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Help me plan a family trip to southern Utah / Grand Canyon in June '13

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I am hoping to plan a trip to southern Utah and the Grand Canyon in early June '13. I am worried that I may be too late to get the best accommodations so I'm looking for some quick advice on planning our itinerary. Travelers: two grandparents (early 70s), me and my DH, and our 5-year-old and 17-month-old daughters.

This trip is inspired by my older daughter's obsession with the Grand Canyon. (She currently wants to be a geologist or an archaeologist.) Our current targets are the Grand Canyon (definitely North Rim, but preferably both rims), Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands/Capitol Reef. We will have approximately 10 days including travel, so 8 on the ground. We plan to rent a seven-passenger vehicle of some sort, either a minivan or large SUV. We would like to avoid long days in the car, but we do enjoy driving and don't mind a few hours of travel broken up by sightseeing or a short hike. Since we are traveling with my in-laws and young children (one walking and one carried in a backpack), we will be looking for short (<2 miles), relatively flat hikes that still let us take in the fabulous scenery. All of the adults have been to this area many times before, but this will be our first time with the little ones, so it will be a new adventure for us.

It looks like we could fly into Phoenix or Salt Lake City. Las Vegas seems too far away since we aren't planning to visit Zion on this trip. Which city makes the most sense? I'm struggling to develop a loop that allows us to return to the arrival city to avoid drop-off fees but also minimizes long driving days. Any suggestions on the order we should see the parks? We'd like to do two-night stays if possible, but will do one-nighters if it makes sense. Any suggestions for family-friendly lodgings that might be slightly less popular (and more likely to still have openings in June)? We are all experienced travelers and enjoy a little luxury (we understand that we won't get that from park lodging) but nothing ridiculously expensive (<$200 per night per room). Any ideas for short scenic hikes or sights that would interest our 5-year-old are also welcome. She enjoys the outdoors, wildlife, rocks, rivers, dinosaurs.


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