PINEDALE — Doug and Trish Biggs from Carbondale, Illinois, are making a Wyoming loop this summer, a five-week-long adventure in their 31-foot Fleetwood Storm motor home.
They were in Pinedale staying at the Yellowstone Trail RV Park on Thursday and headed for Colter Bay, one of the most picturesque campgrounds in Wyoming. It's on the banks of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. They plan to make stops at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone Park and Cody before heading to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The Biggs have been traveling in their RV every summer for the last three years, mostly spending time in the Florida Panhandle. They have put about 7,000 miles on their mobile home away from home since buying it in 2017.
This is their first trip through Wyoming.
"Don't pass a gas station is one of the things I've learned about Wyoming," said Doug, a retired firefighter. The Ford V-10 under the hood of the Fleetwood has a solid reputation, including that it will pass anything but a gas station.
Nice, But Not Extravagant
Their 31-foot motor home is "plenty big enough" for two people, Biggs said, but is dwarfed by some of the other motor homes in the Yellowstone Trail RV Park. They prefer smaller RVs because they are easier to park and maneuver in campgrounds. Theirs has self-leveling hydraulics, ample storage space, extra bunks, a queen-sized bed and a full kitchen.
"It's been real comfortable for us to travel in," Biggs said. "I stumbled across it and liked it when I found out that it has always been stored in a heated shop."
Admittedly a flatlander, Biggs is a little concerned about how the V-10 in his Fleetwood will perform on Wyoming's high-elevation passes. A campground neighbor assures him that the engine has plenty of "grunt" to get him over the passes he will encounter in Yellowstone Park and beyond.
"I'm going to try to avoid the high mountain passes as much as I can on this trip," Biggs told Cowboy State Daily.
The comment elicits a grin from the neighbor. He knows the passing gear in Biggs' Fleetwood is going to get a workout like never before on this Wyoming loop.
"Try to travel in the mornings when it's cool," the neighbor advises as he heads back to the task at hand of adjusting the flexible black tank hose that leads from his RV to the campground sewer.
Even ‘Low-End’ Means Comfort
Dave Campbell was a Florida resident until a few months ago when he sold his home and went all-in on RV life. He has a 41-foot Fleetwood Discovery with three slides-outs and a rear-mounted 360 Cummins diesel engine.
RVs in this class are known as "diesel pushers." The engines and rear differentials are mounted backward in the chassis with a short drive line connecting them together.
Campbell tows a 15-foot aluminum flat-deck trailer and is loading gear, including two e-bikes, around an immaculately spit-shined Harley Davidson Road Glide. Since partying and riding during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, he's been on the road in Wyoming for the past few weeks.
Along with two friends also driving motor homes and pulling Harleys on trailers behind, they traveled across northern Wyoming to Cody, then down through Yellowstone National Park. From Pinedale, their route is south through Utah to Las Vegas.
Campbell's Fleetwood is worth about $180,000, he said. It has a king-sized bed, bath and a half, onboard generator, three air conditioning units, a living area with stadium seating and it sleeps eight.
A motor home aficionado, Campbell shrugged when asked about his Fleetwood's features.
"To be perfectly honest, this is a low-end motor home. It's nothing next to that Super C right there or that Newmar Mountain Aire on the other side," he said gesturing in the direction of the two coaches with shades drawn. "That Newmar is worth $600,000."
Over The Top
In the world of high-end RV's, the Newmar Mountain Aire is how the wealthy road trip.
Starting at $803,936, the Mountain Aire 2024 models range from 38 to 45 feet in length, are offered in five floor plans and comes with a 525-horsepower Cummins engine that makes 1,695-foot-pounds of torque. Then there’s the King Aire, which start at more than $1.6 million. The company’s proud to market the King as, “opulence at every corner.”
Newmar is part of Winnebago Industries with manufacturing plants in Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota and Florida.
Prevost is another American-made deluxe motor coach company. Company marketing materials claim its interior decor options "turn your RV into a resort on wheels."
Those options include a kitchen with center island cooktop, a studio bar and a washer and dryer in the rear. Other options include nine color and pattern options for walls and floors and four cabinet options, including American black walnut.
Most all high-end motor homes have automatic leveling, automatic shade awnings and rear cameras. Many of the controls, including slideouts, can be directed from a smartphone.
Then There’s ‘Roughing It’
According to the International Monetary Fund, the world’s wealthiest 10% bring in 52% of all income. That means most of us will never own a deluxe motor coach, but there are lots of other more affordable options for road tripping around the country.
River Dauwen is a manager at Yellowstone Trail RV Park in Pinedale. It's a new park, only in its third summer of operation. The park has 51 slots, including five deluxe pull-throughs, lots of grass, showers and a laundry room.
The park is mostly full Friday with multiple Airstream trailers and fifth-wheel travel trailers. There also are several vans set up for camping, a relatively new trend among RVers, and pickups decked out with racks that haul kayaks and all manner of water tanks, traction devices and extra gas. Some of those pickups are towing pop-up tent campers with high clearance axles and big tires for off-road adventuring.
The RV park has had a difficult time getting trees established because of numerous moose that amble through looking for an easy meal. Moose don't just nibble on a few leaves, they rip young trees to shreds. Dauwen said they had to resort to transplanting large trees, about 20 feet tall, to solve the problem.
The park is open from May 1 to Oct. 15 and so far this year has had 3,323 site nights sold.
"Some people stay with us for the whole summer," she said. "But most are transient and stay only one or two nights."
The park was booked full nine nights so far this summer. Most of those were during the Sublette County Mountain Man Rendezvous in mid-July. Dauwen said the park is already 75% booked for next year's Rendezvous.
So far this summer, they've had visitors from every state and several foreign countries, including the Netherlands and Germany. She said RV rentals are popular among international travelers and among those she's spoken with, many will travel across the entire U.S.
Although one site in the park doesn't differ much from the rest, she said some RV travelers will move to a different site in the park every day of their stay to get the most desirable sites. People ask her to pet-sit frequently, a service the park doesn't offer, and setting up portable hot tubs is a new trend among RVers.
For many Wyoming locals who wonder what’s going on inside those luxury land yachts they see rolling along the state’s great open spaces, the answer for most is if you have to wonder, it’s probably nicer than your home.