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HELP: Las Vegas to Mesa Verde and Back, via Canyons, Monuments, and Parks

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Aug 24th, 2012, 04:42 PM
  #1
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HELP: Las Vegas to Mesa Verde and Back, via Canyons, Monuments, and Parks

Mrs. Dave and I are flying into Las Vegas in mid-September, and picking up a rental car for a two-week trip that tentatively includes:
Zion National Park, 2 nights
Bryce Canyon, 2 nights
Goblin Valley State Park, drive through
Arches National Park, 2 nights
Durango, Colorado, 1-2 nights
Mesa Verde National Park, 2 nights
Monument Valley, 1 night or drive through
Grand Canyon North Rim, 1 night

We want to hike and picnic, enjoy beautiful vistas and photograph them, perhaps take a float trip, train ride, etc., while staying in nearby motels, B&Bs, and/or park lodges. Unfortunately, the lodges inside the national parks do not appear to have vacancies at this late date, and most of the better-known motels are also booked. Unfortunately as well, the fine print at Budget Rent-a-Car says we can't drive their car into Colorado. This presents dilemmas.

I am appealing to the collective wisdom of the Fodorite Community to help us find work-arounds, and to enhance our trip. First of all, I think this itinerary is do-able...does anyone think otherwise? Is it likely that a variance can be negotiated or purchased for the rental car limitation? Can anyone suggest a method for edging our way into the park lodges? Or, does anyone know of good alternative lodging that is likely to be available? Highly recommended sights and hikes (light to moderate)? Best sequence of itinerary & routes? Any strong recommendations for eateries? Good float trips?

Thanks for your help!
Dave_Ohio is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2012, 04:59 PM
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There are several motels [chains] in Cortez CO which is a 10 minute drive from the entrance to Mesa Verde NP. There are also some decent places to eat there. While Durango is bigger and nicer, it is a further drive from the entrance of MVNP [40 mins or so]. There are also many motels and restaurants there, much more of a selection than Cortez, so you have to balance time with variety.

Hike the Petroglyph Trail at MVNP. Take a tour of: Spruce Tree [self guided], Balcony House and Cliff Palace [both ranger led and needing tickets].

Apple Orchard B&B in Durango is lovely, but may be booked at this late date.

http://www.appleorchardinn.com/

For restaurants:
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...by-debitnm.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...by-debitnm.cfm
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Aug 24th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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Forgot - Unlikely you will find any float trips, water is pretty much at it's lowest of year.

Trimble Hot Springs in Durango is very nice for a bit of relaxation.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 05:26 PM
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Cancel the rental car and go with someone else.

You will likely find spots in some if not all the lodges, if you call 2 or 3 times every single day.
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Aug 24th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Thanks so much, Deb.
From your information, the Colorado portion seems likely to be a GO! Hadn't thought about water levels on the rivers. How are the concessionaires holding up?

Thanks too, s-b-d.
I was originally lured by some tempting discounts from Budget, but certainly don't want to scrap the Colorado sites to get them. I have been checking online calendars at the lodges for vacancies. It's like playing whack-a-mole, trying to nail down the right date at the right place as soon as it pops up. Do you think phoning will be more effective? By the way, I think I have seen some of your comments (and photos?) on hikes. Thanks for sharing that information!
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Aug 24th, 2012, 07:21 PM
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My float info was for area around Durango only. Don't know how Grand Canyon and other spots are doing, but it has been a very dry summer and snow was not great either.

Calling lodges is better than trying online.

https://picasaweb.google.com/DebitNM/MesaVerdeMay2009

https://picasaweb.google.com/DebitNM/MesaVerdeInWinter
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Aug 24th, 2012, 08:24 PM
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Call for sure. For some reason, cancellations don't always show up online.
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Aug 25th, 2012, 01:35 PM
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You've gotten some great information.

If you can't get reservations in the parks, there are a number of nice places in Springdale (Zion), and DebitNM mentioned Cortez for Mesa Verde. We stayed at the Bryce View Lodge just outside Bryce Canyon four or five years ago. The room was nice and we had access to the pool, etc. at Ruby's across the street.

It will take you most of the day to drive from Mesa Verde to the North Rim; you could consider staying in Monument Valley or Kayenta. We stayed at the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta in May and were pleased with the room and their breakfast.

Lee Ann
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Aug 27th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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ttt
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Aug 27th, 2012, 09:41 PM
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Changed standard car rental from Budget to Enterprise. Their price is a little higher than Budget's ($491 vs. $458), but they don't appear to have the adjacent states requirement. Thrifty doesn't have it either, but charges $10/DAY extra for a spouse as additional driver, pushing their price to about $600.
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Aug 28th, 2012, 05:57 AM
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We had success on last minute calling of parks (I think we got in at the south rim lodging for the Grand Canyon but not at the main lodge El Tovar). I had read this suggestion on the site before so definitely try but you need to try several times.

As for other lodging options, we enjoyed our stay at Desert Pearl Inn in Springdale, outside Zion.

In Monument Valley, we stayed at Goulding's (not fancy but very convenient). We also enjoyed the Navaho guided tour that leaves from the hotel.

We love Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde so keep trying for that one. The lodging was very basic but the location, the restaurant (Metate), the whole park is really wonderful.
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