Check out my itinerary - Look ok??

Feb 3rd, 2006, 10:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 83
Check out my itinerary - Look ok??

We are planning a trip to the SW in June 2006. We'll be there 3 weeks. 2 adults and 2 kids ages 14 and 10. We are coming from Minnesota and driving to the SW area. Here is the itinerary as it stacks up today. Please provide any input or areas that are a MUST see that I missed. Also curious on comments about choice of hotels, good or bad.

June 10th - drive from Minneapolis to Colorado Springs, overnight is Colorado Springs

June 11th - Colorado Springs to Cortez, CO. We will stop along the way at four corners, Monument Valley, and drive the million dollar highway into Durango before we get to Cortez. 2 nights at Holiday Inn Express in Cortez. Will spend time at Mesa Verde while there.

June 13th - Cortez to Grand Canyon South Rim. 3 nights at El Tovar. We are planning on one of those days taking a day trip to Antelope Canyon and Page. Rest of time spent exploring Grand Canyon

June 16th - Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas, NV. 3 nights at Monte Carlo. We will stop at Hoover Dam on the way. Perhaps drive a segment of route 66?

June 19th - Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon. 2 nights at Bryce Canyon Lodge. Before you ask why we are going to Bryce first and then Zion, it's because I couldn't get a reservation at Bryce for the days I needed so we flip flopped these 2 locations. 2 days exploring Bryce Canyon area.

June 21st - Bryce Canyon to Zion. 2 nights at Desert Pearl Inn. Spend 2 days exploring Zion

June 23rd - Zion to Moab. 2 nights at La Quinta Inn in Moab. Spend 2 days exploring Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

June 25th - Moab to Estes Park. 3 nights at Pine Haven Cabins along the Fall River. 3 days exploring Rocky Mountain National Park.

June 28th - 2 days back to Minneapolis

We are planning on doing a fair bit of hiking while on the trip. Interesting in mid-level hikes. Nothing over 5 miles. No into the canyon hiking at Grand Canyon either unless it's just a little way down. (We have to come up ya know

Thanks for everyone's input!

sweetsailing is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Well, if you and your driver(s) feel up to covering a thousand miles in a day, good for you!
Anonymous is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 10:40 AM
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I'll be the first of many to say this, but day 1 looks hellish. That's almost 1000 miles of driving in one day. If you're giving yourself 2 days to get home from Denver, you should plan a similar time frame for getting there. You can do it in 1.5 days more easily than pushing to do it in 1 day.

A few other thoughts: the Grand Canyon 3-night stay is curious. If you're going to drive back to Page for a day, why not stay there 1 night, and then head to the GC for 2 nights? That'll save you time backtracking. Another idea is to cut back 1 night at GC. I say this because you indicate you don't want to do long hikes, and nothing too far into the canyon. In my opinion, staying up on the rim and driving or hiking to various viewpoints gets old after a few hours. As magnificent as GC is, I can't imagine doing that for 2 days. It will get old. I'd recommend 1 night in Page, 1 night at GC so you can catch sunrise/sunset, and save that other night for somewhere else.

Why 3 nights in Las Vegas? It'll be pretty hot in late June, and while there are plenty of things to do, it seems like you're mostly going to visit parks. I'd cut back to 2 nights, and again, use that extra night somewhere else.

With 2 extra days, you could easily give yourself an extra half day to get to CO Springs. On the way to Cortez, you could work in a trip to Royal Gorge and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. CO Springs also has a Cheyenne Mountain Zoo where you can feed the giraffes, and that might make for a nice break from the initial driving trip out there.

The Moab area could use an extra day, and I'm sure others will tell you to spend more time in the four corners/Monument Valley area.

Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park has a lot of shorter/easy trails.
Feb 3rd, 2006, 10:47 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,405
For your time at Mesa Verde, you need to make advance reservations (usually the day before) to visit the cliff houses. You will need to drive all the way to the visitor's center to get the reservations for the next day. If you can't visit the cliff houses, you might as well skip Mesa Verde.

My opinions:

2 days in Moab not enough
3 days in Las Vegas is 3 too many

Agree with Weasel about doing Page as a day trip. Why?

This is an AWFUL lot of driving and not enough enjoying. I would really cut out 2 destinations.

Good luck and happy planning!
Dayle is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 83
The inital drive to Colorado Springs doesn't bother us. We are a road trip family and it is tyical for us to drive 1800 miles in a day and a half. Do it every year to Florida. I was actually thinking the 1000 miles to Colorado Springs would be just great! I know, some will think we are demented. But I have to tell you Iowa and Nebraska are not all that interesting and would prefer to get through as quickly as possible. Sorry to anyone from Iowa or Nebraska

Weasel - If we stay a day in Page, do you have a recommendation of where to stay? Also curious about the extra day in Moab. My initial thought was 1 day in Canyonlands and 1 day in Arches. Is that too short or are there other places in Moab I should spend my extra day?

We love Vegas and planned for 3 days to allow for lounging by the pool and seeing Vegas. Just a little balance to all the outdoors and hiking.

Dayle - thanks for letting me know about the reservations at Mesa Verde. Definitely want to see the Cliff houses so we will be sure to make our reservations as you recommend.
sweetsailing is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 04:14 PM
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I've never been to Page so I can't get any recommendations. I'm sure if you did a search here for Page lodging you'd find some recommendations in other threads.

As for Moab, I actually stayed in either Green River or Grand Junction and drove to Arches for the day. One day for Arches is appropriate, but there are 2 different sections of Canyonlands close to Moab, and it would be next to impossible to see both in one day. There's also Dead Horse Point State Park, as well as some dinosaur tracks and a ghost town in the area. Go to and select Moab as your destination for details on the dino tracks and ghost town.

If you only had one extra day and had to figure out where to use it, I'd go with my initial suggestion of hitting the zoo in CO Springs, plus maybe the Royal Gorge and Black Canyon. I just think it would make for a decent day after the long drive on day 1, rather than driving across CO non-stop to get to Cortez. Of the two, Black Canyon is better, IMO.

I guess in the same line of thinking, 3 days at Rocky Mountain might be excessive if you're not doing a lot of hiking. I'm not saying you can't fill 3 days easily, but mostly you'd be hiking there, and you might get tired of taking short trails around a lake after a day or two. You might want to consider a horseback ride to break things up (but don't do it for 3 hours unless you want to be in pain). Also, make sure you drive to the other side of the park (Grand Lake). It's less crowded, I've heard they have really good ice cream at Grand Lake Chocolates, and it gives you a chance to drive Old Fall River Road (one-way) and Trail Ridge Road. Hike the short Coyote Valley trail and stop at a few overlooks along the way.

Some really good short hikes on the Estes Park side are: anything in the Bear Lake area (Dream, Nymph, or Emerald Lake) as well as just walking around Bear Lake, Sprague Lake (has a stream with lots of trout feeding into it, as well as a picnic area with some friendly ducks), and Alberta Falls (starting at Glacier Gorge. You could also start at Bear Lake and hike to Bierstadt Lake, and then hike down to the parking area at Bierstadt and take the shuttle back to Bear Lake. Depending on how full the parking lots are, you may have to use the shuttle anyway and park in the Park-n-ride lot.

Sorry for the book I just wrote. I don't think you can really go wrong at any of the places you'll be at, just make sure you plan ahead and have stuff to do if you don't want to hike much.
Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 69
We did a good bit of this route thru Colorado down to Cortez last year. First day was a 16 hour drive from Wisconsin thru Kansas to Limon, CO which is just east of Colo. Springs. Second day drove to Gunnison and stayed over. Next day went to Black Canyon and down to Cortez. The drive from Gunnison to Cortez was really a very long trek (6 hours) down the Million Dollar Highway. You need about 3-4 hours to enjoy Black Canyon. What I'm saying is day 2 will be a very long drive thru canyons and mountain terrain with many places to get out and view. The four corners area is actually not on the way to Cortez. You will have to drive southwest from Cortez and 1 hour to get there. Do that on day three heading to the Grand Canyon. Box Canyon Falls is a good stop in Ouray on the Million Dollar Highway. I personally would skip a day at Vegas and spend the time at Zion and Bryce or maybe add in a day or two exploring Capitol Reef and Highway 12.
Zion 3 days, Bryce 2 days, Capitol Reef 2 days, Arches 2 days, Canyonlands 1 day unless hiking there.
Don't know if you have been out that way before, but the terrain makes for some longer than anticipated driving time. Hope this helps.
gwburk is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,189
June 10th 985 miles, approx. 13 1/2 driving hours

June 11th - Monument Valley is no on this route, but you will drive by Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 337 miles approx. 7 hours driving time.

June 12 Mesa Verde, you want at least a full day here.

June 13 Now is the time see Monument Valley. 295 miles and about 7 hours driving time to Grand Canyon...BUT...

I agree with TheWeasle, I'd would go to Page on the 13th and spend one night in Page, AZ and do Antelope Slots canyon on the 14th before going to Grand Canyon. Cortez to Page, AZ 240 miles and a little over 6 hours driving time.

June 14 Day trip from Grand Canyon S. Rim Village to Page and back 275 miles about 5 1/2 hours

OR travel from Page, AZ to Grand Canyon S. Rim Village 137 miles and less than 3 hours driving.

In Mesa Verde do one or 2 of the ranger guided hikes. They are Long House, Cliff Palace and Balcony house. You have to get tickets the morning of the hikes and they cost a couple of dollars per person, but are really worth it.

Grand Canyon: I like walking along the rim starting at Bright Angels overlook to Hopi Point. If you get tired along the way, you can always pick up the free shuttle buses.

Bryce: Navajo - Queen's Garden loop is approx 3 miles.

Zion: Riverside Walk is 2 miles, Upper Emerald Pools is about 3 miles round trip..depending on the route

Canyonlands: Mesa Arch is short but great hike. Make sure you go to the Green River overlook. Grandview hike is a couple miles round trip.

Arches: Delicate Arch is 3 miles and the best hike! Landscape arch is 1 mile, but if you keep going...go all the way to Dark Angel and back is 5 miles. Park Avenue is another favorite.


utahtea is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 04:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 949
Sounds like a great trip to me and one that my family would like to take! We did parts of your trip in 2004 so I'll offer a couple of thoughts.

Agree with everyone on the Page overnight. We stayed at the Lake Powell Resort/Wahweap Marina and thought it was a good spot as you are right on Lake Powell. Room is like a holiday inn but the kids enjoyed their pool. Plenty of other chain hotels in Page that would be closer to the start of the Antelope Canyon tours but I liked being on the Lake.

Definitely hike down into the Grand Canyon for a couple of miles. We did the South Kaibab Trail starting at 6:30 a.m. Hiked down to the first restroom (about 1 1/2 miles in) and out by 10:00 a.m. Wished we had gone farther but all of the warnings had us skittish. We were well prepared with snacks and water and first aid kit and had no troubles. Really memorable.

If you like Vegas, do the three nights. Otherwise I would cut that backa night. We started there and found it interesting. Kids (ages 7 and 9 then) loved the Flamingo pool.

Zion hikes: definitely hike The Virgin Narrows. Get water shoes and a stick from Zion Adventure Company the day before you do it. We hooked up with a NPS ranger tour at 9 a.m. It's chilly for the first hour or so as it's shady (we went in late August) so dress in layers). We took a lunch and had fun eating up in the canyon. Wish we had done some of the Angels Landing hike but we chose a Family Adventure day with Zion Adventure that was quite an experience and limited our time in Zion. Would definitely do it again and our daughter is now on the cover of a new book (Extreme Kids) in her canyoneering outfit!

Bryce: We did an great, strenuous but memorable hike in Bryce from Sunset Point down into Wall Street and then over on the Peekaboo Trail and out at Bryce Point. Took the shuttle back to the Lodge. Should have had more water....but it was a great hike. Also, try to catch a Night Sky show while in Bryce. Fabulous!

Have a great time!
ccrosner is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 04:56 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 38
I tink that you only need one day at the Grand Canyon. You should think about taking a float trip from Page down the Colorado River. It's a half day trip that was really great. After that hike out to Horseshoe bend. It was really spectacular, and the walk was short. I wouldn't miss it. Also I think that you only need one day at Bryce, (do the Navaho Loop trail.)At Zion, the Desert Pearl Inn was really nice. As mentioned before, hike the Narrows with the appropriate footwear( Zion Adventure Co.)AS far as Moab, see both parks, and if you can, rent a jeep to see Canyonlands. We had a great day doing this, and it allows you to really get into it and see alot of great stuff. We did the Potash Rd. trail, and saw Dead Horse Park too. We also saw some great petroglyphs. We also went rafting there at Westwater Canyon. Another good time. Capital Reef N.P. was also something to see, and the ride from Moab to Bryce was beautiful. You will drive through Escalante, and Grand Staircase N.P. Each one worthy of your time. I would skip L.V. After seeing all thiat natural ,breathtaking beauty, L.V. will be an urban pit of a letdown.
jancien is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 06:21 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 561
You have receieved some really good advice here so I'll just add a couple of thoughts and echos:

Desert Pearl Inn in Zion is great (there is also a terrific pizza place in town but I've forgotten the name). We spent a long weekend there and had a terrific time.

If you can, spend a little extra and spend your Mesa Verde time at Far View Lodge. It is right in the park. We also thought that Metate dining room was an excellent splurge. The ranger led tours are terrific, well-organized and very informative.

I agree that three nights at Grand Canyon is perhaps a bit much based on your goals. Do try to have breakfest at El Tovar.

Monument Valley is worth more than a drive through. Consider an overnight at Gouldings Lodge with a morning guided tour, then back on the road again. The guided tour gets you in and among the Monuments. Some of them are pretty incredible.
Have a great trip.
POlson is offline  
Feb 5th, 2006, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Sounds like a fun trip! But I will agree I think the initial days drive is a bit too long. You may miss out on your first few days trying to recover.
Just a few comments:
I think 3 nights at GC is to long especailly if not into hiking that much. It is impressive but to be quite honest I would spend no more than two nights there. I noticed someone mentioned going to Page. The float trip from there is really awesome. Last September my wife, son and his wife did that trip and also even spent a half day (on a rented boat) on Lake Powell. It was beautiful.
My favorite area is Bryce! The sunrise there is spectacular. Also thoroughloy enjoyed the horse/mule trip down to the Canyon floor. I would suggest the 2-3 hour trip unless yur butt can handle longer!. You will love it. Zion was pretty but not nearly as cool as Bryce.
Are you sure you want 3 days in Vegas? 2 nights there with a family is plenty. If you can go see the show "O".
If you could alter your plan a bit I would try to fit going to Sedona into your trip. The Pink Jeep Tour is awesome. I would suggest the Broken Arrow Tour.
What a great country we have. So much to see and do and so little time. Enjoy your time with your family!
kwilly is offline  

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