Epilogue: Returning from an Epic RV Road Trip
To the envy of all of us in the Travelzoo offices, our friend Brandon Sharpe, an accomplished photographer and fellow road trip enthusiast, grabbed the keys to a 22-foot Apollo RV booked from one of our Top 20 deals and set out to some of the country’s most beloved national parks for an adventure.
Along the way he snapped some breathtaking shots (see his Instagrams from the road in parts one, two and three) during his stops in Badlands National Park, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, the Washington Cascades, Olympics and more.
Now that he’s back home in Chicago, here’s what he had to tell us about his exploration.
Yellowstone, by Brandon Sharpe
What would you tell a family member or friend planning to RV?
I would say to expect the weather. One of the most problematic things that we ran into was inclement weather along the way. As soon as we made it to the Badlands we ran into a snow storm that some would consider a blizzard. I asked the ranger if this was normal, and she responded with a “Ohhhhh no, no, this is definitely not normal, but we are in the Badlands I guess.” The rest of the trip consisted of lots of rain in places, especially Washington state, but despite all the weather we still had a great time. We did get a fair amount of sun as well while in-between areas and storms, but when your driving across the country you find yourself moving toward weather that’s making its way across the country.
I would also mention to try and plan for additional time at the places you visit. It was such a pleasure to get to see and visit all the places along the way, but I wish we would of planned for more time a little more in advance and prepped for our arrival a little more. We kind of learned that lesson along the way and evolved with the trip, and made the decision to spend some extra days at Yosemite National Park. A decision that easily become one of the best along the way.
Yellowstone, by Brandon Sharpe
Would you go back? What would you do differently?
I would most definitely make a trip like this again! In fact I think the worst part of the trip was that it had to come to an end at all. If I could afford it in my life, I would travel the country for a year if it was up to me, heck, I would drive around the world if I could. There’s just so much to see out there, and we are lucky that we live in such a unique and diverse landscape.
On a return trip I would be sure to spend time in Glacier National Park again. Glacier National Park was so beautiful, and remote. It made for the perfect end to a long day of driving, and the mountains that surround the park are the types of mountains you see in your dreams. Waking up to Elks feeding next to the RV, was a surreal experience in itself and something I will never forget. I have plans of returning soon.
Glacier Lake, by Brandon Sharpe
What are places that everyone should visit or do? Why? What’s one place you would skip?
I think everyone should do themselves a favor in their lives and visit The Olympic National Forest. Just northwest of Seattle sits a piece of untouched and preserved land, that will leave you amazed with all of the lush greens and wildlife you will encounter. The Hoh Rainforest, is a treat in itself, and if you find the time try and make a portion of the hike up to the actual Glacier in the middle of the peninsula. You are almost guaranteed to run into some type of wildlife, especially in the early months of the summer.
I think one area that I would skip would be the northeastern California areas that we drove through. We were curious about the area and wanted to just drive through Sacramento and some other cities on our way down to San Francisco. There just wasn’t much as far as mountains and beautiful landscapes, and as we got closer to San Francisco the traffic picked and it became increasingly hard to navigate a 22-foot RV through the cars buzzing around us. Next time I would just skip driving through San Francisco as it’s just not as RV-friendly as one would hope.
The Badlands, by Brandon Sharpe
What’s one thing (or a few things) you wished you would have known before you left?
I feel like I wish I would of known more on what to expect from the actual RV itself. I was surprised to find out that it had a full bathroom and shower in the vehicle. Not knowing these kinds of things I packed like I would not be showering as much and could of removed a lot of the items that I brought along with me. Also next time I think I would prepare more for longer stops in locations and utilizing the stove and fridge that we had in the RV. We could of cooked meals and enjoyed a more leisurely pace if we would of utilized those items a bit more.