Every now and then we get a mention in the press. For your convenience, we have included the text of the original articles on this page. If you are a member of the press and have mentioned us in the course of writing about RV Rentals in Arizona, please let us know.
When Michael Clancy of the Arizona Republic set out to do a story on vacationing in Arizona, he came to us to rent his motorhome. Below is the full text of the resulting article.
by Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
November 6th, 1994
I would have sworn I'd never be caught dead in a recreational vehicle.
The noise of the generators. The pollution of the great outdoors by the nuisances of home. Why are these people even bothering to leave their comfortable nests to fill our campgrounds, I'd wonder.
Now, with two very young children, ages 3 and 1, it isn't easy to camp out in a tent. And at a time of the year when nighttime temperatures can get downright frigid in the high country, I caved.
My family and I wanted to spend a week away from home, and we wanted to do it in a way that minimized dining out. The options: a motel room with kitchenette, a cabin or an RV.
The motel rooms in Flagstaff were along the main drag. Enough to rule them out.
The cabins were in or near Sedona, and priced accordingly.
The RV was less expensive than a cabin for four, and we had the mobility to stay in more scenic places than a motel across a busy highway from the railroad tracks.
So our minds were made up. An RV it would be.
We left our trip itinerary flexible, aiming only to see some fall foliage. Our first destination was somewhere in or around Flagstaff. First challenge: those steep hills on Interstate 17 around Black Canyon City and then again north of the Sedona exit, which have been known to slow big trucks to a crawl. The 23-footer we rented, with a Ford Econoline chassis and engine, slowed down considerably but retained enough zip to pass the large semi trailers inching up those hills. The zip came with a price: We had to refuel in Flagstaff.
We reached the black cinder fields of Sunset Crater National Monument by late afternoon.
We counted. Out of 40 or so spots at the Coconino National Forest campground just outside the monument, only one was occupied by a tent. The rest - a few were vacant - had RVs. It might have had to do with the weather - at 8,000 feet altitude, Sunset Crater was the coldest spot on the trip. We would have frozen in a tent.
It didn't really seem like camping, despite the $8 fee and lack of electricity and telephone service. RVs are built to the standards of a mobile home, and even this 8-year-old vehicle seemed more airtight than, say, my own house.
But the mobility of the vehicle enabled us to enjoy Sunset Crater and its sister monument - Wupatki - which both are about as kid-friendly as can be. The children enjoyed dashing through the cinder fields at the campground and scrambling across the sandstone ledges along the short trail to Wukoki Ruins at Wupatki.
The campground is closed in mid-October and reopens in the spring. Alternately, several private campgrounds in Flagstaff - several of them at the north end of town near Flagstaff Mall - remain open all year, and camping is allowed in most national forest areas anytime. Backcountry camping is especially easy in an RV.
Heading north on U.S. 89 toward Page, we refueled again at Cameron. Refueling became a constant during the trip - we averaged 8 miles per gallon, which accounts for the number of RVs that tow a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle behind them.
The gas mileage, indoor ambience and, for some people, the price, turned out to be just about the only things we could complain about.
Among the many positives, the second night out, at Lees Ferry, we dined on grilled steaks, baked potatoes, green beans and biscuits. The vegetables and biscuits were prepared inside the vehicle. In fact, the whole trip we ate just like we do at home - without losing the option of camp cooking.
Although Lees Ferry did not offer much for the kids to do - a few historic buildings, heavy-duty hiking and a dangerous Colorado River - it was apparent that they were beginning to appreciate coming home each night to their "camping truck." A small bathroom made bedtime cleanup easy, and ample lighting, powered by the vehicle's battery, enabled us to maintain our bedtime-story routine.
Lees Ferry, part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, is open all year. It serves primarily as a trout fishery and a staging area for Grand Canyon raft trips.
Our next day's trip was a bit longer, from Lees Ferry to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. That's when we began to appreciate the roominess of the vehicle.
The cab is open to the living space. Even though the law requires people to remain buckled up, and there are plenty of seatbelts, it is possible to move around - if only to open the refrigerator for drinks.
The road to the North Rim Lodge is beautiful any time of year, but especially in the fall, when the aspens are turning. The North Rim accommodates a mere 10 percent of Grand Canyon National Park's annual crowd, making it a great place to experience the grandeur without the mayhem of the South Rim.
We reached the camping and lodge area by early afternoon, allowing us to take a hike along the rim through the pine and aspen woods from the campground to the lodge. We ended up carrying the children in backpacks - the rim of the canyon is no place for a 3-year-old to practice his balancing skills.
That night, we took advantage of a real luxury. We fired up the water heater, gave the kids baths and took showers. The bathroom is convenient even if it is a cramped, 3- by 5-foot space.
The North Rim - which has since closed for the season - was the first place we visited where the number of tent users came close to those in RVs. On our fourth and fifth nights out - at Zion National Park, which remains open all year - those in tents probably outnumbered RV users.
On the way to Zion, we stopped at the seldom-visited Pipe Spring National Monument, a Mormon homestead in the 1870s. With farm animals and crops, it is a fine example of pioneer life. It features the spring, the buildings erected atop the spring to protect the water source, and plantings that give it an oasis feeling. Not a very large place, it was favored by the children for its water, animals and open space. It certainly is worthy of more than the 50,000 visitors it gets annually.
We reached Zion before dark, and discovered another drawback to a large RV. The eastern entrance, through a long tunnel, requires a $10 fee for vehicles of a certain size - virtually all RVs - because the tunnel isn't large enough to accommodate them and oncoming traffic. Also at Zion, several popular parking spots restrict RVs of 21 feet or longer. Fortunately, a tram from the lodge serves visitors for a small fee.
As at all of our stops, Zion did not offer electric or water hookups - most of those places are privately owned and charge accordingly. On a long trip a private campground with hookups and laundry facilities probably would be a necessity once a week or so.
Of all the places we visited, Zion probably was the one the kids enjoyed most. The bottom of Zion Canyon offered plenty of space for them to run around uninhibited.
The road dead-ends at a spot where the canyon narrows. A paved path called Riverside Walk leads a mile along the banks of a fork of the Virgin River, then abruptly ends where the Zion Canyon Narrows begin. From there the hike requires a good deal of wading.
We didn't wade much - the water is too cold this time of year.
The trail was so easy, though, that our son actually ran the entire length back to the tram drop off area.
From Zion back to Phoenix, we spent a lot of time in the truck, stopping only for gas and for the night. If there was a time when I wished I had a smaller, faster and more fuel-efficient car, this was it - although the RV made stopping for the night and leaving in the morning a snap.
We had made a trip that, without an RV, might not even have been possible. The price, even with all that gasoline, was a considerable savings over motel and restaurant prices.
Would I do it again? Sure. I might tow that little car, though.
by Arthur Frommer
March 30, 2009
Every time I've either read or myself written about the rental of recreational vehicles (like a Winnebago), the resulting article has been about the several nationwide companies that rent them. Frankly, the possibility of renting one directly from an owner has never occurred to me.
And yet the reasons for doing so are often identical to the advantages of renting a vacation home or apartment directly from an owner: eliminating a middleman, saving the costs of commissions, receiving a vacation product that can sometimes be better furnished or maintained than one rented out by a broker.
Yesterday, my daughter Pauline and her family (husband and two daughters, 6 and 10), returned from a highly successful one-week trip to the Grand Canyon and other parts of Arizona, which was accomplished by flying to Phoenix and there picking up a 32-foot Winnebago rented directly from a local resident. Like numerous other Arizonans, she (the owner) had a Winnebago that she herself uses for only several weeks in summer. And therefore she was delighted to rent it to persons making use of the same vehicle in autumn, winter and spring -- at charges much lower than a standard rental company for recreational vehicles would charge. For that Arizonan, the rental charge was found money.
She offered her Winnebago for rent on Owner's Rental (www.ownersrental.com), a website devoted solely to RV rentals in Arizona. If you'll go to Google and insert the words "rental of recreational vehicles," you'll discover a great many such websites for other states as well, all offering rentals of RVs owned by individuals living in those particular states, most of them in the west. The ownersrental.com website consists, in part, of dozens of one-paragraph ads placed by residents of different cities in Arizona. Make the choice, fly to that city, pick up your RV, and off you go.
In addition to paying less than the charges of a major, nationwide, RV rental firm, Pauline and her husband figured they would be receiving an RV equipped with far more useful accessories than would normally be provided on a standard rental. In actual fact, the 32-foot Winnebago they rented had a grill that they could place outside the vehicle for evening barbeques, TV and VCR, a number of very fine folding chairs, and lots of pots and pans as well as all the utensils they would need for a week of preparing meals. The vehicle was beautifully maintained and yet exceedingly reasonable in rental cost.
The owner met them with the vehicle at the Phoenix Airport and instructed them in its use. The total cost of the RV for a week of touring Arizona (Grand Canyon, Sedona, Jerome, and Phoenix) -- the vehicle itself, all gasoline, all charges of the RV parks at which they stayed at night, all groceries for their meals, insurance for the week (independently purchased by them), two restaurant dinners, rentals of various DVDs for the kids, and ingredients for several campfires at which 'smores were prepared for their own and visiting children -- was $253 per day, total, for the four of them.
They could have spent much less, according to Pauline, had they rented a smaller Winnebago or other brand of RV, or if they had bargained more fiercely over the price (instead they had simply accepted the rental price specified in the website).
For the same reason why so many smart vacationers go to Vacation Rental by Owner (www.vrbo.com) to rent a vacation home or apartment, it might be wise to go directly to an RV owner in renting a vacation vehicle.
For a vacation centered around one or more U.S. national parks, nothing is more enjoyable -- or cost-effective. Pauline pointed out that at the Grand Canyon, park authorities operate free shuttle service from RV parking areas to major lookout points, and this is done in other major national parks as well. There was no need for them to drive the RV further (and thus incur additional gasoline costs) once they were in the park. She was also agreeably surprised by the quality of the meals served in low-cost cafeterias at Grand Canyon National Park, which now offer healthy, tasteful salads alongside the standard hot dogs and hamburgers. The prices are low, and the fact that your RV simply sits immobile for several days in a parking area, means that you do not have to incur ruinous costs of gasoline.
All in all, last week's vacation to this awesome national park was a resounding success.
Added by Pauline Frommer:
Actually, one cost that was left out of this re-telling was the cost of a rental car. We rented one at $45/day in Sedona for three days so that we could get to trailheads more easily. There simply was not place to park a 32-foot long Winnie except for the trailer village itself.
Another wonderful perk of RV travel is its social nature. In every trailer village we went to, we met terrific people. Our daughters became friends with other girls their age, and because the RV campgrounds lent out toys (and videos) free of charge, they were able to spend their downtime with these other kids playing frisbee, croquet and soccer.
All in all, I think this was one of our most successful family vacations, thanks in no small part to doing it in an RV.
Thanks for posting Dad!