Help w/ Grand Canyon vacation

Jan 3rd, 2004, 11:09 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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Help w/ Grand Canyon vacation

I need some advice for me and my teenage boys wishing to visit the Grand Canyon and area. Originally planned to visit in early July, '04, but wonder if Thanksgiving would be better. I'm not in shape to hike the canyon, but what are mule rides like - too scary for 13 yo? What about several days on the river and a mule ride out of the canyon? Should we stay at the canyon or use Sedona as a base? Are Zion and Bryce NP too far to include in trip if flying in/out of Las Vegas? Looking to stay for about 12 days. Thanks for your help!
Momof3boys is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Zion is easier to reach from Vegas than is the Grand Canyon, South Rim.

As for the mule rides, I am not sure how well you could tolerate the saddle for that long a ride. Something to think about.

You can see a lot of the canyon from the rim. The West Rim drive is one that is served by shuttle bus in the high season. You can ride a while and walk a little going out. Some of the best views of the canyon are along this road.

I think a full day would enable you to see quite a bit.

One word of caution, in the summer the sun is strong because you are at an altitude of 7,500 feet and the atmosphere does not filter out as many of the harmful rays. I have seen people in tank tops and shorts painfully burned by the end of the day.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 01:55 PM
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Momof3, Sedona is much too far to use as a base. The town of Tusayan, near the South Rim, has many lodging options and is close enough, but I think it would be much more desirable, particularly for your boys, to stay at one of the in-park places right near the Canyon rim.

I think the poster above, in using g the term "West Rim" while talking about a shuttle bus and the best views, is actually talking about the South Rim. Companies promoting bus tours from Las Vegas talk about the "West Rim" but I don't think that is a term that was in general use until recently. It is just a term they can use to promote the area closest to Vegas that can legitimately be said to be part of the Canyon. But the most famous, most scenic part of the canyon is many miles distant and is viewed from the well-established South Rim (which has a park service shuttle serving several of its many viewpoints) and North Rim areas.
CalDC is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 02:16 PM
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We just went to the GC this summer. The mix-up on the west rim /south rim is because the two areas to see on the south rim are the west rim drive and the east rim drive. We did have to take shuttle buses to see the viewpoints on the west rim and you catch the shuttles near Bright Angel Lodge. We stayed at the Thunderbird lodge right next to Bright Angel Lodge and it was great staying in the park because you could walk right out the door and see the canyon as well as from some of the rooms. I believe that you have to book the donkey rides and whitewater trips at least a year or two in advance. I doubt if they do either of those in November. We arrived mid-morning (in Aug. 2003), and we waited around by the hotels near the West Rim Shuttle until someone checked out of the hotel and left so we could obtain a parking spot. Parking is at a premium and you aren't even guaranteed a parking spot if you are staying in the hotel there. I think you have to park at a big lot right as you enter the park and take shuttles everywhere unless you plan like we did. Once we parked by our hotel, we did not move our car until we left for good the next day. The West Rim Shuttle took about 2-3 hours to see. We spent the afternoon walking around the area, seeing a ranger talk and going to El Tovar for dinner, which was kind of a disappointment but ok. The next morning we were up by 5:00 and hiked along the main path along the canyon toward Mather and Yavapai Point areas for the sunrise. It was a good 30 minute hike of vigorous walking. We watched the sunrise and started back to the room by 7:00 a.m., took showers, packed up and left by the East Rim since we were going to Monument Valley that day. We saw a fantastic ranger talk around Yavapai Point on the way out and we stopped at many of the viewpoints as we drove out of the park. So we were actually there all of 24 hours to see the canyon without too many other activities.
jet519 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Thanks for the clarification, Jet519. I think some of the Vegas tour companies play on this confusion, with people thinking that they are being taken to the west Rim Drive (that is, the part of the Rim Drive that is west of the Grand Canyon Village complex)at the South Rim, while the West Rim those companies are talking about is far away from the Rim Drive.

I remember seeing the Thunderbird Lodge where Jet stayed, and Momof3, although I did not stay there, and it is just an unremarkable motel-type facility, as a boy I would have been thrilled with it because of its right-on-the-edge of-the-rim location. The same is true of its almost identical next-door companion lodge, which I think is named the Kachina Lodge, although I'm not certain that's its name.
CalDC is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 05:10 PM
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12 days with two teenage boys is fun...I know...our boys loved this area.

I would suggest making a circle. Starting in Las Vegas take Hwy 93 down to Kingman, take I-40 to Williams and Hwy 64 up to the S. Rim of the Grand Canyon. (280 miles) I would spend 3 nights and two full days just exploring by shuttle bus and walking along the rim.

When you leave the Grand Canyon make sure you have time to stop at the many vista points on the way to Desert View and the exit of the park. Take Hwy 89 north to Page, AZ (140 miles) and Glen Canyon National Recreational Area. If you really want to give your boys a treat then do the float trip on the Colorado River out of Page, AZ. The boat trips on Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon are two other great tours too. I would recommend spending from 3 nights in Page.

From Page, AZ go up to Bryce Canyon. Beware that many trip makers have you going on Cottonwood Road as a short cut but this road is dirt and is slow going, so I recommed taking Hwy 89 all the way up to Hwy 12. (155 miles) I'd suggest spending two nights at Bryce. If you stay a 3rd night you might enjoy the scenic drive on Hwy 12 to Boulder. there is the Kodachrome Basin State Park not to far from Cannonville. The is the Petrified Forest State Park in Escalante and the Anasazi Indian Village State Park in Boulder. Also the Burr Trail and Calf Creek State Park on in the area.

If you want a horse back ride then maybe Bryce or Zion might be the place to take short ones.

It's only 85 miles from Bryce to Zion.

Zion is one of my boys favorite areas. We would go and spend a week at a time here. There are many easy to difficult hikes. The Virgin River to play in and you can rent intertubes just outside the park limits in Springdale which was of my boys favorite things to do. This is a great place to just kick back and relax in beautiful scenery. I would suggest spending the rest of the time here.

It's only 165 miles back to Las Vegas from Zion and it's fast driving with most of it on I-15.

Summer might be hot but Thanksgiving might be cold. I wouldn't plan on any water activities in late November. If you could possible make it in June or late August it would be better than July. We were in the are in mid-August last year and it wasn't to hot except in Page, AZ but we didn't care because we did the float drip and boat trips.

My pictures from last year at Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Colorado Float Trip, Bryce and Zion:

A great website on this area:

utahtea is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 06:31 AM
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We toured the Grand Canyon, Brice, Zion, & Las Vegas when my son was about 10 and my daughter about 14. We saw all those things plus the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert in about 9 days, so you'll be fine time-wise.

We went to the North Rim rather than the South and loved every minute. Although we were there in July, the North Rim has a higher elevation and is wooded, so it was comfortably cool. There are many good trails around the rim there, and it isn't a fraction as crowded as the South/West rims. The North Rim is open only in summer, so it's not an option for Thanksgiving.

We did a half day mule ride and my son loved it (we all did). Definitely the way to see the canyon. My daughter is prone to fainting when she's hot/dehydrated so she stayed behind. The mules are trained to walk very close to the outer edge of the trail, so I wouldn't recommend it if you're afraid of heights but otherwise it's great. Just be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat with a brim that you can tie on, and bottles of water.
Linda0515 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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Thanks for all of ya'lls advice. You have definitely helped w/ my decision making.!
Momof3boys is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 04:28 PM
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Definitely spend some time in Sedona. The Red Rock country is beautiful even if you just drive thru the area.
Toms is offline  
Jan 4th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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We just returned from Phoenix and the Grand Canyon over New Years. It was our first visit, and we weren't disappointed!

The mule trips are currently on hiatus while the trails are restored. I'm not sure how long they're closed for, but it sounded like it would be a while.

I'd definitely check with the Web site or call the park service to be sure.
SusanM is offline  
Jan 6th, 2004, 07:39 PM
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utahtea - Thanks for the info about your website. I just viewed all your vacation pictures. AWESOME! You definitely put me in the mood for exploring the area!
Momof3boys is offline  
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