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  1. Default How many parks can I see out west?

    I am flying into Vegas on the 7th of May and immediately driving to Cedar City Utah to stay 4 days with my aunt. I hope to visit Zion one day and Bryce Canyon the next. On Sunday the 11th I will travel back to Vegas where I have a 7 day stay at a resort that I got on Sky Auction for $400. I check out on the 18th and fly home on the 20th.
    I really would love to see Sequoia and Kings Canyon, even Death Valley but not sure how much time I need to see all of these. In your opinion, how many days would I need to take away from Vegas to see even one of these parks? I wanted to get the feel of the Sierras on this trip. I guess that would be Kings canyon?

    Another possibility is just staying close to Vegas and seeing the Valley of Fire and Mt. Charleston. We can see sites close to Vegas during the day and see Vegas shows at night.

    We have been to the Grand Canyon and Sedona once before, so we will skip that this time.
    It is amazing how far apart all of these places are, but you want to see it all.

    I will also have from the morning of the 18th until the 20th to go somewhere. We fly out at 5:00 on the 20th from Vegas for home.

    Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Death Valley is only about 2 hours from Vegas, so that's a spot you could potentially check out during your week in Vegas. Here are some other daytrip ideas.

    As far as the Sierras go, with the time you've got, you can basically make a choice between Yosemite or Sequoia/Kings Canyon. If Tioga Pass is open, you could head through DV and then into Yosemite. If not, you'd have to go around via the Bakersfield area, and then up to either Sequoia/Kings Canyon or Yosemite. Also keep in mind, services in Kings Canyon will also be limited at the time of your trip.

    Unless you are willing to take some time away from your current time in Vegas, I think you'd have to limit yourself to one park though. You'll spend most of the 18th getting to the park you choose, you can spend much of the 19th at the park, but you'll have to start making your way back that afternoon. With a 5 o'clock flight, I wouldn't want to be any farther away from Vegas than Bakersfield. If you take a day or two away from Vegas, you could much more easily see both Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Yosemite.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Quantity vs. Quality

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    My first reaction to any question of the type: "How much can I squeeze in?" is: Why would you want to. Rushing from place to place is not the same as visiting and experiencing those places. The great national parks of the southwest exist for reasons that have nothing to do with being checked off somebody's list. These are areas of surpassing beauty and tranquility that take significant amounts of time to appreciate. So rather than concentrating on how many parks you can see, I'd suggest you concentrate on how many parks you can see well.

    Given your flight and lodging itinerary, as well as your stated goals, I'd suggest the following: Of your four days with your aunt in Cedar City, plan on spending at least one full day with her so that you're not just treating her home like a free BnB, and then a day each to Zion and Bryce Canyon. Note that you have to drive through Zion to get to Bryce, so save your receipt from the first time you get to Zion so you don't have to pay again on the next drive through. Also note that you will not be able to drive into the canyon at Zion. During the summer, only the park's shuttle busses are allowed on the main road, so you will be on their schedule not your own. On the fourth day, you can relax, visit St. George, or even drive into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by way of Jacob Lake for a completely different view of that natural wonder than what you experienced before.

    The hard choices come in the next section, when you have accommodations booked for seven days in Las Vegas. Even a short run over to Sequoia/King's Canyon would take two full days of driving for just a very few hours actually in the Sierra Nevada. To fully appreciate the mountains, I'd think something like spending four days and looping up through Death Valley, to US-395 past Mono Lake, over Tioga Pass into Yosemite, then back down the west side of the mountains through King's Canyon and Sequoia, and finally back to Las Vegas would give you a much better "feel of the Sierras on this trip." Perhaps one way to do this would be to see the parks around Las Vegas early and then skip the last day or two of your stay at the resort and instead use those days to tour the Sierra with a return to Las Vegas scheduled for the 20th in plenty of time to catch your flight home.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    I check out on the 18th and fly home on the 20th.
    To head to the Sierra's I would consider checking out a day earlier and forfiet one night in Vegas. If you have already taken a day trip into Death Valley you could take a direct drive to Yosemite valley on the 17th and spend the 18th enjoying this wonderful NP and perhaps travel south to Oakhurst for the night. The following day you could drive through Sequoia NP and stop around Porterville or Lake Isabella before making your way back to Vegas. If you don't want to leave a day earlier or want a slower pace then you could explore the eastern side of the Sierra's and visit Mono Lake, June Lake loop and Mammoth as well as the towns of Bishop and Lone Pine with views of Mt Whitney.

    If I was taking a day trip to Bryce from Cedar City, I wouldn't go via Zion NP as mentioned by Buck, as it's quite a big diversion. Instead you could cut through the Dixie National Forest and perhaps visit Cedar Breaks National Monument.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the great ideas! I really appreciate it. I have a few questions. From what I have read the North Rim of the Grand Canyon doesn't open until the 15th of May. Do they ever open early?
    Also, I have read you can't get into Yosemite without chains on the tires. I am renting a car, so I won't have chains.
    Any ideas on getting into Yosemite? What a trip it would be to see all of these beautiful places. Maybe the next trip will be to Lake Tahoe for a couple of weeks. Then I could really take my time at these great places. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    Default My Apologies

    On several counts. You are right about the early season problems. While either or both the North Rim and Tioga Pass may be open at the time of your trip, it is not assured that either will be, and even if they are just open, neither would be a terribly enjoyable drive under such conditions. The North Rim can open to traffic before May 15, but visitor services (food and the like) will not be available until then. So you are better to return to your original plan and not try either of the alternatives that I suggested. Good catch on your part - we're not infallible! I would however, reiterate the suggestion to take more time, and at the end of your Las Vegas stay, to see Sequoia National Park. Note that Sequoia should also still have considerable snow cover in May, and that Crystal Cave may 0r may not be opened when you arrive.

    And Dave is right. The 'short' route from Cedar City to Bryce Canyon is via UT-14 through Dixie National Forest, which has the added benefit that it takes you past Cedar Breaks National Monument, another place worth visiting if the snow has cleared a bit and it has opened which typically occurs in 'late May'.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default Unlikely to need chains.

    Just to add a comment about your concerns regarding Yosemite, it is highly unlikely that you would need to use chains by mid May. If Tioga is open [and I think there is a very good chance] then the road will be cleared of snow and ice and the valley is at a much lower elevation and warmer. If Tioga was not open then Yosemite would be to far for your time frame and there would be a reasonable chance that Kings Canyon would also be 'off limits', although Sequoia NP should b fine to visit. As with all road trips you should keep up to date with current weather and road conditions as you travel.

    If you do visit all 5 National parks then it would make sense to purchase the NP annual pass for $80 and save money.

  8. Default

    Thanks so much for your help. I want to see it all but think I am going at the wrong time of year. Missing it by a couple of weeks. It will still be a great trip. I may try to add on North rim of GC. I will just check weather reports as much as possible. The suggestions of Sequoia sounds great too. Will try for Death Valley too. Shouldn't be any weather problems there! Thanks Again!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,748

    Default It can be a wonderful time to visit.

    I want to see it all but think I am going at the wrong time of year. -
    Although the weather is unpredictable anywhere, you are actually visiting at a wonderful time of year with Spring blossoming and waterfalls flowing and all without the summer crowds.

    Have a great trip and it would be great if you could drop by and share your thoughts and trip highlights with us.

    Dave.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default

    I would agree with Dave that this could be a perfectly good time for your trip, and a few weeks likely wouldn't change things all that much.

    It's not a sure thing, but with the relatively light snowpack, things are looking pretty good for Tioga Pass to be open, which makes access to Yosemite that much easier. Chains are typically not needed in May. In the worst case, Tioga is still closed, and you have to go around the Sierras - the exact same way you'd approach Sequoia.

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