Ultimate Prius Camping Trip

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by IanC, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. IanC

    IanC Junior Member

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    Hello All,

    I've been lurking the forums here for awhile picking up lots of valuable information. I wanted to share about a trip I am about to take. A friend and I are going on a 3 month trip in the Western United States to visit 16 (maybe 17) national parks. We will be going to:

    Glacier National Park
    Yellowstone National Park
    Grand Teton National Park
    Rocky Mountain National Park
    Canyonlands National Park
    Arches National Park
    Capitol Reef National Park
    Zion National Park
    Grand Canyon National Park
    Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area
    Death Valley National Park
    Sequoia National Park
    Yosemite National Park
    Redwood National Park
    Crater Lake National Park
    Mount Rainer National Park

    Anyways, we will be taking my 2007 Prius on this epic 10,000 mile journey (we're from the southeasten US). We will be camping out in the prius for a majority of the trip, probably 4-5 out of 7 nights (for a total of around 60 or so nights, the rest will be camping in tents). So for the most part leaving the Prius "on" overnight to run the A/C. I've already got a battery operated carbon monoxide detector that will be velcro-ed to the inside to make sure we don't get CO2 poisoning. I have a memory foam mattress topper that fits perfectly in the back of the Prius when the seats are laid flat. I purchased the custom HeatShield sun shades for the entire car (front and rear windshields, all side windows).

    One of the main goals of this trip is videography/photography. I'm a freelance videographer and hope to get some great footage of each of these spectacular places. As such we'll have some laptops and plenty of batteries to charge. I'm thinking about putting a 1000 or 1500 watt inverter in the back of the prius to allow us to run the necessary electronics on this trip. Any suggestions in this area would be greatly appreciated.

    I've got a 360 degree panorama of the interior of my Prius, and hope to post a new one soon showing my camping setup (seats folded down, mattress in place, etc etc). Any recommendations for this crazy trip would be greatly appreciated. Also, YES we realize the Prius is not a motel but A) we don't have the money to do this trip any other way B.) we've already tested out the prius as sleeping quarters and it will work just fine and C) it's going to be an epic, memorable trip and we're totally psyched about it.

    I look forward to any tips, suggestions, advice, support. Thanks!

    peace
     
  2. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    Some of this might be helpful:
    Prius can power your home in a snowstorm - AllDeaf.com

    Recognize that your inverter is not connected to the traction battery but to the 12V. Depending on how many amps you are pulling to run the laptop and charge the camera batteries and whatever else you might connect, it might have to be hard wired. I would set something up with a plug and a shut off that are easily accessible.

    My laptop 100V - 240V adapter is max 2.5A input so you are probably just fine with a 12V outlet connection unless you are using a 1200W hair dryer :)

    Given the 12V is a puny little thing, you want to make sure it is in very good shape since you will be charging and discharging it like a deep cycle battery which it is NOT.

    BTW, the Prius puts out very little CO so it is a much better choice for your type of trip than most other cars. :)

    Looking at your park selections, I doubt you will be needing the A/C for sleeping at night. I've been to many of them. You will find that some elevation and lack of humidity makes for a LOT cooler summer temps than you are used to in the SE. You will be leaving the car off and pulling the sleeping bag up a little higher. Even Red Rock has an average low of 75 or lower in Jul & Aug. OK you might want the AC in Death Valley in August. :)

    If you are doing Zion and Capitol Reef, PLEASE do Bryce as well. You will not be sorry. You can easily go through Bryce on the way from Capitol Reef to Zion. In fact, it is on the most direct route. Take 70 from Arches, drop down on 24 to get to Capitol Reef. From there, take 12 to Bryce, then 12 and 89 to 9 to Zion. If you don't want to take the 'scenic route' from Capitol Reef to Bryce, go west on 24 then drop down on 62 to 22 where it meets 12.
     
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  3. IanC

    IanC Junior Member

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    Thanks, Bruceha. That is some very helpful informational. Bryce Canyon looks awesome, we will at least have to spend a day there. Thanks for the heads up!

    I will probably forum search or google search this, but just off hand, what's a good way to check the condition of the 12v battery, since you say it is "puny"?

    Thanks!
     
  4. redrockprius

    redrockprius redrockprius

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    Oh yes, don't miss the opportunity to see Bryce Canyon N.P. since you're planning to be so close to it. I agree with bruceha except on one point: Don't miss the drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce on Route 12. It's one of the most scenic and enjoyable drives I've ever taken.
     
  5. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Be sure to get one of these for $80,

    America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass

    otherwise you will be paying about $400 for admission to that batch of parks.

    Or if you are an olde geezer, you can get a $10 lifetime pass.

    I will also highly recommend Bryce.

    Read about Death Valley in August and be prepared, it's called Death Valley instead of Pleasant Valley for good reason.

    Average High temperature in august is 113F,

    http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/Weather%20and%20Climate.pdf

    but sometimes it gets a lot hotter. In addition to the standard cautions and preparation, sure to take some gloves so you can touch your steering wheel after it's parked in the sun there. Also watch the grades leaving the park, particularly headed west. There is a 5,000 foot climb on a mostly straight road that makes it seem like you can go fast, so watch engine temperatures.

    The average low temperature of 85F occurs shortly before the sun comes back up, it will be warmer until into the we hours of the morning. Good news is anything under100F in that lack of humidity is downright comfortable as long as you aren't doing anything strenuous.

    If you are healthy and prepared it will be a good experience.:rockon: Take it easy on your car though.
     
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  6. IanC

    IanC Junior Member

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    xs650,

    Thanks for the advice. My friend showed me the America the Beautiful pass, it's going to save us quite a bit of $$$. Appreciate you mentioning it though.

    Also very much appreciate the Death Valley information. I believe we will be arriving there near the very end of September. We'll be sure to follow your advice (hadn't even thought about how hot the steering wheel would get.) I'm hoping that having the HeatShield sun shades on every window will help a little bit. Do you think it would be entirely foolhearty to leave any electronics in the car? I'm thinking if we have to leave one camera behind, or maybe some of the extra batteries or something. Will they just totally fry/bust in the heat? Would having the sun shades on AND cracking the windows a bit make any difference at all?

    Thanks again. :)
     
  7. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Sunshades and windows cracked will make all the difference in the world, you electronics will be much better off than when someone shuts them in a closed up car in regular 100F weather without sun shades.

    There will also be limited places to stay, eat and buy gas. Furnace Creek Ranch area will have all of the above and everything except gasoline is semi reasonable there.

    DV might be a place to splurge and get a room. The basic cabins at Furnace Creek Ranch are rustic but clean and comfortable.
    Death Valley Lodging. Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort. - Make a Reservation: Rates & Reservation Policies
    It is also centrally located. You go south from there about 30 minutes if you want to go to the lowest spot (Bad Water)in the valley and North about 45 minutes to get to Scotty's Castle which is a nice side trip and cooler at 3000 feet elevation.

    We went through towards the West last June. We bought gas at a good price in Las Vegas. On the west side you need to get out to Lone Pine CA before you can buy gas at less than astronomical prices.
     
  8. BAllanJ

    BAllanJ Active Member

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    I just got back from a trip to Prince Edward Island and did try sleeping in the car once and the rest of the time in a tent.

    I put mosquito netting over the front two side windows held by the door top and sides and super magnets at the bottom. I then put on a PopTop cover over the top and windows, pulling the sides out with lines tied to trees... then entered a back door. Overall it was too hot early in the evening without the fan on, although if I was in a windier area that would be ok. It was fine later and I turned the car off. I took a couple pics if anyone is interested.

    I didn't want to be accosted by varmits so all the food was outside in either a steel box or an aluminum cooler with racoon proof latches.

    I did the tent thing the other nights since I just bought a new tent I was keen on trying and it has better headroom and better ventilation.

    Edit... I also brought my bike along and it was in the car with me.. I have a different solution to the roof or hitch rack question... I bought a Brompton Folding Bike ... a great fold and a great ride!... Keeps the aerodynamics clean.
     
  9. Rae Vynn

    Rae Vynn Artist In Residence

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    Always have a window open a bit when sleeping in the car. I have deflectors on mine, too.
     
  10. rokibler

    rokibler Member

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    Take a look at this: Prius camping

    The Hobbit has thought through the issues related to sleeping in a Prius.
     
  11. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    Yes, Hobbit is a wealth of knowledge, not to mention willing to bust into things most of us wouldn't dare mess with for fear of permanent damage to our cars!
     
  12. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    Don't know really. I replaced mine at just about 4 years. The symptom? Totally dead one morning even though I had driven it the day before and I hadn't left any lights on. Wouldn't jump or charge up either. After the fact, I surmised that the random messages I had been getting for the prior few months relating to the car not being in park or something (don't recall exactly) were an indication that the 12V was going south. No proof of this of course but they stopped when I replaced it in step 1, haven't seen the message since. Smoking gun.

    If yours dies:

    1. You can safely hook up another 12V while you wait for your Yellow top replacement. I put a 12V marine battery (because I had it in the basement) into the tray under the rear deck (removed for the duration), well secured of course to the tie down D rings. The terminals on the OEM battery are smaller than normal so you have to jury rig a bit with proper sized wire and terminals. Again, I happened to have these in the basement mess. Not a permanent fix but worked well enough for the week I needed it.
    2. Ignore the notice that the OEM battery is maintenance free, take it out, peel the yellow sticker off the top, open the caps and add water to the top of the plates (NOT the bottom of the holes) if it isn't there already. Yes indeed, just because it is glass mat and not flooded cell doesn't mean it can't get low on water. Mine took a charge after I did that. Worst thing that can happen is you end up with a dead battery (which it was already). Of course, I had already done #1 so I didn't put it back in the car. But had I known, I would have checked that first thing when it didn't charge up.
     
  13. IanC

    IanC Junior Member

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    My friend and I did a trial sleep last night. Full 8 hours in the car. It was Okay, the main thing is simply the drone of the engine when it kicks on. It kind of pulses a low deep rumble/shake throughout the car. Other than that it really wasn't that bad.

    Also, I filled up the gas tank completely about .6 miles down the road. We then kept the car "on" overnight while we slept for about 8.5 hours. I then immediately filled up the tank at the SAME gas station and the SAME pump first thing this morning. So minus the 1.2 miles (to and from the station) the 8.5 hours being on and keeping a 70 degree temp cost us .862 gallons of gas. Not bad!

    Here's a timelapse of us getting the car ready for sleep...

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBc-itwV50U]YouTube - Prius Camping[/ame]
     
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  14. klm48116

    klm48116 Owner of Gen I and Gen II

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    I will probably forum search or google search this, but just off hand, what's a good way to check the condition of the 12v battery, since you say it is "puny"?



    Prius battery test procedure for 2004 to 2010 Prius Cars

    Here is a battery test you can perform on a Prius battery that is easy to do. It will not always detect a weak battery that does not allow you
    to park you car for long before it is drained down by the security system.

    However, this test requires no tools, is easy to do and will give you some idea of the state of your battery. You can also perform this
    test after the car has been parked for a while to see how well the battery holds up under the drain from the security system.
    • Do this test after you have driven the car for at least 30 minutes. This will give the battery a chance to be fully
      charged.
    • Put the transmission in Park.
    • Engage the parking brake
    • Push in the power button. (if not already on)
    • Push Display button. top button to left of screen - "DISPLAY" will now appear in the upper left corner of your screen.)
    • Push on the upper left(1) on the display just inside the box, withdraw, then push on the lower left display(2). Do this three times. Keep trying till the screen changes. If the word "Display" in the upper left
      hand corner of the screen goes away hit the display switch again.
    • Push on Menu in upper right of display screen.
    • Push on Display Check
    • Push on Vehicle Signal Check
    • You will see the 12 volt voltage displayed. In accessory mode the voltage should be 12.6
    • With no electrical accessories on including lights the voltage should be fluctuate between 12.6 and 11.9.
      The lower the voltage, the less of a charge your battery currently has. If the voltage is low do not proceed
      as the load test might totally discharge your battery. (If you see a voltage around 13.8 you are seeing
      voltage from the high voltage battery being converted to around 13.8 in an attempt to recharge your battery.
      This normally does not occur till after you start the engine but might occur earlier if the battery is very drained.)
    • You can also test the battery by turning on the headlights, rear window heater and the heater fan. For a
      new battery the voltage would be around 11.3. If the voltage drops below 10.2 it should definitely be replaced.
      For voltages in between the lower the voltage, the lower current charge of your battery.
    • Note: If in doubt disconnect the 12 volt battery completely (start with the negative post to avoid shorting
      the battery) and hook it up to a battery tester.
     
  15. PaulRivers

    PaulRivers Junior Member

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    Sitting in my Prius just listening to the radio while eating, my Prius kicked on to recharge the batteries a couple of times - it's probably fine, but I would be a tiny bit concerned about waking up in the morning and finding out I ran out of gas.

    I wonder if there's any way to keep a little spare gas in the car (like in a gas can) without worrying that the gas fumes will fill the car?
     
  16. IanC

    IanC Junior Member

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    Honestly I'm not really concerned with running out of gas. We will be sure to have at least 3 pips of gas before leaving the car running overnight, depending on how close the nearest station is.

    In my experience, there is absolutely no way to store gas inside a car without the smell totally taking over. And on a 3 month trip, the last thing we need is even any hint of gas smell keeping us up at night.

    Appreciate the thought though :)
     
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  17. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Well, if the battery is AGM it would be excessive to add water to the top of the plates. It would be OK to add one ounce of distilled water to each of the six cells. Remember that AGM is not supposed to have much if any free liquid within.
     
  18. PCV-III

    PCV-III New Member

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    We made the Michigan to Washington & Oregon as a camping trip the last 3 summers in our 2006 Prius ~ each time covered some 7000 miles over a period of 25 days. We tent in National Forest camp grounds and National Parks (yes, we have the Golden Ages card) and some city/county camp grounds ~ nice, with showers for a minimal fee. Haven't considered sleeping in-the-car = that's where we keep the food away from the 'animals' Almost ready to take the 2010 Prius out on the road for this Summer's trip ~ the tent with an air-matress is comfortable for this retired-couple.
    Great inexpensive way to get out and see the country; highly recommended.
     
  19. neon tetra

    neon tetra Member

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    Howdy! My gf & I did a 10,000 mile road trip w/ the Prius a few years ago & it was so much fun!

    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...00-mile-n-american-road-trip-w-new-prius.html

    (pics here - http://tinyurl.com/29h7bdn )

    If you want a good hike, Angels Landing @ Zion is one of my all time favorites. (Unless you're afraid of heights) :)

    I would also probably camp in the tent a bit more, especially if it's nice out.

    I've spent a good amount of nights sleeping in the car as well though, most recently at a music festival a few weeks ago -

    [​IMG]



    Have fun!


    We're leaving in a few weeks for Colorado, Utah, and then Nevada for Burning Man. I can't wait! :)
     
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  20. neon tetra

    neon tetra Member

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    We just decided to use our old Thule Excursion rooftop cargo rack on the Prius for our next trip.
    The thing is HUGE, and I know there will be a loss of MPGs, but I think the extra space will be worth it. My only concern is the crosswinds in the plains states, which are already a bit rough w/ the Prius.
     
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