Denver to Las Vegas Itinerary Help

Old Sep 9th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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Denver to Las Vegas Itinerary Help

We have been planning a two week trip from Rocky Mountain National Park to Las Vegas in May of 2011. I have reviewed the guides and looked online and am getting totally confused. My tentative itinerary is:
Day 1 Arrive Estes Park , CO - Rocky Mountain National Park Hotel: Not sure.
Day 2 Drive through Rocky Mountain National Park to Vail, CO on to Glenwood Springs. Hotel: Holiday Inn
Day 3 & 4 Moab, UT - Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, River rafting. Hotel: Red Cliffs Lodge
Day 5 Cortez, CO - Mesa Verde National Park. Hotel: Holiday Inn Express
Day 6 Kayenta, AZ - Monument Valley. Hotel: Holiday Inn
Day 7, 8 & 9 Page, AZ - Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, day to relax. Hotel: Best Western at Lake Powell
Day 10 & 11 Grand Canyon National Park Hotel: El Tovar Lodge
Day 12, 13 & 14 – Grand Canyon to LAS VEGAS Hotel: Not sure.
Hoover Dam, Black Canyon/Willow Beach River Adventures, ?any suggestions?

Any recommendations or suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

Are we missing any MUST SEE locations? Should we stay in Mesa Verde NP?
Bob1947 is offline  
Old Sep 9th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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Yes, stay in Mesa Verde. The ride up onto the mesa takes a half an hour or so and it is about a half hour from Cortez to the entrance road, reducing your time there by 2 hrs. If you want to see Cliff Palace and Balcony House you will need to sign up for ranger led tours early and visiting the mesa top loop and Spruce tree house will take half a day too. If you are there before Memorial Day, Wetherill mesa will probably not be open. The lodge is a typical motel type place but views are great and the food at the Metate room was very good.

I assume you know how far it is from Page to Bryce, the road is beautiful but not a speedy ride.

If you are interested in Native American history, you should stop at Canyon de Chelley between Page and Grand Canyon.

Take a day or two from Vegas if you need to.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 07:42 AM
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All of what emalloy said, especially about staying at FarView. It expedites your visit to Mesa Verde SO much, and that place is one of the wonders of the world, to me. You need more than a day total. And seeing Canyon de Chelly and the difference between the two cultures is so interesting.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 08:52 AM
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Sounds like a lot of driving, especially in the first days. You arrive in RMNP one day, and leave the next. Your drive through RMNP, to Grand Lake, then on to Vail, and further to Glenwood Springs, all on day two. And the next day you leave for Moab. A lot of driving. Why even go to Glenwood Springs? It is a nice place to visit, but not this way.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 10:06 AM
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emalloy/Gretchen - Far View it is. According to Streets & Trips it is appox 110 to Bryce from Page. I skipped the ride through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument because I thought it may be too long a drive.

PeaceOut - We will arrive in Denver early and stay in Estes Park the first night. I picked Glenwood Springs just to stop for the night. That should be about 210 miles on day 2. If I knew of a better route to Moab I would even skip Vail.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Page to Bryce on roads with numbers is 171 miles according to googlemaps and almost 4 hours drive. If you take the county roads it is less mileage but takes longer (some of those might be unpaved). It is a ride through beautiful country but with almost 8 hours on the road, you won't have much time in Bryce. Bryce is beautiful so you may think it is worth the ride.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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I think Glenwood is a good stop for the night. We have often stopped in Glenwood Springs when making the drive from Denver to Moab and on the way back just so we can take a relaxing dip in the hot springs pool.

Good move on the Far View. I didn't really care for the Far View but the location is excellent for getting an early start touring Mesa Verde. Check the visitor center operating times before you arrive. If you arrive early enough in the afternoon you may be able to book your ranger led tours for the following day.

Also, if you want to do the Fiery Furnace tour in Arches book it as soon as you arrive.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 10:46 AM
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I just realized this trip is for May. It might not be possible to "Drive through Rocky Mountain National Park" as Trail Ridge Road is usually closed due to snow until Memorial Day weekend. Even if it is open when you arrive, it can close at anytime for poor weather conditions.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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Hi there

We are in Vegas at the moment and we did the half day smooth water river rafting trip with Colorado River Discovery. It was an awesome trip. We did the 7am departure and the river was just beautiful. Very professionally run and I would highly recommend!! http://www.raftthecanyon.com/
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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I don't think you are allowing enough time at each place. Hwy 12 is considered among the top 5 or top 10 drives in America, btw. I would consider skipping Rocky Mountain. I might also consider only 1 night at Grand Canyon. I am sure Red Cliffs Lodge is nice, but is is considerably out of the way. Monument Valley is certainly worth doing, but it is one of my least favorite places that I have been to in Utah and Arizona.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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and I might skip Moab instead of RMNP. Etc. etc.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Bob,

It will take a good portion of your day to get from Glenwood Springs to Moab. With only 1.5 days in Moab, you won't have time for rafting or all on your list. I would spend the time in Arches - most scenic, most bang for the buck and NOT waste time staying 30 min. drive out east of town at the Red Cliffs. Stay IN Moab to make the most of this very much too short visit.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Gretchen,
What exactly is that supposed to mean? The reason I might skip RMNP would be due to the road more than likely being closed. Not to mention, that I personally like Arches more than RMNP. This board is here for other peoples opinions.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 05:57 PM
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Yes, that was a strange comment. It also seems to me that May is a little early for the RMNP whereas it's a great time to visit Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands. I wonder if Bob is flying into Denver to start this trip. If so, it might make more sense to do a loop out of Vegas instead at that time of year.

I would also skip the day trip from Page to Bryce. Bryce needs its own stop and Page is a place to avoid, imo. It's full of yahoos getting ready to houseboat especially during the weeks surrounding Memorial Day. It's great to visit Antelope Canyon but you don't need to stay in Page. If you want to relax somewhere, try Zion.

Also, I'd skip staying in Kayenta. Stay at the Monument or in Mexican Hat instead.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 04:23 PM
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Hi there, you may be interested in a Tour and Tasting at Desert Diamond Distillery that is located off highway 66 just four miles off of I-40 going through Kingman, Arizona. Check them out at www.desertdiamonddistillery.com!
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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Thank you everyone for your help. My wife and I will probably never be back to this area again. She wanted to see the Rocky Mountains and we have never been to Las Vegas. I understand that Trail Ridge Road may be closed at that time but we will take that chance. Flying into Denver out of Las Vegas. Flipping the route makes sense but ending the trip with a few days in one place where we can relax is best for us. The stop at Glenwood Springs is to break up the drive. Where possible I am trying to keep the drive day below five hours. We are going to drop Kayenta and stay one night in Bryce Canyon and drive some of Hwy 12. We will probably stay at the Lake Powell Resort and do the Colorado River Discovery here rather than rafting in Moab. I saw the video of the Fiery Furnace tour. My wife would like to do that but thinks I can't make it. We may be able to take short walks but hiking, unfortunately, is out.

Once again I would like to thank everyone for your opinions.
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 04:23 AM
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Didn't mean to offend. Your choice is different from mine,which is just fine, and you didn't say because of weather/road.
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 03:30 PM
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"We are going to drop Kayenta and stay one night in Bryce Canyon and drive some of Hwy 12."

Does this mean you are skipping Monument Valley altogether?

I'm glad you are going to stay at Bryce. It needs a full day at least and the best times are early morning and at sunset. Hwy 12 is at its best between Escalante and Boulder and then on to Torrey. If you aren't going that far, I'd skip it. Most people drive it on their way from Bryce to Capitol Reef and then on to Moab or vice versa.

Speaking of scenic highways, there's one that you miss if you drive from Glenwood Springs to Moab. That is the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Durango. This would be a highly scenic alternative way to get to Cortez and Mesa Verde. Like Hwy 12, this drive is on many of the top ten lists for scenic roads in the US. Curiously, one rarely sees the Trail Ridge Road in RMNP on those lists.

An alternative to going to Moab if you took this other route would be to visit Canyon de Chelly - a highly scenic National Monument where you can spend the day on a guided Navajo tour and not have to do much walking. You can also take a guided all-day Navajo tour of Monument Valley but I'd give the edge to the one at Canyon de Chelly. It's an incredible experience to be able to explore the canyon.
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