Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion

Old Nov 3rd, 2001, 04:55 PM
Olive Oyl
Posts: n/a
Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion

Try again!! Thanksgiving week we are doing LV (2 nights), Bryce (2 nights), and Zion (3 nights), so I'm following all these posts with great interest.
Old Nov 3rd, 2001, 05:00 PM
Posts: n/a message above makes it looks as if I'm the original poster for this topic, but I wasn't. The topic was started by someone else but posted with no message...and I replied to try again.

Was the original post a trip report? Messages sometimes post with no content if they are too long...
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 08:53 AM
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Yes, you're right. I wrote a rather lengthy trip report and then had trouble posting it. Will try again.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:06 AM
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Las Vegas/Canyonlands Trip Report

Day One
Flew from Newark to Vegas. Be prepared for extra airport security and check with airline to see if they have meal service or any new restrictions for carry-on. Websites are a good source for this info.

Stayed at MGM Grand for 4 nights. Booked and paid in the spring so I called my Liberty travel agent and got $200 back because of the special rates now being offered. This is a huge hotel. If you don’t like to walk, pick a smaller one. Wonderful selection of restaurants, shows (more on those later). Nice pool, however, the lazy river is closed after Labor Day.

Ate at Wolfgang Puck’s Café. Delicious Italian dishes. Specialty is personal pan pizza. My favorite was the bruschetta appetizer. Moderately priced.

Saw EFX show starring Rick Springfield’s stand-in Sal, the janitor. Kind of disappointing without Rick. Music is good but all canned except for the singing and some guitar playing. Has a few sappy moments (the Merlin act). One of the dragons appeared to be broken. Try to get the 20% off coupon for this show – then it would be worth it.

Day Two (Saturday)
Found the Stage Deli (MGM) for breakfast (hidden in the corner next to the EFX theater). Good, relatively cheap, offering breakfast sandwich specials and Krispy Kreme donuts.

Visited the Venetian Hotel. Shopping mall recreates Venice and St. Mark’s Square. You have to see it to believe it! Was interested in the gondola ride ($12.50 per person) but the wait was too long. Went to Madame Tousaud’s Wax Museum ($14 per person and we got a 2 for 1 coupon from Liberty travel) Celebrity Encounter (not historical as some are). They are all done really well and some of them are frighteningly real. Took pictures of ourselves with our favorite actors and musicians. Vegas entertainers featured.

Dinner at Nob Hill (MGM). Great steaks, seafood but very expensive, especially the wine. Off to see Seigfried and Roy. OOPS! We didn’t leave ourselves enough time to get to the Mirage. If you plan to take a cab, leave time to wait in line to get one and allow for traffic on the strip on Saturday night. Made it to the show by bribing a limo driver – at least we arrived in style!

Seigfried and Roy is a magnificent magic show that is a 30-year staple of Vegas entertainment. You can buy tickets 90 days in advance and I would recommend it unless you are a high roller staying at the Mirage (they seem to get all the preferred seating).
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:14 AM
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(part 2)

Day Three
Walked across the new pedestrian overpass to New York, New York. This is a fun recreation of the NY skyline. Abundant memorials to those who died on Sept. 11th. Walked across to Excalibur and from there you can take a monorail to Mandalay Bay and Luxor. Mandalay Bay has a large, beautiful pool area with a wave pool and lazy river. All pools were open. The weather was beautiful and the end of October is still warm enough for swimming.

Rode back to Luxor. The theme and décor of this hotel is my favorite in Vegas. (Close seconds are the Hard Rock Hotel and the Venetian. I haven’t seen the Bellagio yet but I hear it’s also great). The attractions have changed a bit since we were last there in 1995. They have a Museum of King Tut’s tomb, IMAX theater, IMAX ridefilm, and a virtual reality roller coaster. A new tower of rooms has been added since our last visit. See website for more info.

Saw Jubilee at Bally’s. Lively, topless revue. Musical styles of the 40’s appealed to a graying audience. Not my thing but my in-laws liked it.

Day Four
Breakfast Buffet at MGM (check for 2 for 1 coupons from the hotel coupon book). Full breakfast selection, made to order omelets and eggs, salads, fruits, fresh Danish, donuts and desserts. Cost $10 per person, $13 on the weekends with champagne.

Star Trek – The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton (off the strip over by the convention center). Great for fans of any of the many Star Trek series and movies. The museum features the largest collection of ST memorabilia (costumes, props). A time-line beginning with actual history of space exploration evolves into the fictional one that explains all of the shows, movies and includes all of the characters. The experience ends with a motion ride (not too nauseating). Cost $25 per person (got $5 coupons from Liberty). Well worth it if you can enjoy more than the motion ride.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:16 AM
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(part3) The Parks

Day Five
Began the second half of the vacation touring the National Parks – Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion. I booked rooms within each of the parks 5 months in advance. Lodging is run by AMFAC Parks and Resorts (see for more info).

Drove a rental car across the Hoover Dam and through the desert to Grand Canyon first. It takes about 5 hours with stops. Stopped at an airplane museum in Valle along route 64. A private collector has about 30 planes on display, many in flying condition.

When we finally arrived at GC, we parked at Mather Point to get our first spectacular view of the canyon. Perfect, crisp fall weather.

Stayed 2 nights at El Tovar, a historic lodge on the south rim of the canyon. Lovely rustic hotel with a great location. Walk out the front door a hundred feet and you are surrounded by the expansive scenery. Rooms are small but modern (air-conditioning, private bathroom). We had a quiet, romantic dinner with wine in the dining room that did not break the budget. You will need to make reservations in advance.

Day Six
Took the shuttle bus to Hermit’s Rest. You cannot use your vehicle to get there – the free shuttle was instituted to ease traffic congestion and pollution within the park. It makes 8 stops at overlooks on the way out and 2 stops coming back. Took a nice long walk along the canyon rim. If you plan to hike to the bottom or take the mule ride down, you will need another day or two. Mules can only hold up to 200 pounds (and they do weigh you).
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:18 AM
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Olive you trail blazer, you. Are you having your turkey on the trail ... if so, Mountain House used to make a lovely dehydrated version, complete with these funny little turd-like things we think (read:hope) were cranberries. Let me know ... I have a wonderful sage dressing (with real purple sage). LOL, trading the salt for the sand. I'm sure you'll dress up (a Thanksgiving allusion) LV and the canyons. Have a good one, and ciao. J/L (aha!)
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:21 AM
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(part 4)

Day Seven
Got up early to drive to Bryce Canyon. This is a good 6-hour trip. The scenery is beautiful and unusual in spots but bring some CD’s with you because you run out of radio stations. Page, near Lake Powell and Kanab in Utah are good towns to grab a bite or make a rest stop. There is a time zone change from Pacific to Mountain when you get to Utah. If you have time to make stops, I think the entrances to the Pink Coral Sand Dunes and the Grand Staircase Parks are both along Hwy 89.

Arrived in Bryce in the late afternoon and took in the scenery from the canyon rim. Stayed and ate at the Lodge (again, reservations for dinner are a must). We loved the western cabin. It was a spacious, charming, wood-beamed room with complete with a gas fireplace.

We learned from the dining room hostess that we were quite lucky weather-wise. Bryce closes by the end of October because that’s when the snows come. Usually by the middle of the month they have had a foot of snow. The elevation is 8000 feet. Although the nights were in the 20’s, the daytime highs were a perfect low 60’s.

Day Eight
The following morning we got up early to make our hike to the bottom of the canyon. This trek is much easier than GC. We took the Navajo Loop Trail which is 1.3 miles and changes 520 feet in elevation. The high elevation slows you down a bit but this is not a difficult trail. After a series of switchbacks, you pass through a narrow ravine called “Wall Street”. Trees grow in impossible places. There are rock formations called “hoodoos” surrounding you and around each turn is a view more breathtaking than the last.

In the afternoon we drove to Zion, only about a 2-hour drive. It’s much warmer there as the elevation is only about 3500 feet at the bottom of the canyon. You experience this canyon from the bottom, looking up at the sheer rock cliffs. This is a favorite park of serious rock climbers and we followed the progress of a group who slept overnight on the steep tower of Angel’s Landing.

Zion also uses a free shuttle bus for visitors so we made all the stops and took a short hike to the Weeping Rock. Same routine for dinner – make reservations if you want to eat in the dining room (the only game in town).

Old Nov 5th, 2001, 09:25 AM
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(part 5)

Day Nine (Saturday)
Took a nice easy walk on the Riverside Walk Trail which starts at the Temple of Sinawava (Zion NP). It is paved and wheelchair accessible. Then we checked out and drove back to Vegas (about three hours).

Although there was a lot of driving on this leg of the journey, it’s not as bad as it seems. The driving is easy, no traffic, lots of beautiful scenery to gawk at and speed limits of 75 in places.

Arrived in Vegas and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel for one night before returning home. We love the memorabilia displayed everywhere. This is a young party crowd. While they do have lots of concerts, I was surprised they didn’t have a local band playing. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café, which is a casual. The hotel’s signature restaurant is Nobu (also famous in NYC). It is an upscale Japanese/sushi eatery open for dinner only.

Our room was large and had a king size bed. They provide a variety of music stations on the television. HRH also has a nice pool area and pool bar. Finally had some time for gambling!

Day Ten
The End! Too bad. Again, be prepared for airport security, bring your own food and give yourself plenty of time for longer lines.
Old Nov 5th, 2001, 04:32 PM
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Jangles, do you feel that you spent enough time in Zion and Bryce Canyon? It seems that a lot of people feel that you need to spend a couple of days to get a good feel of both places.
Old Nov 9th, 2001, 08:34 AM
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Reply to Don - The pace of this trip was anything but leisurely! We had the afternoon for walking and picture-taking and the morning for hiking in Bryce and Zion. An extra day at each would would have been nice. But if my vacation was longer I probably would have tried to fit in more of the parks in southern Utah - Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Coral Pink Sands, Grand Staircase. The first 4 days of the trip (in Vegas) was for a family reunion. Otherwise I might have only stayed 2-3 nights in town.
Old Nov 13th, 2001, 11:40 PM
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Hi, I plan on driving a circuitoous route Dec. 6 - Dec. 8 from Las Vegas... I had planned on hittig Bryce & Zion. Did you say Bryce will be closed then? I didn't see that on the NPS site.
Old Nov 14th, 2001, 11:29 AM
Olive Oyl
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Kristina, Bryce Lodge closes Oct 31 for the winter--I believe that's what Stacey meant. The park is open year round.

I was wondering about drive times...have seen that before here and will do a search, but, LV->Bryce. Zion->LV?

Think I made a BAD miscalculation in scheduling our return home from LV the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Bad miscalculation. I hear LV airport is terrible any Sunday, so that one should be the worst. Don't know why that didn't occur to me earlier!

Old Nov 14th, 2001, 02:24 PM
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Uh oh, I'm flying out on Sunday too. Oh well. My first trip to LV & AZ, I plan on enjoying it! Any suggestions on a romantic honeymooney type getaway in Sedona that's less than $200/night? LOL I must have a fever huh!
Old Nov 28th, 2001, 12:10 PM
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Kristina, Olive Oyl is right - the park is open but the lodge is closed. Sorry that came out wrong in my posting. Approximate drive times for us were as follows: LV to GC south rim - 5 hours. GC to Bryce - 6 hours. Bryce to Zion - 2.5 hours. Zion back to LV - 3 hours. Mapquest is good for mapping the route and providing drive times but it's good to get some real maps from AAA or wherever as well. Have a nice trip!

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