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LV-Zion-Bryce-GC trip: itenerary help

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Aug 10th, 2014, 07:34 AM
  #1
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LV-Zion-Bryce-GC trip: itenerary help

We are trying to plan a 8-day vacation in early October. Days and dates are slightly flexible. We are two adults, 3 children ages 6-10, easy, seasoned travelers. Would like to take the kids to the Grand Canyon and get a good experience out of it, so we are considering the following driving tour. Please help me tweak this itinerary.

Flying in and out of Las Vegas (great deal on flights, have voucher for free rooms there)
Day 1 - travel day, spend night in LV
Day 2 - Leave LV, head to Hoover Dam for lunch, keep driving to Grand Canyon to spend the night.
Day 3 - Grand Canyon, take tour there, spend night there.
Day 4 - Head through Monument Valley, through Cortez/Mesa Verde, spend night in Canyonland. Stop off in each location to enjoy approx 2 hour visit.
Day 5 - Drive through Moab (stop for visit there), head to Capitol Reef, spend night.
Day 6 - Spend day in Zion, head to Bryce
Day 7 - Spend day in Bryce, return to LV to spend night
Day 8 - Fly home from LV

Where do we need more/less time? Is there a place we can cut out of the trip completely? I know we could spend 2-3 days in some of these locations, but for this trip, we just want to get a good overview. Can you help?
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Aug 10th, 2014, 11:18 AM
  #2
TAW
 
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too much in that time period. I don't think you are allowing enough drive time. You aren't giving yourself enough time to see any of the National Parks...esp Arches in Moab. That's 2 days right there.
And I don't think you can do MonValley/MesaVerde/Canyonland in one day.
Skip going to Moab this trip and stay further South and do Grand Canyon/Bryce/Zion.
Hope this helps. Do a search on here for other similar trips.
Have fun.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 11:43 AM
  #3
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Yes, I was worried about days 4-5 being too much, and missing out on valuable time on days 6-7. So maybe just going to Monument Valley from GC, staying there instead of moving on an cutting out everything in Day 5. Then going on to Zion and Bryce, allowing more time in each?
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Aug 10th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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I would focus the trip on the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce and save the others for another trip. This will allow you time to explore these amazing parks in a bit more depth and give you some time to catch your breath in between.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 06:18 PM
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Agree. You definitely want an [email protected] Zion. It'll probably be the kids favorite spot (other than the swimming pool in Vegas).
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Aug 10th, 2014, 06:40 PM
  #6
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Thank you all for your help. I figured it was too ambitious. So how is this looking?


Flying in and out of Las Vegas (great deal on flights, have voucher for free rooms there)
Day 1 - travel day, spend night in LV
Day 2 - Leave LV, head to Zion
Day 3 - Bryce, maybe stay at Ruby's Inn?
Day 4 - Capitol Reef
Day 5 - Monument Valley
Day 6 - Grand Canyon
Day 7 - Back to LV

Do we need a day each in Capitol Reef and Monument Valley? Could we take a day in Capitol Reef, and then stop off at Monument Valley on the way to the Grand Canyon? Spend night at Grand Canyon and a full day and 2nd night there? (Adding an 8th day back for flying out of LV--our flying time will take a full day.)
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Aug 10th, 2014, 06:54 PM
  #7
 
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Sanibella,
You are not grasping the drive times involved. You have only 5 days. You really really need to limit this trip to GC, Bryce Zion. No MV no Capitol Reef. If you try todo either of your above plans , your kids will hate the trip and so will you.

All youwould be doing is driving, not enjoying what you came to see.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 07:09 PM
  #8
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I agree with Dayle. You are still trying to cover too much distance with too little time in GC, Bryce, or Zion to actually enjoy them.
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Aug 10th, 2014, 07:26 PM
  #9
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Ok -- I think I see it now - -it is the lower part, the MV -> GC -> LV part that is the longer drive times. I promise I am doing my research here. I got these itineraries from other "one week grand circle driving itineraries" and chose the ones where we liked the locations after researching here to see if it looked like good locations for our families' interests. We just can't get a good grasp of how much time we will need in each place, etc, and it is starting to confuse me.

I can definitely shorten the length of the geographical circle and will look at that.

Also -- we are taking two trips this year, one in fall and one in spring (Late March). You think this would be the better one to take in March? Or stick with October? I am afraid of snow and cold in March...right?
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Aug 10th, 2014, 10:57 PM
  #10
J62
 
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The itineraries you have found are "been there, check if off the list" itineraries.

In my opinion, 1.5d / 2 nights is optimum for GC. Less is ok if you don't plan to do any hiking & simply plan to drive from lookout to lookout along the rim. Zion is the park most worthy of a longer visit. 2-3 days minimum is what I'd recommend so you can experience more of the park. With kids ages 6-10 you won't tackle the more difficult hikes, so perhaps 2 full days, 2-3 nights there is ok. Bryce 1.5d is good, so you can explore the hoodoos at a leisurely pace and see the park in different light conditions. I recommend you stay in the park at Bryce (so you can do nighttime ranger walks and star gazing) and GC (just because), and outside the park at Zion (since the town of Springdale is literally right next to the park and you can enjoy the conveniences of modern hotels without sacrificying proximity to the park).

October is better for GC, Zion and Bryce. Bryce is at 8000' elevation so you can need to be prepared for winter weather there in October as well.

I recall being at Bryce in early May and 99% of the tourist were in shorts - shivering when it snowed during the day, and confined indoors when is snowed a few inches overnight. In March both Bryce and GC rim will be dead of winter - not the kind of place you'll enjoy being outside all day with kids.

Zion in March is ok, except for the river/Narrows. The water temp will be somewhere close to 32 degrees and water levels subject to very high spikes due to snow melt so hiking the narrows is out of the question. In October you'll be able to visit the narrows, at least a short way with the kids.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 01:15 AM
  #11
 
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It seems like your intentions are not to spend days in one place and I believe this itinerary is doable. You mention you are seasoned travelers and with 3 young kids, so I assume you are not so old that you can't handle long days if it's easy-paced. (Driving and sightseeing, as opposed to hiking.) This gives you the "good overview" tour.

Day 1 - travel day, spend night in LV
Day 2 - Leave LV to Zion in a.m., Bryce in p.m. Spend night in Tropic
Day 3 - Drive scenic 12&24 to Capitol Reef, spend night Caineville.
Day 4 - Head to Canyonlands in a.m., Arches in p.m. Spend night in Moab
Day 5 - Head down to Natural Bridges, Drive the Moki Dugway, Detour through The Valley of The Gods, take sunset pics of MV as you drive by and spend night in Kayenta.
Day 6 - Go to Grand Canyon, spend day and night there.
Day 7 - To Hoover Dam, return to LV to spend night
Day 8 - Fly home from LV

The loop is reversed because it seemed like day 2 was not being used to its capacity. Timing works better in reaching each park at the proper time for visiting, sunsets in scenic areas, and towns that have lodging.
There are sights along the way at many places that you could add or switch out. Goblin Valley, Dead Horse, Gooseneck,etc.
Due to mileage constraints I left out Mesa Verde, but I'm sure you all will be back since you are just getting a taste of everything.
You kids will have a blast. Their days will be filled with things they don't get to see every day. I'm sure they will tell you what their favorites are and you can plan the next vacation around those sites allowing more time.
October temps will depend on the elevation you're at. Warm in Vegas and chilly in Bryce. Dress in layers to accommodate each stop.
Have fun and enjoy. Kids are only young for so long and family vacations make great memories.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 04:58 AM
  #12
 
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Yikes! With only 6 days (figuring day 1 and 8 are in LV), you should stick to an itinerary that keeps you in the western part of Utah to limit the long drive times and allow you time to enjoy the parks and other places nearby. How about this:
Day 1 Las Vegas
Day 2 Hoover Dam on the way to Grand Canyon South Rim
Day 3 Grand Canyon (you won't see much on day 2)
Day 4 Head to Bryce; on the way stop in Kanab and spend a few hours at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (amazing place in a spectacular setting) or check out Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. You'll drive past both on the way to Bryce.
Day 5 Bryce; maybe rent some bikes and ride the beautiful bike path in the nearby Red Canyon
Day 6 Bryce to Zion
Day 7 Zion
Day 8 Back to LV

There are some really interesting smaller parks and unique sites near each of these national parks that are worth a visit without having to drive so far. Monument Valley, while a beautiful and iconic site, is far too long of a drive to just take a quick peak at it - especially with young kids.
Try to get in-park lodging at Bryce and Grand Canyon, and stay in Springdale for Zion. This type of itinerary will provide some time for your kids to participate in some ranger-led programs, etc. Let us know what you think. Enjoy the planning!

Day 6
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:06 AM
  #13
 
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Sharondi's tweak makes the most sense.

At least one full day in each place is the way to go.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 10:11 AM
  #14
 
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I also think Sharondi has a great plan for you.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 03:27 PM
  #15
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Thank you, thank you for these thoughtful responses! I agree, a full day would be ideal. RJA has the right idea here: we are not wanting to spend days in any one place but we don't want to do a "fly by" as J62 suggested either. I want to keep everyone moving but not wear them out completely. I like sharondi's plan a lot, and I am encouraged that we would be able to see the additional animal sanctuary in addition to Zion, Bryce and GC.

Thank you all again. Now I can better research good places to stay and eat and the excursions and adventures we can do while we are at each location! Your suggestions are very welcome.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 03:40 PM
  #16
 
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We stayed in the park lodges at both Zion and Bryce and would do it that way again.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 05:10 PM
  #17
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lots of lodging choices in Springdale for Zion if you can't or don't want to stay in the park.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:35 PM
  #18
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Just booked all lodging -- staying in lodge at park at GC and Best Westerns at Bryce and Zion. Couldn't get into in-park lodging at this late date. (I usually plan farther ahead but did not realize we would be able to take a trip in the fall, and am just happy for the chance to take it!) Reviews on all lodging look fine, so I am good with this.

Flights still seem unreasonably higher than usual for LAS so I might give it a little longer before booking. Am considering Priceline for this...have never used Priceline but might give it a shot this time because we are flying across country and I think this gives us best chances for a good itinerary. I am wondering if it will really be helpful though with 5 of us traveling together. Can't wait to move on to planning day trips and excursions after this painful part is done! ha!
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:52 PM
  #19
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I stayed in the BW in Springdale last year and it had just been re-done. Very nice.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 08:57 PM
  #20
 
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Keep calling if you want to still stay in the park. They have cancellations all the time.
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