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  1. #1

    Default 7 days - Las Vegas: GC, Monument Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion

    I'm planning our first US road trip, with my wife's parents (fit 60 year olds) who are visiting from New Zealand. We're thinking of 7 days (9 including arrival and departure days) starting on the 28th September. I'd love some advice as to whether this is a realistic itinerary, particularly in terms of where to stay and whether we should try and get out of Vegas to Boulder City on our first night.

    The route has been shamelessly nicked from Harry Kline's Four Days Touring Near Las Vegas and glc's suggestions, so thanks very much to them both.

    Day 0
    Fly into Las Vegas
    Pick up car
    Hotel in Las Vegas (Possibly Boulder City instead)

    Day 1 (385mi; 7:15hrs)
    Drive Las Vegas to Hoover Dam 35mi, 45 min
    Tour Hoover Dam
    Drive Hoover Dam to Sunset Crater National Monument 245mi, 3:45hrs
    Tour Sunset Crater National Monument and Wupatki Indian Ruins
    Drive Sunset Crater NM to Grand Canyon South Rim 105mi , 2:45hrs
    Grand Canyon at Sunset
    Stay in Grand Canyon or Tusayan

    Day 2 (185mi, 3:30hrs)
    Morning touring Grand Canyon South Rim
    Drive Grand Canyon to Cameron Trading Post 60mi, 1:15hr
    Lunch at Cameron Trading Post
    Driver Cameron Trading Post to Monument Valley 125mi, 2:15hr
    Stay in Monument Valley or Kayenta

    Day 3 (0mi, 0hrs)
    Tour Monument Valley with (All Day Tour)
    Stay in Monument Valley or Kayenta

    Day 4 (205mi, 4:15hrs)
    Drive Monument Valley to Capitol Reef National Park 195mi, 4hrs
    Tour Capitol Reef National Park Scenic Drive
    Drive Capitol Reef National Park to Torrey 10mi, 15min
    Stay in Torrey

    Day 5 (235mi, 6hrs)
    Drive Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park 115mi, 2:30hrs
    Bryce Canyon to Rainbow Point roundtrip 35mi, 1:30hrs
    Drive Bryce Canyon to Cedar Breaks (via UT-12) 60mi, 1:20hrs
    Tour Cedar Breaks National Monument
    Drive Cedar Breaks to Cedar City 25mi, 40mins
    Stay in Cedar City

    Day 6 (80mi, 2hrs)
    Drive Cedar City to Kolob Canyon 25mi, 30min
    Tour Kolob Canyon
    Drive Kolob Canyon to Zion National Park 50mi, 1:15hr
    Tour Zion National Park
    Drive Zion National Park to Springdale 7mi, 15min
    Stay in Springdale

    Day 7 (190mi, 3:30hrs)
    Drive Springdale to Las Vegas 190mi, 3:30hrs
    Options via Valley of Fire State Park and/or Lake Mead
    Stay in Las Vegas

    Day 8
    Return Car
    Fly home

    Distances and times are from Google maps with a few of Harry's detours forced in, if these look spurious I'd love to know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Running against the clock.

    Hi there.

    Mapping programs are over optimistic in the timing department as they do no allow for real world conditions such as construction or congestion delays, the need to eat, go to the bathroom etc, so it's wise to add around 20% to their estimates.

    It's also difficult to keep on track when activities/visits are timed by the hour, for example the Grand canyon village to Cameron could be done in 1.5 hours but you have some great viewpoints along Desertview drive at the likes of Jaki, Grandview and Moran points, plus the views from the Old Watchtower near the east kiosk. They all offer something different and could easily account for an extra couple of hours just to detour, take in the views and take some photos. That still leaves you time to be in Cameron by lunch with an early [ish] start but it's good to keep a little flexible. With everything you want to do on route to the GC you won't have a lot of time either for the many viewpoints up to Hermits rest and visiting Hoover dam, Sunset Crater and Wupakti might have you racing against the clock and not letting you truly enjoy each place and certainly will not be as relaxing as visiting perhaps just one and then enjoying the Grand canyon.

    Day 5 is a bit overloaded to fit everything in as well, and to be perfectly honest you might be better off looking around Bryce and then heading straight to Zion for the night and have day 6 to explore Zion, including Kolob canyon if you want to fit it in. Sometimes less is more, and Zion has a lot of easy walks and with a full day there time will just dissapear !

    You could pack everything in, but make sure it's what the in-laws want as well, as a more relaxed pace and time to appreciate your surroundings is often better appreciated.

  3. #3


    Thanks so much for this advice. I was thinking I might have been packing too much in and adding 20% to the Google maps times certainly makes me think this is the case!

    I think we'll certainly aim to stay night 5 in Zion/Springdale and have a whole day there; are there any recommendations for accommodation in the park or are we too late for booking those?

    I would like to cut down day 1 too. As we're arriving into LAS at about 2pm, should we be aiming to get further towards the GC on the day we arrive? Not knowing the area I'm not sure where the next sensible stopping point is after Boulder City, should we try to get as far as Kingman (presumably skipping the dam tour)? That would make our first full day 260mi via Sunset Crater (route 89) or 175mi if we turned up route 64 at Williams.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default After a long haul flight??

    If your parents are flying in direct from NZ and arriving at 2pm, make sure they would want to go for any long drive straight on top of that. Even a three hour drive! That 14+ hour flight can take a toll, especially if they have difficulty sleeping on a plane. Remember, at 60 it has a greater affect on the body than a younger person.

    I'd be taking it easy with them that afternoon, go out to dinner and stay in LV for the night. Get to bed early in readiness for an early start next morning. It is roughly a five hour drive to the GC.


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

    Default Rested and ready to roll !

    I would agree with Lifey. By the time you clear customs and pick up your rental it might be wiser to check into your hotel [perhaps have a little stroll] enjoy a relaxing evening and hit the pillow early so that you awake refreshed and raring to go ! Staying to the south of the airport will give you an easier start in the morning and you could be at the dam in an hour. Of course you could drive to Henderson/Boulder, but I'm not sure I'd want to commit to driving as far as Kingman as small delays can make a big difference, whether it's flight delay or a missing bag. [god forbid !] lol

    are there any recommendations for accommodation in the park or are we too late for booking those?
    You would have to check the availabilty for Zion NP lodging and booking is recommended as they fill up fast, Zion Lodge is the only place in the canyon. Right by the entrance to the park is the wonderful town of Springdale with various lodging and dining options, and the free NP shuttle bus operates from town in and out of the canyon.

  6. #6


    Thanks both. They'll have been staying with us in New York before we all head to Vegas which is why I was a bit more relaxed about doing some driving on the first day.

    I think getting as far as Henderson/Boulder is probably best, Kingman might be ambitious even though we're arriving mid-afternoon on a direct domestic flight.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    See what time it is when you get your baggage collected and into your rental car. It's about 30 to 45 minutes from the airport to the dam. You must get to the dam prior to 4 pm or so to get a tour.

    Lodging in Boulder City is limited, and that's the only place I've ever been shut out of a room on a Saturday night on a walk-in, the whole town was full. I had to drive on to Kingman - another hour and 15 minutes. In hindsight, I should have spent the night in Las Vegas.

    If you don't care about a dam tour, you can make it from the LV airport to Kingman in less than 2 hours, and that I'd do, the roads are all good. At the end of September the sun sets in Kingman around 6:30 pm. There are a ton of chain hotels/motels at I-40 exit 53.

  8. #8


    Thanks, even with Avis Preferred and priority bags from United I think we'd be pushing it to get off a flight at 2:15pm and to the dam by 4pm.

    Is the tour that worthwhile? My gut feeling is I'd rather have an extra 2 hours for Grand Canyon and the drive up there on the first day by pushing through to Kingman (which it looks like we could get to around sunset) rather than stop at Boulder on the first night.

    In any case we're intending on booking at least our first and last night's lodgings plus those at GC, Monument and Zion (so 7 of the 9 nights).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You can get from Kingman to the Grand Canyon in 3 hours if you take I-40 to Williams - add about an hour if you take 66 from Kingman to Seligman. Even on a Saturday night, you shouldn't have to book lodging in Kingman if you will be arriving around dinnertime unless there is a special event going on that weekend - there are plenty of hotels to choose from. I see at least a dozen of them within a mile of that exit I referenced and there are probably almost as many downtown.

    I've never been on the dam tour so I can't comment on how worthwhile it is.

  10. #10


    Thanks. I presume your timings are going up 64 at Williams rather than carrying on to Flagstaff and up 89? Is one route more scenic than the other; I'm interested in Sunset Crater and the loop road there, but it's a tradeoff against time at the GC.

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