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Road trip and canyon experts out there, please help a beginner!


Jun 17th, 2011, 10:16 AM
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Road trip and canyon experts out there, please help a beginner!

Hello all,
With the help of Fodor’s and Trip advisor I have put together a 30 day, mid July – mid August, US road trip for our family of five. The plan is completely based on photos and other people’s reviews, so I might have planned some things a little backwards. I would really appreciate some feedback from those of you with experience from road trips and the places we plan to visit.

So here it is:

Day 1: Coming in to Las Vegas from Europe in the afternoon after a 13 hour flight. Pick up rental car and check in at the hotel in Las Vegas.
Day 2: Las Vegas. Buy cooler and other things necessary for the road trip. Outlet shopping (the exchange rates playing to our favor at the moment). Swim in the shark aquarium pool at the hotel. Evening walk along the strip to see light show and fountain.
Day 3: 4-5 hour drive along route 66 to Williams, AZ. Check in at a B&B. Drive up to Grand Canyon south rim for a sunset view. Back to Williams.
Day 4: Drive up from Williams to Grand Canyon south rim, spend the whole day. One other option would be to take the Williams animated train ride to GC, but that would leave us only 3 ½ hours at the south rim for sight-seeing and hiking on our own. Comments on that? B&B in Williams.
Day 5: 3 hour drive from Williams to Page. Midday visit to Antelope Canyon – we will try to do both the upper and lower canyon. Horseshoe bend hike in the evening. Motel in Page.
Day 6: half day float trip on Lake Powell. If there is time, go to the beach near the marina for a swim. 3 hour evening drive from Page to Bluff. Motel in Bluff.
Day 7: visit Monument Valley – horse back trail ride in the morning and scenic drive-through in the afternoon. Motel in Bluff
Day 8: 2 ½ hour drive to Mesa Verde. Spend the day with guided tours and hikes on our own. 2 ½ hour drive back to Bluff OR 2 ½ hour drive to Durango (motel in one of those places).
Day 9: Durango – if you are not doing the train ride to Silverton, is Durango worth the detour? Is the train ride worth the detour? Originally this day was planned for Natural Bridges National Monument, but it seems a little redundant, and Durango would be a change from the hiking. Otherwise I could add another day to Page and a visit at Grand Canyon north rim, or a day at Moab (coming next). So, Durango OR GC north rim OR Moab – comments?
Day 10: 2 hour drive from Bluff to Canyonlands NP. We will do as much hiking as we can in the heat, and then take off for Moab (2 hour drive from Canyonlands). Motel in Moab
Day 11: Arches NP hiking in the morning and relax by the poolside in the afternoon. Motel in Moab.
Day 12: 4 hour drive to Salt Lake City. Visit the temple and listen to the tabernacle choir rehearsal in the evening (on Thursdays, open to the public). Hotel in Salt Lake City.
Day 13: 3 ½ hour drive from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls. Lunch and walking loop to see the falls. Another 2 hour drive to West Yellowstone. Motel in West Yellowstone.
Day 14: Yellowstone upper loop. Motel in West Yellowstone.
Day 15: Yellowstone lower loop. East side exit to Cody. Rodeo in Cody that night. Motel in Cody.
Day 16: Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody in the morning. 3 ½ hour drive from Cody to Jackson Hole (according to google maps). Horseback trail in Jackson Hole in the afternoon. Motel in Jackson.
Day 17: Long drive from Jackson to Torrey – 8 hours without stops, so I count on 10 hours all in all. Motel in Torrey. Sunset in Capitol Reef.
Day 18: Capitol Reef hiking in the morning, relax in the afternoon. Motel in Torrey.
Day 19: 2 ½ hour drive from Torrey to Bryce Canyon. Horseback trail in Bryce Canyon. Hiking in the afternoon. Motel in Tropic.
Day 20: 2 hour drive from Tropic to Springdale. Hike Angels Landing (if we can stand the heat - please comment if you have done this in August). Motel in Springfield.
Day 21: 5 hour drive from Springfield UT to Beatty NV. Visit the ghost town of Rhyolite. Motel in Beatty.
Day 22: Sunrise in Death Valley and early morning scenic drive to all the look-out points. Then after breakfast, a 7 ½ hour drive on hwy 395 towards Mariposa, CA. Motel in Mariposa
Day 23: Yosemite NP. Hire bikes and take a bike trail. Do some hiking (haven’t quite figured out how to organize our two days in Yosemite, but a nice hike to see waterfalls will probably fit in here). Motel in Mariposa
Day 24: Yosemite NP. Sequoia grove, maybe some more hiking, maybe a drive to the ghost town of Bodie. Motel in Mariposa.
Day 25: 3 hour drive to San Francisco. Cable cars, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge (yes, that sounds like a check list, but we are limited in time). Alcatraz evening tour. Hotel in San Francisco.
Day 26: Drive highway 1 from San Francisco, lunch in Monterey, motel in Big Sur (this part of our trip still needs some planning – choosing what to see along the way and not spend the whole day in the car). Motel near Big Sur
Day 27: Continue highway 1 from Big Sur to Santa Barbara (still not planned, advice is welcome). Hotel/motel in Santa Barbara.
Day 28: Los Angeles – Santa Monica, Hollywood, Beverly Hills (I think you can tell I have never been there and have no notion of the distances…). I will try to work out a nice day tour. Hotel near Santa Monica.
Day 29: Los Angeles – visit Universal Studios. Hotel near Santa Monica.
Day 30: Empty day! Add one more day in Yosemite, San Francisco, Los Angeles or somewhere else?
Day 31: 4 – 5 hour drive Los Angeles – Las Vegas, some more outletshopping
Day 32: Las Vegas - Adventuredome
Day 33: Return flight

Please comment!
grendel is offline  
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Jun 17th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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WOW! that's an ambitious schedule! A couple of comments

395 does not go to Mariposa (or near)....from Death Valley you have a choice of going via Bakersfield up 99 to 140 and Mariposa OR
395 north to 120 at Lee Vining and over Tioga Pass into Yosemite and onto Mariposa.
If you want to go to Bodie, do it before going to Mariposa,
Maybe overnight in Bishop or Mammoth rather than Mariposa, early start, see Bodie then cross the mountains via 120 or 108.

Re Durango, just one persons view, but I'd opt for Maob and GC North Rim. The train ride is very nice and with the snow pack should be good river/mountian views, but with limited time I'd go the other route.

Hope you have a great vacation!
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Jun 17th, 2011, 02:59 PM
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> One other option would be to take the Williams animated train ride
> to GC, but that would leave us only 3½ hours at the south rim
> for sight-seeing and hiking on our own
Under no circumstances WHATSOEVER should you waste your precious time or money to ride this train instead of viewing The Canyon. You can ride a steam train anywhere; you can only view The Canyon on only spot on this planet.

> Yosemite NP. Sequoia grove, maybe some more hiking,
> maybe a drive to the ghost town of Bodie
Plain and simple, this is impossible. From Yosemite Valley through Tioga Pass and then to Bodie is about a half day's drive EACH WAY. Do the math.

> 2½ hour drive to Mesa Verde. Spend the day with guided tours
> and hikes on our own.
> 2½ hour drive back to Bluff OR 2½ hour drive to Durango
> if you are not doing the train ride to Silverton,
> is Durango worth the detour? Is the train ride worth the detour?

Mesa Verde is far off the beaten path of EVERYWHERE. That's why its ruins are so well preserved, which does make it interesting. Problem is, you'll spend a lot of time of driving to see something (Anasazi ruins) you can see at a lot of other places with a much smaller expenditure of your valuable time. Unless you just MUST see the ruins of Mesa Verde, you may want to instead settle of Wupatki or Walnut Canyon.
Spending a day just to ride a steam train is (again) a bad use of time compared to the wonders of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc, etc.
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Jun 17th, 2011, 03:45 PM
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Day 3, 4 & 5: It's almost 60 miles from Williams to the Grand Canyon. You can save yourself 4 hours and almost 250 miles of extra driving by staying either at the Grand Canyon S. Rim or at the town of Tusayan, AZ. You DO NOT see the Grand Canyon from the train ride. You will see the same scenery as you drive from Williams to the S. Rim. Your time is to limited to be wasted on the train! The drive on Hwy 64 from the S. Rim to Cameron is very scenic so don't pass that up.

Bluff, UT is 45 miles from Monument Valley. Not sure why you picked Bluff but it's a pretty small town with not a lot of services! You would be much better off staying at Gouldings, Kayanta, or even Mexican Hat and save another 100 miles or so of driving. You might even check to see if there is lodging at Monument Valley. They were building something the last time we were there several years ago. Monument Valley is magical and to be there for sunsets and sunrises is awesome!

Mesa Verde is has a lot to offer and I'd opt to stay either in the park or at Cortez so you could spend as much time there as possible. I'd skip Durango and the north Rim because you have way to much on your plate as it is! You will have seen the Grand Canyon from the S. Rim. From Cortez, CO you can take Hwy 491 to Monticello, UT and then up to Moab. If you wanted to add a day to Page, AZ then you could do the boat trip on the lake to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. I love both the float and boat tour out of Page. If not, then I suggest you save the extra day(s) for Yellowstone and stay in West Yellowstone an extra night or two. It's a BIG park with a lot to offer beside Old Faithful!

3 ½ hour drive from Cody to Jackson Hole (according to google maps).

What google map doesn't tell you is if there are any road construction delays or if there are any buffalo or other animal jams. Plan on more time for this drive. You will want to stop at the West Thumb geyser are if you haven't already. Geysers and Yellowstone Lake make for a beautiful setting!

Day 22, I'd recommend spending the night on Hwy 395 in either Bishop, Lee Vining or Bridgeport and visiting Bodie before going into Yosemite. You aren't going to want to travel 6 hours just to get from Mariposa to Bodie and back. The road to Bodie is a dirt road and many car rentals don't allow that. Something to keep in mind. The hike to the top of Vernal Falls is a great hike. You can continue and go up to Nevada Falls if you want. There is also a hike to the top of Yosemite Falls but I've never done that.

Best of luck, you have a lot of driving in store for you!

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Jun 17th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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I would try try try for lodging in all the parks. It's much better and easier. Get a National Park Pass.

I don't know that I would even bother with Death Valley in August.

On Day 3 you might want to visit the Hoover Dam.

You are cutting Mesa Verde short. You need a full day there. Spend the night in the park lodge if possible. It is still a long drive after you arrive at the park(30-45 minutes).

Goblin Valley about an hour from Arches or about an hour from Torrey is a must see in my opinion for Utah.

Best hike in Yosemite for waterfalls is The Mist Trail. You might consider hiking Panorama Trail from the top and hiking down connecting to the Mist Trail. You can catch a shuttle to do this one-way.

I personally think you are doing way way to much and not allowing enough time to get from point to point. Much of you driving time is really about 20-25% short on the actual time it takes to drive.

I would go on your own at Mesa Verde. I wouldn't do the tour that is $50 with the Lodge there. You will need to sign up for a couple of the ranger tours just to get to see most of the ruins. Those run like $5 or so.

I have been to pretty much all of the places you are going. My least favorite is Monument Valley. I did Death Valley in the winter. Be prepared for temps in the 120's in the summer. Serious Serious heat. Enough to disable a car and leave you in the middle of nowhere is a consideration. I do mean the middle of nowhere.

I would allow for plenty of time in Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Arches. Those would be my priorities.

Two things that we absolutely loved on our trips of the past 20 years. The train/zipline in Durango. The train portion is just ok. www.deserthighlights.com in Arches. Truly an amazing experience. Hike Angels Landing early in the morning at first light. Another huge highlight!!

Again, try try try for the lodging in the parks.
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Jun 17th, 2011, 08:50 PM
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We can certainly tell you have never been to the US West before, not from your planned itinerary, but from your driving ambitions! Honestly, this is more like a death march (maybe just a little exaggeration). Europeans always underestimate the size of our country and the time it takes to drive these distances.

It will be HOT in the Four Corners area. You really need to slow down and allow more time in all these areas becuse you probably will not want to do much hiking mid-day. Zion can be over 100 degrees F before noon!

To me, this itinerary is like trying to visit all the sights in Western Europe in 30 days. Would you reommend that?

Sorry to be discouraging here, but you need to know you have too many destinations and not enough time. You can check many things off your list but that will be about it. As the others have said, don't waste any time riding an excruciatingly slow steam train anywhere.

I would divide this trip by half and try to visit another time for the rest. All the palces you want to visit are just too beautiful and wonderful to rush by. We want your entire family to enjoy them! Buon viaggio!
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Jun 17th, 2011, 09:02 PM
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Things worth slowing down for....

tubing on the Virgin River on a summer afternoon

sitting quietly on the grass in front of the Zion Lodge while you see how close the deer or wild turkeys will come

exploring a remote canyon and wondering about the ancient rock art, giving the figures your own interpretation

star gazing at Bryce Canyon and watching for meteors

patiently waiting for Yellowstone geysers to erupt, oooh, Ahhh

watching the bison swim the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley

have your kids do a Junior Ranger program

Sitting beneath an arch in the shade, seeing another at sunset

picking fruit and eating homemade pie at Grifford Ranch house in Capitol Reef

watching dawn break on the Teton Range in Jackson Hole

Obviously, I could go on and on. I hope this gives you some ideas!
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Jun 18th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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Rent your car on day 3 when you need it. You can switch a few things and save a lot of driving. If you can get lodging at or closer to Grand Canyon South Rim you can avoid driving back and forth from Williams.
Do the shopping at the end of the trip to avoid carrying a lot of things all through your trip.
It is easy to get to your strip hotel without the rental car.
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Jun 18th, 2011, 10:11 AM
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I knew I did the right thing posting my itinerary here!

Thank you all for your answers – exactly the kind of comments I was looking for. Some of you I even “know” from here, and I secretly hoped you would see my message and answer…

OK, some things you all agree on:
1. The itinerary is too ambitious
2. We should try to find lodging inside the parks
3. We should not waste money and time on any train rides anywhere

Without checking I just assumed that in park lodging would be out of our budget (and impossible to find this close to our departure). I will call around however to see if I can find anything.

I will also take out some stops to have more time for others. Very difficult choice, might need help from you all again.

Cannot quite decide on Mesa Verde – it is a bit out of the way, but at the same time different from the canyons and other hikes (or not?). If I take your advice I should either skip it altogether or spend two days (find park lodging or something closer by)

Boom-boom, PaulRabe and Utahtea, I will take your advice on the drive to Yosemite (add a stop in Bishop or other). Do you think Bodie is worth the detour, or should we just go straight to Yosemite?

Utahtea – thank you for the tip on Hwy 64 from GC south rim to Cameron – something I obviously wouldn’t have thought of! I realize I should rethink the lodging, hope it is not too late to find something closer to the parks (if not inside). We are only one month from departure… The hiking tips for Yosemite are also highly appreciated.

Spirobulldog – Death Valley is a big question mark in my planning because of the heat. I thought we could go there for sunrise, hoping the heat is manageable early in the morning, and then go on to Hwy 395. If anyone has done that in August I would love to have your comments.
Thanks for the hiking tip in Yosemite, will add to my planning.
Just looked up Goblin Valley – it looks amazing; maybe I will add a day in Moab and improvise once we are there. Won’t it be extremely hot in Moab in July though?
The train/zip-line tour out of Durango was actually on my list until I found the prices – we are five in our family, it was simply too expensive (over 400$/person). Will check out the desert hiking in the Moab area though.

Dayle – you are so right, I have no real life experience from any of these places; most of them are just letters on google maps for the moment. That’s why I am calling out to you all! Your second answer is the kind of vacation we are aiming for. We don’t even really have a check list; most of these national parks were unknown to us before we started our research.

Tomfuller – thank you for the tip on car rental. Do you think we could get prepared (buy cooler and other necessities) in Las Vegas without a car? Most people I have talked to say you cannot even go outside the hotel during daytime in Vegas due to the heat. Please advice.

All of you, with your experience, what places in my original planning would you skip?
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Jun 18th, 2011, 10:53 AM
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here are a few suggestions.las vegas has two areas downtown where I am guessing you are staying is where the overhead light show takes place.it is a very long walk from there to the strip.you have to take the duece(local bus)or drive and deal with parking.on the strip it is a deseptiely long walk from one hotel to another. you do not want to do much of this in daytime heat.pick a few that are close togeather. venitan-mirage or bellagio-ceasars.you can ride up and down the strip on the duece.
your plan is to drive from vegas and see the grand canyon that evening.i would call about getting lodging in the park every day as they have frequent cancellations.see the park at sunset and do a hike at sunrise the next morning.if you go below the rim you will need to be done by 9 am due to heat.
skip the train.leave by noon and drive to monument valley(possibly mexican hat)rest in an air conditioned room till evening then hike or horseback ride or drive to see sights.same thing the next morning. goosenecks state park is worth a visit.Due to time restraints i would skip everything in between.you mentioned a midday hike in antelope valley.my guess is that it will be between 100 and 110 degrees.when i took this trip the high temp was 117 degrees. the only way i can see doing this is hike-sightsee in the morning and evening and travel in an air conditioned car or be in a motel room during the heat of day.
from monument valley in summer i have gone to mesa verde,and toured some of the dwellings and and you could be in cotez or durango for dinner.i would then take 3 days to get to moab,utah and see arches national park. i would spend the 3 days to take the train ride and do adventures in the san juan mountains.with mountain passes between 10 1nd 11 thousand feet.a very beautiful area and is not a desert so the hiking is less of a survival mode.this would put you into moab 3 days earlier and those days could be used in s.f.,yosemite or zion national park.
i would also also try very hard to lodge in the park at yosemite. a hike I enjoy there is to catch the shuttle bus from curry village to glacier point in the high country and hike downhill back into the valley with great views all the way.
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Jun 18th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Thanks Paulhelmick for your suggestions!

A few questions:

We will stay at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas,129 east Fremont street, off the strip. I thought we would be within walking distance to see the Bellagio fountains and the light show for example. Am I wrong?

Do you suggest we skip Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon? I realise it will be hot, but if we do exactly as you suggest - spend daytime in the car, arrive at destination in the evening and do the hiking/visiting in the evenings/mornings (this goes for moab and zion aswell)?

I will look into the san juan mountains option. When we started planning, the rockie mountains seemed more like ski-resorts with organized summer activities, and a bit less "exotic" to us. We are looking for the wild west experience (don't laugh...)

When I checked average summer temperatures in the different NPs, Zion was one of the hottest. I even considered taking it off the itinerary, but then I found out about Angels Landing...

I will add your Yosemite hike suggestion to my list, and doing so I think I better add one more day to Yosemite!
grendel is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2011, 12:40 PM
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When our boys were young and in school our only choice was to travel in the summer to these locations and we survived just fine! The last time were in in the area in August we had mild summer temps and was able to do hikes in the day time. Carry a lot of water, maybe get a Misty-Mate Misty-Mate http://www.mistymate.com/16-oz-pump.html

When we were on a float tour out of Page, AZ, the guide gave us each one of these http://www.chux.com.au/the-chux-rang...erwipes-range/ and we would get them wet and keep them around our necks and they worked wonders for keeping us cool in the hot Arizona sun! Upper Antelope Slot Canyon is mostly shaded so it's very do able in the middle of the day.

I would however skip Death Valley. It is a killer.

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Jun 18th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Some of the lodging in park is very budget friendly others aren't. I like staying at the cabin in Roosevelt in Yellowstone and also at Old Faithful Inn. Those can be very inexpensive(with shared bathrooms). You might want to get a cabin at Grand Tetons in the village as there are some of them that have room for 5 people.

Let me just say that I do agree with Utahtea. A lot of the places really require 3-5 days and that doesn't include travel. You are just going to be checking things off your list and not really experiencing them.

Yellowstone and Yosemite might be better for cooler temps. It's hard to know what to cut from the trip they are all great places. I know you are considering cutting out Mesa Verde, but it is very good.

I think I might skip Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, and Death Valley.

I might be temtped to do Yosemite first because the waterfalls slow down the longer into summer you get.

You are going to see some great great places.
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Jun 18th, 2011, 07:05 PM
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I'm one of those who recommends a very bare minimum of 3 full days in Moab! There is so much to see and do there (as well as the other national parks you are planning), you can spend a full week there and still not do most of it.

mountain bike mecca
endless hiking and photo ops
off roading
horseback riding
on and on

Moab will not be any hotter than the other destinations you have planned for the desert southwest. Death Valley and Zion will both be hotter. People don't realize Moab is high desert, higher altitude than Zion. It does snow there in the winter.

Death Valley is actually BELOW sea level. That's why it's so hot, in the summer you get to see heat waves, which can be interesting for about 1 minute. But really if you are only going there to "see" it and say you've "seen" it don't bother. The desert takes slow exploration to really appreciate and it's beauty can be very small still and elusive - hard to see without close examination. It's most beautiful in the spring when the wildflowers bloom and can be pleasant the other 2 seasons. Certainly wide, barren vistas, but IMO not as "WOW" as all the other places on your list!

This has been such a big snow year in the west (Rockies and Sierras) that the Yosemite waterfalls may be flowing in a big way well into summer.

Here's another reason to add some time to Moab - the La Sal Mountains are part of the Rockies. They rise over 11,000 ft. and you can drive up there in about 40 minutes from main street Moab. There are vacation homes and cabins at the lower altitudes (some for rent), but go just a bit higher and it's wilderness. There is a paved road that goes from just south of Moab, up over the mountains, and down the other side into Castle Valley - where many famous, classic US westerns have been filmed (John Wayne, John Houston directing). FYI - Canyonlands Natl Park and the whole area are where Indiana Jones, Thelma & Louise and hundreds of other films have been shot. But, the loop takes you back to the highway along the Colorado River and back to Moab.

The desert southwest is best in the spring and fall, but if you only have the summer then go. Yosemite and Yellowstone are best in summer, gorgeous but cold in winter.

The drive from Cody, WY to Jackson, WY will defnitely take much longer than 3.5 hours! Road construction, animal jams, way too many places to stop for photo ops and Ooh, Aaahs.

Your drive time from Jackson to Torrey via I-15 most of the way, is correct.

The drive from Torrey to Bryce - if done properly on Hwy 12 -- will be almost a full day. You must stop several places to explore. See part of the Burr trail, the Anazasi museum in Boulder, Calf Creek Falls, Kiva Coffee House. This is one of the great drives in the US, maybe the world. See others' trip reports and pictures.

I would recommend making this either a Las Vegas - CG- Utah - Yellowstone trip.


a LV - Death Valley, Yosemite, CA trip, spending more time and including some of the CA coast and San Francisco.

Make lodging reservations as close to the parks as you can get. Usually motels/hotels have a fairly liberal cancellation policy, make sure you know exactly what it is. Then, call twice a day every day and hope to snag a cancellation inside the parks. Some parks such as Arches, Canyonlands and Zion, you don't need stay in. Doesn't matter because there is plenty of lodging very nearby.

Regarding driving from Mesa Verde to Canyonlands and on to Moab. Canyonlands is so vast, I think you are referring to the Needles District of the park. That area is about 2 hours from southwest of Moab. The Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands is just north of Moab and west of Arches (off the same hwy.) Also on the same route is Dead Horse State Park - a view definitely worth seeing and will be similar to Horseshoe Bend.

Don't stay in Bluff. It's not appealing at all, better places to stay in order to see MV. IMO it's a dump of a small town.

I hope this helps!
Dayle is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2011, 07:37 PM
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I will answer your questions as well as i can understand them.I thought you where staying at the nugget. i have done that and it is fine,The overhead light show is the fremont experience and it is just outside your door. to get to the bellogio you cannot walk as it is miles away. to be as gentle as i can it is true that europeans underestimate distances in our country. i am not talking about vegas but our vast expanses.I am not "telling" you to skip lake powell or antelope valley,I am just trying to lend my actual experience to help if i can.i have never been to those areas and would just say that imho g.c.,yosemite,yellowstone, and zion are not to be missed if possible. I am not talking about your specific trip but the world in general.there are obviously many priorities when doing a trip but i can tell you i have done arches n.p. a few times in one day and it satisfied me.you are certainly on the right track adding a day in yosemite.
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Jun 19th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Thanks again for all answers.

Death Valley is now off the list, and probably Capitol Reef aswell.

Without stopping in Death Valley, do you think driving from Zion (Springdale) to Barstow (5 1/2 hours) one day, and from Barstow to Yosemite on Hwy 395 the next day would be reasonable, or should I still add a stop in Bishop? What would be nice things to stop and see on Hwy 395 in your opinion?
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Jun 19th, 2011, 06:16 PM
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For lodging in the parks. Call and if it is all booked, call back again as people really do make their reservations a year in advance and then cancel as time gets near. You can make cancellable reservations for the ones you don't get at first and if you get lucky, you cancel the ones outside the park. This is especially true for Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde and Yellowstone. It will cut down on driving and give you a nice park experience.

The park facilities in general are basic, comfortable, clean but not fancy, no pool, spa, etc. Some have nice places to eat. We had good meals at el Tovar in GC, the Metate room at MV and ok at Lake Hotel in Yellowstone.

Sound like a fantastic trip, and to places that many of the folks from the US have not had the pleasure of visiting.
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Jun 19th, 2011, 07:00 PM
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You have lost me. What is your itinerary now? Are you going from Yellowstone to SLC to Zion and back to Yosemite?

LV - Zion - GC - MV - Moab - Yellowstone - Yosemite would be much better!
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Jun 20th, 2011, 02:32 AM
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I just made in-park reservations at the Grand Canyon!!!

I got so excited I made two alternative reservations, maybe you can give me your point of view on which one of them to choose:

We are coming to LV on July 17th, spending one day (18th)in LV getting ready for our trip, and will drive out from LV on the 19th.

1st option: I have a reservation for a room at the Maswik north section lodge for one night on the 19th. We would go from LV directly to GC, and from there we would go on to Page as originally planned.

2nd option: I have a reservation for a room at the Yavapai Lodge for one night on the 22nd. We would do:
19th - LV to Zion (Springdale). Spend that evening in Zion
20th - Angel Landings hike (or other) in the morning. Drive to Page in the evening.
21th - Do the float trip on Lake Powell in the morning. Horseshoe bend hike in the evening.
22nd - Do the Antelope Canyon Slot hike in the morning. Drive down to Grand Canyon from Page after the Antelope Canyon hike.

Dayle, with the 2nd option I am getting closer to your suggestions. If we do zion+page+GC+monument valley+mesa verde+moab before going to Yellowstone, we would go directly to Yosemite from Yellowstone.

Any suggestions on how to go from Yellowstone to Yosemite, and where to stop on the way? Would we still see some of Hwy 395, which I have read is beautiful?

Please keep suggesting, I am happy you all insisted on the in-park lodging, or I would have settled for Williams!
grendel is offline  
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Jun 20th, 2011, 03:39 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,164
grendel, FWIW I like option 2 a little better. The lodging choices in GC is pretty much even, both Maswick and Yavapai are a short way back from the rim, but an easy walk. I like the approach to the park from the east, which you will do if you go to Page and then to GC. There are fantastic overlooks to stop at along the way. Also when you leave Vegas, you will be at Zion in time for some hiking that afternoon too.

Keep trying for in park for Mesa Verde and Yellowstone too.
emalloy is offline  
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