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Combining Yellowstone with Southwestern National Parks

Combining Yellowstone with Southwestern National Parks

Old Aug 16th, 2022, 07:02 AM
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Combining Yellowstone with Southwestern National Parks

Hi all,



We are in the very early stages of planning a trip to the US in Summer 2023. We would like to visit some of the classic southwestern national parks (grand canyon, bryce, zion) and maybe also stay in LA and do one or two theme parks with the kids (10, 8 and 6 by then) and potentially Sequoia. However, we would also love to visit Yellowstone and would be ready to fly there, i.e. from LA or Las Vegas. We should have around 3 weeks. Any ideas for a good itinerary?
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 09:59 AM
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Definitely see Sequoia NP. The majestic giant Sequoia trees are so awesome. See if you can rent a cabin there and spend the night. It is really magical in the evening after the day trippers leave.
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 10:47 AM
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There are some experts here who can give detailed advice on this plan. To me, it sounds like a lot to do (and miles to cover) in 3 weeks with 3 small kids in the heat of summer and in crowds at all of the parks. A few transfers can be done by air, but fares x5 will get expensive. And flying only shortens some of the longer drives.

Will there be jet lag in the first days?

You'll need to check the child/booster car seat requirements in each of the 5 states you'd be driving. The 6 y.o. will probably need to be a child restraint of some sort in all of the states. This requirement could impact the type/size of vehicles you'll need in order for everyone to be comfortable and still have room for the luggage.

Lodging inside the national parks tend to book up fast and early. Rates in towns just outside the park entrances have risen quite a bit since Covid.
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 11:59 AM
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Summer - temperatures in Utah parks from Zion and others are very hot. Therefore, hiking with children will be restricted.
38 degrees will be normal at very low humidity. At this site, there are e-books you can download that have park temperature, etc.
southutahparks.com. Yellowstone - make that your future goal along with Glacier National park and into Canada visiting Jasper.
If you enjoy wine, stop at Okanagon Valley, Canada where wine is king. (Search Internet for more information)
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 12:36 PM
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I don't see Yellowstone as part of this itinerary. If leaving from LA, a stop along the coast could substitute for the days spent going to and staying in Yellowstone.

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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 01:06 PM
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I would stay maybe three or four nights in Laguna Beach which is an arts community with lots of natural areas and beaches. You can reach Disneyland in 40 minutes in normal traffic. Then drive five hours to Sequoia NP and spend two or three nights there either in the park or outside. Next, drive eight hours to Zion NP and stay in Springdale for two or three nights. Then drive two hours to Bryce and stay two nights in the park or nearby. Finally, drive five hours to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and stay two or three nights. Drive back to LA X to catch your flight home. There's still a week left but I guess I would save the northern parks for another visit. These are Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier.
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 03:05 PM
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Welcome to Fodors.

A few issues: Where are you traveling from? Are you used to VERY hot temps and very low humidity? Summer temps at Zion can reach well over 100F/38C. Not great hiking conditions for anyone but especially not young children. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is cooler - averaging mid 80'sF/30C. Vegas can hit 115-120F

Disneyland/California Adventure/Universal/etc are iconic . . . but summer is the most crowded time in all the parks. Especially an issue at DL.

Sequoia/Kings Canyon are terrific -- but one has to be very aware of the wild fire situation. Things can change in an instant -- no fires in the region one day to massive fires/heavy smoke/evacuations the next.

3 weeks is fine for a good exploration of SoCal (LA/Orange County/theme parks/San Diego/and exploring up the coast a bit), or LA/OC/the Grand Canyon/Zion, or Yellowstone and Glacier NP. But dates are very important for Yellowstone since the season/road openings start later in the summer than many expect -- major parts of the park are still snowbound into earl summer.

( . . . Laguna is fine -- though one of the most expensive places to stay along the SoCal coast. I wouldn't throw out places to stay until there is a semi-firmed up itinerary)

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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 03:17 PM
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Consider renting a car and doing a loop from Las Vegas for the Utah parks and Grand canyon then flying to one of the LA area airports and renting another car for the California sites. This eliminates a long boring drive and drop fees.

what folks have said about lodging is very true
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 03:24 PM
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... Meant to include "3 weeks is fine for a good exploration of SoCal (LA/Orange County/theme parks/San Diego/and either Sequoia/KC, or exploring up the coast a bit),"
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 03:32 PM
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My plan for what its worth: Fly to Salt Lake City. Decide whether to go north to Yellowstone/Teton or south to Arches and the others of "the Big 5". When you are done with Yellowstone and the others, get on the Amtrak California Zephyr train to either Sacramento or Emeryville. Spend a night there and then take the Amtrak Coast Starlight south to Santa Barbara and spend a night there before taking a Pacific Surfliner to someplace that you can rent a car to go visit the southern California attractions you and the kids want to see. Fly home from LAX or another airport in that area.
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 06:19 PM
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If you click on my user name, you will find my trip reports for Yellowstone, Central California Coast, San Francisco/Monterey, Los Angeles area--all with kids.

I live in Utah and you could not PAY me to visit any of the southern Utah parks in the summer. We are talking 108 degrees and bone dry. You would need to hike from 6 am-10 am and then hang out at the pool all day. Maybe do a rafting trip.

Instead--definitely see Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park/Jackson Hole--I have trip reports for all of this. Or just stick with California. You could easily spend 3 weeks there and see vastly different ecosystems.
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Old Aug 16th, 2022, 06:25 PM
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The two Amtrak train routes mentioned are not relevant to the OP's (albeit preliminary) plans.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
The two Amtrak train routes mentioned are not relevant to the OP's (albeit preliminary) plans.
Just a great way to get from SLC to southern California without driving through the Mojave desert. Seeing the California Sierras in daylight before getting to Sacramento is a nice bonus. Flying with a group is rarely an option for me.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 08:03 AM
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"Just a great way to get from SLC to southern California without driving through the Mojave desert."

The OP didn't mention driving from SLC or Las Vegas to LA, so no drive through the Mojave Desert in their plans. The drive between LV and SLC is scenic (very scenic in some spots), and flights to LAX from both SLC and LV are short (1.5-2 hours) and fares are cheap (esp. from LV). For a family with ambitious plans, time is at a premium. Traveling by train from SLC to LA would take 2 days and 2.5 days if there's an overnight in Santa Barbara.

If the trains are on time (this ain't Switzerland):
Salt Lake City to Sacramento... 16 hours
Sacramento to Los Angeles... 14.5 hours
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