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  1. #1

    Default Las Vegas-Gr Canyon-Moab-Bryce-Zion in 13 days

    I am planning on renting a car out of Vegas and then doing this trip in middle of August. Is it better (cheaper) to plan on my own or do some type of excursion? Can I enter Grand Canyon and Arches Ntl Park and Canyonlands with my car or do they require guides? I know it's hot but please give me your thoughts. It's about 1000 miles round trip.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    With only a few exceptions, America's National Parks are designed to be explored without guides, and that's certainly the case with all the parks you've mentioned. There are often opportunities for (free) ranger-led tours, and there are some exceptions where guided tours are required (places like caves or sensitive archaeological sites), but the vast majority of parks are yours to explore.

    Planning the trip by yourself is almost certainly going to reduce costs, and it will let you see exactly what you want to see, at your pace, not just what a tour company things you should see in the time they think you should see it.

    I think at this point, your first step should be to explore the National Parks website, and look at all the options available for things to see and do in the parks you're looking at. Their site is quite good at laying out what you can see and do. I will also say it will likely be worth your money to purchase an annual pass for $80, that will cover the entry fees for all the parks you are considering.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Planning is half the fun !

    With 13 days you can have a wonderful time travelling through these parts and there are many wonderful stops in between your destination points, for example Las Vegas to GC you have Hoover Dam and a favourite section of route 66 from Kingman through Seligman. From Grand canyon you could stop at the Cameron Trading post for an hour or two to look around the store and maybe get lunch and then detour through Monument valley on US163. You have the option to detour to Four corners [the only place in the US where you can put a limb in four different States in one go] and maybe include the historic Mesa Verde NP near Cortez.

    After visiting Arches and Canyonlands you could take UT24 [from I70] to Capital Reef NP and then Utah scenic byway 12 through Escalante to Bryce canyon. On the way back to Vegas you could detour through Valley of Fire State park.

    There are many more options and you won't have time to see everything, but that's why it's good to plan for yourself [with a little help from fellow members of course] so that you get to see what you want and travel at a pace you are comfortable with.

    Enjoy the planning !

  4. #4


    Thanks. Am still having problems of deciding where to visit. Is it worth it driving all these miles in the heat as we're going in Mid-August. So far all I've done before I've written you was to book Cable Mountain Lodge in Zion but could only get the Fri and Sat night of the first week. I was originally thinking of lightly exploring some trails in Zion from 6 am to 11 am then head back to pool to cool off.

    I am thinking I would really like to drive to Arches but it is way east. A question is do we drive thru the park and walk up to the neat arches from the side of the road kind of like Valley of Fire (which I visited last trip in Vegas and also saw Hoover Dam) or do we have to park and walk quite a bit. I am worried about the heat. I actually suffered heat exhaustion the time I went to Valley of Fire when it was 106 degrees. Pretty scary! I REALLY enjoyed VoF.

    I am not sure what is more worth it. Is it too much driving for what we are seeing? We would like to spend a few days in a pool in Vegas and end with one or two days in a pool. We have 11 days to play with!

    My real interest would be stuff like antelope canyon, really spectacular scenery all the way thru the trip but I think antelope is too far.

    Please help! We are leaving Aug 13 and I haven't made any plans yet but for cable Mountain Lodge in Zion. Is there a way I can plan itinerary with keeping the RSVP on Fri and Sat night or do I need to cancel them?

    Thanks for all your help. I just CAN'T decide!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Sights, Climate, and Ease of Approach

    Arches National Park is at 4,000 to 5000+ feet of elevation which helps keep the temperatures down. Typically in August, temps will run from lows of 63º at night to highs of 96º during the day. You can mitigate the seasonal heat by visiting the parks early in the morning. This also gets you great lighting effects. Many of the arches in the park are within relatively easy walking distance of parking facilities and are visited by the elderly as well as small children. With proper planning and timing, you should have no serious problems. But as always in the southwest in the summer, bring plenty of water.

    The same holds true of Bryce and Zion which are also at elevation. It will be warm in the summer, but these are the busiest times of the year for these parks, so clearly other people find the conditions tolerable. There is a shuttle in Zion, and it is a relatively narrow and confined canyon, so you are not going to be overworked. Bryce is a case where you're viewing the rock formations from above, and from vantage points reachable by car and/or short walks. One scenic wonder you might consider on the way from the Grand Canyon to Arches, as you drive through Monument Valley, is Goosenecks State Park in Utah. Only a little out of the way, but a spectacular view from the vista point.

    Pools you can find anywhere. The sights along your proposed routes are once-in-a-lifetime unique. Spend some time seeing them.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The heat is not a problem from the car.

    Is it too much driving for what we are seeing? We would like to spend a few days in a pool in Vegas and end with one or two days in a pool. We have 11 days to play with!
    Can you please confirm how long you actually have for the road trip part of your trip ? You say you have 13 days in total, but you wish to spend a "few days" in the pool at the start and a "couple of days at the end" in a pool, with 11 days to spare. It doesn't add up unless your few days at the start are not included. It would also be helpful to know which date you intend to leave Vegas and how long that leaves you either side of the dates you have set in Zion.

    The driving could be done in 2.5 reasonably comfortable days, so yes you would have time to complete the loop with 11 days, as long as you are happy with the pace.

    Is it worth it driving all these miles in the heat as we're going in Mid-August.
    To look at it another way, apart from your Hotel [indoors], the only other time you can escape the heat, is while driving in the comfort of an air conditioned car and the scenery and photo opportunities available from close to it are unending and spectacular. I'm not saying you should not walk and enjoy the NP's, but if the heat is a limiting factor for you personally and you are not going to spend hours/days hiking, then it's a good a reason as any to visit all the places you want to.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Beating the heat.

    Having just been to Bryce, where the temps were quite comfortable, despite the unbearable (108F) heat of LV and Cedar City, I feel confident that if I can enjoy the place, you will be able to. (For the record, I am a septuagenarian with a disability which limits my walking to the very most, 200 mts.) The highest altitude in Bryce is close on 10000', and even it's lowest part is around 8000'. The real heat does not really get up there.

    However, Capital Reef and around there, are a different story. It is quite oppressive, even now, as the sun is ready to disappear behind the mountains. Still, as I say, I quite enjoyed it all, doing all the things Dave listed above.


  8. #8


    Ok, thanks for the info. I am arriving Tues night, Aug 11 (will stay in Vegas that night) and then I fly back to Canada on Aug 27 but after 11 pm. The only days I was able to book in Zion at the Cable Lodge was Aug 16 and 17 but I can always cancel without penalty if done 3 days in advance.

    If I head off to Canyonlands, had anyone driven the Shafer Trail? Do we need an SUV or can we do it by regular car. Any charges to take it? I watched an amazing video of 30 mins of this guy driving it and I was surprised to say it is two ways! What do people do to let the car in the opposite direction needs to pass in the higher areas? Is this road crowded in August?

    I am not sure if we will be tired of driving from Zion to Canyonlands (might drop Arches) to make it a little shorter.

    I need to come back and start at Moab the next time and visit the NPs at that end. I would LOVE to see Goosenecks SP as AZBuck recommended but not this trip. Can we rent kayaks there? I didn't find any info on that.

    Now the next question, if I do decide to stay western side, would 3 days at both Bryce and Zion be too long? Apparently we can't do Narrows or Subway as we need permits. But still want to do some Scenic highway drives.

    Thanks for all the help. Canyonlands might still be in the trip.

  9. #9


    Now my interest is really peaking of this trail. If I were afraid to drive it myself but want to experience it, would anyone recommend a tour guide to drive it for us in a proper jeep? That would be worth driving out to Moab just for that! I saw some trip advisor reviews and some turned back as they were too scared and didn't have proper vehicle and others were saying to JUST DO IT!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Shafer Trail is a road where high clearance and 4 wheel drive would be recommended. Perhaps more importantly, it would certainly violate your rental agreement of any standard rental car - even if you rent an SUV.

    If you'd like to drive it, you'll need to look for a specialty jeep rental company in the Moab area.

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