Planning a MD to Grand Canyon trip

Andy Anders

Member
Jun 23, 2020
12
Hello all,

My family 2 adults, 13yr old and 6 year old daughters will be taking a 38day camping trip in our fairly new to us (we have done a couple of weekend camping trips last season) 2000 StarCraft space master. We are planning on stopping and seeing the sights as well as visit friends and family along the way. I have a few questions.

1) I would like to use a window ac unit for air conditioning. Looking for suggestions on how to set it up. I have 2 options. Build a frame for the outside of the camper and have it blowing through the screen or I could cut a space for it under the rear bunk. If I do this route I am planning on making a door so that I can remove the ac unit while traveling and haul it in my truck bed. This would also alow us to camp in cooler weather and not have a gaping hole.

2) looking for things to do with the family along the way. We are staying in the following cities: Chattanooga TN, Little Rock AR, Rogers AR, Rusk TX, Fort Worth TX, Shawnee OK, Amarillo TX, Winslow AZ (we are already planning on standing on a corner in Winslow), Sante Fe NM, and the Grand Canyon. On the way home we will stay in some of these areas and St Louis MO.

3) tips and suggestions
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,631
Oakland, California
thats a heck of a long driive (we recently did about the same, from SF Bay Area to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky (and back again) with multiple detours.

Frankly, I would noot do it with two kids unless I also took a trip down into the Grand Canyon - just looking at it from the rim is almost pointless.

IF you got a permit and wanted to backpack a little, you could hike down to Horsehoe MEsa (via the Grandview Trail) and spend one night, Take all your water (stash some on the way down). From Camp - you can visit the only permissible cave in the N.P. - "Cave of the Domes".. If you visit it as a day trip, no permit is needed.

Of course, there is also the commercial Grand Canyon Caverns somewhere on Hwy 66 east of Peach Springs.
 
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kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
13,630
Albuquerque, NM
It is a long trip and with current conditions just stopping for the night and being sure of finding a campground is not a given. You don’t say when you plan to travel nor the type of camping you want to do.
I’ll weigh in on Grand Canyon, since most years we spend a week at each Rim, this year we are currently spending a week at South Rom, and will
Have a week at North (mostly solo for me) and South Rim in Sept.
the nps.gov/grca has lots of info. Check out the one for each park and monument you think about visiting, some have more info than others.
At South Rim, Mather campground is dry camping, and the reservation window opens 6 months in advance. This year, they are replacing some loops, so those are each off the reservation system for a set time. As work allows, those sites will be available for FCFS. Trailer Village can be reserved a year or so in advance. With either there is the possibility of lucking into a cancellation.
There is actually plenty to do on the Rim, Trail of Time, Rim Trail, Shoshone Point (a short rally to the rim) and more. If it is summer, don’t try to go far below the Rim unless you are heat acclimated. Also remember South Rim is at 7200’, North Rim 1000’ higher. Right now, we’re having temps in the 80s the Rim, it’s over 107* at River level, and temps between at other elevations. (It is supposed to cooler on Friday, so my husband is planning his long day hike below the rim for that day)
Grand Canyon, like most places, is not for everyone. We love it. We’ve seen folks walk to the edge, look over, and be
Ready to leave. (OTOH, not sure you could pay me enough to go to Disney World, where BIL and family happily spend a week each year.)
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,721
Nj
You forgot the 3rd portable ac option. A portable ac. Just set it on the counter or floor and run the vent outside. Easy and no set up. If I had to do one of the other options I would set it up outside blowing in. Just make a folding bench ( need to see your camper) with legs , or rest it on a ladder outside the camper. Some used shelf brackets that attach to the side of the camper, ill look for the pic. If I did that i would have braces under it going from the ac to the ground. Too much weight hanging on one side of the roof for my taste.
 

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
11,721
Nj

This I am not really a fan of. Watch the roof move when he intalls it. Now , imagine that in a storm. Not for me without more modification.
 

kcsa75

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Sep 9, 2013
5,604
Kansas City
Chattanooga has a great aquarium and I think the Cadillac Ranch along I-40 a few miles west of Amarillo is worth 30 minutes.

Once you hit Oklahoma City you'll have all the Route 66 stuff. When I was 11 or 12 years old we stayed at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM (it's now a tourist attraction) on Christmas Day en route to Phoenix for the first Fiesta Bowl. This was before I-40 was complete so we saw a lot of Route 66. There is lots of info on the interweb.

Finally, I'll just say that in my opinion the Grand Canyon will take your breath away...even from the rim.
 

GalsofEscape

Super Active Member
Nov 26, 2013
1,091
Maryland
have a great time - we went to Grand Canyon from Md in 2017, we took 3 weeks, we departed mid June. nice that you are able to go for a longer time. We had a great time but still could not see all that we wanted to see. We went out I70 through Denver and Utah and came back via I40 though Oklahoma and Tennessee. we managed to pack in Pikes Peak, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, and Canyon de Chelly. (we did not stand on a corner in Winslow AZ). sightseeing on the way out and back was not an option. too many miles to cover and not enough time :(
Heat was dependent on elevation, Bryce was comfortable but Zion at only 90 miles away was a oven (and Pikes Peak had snow). we packed a case of bottled water, it did not last even 1/2 the trip.....
 

Lagman

Member
Sep 29, 2016
72
Bucks County, PA
Hello all,

My family 2 adults, 13yr old and 6 year old daughters will be taking a 38day camping trip in our fairly new to us (we have done a couple of weekend camping trips last season) 2000 StarCraft space master. We are planning on stopping and seeing the sights as well as visit friends and family along the way. I have a few questions.

1) I would like to use a window ac unit for air conditioning. Looking for suggestions on how to set it up. I have 2 options. Build a frame for the outside of the camper and have it blowing through the screen or I could cut a space for it under the rear bunk. If I do this route I am planning on making a door so that I can remove the ac unit while traveling and haul it in my truck bed. This would also alow us to camp in cooler weather and not have a gaping hole.

2) looking for things to do with the family along the way. We are staying in the following cities: Chattanooga TN, Little Rock AR, Rogers AR, Rusk TX, Fort Worth TX, Shawnee OK, Amarillo TX, Winslow AZ (we are already planning on standing on a corner in Winslow), Sante Fe NM, and the Grand Canyon. On the way home we will stay in some of these areas and St Louis MO.

3) tips and suggestions
 

Salandrew

Active Member
Apr 27, 2016
181
Shelocta, PA
Have fun! We were in Arizona last month visiting family. We took a train ride from Williams Arizona up to the Grand Canyon. It was so much fun. They have entertainment and food/drinks and it is neat being off the road. The train goes north in the morning and then south in the late afternoon. There are campgrounds near the train station in Williams. Route 66 runs they there too, so there’s lots of neat little shops and places to see.
 

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unplannedbbq

New Member
May 30, 2017
7
Did similar trip (NC-AZ) when our kids were 8 & 12.

5 years later they still talk about it.

Overall, we did not need AC out west, as the high desert is cool at night. TN-TX will be muggy. We ended up blasting through the middle of the country to spend more time out in the 4 corners area.

Canon de Chelly on Navajo land is awesome. Petrified forest is a great place to spend half a day. Horseshoe Bend was overcrowded with tour buses, and it is a mile walk in the heat to get to the rim, but super cool to see (pic below)

My 2cents - when you get to the Canyon, the North rim is at a higher elevation & noticeably cooler in the summer, plus fewer people. Highly recommended.

The Kaibab forest, adjacent to the north rim park area, has great dispersed camping options if your Starcraft has decent ground clearance and can handle forest roads. Our '94 Coleman has solar, a flipped axle lift and shocks, so I bomb around a bit more than I should.

Mesa Verde in CO is worth it off you want to loop up that way on your trip home. You can tour the cliff dwellings & the park campground has hot showers.

HSB - 1.jpeg

HSB - 1 (1).jpeg
 
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Lagman

Member
Sep 29, 2016
72
Bucks County, PA
Wow this is such a great trip. We left the Poconos and went the northern route to Yellowstone then south to Tetons, Bryce, South Rim, Pikes Peak (reserve early at CG in Manitou Springs off Rt 25) then back through the corn belt. The Floor A/C unit will be fine and your idea of thru the wall is good. Lots of campgrounds along the way, even free on BLM, US forest Service and USDA ( https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5176332 ). Ruby’s in Bryce is excellent! Supplies right there. I would stop at Monument Valley (Ruby’s CG) for a few days. Spectacular! The road from the South Rim to Page, AZ is bad. It is a lot of whoop-dee-doos! You must take your time and keep an eye on the suspension. It’s so bouncy my axle hit the frame! Suntan lotion (we got sunburned) Shovel! There ls a really good app called RV Parky https://www.rvparky.com/ for itinerary, info and mapping. Have fun and enjoy the country.
 

Brian Clancy

Member
Aug 23, 2021
27
Consider a side trip to Canyon de Chelly before or after visiting the Grand Canyon. It's a beautiful area--I think the Canyon is more beautiful than Grand Canyon, and they have public camping on the Navajo Reservation under giant Cottonwood trees. Monument Valley is also in the area, but it, like Grand Canyon, can be very warm even at night.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,477
Northern Virginia
have 2 options. Build a frame for the outside of the camper and have it blowing through the scree
I can only comment on this. For my old popup without an AC I used a old Walmart plastic shelf I had and rested the unit on the rim of the popup and shelf. Pressed the unit to the screen. Inside I had a fan to to push the air further into the camper. I used reflectix in the one window with a hole where the AC is. my screen was wide open so had to keep the cool air in. Issue I found was the cold air sunk to the floor and didn't make it into my bunks. I should have used way more fans than the single one I had. I should have used reflectix in all windows and used the popup Gizmo's. Should have also used a larger BTU unit. Not sure if everything combined would have been better or not, but truth be told my bunkends was like oven on that 100+ degree day so ended up sleeping on the table where it was cooler. This was before they made stand alone units that sit on the counter. i think one of those would have been way better because it sits higher so the air has more chance to get to the bunk ends vrs sinking to the floor immediately.

As far as the drive get your kids involved, teach them to use a map even if just a child friendly one. Show where your stops are and show them how to look for "clues" to gage where they are. This will help encourage a little less "are we there yets". Being able to visualize how much further was way easier to understand.
 

Dougster

New Member
May 9, 2007
5
Hello all,

My family 2 adults, 13yr old and 6 year old daughters will be taking a 38day camping trip in our fairly new to us (we have done a couple of weekend camping trips last season) 2000 StarCraft space master. We are planning on stopping and seeing the sights as well as visit friends and family along the way. I have a few questions.

1) I would like to use a window ac unit for air conditioning. Looking for suggestions on how to set it up. I have 2 options. Build a frame for the outside of the camper and have it blowing through the screen or I could cut a space for it under the rear bunk. If I do this route I am planning on making a door so that I can remove the ac unit while traveling and haul it in my truck bed. This would also alow us to camp in cooler weather and not have a gaping hole.

2) looking for things to do with the family along the way. We are staying in the following cities: Chattanooga TN, Little Rock AR, Rogers AR, Rusk TX, Fort Worth TX, Shawnee OK, Amarillo TX, Winslow AZ (we are already planning on standing on a corner in Winslow), Sante Fe NM, and the Grand Canyon. On the way home we will stay in some of these areas and St Louis MO.

3) tips and suggestions
Think about visiting the North Rim rather than the South. 1/10 the crowds. Beautiful pull through campsites (reserve exactly 6 months in advance, at exactly 7am MST or you will miss out.) Also true for Bryce and Zion. The North Rim is like a visit back in time to the way National Parks used to be. The South Rim has its own unique features, and busloads of tourists from all over the world.
 

8lugnutz

Member
Sep 18, 2018
62
Colorado Springs
We did the GC trip in 2019 in June. Was a great trip. We arrived 6/30 and it was surprisingly chilly for the first few days.

For item 3 in your list, tips and tricks: I’ll add a few words of advice from our 17 day 12 state trip from Colorado to North Carolina and back (single parent with 4 kids at the time 3, 6, 7, & 8). The trip blog is here if you are interested and we have a blog of things we learn from all our trips.

Biggest lesson was that I was over prepared. I didn’t need half the stuff I took. I learned to keep it simple and only take what we are actually going to use. I packed WAY too much and ended up moving it around every time we setup and tore down. I have a tendency to be prepared for every contingency…I.e. a backup plan for the backup plan…. I didn’t need a backup Coleman stove. Or the backpacking stove..or the toaster oven. You get the picture.

Another lesson I learned was to spend more time at fewer stops. I basically treated our pop up as a hotel on wheels during that trip and it was quite a pain to setup every night and tear down every morning.

Since that trip, we vowed to pack lighter and spend a more days at fewer locations on future trips. My kids liked that better, and it eases my setup burden. :cool:
 

Hoomi

I write everything the voices in my head tell me.
Jul 20, 2012
860
85713
In the Winslow area, you can visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. Homolovi State Park, just outside of Winslow, has decent facilities, but not a lot of shade. Walnut Canyon National Monument often gets overlooked, but it's a beautiful area with some interesting Native American ruins. Walnut Canyon does not have camping, so it's a day trip, rather than an overnight destination.

As Kitphantom mentioned, camping at the Grand Canyon is usually booked up months in advance. However, there are ample campgrounds outside the Park for both North and South Rim. Williams, Az. is a good place to stay for a canyon visit, and Bearizona, in Williams, is a drive-through wildlife park that takes in many rescued animals. We pulled our P'up through it a few years back. The train ride up to the Canyon is amazing, albeit not cheap. If you stay outside the canyon, I recommend parking in Tusayan, and catching the shuttle bus from there into the Canyon. It's a lot less stressful than dealing with traffic in the Park, and you can get your Park admission right where the Shuttle bus picks up in town.

Also in Williams now, is an Alpine Coaster, which is kind of like a roller coaster built in the forest. My son and I are heading to the Canyon next month for the Grand Canyon Star Party, and plan on making a stop to ride the Coaster on the way.

Jacob Lake campground is a nice place to stay for a visit to the North Rim. Contrary to the name, though, there is no lake there. The campground is situated where the road to the North Rim meets the 89A. We've stayed at Jacob Lake several times, and the campground has always been nicely maintained. It has no hook-ups, but since it sits around 7000' of altitude, temperatures are moderate. Another advantage of Jacob Lake, is that it's also an easy day trip from the campground to visit Zion National Park in southern Utah. Drawback of Jacob Lake, is that it takes several hours to drive from Flagstaff to Jacob Lake. The North Rim is about 40 miles or so from the 89A, but it is worth visiting. There is a campground at the North Rim, but like its South Rim counterparts, tends to book quickly.
 

Tharper

New Member
Jul 11, 2020
2
In my previous popup (my new one has a roof a/c) I had a cabinet right inside the door. I cut a opening thru the cabinet and camper and attached a large grate to the open hole on the outside of the camper. Sealed everything up and it worked great.
 

goose10202

New Member
Jan 9, 2017
5
Everyone has posted great places to visit. I lived in Colorado and can verify if you can camp anywhere in that state you’ll love it. I now live in Phoenix so if you make it down this way you’re welcome to say hello.
Have you considered installing a rooftop ac removing the factory installed vent? StarCraft preinstalls roof supports for the units and the wiring is either already there or east to add.
 




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