Grand Canyon itinerary too ambitious?

May 1st, 2006, 03:58 PM
  #21  
TheWeasel
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Mid-week is always better for Hoover Dam.

I know this will make things more complicated, but it's at least a 3 hour drive from the S. Rim to Page. Sunset is around 8pm, so you wouldn't get there 'til after 11pm. Is that OK? Or you could maybe find lodging in Tusayan?

If not, and seeing Hoover Dam is important, maybe it would make more sense to do Hoover Dam as a day trip, instead of Zion. Go to Zion on Day 1, then overnight in Page, GC next day, and leave GC around 4-5pm and get back to LV around 9-10pm. Depends on how much time you want to spend in Zion - if you're OK with just driving thru it with a couple stops, it doesn't make sense to take a separate day trip up there. Hoover Dam is a lot closer to LV than Zion.
 
May 1st, 2006, 04:02 PM
  #22  
 
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bethmac - this might sound smart-alec-y and I do not mean it to, but have you spent 8 hours in a car with as many people as you are describing? The times we have done this have NOT been fun. And don't underestimate the many things that can happen to delay you - mostly highway construction that can have you sitting still for a while.

I understand the desire to "see it all", but I truly think you should wait until another trip. Utahtea - no, I would NOT do this trip in 2 days!

Valley of Fire is a GREAT side trip from Vegas - only a 1 hr. drive and gives you a nice mini-snapshot of southwest scenery. All in one park you get arches, petroglyphs, red rock scenery, even a small slot canyon.

We keep going back to the southwest to "fill in the gaps" b/c there is SO MUCH to see.
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May 1st, 2006, 04:04 PM
  #23  
 
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What is good about that last plan, is you won't be doubling back over any area. The only thing I change would be to skip the Hoover Dam and I'd save it as a day trip from Las Vegas. You are going to want every minute you can muster up for the Grand Canyon and the drive to Page!

Horseshoe Bend is only a 3/4 mile hike and you won't want to stay long with the 4 year old...there are NO railings at all....just DROP OFFS to the Colorado River below.

Utahtea
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May 1st, 2006, 05:42 PM
  #24  
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I'm actually not dead set on any specific itinerary, just have some things I'd like to see and am trying to figure out the best way to do it. Well...not exactly true...I am set on seeing the GC in some fashion. As I said, we live in TN, so driving six hours is a lot better than driving thirty. I have referred several times to our family being "car folks" so I really am not opposed to a long car ride, as long as the payoff is big. We can nix the Hoover Dam. Ultimately, since I know a drive to GC is in the cards, I am trying to maximize it. I guess I may be making assumptions that the journey itself would be interesting. Is it not? No quirky souvenir shops? No Indian trading posts? No world's largest agave plant?? Driving 6/8 hours straight would be bad, but if we break it up every two or three with meals, touristy stuff, and scenic views, I can live with that. I need help with which route is most interesting and what the highlights are. We just aren't mule trip down the canyon folks this time. We are stand at the top and take photos and enjoy each other's company while going on an adventure people. I find the advice I am getting truly useful, though, so thanks!
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May 1st, 2006, 05:57 PM
  #25  
TheWeasel
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" Driving 6/8 hours straight would be bad, but if we break it up every two or three with meals, touristy stuff, and scenic views, I can live with that."

Well, if you do the loop, the drive is pretty much broken up for you. LV to Zion is about 3 hours. Zion to Page is 2-3 hours. Page to GC is 3 hours or so. GC to Hoover dam is probably 4 hours, and then another hour to LV. There's a few places you can stop between GC and Hoover dam if you want to break it up even more. I don't think you'll find the world's largest agave plant, but there's stuff out there. Do a search on here for Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and you'll find probably 100 threads with suggestions.

I don't know if this has been mentioned, but you'll cross Hoover Dam as you drive between LV and GC. You don't have to stop if you don't want, but you'll be driving right over it, so it's not something you have to skip - you just might not be crossing in daylight so there won't be as much to see.
 
May 1st, 2006, 06:50 PM
  #26  
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I am so confused! The distances to these places seems to be growing depending on who replies. I based my original idea for a trip on research I did on mapquest and fodors, which lists mileage and travel times that may ultimately be wrong. I guess I will trust TheWeasel and keep researching the "loop" trip. Are there motels in Page? Near there? That seems to be the mid-way point.
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May 1st, 2006, 07:11 PM
  #27  
 
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Beth,

Sorry I don't have anything constructive to say, but someone would have to pay me about $1 million to stay in LV at the expense of the national parks. For a whole week even !

If I were your kid, and old enough to remember, I would hold this trip against you for years.

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May 1st, 2006, 07:12 PM
  #28  
TheWeasel
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"I guess I will trust TheWeasel"

Oh god no, don't do that.

Utahtea's drive times are pretty much dead on, so go with what she says. Seriously, if you decide to do the loop route, she can tell you exactly how long it will take between each point, and I think most here would agree you'll get there within 5-10 minutes of her prediction. Probably the biggest variables are traffic at Hoover Dam and near GC. Generally, traffic at HD is worst between 10am-6pm. GC will be busy no matter what, but if you're mid-week that will help.

I feel better now that the pressure is off me.
 
May 1st, 2006, 07:37 PM
  #29  
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Well, Dayle, you aren't my kid. And thank goodness, because I would be upset with him for being so rude to someone he has never met.
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May 1st, 2006, 07:59 PM
  #30  
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You know, the more I think about it, Dayle, maybe we'll just buy a postcard at the airport with a picture of the Grand Canyon on it and let our son play at the pool all week, because that's probably what he'd rather do. Thanks, all other posters, for your much more useful (and earnest) advice. I'll let ya know how it all turns out.
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May 1st, 2006, 10:34 PM
  #31  
 
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Okay, Iíll try this again Ė I just spent about an hour typing a long post, with lots of info, and when I tried to do a simple edit, the whole thing disappeared! I guess Iíve learned my lesson Ė donít hit ďreply to this postĒ and type your reply, do it in a word processing program and paste it in. I think I learned this lesson once before, but I forgot (maybe I thought Fodorís had fixed that problem?). But I think when Iíve done that before, it ended up having its own problems.

So this may not be a comprehensive as Iíd planned, but I donít have the time to type it all again (and Iím a terrible and very slow typist - I spend half of my time fixing errors). Here goes-

Bethmac, I didnít say you were crazy, only that the itinerary was Ė and that only in response to your question in the original post ďis this crazy?Ē. Iím truly sorry if I offended you, but I think that if you didnít want an honest answer, you shouldnít have asked that question.

I think that going to Page is way out of your way and not worth the amount of extra time you would spend driving there, especially if the only reason to go there is to see Horseshoe Bend Ė seriously, itís about a three hour drive from the South Rim of the GC, and about three hours from Zion Ė is it worth an extra 6 hours of driving to see one view? Especially when there are so many equally impressive views and amazing scenic vistas much closer to Las Vegas? I have to say that I would be very hesitant to take a four-year-old there Ė you have to get within a few feet of the edge to even see the whole view (and isnít that the point?), and itís at least a 700 foot drop straight down from the edge, with no railing or barrier of any kind. I certainly wouldnít be able to enjoy myself or even spend time looking at the view if I had a small child along! At least at the Grand Canyon you have railings and paved walkways along a good portion of the rim, and at the major viewpoints. Page itself isnít very interesting, but the activities you can do there are what make the trip there worthwhile Ė and these all take time! Touring Antelope Canyon (the famous slot canyon you see lots of pictures of) is very cool, you go with a Navajo Guide, and it takes at least a couple of hours Ė itís best to go in the middle of the day, when thereís enough light to actually see things, and the famous beams of light are present. You can take a wonderful smooth-water raft trip from the base of the Glen Canyon Dam through the lower part of Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, which is really beautiful, and fun Ė thatís a half day trip. You can take boat rides on Lake Powell, either an excursion boat (they have them to Rainbow Bridge, the water-filled part of Antelope Canyon, and a shorter Wahweep Bay trip), or you can rent motor boats or kayaks and go out on your own. You can also tour Glen Canyon Dam, which is very interesting. I really think you should plan on taking another southwest vacation in the next few years and plan on spending at least a couple of days in Page Ė I think this trip will only whet your appetite to come back and explore this area further! As for going there and driving straight through back to Vegas at the end of the day Ė the scenery between Page a and LV (at least in Arizona and Utah) is quite wonderful, it would sure be a waste of all that driving not to be able to see it!
As Utahtea, said, a daytrip to Valley of Fire State Park would be great Ė itís only an hour away from LV, and really neat. Be sure to take sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water, it may be pretty hot there by June. If youíre ambitious, you could do a day trip to Zion if you really donít mind a lot of driving. Itís one of my favorite places, even more so that the Grand Canyon. Itís much better to have more time than a daytrip there, but a short time there is better than not seeing it at all! Another daytrip that I think would be fun is a raft trip on the Colorado River through Black Canyon, from just below Hoover Dam Ė hereís a web site with info about that:
http://foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm?PropertyKey=130
This sounds like fun, and I hope to do this trip the next time weíre in the area. I think you ight have time to tour Hoover Dam afterwards, as well.
Donít worry about what others have said about seeing the same scenery coming and going, itís different and interesting enough to see twice. I do think you should take the trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it seems to be what you most want to see, and thereís plenty to keep you busy for a full day, if you follow at least some of the plans I put forth in my first post. If you go mid-week, perhaps you wonít run into the delays we had going over Hoover Dam on Sundays. When we drove back from the GC, we drove back on the old Route 66 from Seligman to Kingman Ė it was different scenery, pretty neat, and hardly any traffic Ė although it was a bit farther, we felt it was worth it for the variety. Another option you have driving back is to stay on I 40 to Kingman, then take old Route 66 for a ways, stopping in Oatman, which is supposed to be pretty neat Ė you could continue to 95 on the California/Nevada border and head north to Las Vegas. We thought about doing this, but decided that by the time we left the GC in the afternoon, we didnít have time.
No, donít give up all of your plans and let your son play at the pool all week, just be realistic about what you can do. Take the time to really see what you can see, and vow to come back again for more! Please donít spend all your time in LV, with all of the natural wonders that are within a few hours drive away Ė but donít run yourselves ragged, either! If you can get to the GC, you will be very rewarded, and if you can make any of the following Ė Valley of Fire, Zion, Bryce (wonderful, but maybe next time?), the Black Canyon raft trip Ė Red Rock Canyon is supposed to be nice, too, but I havenít been there Ė you will be very glad you went. Good luck with your planning, I know itís overwhelming with so much to choose from. I think you can hardly go wrong, everywhere youíre thinking of going is very worthwhile, but I encourage quality over quantity Ė take time to really enjoy and appreciate the places you do go, rather than rushing to see more Ė youíll enjoy yourselves more, and your four-year-old will be happier, too.

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May 1st, 2006, 10:45 PM
  #32  
 
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ok, this is very frustrating - I typed the last message into Word, pasted it into the "reply to this message" box, then started editing it for mistakes and proper spacing - and it immediatley posted itself without my telling it to do so! Sorry for any typos, and the fact that the spacing isn't what I intended - I'd planned to fix all that.
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May 1st, 2006, 11:51 PM
  #33  
 
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I use a combination Micrsoft Streets & Trips software and my own experiences. We haven't crossed over the Hoover Dam in years!

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon 280 miles and about 5 hour drive. In Kingman is a Old Historic Route 66 Museum. Old Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman is ok, but really not that interesting IMHO. If you want, get off at Seligman and drive down main street and see Elvis and his Pink Caddy.

As long as you hold your 4 year olds hand, you both will be fine at the Grand Canyon rim. Took my oldest when he was 3 1/2 to the North Rim. He also hiked down the Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce that same year. Younger son was in a back pack.

Grand Canyon to Page, AZ 140 miles and about 3 hour drive. As you exit the Grand Canyon going to Cameron, there are several very good scenic overlooks you might want to take. Just before you reach Hwy 89 is the Little Colorado River Gorge. Also at this turnout is a Native American out door mall. There will be many opportunities to stop at Native American Indian stands all the way to Cameron and for many miles driving north to Page. From the time you leave the Grand Canyon Village until you reach Page, AZ...this is a very scenic drive.

I love Lake Powell. I think it's the most beautiful lake I've seen...and I've seen quite a few! If you are here in time for a meal, I'd recommend stopping at the Wahweap Marina and eatting where you can see the lake.

Page, AZ to Zion National Park canyon...not just the east entrance. 117 miles and about 2 1/2 hour drive. It think this drive is also very interesting. In Kanab, Utah there is a little western town to stretch you legs looking around.

When you enter Zion you will be up in the Checkerboard Mesa Area. There are a few turn offs to explore this area and the hoodoo's. Then you will drive thought the Zion Tunnel down to the Canyon. You will have to park your car at the visitor center or in the town of Springdale and ride the free shuttle buses into the canyon. Plan on at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to do the whole 6 mile canyon tour by shuttle bus...longer if you get off the shuttle bus. They do run about every 6 minutes in the summer.

Zion National Park to Las Vegas is 165 miles and will take less than 3 hours. This is a scenic area...all the way to St. George. After St. George you will enter the Virgin River Gorge which is also scenic and interesting. Once you exit the gorge you will find yourself in the desert all the way to Las Vegas. About the only stop between St. George and Las Vegas would be Mequite, NV.

If you do go, I'd recommend the National Park Pass for $50 which is good for a full year from the month you purchase it. Grand Canyon is now $25.00, Glen Canyon National Recreational area...if you go to Wahweap Marina is $10 and Zion is $20.00.

My dear little grandson loves to travel and so did my children. It's hard for people who's children don't like to travel by car to understand why we would do car trips like these.

Here are my pictures of the area. Check out Vacation 2003. http://www.utahtea.lithium.com/pages...ation.list.htm

Utahtea




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May 2nd, 2006, 12:10 AM
  #34  
 
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Hope you're still checking the responses, bethmac! Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth:

I completely understand you being "car people". I am a "car person" myself and love to be in the car, as long as I'm "going somewhere". I live in Las Vegas, and any out of here continues to amaze me, even with simple, boring desert scenery.

If you're bound to reservations for all 7 nights in Vegas but would like to see some of the natural beauty surrounding it, that is completely do-able in easy day trips.

Grand Canyon is definitely an overnighter, but if you just want to "see" the GC, do it. I did the same thing with my parents and sister - left Vegas mid-day, arrived in Williams, AZ (an hour south of the canyon) after dark, up the next day, spent the day roaming the South Rim, watched the sunset (this was in winter), drove to Page, stayed overnight there, drove to and through Zion the next day, and back to Vegas by nightfall, with fun restaurant stops all throughout.

So... from Vegas to GC would be an over-nighter. Stay in GC Village at one of the park hotels or in Williams. Not to complicate matters, but there is a train that runs from Williams to the GC as a day-trip. Friends of mine recently did this and had a blast. It's kind of hokey-touristy, but fun, and eliminates some driving time. Windows Live Local just told me 3.5 hours driving time from LV to Williams. You leave LV midday, stay overnight in Williams, take the train to the GC, and then drive back to LV. Here's the website, if you're interested: http://www.thetrain.com/home_route.cfm
I think this is a good way to do "GC Lite" - it lessens your drive time, provides some fun (bandits "hold-up" the train on the return trip), and allows you enough hours at the GC to walk around, have lunch, and take pics. Only downside: you won't see sunset at the GC.

For other daytrips: Zion is a gorgeous drive from LV. It's 2.5-3 hours, but doesn't seem like it, with the scenery. Leave early morning, spend the day at the park, drive back to LV.

Another fun trip: utahtea and others mentioned Valley of Fire. I second that recommendation, with a twist. From the Strip, take I-15 south to I-215 east to Lake Mead Parkway. This will take you to Lake Mead NRA entrance. Once inside the gate, turn left on Northshore Road, and follow it (about 60 miles, I think) to Valley of Fire Highway. You'll see signs. This takes you to Valley of Fire the "back way", with dramatic scenery to boot, rather than the icky I-15 north. Plenty of places to picnic along the way, so bring lunch. There's also hot springs right alongside the road on Northshore Road. This way, you'll see Lake Mead AND Valley of Fire. You can also do this route in reverse. At the entrance to Lake Mead NRA is Lake Las Vegas, which could be a fun stop at the end. Every Saturday night, they do "Music under the Stars" from 7-10 - a free concert.

Doing these three trips (2 day-trips, 1 overnight) still leaves you with four full days in Vegas itself, which should be plenty. If you want one more day out of the glitter, head out to Red Rock - about 45 minutes from the Strip.

Finally, if you're doing GC, Zion, and Lake Mead, buy a National Park annual pass at your first park. They're $50, cover the entire carload of people, and are valid for a year. You'll spend $20 at GC, $20 at Zion, and $10 at Lake Mead, so it's worth it, considering you can use it for the whole year.

Only drawback is that the drive from the GC to Page, AZ, to Zion is pretty spectacular, and I don't know how to work that out for you without two nights away from Vegas. But if you do the other three trips, you'll get plenty of cool scenery.

Oh, and as for Hoover Dam, I think driving over it at night is still cool. It's all lit up, and though you can't see as well, it's visible. The tour is so-so, but unless someone is really fascinated by the dam, I'd skip it.

Let me know if you need more specifics for any of the day trips.
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May 2nd, 2006, 12:12 AM
  #35  
 
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Haha, utahtea, we posted at the same time! Good to know the GC is $25 now - makes me feel even HAPPIER to have my annual pass!
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May 2nd, 2006, 07:37 AM
  #36  
 
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What a waste of time this post is.

You have all the info, just go.
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May 2nd, 2006, 07:41 AM
  #37  
 
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Hi ceb1222,

Yes, the fees at the Grand Canyon JUST went up to $25.00 on May 1 of this year! Along with a few other parks like Yellowstone.

http://www.nps.gov/grca/pphtml/fees.html

Utahtea
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May 2nd, 2006, 08:14 AM
  #38  
 
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While perhaps Dayle could have phrased his sentiments more gently, I suspect that many (including me!) agree with him.

bethmac - I am saying this a person who is NOT fond of LV and LOVES the southwest. But even people I know that love LV agree that 3-4 days is about the maximimum for Vegas.

If it were me, and I know it's not, if you have reservations at LV, I would eat them and start a loop drive earlier. Stay in LV 3-4 days to make Vegas adults happy and then get outta Dodge! I do understand you want to see more and there is such awesome stuff to see.

I have found driving distances to vary depending on congestion around national parks and the unexpected road construction. And, after 5 hours in the car, there is nothing more frustrating than hitting a 20 min. stoppage knowing you have 2 hours of driving time left. I don't mind driving, but I tend to under-estimate (when I'm planning) just how miserable long distances can be. Let's be realistic - just how good is your 4 y.o. gonna be in the car for that long?
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May 2nd, 2006, 11:07 AM
  #39  
 
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hey bethmac. sorry, i didn't mean to imply your folks are "elderly" per se, just older than you, I guess . In any case, I really, really understand your need to see everything but you mention stops along the way, to take pictures, eat, see neat little quirky stores, etc. That adds to your driving time. Really, really trust me. I'm not trying to dampen your sense of adventure. On the contrary, I say go see it but be realistic too. I once posted for advice about driving from Philly to Maine because I wanted to see the northeastern coast and was willing to do the drive so I am one of those too that doesn't mind being in the car BUT, this is the southwest you'll be seeing. It's some of the most spectacular country you will ever see. You will want to do more than get out of the car and take a picture.

Is this doable? Yes, of course it is but what will you do when you get to Lake Powell in the evening and not see anything? Kind of a waste, wouldn't it? Horseshoe bend is amazing but reserve it for another time. Enjoy GC and do an overnight. If there's any moon at all, seing the canyon walls in GC under the moonlight is a treat in and of itself. So do GC as an overnight, driving through the Hoover dam and do Zion/Bryce as another day trip. Everything looks doable in paper but reality is, it will be too rushed and I myself like a fast paved trip but this is too much, even for me.

...this reminds me of Edward Abbey's book Desert Solitaire where he tells the readers to get out of your tin contraptions and walk the earth. I think he will be sadly disappointed in reading this thread knowing quite a bit of us like being in our cars amidst all that southwest beauty he loved so dearly. LOL
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May 2nd, 2006, 11:52 AM
  #40  
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Sounds to me like the only way to see all this southwestern beauty is to spend a lot of time in the tin contraption.
Thanks, Utahtea, for your helpful ideas. I think you are very kind for dispensing travel tips without judgment. It takes all kinds, you know? I have to admit, one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen is Times Square at night in a gorgeous snow on my fist trip to NYC. I find the beach at sunset equally beautiful, as well as cresting the Tennessee mountains in the fall on the roads that wind up and down them. And so, on MY vacation, I am as equally excited about seeing the neon and people watching in Vegas, shopping with my mom and, yes, playing in the pool with my son as I am about taking in views of the Grand Canyon and otherworldly stone formations, the desert pinks and oranges. I guess sometimes a girl just wants to have it all!
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