

Handicap Accessible

The Rim Trail allows for views alongside the rim of the Grand Canyon (where it gets its name). There are many lookout points you can walk down into and almost the entire tail is paved. You may think you have seen it all but there are so many different views from one point to another, take your time and enjoy this hike. It can get very crowded during the day.

From the Rim Trail we got in our RV and headed to our first lookout, Yavapai Lookout.

Yavapai Lookout

Distance- .2 miles from the parking lot

Time- As long or as short as you would like

Shuttle- Yes

Handicap Accessible

Attached to this lookout is the Geology Museum and we recommend you check it out, we found it had the best views. Take your time walking around/reading about the history of the canyon. Look for helicopters inside the canyon, let us know if you saw any!

From that lookout point we traveled to Pipe Creek Vista.

Pipe Creek Vista

Distance- Right alongside the road/parking lot

Time- As long or as short as you would like (stay in 1 spot to view)

Shuttle- Yes

Pipe Creek Vista, along with the other lookout points has great views, it is interesting to see the canyon from another viewpoint.

Finally, around 4:30 we got ready and hopped on the shuttle to complete the Ooh Aah Point trail.

Ooh Aah Trail

Distance- 2 miles (total out and back)

Time- 1 hour and 30 minutes

Shuttle- Yes

This hike was amazing but difficult! The entire way to the Ooh Aah point is a downhill zigzag which means the entire way out is an uphill zigzag… Greg and I had to take many rests periods along the way back. For reference, it took us 26 minutes to hike the mile down and 52 minutes to hike the mile up. You do have the option of continuing after Ooh Aah point to 2 other lookouts but we knew we were already going to have trouble from this point so we turned around.

After this hike we went back to the RV for dinner and some rest. Around 9:00pm, Greg mentioned how it would be cool to see the canyon at night so we hopped in the RV and headed towards the visitor center to the Rim Trail and guess what… that was literally the best idea! We basically had the canyon to ourselves and were able to see so many stars above because of minimal light pollution. If you can, definitely do this as you will not be disappointed.  

At the end of our day we were really happy with what we saw. You can definitely see the Grand Canyon in a day.

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- The free shuttle system at the Grand Canyon is great but make sure you know what time the last shuttle is. Here, they run very late compared to the other parks we have visited.

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here. The rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have. You can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.  

SERVICE- We had limited service here but were able to communicate with our family when we got closer to the village.  

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There is a restaurant/tavern located nearby in the village that looked very popular.

LAUNDRY- There was a laundry facility but we did not use it- not sure of the price.  

WEATHER- It was hot! Hike early or hike later in the day to prevent heat exhaustion. The rangers do not recommend anyone go into the canyon from 10am- 4pm. We found 5pm was a good time to start.  

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first. You might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures. As stated before, we believe you can see the Grand Canyon in one day.  

FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased. We bought ours from the general store and it did not last long and it put black smoke on our smores.  

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Go back to the rim trail after dark- it will not disappoint.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE- Ooh Aah Point!

Day 2- Friday

We woke up early and headed towards Page, Arizona in preparation of our guided tour through Antelope Canyon (Ken’s Tours). Our tour was at 1:30pm in the lower antelope canyon. The canyon did not disappoint, every time you make a turn you see another amazing view of the sun shining through. I am so happy we were able to add this to our trip.

-We were told the lower canyon has better views (compared to the upper canyon) and the best time to go is between 10am-2pm because the lighting is the best.

– With Ken’s Tours, adult tickets are $50 and I believe children are $30.

– You must check in 30 minutes prior to your tour.

– You need a reservation to complete the tour, as we were waiting there were so many people that came up to buy tickets and were turned away. Plan in advance.

From Antelope Canyon we drove about 15 minutes to Horseshoe Bend which was another great adventure. In order to get to the rim/overlook you have to walk about a half mile (some uphill/some downhill) but the views are totally worth it! Look down to see boats and how small they are compared to everything; it puts it into perspective.

– $10 to park

Sequoia National Park Guide

(This post is part 2/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)

Greg and I traveled from Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park to continue our honeymoon. We had 2 full days here and below is what filled our time.

*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.

* We visited in the middle of June

Day 1- Monday

We woke up around 5:30am to pack up and get on the road. Initially the GPS said it would take us 3.5 hours to get to Sequoia but it took us around 4.5 (there is cheaper gas the further you drive away from Yosemite). On the way to Sequoia we passed right through Kings Canyon National Park and were able to stop at their Visitor Center and stamp our passport. Driving up and down the mountain we were also able to make a stop at a lookout point that overlooked the canyon. It was nice but had somewhat occluded views. We then drove straight to Moro Rock before checking in at our campground as we knew there was a parking lot on location.

Moro Rock

Distance- 400 steps with a steep incline

Time- 45 minutes  

Shuttle- Route 2

We arrived here around 11:15am and there was a fair amount of people- not over crowded but it may seem that way when you are trying to climb up and down narrow stairs. Once you are at the top, there is plenty of room. Going up, I’ll be honest, I had to take a few rest periods. I never knew how exhausting 400 steps would be and after we got to the bottom, my legs were literally shaking. Don’t let this stop you though, the views are wonderful!

After Moro Rock, we drove back to Lodgepole Campground which took about 25 minutes. Lodgepole is a park campground that offers tent/RV spots for $22 a night- no hook up but there are bathrooms, a laundry facility, the visitor center, a restaurant, gift shop, public library, dumping stations, and many water stations. The RV spots here are very big and also have a fire pit which came in handy.

We ate lunch at the Lodgepole Market and both enjoyed our meals. Greg had a spicy Italian sub and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. We also picked up 2 things for breakfast and our total was $29.00. Not bad!

We hopped on the shuttle in order to get to our next hike to see the General Sherman.

General Sherman Hike

Distance- 1 mile (total out and back)

Time- 30 minutes – can be longer as there is a line to take a picture in front of the tree

Shuttle- Route 1 (Makes 2 stops, 1 for trailhead and another for their handicap accessible route)

Handicap Accessible

The General Sherman was absolutely amazing! It’s so crazy that this tree is the largest on the earth! This is an easy hike (with a steep incline on the way back) and definitely worth it. We arrived around 2:00 and it was pretty crowded. There are many photo opportunities right around this area.

In order to make this a longer hike, we added the Congress Trail to the General Sherman.

Congress Trail

Distance- 2 miles (loop)

Time- 2 hours

Shuttle- Route 1, you must pass the General Sherman to continue onto this trail

The Congress Trail is one of those trails that pictures just do not do it justice. The trees are something you have to experience with your own eyes. They are so big and so amazing. Here you will also see the President Tree which is the 4th largest on earth. We noticed a lot of the sequoias had “scars” or burn marks and later learned that fires are actually good for them- typically after a fire you will see a growth spurt! The entire trail is paved and a lot is shaded which helps on a hot day. We had a blast on this trail and would definitely recommend it if you are visiting as it was nearly empty as we were completing it.

From the Congress Trail, we got back on the shuttle to head to the Giant Forest Museum which is nearby to the Big Trees Trailhead.

Big Trees Trail

Distance- 1 mile total walking from the museum and back

Time- 1 hour  

Shuttle- Route 1

The Big Trees Trail is great to do after you complete a trail like the Congress Trail because you get similar views of the trees but with a different backdrop. This loop circles the Round Meadow and has numerous “stations” that provide tree information regarding: the fires, soil, habitat, water intake, history, etc. (There are bathrooms located at this trailhead)

After completing our last hike of the day, we went back to tour the Giant Forest Museum and were glad we did. This museum is so interesting and provides so much information on the Sequoias. It is great for kids and adults.

Our night ended by the campfire making dinner and eating smores for dessert!

Day 2- Tuesday

We started our day with the Topokah Trail as it was only a 2-minute walk from our campsite at Lodgepole.

Topokah Trail

Distance- 4 miles (total out and back)

Time- 2.5 hours

Shuttle- Route 1

This trail was very interesting to us because when you think of Sequoia National Park, typically the trees come to mind. This trail did have some large sequoias on its route, but the main attraction was the waterfall at the end. My watch clocked this trail at just over 500 feet of elevation throughout but many parts are shaded which allowed for a cooler breeze during the time of our visit. We started this hike at 9:30am and were the only two until our way back when we passed many people heading up. Keep an eye out for animals on this route, no bears for us though.

After the Topokah Trail we hopped on the shuttle to get to the Crescent Meadows/Tharp’s Log Trail– from Lodgepole it took us 50 minutes to get to this location.

Crescent Meadows/Tharp’s Log

Distance- 2 miles

Time- 1 hour

Shuttle- Route 2

This trail is mostly shaded and circles around the Crescent Meadow, we added a little bit to see Tharp’s Log so we saw views of Log Meadow as well. Keep an eye out for marked trees such as “Chimney Tree”!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- The free shuttle system at Sequoia is great but make sure you know what time the last shuttle is. The shuttles at this location stop around 6pm and you do not want to get stuck at a trailhead.

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here, the rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have. You can also buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park stamp collection here.   

SERVICE- We had absolutely no service at during our entire time at Sequoia, not even for a minute. I would 100% recommend loading the directions from one place to another on your phone beforehand and taking screenshots- this helped us!

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. I would recommend packing sandwiches for the longer hikes. The Lodgepole Market also has great food as I mentioned above.

LAUNDRY- Lodgepole has a laundry facility (not sure if there are any others in the park but this was open to the public). We paid $1.25 to wash our clothes and $.50 to dry our clothes for 20 minutes.

WEATHER– The weather here fluctuated. We woke up freezing and even the start of some hikes were cold but by the end of the day we were hot. Wear layers that you can remove.

TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

FIREWOOD- You are allowed to use branches/wood that you find on the ground for firewood here, no breaking off trees.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION– Pack for the cold, even in the summer the nights can get very cold.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE- Congress Trail!

Yosemite National Park Guide

(This post is part 1/6- so make sure to read the others! While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links or additional images for more information!)

Welcome to this post! If you don’t already know, Greg and I love to travel. Before we were even engaged, we talked about the idea of having a National Park Honeymoon as we have been to Europe a few times, but have not seen most of our own country. Planning for our June honeymoon began in January as something like this takes a long time to plan. We were determined to complete 100 miles on foot between hikes and exploring. Do you think we hit our goal? Continue reading through our posts to find out!

Greg and I were lucky enough to start our honeymoon at Yosemite National Park. Here is a guide for our 2.5-day trip we spent here. We hope you can learn from our experience and we wish you the best of luck if you are planning to travel here!

(We arrived the 2nd week of June and were told there would be more visitors this weekend than Memorial Day weekend due to the weather, so this information below is based off that. Some trails were also closed due to the extreme snowfall they experienced this year- you can find a list of the closed trails on the Yosemite National Park website or by calling.)

*All times included our time spent taking pictures and enjoying the views.

Day 1- Friday

After 19 hours of traveling, we arrived around 8pm at our campground: Indian Flat RV Park– full hookup RV sites are $48 a night, including showers, a restaurant within walking distance, general store, grill, and picnic table (unfortunately no fire pit). There are cheaper RV parks that we found but Indian Flat was only 35 minutes from the entrance of Yosemite (turn right out of the RV park and follow it up, no turns).

We were pretty hungry/tired when we arrived so we went to the local restaurant/bar for dinner which is next door to where we were staying: Canyon Bar and Grill– the food was good, but small, and in my opinion, a little over-priced. I got a grilled chicken sandwich and Greg got a patty melt, for $26.00 (not including tip).

Day 2- Saturday

Bridalveil Falls

Distance- 1 mile (total out and back)

Our Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- no shuttle stop, there is a parking lot

Handicap Accessible

We woke up around 6:30am to get to Bridalveil Falls early- we were told this parking lot fills up and if there are no spots, you will probably have a far walk for a short hike. I recommend planning to start your day with this hike. After getting ready and driving, we arrived at 7:30am and there were plenty of spots available. We finished the hike around 8:00am and still less than half of the spots were filled. Bridalveil Falls is an easy hike but has a short/steep incline at the top. When we visited it was very wet. Our shoes did not get wet but others said their shoes were soaked which caused their feet to be cold for hours. It was also very cold at the top.

We then drove from Bridalveil Falls to the Yosemite Valley Lodge (this is where RVs must park) in order to catch our first ride on the free shuttle. We took the shuttle from the Lodge (shuttle stop #7) to the Visitor Center/Theater (shuttle stop #9) which opened at 9:00am.

From the Visitor Center we got back on the shuttle and headed to the Mirror Lake Trail.

Mirror Lake Trail

Distance- 1.8 miles (total out and back) or 5 miles (around)

Our Time- 3 hours for a modified 5 mile loop

Shuttle- #17

When hiking this trail you have the option to either hike out to the lake and turn around or to hike all the way around the lake and make a circle. Our original plan was to hike around the lake but along the way, we met people who informed us that the conditions were not the best (1 area required you to take your shoes off to hike through water and the other required you to go off the trail because the path was flooded- not appealing for us). We decided to hike to the very top and once we reached Snow Creek Falls we turned around. This hike was about 5 miles total but was a really good hike with plenty of shade and visits from animal friends!

From the Mirror Lake Trail we got back on the shuttle and headed to The Loft at Degnan’s for lunch (shuttle stop #4). Here, you have 2 options- a deli on the first level with ordering kiosks (pizza, sandwiches, all day breakfast, etc.) or you can go upstairs for a set menu. We decided to go upstairs and the food was great. The portions were also great and the prices were not bad. I ordered a Teriyaki Chicken bowl and Greg ordered a Beef Burrito all for $22 (we expected prices to be higher inside the park).

After lunch we got back on the shuttle and headed to the Lower Yosemite Falls, we were told if you are visiting Yosemite then you must do this hike.

Lower Yosemite Falls  

Distance- .5 miles (total out and back)

Our Time- 30 minutes

Shuttle- #6

Handicap Accessible

The views at this hike were wonderful! You could get so close to the waterfall and there was a nice mist to cool you off. This hike is almost entirely handicap accessible too!

This trail concluded our day so we headed back towards the shuttle stop. We ended up waiting in long line for 35 minutes so we decided we would just walk back to our car. This took us about 15 minutes- probably because we were exhausted from our day!

On the way out of the park we stopped for gas and paid a hefty $4.78!!! Crazy, right!? But we needed gas and this was the only place around. It was a Chevron gas station located 8 minutes from our RV campground. If we wanted to go elsewhere, we would have had to add another 30 minutes to our drive to find another. We recommend filling up if you happen to drive by a place with decent pricing.

Day 3- Sunday

Our alarms went off at 6:15 on day 2 in order to get to the recommended hikes early. (No worries, we were both asleep by 9:00pm the night before. Man were we exhausted!)

On our way to our first hike, we stopped at Tunnel View. We had planned to visit this after our hike, but the parking lot was nearly empty as we drove past (7:30am). The views were great but our pictures were a little washed out as the sun was rising at this time. It was still great to see firsthand with your own eyes though!

From Tunnel View, we continued to drive up the mountain to the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead. I was terrified during the drive up because there are no rails to protect you while you’re 6,000+ feet up! I constantly felt myself leaning while in the passenger seat away from the drop off (lol). So I definitely recommend taking your time and allow others to pass if needed.

Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trail

Distance- 2 miles (total out and back) or 4.5 (loop)

Time- 2.5 hours for the 2 mile trail

Shuttle- no shuttle stop, parking lot located at the trailhead.

We arrived here at 8:00am and we were one of maybe ten cars in the parking lot- just under ½ full at this time. Our original plan was to do the entire loop in a counter- clockwise direction as recommended but after visiting the Visitor Center, we were informed part of the Taft Point loop was under about 5 feet of snow and greatly impacted ability to locate the trail. Instead, we walked from the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead up to the top of Sentinel Dome and back. Towards the end, there is a steep incline, and at the time of our visit, it was covered in snow; made it extra fun to climb! This was hands down the best view we saw during our time at Yosemite. Greg and I kept saying “Is this real? It looks like a fake backdrop.” We 100% recommend this hike if you can only do one during your time here.

From the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead, we traveled to Glacier Point which was only 10 minutes away. Online I read to arrive before 10:30am or after 5:00pm. We arrived at 10:45am and were lucky to find a parking spot (after being told we would not be able to, on our way out someone was leaving!). We spent about an hour here looking at the amazing views, taking pictures, and visiting the gift shop. On our way out was a line of over 50 cars waiting to find a spot in the parking lot. If this happens to you, try to park up the road more and make the extra walk. The hike to the top is very short.

On our way back down the mountain, we made another stop at Tunnel View. We arrived around 1:30, the parking lot was PACKED and people were illegally parked which was annoying and made it difficult to navigate an RV. We ended up finding a spot and were able to get more pictures that weren’t washed out. Overall, I would recommend getting to this location between 8:00-10:00am or later in the day.

As we continued down the mountain, we passed the Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead and the Bridalveil Falls Trailhead- both were so packed the streets were lined with cars trying to find any spot they could fit in. This justified our 6:15am alarm which allowed us to enjoy the hikes with minimal people around.

At the end of our day, which was only around 2:00pm, we decided to make one last trip into Yosemite Village. We parked at the Yosemite Lodge and walked 15 minutes to the Visitor Center because we knew waiting for a shuttle at this time would take forever. We continued to be amazed by the views and wildlife that walks around as if no one is there.

If you have been to this park or go for a visit, let me know what your favorite hike is!

OTHER PARK INFORMATION

SHUTTLE SYSTEM- The free shuttle system at Yosemite is great. In the morning from 7:00am-10:00am it is scheduled to come every 30 minutes, from 10:00am-10:00pm it is scheduled to come every 20 minutes. Towards the end of the day you can wait upwards of 40 minutes and in a line of people so check the map to see how far you are from the next stop, it may only be a 5-minute walk!

VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here. The rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have. You can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of ours), visit the theater, and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We started our National Park patch collection here- if you are visiting the parks maybe you will enjoy starting a collection of something like us!  

CELL SERVICE- We had absolutely no service at our campsite and limited service once inside the park. I would 100% recommend loading the directions from one place to another on your phone beforehand and taking screenshots- this helped us! We were told to download the app “You Need A Map” for trails, but be aware, it may drain your battery.

FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. I would recommend packing sandwiches for the longer hikes.

WEATHER- The weather here fluctuated. We woke up freezing and even the start of some hikes were cold, but by the end of the day we were hot. Wear layers that you can remove. All of the hikes we started in long sleeves/pants but we had an extra shirt in our bags.

TRAILS- Unfortunately, with the limited time spent here and due to the weather conditions, we were unable to do everything we planned. We did expect this and definitely plan on returning. If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first; you might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures.

GAS- As I mentioned above, we paid $4.78 for gas at a Chevron going into the park. We recommend you fill up your tank before you get close to the park, even if you are ¾ full, I promise it will save you money. We found out the hard way but this was our first park and our first time in an RV together.

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Start your mornings early!!

OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED TRAIL- Sentinel Dome! Starting at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Trailhead and then continuing counter clockwise.

Planning a National Park Honeymoon

Planning a trip to a National Park or planning your honeymoon, I am here to help! I have already done the work and hope you can take something from this. Be aware, this is long but can be helpful!

Greg and I have always loved to travel, especially together- we met in Europe, vacationed in the Bahamas, traveled back to Europe together, and went on many local weekend trips together. While talking about our honeymoon we realized we have seen more of Europe than the USA. We decided our honeymoon would consist of renting an RV and traveling to various National Parks out west.

I am writing this before we go on our honeymoon- this was the planning process and our itinerary, I will write another post after the honeymoon regarding tips, things I wish we knew, what I would do different, etc. (Stay tuned!)

The first part of our planning process was deciding when to visit. We knew we wanted to visit during the warmer season but also had a lot to think about: summers at the National Parks are crowded (people have said they felt like they were at Disney, not appealing to us!), some parks remain closed up until the end of May or beginning of June due to the snow not melting, traveling during a holiday probably isn’t the best idea, and deciding when we could afford to take 3 weeks off work was huge. After much talk, we decided our trip would be June 2019.

Second. We have set the dates, now what? Where do we want to go?… or should I say where can we really go during our 18 days without being on the road every day and being able to relax… I mean this is our honeymoon. We looked at a map and realized in order to get the most out of our days, starting in California will be best.
After researching multiple parks, we decided our trip will include: Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and Grand Teton while making a day stop at Horseshoe Bend (20-minute detour while traveling from Grand Canyon -> Zion). Now, if you are reading this thinking “What, why aren’t they going to (INSERT PARK HERE)?!”, listen, if we could, we would literally quit our jobs and visit every park but that is not possible right now… we will visit every park, just give us time; our 2nd trip is already in the works.
Thanks to Google Maps, we were able to see the distance between each park and plan how long we could stay to make the best out of our time. Planned is: 10 days of no driving AT ALL and 8 days that requiring driving (average of 3 hours with 2 days that have a 10-hour drive).

Third. How do we get around? Okay this process was much more stressful than anticipated mainly because we were not planning a “round trip”, we knew we wanted to start in 1 state and end in another. CRUISE AMERICA offered this option but we had to get special permission as they must keep specific inventory at each one of their rental locations (this is much more complicated than “special permission”, it required us to change our trip about 10 times… no lie, before they gave us permission). Their cheapest RV to rent was the 7 passenger RV but that was 1: way too much space for the two of us and 2: way too big of an RV for us “first time RV drivers” to drive. The rental we ended up booking was the 19-foot compact RV that holds up to 3 people (much more expensive than the 7 passenger- around $2,000)- don’t worry, it has a shower, a toilet, and a small kitchen!

Fourth. Yay, the “when and where” is booked, now time to book the flights. Let me tell you, the app SkyScanner is AMAZING. Enter your: From/To locations and your travel dates and the app will do the rest including: tell you when prices are expected to rise/go down, and give a 1-10 point rating based on details such as when you will arrive, if there is a layover, price, etc. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
For our trip, we will be flying from Tampa to San Jose and then Salt Lake City to Tampa (we got our flights for $193 each heading to San Jose and then $177 each heading home to Tampa).
Our flights also were based on where rental locations for Cruise America were located (Newark, CA and Salt Lake City, UT). 

Wait, where are we going to sleep?  Yes, we have the RV but where will we park? The fifth part was booking RV sites. If you are reading this and plan to travel within the next 6 months, book now, Yosemite National Park fills up the day they open reservations!!! For real, call or look on RECREATION.GOV for more information- we found it was way easier to call rather than look on the website (877- 444-6777), you can talk to someone who knows more about the area and they can do a search of multiple campgrounds at once. We booked our trip 6 months out and only got into 2/4 National Park Campgrounds, Lodgepole Campground at Sequoia for $22 a night and Mather Campground at Grand Canyon for $18 a night (they are much cheaper than regular RV parks and campgrounds so we would have liked to get in more- Bryce National Park and Grand Teton are “first come first serve” so we will be heading there… still unsure of where we will sleep if they are full).
** Call the number above even if it says the campground is full, especially if you are staying more than a night. We have to change campsites at one location but we are able to be in the park.
** Make sure you research the rules of the campground ahead of time and plan, most do not let you run an RV generator during the night.

Sixth. The big details are done but now, what are we going to do to fill our days? How are we doing to enjoy the parks in the time we have?
So… I am a planner, I like to do my research, and spend way too much time looking up information but can you blame me? I want to make sure we are making the most out of our time. I wrote down each park name followed by certain information including: best time to visit, average temperature in June so we know what to pack/wear, common attractions, best things to do, where to stay, tips, things to remember, etc. (Greg and I also bought a National Park Adventure Guide off of Amazon that has the “Top 10 Things to Do” in each park, find it here -> NATIONAL PARK GUIDE BOOK).
Here is what we have planned at each park knowing this will not take up our entire time but will allow for free time to explore and get recommendations from locals:

  1. Yosemite National Park- Mirror Lake Trail, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome/Taft Point Loop, Tunnel View
  2. Sequoia National Park- Moro Rock Trail, Congress Trail, Big Tree Trail, Tunnel Log, Topokah Trail
  3. Grand Canyon National Park- Ooh Aah Point/Cedar Ridge, Bright Angel Trailhead, Mule Barn, Grandview Point Lookout
  4. Horseshoe Bend- Sightseeing
  5. Zion National Park- Narrows Hike, Angels Landing, Emerald Pool Hiking Trail, Canyon Overlook Trail
  6. Bryce National Park- Navajo/Queens Garden Loop, Sunset Point, Tower Bridge Hike
  7. Grand Teton National Park – SNAKE RIVER LUNCH RAFT TRIP, Colter Bay Village Marine kayak/boat rental, 42 Mile Scenic Route.

** Greg and I have done some leisure hikes while we lived in NJ so all of these listed above are at most considered “moderate”, like I said I will be writing another blog about our trip/hikes once we return.
** Some hikes in the park require a permit, do some research before you go… none of these require a permit.

Seventh, packing list. I think this is the worst part, right? Each park has a different average temperature listed in June so I know I am going to over pack, not like anyone ever does. Other than clothes, here are some essentials: backpack (preferably one with a water bag to stay hydrated), hiking shoes, bug spray, flashlight, copy of you license, rain jacket, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, portable battery pack, medication (you don’t want to get a headache or feel sick while you are on a 6 mile hike), National Park annual pass (worth it if you plan on going to 3 or more parks in a 1 year period), snacks, first aid kit., etc.

Eighth. RELAX BECAUSE YOUR TRIP IS PLANNED AND START A COUNTDOWN!

Things to remember: make sure someone has a copy of your exact itinerary, you’ll want to plan on checking in but be aware you may not have service everywhere you plan to go, let them know!