I'll be traveling the Southwest of the US between late September and October this year, but as that period will mean kinda high season for those places (Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, also Yosemite) I am very troubled in finding out some ways to achieve money in accomodations.
Motels inside but also outside the parks have high rates (I'm talking about 100-110$ per night for a double room or more) and since I'll be alone this would mean impossible costs for me.
Do you have any idea on how I could achieve some money?
I was thinking to stay outisde the park - as far as I can, not more than a 30 minutes drive - or to rent a tent and sleep in a campground if possible in many parks. Do you know something about tent rentals??
Thanks a lot, please help me if you do have any kind of experience on that!
Well, if you have a car (and that's about the only way to visit the spots you are talking about), either look into staying at campsites nearby--or staying at hotels not right next to the main places--but instead drive a short ways to your destination.
Let me give one example: Instead of staying in Zion, stay south of there in either Mesquite, Nevada or in St. George, Utah, or in Hurricane, Utah. Mesquite has a few casinos that used to charge only $30 or so a night to stay there and are super deluxe. (They hope that you'll spend your money gambling or seeing the shows--but if you are smart and just use the pools and the motel room, then your cost is way cheap by comparison with right in Zion itself).
Same for the Grand Canyon. Instead of staying at the Grand Canyon--or in the very nice (but relatively expensive) city of Flagstaff, stay in the city of Williams where things are cheap--or even in Kingman, Arizona--where prices for hotels are dirt cheap for really nice accommodations (and Kingman's a nice town, too).
Anyway, you get the idea. Have fun on your trip
Oh, forgot to mention that campsites in Yosemite book up way early--but if you stay in ones outside the park, you can still get them if you book now. Look at the "California Park Campsites" on google and you'll see lots of choices (though beach campsites also fill up early--especially over holiday periods like the 4th of July or Labor Day (early September).
How long are you going to be in the US? Are you renting a car/van?
Thank you Calcruzer for the useful suggestions!
I guess I will search for accomodations in Mesquite - I didn't know that casinos have rooms! - since I'm not a gambler and I can resist the temptation of wasting bucks there!
But I have another question now: do campsites allow me to stay there just with my car without having a van or an RV? Can I just pay a lot an spend the night sleeping inside my car?
But if yes, I wonder if I can do the same outside a campsite.. I mean, maybe not along the road but.. somewhere where overnight staying is not forbidden!
Vegasmike, I'll travel since Sept. 21th (I hope, but at least from the 22th) to Oct. 8th. I will rent a car. And all this will cost me a lot, I know!!
Easy one first. Yes, you can pay the camping fee in the National Parks (NP) and just sleep in your car. Or Van. Or pitch a tent. It is against the law to pitch your tent outside of a designated campground in the parks. I would check on renting a Dodge Caravan and compare it to the car price. You will have much more room in the Caravan if you choose to sleep in your rental.
I would do a online search for room costs around the NPs. Mesquite is a fair drive from Zion NP. Hurricane would be a much better option. Also check Springdale UT. It is right outside of Zion NP. Same with the Grand Canyon. See if staying in Tusayan is not much more than Williams AZ. Compare prices online and you will know if it makes sense to stay right outside of the NPs or drive 10-60 miles. Good luck with your planning.
Great advice from VegasMike.
SUVs really don't cost much more per day to rent than cars--although you do have to realize that they don't get such great mileage by comparison to cars--and right now gas (petrol) prices in the US are at an all-time high, with the per gallon rates averaging around $4.35 to $4.50 per gallon right now in the western US. Compute the two options--and the cost of possibly renting a tent that you would have to pitch each day (this does take time--and then you'd need a sleeping bag and probably an air mattress--but you could then stretch out).
Personally, I think VegasMike's suggestion is the best--get a large car/SUV like the Dodge and spend your nights in it when the weather (the heat) isn't overbearing. When the heat is oppressive, then find a cheap hotel/casino room with air conditioning and stay cheap (and enjoy the pools also).
P.S. I just checked prices on a well-known hotel website and found rooms at a casino in Mesquite in late September for the rock-bottom price of $28 a night--and this includes a heated pool, free parking and an arcade/game room. They also have an on-site bowling alley, bingo games, the casino (of course), a restaurant open 24 hours a day, and it's close to a 5-star golf course. As far as renting a tent, you just go to a local sporting goods place in large cities and ask about tent rentals. They are usually fairly cheap--like $12 a day or so. And many of the larger private campsite owners (like KOA) have tents that you can rent from them (that usually are already set up and ready to use).
[ Edit: Edited on 11-Apr-2011, at 23:29 by Calcruzer ]