Plan to fly out from Albany NY to Vegas in August for an 18 day total trip with my wife and 17 year old daughter. We are most interested in seeing the natural wonders of the Southwest, camping, short to moderate day hikes (maybe a few strenuos ones), photography, Native American historic and cultural sites. I saw the GC and Oak Creek Canyon as a teen, briefly, while hitch hiking to California. Wife and child have not been to SW at all. Our budget is for mostly camping, figuring on a Hotel or Lodge to shower and recoup every third or fourth day. We enjoy vast panoramas, but I also hope to explore and encounter some of the more subtle beauty of the scenery, waters, flora and fauna. Don't mind crowds if they are necessary to see some of the most important sites, but also like to be off the beaten path. We don't get too do much long distance travel (usually stick to hiking and canoeing in the mountains of the NE), and I fear spreading our trip too thin. Priorities for us could be Bryce, Zion, North Rim of the GC, Mesa Verde and Canyon De Chelly. If we went to all of those places, I figured on at least driving through Capitol Reef, Canyonlands area, though not necessarily spending as much time. I figure Arches is too far out of the way for the same trip. Grand Staircase Escalante sounds more like a trip for backpacking and four wheeling, which is less likely for this trip. Would appreciate opinions on how many days in each place, must see, must stay places, most scenic drives etc. Is my itinerary already too broad? Should we plan and reserve sites and lodgings everywhere, or is there some wiggle room for spontaneity? Is an SUV rental neccesary? We plan on using Vegas as a flight destination only, not really interested in staying there. Thank you all in advance for your help!
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