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  1. Default new here...need help planning a trip

    hi everyone,

    i'm new to this glad it's here!!! i'm planning a trip for my husband, 7 year old daughter, and myself. we may or may not take our two pugs with us as well, depending on responses here.

    we live in the bay area. my plan is to leave here, go to the grand canyon, then to bryce canyon, over to yosemite, and back to the bay area. i haven't planned how many days we'll be gone and am not familiar with the weather during may or june in these areas. i'm assuming it will be hot. i'd like to go in the beginning of may. we aren't really road trip travelers but i think it will be great. i always wished i had this experience with my parents. however, i don't want my daughter to be sick of the car and bored out of her mind.

    ideally, i'd like to go for 11 days. i was thinking of splitting the drive from home to the GC in half since it's over 700 miles. is there anything in-between them that is fun? i thought about 2 days in the GC. is that enough? then drive up to bryce and spend two days there. then split the drive from bryce to yosemite in half. anything between those two? hang out in yosemite for a couple days and then come home.

    is this too ambitious for a 7 year old? i did something like this before...but not with a child. how much time do most people allow for the GC? should we go to bryce or just GC and yosemite?

    thanks for any advice!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! This sounds like the start of a good plan for your vacation. Look around here in the forums, and you'll see that this loop is very popular.

    From the Bay area to Grand Canyon would be a very, very long day -- too long for the drivers, and definitely too long for a 7-year old. You'll want to stop enough to let the 7-year old run off some steam, so I'd say 450 or 500 miles is plenty. Take a good look at our Map Center here, as there will be some ideas listed. It looks like you love nature, and Joshua Tree National Park would be a great place. However, it will also be a bit warm, though not nearly as bad as it will be in July!

    Two days would be a perfect amount of time at the Grand Canyon. It will be comfortable there, the crowds won't be huge yet, and you'll have time to take some of the nature walks. Your daughter is the perfect age to be involved in the Junior Ranger program at both the GC, Bryce, Yosemite, and Zion if you choose to stop there too. (I would do at least one day at Zion and then just a day at Bryce. They are close to each other.)

    Keeping a 7-year-old occupied in the car: have her help you choose a bag of small toys that can go in the car. You can also play I Spy, License Plate, or the Alphabet game (where you have to find something on the road sides that start with the letters of the alphabet, in order). If she likes music, make sure you have CDs or iPods. I notice that most parents don't mind if their kids have a hand-held video game, too, these days. (Some also have DVD players in their cars, but that would not be my first choice. This is a controversial subject, we find!)

    I grew up in the back of my parents' station wagon, and my kids grew up in the back of our van and pickup truck. My girls both love to travel now, too, with their own families!


  3. Default

    thank you so much for the prompt reply!!! i forgot all about zion!! my daughter is pretty good in the car. while i understand the dvd player at would seem to take away from the concept of this trip!!!

    anyone take dogs to these national parks? are they dog friendly?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Good for You

    Quote Originally Posted by horselover
    While I understand the DVD player at would seem to take away from the concept of this trip!!!
    Indeed! RoadTrips are about exploring new places, seeing new things, and just (nut not just having fun. A much better way to keep your daughter engaged is to have some short adventures along the way rather than try keep her 'entertained' while you drive hour after hour. There are some very nice, free places to stop every couple of hours along the way such as Pacheco State Park near Los Banos, Jefferson Park in Bakersfield, then pull up early in Barstow. That would set you up for a second day's drive to the Grand Canyon area with stops (perhaps) along the Colorado River just before crossing into Arizona, and in Williams.

    Also, you wll need to check each park's website for their particular rules, but generally pets are only allowed in certain limited areas and then only on a leash.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Weather.

    This sounds like a wonderful adventure to share with your family !

    With regards to the weather, [unpredictable as it is] although in places it could be hot, you should certianly pack some layered clothing for high altitude places such as Bryce canyon. Daytime temps in the mid 60's[F] would be the 'normal', but at night, temps of 31F [around freezing] is also the 'norm' during May.

    The weather may also play a part in your route planning. The spectacular Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite from east to west is also at high elevation and doesn't usually open for the season until sometime between Mid-May and end of June. 'When' is a time no one knows for sure, until much nearer the time when they have started plowing the road to clear winter snow accumulation, even then it's a guessing game.. So far this years snow pack is small and it looks as though it might be an early opening, but a couple of major storms can soon alter things !

    It won't be a major issue if you are aware of whats going on, as it would just be a case of heading around the south of the mountains via Lake Isabella/Bakersfield, [across Death valley perhaps] or heading north near to South Lake Tahoe.

    I would highly recommend time at Zion NP, it's wonderful with a lot of easy walks through canyon alongside the Virgin river. Between Bryce and Zion, another nice roadside stop is Red Rock State park, just under the natural rock arch over the road.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Dogs -- as a general rule, the national parks want them only in your vehicle or on a leash. Wildlife are abundant in some areas of the parks and dogs just bother them. Leaving them behind in a motel may not be an option, either, because many motels don't want unsupervised pets in the rooms while you're gone.

    We traveled with a large dog years back when we went up the Alaska Highway, but found her to be a liability. We wished we had boarded her and left her behind. YMMV.


  7. Default

    WOW!!! This is fantastic info!!! Thank you so much! I think we'll have the dogs go for a vacation with my in-laws!! :)

    I love hearing about the little stops on the way to larger destinations. These are the places I don't know anything about. Thank you for that. And for everything else.

    This is such a great site!!

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