Short TR - Short trip to SW national parks

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Nov 25th, 2018, 12:22 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Short TR - Short trip to SW national parks

My cousin (DC) and I took a week long trip to the GC, Lake Powell, Zion, Vegas with stops in between over Oct 28 - Nov 5 . This won't be one of my typical loooooong TRs with day-by-day (some would say hour-by-hour) details, but more what is doable if time is limited and the places we stayed. We didn't do any heavy duty hiking (or even light duty if truth were told ) but I did quite a bit of walking - DC less so. Longer would have been better of course but this was all the time we had. We did 2 night stays with long driving days in between and I think we managed a lot without dashing from place to place. I've been some of the places we visited - DC even being born and raised in California had been to none of them.

Oct 28: Evening flight in to PHX and stayed the night at the Doubletree. Nothing special -- it is a Doubletree - but chocolate chip cookies are a good thing, as are the free shuttle and a restaurant/bar on site.

OCT 29-30: Next morning we drove up to Sedona stopping at Montezuma Castle. Sedona was just a 2+ hour lunch/shopping stop. We hope to do a spa break there next Sprig so we wet there just to see if DC liked the vibe (she did ) From there we drove to the South Rim of the GC where we stayed at Thunderbird. Thunderbird get quite mixed reviews but we liked it a lot. It isn't eve full service - no reception desk, restaurant, etc. But it is smack dab between El Tovar and Bright Angel. And the view from our decent room was fabulous. While there we took shuttles east and west along the rim stopping at most of the view points. Walking between some and catching the shuttle between others. When we were out at Hermit's rest there were thunderstorms/lightning in the distance and they sent several shuttles out to evacuate everybody. It blew over in about 45 mins so we went back out west again and shuttled back eventually to Bright Angel Lodge. Had one marvelous dinner and a very good breakfast at El Tovar. Other meals were were casual/cheap at Bright Angel or Maswik. Total drive from PHX > Sedona > GC approx 4 hours.

Oct 31-Nov 1: After breakfast at El Tovar we drove out Desert View Drive and stopped at the Watchtower. Then on to Monument Valley (a bucket list item for me hope to stay at the View someday). We had lunch at Goulding's and then took one of the 'Jeep' tours - not a jeep but more a pick up truck fitted out with seats in the bed. How glorious! It was so much fun and our guide was great. After about 4 hours at Monument Valley we headed across to Page/Lake Powell where we stayed at the Wahweap Marina. Total drive GC > Monument Valley > Lake Powell about 5.5 hours.

This was at the VERY end of the season at the resort so it was very quiet but we loved it here. The room and views over the lake were superb. Had one dinner in the very nice Rainbow Room and one in the bar. Highlight was a boat trip up in to Antelope Canyon. This may have been DC's favorite individual thing we did. Other than that we lounged by the pool having cocktails/wine/chilling.

Nov 2-3: After breakfast we drove up to Bryce Canyon. This was a lunch, light hiking, massive number of photos stop. As every at other place we went (except for the 45 mins or so at the South Rim GC) the weather was truly glorious. We ate in the Lodge then DC spent most of the rest of the time in the enormous gift shop (she did walk to the rim and took some pix but her foot was bothering her so she didn't do much). I spent a couple of hours hitting several of the viewpoints but didn't hike down much. Then we drove on to Zion/Zion Lodge.

As DC said - first on Hwy 9 with the loooong tunnel and sooooo many switchbacks, and again as we drove up to Zion Lodge WOW, just WOW! The rooms at Zion Lodge are not 'Posh' but are very comfortable and have decks with rocking chairs looking straight up the sheer rock walls. The shuttles are so easy and the Lodge is so nice -- this was probably our favorite part of the whole trip. DC only walked over to Emerald Pools which are close to the Lodge. I took several of the shorter hikes/walks. Saw not one but two rescues. One was an elderly lady who must have had a seizure or heart attack down by the river out along the Riverside Walk and another was a climber who apparently wasn't hurt but needed help getting down. Those EMTs are amazing -- no vehicular access past the shuttle stop so they had to run with modified gurneys. Had nice meals at the Lodge. DC didn't regret not doing more -- her foot limited her a bit but she loved every place we stayed and was happy sticking 'close to home'. Total drive time Wahweap Resort > Bryce > Zion a touch over 5 hours.

Nov 4-5: After a leisurely breakfast we drove to Las Vegas and dropped the car at the airport, then took a cab to the Mirage. Not my favorite property but nice, and very centrally located on the Strip so DC cold see everything. Great room but faced the NW so no Strip views. We saw Caesar's, the Bellagio Fountains, then walked south along the Strip and had a very VERY posh afternoon tea in the tea lounge on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental/now Waldorf Astoria. We booked at 4:30 so we saw the whole Strip in daylight, at sunset, and with all the lights on. My second time and I love it -- Outdoes tea at the Ritz in London. Then we cabbed up to the Venetian and (yes we did ) took a Gondola ride. Gambled a little watched a lounge act and called it a day. Next day we checked out, left our bags at Valet and walked around some more. cabbed to LAS and few to SMF. Our flight was delayed about 90 minutes so we killed time in the the casino otherwise called McCarran International Airport Total drive Zion Lodge to LV about 3.5 hours.
janisj is online now  
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Nov 25th, 2018, 03:40 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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This sounds like a fine way to spend a few days. Thanks for the TR and head over to Arches and Canyonlands on your next trip.
emalloy is offline  
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Nov 26th, 2018, 11:32 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Thanks for the interesting TR. Love the area.
You could add Capitol Reef NP to your next trip, and breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi (Paris Las Vegas). Both favorites of ours.
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