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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Port Saint Lucie, Florida, United States

    Default Denver to Las Vegas Travel Advice 6 days in July

    I am planning a road trip for my 9 year old son and me following a convention in Denver. I'd like to take 6 days (or so) and end up in Las Vegas. I'm aware that the straight route can be driven in one day (750 miles or so). My tentative plan looks something like this (and I'd like a bit of feedback on what can be reasonably added or can't be missed. I'm not opposed to leaving the interstate, but just need safe arrangements since I'm a single mom with just one child.)

    From Denver to Colorado Springs to see Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak (I visited both when I was pregnant with him, so these are a must do on the list). After that, these are the things we'd like to see/do: Navajo Nation, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and a visit to Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary(Kanab, UT) to volunteer for 2 days at least, Joshua Tree/Mojave (I'm not sure how far this actually is from Las Vegas). We are using Vegas as our ending point because of the less expensive accommodations and flights in the summer months.

    Are there other sights along the way that we should definitely drive through, not miss, etc? We are both "outdoor-sy" and would like the opportunity to hike a bit and not just see our nation's beauty through our car windows.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-09-2014 at 01:02 PM. Reason: New members may not link to outside web sites.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Denver to Las Vegas is actually a bit more than a day's drive. Here on RTA, we don't recommend anyone ever driving more than 600 miles in one day unless it's a real emergency, because that's approximately the amount of miles/hours that a commercial driver is allowed to do for safety reasons (10 hours). It's about a day and a half drive. Las Vegas to Joshua Tree is about 5 hours -- 250 miles -- going down mostly US-95 and CA62/177.

    This is what I would do: sit down with your son and see if there is anything that he would really like to do that is on your list. Just off hand with the things you have mentioned (driving will take time, plus a half day each for GoG and PP, 2 days volunteering), that leaves you only 2 more days to decide what to do with. Zion in July is going to take time since the shuttles will be in service. Bryce is "quicker" because you can still drive around yourself. Joshua Tree is worth at least 4-5 hours, more if you get out and walk at all. However, I will warn you: JT in July is HOT, probably around 110. (But there's no FL-type humidity.) Zion is warm, too.

    After sitting down with your son to get his input, take paper/pencil or computer and start computing real driving time, time to see and do things you want to do. If you use mileages from Mapquest, Google maps or any other electronic mapping program, add 20% to the time they say it will take to drive (or figure an average of 50-55 mph, which is what we do) from one place to another.

    Once you've done this, bring back your plans and we can help you fine-tune them!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Other Routes and Stops Worth Considering

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Denver to Las Vegas is easily among the most scenic routes in America, with several great options rather than a single 'best' route. Four days for the drive allows you to wander a bit, but only a bit, and still have time to visit a number of the many parks, monuments, and other attractions available to you. One possible route that you can discuss with your son would look something like the following:

    Day 1: Visit Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, then take US-24 west and US-285 south to spend your first night in Poncha Springs.

    Day 2: Take US-50 west through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to US-550 the 'Million Dollar Highway' south to US-160 west to Cortez for your second night, visiting Mesa Verde National Park in the evening before checking in.

    Day 3: Continue on US-160 into the Navajo Nation, perhaps take a detour up US-163 to Monument Valley and take a jeep tour with a native guide to see the best formations and let your son interact with a Navajo. Return to US-160 and take the AZ-98 cutoff to US-89 north and Kanab.

    Days 4 and 5: Volunteer work in Kanab

    Day 6: Skip Bryce Canyon and instead concentrate on making the most of your time in Zion. Trying to add Bryce just results in driving more miles. Spend the time hiking one or two of the numerous valley floor trails in Zion (I particularly liked the Riverside Walk at the end of the shuttle bus route) and seeing the Human History Museum near the southern entrance. If you have extra time, a visit to Valley of Fire State Park just before entering Las Vegas would be in order, especially if you are passing near sunset.

    Such an itinerary lets you see and do a lot without requiring a pace that turns your adventure into a hectic rush from place to place. Also, be sure to have your son sign up for the Junior Ranger Program at each national park or monument you visit. This involves a set of park-specific activities for him to complete that will give him a better appreciation of the park, and at the end he will receive a number of free souvenirs to commemorate his visit and successfully completing the program.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-09-2014 at 07:08 PM. Reason: Typos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Trains?

    Travelling with a nine year old boy, have you considered the Royal Gorge Railway, which runs out of Canon City? If he likes trains, he will love this train. It's a two hour journey covers 24 miles and takes you through the gorge of the Arkansas river, over a cantelever section of the rail and under the Royal Gorge Bridge (1000' above).


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