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View Full Version : Planning a trip from Canada to Grand Canyon


GMcKenzie
03-07-2011, 08:45 AM
It looks like my wife and I will be dog-less this summer (one put down a month ago and one with a peach sized lump in her stomach) and were going to take the opportunity to travel from the Okanagan to the Grand Canyon, then Vegas and back home.

Almost brand new Cougar 30RKS and a 2001 GMC Diesel (Duramax, Allison) so the towing part isn't a real issue.

But I've got some logistic things to think about.

Plan is 3 days drive down, about 5 days at the Grand Canyon, 3 Days at Vegas and 3 days drive back. That accounts for 14 of 17-18 days.

Our plan is to do this trip mid-late June to avoid all the kids and the really hot weather.

Is there a good trip planner out there for planning a trip like this? I'm used to traveling BC and Alberta where I know how to find and book campgrounds but this is a bit more of a trip for us.

Also, how do most Canadians deal with paying for food, fuel campgrounds etc. I'd like to limit the use of my credit card as I know they really kill on the exchange rates, but are travelers cheques the way to go? With the loonie where it is right now, I''ll probably open a USD bank account and dump some money in there.

Any suggestions on where to stay at the Grand Canyon and around Vegas? And anything I should be sure to see on the way, given some time constraints?

Festus2
03-07-2011, 11:28 AM
There have been several posts here with links to various private, public, and government campgrounds all over the US. I have several - mostly state or other government campgrounds and can send them to you if you wish.
How do most Canadians deal with paying? The same as everyone else -- with either cash or credit card. With the exchange rate as it is now (we are officially 3 cents higher as of today) you might consider buying some USD now - while the exchange rate is in our favour. Since the rate has been at least par, we have been buying USD bit by bit but like anything financial, it is hard to predict what the rates will be. Now is a good time to buy I think.
Don't bother with Travellers' Cheques -- they are a pain! You won't get "killed" using your credit card ------ the exchange rate will make it less painful but there is the convenience factor to consider.

Other members will chime in regarding campsites in and around the Canyon and Vegas.

96Brigadier
03-07-2011, 11:38 AM
For a trip that long I'd take about $1,000 cash and the rest would be on a credit card. Exchange rate with a credit card isn't a big deal, you lose a few cents on the dollar, nothing more.

geo
03-07-2011, 11:51 AM
GMcKenzie

Sorry to hear about your dogs. My DW and I have been there many times, and know the hurt.

First, I have to warn you about Traveler's Cheques they are pretty much a thing of the past down here. I didn't realize this until I was in Las Vegas in 2008 and spent one afternoon trying to cash some traveler's cheques. Do you bank with the Bank of Montreal? I know for a fact that you can set up an account with BoM in US Funds (I used to get my paychecks from BoM in US$.) I don't know if you can get a US Fund credit/debit card, but I would check in to it. Right now the loonie is pretty strong just about even with the US$ (not like 1991!) You can also get prepaid debit cards in US funds. I would advise not to travel with large amounts of US cash. If you get US$ debit cards, use them as "credit cards" to avoid the debit card handling fee. And get several rather than plow all your funds into one. Otherwise, the other posters are very correct, a credit card will work fine and since the loonie is equal to the dollar, it will be like being "home".

I'm sure one of the Moderators could add to road conditions on travel to US from BC and about money exchange. (I see he already has!) But from Okanagan, I think I would head south staying in the valley as much as possible. Down to the central Washington area (out on the volcanics plateau) and catch US Interstate 84. That will take you to Salt Lake City. Think about taking US 6 out of SLC down to Moab (Arches NP), then on south to Monticello, Blanding, and Page, AZ. Then out of Page to Grand Canyon. Now, here's a HUGE decision Grand Canyon North or Grand Canyon South? Grand Canyon North is much more quite, virtually no tourist buses, wooded, nice campgrounds, and just beautiful. Grand Canyon South is more traditional, beautiful, busy, full of tourist buses and, crowded, and you might have to camp closer to Williams thank GC. I don't know if GC South takes campground reservations, but at one time they were talking about it. I do know there is pretty much a length limit 35 feet is pushing it.

From Las Vegas, you probably would want to go back up Interstate 15 to SLC, then back up I-84, etc.

I have found the Moon Guides to be one of the best travel books overall. I could write you a personal book on what to do or try to see especially from Twin Falls, ID south. If you like to hike, get on the Bureau of Land Management BLM website and sign up for the lottery to see North Coyote Butte west of Page. If you don't get chosen (only 20 visitors a day), purchase passes to South Coyote Butte. Have a good handheld GPS? You can also download topographic sheets at the USGS webstore (no need to pay!). If you go out to Coyote Butte rent a jeep in Page for the drive out!!!! Leave the Jimmy with the Cougar!

If you will send me your email address via Private Message, I can compose a list of things to see and where. It would take up way too much space in the Forum. But if you are going to be in Central Utah around the Fourth of July you must go to Boulder, Utah for July 5th evening. It's the Annual Ice Cream Social and Talent Show! It is definitely a Must-See! All 200 residents and any visitors show up at the Boulder Mountain Lodge for this event. It really is something for the memory books! For campgrounds, I would suggest the RV Park Reviews website.

I too will be at the Grand Canyon in mid-June. I'll be on a raft on the river with 28 other geo-types. So if you look over the edge, and can see the Colorado, if there's a silver raft on the river, be sure to wave!

Ron

GMcKenzie
03-07-2011, 12:29 PM
Playing with Google maps but what would be a location for Grand Canyon North? Sounds much nicer to be out of the crowds.

I'm thinking of a site with full hookups which looks like I can't do in the park itself. From the Grand Canyon site, there looks to be a private campground close on the north side.

Has anyone got experience with Kaibab Camper Village?

http://www.kaibabcampervillage.com/

Looks decent from the website.

Opening a USD account (man I love being able to do everything online now).

As for other sights, not really much of a hiker so I plan to do most things from the truck. I do have a handheld GPS but would have to buy maps as it is a Lowrance and I don't think the free maps work for it (they don't for Canada). I do have my trusty Garmin for in the truck. Renting a Jeep could be fun.

Trip has to be mid-late June as I have a sturgeon fishing trip booked early July.

geo
03-07-2011, 06:47 PM
GMcKenzie -

The road you head south on next to Jacobs Lake General Store to get to the Kaibab Campgrounds is the road that leads to North Grand Canyon. That's the only thing on that road! AND DO NOT SPEED on that road. It will cost you a US$200 money order or cashier's check sent to Fredonia. Let me know if you need the address. :rolleyes: The forest and area around North GC will probably be more pleasant. The buses of tourists at South GC drives my DW nuts! There are plenty of out of the way places to drive and walk to around North GC. Get directions to Toroweep Overlook. (My talk for the raft trip is on the volcanics you will see there.) Check for rain chances before taking the road, however.

There are plenty of places to see along the way. Around Twin Falls, see the Thousand Springs area, the Haggerman Eohippus National Monument that also has a stretch of the Oregon Trail in it that you can easily identify the wagon ruts. Northwest of SLC is Promontory Point where the US Transcontinental Railroad drove the Golden Spike. They re-enact that on Saturdays. Bingham Mine southwest of SLC is a "must see". Where the Visitor's Center now stands used to be a corner cafe in the town of Bingham in 1959. In Moab, Arches National Park. Outside Blanding, Natural Bridges National Monument. If you drop the trailer, the road south of Natural Bridges to Valley of the Gods and Mexican Hat is interesting - do NOT plan to pull a trailer! :eek: At Page, book a boat trip to Rainbow Bridge. If you want, Antelope Canyon on the noontime trip is a tourist dream and nightmare. Book trip in Page, take your camera, and get ready to be shouted at to get out of the picture. Great picture shots that have been taken a million times, though. (See picture on upper left next to "geo".) Go to Hoover Dam while at LV. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef - all great places north of GC to take in. The topo sheets from USGS are pdf files, not loadable on a GPS. There is plenty more to discover. :)

Get the Moon Guides and you will discover your own interests. If you get to Jacobs Lake around 9am on June 10, be sure to be up at the store to say "Hi".

Ron

GMcKenzie
03-25-2011, 12:42 PM
What is a good campsite in Las Vegas? Be for 5 nights.

Not a gambler at all but might want to catch a show. Other than sleeping, likely won't spend much time at the campsite.

geo
03-25-2011, 02:19 PM
You might try looking at http://www.rvparkreviews.com/regions/Nevada/Las_Vegas.html. However, this part of the US will start being hot (40C+) possibly as early as late May.

Ron

Maxzd
03-25-2011, 04:49 PM
It looks like my wife and I will be dog-less this summer (one put down a month ago and one with a peach sized lump in her stomach) and were going to take the opportunity to travel from the Okanagan to the Grand Canyon, then Vegas and back home.

Almost brand new Cougar 30RKS and a 2001 GMC Diesel (Duramax, Allison) so the towing part isn't a real issue.

But I've got some logistic things to think about.

Plan is 3 days drive down, about 5 days at the Grand Canyon, 3 Days at Vegas and 3 days drive back. That accounts for 14 of 17-18 days.

Our plan is to do this trip mid-late June to avoid all the kids and the really hot weather.

Is there a good trip planner out there for planning a trip like this? I'm used to traveling BC and Alberta where I know how to find and book campgrounds but this is a bit more of a trip for us.

Also, how do most Canadians deal with paying for food, fuel campgrounds etc. I'd like to limit the use of my credit card as I know they really kill on the exchange rates, but are travelers cheques the way to go? With the loonie where it is right now, I''ll probably open a USD bank account and dump some money in there.

Any suggestions on where to stay at the Grand Canyon and around Vegas? And anything I should be sure to see on the way, given some time constraints?

I travel alot to the USA, primarily on business probably works out to 2 months total a year. Over the last 5 years we've done most of our camping in washington state and oregon.

Carry some cash, but definately use credit card. The exchange rates are always the most competitive for that day as good as the bank will exchange canadian money for. Why risk losing cash. I stopped using travelers cheques 15 years ago it is more of a hassle then anything. US is a money society, you do need cash for state parks unless you book online, and alot of little things because their interac banking systems aren't great but more and more it's improved. I've brough thousands of dollars on trips before and hardly needed it. Now I bring hundreds of dollars use credit card...

When you buy fuel, you won't be able to use a canadian credit card at the pump because zip code vs postal code but no big deal. Just walk in and prepay with the attendant or have them hold the card while you pay. If that's a security concern have you or the DW pump the gas while the attendant has your card (or visa versa). I have a credit card where I get points. I use it for everything I can possible spend it on. By the end of a trip I usually get points for some nice little reward. I just traded points for a camcorder that is due to arrive before out next trip. :)

If you are planning on taking the I-5 from kelowna thru to peace arch crossing down south, I recommend you stop the first night in Marysville - Tualip Casino. In behind the casino they have complimentary overnight parking no strings attached. No power or water of course but it's clean, security patrols and if you want to go into the casino for gambling or food it's a nice buffet. Also in marysville if you want good value for your money there is a golden corral buffet. You won't go hungry and you won't pay a fortune. There is always the Walmart in marysville off the I-5 but then you're 50 feet away from the I-5 and it's noisy..

If you are heading down the 97 from kelowna stop I recommend stopping in Chelan Washington on Lake Chelan. Its a nice little town does have an RV park or two that could work for you, a couple little restaurants if you want to eat out. The Mexican food (forget the restaurant) is quite good. I like the little pizza place on the main drag too. The restaurants at the campbell resort are good but it's more $$$. Next spot we really like is in Yakima on the River if you take the I-84. Nice little campsite on the river can't remember if it's a state park think so. It was reasonable. As for Boise Idaho or Salt Lake City never camped there but we have driven through there on a roadtrip to Las Vegas. Salt Lake City actually had a small little restaurant district that was pretty trendy good food. Boise was quiet but one of the nicest little Best Western Hotels I've never seen, and I'm a hotel snob. :o

Definately looking forward to hearing about your trip. We have talked about going to the grand canyon now for a few years. This year we're going to california, in two weeks actually. Next year or maybe MAYBE this fall.. Look forward to hearing how it went, have fun.

placergoldman
03-25-2011, 05:51 PM
Check out: oasislasvegasresort.com

jq1031
03-25-2011, 06:19 PM
In Las Vegas..........for a 3 day stay, I believe that's what you said, stay at the Oasis. It's 3 miles off the strip, clean, location perfect, gated & if you're going to be in Vegas stay where the fun is. I spent a month there enjoyed it. My Son lives in Vegas, he checked out all the RV parks & warned me that the less expensive places in North Vegas are dangerous!!!! Also, if you have a CWP, leave your gun home as you will be arrested & locked up if it's discovered. It's a tough gun state!!

GMcKenzie
03-31-2011, 01:34 PM
So, have booked the time off and am planning my route. Trying to keep it under 8 hours of driving a day with a couple of stops on the way.

So, looking for recommendations for stops.

Grand Coulee - 2 nights
Boise - one night pretty much a spot to sleep
Ogden - 2 nights.
Grand Canyon - going to book at Kailib as it looks nice
Las Vegas - 5 nights (I lost the battle on this) Oasis looks nice so I'll contact them.
Twin Falls - 1 night
Kennewick - 1 night.

This is based on using google maps and trying to keep the driving under 8 hours so if anyone has a suggestion, we are only stuck on the Grand Coulee, the Grand Canyon and Vegas.

Thanks

Festus2
03-31-2011, 02:05 PM
jq1031------
I would be very surprised if either GMcKenzie or Maxzd would be packing guns in their vehicles either in Canada and especially into the U.S. Canadian gun laws are quite different and far more restrictive. For one thing, we would never be allowed have a handgun on our person or in our vehicle without obtaining a special permit and qualifying for a licence which would be good only to transport a firearm from your residence to a firing range and only during a specified time frame --- right down to the day and hour. It is extremely difficult to even purchase a handgun here.
US travellers and RVers entering Canada cannot bring guns - of any description - across the border unless they gone through the right channels and have the necessary documents and other paperwork.
These rules and restrictions only apply, of course, to law-abiding citizens. The bad guys have their own rules.

GMcKenzie
03-31-2011, 02:40 PM
jq1031------
I would be very surprised if either GMcKenzie or Maxzd would be packing guns in their vehicles either in Canada and especially into the U.S. Canadian gun laws are quite different and far more restrictive. For one thing, we would never be allowed have a handgun on our person or in our vehicle without obtaining a special permit and qualifying for a licence which would be good only to transport a firearm from your residence to a firing range and only during a specified time frame --- right down to the day and hour. It is extremely difficult to even purchase a handgun here.
US travellers and RVers entering Canada cannot bring guns - of any description - across the border.
These rules and restrictions only apply, of course, to law-abiding citizens. The bad guys have their own rules.

My post replying to the handgun question got removed. Thought maybe it was a verboten topic here. But I don't have any guns.

Rock7
09-06-2011, 07:06 PM
70 miles east of Boise,Id, on I84 xt147, is one of the nicest RV Parks We found on our trip.HIGH ADVENTURE RIVER TOURS PARK.
30-36 per night,Passport America cost is half.
WE got our PP fees back in 3 nights on the trip.
If in Utah Moab's A-OK CG is very nice, also close to ARCH'S Nat.Pk
Canyonlands and other sites.

travellinmanny
05-03-2012, 01:41 PM
At the south rim of the grand canyon is a great rv park called trailer village. Be sure to book it in advance because it fills up quick. There is a shuttle pick-up there to take you all around the south rim. When I was there last month, I used the app called the grand canyon walking tour. It has descriptions and photos of lodging (including trailer village), dining, museums, shops, trails, etc and made it easy for me to plan our trip and was helpful while at the grand canyon too. With the interactive map, you can see exactly where you are.
In Las Vegas we stayed at the Circus Circus RV park. It is on the strip which makes it easy to get around.

Charli
05-04-2012, 03:32 PM
In 2010 we spent 7 days in the US and we had taken about $500 US cash and used our Cdn Visa. Worked fine however I know, after working in the Banking industry for 36 years, that Visa charges an exchange rate premium over what you would get at the bank. TC are a thing of the past.
Last summer we went to the US for 2 1/2 weeks. This time I had opened a US$ Bank acct at my Cdn Bank and got a US$ Visa. Over the course of the winter, when the Cdn $ strengthened, I tsf money from my regular Cdn$ chequing acct to my US$ acct. Then on our trip I used the Visa wherever possible and made the payment from my US$ acct when I got back. All online. Also prebooked and paid for campsites using the US Visa. Took $500 cash but found I could use my VIsa for most everything and had lots of cash left as we came back into Canada.
We are doing the same this year, including using the US Visa to buy tickets to a Twins/Tigers game in Aug. Not sure about access with Debit cards, I don't think the US banking system is compatible yet but I'm sure that will change as well. Costco doesn't take Visa and don't want an AmEx card so we used our cash there. Now I have to talk to my Cell provider to figure out a way to use my Cell phone down there and not tripling my bill.
Interested in your trip as in 2 years we will be doing likewise as both of us will be retired and can go offseason. Perhaps winter in Arizona and take in GC and Vegas on the way back.
Good luck on your adventure.

smiller
05-04-2012, 04:08 PM
If you plan to be out-and-about and not in the RV much in Las Vegas then I'd consider the KOA at Circus Circus. This is essentially a parking lot with full hookups (and I mean that literally, it's a parking lot! :D) but it is walking distance to the big casinos (assuming you are healthy enough for a couple-mile walk, if you want to go down to the end of the strip) and avoids having to use your tow vehicle to get around... traffic on the strip can be pretty miserable. The CG is absolutely nothing to look at but was well run, functional, safe, and can't beat the location for a low-hassle visit to LV.

Festus2
05-04-2012, 04:23 PM
Charli -
Not sure who you deal with but with Telus - and I am sure others will provide the same service - you can buy a "package" that includes "x" number of days for "y" dollars for use in the US and you won't have to pay roaming charges. You know, those ones that quickly bankrupt you!
On our recent last trip into WA, we bought a Tracfone at Walmart for $10 and an airtime card for 120 minutes which cost another $20. So for $30 dollars, you can talk for 120 minutes at no charge to anyplace in the US, Canada and other international calls. You can't, however, use the phone to call from Canada to the US --- seems like it only works one way but you can keep in touch with your family and friends in Canada by phone at quite a reasonable cost. There are some "fine print" restrictions and other things that you need to be aware of but all in all, I think it is a pretty good deal. And a way cheaper than those dreaded roaming charges!
There are other similar phone plans other than Tracfone - all of which are available at pretty much any big retailer of electronics.
Hope this gives you another option to consider.

dave-g
05-23-2012, 02:32 AM
at the south rim - stay in the park if you can. Not a fancy campground, but having bus service every where was great.

Spent one night on the north side, very quite, not as much to see or do. Also a lot less people.

I stayed at the koa in vegas. It is right in town, By you camp in a parking lot.

LittleJoe
05-23-2012, 02:19 PM
I would take 1000.00 cash and not keep it all in same place for emergencies where only cash is the answer.

Use your credit card the rest of time as exhcange is not an issue.

When you get gas at pay at the pumps.......use your credit card,

When you swipe , it will ask for zip code. ENTER the 3 numbers from your poastal code and add 2 zeroes at the end to get a 5 digit code. It will work but be prepared to have to do two swipes if you put in more than 100.00 or some are even 75.00.
This zip code trick worked from NY state south to Florida and back without fail.........way better than two trips to pay for fuel at every stop...;)