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HELP: Las Vegas to Mesa Verde and Back, via Canyons, Monuments, and Parks

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Mrs. Dave and I are flying into Las Vegas in mid-September, and picking up a rental car for a two-week trip that tentatively includes:
Zion National Park, 2 nights
Bryce Canyon, 2 nights
Goblin Valley State Park, drive through
Arches National Park, 2 nights
Durango, Colorado, 1-2 nights
Mesa Verde National Park, 2 nights
Monument Valley, 1 night or drive through
Grand Canyon North Rim, 1 night

We want to hike and picnic, enjoy beautiful vistas and photograph them, perhaps take a float trip, train ride, etc., while staying in nearby motels, B&Bs, and/or park lodges. Unfortunately, the lodges inside the national parks do not appear to have vacancies at this late date, and most of the better-known motels are also booked. Unfortunately as well, the fine print at Budget Rent-a-Car says we can't drive their car into Colorado. This presents dilemmas.

I am appealing to the collective wisdom of the Fodorite Community to help us find work-arounds, and to enhance our trip. First of all, I think this itinerary is do-able...does anyone think otherwise? Is it likely that a variance can be negotiated or purchased for the rental car limitation? Can anyone suggest a method for edging our way into the park lodges? Or, does anyone know of good alternative lodging that is likely to be available? Highly recommended sights and hikes (light to moderate)? Best sequence of itinerary & routes? Any strong recommendations for eateries? Good float trips?

Thanks for your help! <):)

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