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MelRod Jul 7th, 2009 10:17 AM

Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Yellowstone
My husband, I, and 2 boys (ages 12 and 15) planning 1st week of August family vacation. Frst time in these locations. Want to see Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. Only have 6 days, so a lot of driving, early rising, later nights. Any suggestions for 'not to miss' sights, Budget hotels - don't want to spend over $100-150/night just to sleep, and good food along way? Would like to white water raft somewhere on the way and want some excitement for the boys, where should we raft?
1st day - Las vegas - Madame Tussaud's wax museum and Bellagio fountains; ?Stay?
2nd day - Hoover Dam ?tour? and Grand Canyon south rim shuttle bus routes; ?stay? on western side
3rd day - drive through Monument valley and plan to stop at Logan UT USU ice cream shop as others suggested; drive most of day/night to Grand Teton NP; ?stay? in southern GT area
4th day - Grand Teton NP; ?stay? southern Yellowstone NP
5th day - Yellowstone NP; ?stay?
6th day -
change days to add in white water rafting (1/2 day raft trip only)
We are thinking of buying NP $80 pass. Is AAA travel member discounts a big benefit? Thanks for any suggestions!

MichelleY Jul 7th, 2009 10:31 AM

I think it is virtually impossible to do this trip in 6 days. This is two different trips. Either do LV, GC - south rim not western side, Zion, Bryce, perhaps MV. OR do Yellowstone & Grand Teton.

Good luck,


Marginal Jul 7th, 2009 10:53 AM

Absurd trip for 6 days.

Choose either LV, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon


Grand Teton, Yellowstone

Marginal Jul 7th, 2009 10:55 AM

You are also going to have significant challenges in meeting that accomodation budget during the high season. You must have reservations if you are intending to stay in the parks.

MelRod Jul 7th, 2009 11:16 AM

I know it seems foolish to try to do it all but mainly road trip - kids schedules and budget don't allow more time
can't leave the west without seeing grand canyon and yellowstone we can't choose between them

hotels in GTNP YNP GCNP are booked, I was planning on checking often for canc. or staying off park ??

many hotels open in vegas, not sure which to stay at

have hotel in Tuba City AZ (sorry I put it in wrong s/b eastern side grand canyon)

thanks for your input

Myer Jul 7th, 2009 11:56 AM

Unless you're planning on doing some hiking down, I would skip the Grand Canyon and stick with GTNP and YNP.

From above GC looks like a giant bowl and not really impressive.

A lot more to see in the others.

dfr4848 Jul 7th, 2009 12:01 PM

Yea, this is really hard to do. But if GC and YNP (& GTNP) are really absolute, then I'd stick with them and forget the rest. I assume you know it's about 800 mi between the 2, so I don't think you'll have time for anything else.

You can keep checking for cancellations, but if you want off-park accommodations (and I wouldn't make this trip without reservations somewhere) do a search on here. There have been quite a few threads on staying outside those parks. [I just don't remember specific recommendations offhand since we always stay in the parks]

MelRod Jul 7th, 2009 03:55 PM

does anyone have 1/2 day white water rafting trip experience in Utah or Wyoming? 1st week of August. Would like some it to have some rapids excitement for 2 boys ages 12 and 15. thanks for any input!

Supercilious Jul 7th, 2009 06:04 PM

There's whitewater rafting right on the Snake near Jackson, WY.

There's also some half day rafting trips in Moab, UT, if you go there.

Again, as others have said, don't do all this driving. Spend your time in the Parks. Grand Tetons and Yellowstone are best in August. You need at least six days to see these Parks because of their size. There are plenty of lodging options just outside the Parks.

Vegas and Arizona is a furnace then. The Grand Canyon is OK due to elevation, but getting there is like driving through hell.

MelRod Jul 7th, 2009 07:35 PM

thanks for all the info so far - keeep it coming. I appreciate it!!

utahtea Jul 7th, 2009 07:38 PM

I tell you your boys are going to HATE you after this trip and will never want to go with you anywhere again. Please listen to the others and don't attept this. Grand Canyon to Grand Tetons is almost 900 miles and it's going to take over 16 hours of JUST driving time, not couting stopping for icecream, gas and food breaks. You are going to be 4 exhausted unhappy people after this and one day is not enought time to see Yellowstone, no matter how early in the day you get up and how late you stay up.

Flip a coin (both will be well worth the trip) and choose one of these itineraries instead:

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Float trip on Colorado River out of Page, AZ, see Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park and return to Las Vegas.

Fly in to Billings, Montana drive the Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone. There is more to see in Yellowstone than just old faithful and 3 - 4 days will just skim the surface of this park. Take a day or two and visit Grand Tetons. If you don't want to flip a coin then do this trip, you boys will LOVE it!


MelRod Jul 7th, 2009 07:43 PM

I am going to check into this Montana - Yellowstone trip now. Thanks for info.

Supercilious Jul 7th, 2009 07:57 PM

The Beartooth is one of the great drives of the West. If you can work it in, it will be very memorable. Also, Cody, WY is worth an overnight stop. There are great museums there and a neat rodeo every night. This is fun Western town.

Sara Jul 8th, 2009 02:32 PM

I'm relieved to read that you're not going to try to do your original super ambitious itinerary. While those are all wonderful places to visit and see, you really need to plan another trip some other year to visit the areas you skip this time. Once you see the natural wonders of the west, you'll definitely want to go back!

I agree that GTNP and Yellowstone is probably your best bet this time of year, although it will be crowded (but I suspect the others will be, too). DH and I were there for the first time a couple of weeks ago for 8 days, and that wasn't nearly enough time to see everything we wanted to! There is such an incredible diversity of different types of scenery within a short drive, and really cool wildlife, too. You'll be blown away by all the beautiful and interesting things you'll see; a variety of thermal features (we found them fascinating - not only geysers, but mud pots, fumeroles, and lots of amazingly colored hot springs!), mountains, waterfalls, canyons, beautiful lakes, rivers, valleys, wildflowers - well, I could go on and on.

We wanted to drive the Beartooth Highway, but we ran out of time. According to the NPS Yellowstone web site there is road construction on the Beartooth Highway on weekdays from now until September 25 (but not on weekends) which could lead to delays of up to 30 minutes (that was one thing that deterred us from doing it as a day trip).

There is also construction on the road between Norris and Madison in Yellowstone, and it's closed after 10 PM (it will be completely closed from Aug. 17 to the end of the season), and on the Roosevelt Parkway between GTNP and Yellowstone's south entrance. They say to expect up to 30 minutes delay any of those places, but we found it varies - we waited anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes on various days - but you need to factor those delays into any plans you make. It's pretty slow driving through the park, too, as the roads are winding and often mountainous, and there are frequently cars stopped to see wildlife that's wandered close to the road. That's okay, though, as long as you're aware and don't try to get anywhere in too much of a hurry - the scenery is beautiful everywhere (and even the burned areas are interesting, seeing what's growing back in the intervening years - and the views are more expansive in those areas) - so relax and enjoy seeing whatever you can.

You should probably spend a night or two in Jackson, if you can't get lodging in GTNP, as it's very close by; there are a lot of hotels/motels, and good restaurants there, and there was plenty of availability when we were there (I can't recommend anywhere in particular, as we stayed with friends that have a house there). Do keep trying for accommodations in Yellowstone if you can get them, and moving around to stay in different areas of the park can save you a lot of time. We stayed 2 nights each in Mammoth Hot Springs and Canyon, which we enjoyed, but if I had it to do over (and I hope I will sometime) I would have tried for the Old Faithful area (we went back twice to try to see more of the various geyser basins, we found them so interesting), and/or Lake Yellowstone for exploring the southern part of the park.

By the way, if you're only visiting these two parks, and only have 6 days, you don't need the $80 national park pass. The $25 pass is good for entrance to both Yellowstone and GTNP for 7 days. You can buy it at whatever entrance station you first use - be sure to keep the receipt, that's what you'll use for re-entry (it will be stapled to the park brochure).

I'll try to write a trip report with more details as soon as I get a chance. Good luck getting reservations - you'll have a wonderful time!

Dayle Jul 8th, 2009 03:02 PM

Melrod, Yes please do reconsider your original plan. There is just NO WAY. You would all end up hating the whole week and each other and everything you were trying to see/do.

Since you have never been out to the west, and you are asking for advice - please take it! You have no idea how much there is to see at these parks and how long the driving distances really are.

Yellowstone and Tetons is the place to be in August.

Have fun!

Trent7 Jul 8th, 2009 04:17 PM

I agree with the others, GTNP and Yellowstone. Don't worry too much about the crowds. I have been there several times in the summer and it is not that bad. You may want to go whitewater rafting in Jackson on the Snake River. It is fun and your kids will enjoy it. Also, I recommend going to Doornan's in Moose, WY (right outside the entrance to GTNP) for breakfast one morning. You sit outside with great views of the Snake River and the Teton range. Unbeatable views and the food is decent for an outdoor restaurant.

MelRod Jul 8th, 2009 09:42 PM

Thank you all for your replies. Very helpful! We are looking into the GTNP and Yellowstone plans to see what will work. Just from the internet searches I did we may want to do the rodeo in Cody also. Still working on it. Keep the great posts coming! Thanks!

utahtea Jul 8th, 2009 11:58 PM

Glad to hear you have reconsidered! We've been to Yellowstone many times but on the last trip we did the 5 mile round trip hike to Lone Star Geyser for the first time. This was a really awesome experience and you get aways from the crowds. Try and plan being there for the eruption, it's something else!


dfr4848 Jul 9th, 2009 05:07 AM

Yellowstone and GTNP will make for a great trip.

Just an FYI - report by the park service this week said that June visitors in Yellowstone set an ALL-TIME RECORD for the month! So concentrate on those hotel reservations asap!

utahtea Jul 11th, 2009 12:19 AM

"Just an FYI - report by the park service this week said that June visitors in Yellowstone set an ALL-TIME RECORD for the month! So concentrate on those hotel reservations asap!"

Maybe us Fodorites should stop pushing this park! ;)


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