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  1. Default Vegas-GC-Bryce...and Beyond

    So after many weeks of discussion, debate and lots of research, we've finally come up with some ideas for our August fly/drive road trip to the SW US! This part of the country has been a personal dream for me, and only recently have our finances improved to the point of being able to really "do the trip" in a way that we can be comfortable, laid back and not worry too much about our spending. I've posted a couple of previous itineraries before, but this one is the first attempt at a much more concrete plan with some real specifics thrown in. We would LOVE some thoughts and advice from anyone who's experienced these places, particularly with kids. As always, while I like to plan everything down to the last detail, I only do so to make it possible to veer from the plan whenever we want! From my perspective, careful planning makes spontaneity possible! So just because you see lots of detail doesn't mean that we'll stick to the schedule! You'll also notice that we're on the move a lot, and don't stay in one place for too long. For many, while camping, it might seem more difficult than it is for us. We can have our entire camp set up or broken down in less than 15 minutes-even in wet weather!!

    On the trip will be:

    me, a 41 year old Educational Consultant
    my wife-39 year old stay-at-home Mom and internet sales wiz
    10 year old daughter, our tomboy!
    8 year old daughter, NOT a tomboy!

    Both kids are pretty adventurous, but close-to-the-rim hikes and precipitous dropoffs just a step away will be too much for them. They'll be fine if there's room between them and the cliffs!

    So here's the itinerary:

    Day One:

    Fly from Syracuse, NY to Las Vegas, arriving about 10 AM Vegas time.
    Check into Excalibur for one night, hang out at the new pool area for the afternoon, and then explore a few of the huge hotels in our immediate area.

    Day Two:
    Pick up our rental car at the hotel by 9 AM.
    Hit the grocery store for the essentials, plus pick up a few more supplies.
    Hit the road toward the GC, South Rim.
    Short stop at Hoover Dam on the way.
    Arrive at Mather Campground by 4 PM.
    Dinner somewhere in the GC Village.
    Rim walk.
    Sunset at Hopi Point.

    Day Three:
    Be up for sunrise.
    Pack up camp early.
    Explore South Rim area for a couple hours.
    Drive to North Rim, arriving by 4 PM.
    Check in at North Rim Campground.
    Bright Angel Point

    Day Four:
    Be up for sunrise.
    Pack up camp.
    Drive to Bryce Canyon NP, arrive by 3 PM.
    Check in at Bryce North Campground.
    Transept Trail or Rim Hike.

    Day Five:
    Break camp early.
    Drive to Zion NP.
    Check in at Watchman Campground.
    Ranger led activity/talk
    Dinner at Zion Lodge

    Day Six:
    The Narrows! Looking forward to this as much as any other part of the trip. We'll do as much as is safe/the weather permits with the kids!

    Day Seven:
    Break Camp.
    Drive back toward Vegas, through Death Valley, and on to somewhere around Lone Pine or Independence, CA. for the night.
    Camp or hotel on the way.

    Day Eight:
    Toward Mono Lake and Tioga Pass! Enter Yosemite.
    Arrive at North Pines Campground by 2 PM.
    Merced River Rafting?

    Day Nine:
    Yosemite Valley
    Valley Floor Half Loop
    Explore the Village/Valley/Wawona

    Day Ten:
    Break Camp
    On to Kings Canyon....
    More to follow....

    So that's the first ten days. The rest of the trip, which I'll include in another post later, includes Sequoia/Kings Canyon, a trip down the PCH to LA, Disneyland, San Diego, Joshua Tree, and the return to Vegas. I'd love to hear people's thoughts. As I put it down "in writing" for this post, I wonder if I'm (as usual!!) trying to squeeze too much in!

    Oh yeah, one other thing; we're not opposed to taking a break from the camping if the opportunity for a GREAT hotel or lodge experience presents itself. Any thoughts on "not-to-be-missed" lodgings along the route (for under $200 a night-that's our personal max!) would be appreciated as well. We're definitely going to throw a couple of hotel nights in here and there just to break up the camping along the way...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It seems a little exhausting to me!

    Quote Originally Posted by metsno1 View Post
    As always, while I like to plan everything down to the last detail, I only do so to make it possible to veer from the plan whenever we want! From my perspective, careful planning makes spontaneity possible!
    OK, if you say so -- and maybe the forced march quality of this trip plan is fine with the entire family -- but it does seem on the scale of a job rather than a holiday to me. Pretty serious amounts of driving each day and I wonder if you will really find the time to relax as you go.

    **Also, I had to change your thread title -- it was causing a syntax problem for our RSS feeds...**

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-01-2008 at 02:32 PM.

  3. Default Things Change Dramatically....

    OK, so it's been a while since I've posted any updates to this planned itinerary, and my how things have changed since the first post. First, we've been fortunate enough to have been able to add some significant time to the trip. It'll now be just short of three weeks, so I feel like I've been able to slow things down a bit. Plus, we ran into a bit of luck with the airlines (which NEVER happens! ;)))) ). Initially, we had booked non-stop redeyes round trip from Rochester, NY to Las Vegas. We got pretty good airfare ($1002 total for four people). Then Airtran went and cancelled the non-stop service! Which left us with five days to decide on any round trip flights between Rochester and Vegas that we wanted! Yeah!! So we were able to add a few days to the trip, plus get some really good flight times, allowing us to arrive in Vegas early on day one.

    Anyway, I've really tried to tweak the itinerary to slow things down quite a bit, and leave us with a bit of flexibility. The only reservations we've made are for the first night in Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and the first night at Bryce. After that, it's open ended. Our plans are to camp, knowing full-well that places surrounding Yosemite will be very difficult to get. There is still some availability at Wawona during our planned stay, but we're really hesitant to tie ourselves into the reservations. From what I've been reading, if you're early enough, it's possible to get spots in the first-com/first-served sites, even in August. So we're thinking we should roll the dice and see what happens. Worst comes to worst, we pay throught the nose for a hotel outside of the park.

    In the cities, we have very modest goals. They are as follows:

    Vegas: Hit the pool at Excalibur with the kids. They swim. I nap. Explore the immediate area for a short while. We eat. I win money. We all sleep. We leave early the next day!

    LA: My wife wants to do one of the bus tours of the stars homes, my daughter wants to find Miley Cirus, so I'll try and convince her that she hangs out at Venice Beach, and we'd all like to see the Santa Monica Pier.

    San Fran: Alcatraz Tour, Trolley Cars, Chinatown (to compare it with our very favorite NYC destination), and see the Golden Gate Bridge.

    We placed the main "city tours" in the middle of the trip to break up the camping along the way.

    Here's the proposed itinerary:

    August 4-Fly Rochester To Vegas. Arrive 10:30 AM Vegas time. Pick up rental car. Stay at Excalibur.
    August 5-Drive to Grand Canyon North Rim
    August 6-Grand Canyon North Rim
    August 7-Bryce/Zion
    August 8-Bryce/Zion
    August 9-Bryce/Zion
    August 10-Leave Zion, back through Vegas, head south toward Joshua Tree/Anzo-Borrego.
    August 11-Get to LA
    August 12-LA
    August 13-PCH North
    August 14-Arrive San Francisco
    August 15-San Francisco
    August 16-Drive to Yosemite
    August 17-Yosemite
    August 18-Yosemite
    August 19-Kings Canyon/Sequoia
    August 20-Kings Canyon/Sequoia
    August 21-Kings Canyon/Sequoia
    August 22-Drive through Death Valley back toward Vegas
    August 23-Fly home-flight leaves Vegas at 1:30 PM

    How does this look to people? Any thoughts about other things to see in LA if you were on a one or two day whirlwind tour? Or would you skip LA and spend time in San Diego? How about San Francisco? Thoughts on Yosemite area without reservations????

    Thanks in advance.....


  4. #4


    sounds like a lot of great places.

    Keep in mind you are planning to get to LA on a Monday and traffic in the LA area is as bad as any place in the world. Avoid rush hours like the plague. Consider that in line with where you want to go. It sounds like you have people who are set on LA but San Fran is, IMHO, a far better city to visit. there are redwoods just north of the , GG bridge and a nifty science museum in the city. SF is worth a couple days. Another option, if you were to skip LA is Monterey. It’s a beautiful area with a great aquarium and other sights to see. the entire area around Monterey is worth a day or so and it is on the way to SF so it shortens a travel day.

    The Excalibur is a fun place to stay. Sort of cheesy and campy and over the top, which is what LV is to me. Plus it is close to some of the other fun casinos. You can also stay inside and take a tunnel over to the luxor and mandalay bay. In the heat you may want that.

    sort of standard thing to note, but it will be really frickin hot in many places. They may wear you down more than you expect. Always have extra water in the car. Also Bryce is at a high elevation, you will probably feel it given you are coming from a low land place. my gf even had some altitude sickness there. On the bright side it is a great place and worth the visit.

  5. Default

    Yeah, the heat should prove to be interesting, to say the least. Those are the places that we'll be looking for nice, air-conditioned hotel rooms instead of camping! The kids will need plenty of stops at places with pools and beaches, as I'm sure they're gonna fall prey to the standard "kids don't care about scenery" thing.....but hopefully, they'll still be impressed!

    Thanks for your thoughts on LA. It's not the first time we've heard it expressed that LA lacks certain charms, and that might make other destinations more attractive. I guess it just has a certain interest/fame attached to it that makes it hard for a first-time visitor to stay away from. But I'm not looking forward to the traffic end of it. What does LA consider to be the "rush hours?" Anything different from other cities like NY or Chicago?

  6. #6


    I've only visited LA but i stayed off the roads from 7-10am and from 4-7pm. traffic in LA is also notoriously unpredictable with jams happening for no apparent reason. i liked visiting LA, i am not against it. but it really depends on what you want to see. my feeling is many of the big things there aren't all taht special or different from other places. driving through beverly hills was nice but , well, just nice. the drive up the coast highway is worthwhile.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Don't miss LA!

    Quote Originally Posted by metsno1 View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts on LA.
    Los Angeles is a great city -- and you should not discount it without visiting. Here are some tips about How to do a visit to the LA.


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