Going to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

Old May 31st, 2005, 11:50 AM
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Going to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

Hi,
I am going to Las Vegas for the weekend before July 4th this year (actually Thursday-Monday).

I had planned to drive to the Grand Canyon in one day, leaving early in the morning, but have now begun to reconsider. We have a room in LV all 4 nights, but have decided we would rather pay for another room on Friday or Saturday closer to the canyon, than have to rush what promises to be one of the more memorable parts of the trip.

I am debating whether to go to the North Rim or South Rim for our day trip, and would love any advice. I am leaning toward North Rim based on the knowledge that it should be at least somewhat less crowded, and that is the primary concern on a summer Holiday weekend.

So, if we North Rim, stay overnight, after enjoying sunset, can we go to Zion the following day on the way back?

If it is South Rim, could we get up see Sedona, then travel back to sin city?

I am very torn.
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Old May 31st, 2005, 06:51 PM
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I'll bet my bottom dollar that the WHOLE weekend is going to be crowded where ever you go in this area and which rim you go to might depend on where you can get lodging!

If you add Sedona to the S. Rim that adds 125 miles and at least 2 hours of driving time.

If you add Zion to the North Rim then it's only 22 miles and time will depend on how much time you spend there.

To bad you couldn't spend two nights on the road.

Utahtea
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 05:19 AM
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Thanks. I have opted for the North Rim. I realize we are in for some crowds in either location, but our chances for *smaller* crowds have to be better at the NR, right?

Our itinerary is to leave Vegas early in the morning between 5 and 7 and drive right to the NR. See what we can, including the sunset, then pile back in the car and drive the 3 hours back to Springdale that evening (8+ hours in a car...yikes). Anyway, we are staying at the Desert Pearl Inn, recommended by this site, so we should be able to get an early start at Zion and spend the whole day there. Then a relatively short drive back to Vegas. How's that sound?

Any advice for must do's/see's while at the NR and Zion?

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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 06:11 AM
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Perhaps you are aware of this or not:

Sunset in AZ is around 7:45PM early in July. That does not mean dark or best viewing times, that may be 15-30 minutes later. Then you are going to get in the car and drive 3 or more hours through some remote areas for the first time in the dark?

Couple thoughts: (and I have done this trip)
The North Rim is great and well worth it. The drive you are proposing is also very scenic. On top of that, we loved Zion. Here is a concept for you: Spend a couple of hours at the NR and leave. Stop at the country store/gas station in Jacob Lake and pick up some cookies. Drive to Bryce and catch the sunset there if you are really into sunsets. From there go to Springdale and spend the night.

As an alternative, drive directly to Springdale and take the relatively easy hike called Canyon Overlook and spend sunset there. Take some flashlights for the walk down.

I believe strongly that the trade off of seeing the sights on the drive from NR to Zion is well worth sacrificing the sunset at the NR (and I am a huge sunset fan).

Oh yea, one more tip: Get lots of sleep the night before this adventure begins...I know that can be tough in Vegas.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 06:21 AM
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I agree with Placeu2, if you leave the N. Rim at dark you will miss the views of driving into Zion via the tunnel. You will miss the Checkerboard mesa and the dramatic entrance of the tunnel switchbacks...IMHO this would out weigh any sunset you will see at the N. Rim!

One of my favorite places to watch the sunset in Zion is on Watchman. We usually watch it right from the campgrounds but you can get the same view at the visitor center. It's beautiful watching the orange sandstone turn red!

My pictures of Watchman before sunset and at just the beginning of sunset:

http://www.utahtea.lithium.com/pages...n2003/zion.htm

Utahtea


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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 09:08 AM
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Excellent! Just the kind of feedback I was hoping for. You are both very kind.

I had considered the night drive from the NR to Springdale to be A) scary, and B) a lost sightseeing opportunity. But, I was driven to stay at the GC until sunset by other posts recommending that, as the light would be better than midday, and did want to get the best out of the visit. I will say I have been to the South Rim once before. It was another world wind tour from Scottsdale and back in 1 day. I spent 2-3 hours at the Canyon in midday, and although I have no frame of reference, the views didn't seem washed out or spoiled to me...simply breathtaking.

All that said, I like the plan of "seeing" the Grand Canyon and leaving extra time to hike and enjoy Zion and possibly Bryce.

How far apart are they in driving time, and could we possibly enjoy both with our tight schedule?
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 10:01 AM
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To add Bryce to the day you leave Las Vegas, go to the North Rim and spend the night in Springdale, you're adding another 120 miles and about 3 more hours of driving time..to your already 390 miles and 8 hours of driving for at total of 510 miles and 11 or more hours of driving....you REALLY won't have time to see anything. If you stay for sunset in Bryce then you will miss then miss the entrance to Zion. The road into and out of the N. Rim is a slow going road and if you get stuck behind a motorhome...it will take even longer...remember this is a holiday weekend!

If you could spend ONE more night on the road...then you would have time to see Bryce or you could drive to Bryce on the day you return to Las Vegas but that will cut your time short in Zion.

Utahtea
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 10:26 AM
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Loved your pictures on: http://www.utahtea.lithium.com/pages...n2003/zion.htm. The pictures reminded me that I haven't seen it all, yet.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:09 AM
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Well, it kills me to be so close to so many cool sites, and skip them, but I think we're gonna stick with the GC and Zion only. We should get a sunset somewhere in Zion, and then can get an early start the next day and go exploring.

I am a little confused by the shuttle system. Is the route through the tunnel open to private vehicles in the summer?

I realize that we have to shuttle from the hotel to many of the popular hikes in the park (Narrows), but would we be driving ourselves to any destinations in Zion?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:37 AM
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This may be an idea for you, don't know if you will like it.... but another option. The Grand Canyon Rail Road...we have not done this yet but it is on our listfor another trip. ( This upcoming trip to LV we are going to the Valley of Fire, after this one we are taking the RR.) I think you can add overnight stay packages.

www.thetrain.com
www.grandcanyontourcompany.com

There are more, I think just google grand canyon railraod. There was a show this past weekend on train travel and this was one of them...looks like a beautiful and hassle free way to see the GC.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Thanks Annabel!
Looks interesting, maybe next trip with the kids. Since we have already rented a car for the whole time, and will be heading for the North Rim (service from south only), I think the train is out for this trip.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 09:20 AM
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The tunnel is open to cars. It is not a part of the shuttle system.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Highway 9 goes though Zion National Park and the Zion Tunnel and this road is open to travel.

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is for shuttle buses only, unless you have reservations at the Zion Lodge...otherwise private vehicles are not allowed on that road. It's well marked!

Here are maps of the park.

http://www.nps.gov/zion/Maps.htm


Utahtea
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