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  1. Default Family trip San Fran to Phoenix via Grand Canyon - need ideas:)

    Hi all! I am in the beginning stages of planning our summer 2013 family trip. We are 2 adults and 2 school aged kids.

    This is the plan so far, with some reservations already made & unchangeable:

    Day 1 - fly PHL - DEN (overnight Denver) - flight already booked

    Day 2 & 3 - Rocky Mountain Natl Park (overnight Estes Park?)

    Day 4 - back to Denver (overnight)

    Day 5/6 - take Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver - San Francisco (already booked)

    Days 7-10 - overnights in San Francisco

    Day 11 - pick up car OR RV (depending on pricing and lodging options/locations) - Yosemite overnight?

    Day 12 - Yosemite overnight?

    Day 13 - ?

    Day 14 - ?

    Day 15 - ?

    Day 16 - Las Vegas overnight (because of the kids, we aren't really all that interested in Vegas, but it seems to be a place we have to pass through on this route)

    Day 17 & 18 - Grand Canyon overnight

    Days 19, 20, 21 - Scottsdale luxury resort (after all of that driving - some relaxing time!)

    Day 22 - Overnight near PHX airport

    Day 23 - fly home (PHX-PHL - already have this booked)


    I need help in planning the stops from San Francisco to Phoenix. The only real 'must do' for us is the Grand Canyon. Would like Yosemite as well & it looks like Death Valley & Vegas are along the route?

    I'd love suggestions for where to overnight & what to see along the way. We might be able to rent an RV, depending on cost.

    Thanks!!!

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

    Default Some ideas.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    You have a nice solid plan there and will be in for a wonderful time ! An RV can be a wonderful 'Lifestyle' option but rarely will it be cheaper than the car and Motel option. If you plan on staying in the NP's where lodging is expensive and camping cheap, it can certainly help to balance the cost. Either way you will need to book lodgings in the parks asap as they are very popular and the RV sites in particular book out early. If you are already booked into a luxury resort then it would seem a waste having the RV parked up and costing you $100-£150 per day. You may also find that you are not allowed to take an RV across Death valley due to your rental agreement, a popular route between Yosemite and Vegas.

    You could easily spend another night in Yosemite, you could visit Seqouia NP or spend a night or 2 on the coast travelling the scenic coast highway to Cambria/ Morro Bay. Another option would be to drive across the desert to Utah and visit the wonderful Zion NP and then head south to Vegas, or go via Bryce canyon and Monument valley to GC and by pass Vegas altogether.

  3. Default

    Thank you Dave! We love RVing (saving up to buy a travel trailer), but I am not sure it will work out for this trip. I thought it would be a good option, because I have seen great rates to get RVs to AZ where the company needs them, but no guarantee that option will be available in the summertime. I am going to go ahead & assume we will be traveling by rental car.

    Since I am not familiar with the area, I have some questions:

    - would we use the same 'home base' for visiting Yosemite and Seqouia, or would we use different hotels?

    - I like the idea of traveling across to Utah, since we have never been (except 4 corners). Do you have any suggestions for where to stop for the overnights?

    - We (adults) have been to Vegas and Cambria, so we could skip those (although I think the kids would like Cambria/CA coast)

    Thanks! Any more suggestions are very welcome:)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jandm View Post
    - would we use the same 'home base' for visiting Yosemite and Seqouia, or would we use different hotels?
    No. Its about a 3-4 hour drive from Yosemite to Sequoia. Even if you stayed somewhere outside of Yosemite, like Oakhurst, you'd still be more than 2 hours to Sequoia, which would be pretty far to do it as a daytrip. Not to mention, you're probably going to want to avoid backtracking anyway.

    - I like the idea of traveling across to Utah, since we have never been (except 4 corners). Do you have any suggestions for where to stop for the overnights?
    Springdale is the small town just outside of Zion that can make an good place to stop. Otherwise, its going to depend upon how the rest of your plans shake out.

    - We (adults) have been to Vegas and Cambria, so we could skip those (although I think the kids would like Cambria/CA coast)
    You might at least consider going down as far as Monterey, to explore the aquarium and other scenic stops in the area. Of course, also keep your kids very involved in the planning, and see what they want to do as you continue to make your plans. The more they are invested, the more they will enjoy it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default One Utah option.

    If you were to go into Utah I would consider this.

    Day13] Leave Yosemite lunchtime [ish] and drive across the Sierra Nevada on the scenic Tioga Pass [CA120] while doing a few stops along the way to take in the splendid views and overnight in Lee Vining, or perhaps Tonopah, to shorten the drive to Zion.

    Day14] Drive to Zion NP via the 'ET Highway' to Springdale as Michael suggested, a wonderful little town.

    Day15] Explore Zion and stay another night, or take the Mt Carmel Highway to Bryce canyon in the afternoon, both are wonderful NP's and the drive is amazing.

    Day16] Visit Bryce canyon [Rubys Inn is both nice and convenient for an overnight stop but you could find cheaper lodgings in Tropic] and stay at Bryce, or continue to Page AZ or Cameron Trading post on route to GC, if you spent the previous night in Bryce.

    Day 17] To the Grand canyon with a possible detour to Monument valley on route. You will enter the GC south rim via the east entry station along Desert view drive to the village area. There are a few viewpoints to stop at and admire the views along the way, the first a t the Watchtower as you enter the park, so leave enough time to enjoy these.

  6. Default

    Day 1 - fly PHL - DEN (overnight Denver) - flight already booked

    Day 2 & 3 - Rocky Mountain Natl Park (overnight Estes Park?)

    Day 4 - back to Denver (overnight)

    Day 5- take Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver - San Francisco (already booked) - overnight on train

    Days 6,7,8, - overnights in San Francisco

    Day 9 - pick up car & head to Monterey (overnight Monterey)

    Day 10 - Monterey to Yosemite (overnight Yosemite)

    Day 11- overnight Yosemite

    Day 12 - Leave Yosemite lunchtime [ish] and drive across the Sierra Nevada on the scenic Tioga Pass [CA120] while doing a few stops along the way to take in the splendid views and overnight in Lee Vining, or perhaps Tonopah, to shorten the drive to Zion.

    Day 13 - Drive to Zion NP via the 'ET Highway' to Springdale as Michael suggested, a wonderful little town. (overnight Sprindale)

    Day 14 - Explore Zion and stay another night, or take the Mt Carmel Highway to Bryce canyon in the afternoon, both are wonderful NP's and the drive is amazing.

    Day 15 - Visit Bryce canyon [Rubys Inn is both nice and convenient for an overnight stop but you could find cheaper lodgings in Tropic] and stay at Bryce, or continue to Page AZ or Cameron Trading post on route to GC, if you spent the previous night in Bryce.

    Day 16 - To the Grand canyon with a possible detour to Monument valley on route. You will enter the GC south rim via the east entry station along Desert view drive to the village area. There are a few viewpoints to stop at and admire the views along the way, the first a t the Watchtower as you enter the park, so leave enough time to enjoy these. (overnight GC)

    Day 17 - Overnight GC???

    Days 18, 19, 20 - Scottsdale luxury resort (after all of that driving - some relaxing time!)

    Day 21 - Overnight near PHX airport

    Day 22 - fly home (PHX-PHL - already have this booked)

    OK, here is a possible new itinerary based on the wonderful feedback (thanks Michael and Dave!). I realized that I actually have 22 days (not 23). I took out Vegas, added Monterey & subtracted a night in San Fran.

    Does this sound do-able or too crazy? My kids are really good travelers, but we will need to build in some time to swim, eat ice cream, and play. They can handle sightseeing, but need some activity built into it:)

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Looks good.

    I think your trip looks perfectly doable with the only long[ish] day behind the wheel travelling to Zion NP. I would recommend you get some input from the kids and get them to do a little research into parts of the trip that interest them, perhaps they might want to join the NP's junior Rnger program ? If you get them involved and excited about it during the planning, they will get more out of the trip, making it more fun for all.

    Estes Park is an ideal base for RMNP with lots of pleasant walks /hikes from easy to tough to suit all ages and abilities around the Bear Lake area. The nearby Trail Ridge road is a wonderful drive [when open] and happens to be the highest continous paved road in the USA. If you had the full day to get back to Denver you could drive across it and take in the views before heading to I70 [via Grand Lake and Winter Park] back to Denver.

    The family might all enjoy a trip to Alcatraz while in San Fran. I would recommend booking in advance if you decide to go, and here is the only official ticket office selling tickets without agent fees or the need to book other tours.

  8. Default

    Thanks for all of the help! I really appreciate it:)

    I have been doing some research & have a few more questions as I try to look into booking hotels.

    1. For the Yosemite part of the trip, it looks like the hotels actually IN the park are booked. I have points that I can use at the Westin in Mammoth Lakes....does it make sense to stay 1 night on the western side of the park & then spend the next day heading toward Mammoth Lake (to spend night at Westin)?

    2. Looking at Mapquest, it seems that the natural point between Mammoth Lakes and Springdale, UT is Las Vegas....true? We could spend a night in or around Vegas. I don't really want to expose my kids to some of what can be seen there, but we could stay somewhere off the strip area (I remember staying at a really nice JW Marriott near Red Rocks, I think).

    3. What is the ET highway?

    Thank you for the assistance as I try to piece this trip together from location to location, while trying to allocate the right amount of time in each place:)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    The Yosemite Valley for which the park is named, is located on the west side of the Sierra's, which makes Mammoth a really unworkable location to use as a base to explore the park. Mammoth would work as a spot as you are leaving Yosemite, in place of your previous planned stop in Lee Vining or Tonopah.


    We could spend a night in or around Vegas. I don't really want to expose my kids to some of what can be seen there, but we could stay somewhere off the strip area (I remember staying at a really nice JW Marriott near Red Rocks, I think).
    Yes, if you go down to Mammoth, then its just as easy to get to Zion via Vegas as it is via Tonopah, and at that point you might as well take the chance to check out Death Valley too.

    Although, I don't know what you are worried about "exposing your kids to" in Vegas?
    3. What is the ET highway?
    RTA's article on the ET Highway.

  10. Default

    Thanks Michael,
    That is helpful info about Mammoth Lakes. It is so hard to tell just by looking at the map.

    I was in Vegas once, and everywhere we walked, people were trying to hand us things that I would not want my kids to see (and they were all over the ground from people not taking them & dropping them)! Maybe it was a fluke, but I'm not sure. I remember thinking that it was not a place for kids:) I wouldn't mind stopping to stay at a nice hotel where the kids could swim though:)

    Thoughts on updated itinerary? :
    Day 1 - fly PHL - DEN (overnight Denver) - flight already booked

    Day 2 - drive to Estes Park via Peak to Peak scenic highway (overnight Estes Park)

    Day 3 - Drive Trail Ridge Rd (overnight Grand Lake or Winter Park)

    Day 4 - back to Denver (overnight)

    Day 5- take Amtrak California Zephyr from Denver - San Francisco (already booked) - overnight on train

    Days 6,7,8, - overnights in San Francisco

    Day 9 - pick up car & head to Monterey (overnight Monterey or extra night in SF)

    Day 10 - Monterey (or SF) to Yosemite (overnight Yosemite)

    Day 11- overnight Yosemite

    Day 12 - Leave Yosemite lunchtime [ish] and drive across the Sierra Nevada on the scenic Tioga Pass [CA120] while doing a few stops along the way (overnight Mammoth Lakes)

    Day 13 - drive toward Zion NP via Las Vegas (overnight Vegas)

    Day 14 - Drive to Zion NP via the 'ET Highway' to Springdale (overnight Sprindale)

    Day 15 - Explore Zion and stay another night (overnight Springdale)

    Day 16 - continue to Page AZ (overnight Page?)

    Day 17 - To the Grand canyon with a possible detour to Monument valley on route. You will enter the GC south rim via the east entry station along Desert view drive to the village area. There are a few viewpoints to stop at and admire the views along the way, the first a t the Watchtower as you enter the park, so leave enough time to enjoy these. (overnight GC)

    Days 18, 19, 20 - Scottsdale luxury resort (after all of that driving - some relaxing time!)

    Day 21 - Overnight near PHX airport

    Day 22 - fly home (PHX-PHL - already have this booked)

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