Here we go! All the nitty gritty details with links, photos and I am even going to give you the price point for some things! Hope this will help you plan your own out west adventure!
June 2 we flew out to Denver, Colorado. Here are all the awesome details!
We flew Frontier Airlines. We really loved it. We got a Black Friday (or maybe Cyber Monday?) deal on the flights, but honestly, I think it was pretty much their standard fare. A friend booked the same flight not on Black Friday and paid much the same. We joined their frequent flyer club, Discount Den. It was $59 for a year. When you are a Discount Den member, kids fly free with every adult ticket you purchase! So, it was totally worth it to join since 3 of our kids flew for free. You still have to pay fees for those tickets, and for baggage, but the fare is free. It is a discount airline- so no first class, no free drinks or snacks, small tray tables, no in flight entertainment. But that was not an issue for us. We packed snacks, everyone has their own Kindle Fires. And did you know- Disney+, Netflix and Prime all let you download shows and movies? So, the day before we left everyone downloaded books and movies for the flight. The total airfare- round trip tickets for 6 people, a carry-on and a checked bag for each person (so 6 total check bags and 6 carry on bags), plus the Discount Den membership fee was $700! The flight was nonstop from Charlotte, NC to Denver and was about 3 hours long.
We rented from Motorhome Republic. Again, it was a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deal. Motorhome Republic functions kind of like Travelocity does for hotels. When you book with them, they are like a go between for you and the RV rental company. So, though we booked through Motorhome Republic, our RV actually came from Road Bear RV. Just like with Travelocity, sometimes it may be cheaper to rent directly from the company than the go-between, but because it was a Motorhome Republic Black Friday deal, it was cheaper to use them for the rental. We rented a 28-30 foot motorhome. The rental contract indicated it would be a 2019 or newer. We are complete RV newbies! Never been in one! But we read up (Jack got the book RVing for Christmas and we watched YouTube videos). The rental for 2 week was around $2,500. In case you want somehing to compare it to, this was less than it would have cost to rent a large SUV or minivan for the same time!
When we arrived in Denver, we had to hire an Uber to take us to Road Bear. Normally, they run an airport shuttle, but they have ceased since Covid. Our contract with Motorhome Republic said that an airport shuttle was included so, Road Bear agreed to refund us the cost of the Uber. It was about $50.
When we arrived at Road Bear we were so excited to find that it was a brand new 2022 Forester Sunseeker. It only had 1,600 miles on it! Still had that new car smell and everything! The RV was very nice. There was a queen bed in the bedroom, a couch, the dinette turned into a bed, plus a full size bed over the cab. There was a wonderful pantry space, a good size fridge, gas stoptop and a combo microwive/convection oven (we only used it as a microwave). Josiah did a great video tour for us!
When you rent the RV, you have the option to add on things. You can add on a Convience Kit for $70 per person/kit. This includes dishes, pots, pans, utensils, toaster, coffee maker, broom, pillow & bedding. We opted to just do one kit so that we could get the kitchen items. Each kid packed their sleeping bags and a pillow case. We bought pillows at the Walmart. Jack and I packed sheets and a quilt for our bed. We also added on a GPS unit and a internet hotspot. These were just eh. We ordered the GPS so that if our phones didn't have service we would have a gps. But our phones ended up being fine and the Google Maps had real time traffic whereas the Garmin GPS did not. If we were doing it again, I think we would skip the gps. Same goes for the hotspot. It relied on cell signals and sometimes it didn't get very strong reception. We really rarely used it. Again, I think we'd skip this next time.
We chose to not rent any other items. It was cheaper to buy them at the Walmart and then figure out what to do with them at the end of the trip! We bought the pillows, but also a crock pot, some wooden spoons, camping chairs, a board game, a few $5 DVDs (that we didn't watch!), bath towels (1 per person), a trash can, laundry detergent, dish soap and sponges- things like that.
Before we left on the trip, I made a menu and grocery lists so that on the trip I wouldn't have to worry about that. We planned to grocery shop in Denver, CO, Moab, UT and Page, AZ. But I was so pleasantly surprised by the room in the fridge and the pantry in the RV that we were able to skip the Moab stop and get more in Denver.
Estes Park, CO-
We planned to stay in the parks as much as possible, but Rocky Mountain National Park does not start renting campsites until mid-June due to there still being the possibility of snow! In fact, 3 days before we arrived they got 12 inches! So, we had to go to plan B. We stayed in Hermit Park. The site was very nice! There are no hook-ups and the bathrooms are vault toilets (but they were so clean!!). On our way in we saw a moose right there in the campgrounds! It was quiet and nice.
We wanted to drive up Trail Ridge Road to the Apline Visitor's center, so we decided to rent a car in Estes Park rather than drive the RV. You could save that money and drive the RV, but it was nice to have a smaller ride on that curvy road. We rented from Up Top Automotive. It was only $125 for the day and fit us just right. We picked it up when we arrived in Estes Park so we would have it the entire next day.
It was a great first day!