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  1. Default Grand Canyon and surroundings, 2 weeks, late May-early June - Itinerary/trip advice?


    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,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default logistics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I see a couple logistic problems with your route.

    First of all, Hoover Dam is the wrong direction if you are driving to Zion, however you would drive right over it going back to Vegas from I-40. I would wait on this until the end of your trip for this stop.

    I would also encourage you to do a little more research on the West Rim in relationship to the South Rim. The skywalk at the West Rim is part of a Native American Reservation that is a several hour drive away from the South Rim/Grand Canyon National Park. It would also be taking you in the wrong direction if you are then planning to go back to the painted desert area.

    I think you will also find several articles in our planning section helpful, particularly in relationship to your ideas of renting an RV. Once you factor in campsite fees and extra fuel costs, RVs are a rarely a cheaper option. However, with the size of your group it might be a better and more cost effective option than for a typical traveler.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default North rim.

    You have the basics of a nice trip, but as well as points made by Michael you will be pretty close to the North rim drive between Zion and Bryce canyon.

    By going over Hoover Dam on your way back and visiting North rim from Zion you are freeing up some valuable time. Personally I would opt for the Helicopter flight rather than the Skywalk and that would free up even more time. We used Papillon Helicopters from the Grand canyon airport in Tusayan for a 50 min flight over the canyon and it is truly memorable.
    Your Itinerary would look something like this Vegas >Zion> North rim>Bryce>Arches>Mesa Verde>Petrified forest>Holbrook> Wupakti >South rim > Hoover Dam [via part of old '66?]> Vegas which should be a relaxed pace to give you an overview of each park.

    The R.V is more about a lifestyle choice but if it's something you think you would enjoy I actually think it would work out cheaper for you, especially if you want to stay in the parks, where camping is cheap and lodgings dearer. Camping in the parks is great fun and when you are "set down" you can take advantage of the free and well run Shuttle bus system. The RV's are straight forward to operate and it is much easier to do the tasks required than it sounds. Also there is the fact that with six adults you will either need either two vehicles or a mini van for you all and your luggage.

    The advantage of having more people sharing the cost does have it's downside though and that is having your own space. With 6 of you a large R.V will start to feel small when you are turning in for the night and when you are trying to get ready in the morning. It'll certainly test how well you know each other and how well you get on.
    If you want to investigate more then just type in RV rental Vegas or search the two larger company's which are Cruise America and El Monte.

  4. Default

    So, I thought of doing Hoover Dam first in case the last day (or night) is spent trying to get back to Vegas for the AM flight. I know it would be easier to get to Zion directly from Las Vegas, but I don't want to have to rush back to see it, and then have all night Fri and Sat morning before our flight to kill. I guess we could "do" a bit of Vegas in this time although our goal was for a peaceful nature adventure trip. Is the Lake Mead/Valley of Fire park not worth driving through?

    Right, so the West Rim is far away, I just threw it out there since I didn't really know where to put it, it's not marked on googlemaps, but I've found it now (can't wait for my map and guidebooks to arrive). Southwest Dave, thanks for the itinerary suggestion, I didn't realize I could fit in the North Rim between Zion and Bryce. With your itinerary, I might be able to fit in the West Rim between South Rim and Hoover/Vegas, might be a bit rushed, but none of us has ever been to a Native American Reservation.

    I've ditched the RV idea. Too many unknowns. Plus, as Southwest Dave pointed out, 6 people and 1 bathroom in the morning could get hairy. I just read a really good thread on the Toyota Sienna 8 seater so I'll go with that.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Choices

    Is the Lake Mead/Valley of Fire park not worth driving through?
    Yes they are worth it but It's all about what pace you want to go at. Off the top of my head there is Death valley, Snow canyon, Antelope canyon,Capitol Reef, Monument valley, Canyon De Chelley that are all worth it as well, plus many others but you will have to make choices. The good news is there are no wrong one's with this Itinerary ;-)

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