Salt Lake to Grand Canyon and back with a toddler - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-04-2009, 10:00 AM   #1
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My husband, 2-year old and I are picking up our new Escape trailer (woohoo!) at the end of the month and then heading to travel the Utah canyon loop for 2 weeks later in September...looking for any tips on itinerary, camp sites, and traveling with a toddler??? Thanks so much.
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:04 AM   #2
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A couple of things and it doesn't have to do with where you're going as much as camping in general:

1. Don't forget the camera! You're making memories

2. Kids and clothes wash. Worry less about dirt and more about those memories.

3. Make certain you have all the child-specific medications and ointments packed. An ill or cranky child because of bug bites or ?? can make for an "uncomfortable" day/night.

4. HAVE FUN, FUN, FUN.

Camping with my daughter when she was a toddler was sooo much fun, truly. Crouched down to check out bugs, S'mores, etc.

We found it easiest for Daddy to take her to the bath house for a shower. He dressed in his swim suit and handed her out to me, all wrapped up in a towel, when she was clean. I can close my eyes and can still see that smiling face of hers peeking out of the towel and ready for the next adventure.

PS: Kid's sleep VERY well when tired.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:46 PM   #3
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My absolute favorite park is Bryce. As I recall, there is only one camping area about a mile or so outside the main entrance - everything else is miles away. The park has big trees and is pretty shady and nice -- I think it might even have a laundry. From there, you can catch a shuttle into the park (at least at the time of year I went, the shuttle was the best way to go - although you can drive through, there were very few places to park).
The shuttle stops at all the major trailheads and view points - so you get off, stay as long as you want and then catch another shuttle. With a toddler of course, be well supplied with everything you need to keep them happy - not all the stops have bathrooms or amenities.

Zion and Arches would be my other "can't miss" parks. Zion has a shuttle system too.

If you plan on hiking (or even taking little toddler walks), you might want to consider one of those kid-harness with a leash contraptions. Many of the trails throughout Southern Utah are either environmentally sensitive (footsteps off the trails can still be seen many, many years later) or "slick-rock" with sharp drop-offs. Not great for little toddlers - and I can almost bet you will be so amazed by the scenery that it will be tough to keep a close eye on the kid.

I'll have to check my travel notes - there was a really cool area I visited that as I recall, seemed very kid-friendly - I believe it was an abandoned Mormon farm/town - it was very pretty and a little less harsh than some of the picturesque parks.

There's hardly a bad place to go in Southern Utah - it all gets very pretty. Northern Utah - not so much - I usually motor on through that part as quickly as possible.
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:17 PM   #4
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As Donna said the best advice ever... Don't forget the kid medicines, etc. Kids Tylenol, bug itchy stuff, etc. You'll soon discover what you didn't remember and someone will be making a long late nite trek to find a drugstore.

Also from traveling with toddlers the last few years, they won't remember anything at 2 years of age so plan your trip around what you want to do and as Anne said with safety in mind. Most of those parks in the Southern Utah are more for hikes and not really built around stuff for younger ones. Although they are good for car touring which would work for short blasts with a two yo.

We love Moab and never miss a chance to go through there if we're in the area. Lot's of easy, fun stuff you can do there with young ones. There is a nice rustic hot spring resort in St George area that is fun if you hit Zion area. KOA's are always good with younger kids and we stay in them quite a bit. They usually always have facilities and programs geared to younger campers and parents. There are a number of nice KOA's in the Zion/Bryce area.

Have fun and enjoy the new Escape!
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:32 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great tips...any more thoughts on how many days are needed in each spot (Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Moab, etc.) Trying to look down days so we can make reservations.
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:38 AM   #6
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What a timely thread... My wife (Shay) & I are in the process of planning our trip from central Texas to/from Chilliwack, BC for late Sept/early Oct to pick up our new Escape 19. We're gonna take 3-4 weeks and make return trip stops at Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton & Rocky Mtn Ntl Parks as well as Palo Duro Canyon in the TX panhandle.

We're super excited but also a little intimidated due to the length (5,000+ miles round trip) & logistics of the trip in addition to being first-time TT users/owners. Add to that the fact that we'll be traveling with a just-turned 4 yr old and a just-turned 2 yr old!

Lately, we've been trying to figure out how we're gonna keep our toddlers happy & entertained during the lengthy driving times each day. We plan to make stops every 2-3 hours and let them get out and play for 30 minutes or so. We're trying to plot our route where we can be in a town with a playground at those approx intervals. We're using internet resources to identify & locate parks and then plotting them as POI/Waypoints in our GPS. Hopefully that'll help keep the kiddos from getting too antsy.

I recently found a website which has some useful traveling tips and lots of good ideas for activities toddlers can do while in the car... http://www.momsminivan.com/toddlers.html

Another couple websites that have good activity-oriented products for purchase are:
http://www.travelingwithkids.com/
http://www.familytravelgear.com/

Thanks to those who've already posted feedback to this thread & I look forward to reading more helpful suggestions as they get posted. This forum continues to be a great resource for us newbies.

Brad & Shay
soon-to-be-"Texscapees"
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:23 PM   #7
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We did a couple of 4000 mile car trips with our son when he was 2.5 and 4. That was a million years ago......

We took tapes (Ipod now) with Disney songs on them and books on tape with the accompanying books. We all sang and I flipped many, many pages! We stopped at fast food joints that had play lands. We did "What color is that car?" We had a box of small toys, like cars and Tyco blocks. Snacks, lots of snacks and drinks.

When he was older we did the license plate game. Since he was an only child we let him bring along a friend, his best friend came from a large family so his folks were happy to be shed of him for a week or so. He always liked to take pictures so from a fairly early age (4ish) he had his own camera.

Have fun! Make memories!
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:33 PM   #8
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Brad, be aware that at that time of years you might hit an early cold snap or storm in the northern states. Be sure to pack some warm clothes just in case.

Two years ago in southwestern Wyoming (I80) the first week of September we hit a white out hail storm. We were not pulling a trailer but it was very dangerous and scary. We had no idea that a storm could happen that time of year.

I'm jealous we love that Yellowstone, Grand Teton area! We had a trip panned for August but it fell though due to illness of our host in that area.
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Old 08-06-2009, 05:56 PM   #9
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My absolute favorite park is Bryce. As I recall, there is only one camping area about a mile or so outside the main entrance - everything else is miles away.

Zion and Arches would be my other "can't miss" parks. Zion has a shuttle system too.

If you plan on hiking (or even taking little toddler walks), you might want to consider one of those kid-harness with a leash contraptions. Many of the trails throughout Southern Utah are either environmentally sensitive (footsteps off the trails can still be seen many, many years later) or "slick-rock" with sharp drop-offs. Not great for little toddlers - and I can almost bet you will be so amazed by the scenery that it will be tough to keep a close eye on the kid.
Just outside the main entrance to Bryce is Ruby's Inn. It's a KOA on steroids but it does have elec, water and sewer. There's also a dry (I think) campground just inside the main entrance. 12 miles down the road is a KOA at Cannonville. That's about a 20 minute ride to Bryce's shuttle parking lot by car. OTOH Cannonvile is close to Kodachrome which also has a dry campground but that is yet a little further out.

In Zion you have a choice of the south campground in the park (dry, but you can run a generator for 2 hours in the am and pm and potable water can be collected at the dump station) or the Watchman campground, that has electric only with public showers. I personally prefer the shady-er south campground and the sites are long and wide but it can get hot so the littleones may be more comfortable with electric and AC. The Watchman CG is reservation only but the chances are good that the day you arrive they could have a cancelation or a no show. The South CG is first come first served.

From there it's a hop skip and a jump to the Grand Canyon. No shortage of available campgrounds just inside the east entrance from Cameron.

Now I believe every 5th week there is free admission to the National Parks, so check with the park service to see when the next free admission is...

Don't underestimate the environment anywhere on the Colorado Plateau, it will be tough on mom and dad to bring a toddler to any of those locations...and toddler likely won't appreciate the trip. It can be dangerous for adults, let alone little ones if you're not on HYPER guard all the time....
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:56 PM   #10
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Michelle & Brad -

You'll have a GRAND time traveling with your kids if you DO keep their needs and your balanced. I've traveled quite a bit with my girls , now 6 and 9. One thing I've learned is to have one kid-focused stop each day. We also have a variety of things to do in the car (the recent addition of an iPod was a lifesaver on last fall's 9,611-mile journey). Sure, when they're toddlers they won't build memories like we all do later in life, but giving them a fun stop each day (a park or a zoo or a children's museum, for instance) gives them something to look forward to. And there are other lessons they'll learn, sometimes unexpected lessons. Also, traveling around their sleep schedules is a nice little trick. If yours still nap, and sleep well in the car, you'll want to capitalize on that!

If you're into out of the way camping spots, free spots, and low cost spots, you might be interested in this. It was a fantastic resource on our last big trip. Now I keep it in the TV year round...just in case.

Now, for the itinerary. (Rubs hands together vigorously, raises eyebrows and a a smile spreads across her face.) In southern Utah, don't miss often-overlooked Goblin Valley State Park. The campground is simple, with wind shelters at each site, picnic tables and community restrooms. The rate is low. But in camp there are some nice formations that even toddlers can play on (with parental supervision) while the other parent gets camp in order, cooks, relaxes, whatever. The campground is just a short drive or walk from the main attraction: the goblins. This valley is most fun when explored on foot.

Arches National Park really is a must see. It's one of my favorite places to take visitors of any age or physical shape. Sites are visible from the road, but there are several toddler friendly walks. Park Avenue immediately comes to mind as one of the flattest, easiest hikes. But you can also walk with a toddler the short route to any of the sites in the Windows Section. (Littlest ones might need help on the stairs and you should beware of the drop off on the other side of the arches. Just hold hands - no leash required.) If it's really hot, head in to Sand Dune Arch. This is an easy walk, too, and protected from the sun. It ends at a small sand dune that's fun for kids of all ages to play on. Unless you're crazy like us and like to carry the little ones, you probably won't make it out to Delicate Arch, but you can fairly easily take in the view after the short hike from Wolfe Ranch. If you can get one of the campsites in the park, SO MUCH THE BETTER! It's a wonderful place to camp, wake up, explore.

If you're interested in river travel history, stop by the John Wesley Powell River Museum. (My old employer, Doc Holliday, is featured there, too.) It's in Green River, UT, about 60 miles northwest of Moab. Green River also has a nice little market (the Melon Vine) across the street from Ray's Tavern, a good burger, chops, beer and billiard stop - the only place to play pool and enjoy a family dinner when I lived there some years back.

Happy Trails!
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