Need Help for San Francisco to Phoenix Trip

Old Jul 10th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2015
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Need Help for San Francisco to Phoenix Trip


This is my first post in this forum and I am sorry that this questions might have been asked thousands of times here. My mother and I (age 50 & 24) are planning to travel to the Southwest in October 2015 (Oct 9 - Oct 22). We both love photography, mainly landscape.

I am planning to rent a car from SFO - PHX and as this is my first long road trip, I think I would limit my driving to 6-7 hours a day. Here is my rough itinerary:

Day 1 / Oct 9 : Arrive SFO 10am

Day 2 : San Francisco

Day 3 : Leave SF to Yosemite NP, overnight at Yosemite

Day 4 : Hike at Yosemite, drive to Lone Pine through Mono Lake, Mammoth Lake, Tioga Pass, overnight Lone Pine

Day 5 : Drive to Las Vegas through Death Valley, overnight Las Vegas

Day 6 : Las Vegas

Day 7 : Las Vegas to Zion NP, overnight Zion

Day 8 : Zion NP - Bryce NP, overnight Bryce

Day 9 : Bryce NP - Page, AZ overnight Page

Day 10 : Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon to Monument Valley, overnight Monument Valley

Day 11 : Monument Valley - GCNP (South Rim), overnight Grand Canyon area

Day 12 : Grand Canyon - Flagstaff, overnight Flagstaff

Day 13 : Flagstaff to Phoenix via Sedona

Day 14 : depart Phoenix!8408341

I know there are really a lot of things to cover with so little of time. I'm fine in removing few national parks in order to explore more of one site, so any guidance will be awesome!

Our budget are pretty flexible, our hotel budget are 100-200++ $ a night, and we would love to try staying at a tent cabin to stargaze if possible.

I have also considered in taking all inclusive tour…

but I think the schedule is so tight that I will not have enough time to take photos.

Another option is by booking separate tours from each big cities with the downside of extra costs and less flexibility. I really appreciate any advices and critics.

Thank you so much!
MichaelGunawan is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 04:59 PM
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You are picking a good time of the year to visit and have Tioga Pass open and not be to hot in Death Valley.

You really aren't giving yourselves much time at the national parks especially Yosemite if you want to hike, Zion and Bryce. I would schedule another night each for Yosemite and Zion so you have one full day to see these parks. Bryce is only 88 miles from Zion so if you leave Zion early that morning you can spend almost a whole day at Bryce.

If you are only doing Horseshoe Bend and Upper Antelope Slots canyon you only need a couple of hours in Page and don't need to spend the night. I think I would drop Monument Valley only because it's the farthest out of your way and you really need that extra night.

I wouldn't bother moving from the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff. Just do the drive from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix passing Sedona on day 13 so that gives you a full day at the Grand Canyon.

Your link to the tour didn't work. If it is a large bus you then have to deal with a bus load of people at the stops. You really have a better chance to do and see things you want to do on your own.

utahtea is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 05:38 PM
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Thank for the great response!
Sorry, this is the correct link:

It's really helpful hearing from you!

Maybe I'll change it to 2 nights in Yosemite and 2 nights in Bryce (removing Lone Pine and Zion overnight)

If I drop Monument Valley, should I stay in Grand Canyon for 2 nights? Or are there any other place on the way that worth the visit?

Do you know where is the best place to watch the sunset, sunrise, and stargazing?

Thank you again!
MichaelGunawan is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 06:01 PM
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I think you'll be sorry if you don't give Zion more time. It is an incredibly beautiful and special place.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 06:47 PM
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You truncated the tour's link . . . is it this one?

or maybe???
janisj is online now  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 06:49 PM
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oops -- I didn't see your second post. So yes -- the first one I linked.

I'd concentrate on Yosemite, Zion and Bryce, just one day/night for the GC and ditch Flagstaff.
janisj is online now  
Old Jul 10th, 2015, 09:05 PM
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I think I'll do a one day trip to Zion, so I could stay in Bryce for 2 nights, and don't have to change lodging too many times.

Should I ditch Flagstaff and go straight from GCNP to Phoenix?

Or is it better to go back to Vegas via Kingman?

I read that the road from Flagstaff to Phoenix is really beautiful.
MichaelGunawan is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 01:21 AM
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By making Bryce your 2 nights with a day trip to Zion you add extra 125 miles of back tracking verse making Zion your 2 night stop with a day trip to Bryce. Bryce could be a lot cooler to colder than Zion by mid October. While many people have their preference of Bryce vs Zion, you do have beautiful views of Zion canyon if you stay in the park or even if you stay in Springdale, Utah. If you stay at Bryce you have to be at the canyon rim for the views.

If you drop Monument Valley you could spend one night in Page and then get up early the next morning to get to the Grand Canyon. There are a lot of great overlooks before you get to Grand Canyon village.

I've already recommended ditching Flagstaff.

The drive to Phoenix is scenic, you would get to see Sedona and you could make a short stop at Montezuma's Castle National Monument and it will be just a little shorter. The drive to Vegas is nice too and you can make some stops on the old route 66.

That tour hits a lot of places and I doubt you will be spending much time at any one place.

utahtea is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 12:27 PM
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Do you have lodging booked for Yosemite yet? It's not a place you can show up without a reservation. Concentrate on that first.
I don't like the tour itinerary, too rushed and the motel they put you up in is in La Mirada, way in the boonies, or else Knott's Berry Farm hotel, not even in LA County.
jamie99 is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 03:24 PM
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@utahtea thx for your suggestion! I'll check the lodging prices and availability for the final trip. Also the price of car rental is a bit steep with the one-way fee so I'll consider that.

@jamie99 I haven't book any lodging, but I'll do it soon, but I think October is not as full as summer months. Still I'll book it before hand. Yes the tour is really rushed, trying to put everything in 1 trip, like most of the "all-inclusive" tours.
MichaelGunawan is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2015, 04:10 PM
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>>but I think October is not as full as summer months. Still I'll book it before hand
janisj is online now  
Old Jul 12th, 2015, 09:18 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 555
Antelope Canyon photography
> You need a Navajo permit $ to enter
> You need a Navajo guide $$ to take photographs - in all probability, he/she will know nothing about photographs - it is a make work project.
Of course, a tripod BUT it may be very crowded negating ability for a memorable photograph.
> October is Equinox era so you will not have optimum direct vertical sunlight as during a summer solstice.
> Be patient

Bryce - it is a sunrise/sunset photo park.
Ditto with Monument Valley

Zion - not easy for foto. Best is Observation Point looking down to the valley below during summer solstice. Otherwise, you are at the bottom of a vertical cliff channel. Measure your zones carefully.

RVvagabond is offline  
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