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duncanmac 06-18-2013 03:54 AM

Poll - USA August - September - Do We Book Accommodation?
In late July we kick off on our USA odyssey. Starting in Portland OR we head inland to Montana and then it is through Yellowstone and Utah to Arizona. Once we hit North Rim we make a left to Four Corners and after that it is through Colorado and Nebraska to South Dakota. A long trek eastwards to NYC, south to Mobile Alabama and thence via Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and New Mexico back to Colorado and Oregon. We will be avoiding large cities, but will of course be visiting many of the famous National Parks and other attractions.

Oh, and my wife does not consider camping to be an acceptable form of accommodation!:D

The question to those who have done it before: Should we be booking accommodation everywhere, here and there, or just wing it?

Appreciate your contribution!

(I hope I get to load the poll correctly, otherwise please feel free to leave a comment)

High Country Herb 06-18-2013 08:28 AM

We did a similar trip, but with intermittent camping. We started in California, heading northeast through Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, down through Colorado, Utah, and home.

Although it is driving season, there are not as many people on the road as you might think due to fuel prices. The only time we made reservations was in Yellowstone. We would check in at the campground we wanted to use to reserve our spot, then come back to it at the end of the day when the campground was full. I would imagine the same technique would work at the hotels in Yellowstone.

I have heard motels along the Blue Ridge Parkway can get booked up. You may want to call ahead to reserve a room for that night, and make that your destination for the day. Booking farther ahead than that locks you into a schedule, and doesn't allow you to check out things you hear about from the locals.

Ken Fritz 06-18-2013 04:21 PM

been there - done that
Crossed back and forth plenty of times and have had no problems at all finding rooms, but if you are really picky, you may have a problem once or twice in high season popular destinations. Yellowstone & Yosemite, The Outer Banks and Key West come to mind.

I don't care to be locked into a hard schedule, so I avoid reservations more than a day or two ahead for the most popular places. I've often found some nice places that I never would have discovered had I been locked in to a reservation.

duncanmac 06-19-2013 01:02 AM

Heeding Advice
Having read the two replies thus far, I started checking the availability of accommodation at Yellowstone. It would seem that the park itself is full on the night of August 1. Oops. I broadened the search and found an establishment in West Yellowstone which, according to my computer, had ONE room remaining.

Observing they require no cancellation fee and no prepayment was required, I pressed the button and the room is ours. It is very much over budget, but now at least I can rest easy while seeing if I can find something less pricey.

The Labor Day weekend should see me in Ocracoke, OBX. I will get onto that this evening; but for the rest of it, I will retain flexibility.

Thanks for the advice, chaps; much appreciated! :clap

Eyes Shut 06-19-2013 06:41 AM

I concur with what has been said by others. We have traveled all over the US, and except for certain places, and on holiday weekends (such as Labor Day and Memorial Day), we generally go without reservations.

The one thing that we try to do, though, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, is to stop early enough in the day (say, around 3 pm) so that we can easily find a vacancy.

lakota 06-19-2013 07:15 AM

As previously noted Yellowstone should have reservations.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon has limited accommodations. You need to check NOW and maybe you get lucky with a cancellation.

Any place you plan to be Labor Day weekend (Aug 30-Sept 2) I would make a reservation.

Have a great trip

wbbnm 06-19-2013 07:27 AM

Normally if you are planning to stay in medium sized towns with several motels, you normally won't need reservations.

However for the mega National Parks you can see this is not the case. Especially during the prime August family vacation season. Things will probably ease up in September when kids go back to school.

There is are motel/cabins at Jacob Lake a ways north of the Grand Canyon north rim. Not sure what availability is.

heirhead 06-19-2013 07:58 AM


You will be fine with no reservations if you are on a bike. Some parks
especially Yellowstone will be booked but just drive around, find peeps on bikes and pop in, no worries. This will NOT work if you are in a car or rolling railroad car. The $80.00 National Parks is the best pass if you are going to many National Parks, good for many other places also. If you are on a bike, take the dirt roads, (legal),that Motorhomes, trailers and such are not allowed as you will be by yourself in beautiful areas. Stay for 2 days at least and take some of the dirt,one way so you might have to backtrack a little. Hayden Valley is the best for seeing wolves and grizzlies but there is wildlife all over, don't pet the bison!!! Don't miss the falls!!
Rode a 1967 yam 350 there on my 4 corners trip when I was 17, trail 90 when I was 19 from SoCal,1080 miles and was there 2 years ago on a tw200 from Boise Id and back, 10 days 1750 miles. Few times in between. Still one of my favorite places on the planet that I have been. Will be there this summer also.
PS. Bring your skeeter repellant!!!

Have a wonderful time.

worlds worst mechanic

High Country Herb 06-19-2013 10:24 AM

Speaking of high priced motels; big cities can be expensive, especially in places like San Francisco or NYC. I have had very good experiences with Youth Hostels (you don't have to be young). Here in California, they are usually located in decommissioned military barracks, lighthouses, or donated large homes. Most have private rooms, as well as the typical dorms separated by sex, so you can stay with your wife. They are usually about 1/2 to 2/3 the price of local hotels.

I also agree on the National Parks Pass. If you see more than 6-8 parks it will pay for itself. You will still have to pay for state parks, however.

duncanmac 08-07-2013 11:53 AM

Wrong Answers
Is Page AZ a 'most popular destination'? No bed for love nor money. Cortex CO? It was close. August is a time to be avoided, I am thinking. We are now booking ahead for everything.

TUCKERS 08-07-2013 12:01 PM

It is PRIME TIME and you are visiting tourist destinations. Yes Page is popular, it's close to the north rim of the GC!

Your actual TRAVELLING stops will be easier, it's the destinations you'll need to book.

The big tip is STOP EARLY.....3pm is best.

Sjoerd Bakker 08-07-2013 12:10 PM

I say wing it. Reservations for everyday will be sheer agony to organize and even worse to live up to. . >
I have , indeed I have , taken trips across the USA, even in a car ,GASP with a non camper, in that time frame and stayed in motels everynight. .The trick is to know when particular toiurist traps have their particularly heavy visit ratio and move your date of approach around a bit . I have never been left in the state where sleeping in the car was required or to pitch a tent. (I do camp a lot when travelling on the bike )There was always some small mom and pop motel somewhere, even if it required travelling a bit away from the tourist burg.. Is it that important to sleep in a particular tourist trap? Make it a day trip from some less jampacked nearby sleeping town.
If you absolutely MUSt sleep there then you can still try the tack of making a reservation from a point as you start to close in. For instance use a chain motel, Motel 6 or Best Western, Americas Best Value Inn etc. etc. etc. in some town and then ask about arranging a reservation for their affiliate inthe target town for a few days later. Ask about any room cancellations, if desperate ask if they have any rooms which are temporarily out of service because of some minor problem but which they could rent to you at a slight discount if possible.Beggars cant be choosers, but there will always be a way.
If you reserve all your rooms ahead of time you will be paying through the nose. The small less expensive hotels never show up on the websites offering to get you "cheap" " best rate" hotels.I just got back from a bike trip across the US 3days ago used motels a number of times and never paid more than $ 79 for a room , expensive in my book. But the mentioned Internet sites have the gall to claim rooms of $135 to $175
as. "Cheap !"
Pick up the discount coupon books available at tourist information booths, many freeway rest areas and services and online. If you read through these you will get a feel for where the hotels are available and prices .Then you can make a reservation there if you feel panic setting in . Otherwise just go there and ask around and take what is offered
Of course if money is no obstacle then this posted question was not needed

Desertbilly 08-07-2013 02:11 PM

If this is still in play, let me suggest something. I normally don't book (in the western U.S.). On my last trip around NM and CO, I did book motels, because a co-rider wanted to.

In each little town come the end of the day, I started Expedia on my cel phone when I hit town, and it gave me 4-8 motels, with availability and prices, immediately. This seemed like a wonderful way to travel light, but still have some choice for features and price in any small town.

Between this, and TripAdvisor for finding a good restaurant for dinner in each little town, I'm changing the way I travel.

Have great fun.

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