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  1. #1

    Default Family road trip Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California

    This is my first post so interested to hear your responses. We are a family of 5 from England planning a 3 week trip starting with friends in Boulder, then Arches, Canyonland, Bryce and Zion national parks. Then onto Vegas, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs (possibly?) and then finishing in/around LA. Done 2 American road trip before - both times before we had kids - so keen to plan things better this time! All tips gratefully received, especially anywhere good to stay between Zion and Bryce, a family friendly (if they exist!) hotel in Vegas and advice on staying around LA. Kids want to see Hollywood, we want quiet beaches, cycle rides and nice restaurants - is there a compromise! Does this trip sound doable? Also in and around Grand Canyon/Utah - are there lots of gas stations - or do we need to plan that carefully too?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Where to stay between Bryce and Zion all depends on what route you take between the 2, when during the day you leave Bryce, and how much time you have.

    The quickest route would be US-89 to UT-9 and enter Zion at the east entrance. This takes less than 2 hours and there is very little between the 2 along the direct route once you leave Bryce, where there's Ruby's and a couple other places. It looks like there is a Best Western in Mount Carmel.

    Another option, which takes longer, is head to Panguitch, where there's a few motels, then UT-143 to Cedar Breaks (very scenic), UT-148 to UT-14 to Cedar City - where there's a wide selection of lodging. From there, you would go to Zion via I-15, UT-17, and UT-9 to Springdale and in the west entrance. There is lodging in La Verkin, Hurricane, and Springdale.

    Gas should not be an issue, I don't know of anywhere where you would be more than 50 miles from the nearest station, except between Green River and Salina on I-70 if you take that route. I personally wouldn't take that route anyway - I would use UT-24 and UT-12 to get between Moab and Bryce. UT-12 is VERY scenic and it will take you through Capitol Reef. In a nutshell, if you are off the beaten path and drop below 1/2 tank, I'd get gas at the next station.

    If you are visiting that many national parks, I'd buy a $80 annual national parks pass at the first park you visit. It should pay for itself.

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

    Default Thoughts.

    A nice trip you have planned !

    Have you considered Rocky mountain NP at the start of your trip ?

    I would certainly second glc's advise and suggest you drive UT24 to scenic 12 and plan an overnight stop in between to visit Capitol Reef NP. Torrey would be a good place to spend the night for it's location to Capitol Reef. There is a Best western nearer to the park which is very nice, but quite expensive. The other National parks offer lodging, but again that would be at a premium. Springdale is where I would stay for Zion NP, it is close to the entrance and the only way into the canyon during summer is via the free shuttle bus service. This service runs from Springdale as well as in the park, so you would have no need to drive in and queue at the kiosks and look for parking.

    Between Bryce and Zion NP you could visit the North rim of the Grand canyon and you can find some pretty cool [yet basic] cabins in the woods at Jacob Lake. If you plan on visiting the south rim you could go from Zion to Page AZ and take a possible detour to Monument Valley, but the north rim is generally quieter than the south rim in the summer months.

    What you can do will come down to how much of your time you wish to spend in LV and LA but you have a nice amount of time for a balanced and relaxing time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Possible Re-Route

    It might make more sense to order your itinerary as follows: Canyonlands, Arches, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. This minimizes backtracking. It assumes that you visit the Islands in the Sky District of Canyonlands. If you wanted to visit the Needles District instead, you would do that after Arches rather than before. It also brings you within visiting distance of Monument Valley and Goose Necks State Park. No matter which route you decide on, you will probably also be within visiting distance of Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, as well as Mojave National Preserve.

    Also, whichever way you go you should avail yourself of two great deals from America's national parks. The first is the annual pass which is good for entry fees (but not concession/camping fees) at all parks and monuments for a year from date of purchase. You would simply buy one at the first place you came to that asks for such a fee. It pays for itself in about four park visits. The second is the Junior Ranger Program, aimed at pre-teen children. Each is designed specifically for its park and contains exercises, quizzes and duties that will give your kids a better appreciation of the park, and upon completion they also get a number of great, free souvenirs.

    Finally, Los Angeles itself is not the most kid-friendly place to stay. A few years ago, we took our grandsons to the area and had a great time by renting a small house on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. I would recommend that you look in that general area for whatever sort of lodgings you're interested in and make use of both the Fun Zone and local beaches.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-25-2014 at 09:38 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Accommodation for five.

    Since most hotel/motel accommodation permits a maximum of four occupants per room, with a family of five, you might find this site useful.

    As suggested, the annual pass for the National Parks is a great money saver. If at the end of the trip you will not have further use for it, it is a great idea to donate it to a charity. [Be sure to put only one signature on the back.]


  6. #6


    Great advice thank you! Yes we do have Rocky Mountain National Park on the list, but will check out Capitol Reef too I think - the problem is they all sound so fantastic, I need a year! The annual pass is a sound piece of advice too. Glad I have over a year to plan this trip of a lifetime!

  7. #7


    Jacob Lake sounds lovely - will have a look.- also interested in your thoughts on staying at the North Rim over the South rim - are the views as good at the North Rim - want the kids to have that iconic view of the Grand Canyon.

    Only planning 1 night in Vegas as a convenient stop over, but hopefully 4/5 nights in or around LA chilling out. We like going cycling when we re on holiday and there seem to be some fab routes along the coast.

  8. #8


    Thank you so much - this is so useful!

  9. #9


    AZBuck - so many fab suggestions, not heard of Goose Necks State Park, will have a look - the internet is a marvellous thing!

  10. #10


    I like the idea of renting a house outside of LA as we actually only want to spend 1 day doing the touristy bits (kids insisted) in Hollywood- will look at Newport Beach, also briefly looked at a place called called Ventura which is half way between LA and Santa Barbara - looked beautiful and plenty of places to cycle.
    Have been accused of getting obsessed with this trip - think this forum making me worse - but in a good way!

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