/ Camper Van Hire in the USA
I am planning a family trip for a wedding to the USA in August. I’m looking for cheap camper van/RV hire in the USA. The plan is to fly into LA and leave from Seattle stopping off along the way to climb and see the sights.
Any advice about where to hire a cheap RV would be much appreciate?!
Also any must visit summer climbing destinations would be great.
Hi Cailean. vehicle hire in the states is fairly pricey compared to Europe. At the really cheap end you can just hire a car as a lot of hire companies dont care which vehicle you take when you pick it up (they take you to their floor of the parking ared and ask you which one you want). you can always choose a mini van and sleep on the floor of it. There is also Wicked vans, escape and Moon unit (?) that do cheaper end vans though they still cost a bit. I did hear last year that theres a climber in LA who rents out his camper at fairly good value but I imagine it will have to be returned to LA at the end so probably wouldnt work. I could probably find the details - give me a shout if you want.
at the logistically heavy end you could buy a van. I bought a van for $1500 and nursed it through three years of van living in the states!
(I think I'm going to the same wedding! see you there)
Hiring an RV in the states is pricey. I have looked into it twice. That said it did work out cheaper than hiring a car and staying in hotels every night. To be honest I was not entirely clear how I was gonna drive it either, they are not small . Only one way to find out though I thought. Think once all was said and done I was looking at about $100/day.
Saw a lot of Juicy Campers vans when I was out there, could be worth checking out?
Index Town Wall is a really cool crag not too far from Seattle, some cool looking boulders there like The Architect and The Engineer though I've no idea what bouldering conditions would be like in August - lots of cool trad routes to do though.
Might be worth looking at camptoo.com
Seems to be the campervan equivalent of AirBnB.
Check out Escape Campervans.
We hired one for two of us for six weeks in 2017, but if it's for a family they do pop-top ones that sleep 4.
The company seemed cool and honest and I think the main reason I went for them over their competitors (other 'camper vans' like Jucy rather than more expensive full-on RVs) was that they were more upfront with all the costs (other rentals appeared cheaper at first but worked out much the same or more once everything was factored in).
Only one warning, you may end up with a dubious 'unique' paintjob.
A good option is to get a hire car and just buy a big tent once you're there and find places to camp. We did this last year, buying a 6 person tent (for two of us) for $70 and then just giving it away at the end. You can get a two person tent for about $30. Walmart is cheap and theyre everywhere and a good place to pick up pots and pans and gas and stuff too.
Climbing - it'll be really hot for climbing in california in August and I know the northern end a bit better so here goes (aside from the well known amazingness of Yosemite and Smith Rock)
- Castle crags state park near Shasta has lots of climbing- the easy route up the ogre (mt hubris) is great. cosmic wall i think its called
Trinity alps, trinity county are great for scrambly mountaineering stuff. must be loads of other climbing there too as well as bouldering in Lassen National park
loads of bouldering around bend (Whychus creek, Widgi (and at Odin falls)) as well as Trout creek crack climbing
Going north theres frenchmans coulee and Vantage and then Washington has a phenomenal amount of climbing from bouldering at index and icicle canyon (leavenworth) to multi pitch trad near leavenworth and Washington pass and some big routes in the backcountry in the same area.
For 10 years or so, I have rented minivans and lived out of them. Cost is usually about $1000 per month. Town and Country and Grand Caravan are very similar and both have seats which fold completely into the floor giving a large and flat living space. I don't think that would work for a family but maybe. I buy a piece of 4 ft X 8 ft flywood, have the store cut off a little from the side so it fits in the van. You can rent one way and pay a surcharge for that.
Lovers leap at South Lake Tahoe is great in summer.
Are you sure brits can sensibly buy vans? I thought you needed a registered local address and have to jump through various other hoops that are pretty difficult for a visiting climber.
I managed in Utah on a short trip. Bought a van for $500 and got it registered at a address I was vaguely connected with. As they gave me a hard copy of the paperwork at the registration deskd i never needed anything they posted to me. Insurance was ok as well despite not having a us driving license.
On a longer spell in California I was fine buying a jeep despite not being a resident.
We are hiring one in April for a trip to Colorado/Utah! We looked into this and amazingly it's a very similar price to hire a small van that sleeps 3 and a monster van that sleeps 8. We are going on the trip with another family, so went for the massive one, and will be 7 people. I'm happy to report back in a few months and let you know how it works out. I expect our fuel consumption will be quite high. I also thought that the RV style were cheaper than the more fashionable converted vans.
We hired a Jucy van last October, it had everything that we needed without the size and fue consumption of a larger van.
What would worry me about car or campervan camping in bear country is keeping food odours out of the vehicle.
In Yosemite/ camp 4, for instance, food comes straight from the supermarket to the bear proof box, nowhere near the vehicle or tent.
> Amazingly it's a very similar price to hire a small van that sleeps 3 and a monster van that sleeps 8.
Yes, we have found this too. It's frustrating but we end up hiring the cheapest RVs rather than a camper van. Very comfortable for camping in, but not so easy to park at the crag.
Public campgrounds usually charge per site (pitch) rather than per person so with a large group you'll get good value to partly offset the cost of rental.
Yes, it drinks a lot of fuel, but fuel prices are cheap and the tanks are large, so apart from concerns about the environment you don't notice this as much as you'd expect.
Added to this, roads and campgrounds in the US are designed for large vehicles and manoeuvring isn't as difficult as it would be in Europe.
Finally, re bears and food stored in RVs, the official advice is that this is fine, and we've never had any problems. You'll have a monster fridge in a big RV anyway!
You could just rent a car and camp. In August it will be very difficult to get campsites on spec in the Nat Parks. Forest and State parks will be easier but still busy. If you plan on Yosemite valley or Tuolumne you will need to book now. Tahquitz in S Cal has easy camping. Smith Rocks will be hot. Washington has good dry climbing in Leavenworth area. Snow Creek, Icicle Canyon etc, plus Washington Pass for alpine rock
When was this?
Utah was 2010. I never stayed in the town I registered it at long enough to receive any paperwork through the post but as you actually have to visit the DMV to register the purchase in person this was not an issue as they gave me the car registration paperwork on the spot on the day. Again with insurance, I printed out the certification the insurance company emailed to me.
I was stopped a few times by the police on that trip. They never had any issue with any of my paperwork nor the fact I had a UK driving licence.
I was in California in 2016. I had a address on this occasion but would not have required it really. Again you have to visit the DMV in person. Insurance was fine with a UK licence despite being there for two years! You only need to get a Californian driving licence if you become a resident of California. Its perfectly acceptable to have a house and a car in California and not be classed as a resident.
You might have problems if your mail gets returned to the sender.
Thanks for that very useful. My understooding was the problems related to those Brits on holiday on a visa waiver with no access to a local address for the paperwork... is this incorrect? Presumably you had a visa if you were there for two years.
In 2010 I was there for three months on a esta. On no occasion was I asked about my right to be in the USA.
I think that my point is that access to an address is a very vague thing. You might be pushing your luck using a hotel but I'm sure an air b and b would work.
Edited grammar for better meaning
Having just moved back from the States it is pricey to hire an RV. Best way to do it if you really want one is contact the hire companies, ask them if they have any campers that need returning from your inbound airport, where they want it back and when then negotiate a deal. You can get them for $30 odd a day but obviously limited if you're ging nowhere near where they want it back.
Personally if it were me, I'd hire a Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey or any 7/8 seater minivan and sleep in it (we had a Honda Odyssey and they're huge!). Then, get to Walmart and buy a cheap tent and camping kit, use it and then give it away. RV's are great but a lot slower, they cost more than you imagine and if you want to get somewhere with limited access you're buggered.
Also if you're heading to the main hot spots, I'd get booking campsites now and it's going to be busy and redders.
Have a grand time :0)