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  1. Default First Time in South West

    Hello All,
    I really need some help. I'm a novice to planning road trips, and I would like to see the South West for the first time this summer. I'm 24yrs-old and I'll be traveling with my GF. Our plan is to either fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and end-up flying out of the city we didn't end-up flying in to. We'll have +/- 10days. Unfortunately, we won't have camping gear, so we'll have to lodge wherever we go.

    Basically, I would like to hit the major sights of the south west, but I just don't know where to go besides Vegas and the Grand Canyon and which route to take.

    Initally, I was thinking of flying into Phoenix, then making my way up to Sedona, to Grand Canyon. Not sure where to go after that...then maybe we could go east toward the north rim and see Zion and Bryce along the way, but don't know too much about these places and what to expect...like if we aren't camping, is there lodging nearby? and do most people spend multiple days at these places, or are they day-trip sights, or even hourly sights?

    We're both in generally good shape, so we would like to do some physical activities....hiking, maybe biking, swimming (are there any rivers/waterfalls that are popular spots go).


    Originally i was thinking of doing a Las vegas, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite trip instead...but i think we would like to see the country more. unless 10-12 days is enough for more.

    Basically, we're really open to suggestion on how to plan our itinerary.
    Please help.

    Thank you, -Anthony

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default your decisions

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    All of the options you've laid out are possible with 10 days, its really just going to depend upon your own tastes and interests. There is no one sized fits all answer for a route, nor is there a one size fits all way for how people travel or how much they fit during the time they have available.

    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of posts detailing the southwest and different route possiblities and options. So I'd really just start and try to get a feel for what it is that you think you'd like.

    I will say that because of your age, you'll be looking at a surcharge on your car rental. If you fly out of a different city, you'll also likely be looking at a one way drop off fee, not to mention, its usually more expensive to fly in and out of different cities. Doing a loop would likely save you a significant amount of money.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default No wrong choices.

    Hi there,

    It's possible you will find cheaper airfares into a popular location such as Vegas so you might want to check that out.

    and see Zion and Bryce along the way, but don't know too much about these places and what to expect...like if we aren't camping, is there lodging nearby? and do most people spend multiple days at these places, or are they day-trip sights, or even hourly sights?
    This is a fantastic part of the world and you really can't go wrong, it's just tough making choices with so much to see and do. Some people will spend a few hours at places and some day's, weeks even. It depends at what type of pace you want to set. By keeping on the go you can see a little of Lot's or you can slow down and see Lot's of a little !
    As for lodgings, they are available but in places like Grand canyon, Yosemite and other popular parks they will be more expensive and a lot of them could already be booked up for the summer inside the parks. Outside there are normally better value options but these also can become harder to find in peak season.

    The NPS site will give you all the info you need by clicking on the map and selecting a park. A loop from Vegas could consist of Death valley, Yosemite, San Fran, the PCH [Route 1 down the coast] LA and back to Vegas or another possibility would be Zion, Bryce, Arches, Monument valley, Grand canyon, Hoover dam and back to Vegas.
    A one way trip form Phoenix could go to Grand canyon, Bryce, Zion, Vegas, Death valley, Yosemite and SF.
    These are doable options with 10 days + but will keep you on the move, so do a bit of research and find what works for you and when you have decided what it is and where you want to go pop back with any further questions and we can help you fine tune your trip.

  4. Default

    well, I think we would like to go to places with activities. My GF wants to go somewhere with some type of swimmable rapids/creek/waterfall...whatever is out there. We definitely want to hike.

    I think we're more of "see a little of a lot" type people, which i learned in puerto rico after my GF got bored of hiking in El Yunque after 2-3 hours. I think the key to hiking for us is to reach some type of destination or to see some type of landmark. Not just hiking for the sake of it.

    I'll continue doing research and see what i come up with.

    Thanks, -Anthony

  5. #5

    Default Suggestions

    I will echo the advantages of flying in and out of the same city. You will save on both airfare and rental car costs.
    If planning on visiting more than a couple Nat'l Parks (Grand Canyon, Zion, etc.) get the 1-year Park Pass at the first place you visit. It is good for admittance to all other Parks and will save you some $$.
    Phoenix-Sedona-Grand Canyon is good. I'd recommend taking US 60 west out of Phoenix to AZ 89 and 89A.
    From the Canyon, take US 89 all the way to Zion and Bryce, then Utah 12 to Capitol Reef NP. One of my all-time favorite western roads.
    10-12 days is plenty of time for a loop trip. You should be able to take in a few states with that time.

  6. Default

    how long is the drive from south rim to the bryce/zion area? is it feasible to visit the south rim, hike half-way down/up, then set off toward bryce/zion in one day? also, where should i look to lodge around the zion/bryce area?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default lord no

    You need almost a full day just to hike halfway down the canyon and back up alone! The Grand Canyon is worth a full day regardless, but if you're planning to do any hiking at all, a full day is a necessity.

    Its then another 5-6 hour drive with minimal stops to Zion or Bryce. There are several places to stay outside in the towns outside of either park. Remember, its about 2 hours drive between those two parks so you could end up confusing yourself by assuming Zion and Bryce are exactly the same area.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to this one!

    Quote Originally Posted by aPortuga View Post
    well, I think we would like to go to places with activities. My GF wants to go somewhere with some type of swimmable rapids/creek/waterfall...whatever is out there. We definitely want to hike.

    Thanks, -Anthony
    The river that runs through Zion Canyon is the Virgin River. At the head of the canyon, where the road ends, there is a paved trail that continues up a ways. At the end of the paved trail, you can continue hiking up river, wading most of the time, sometimes up to your waist (or higher, depending on your size and water levels).

    It is a fantastic hike, esp. if you prepare for it. We went up to where Orderville Canyon joins the Virgin, maybe a 2-3 hour hike up (and another 1-2 back down).

    Here's some of photos, followed by some tips:


    Beginning of water portion of hike; crowd in background is where pavement ends: Don Casey


    Early part of hike, one of the deepest spots (3' maybe): Don Casey


    In the Orderville Canyon area, really narrow here: Don Casey


    Your reward; a martini overlooking the lawn at Zion Lodge: Don Casey

    Things you need to know:

    Water is cold and fast in the spring, warmer and lower the farther into summer you get.

    The farther into summer you get, the more worrisome flash floods become.

    Bring water.

    Bring a snack; walking upstream through running water is hard/slow/delicate work.

    The river bottom in many sections consists of round rocks the size of apples to watermelons, footing can be dicey. For this reason:

    1) Wear good footgear; you may want to rent special shoes they have at outfitters in Springdale. I have done this in a good pair of sneakers, but that wasn't necesarily the smartest thing I've ever done.
    2) Have a walking stick. Either bring your own, buy a cheap one, or hope to find a decent branch left at the trailhead by a prior hiker. If you do use this, please leave it when you exit the hike for someone else.
    3) Take your time. Always have at least two of your three "legs" (your two and your stick) firmly planted at all times when moving through the dicier sections.

    If you or your hiking partner starts to drag, remember there's a full bar waiting back at the lodge!

    Final note: for the really adventuresome, this can be done as a through hike, with a mid-canyon overnight, with the proper gear, transportation and permits. More info here National Park Service

    Other hiking options exist in Zion, including this bit of insanity

  9. Default

    CalOldBlue,
    That looks awesome. That is definitely something I would want to do.

    Any more suggestions for day activities like these?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Many rewards await

    I've long wanted to do this hike -- the first time I saw it, it was snowing and the air temperature was only slightly warmer than the water... and it was not WARM! Dry suits only in the winter.

    Great photos! And I love sitting on the deck at night --

    mark

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