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  1. Default Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and points in between in 2 weeks?

    Soooo, we're planning The Big Road Trip this summer. We've got some airline miles that we've just got to use up so here we go. The plan right now is to fly into and out of Salt Lake City, renting a car there. We'll spend the first night there and then drive down to Bryce, Zion, visit the Grand Canyon for a few days, swing over to Moab/Arches and back toward Park City (considered Dinosaur, but thought we really wouldn't have time to see it and the driving/scenery might be more interesting on the other route) then to Jackson, Grand Tetons, a few days in Yellowstone, a day or two in Idaho Falls where we have relatives and then back to SLC to fly out. I wish we had another week, but 16 days total is what we've got to work with. I'm trying to decide how much time we need in each place. I've been all the parks on the route except Arches before and the spouse has been to Yellowstone, but not the others.

    We have some reservations in Grand Canyon already and a couple in Yellowstone, but our plans changed a bit, so I know we'll have to cancel/change some of those. (We were hoping to fly in one location and fly out of another, but the airline wouldn't go for it so we had to do the loop.) Right now we have 3 nights in Grand Canyon and I'm wondering if maybe one of those nights would be better used elsewhere.

    So here's a brief outline. The trip will be at the end of June, beginning of July. We have two kids, 7 and 10, who are pretty good travelers. Where would you spend the time? More time in Yellowstone or elsewhere? Different route? All suggestions appreciated!

    Day 1: Fly into SLC, spend night there
    Day 2: Drive to Bryce/Tropic, see a little bit that afternoon, spend night there
    Day 3: See more of Bryce, drive to Zion/Springdale, spend night there
    Day 4: See Zion, spend night in Springdale again or Kanab
    Day 5: drive to Grand Canyon (have reservations)
    Day 6: Grand Canyon (have reservations)
    Day 7: Grand Canyon (have reservations)
    Day 8: Get up early and drive to Moab/Arches, see a bit of Arches, spend night in Moab
    Day 9: See a bit more of Arches, leaving in early afternoon to drive to Park City (or elsewhere)
    Day 10: Drive to Jackson arriving around 2 or so, explore Jackson in the afternoon, maybe a bit of Tetons
    Day 11: Grand Tetons, drive to Yellowstone, maybe stay in West Yellowstone? (no reservation yet)
    Day 12: Yellowstone
    Day 13: Yellowstone
    Day 14: Yellowstone (reservations in Canyon, but may change)
    Day 15: Drive to Idaho Falls to see relatives.
    Day 16: Drive to SLC. Flight leaves in late afternoon.

    Thanks for any thoughts and recommendations!

  2. Default

    Well, I've come back to already amend my itinerary. I saw an opening for a cabin at Old Faithful on the 4th of July so I jumped on it, figuring I can always cancel if we decide that pushes us too much. We'll cut out one of the days at the Grand Canyon and shift everything else back one day. This gives us 3 or 4 solid days in Yellowstone depending on if we want to spend an extra day with the relatives in Idaho, or spend it in Yellowstone.

    It's a little squooshed in the middle with driving to Arches and then on to Jackson, but the rest looks like we'll have time to catch our breath.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Others

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One can always use more time on any vacation and there is the danger of rushing from place to place without really seeing anything of what's either there or in between. But you do, in general, have lots of time. So at the risk of over-extending you, I'm going to point out a few of the many locations in between your major destinations that your family might enjoy. Remember, that almost every National Park, Monument, and Historic Site has a Junior Ranger Program that would help your children get the most out of their visit.

    Between Zion and the Grand Canyon: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. In the Grand Canyon area: Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano and Walnut Canyon National Monuments. Between the Grand Canyon and Moab: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (and Mesa Verde National Park isn't that big a detour). Between Park City and Tetons/Yellowstone: Fossil Butte National Monument.


  4. Default

    Thanks for your reply AZBuck. I know there are tons of cool places to see in AZ, UT, NM and CO. Too many for one two week trip!

    I'm considering adding Mesa Verde back in (with a night in Cortez I guess?), or maybe instead of Mesa Verde 2 nights in Moab. I'd take that 4th of July night back away from Yellowstone and just have 3 solid days in Yellowstone instead of 4. I do plan a brief stop at Monument Valley on the way from the GC to Moab/Mesa Verde whichever one we decide on.

    Might work in Grand Staircase/Escalante, but I want to make sure we have time to really explore a bit of the parks we where we stop, with the exception of Monument Valley which I'm viewing as more of a pit-stop and beautiful scenic overlook and photo op.

    Do you think Park City is a good stop between Moab and Jackson? I'm pretty much making that up as I'm going along. I haven't spent much time in Utah, but I think a 9 or 10 hr day in the car might do the kids (and the parents) in, so I thought it would be good to just have a way station. If the way station is scenic (Park City) that's a bonus, but we'll most likely just be grabbing a bite to eat and hitting the hay. I think our exploration time that day would come in the first half of the day in Moab and Arches.

    Hit me with all your suggestions, route changes, stops, etc., and thanks AZBuck for yours.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Moab to Jackson is actually where you could make up time. It's doable in a day. However, Park City is somewhat near the middle - you would have two 5 hour days if you did that.

  6. Default

    Yes, I know the grown ups could handle the 9-10 hr day if we were by ourselves, but just not sure how the kids will fare. That's a long time to be in a car, but not sure if one super-long day is better or worse than two average-long days. I'll leave that one open and think on it for awhile.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by panchodog View Post
    Yes, I know the grown ups could handle the 9-10 hr day if we were by ourselves, but just not sure how the kids will fare.
    When travelling with our children we always went by the tried and trusted rule of never travelling before 8am and making sure we had reached our destination by 4pm, with a reasonable stop for lunch. That way kids remember the trip, for all the right reasons.


  8. Default

    Yes, I'm weighing the pros and cons of a 10 hr day with kids. Our kids are pretty good travelers, but they haven't really gone on many real road trips. They've been on more destination trips. I think, 7 hrs was the top and that was only because horrid DC area traffic turned what should have been a 4-5 hr trip into a 7 hr one, so it wasn't a particularly pleasant 7 hrs sitting in I-95 traffic. They actually did really well on that one, though, even with the traffic jam.

    I like the 8am-4pm rule, Lifey, but not sure if it will work for us 'cause our kids tend toward being late-risers and night owls, but I can see where a rule of thumb like that could serve folks well. We're actually coming from EDT, so who knows they might be up and ready to go at 8am since that would be 10am our time.

    I'd like to squeeze Mesa Verde in since it's so cool, but not sure I can find enough time to do it justice. Do y'all think it's worth seeing a little bit of Mesa Verde and a little bit of Arches or would you rather concentrate on just one. (If just doing one we'd do Arches because it's more on the way).

    Here's what I'm contemplating:

    Day 7: Fri 7/1 Drive 6 hrs to Moab from the Grand Canyon. Leave 8am, arrive 3-5pm. Stop at Monument Valley halfway for a lunch break. See a little bit of Arches? Check in hotel. Supper.
    or Plan B: Drive 5 hrs to Cortez/Mesa Verde. arrive 2 or 3p. See some of Mesa Verde. Stay in Cortez.

    Day 8: Sat 7/2 See a bit more of Arches. Leave at 12pm-1pm. Drive 5 hrs. Stay in Park City or there abouts. Arrive 6 or 7pm.
    or Plan B: See more Mesa Verde. Leave about noon. Drive to Arches (2 hrs). Arrive 2-3pm. See some of Arches.
    or Plan C: if we skip Mesa Verde, see Arches all day. Spend another night in Moab

    Day 9: Sun 7/3 Drive to Jackson WY (4-5 hrs). Leave 8am, arrive 1 or 2pm. See Jackson.
    or Plan B and C: Drive to Jackson. 10 hrs.

    I've taken a day from the Grand Canyon to do this and open up the middle of the trip a little bit, but we will still have 2 nights in the Grand Canyon, so that amounts to one solid day. We do have a reservation for a third night that we haven't canceled yet, hedging our bets a little until we're sure of the plan.

    Right now we have 4 nights in Yellowstone, but I could steal one of those nights back and give it to Arches maybe enabling us to squeeze Mesa Verde in more easily (or go to Park City and break up the drive from Moab to Jackson).

    Thoughts? I know we can't see everything. Maybe it would be better to save Mesa Verde for a Colorado trip and really spend some time in Arches, on the other hand Mesa Verde will be unlike anything else we'll see on this trip. I know there are a lot of other options like Canyonlands, etc, but those would be more similar cool Southwestern landscape features while Mesa Verde would be an amazing history and landscape feature, so I would favor it instead of another landscape park. Decisions, decisions, decisions...
    Last edited by panchodog; 04-07-2011 at 10:29 AM.

  9. Default

    Almost doing the identical trip in early August. Salt Lake City to Bryce, Escalante, capitol reef, canyonland, arches, up to SLC to break the drive, up to Grand Teton and Yellowstone and fly back out of SLC. 10 days with our two teenage sons. This is our third major national park trip. Vegas, grand canyon, page AZ, Zion back to Vegas five years ago. Two years ago SF down the coast to San Simeon, across to sequoi, kings canyon, yosemite and back to fly out of SF.

    If you are going down to the Grand Canyon with kids your age, I would highly recommend stopping in Page AZ and doing the float trip down to the area where the rapids start. My kids were too young to whitewater the canyon when we went so we chose this option and it was amazing. The kids loved it and the scenery from the base of those red cliffs is just stunning. It is a totally relaxing experience and the kids will really enjoy it.

    I am still trying to figure out how to break up my days on my current trip. When you get back, it would be great if you would post on how it all turned out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Welcome.

    Hi brisgirl, welcome to RTA and thanks for offering advice in your first post !

    Have you considered going to the Tetons via Vernal on 191 past Dinosaur NM and Flaming Gorge ? It'll take a little longer but will be easy enough with an overnight stop, plus it will offer different scenery to heading in and out of SLC. You can easily get to Bryce direct from SLC and should spend a full day there. Utah scenic 12 is a lovely drive to Capitol Reef where you could spend another night or head on to Moab. I would certainly recommend 2 or 3 days to explore Arches and Canyonlands and at least 3 around the Tetons and Yellowstone. A night between Arches and the Tetons should leave you with a couple of days spare to add to your road trip where you please, [a night in Zion?] or have a bit of time in SLC.

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