I've just joined RTA but I read many very helpful threads years ago when I did a 2 week Seattle to San Diego road trip. This time, I'm planning a 2-week trip this end of May-early June with my family: 5-6 adults (2 late 50s, 2 early 30s and 1-2 early 20s). Must-see locations for us: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches. Here's my tentative itinerary:
Sat (Day 0) arrive Las Vegas close to midnight from East Coast
Sun (Day 1) Breakfast, then ~1 hr drive to Hoover dam (spend 3 hours at the Visitor Center and tour), drive 93 to 166 to 147 to 167 through Valley of Fire to 169 to I15 to 9 to Zion NP, ~200 miles, ~4 hours, overnight in Springdale
Mon (Day 2) Explore Zion NP (Angels Landing hike or River Trail hike?), then drive towards Bryce, 9 to 89 to 63, ~90 miles, ~3 hours
Tues (Day 3) Explore Bryce, then get started on drive to Arches
Wed (Day 4) Drive to Arches: 12 through Escalante, Boulder, Capitol Reef, to Fremont and I70, ~300 miles, ~7 hours
Thurs (Day 5) Explore Arches, drive to Mesa Verde, ~150 miles, ~3 hours
Fri (Day 6) Explore Mesa Verde and Four Corners, get started on drive to Grand Canyon
Sat (Day 7) Drive to GC North Rim: 160 to 89 to 67, ~375 miles, ~9 hours
Sun (Day 8) Explore GC North Rim
Mon (Day 9) Drive to GC South Rim, 89 to 64, ~220 miles, ~6 hours
Tues (Day 10) Explore GC South Rim
Wed (Day 11) Explore GC South/West Rim, mule/horse ride, Skywalk, Plane/Helicopter/Raft tour/other recommendations?
Thurs (Day 12) Drive to Holbrook, 64 to 89 to I40, quick stops at Wupatki and Sunset Crater, ~200 miles, ~4 hours
Fri (Day 13) Explore Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, then drive towards LV via Peach Springs, I40, ~370 miles, ~7 hours
Sat (Day 14) Return to Vegas for breakfast and morning flight back to East coast and connecting flights to Asia
Any opinions/advice? There will be 2 of us who will be doing most of the driving (we're the only ones with US driver's licences). At this point, it seems like we're spending more time in the car than I would like, but I don't know what to cut out, maybe Mesa Verde/Four Corners or the Holbrook loop? My parents will probably never come back to this part of the country so I feel like we should show them as much as possible, and I think they would really love to see the dwellings at Mesa Verde, stand on 4 states at once, and see the Petrified Forest. But if we cut it out, there's so much more we can do at GC, go down to the bottom, Indian reservation etc...
I also have some specific questions:
1) What do you think about renting an RV? We'll have 5-6 adults but none of us has any experience with RVs or RV parks. I wonder if we may be able to save money with an RV as we could cook our own food and wouldn't have to pay for hotels. The food issue is actually pretty important because we like eating healthy, but I don't even know where I would rent an RV, or if they're easy to figure out (logistics: water, waste), what are the overnight parking rules, are they comfortable etc?
2) How do you find healthy eating options on the road? We usually only eat organic meat and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Any dining tips? I guess 2 weeks of fast food and greasy restaurant fare won't kill us but if anyone has suggestions for avoiding that, please do share.
3) What supplies should we have in the car? From other postings, I know we should keep the gas tank at least 1/4 full, and I know it's not so remote that you can't get help but are there specific things we should have on hand? How is cellphone reception out there? I know we should have warm clothes, especially since most of my family will be coming from the tropics and they don't like being cold and nights in late May can probably get chilly. Also to have sufficient water, but daytime highs probably won't be that bad yet, and might even still be on the cold side for the tropical folks. Are there other weather-related problems we should anticipate? Will the wildfires have started?
4) Is there any public transportation between Vegas and the National Parks? One of our party may only be able to come for a week, so if that happens, would he be able to get back to Vegas from GC by bus or train or something short of hitch-hiking (it's illegal in the Northeast but even if it were legal out there probably not a good idea)? Worst comes to worst he can buy a bus tour from Vegas and just hop on the return leg.
5) As recommended by RTA, I'm planning to buy the Benchmark Utah and Arizona atlases, should I also get Colorado for going to Mesa Verde? I'm also getting the Lonely Planet Grand Canyon, there is a newer edition than the one reviewed on RTA. Would it be overkill to also get the James Kaiser Complete Grand Canyon?
Thanks so much for reading this! And I look forward to any suggestions/advice,