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  1. #1

    Default First time South West Road Trip with young family

    We are planning our first road trip in July with our two sons 6yrs and 4 yrs. Tried to minimise the driving times as kids are young and only one driver. Also wanted plenty of time to recover from jet lag and for kids to recover from sitting still on the long flight from the UK. Our itinery is roughly this:

    3 Nights Circus Circus (Vegas)
    1 Night Zion
    1 Night Paige (via Bryce Canyon)
    1 Night Cameron (rafting trip on the river before we leave Paige)
    5 Nights Scottdale - Hyatt Regency (via Wupatki National Monument and Montezumas Castle)
    1 Night Grand Canyon Caverns
    2 Nights Desert Rose Resort (Vegas)

    We deliberately left out the Grand Canyon as we did the scenic airways 1 day trip in small plane about ten years ago and the costs seem to have gone up considerably and figured the kids would not get much out of it and we had done it before. Also considered the train from Williams but again wasn't overly cheap and the reviews were very mixed. Planning to chill out in Scottsdale by the pool and visit a few family orientated tourist places also I plan to fit in a few sessions of horse-riding.

    Little bit worried about desert driving as I am the only driver and my husband can't even change a tyre (nor can I). Not so much the driving as the risk of breaking down. Do we really need road flares, shovel, extra fuel etc. in July if we are sticking to the main highways. Do the hire companies tend to provide emergency driving kits? Also lots of mentions of rattlesnakes and scorpions. Whilst would love to see them and am not worried about myself, bit worried about the kids legging it of the path and getting bitten by something nasty.

    Any comments, tips or advice welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default missing out

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I actually think you're making a rather significant mistake leaving out the grand canyon. While an air trip is certainly a great way to see the canyon, really nothing compares to actually standing in the national park looking at the various overlooks. Especially when you are driving right by it anyway, to me, it would be a huge shame to skip it.

    I think you are really over worrying about the drive. First of all, you're going to be in a rental so you'll be driving a nearly new car and in the rare case you have a problem, you just call the rental company and have them take care of it. The other factor is that most of your driving is actually more mountain driving than it is desert driving!

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks.
    You've reassured me on the driving as I do get a bit nervous driving abroad although have done it many times before. Its not so much driving on the opposite side of the road or your 6 lane highways as getting lost and having a husband navigating who doesn't drive and but back seat drives and issues directions 30 seconds too late etc. Sat nav should hopefully minimise this issue.

    I know what you are saying about the Grand Canyon but we did spend some time actually wandering round the Canyon last time as well as flying over it and I just think the kids are going to lose patience with too much time in the National Parks given they are so young, it will literally be quite superficial visits as they are not used to walking far at home let alone in the heat in Arizona so not really planning any hiking. I was also keen to have a longish block of time in Scottsdale with NO driving or at least only short drives during the day which could be abandoned if I am feeling shattered.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default

    Again, I really think you are misjudging the conditions you'll be facing. The Grand Canyon (and most of the area you'll be visiting) is up at 7000-8000 feet of elevation, so its pretty unlikely that you'll be seeing really hot temperatures. 80F would be pretty normal. Anything is possible, of course, but when people usually talk about the heat in Arizona, they are talking about the triple digits that are normal for the Phoenix/Scottsdale area in July, not the mountains of the northern part of the state..

    I'll just say that I really disagree that 6 and 4 are too young to enjoy National Parks, and these are the sorts of things where they will take their cue from their parents. If you treat natural wonders like places they'll be bored with or are too young to appreciate, then that is is what they'll get out of it. Kids don't always have to be entertained with flashy activities to have a good time. If you expose them to these places and let them appreciate them, usually they will. Of course, it is your trip, and you have to do what's best for your family.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Agreed.

    I agree with Michael, it is your trip and for you to decide how you wish to spend your time but I also agree with everything else he has noted. You are visiting some amazing landscapes but will not have much more time than to just drive through them, yet you have 10 days in Vegas and Scottsdale and I am confident that the kids will enjoy the wildlife and open spaces of Zion for example more than they will the bright lights of Vegas which isn't that "family friendly with youngsters.

    At no time have you any drives that should cause you any concerns in either distance or remoteness but you are not leaving enough time to enjoy the places you are travelling too. From Cameron you are about 30 mins and a $25 entrance fee from entering the Grand canyon by the East entrance along Desert view drive and exiting by the South kiosk towards Scottsdale. I can't help thinking that you can hang out by a pool etc anywhere in Europe and to go all that way and miss out on some of the scenic wonders of the world to do so is a bit of a waste, but that's me.

    Have a great trip whatever you decide !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Children are never too young

    Quote Originally Posted by Janice View Post
    .......... I just think the kids are going to lose patience with too much time in the National Parks given they are so young, it will literally be quite superficial visits as they are not used to walking far at home let alone in the heat in Arizona so not really planning any hiking.
    As Michael mentions, children pick up your cues, and copy them. If spending time on short walks in the Grand Canyon bores you, I am sure it will be boring for them too. But if you are excited about this magnificent feature on our planet, and the power of nature which it represents, believe me, even a three year old will understand and be amazed and curious. Tell them all about it in age-appropriate language, and there will be lots of questions to answer. And there is of course, the junior ranger program from which your six year old will get great benefit. I am sure that NP publications will help you with introducing the children to nature and the great National Parks in particular.

    Don't worry about nasties, they are more scared of people than the other way around. But should you be fortunate to see a rattle snake close up - as we did in Zion - admire it with the children, teach them to respect their territory and talk about it's diet, habitat and place in the larger scheme of things. Children will understand and learn to respect and protect nature for all creatures.

    We introduced our children to national parks as soon as they could walk, and right now I regularly take my grandchildren, aged three and eighteen months.

    Lifey

  7. #7

    Default

    Appreciate all your comments. I'll have to think about it some more. I think the hotel in Scottsdale and Vegas is prepaid to get a cheaper rate already though so have not got that much wiggle room on total number of nights. We spent three nights in Vegas including a day at the Grand Canyon last time we came to the US and always said we'd like to spend more time there but obviously will be a bit different with the kids.

    What sort of time frame would it be to get to Scottsdale from the South Entrance of Grand Canyon. Is it easy to find your way from the East Entrance to the South Entrance? Could we do this in one day from Cameron or would we need to find another day from somewhere.

    I know I probably seem a bit unadventurous but I find the driving abroad quite stressful, especially as my husband doesn't drive so this is something of a compromise holiday. (Not two weeks at the beach and pool but plenty of days for me where I don't have to drive at all whilst also throwing in some great scenery and fun things to do We haven't really done any hiking even in the UK and in terms of the kids and walking I was thinking of the complaints when I make them walk to school 15 minutes instead of driving, we were thinking of trying one or two of the shorter walks we'd seen but probably not more than an hours walk. The guidebook mentioned the Emeralds Pool Trail in Zion. I don't know if you have any other recommendations for short walks.

    Janice

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default It's your trip, enjoy !

    Hi Janice,

    If what you have planned suits you then that is all that matters, we are all different and that's what makes the road trip special, to do as we please !

    It would be possible to visit GC and get to Scottsdale from Cameron but it would be a full day with 2 or 3 hours at the South rim. You enter on AZ 64 [Desert view drive] and exit on the same road through the South kiosk. Your first stop would be at the Watchtower where you get open views of the Colorado entering the canyon and there are more viewpoints as you make your way to the village area where you could take a short walk around Mather point.

    The Emerald pools walk in Zion has three levels and although quite easy does have some uphill sections. With little time there I think you would be better off strolling along Riverside walk and when you feel you have had enough or the kids are getting weary just turn around and stroll back. Weeping rock is a very short but steep trail to where you can witness the water flowing from the rock, which is thought to be 1200 years old by the time it works it way out, worth a visit if you have a little time to spare.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    It's about 230 miles from the GC south entrance to Scottsdale via AZ-64, US-180, and I-17, which is doable in about 4 hours or so. This would give you a few hours in the GC if you choose to do so. Unless it's a Saturday or Sunday, expect heavy traffic and possible delays in the Phoenix area if you arrive between about 3 and 7 pm. You will want to take Loop 101 east to get from I-17 to Scottsdale.

  10. Default Go Your Own Way!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Janice View Post

    Little bit worried about desert driving as I am the only driver and my husband can't even change a tyre (nor can I). Not so much the driving as the risk of breaking down. Do we really need road flares, shovel, extra fuel etc. in July if we are sticking to the main highways. Do the hire companies tend to provide emergency driving kits? Also lots of mentions of rattlesnakes and scorpions. Whilst would love to see them and am not worried about myself, bit worried about the kids legging it of the path and getting bitten by something nasty.

    Any comments, tips or advice welcome.
    Just make sure you have a cell phone. If your travel is mostly main highway then you should be able to get help fairly quickly when in trouble. In addition, have plenty of drinking WATER in the car!!! It gets very hot in July and you don't want to be stranded without water, especially for the kids.



    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post

    I'll just say that I really disagree that 6 and 4 are too young to enjoy National Parks, and these are the sorts of things where they will take their cue from their parents. If you treat natural wonders like places they'll be bored with or are too young to appreciate, then that is is what they'll get out of it. Kids don't always have to be entertained with flashy activities to have a good time.
    Although that's true, 2 days at Circus Circus gives the kids a different scene (big difference) from Nature. Exposure, exposure, exposure.



    Quote Originally Posted by Janice View Post

    I know I probably seem a bit unadventurous but I find the driving abroad quite stressful, especially as my husband doesn't drive so this is something of a compromise holiday. (Not two weeks at the beach and pool but plenty of days for me where I don't have to drive at all whilst also throwing in some great scenery and fun things to do We haven't really done any hiking even in the UK and in terms of the kids and walking I was thinking of the complaints when I make them walk to school 15 minutes instead of driving, we were thinking of trying one or two of the shorter walks we'd seen but probably not more than an hours walk.
    You shouldn't feel stressful as America highways are wide and open (for the most part). You will find that driving on the "RIGHT" side of the road is not much different. You will learn to adjust in no time! Then you will know how soothing and relaxing it is to be on a road trip.

    You are correct that hiking does not have to be long one. Just adapt to your liking. You can Go Your Own Way !!!
    Last edited by DoItNow; 03-04-2010 at 07:22 PM.

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