Utah’s Arches National Park is one stop on the Mighty 5 itinerary. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): Tracks & Trails offers trips that explore Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. // © 2016 iStock
Recreational vehicle (RV) travel isn’t only for retired couples looking to live it up in their golden years. Grand Junction, Colo.-based Tracks & Trails is embracing families and younger travelers who want to take to the road — with their hotel and car in tow. As gas prices drop, more travelers are seeing the benefits of booking an RV and exploring the varying landscapes and national parks that the U.S. has to offer.
Tracks & Trails offers personalized trip-planning services for RV camping excursions to several U.S. national parks in the Western U.S. and Canada. The company launched in 1996, after owner Dan Wulfman witnessed exhausted travelers trying to reach the first of many stops on their road trips. Instead of spending hours in a car on a long cross-country drive to get to one of the country’s national parks, Wulfman wanted to give travelers — especially families — a way to fly to their destination, pick up an RV from Tracks & Trails and have access to a full, already-planned-out itinerary that wouldn’t leave them stuck in a vehicle all day.
“RV travel and families just go together,” Wulfman said. “An RV vacation is adventurous, educational and flexible. It’s the kind of vacation we all want to give our kids, and at Tracks & Trails, we make it easy for families to have this kind of adventure together.”
Not only does Tracks & Trails provide a fully loaded RV upon arrival, but it also pulls together an Adventure Kit that includes tips, maps and day-to-day itineraries. The company reserves all of the campsites and hotels that travelers require during the trip; books add-on activities; and suggests other must-see, off-the-beaten-track sites along the route.
All trip itineraries are based on the West Coast and include national parks such as Zion, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier. Travelers can choose a trip length and location, an ideal option for those who really want to dig into specific parks.
“In many ways, our trips are self-guided wilderness safaris that happen right here on our continent,” Wulfman said.
Clients will usually not need to drive more than 150 miles in a day to get from one site to the next, which is why Tracks & Trails trips range from eight to 13 nights and only cover a select number of parks in a certain area. Wulfman says he wants travelers to have time after they arrive to dive into their destination — not just unpack and go to sleep.
The company keeps travel agents top of mind, too, paying a 6 percent commission of the total trip cost. Agents who specialize in family or adventure travel but want an alternative to the hotel-and-rental-car route will find RV vacations a happy medium for clients.
Below is just a sampling of family-friendly Tracks & Trails itineraries that will suit clients yearning to explore national parks in a unique way.
Banff & Jasper, Canada
This nine-night trip departs from Calgary, Alberta, and brings travelers to some of Alberta’s most scenic and photographed sites, including Banff National Park, Lake Louise and Jasper National Park. The itinerary allows for ample time at each stop to hike; climb; soak in hot springs; look for local wildlife such as bears, deer and elk; or take an icefield tour. Add-ons include a horseback ride around Lake Louise, a river rafting excursion in Jasper and a Western cookout by covered wagon or horseback ride in Banff. The trip starts at $6,500 for four people.
Grand Canyon & Sedona
On this eight-night trip departing from Las Vegas, clients will see the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Sedona, Ariz., as well as Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Wupatki National Monument and the Hoover Dam. This is an ideal trip for travelers who are new to RV-ing, as it is short enough to get a taste of the experience without a lot of time spent in the car. Add-ons include a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, kayaking on the Colorado River with views of the Hoover Dam and canyoneering in Sedona. The trip starts at $5,600 for four people.
Mighty 5: Utah and the Grand Canyon
This 13-night trip departs from Las Vegas and enables guests to see the Grand Canyon and all five of Utah’s national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. Bonus sights include a night at Monument Valley and a stop at the Hoover Dam on the way to Lake Mead. Add-on options include a helicopter tour over Zion, a jet-boat adventure in Moab, Utah, and a horseback or mule ride in Bryce. The trip starts at $8,600 for four people.
Yellowstone & Grand Teton
This 10-night trip departing from Billings, Mont., gives travelers the opportunity to explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as well as cowboy towns such as Jackson and Cody, Wyo. In Yellowstone, clients will get up close with geysers, bubbling mud pots and waterfalls through an included tour with a private guide. Adventure also awaits those who love to raft and canoe in Grand Teton National Park. Add-ons include a horse-back ride in Yellowstone and a breakfast rafting excursion in Jackson. The trip starts at $5,900 for four people.