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bethmac Apr 30th, 2006 09:43 PM

Grand Canyon itinerary too ambitious?
My family is traveling to Las Vegas for a week in June and we will have a car. We want to see Grand canyon and as many other scenic spots as possible. I am thinking we could leave LV early am, drive to Zion, then to Bryce, then to Page, AZ, trying to make it to AZ motel for overnight stay, then visit south rim of GC next morning and make the rest of the loop back to LV so that we end up back there that night. Is this crazy? I really want to see the Horseshoe Bend and hear great things about the two UT parks, but feel like family will revolt if we are that close to Grand canyon and don't visit it, too. If you are familiar, help!

Sara Apr 30th, 2006 11:03 PM

Good heavens, yes, this is crazy! Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but you asked. I think that you have no concept of the distances involved here. This is at least a four day itinerary, I would say - and even that would be rushing things. In addition to the amount of time driving between each place, you need to actually spend some time at each location to see what is there - plus time to eat, etc. Do you really want to spend several hours driving to a location, find one spot to get a view of each place, jump out of the car, look at it for five minutes, then jump back in the car and spend a few hours to get to the next place, then repeat that process? That's what you'd have to do to even have a prayer of doing this - and even then, I don't think you'd manage it. I don't know when you plan to do this trip, but how many hours of daylight you have matter, too.

I know it's tempting to want to see as much as you can when you're in as amazing a part of the country as this, but you do have to be realistic. Things are pretty far apart, and there's a lot to see at each one of the places you mentioned. We just got back from a trip to Las Vegas and Arizona - we took a week to drive from Las Vegas to Sedona, Page, the Grand Canyon, and back to Las Vegas, and still felt rushed. We saw and did amazing and wonderful things each day. We've done Zion and Bryce before too; we took four days to see both, and didn't feel that was enough time.

Are you constrained to only have one overnight away from LV? If so, I would pick either the Grand Canyon or Zion and possibly Bryce (although that would be a stretch to do both) - it's about a two and a half hour drive from LV to Zion, another two hours to Bryce. If you got an early start you could drive to Zion, and do several hikes there (The Riverwalk, Emerald Pools, and Canyon Overloom are the ones I'd recommend in the amount of time you have - each is amazing and different - add Weeping Rock if you have time, it's short but very neat). Stay overnight, either at the lodge in the park, or at Flanagan's or Desert Pearl in Springdale. If you're doing this soon, your lodging options may be limited. If you want to continue to Bryce, it's about a two hour drive from Zion - you could get there in time to drive to some of the scenic overlooks, maybe take a short hike, then head back to LV- which is going to be at least a four and a half hour drive back.

If you go to the Grand Canyon, it's at least a five, maybe six hour drive, depending on traffic over Hoover Dam - when we drove that route recently, traffic was so backed up and crawling that it took us an extra hour to drive over the dam both ways. If you go there, plan to spend an overnight either at the Canyon or nearby. If this is soon, you're probably out of luck finding a place near the rim, unless there's a cancellation, but you might be able to get a room in nearby Tusayan, or Williams (which is about an hour away from the rim). While there you can walk part (or all) of the Rim Trail, go partway down the Bright Angel Trail (just remember it will take you twice as long to come back up as the amount of time you spent going down - and remember to take plenty of water), take the shuttle bus to Hermit's Rest, gettting off at various view points along the way, and watch the sunset over the canyon - Hopi Point is a good place to watch, but try to get there an hour before sunset, to watch the changing colors, and get a good vantage point.

If you have more than one night spend away from LV, your options increase a lot - I could suggest some wonderful places to go and things to do, if you have a few days - Las Vegas is fun, but a couple of days there is plenty, in my opinion, and time spent seeing the scenic wonders within a few hours drive is time much better spent, if you ask me.

utahtea Apr 30th, 2006 11:32 PM

Sara is right, it's just to much to ask for two days and one night!

You itineray is 825 miles and at least 16 hours of just driving time. If I was your family...I'd revolt at the lack of time at each park.

At the very least, I'd say two nights and three days but if you could spend 3 or 4 nights you would really be able to see the parks and enjoy them.


karens May 1st, 2006 05:39 AM

Am I reading this differently? They have a week, no? We did this itinerary in a week. We did Zion (Narrows, Emerald Pools), Bryce (Queens Garden/Navajo Loop), Page (motor boat rental/antelope canyon) and GC (overnight mule ride) all in a week.

HOWEVER - it was just my husband and me; we could have never have accomplished so much with our kids in tow.

TheWeasel May 1st, 2006 09:28 AM

Karens - OP said they're in LV for a week, but.... they want to leave LV early morning, drive to Zion, then Bryce, then make it to Page, AZ that night, then visit GC s. Rim the next morning and be back in LV that evening. So, they don't have a whole week for this itinerary, just 2 days/1 night for the big loop.

Yes, it's doable I guess, but it would totally suck to do that much driving in that short of time. Either add a couple days or drop some stuff, or you won't have time to really see anything.

utahtea May 1st, 2006 11:02 AM


I'm reading it the same as Sara and TheWeasle, they have a week in Las Vegas but only plan on spending two days and one night for what they have planned!

Would you attempt this trip in two days?

If they used the whole week, they would have plenty of time.


bethmac May 1st, 2006 11:12 AM

You are correct, utahtea, we are in LV for seven nights and are trying to put together a couple of day trips to see things in this region. We are traveling with a four-year-old, my husband and myself, and my parents, who are late 50's. We are adventuresome, in that the journey can be as fun as the destination, but I really do want honest feedback (nice, but honest) because we live in TN and won't be in this area of the country again anytime soon. I should add that we are booked for 7 nights in LV, but we decided that we'd rather pay to stay overnight near GC than fork over 250 per for a bus tour. I guess now I need to know a nice two day route that gets us to the South rim and back to LV. Will have to do UT another time. Bummer.

MFNYC May 1st, 2006 11:17 AM

we drove from LV to GC and it took around 5 hours (although we drove thru blizzard condition part of the way!). To drive even 5 hrs for an overnight I think is a bit much, when you have to return the next day (we didn't return ot LV). Maybe you can pick somewhere closer to LV for your overnight away from LV.

7 days in LV is a long time, can you cut back on LV and do a longer road trip to a park or 2?

lifelist May 1st, 2006 11:24 AM

Agreed that this is very rushed, but have you considered North Rim of the Grand Canyon? You could easily drive through Zion, and make for North Rim in the same day. The North Rim has some great views and very few tourists make it out there. It's a lot less crowded and not as crazy as the South Rim.

bethmac May 1st, 2006 11:35 AM

Five hours doesn't sound that bad for one day's drive...maybe we are just kooky that way, you know, like when people used to take off driving AS their vacation just to see where the road goes. I don't want to wander aimlessly on this trip, though, particularly with gas the price it is. I can't change my LV reservation, so that's out. We can leave any day of the week, any time of day, so that could help with the Dam traffic. I am interested in the north rim idea...esp if that means we get to at least count Zion as a stop on the way for a view and photos. Tell me more!!

TheWeasel May 1st, 2006 11:49 AM

bethmac - The North Rim is not as scenic as the South Rim. What are you primarily interested in getting out of this trip? Do you want to do any hikes and how long, or primarily look at stuff from scenic overlooks? If you're mainly doing the scenic overlooks, thenhHow about this idea (keeping in mind it's alot of driving and not alot of time spent exploring): drive from Las Vegas to Page, AZ, going through Zion on the way, and maybe stopping for several hours to do a hike. Overnight in Page, see Horseshoe Bend either late the first day or first thing on the second day, and drive from there to S. Rim of GC (about 3 hours?), spend as much time at GC as you can, and then head back to LV in the afternoon. It's going to be a 5 hour drive back, so if you're OK driving back in the dark this would give you more time at GC. You'd hit everything except Bryce, but wouldn't have more than maybe 3 hours apiece at the big parks.

I know it's not as good as taking your time to explore, but it's better than not seeing alot. At least you'll have an idea what you're missing, and that's always good motivation towards planning another trip out.

Another thought is to just do the S. Rim as an overnight trip, and do Zion as long day trip from LV.

utahtea May 1st, 2006 11:50 AM

The north rim will only save you 15 miles and it's a lot curver drive...get behind a slow moving RV and it will take longer to drive than the S. Rim. IMHO, first time visitor should see the South Rim.

If you don't mind taking day trips, you could do one from Las Vegas to Zion. It's just a 3 hour drive and if you make a long day of it could be done in one day.

Other things to see while in Las Vegas would be Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area


enzian May 1st, 2006 12:02 PM

If you'd like to stay at the North Rim, the lodge there has rooms avaiable on June 6 and 12----and that's all they show on the website for the entire month of June.
If those dates don't fit your week, there are also rooms at the South Rim (Yavapai Lodge) on June 5,7, 9, and 14. No other South Rim lodges show any rooms avaiable at all during June. You could probably find something in Tusayan.

The drive from LV to the South Rim is 278 miles, and we did it in about four hours when returning to LV (the speed limit is 75 most of the way). Traffic delays over Hoover Dam seem to be worse going in the Otbound (from LV) direction---that added almost 45 minutes to out trip.

I'm not sure how long the drive to the North Rim takes, but in summertime, I like it better there---fewer people, higher elevation (thus it's a little cooler). So I hope that works out for you.

bethmac May 1st, 2006 12:30 PM

TheWeasel...your idea is loosely what I laid out in my initial post, you know, the one where everyone called me crazy and said it would take 4-7 days. I am not a hiker, more a "sightseer", plus have kid/parents in tow. I like your idea, as it basically modifies my initial desire but removes Bryce, which is ok if it makes my idea of a big honkin' loop around the GC do-able. Now I must decide between that trip and utahtea's idea about an overnight to South rim and day trip to Zion. I'm getting conflicting reports about north v. south. I welcome everyone's tips, there's no way to know without asking, and I'll be the first to say since I've never been, I don't know best. The cooler temps of north rim tempt me, as well as route that crosses hoover on return trip. We are hearty drivers, as I said, and with four adults to share the shifts, I am okay with six to eight hours of car time per day if broken up by sights, meals, taking photos, reading markers, etc.

dontknow May 1st, 2006 12:54 PM

Geezzz. My wife & I spent 10 days at the South Rim (1 day for side trips) and felt like anything less would have not given us what we wanted.

We plan on an entire other trip to Zion & Bryce.

I guess it depends on what you want to do & how. But distances can be big and sites unique and beautiful to merit enough time.

TheWeasel May 1st, 2006 01:08 PM

"Now I must decide between that trip and utahtea's idea about an overnight to South rim and day trip to Zion. I'm getting conflicting reports about north v. south."

I think the plan to skip Bryce will work for your interests. The advantage is that you'll get to see everything else. The disadvantage (aside from the driving) is that if you do Zion first on the loop, you'll be passing over Hoover dam at night (or at best, evening).

As for making 2 day trips, the big disadvantage is just backtracking over the same roads and not seeing anything new. I would without a doubt choose the S. Rim of the GC and make that a priority, no matter what else you decide to see. As far as I'm concerned, that is by far and away the highlight of everything you listed. If you're going to stay overnight, lodging at the rim might be difficult, which is why it almost makes more sense to stay overnight in Page, which means the loop is probably the way to go. Plus, for people that are primarily lookers rather than hikers, you might get bored staying overnight at GC.

Ozarksbill May 1st, 2006 01:36 PM

I did laugh a little when you said your traveling party includes your four year old and your parents! That does make for fun together...maybe. That little tyke will enliven things plus test your endurance, meaning less time cooped up in a car.

My wife and I were at the Grand Canyon plus Zion, Arches, etc. (missed Bryce due to snow) in March. We avoided Vegas...are you doing casinos? And yes that highway over Hoover Dam can be a real traffic jam.

My advice is allow more time for sightseeing and travel less wherever do have many miles. Grand Canyon is surely worthwhile, but my own question is what do the other members of your party really want most?


maria_so May 1st, 2006 02:12 PM

It's not being crazy to want to see everything but sometimes, we don't get everything we want. IMO, Utahtea's idea is best. Do a day trip to Zion/Bryce then do an overnight in grand Canyon. I've done this loop with additional Monument Valley and Lake Powell and 10 days was not enough. However, we were able to see Zion and Bryce in one day (drove to Zion in hte morning, didn't hike, then drove to Bryce and did a mule ride) - that was the day. TheWeazel may be right but would you really want to just longingly look at the sights in your car? I say do for a day trip to Xion and Bryce, go back to Vegas then do the overnight to South Rim. I've done both North and South and agreed that for first timers, South Rim should be seen first. You can't imagine the tranquility of the North rim without seeing the south rim first. Not to mention that for the more elderly people in your group, the South rim is more accessible.

bethmac May 1st, 2006 03:39 PM

My parents will get a kick out of their being elderly.
Okay...what if we leave early one morning (is a weekday better?) and head to Hoover Dam, stop to take it in, keep traveling to South rim and stay for sunset, drive to Page area to spend the night. Day two explore Page area (I want to see Horseshoe) and leave the return driving for after dark when we can just truck it back to LV with late dinner on way back. Then we'll try to plan some sort of day trip on a separate day for Zion. Does this seem reasonable?

J62 May 1st, 2006 03:53 PM

No, it does not sound reasonable to me.

5-6hr drive LV to Grand Canyon (excluding traffic or stop at Hoover Dam, stops for gas, food, rest, etc along the way.)

4hr drive Grand canyon to Page.

Day 1 total, 9-10hrs driving, for what, 15min at Hoover, and 1, maybe 2hr at GC.

Regardless of the input, you seem determined to make this trip. Good luck. We'd appreciate a trip report upon completion, as questions like this come up all the time.

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