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  1. Default Long trip in June 2011 - Vegas to Seattle via Zion NP, Yellowstone and more

    Hi all

    Thanks to all the advice I got here my family had a lovely trip to SF, Yosemite, Sequoia and LA a couple of years ago.

    I'm back to pick your brains on another trip I'm planning with my mother (she's 72 but loves to travel). We'll be on a slight but not tight budget and have about 4 weeks that can be stretched by a few days if need be. We are biased towards scenic routes and natural beauty but aren't averse to any other interesting spots either.

    I was thinking of starting end of May/early June. A very rough routing as of now is:
    Start in Vegas or Phoenix (which would be better?),
    Grand Canyon, approx. 2 days
    Zion NP 1 day
    Bryce Canyon 1-2 days
    Head towards Yellowstone (approx. 5 days) - via Gullison or Teton Park? Would welcome advice here.
    Glacier NP (approx. 3 days) (Going-to-the-sun road). Can this be combined with the Centennial Scenic Byway - either approaching or leaving Yellowstone?
    Head towards Seattle - either via Spokane or detour to Mt. Helena, Crater Lake.
    We'd then like to explore the National Parks and area around Seattle as well.

    As you can see it's still a very rough itinerary. I'd really appreciate suggestions on places (to see, stay, eat, drive, hike, whatever) that shouldn't be missed.

    I had earlier thought of hiring a small campervan but on second thoughts will probably go for a small SUV.

    Thanks!
    yaya

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Doable.

    Hi yaya, welcome back !

    Your trip is certainly manageable and as for the airport to fly into I would personally see which offers the best value. I think late May into June would be a good time to travel, but not to early as Spring comes late to Yellowstone and Glacier NP's. An SUV is fine if that is what you want but a Sedan would do the same job, most likely be more comfortable and cheaper. An annual National parks pass for $80 would also be a 'penny wise' purchase when visiting a number of parks.

    I have not heard of Gullison [?] but the Tetons look amazing and on my 'to do list'. From Bryce canyon you could head up past Dinosaur NM and Flaming gorge recreation area to the Tetons and even consider Arches and Canyonlands NP near Moab in Utah.

    I am again unsure of the 'Centennial highway' between 'Going to the Sun Rd' [Glacier] and Yellowstone. The only one I am aware of is from Jackson to Dubois in the Teton forest that you could drive, but it would help if you gave route numbers as I don't see how it can be combined with the GTTS road.

    Have a look around the forums and you may have already noticed, there are new pages at RTA in the toool bars above. The map center is great for finding attractions along chosen routes and you can also find many route and attraction suggestions by clicking on the links. If you have any other questions as you continue planning, just ask.

  3. Default Good ideas

    Thanks for the tips, Southwest Dave!

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I think late May into June would be a good time to travel, but not to early as Spring comes late to Yellowstone and Glacier NP's.
    Will keep that in mind. I was just reading up on Yellowstone and figure on arriving there not before June 10. However most accomodation in the park is already taken for after that date so I may have to stick with it.

    I'm also thinking of dropping Glacier NP in favor of Mt. St. Helen's and Crater Lake and a bit of Oregon before heading to Seattle. I'm a bit confused here because I can't figure whether Glacier and the drive from there to Seattle would be better/more scenic than the St. Helen's and Crater Lake alternative.


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    An SUV is fine if that is what you want but a Sedan would do the same job, most likely be more comfortable and cheaper. An annual National parks pass for $80 would also be a 'penny wise' purchase when visiting a number of parks.
    Thanks for the advice! Does this give you free admission to all parks in a year?
    I checked out the rentals for small SUVs and sedans and they were practically at par. Fuel consumption may not be though. I'm actually used to a higher driving position and thought an SUV may be better on bad roads, but I'll relook this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I have not heard of Gullison [?]
    My fault - I meant Gunnison!


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I am again unsure of the 'Centennial highway' between 'Going to the Sun Rd' [Glacier] and Yellowstone. The only one I am aware of is from Jackson to Dubois in the Teton forest that you could drive, but it would help if you gave route numbers as I don't see how it can be combined with the GTTS road.
    You're right, I don't think they can be combined. I don't have the route numbers right away - I got the names from some of the forum articles I was reading on similar routes and they sounded worth a drive. Will check to locate them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Have a look around the forums and you may have already noticed, there are new pages at RTA in the toool bars above. The map center is great for finding attractions along chosen routes and you can also find many route and attraction suggestions by clicking on the links. If you have any other questions as you continue planning, just ask.
    I did try out the new map feature, though I have to admit I wasn't very successful in drawing a route - the server had trouble connecting most of the time, but I hadn't realised you could find attractions on the route. Thanks for mentioning that!

    yaya

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default The 'odd' exception.

    Thanks for the advice! Does this give you free admission to all parks in a year?
    Yes it does. In some rare examples like Mt Rushmore where it is free entry with a parking charge, you would have to pay the parking fee, or Alcatraz which is again free entry, but you have to pay for the boat ride to the Island. The pass can be purchased at the kiosk of the first park you visit.

    I did try out the new map feature, though I have to admit I wasn't very successful in drawing a route - the server had trouble connecting most of the time, but I hadn't realised you could find attractions on the route.
    If you are having a problem with maps you can report it in the Map centre support forum. To find attractions you can simply do a 'Radius' search by following the instructions.

  5. Default LA to Vegas, GC Zion, Bryce - fine tuning questions

    Our tickets are booked and we (72-year old mom, a friend and I) are finally set to arrive in LA on June 3! I had asked here earlier about a trip from Vegas to Seattle via Yellowstone, but looking at the distances and the time available we've decided to split the trip into two parts. We will now be flying into LA (cheaper flight, better timings), renting a car, driving to Vegas, GC, Zion etc and returning the car at Vegas and then flying to Billings, driving to Yellowstone and on to Seattle (I will pose questions on that route in another post).

    I looked up similar routes on the forum and here is our plan:
    June 3: arrive LA 7 pm, pick up car and drive to nearby hotel (any recommendations for where we can spend a quiet and comfortable night under or around USD 100? I've checked the Westin and La Quinta but it's hard to decide, even going by tripadvisor).

    June 4: rest day after our long flight and checking out LA a bit. My mom is keen on seeing Rodin's The Thinker sculpture, but I'm not sure it's still in LA.

    June 5: early departure for Vegas. When is a good time to leave to beat the traffic as far as possible and what would the best route be from LA airport? Is it worth it trying to catch some of Route 66? We plan to stop at some outlets on the way, among others to equip ourselves for Yellowstone (rain gear, warm clothes, tent etc.).

    Question on Vegas: I have a reasonable offer (USD 80/night for 3 persons) for the Golden Nugget Hotel on Fremont Str. in downtown Vegas. All the guide books say that first timers to Vegas should stay at the Strip. Any advice on this?
    We have no great interest in Vegas I have to add. It is basically meant as a springboard to Grand Canyon and we thought we'd take it in briefly so we've seen what all the fuss is about, i.e. basically check out a show, peek into a casino and that's it.

    June 6: Early morning departure for GC. As far as I can see the route is fairly straightforward along US93 / I40. We were thinking of detouring a bit on Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman. Is it worth it and are the turnoffs marked?
    I had a look at Harry Kline's excellent 4 day tour around Vegas route but am wondering whether we should drive up to Cameron and Sunset Crater etc on this day and then sort of backtrack to GC or drive there the next day on the way to Zion/Bryce.
    In GC We have a reservation at the Maswik Lodge. I'm not too clear about whether one can drive one's car there or whether one has to leave it atTusayan. If so, is it safe to leave extra stuff in the car or is it better to lug everything along?

    June 7: GC to Cameron (maybe detour to Sunset Crater, Painted Desert. We would like to see the Petrified Forest but it seems too far out) and on to Kanab. If we skip Sunset Crater we would be able to do Kanab to Bryce Canyon on this day and be there well in time for sunset hopefully.
    Spend the night around Bryce if possible so we can head back into the park in the morning for sunrise or if we want to hike a bit.

    June 8: We will basically head to Zion on this day, but would like advice on whether we could manage Grand Escalante Monument as well.

    June 9: Zion to Vegas via Lake Mead. Spend night near airport.
    June 10: 7.50 am flight to Billings.

    Will the airport car rental counters be open around 6 am or would it be better to return the car the evening before? There was hardly any difference in renting the car for 6 or 7 days so I thought I'd rent it for the week and give ourselves more flexiblity.

    Any advice on this route? Anything we can do better or anything we are leaving out we shouldn't miss?

    Thanks!
    yaya
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 04-25-2011 at 05:10 AM. Reason: Merged - Please don't create multiple threads about the same trip

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Regarding Vegas, I actually prefer to stay downtown. It's a little more to my tastes (lower key), but it is a bit of a drive to go to the strip if you are hoping to see a show.

    However, the bigger thing is that $80 really isn't a great deal. There are some crazy good deals out there. There are some decent other Downtown hotels for $20-30, as well as some other off-strip properties like the Palace Station, that are closer to the strip than downtown for under $30. Or if you want to stay on the strip, you can find a room for under $50. Some very decent places like Excaliber and Rivera were under that price point.

  7. Default

    Thanks for the info about the rates Midwest Michael. Will check out the hotels you've mentioned. I wasn't able to find anything much cheaper online (the rate at the Golden Nugget is also USD 50 + 20 for the extra person and taxes). Do you think it's better to book ahead or just land up?

    yaya

  8. Default

    I just noticed this thread has been merged with my previous trip plan. It's not really the same trip as we are no longer driving through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana to Yellowstone. Should I then post any questions on the later part of my trip from Yellowstone to Seattle and around Seattle in this thread or open a new thread? I'm guessing I'd get more responses from people familiar with the northwest if I don't have Vegas, GC, Zion in the subject line.

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