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  1. Default Los Angeles - Zion - Bryce - Grand Canyon with 5 kids

    I'm planning a 10 day roadtrip in late July/early August from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon. The current plan is to also stop at Zion and Bryce but we're open to suggestions if there are better spots to see along the way. Together we'll have 5 kids between the ages of 5 and 10 so we're looking for stops that will appeal to kids this age and minimize long stretches in the car.

    I'm looking for tips on where to stop, where to stay (combo of hotels and car camping) and what route to take. I'm also looking for recommendations on must sees and must dos in each park since we have a decent amount of time to cover the distance. The current route I'm considering is:

    1 - Los Angeles to ? (Hoover Dam?)
    2 - Vegas to Zion (2 days)
    3 - Zion to Bryce (2 days)
    4 - Bryce to Grand Canyon (3 days)
    5 - Grand Canyon to Los Angeles (uncertain about stops along the way)

    Other attractions I'm considering are the Petrified Forest and Slide Rock but I'm not sure if these are close to any of the other spots we're visiting. All tips appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Los Angeles to Las Vegas is about a 5-6 hour drive, depending on the traffic. (Don't count on that, on a Friday night or Sunday. Count on it being longer.) So it's a do-able one-day drive, even with that many kids, though you may want to extend it to 7 hours to give the kids time to get out and stretch. Between LA and LV, there aren't many places to stop that will entertain the kids completely. They may enjoy something kitschy like the commercialized "ghost town" near Barstow, Calico Ghost Town. (My kids enjoyed it a lot when they were around 10 years old.)

    Grand Canyon to Los Angeles would give you several things to consider. First, if you have ANY child (or adult) who has enjoyed the movie CARS, you might want to get on old Rt 66 West from Seligman and drive along that. The movie fan will love trying to pick out some of the places that were depicted by the movie. Or, head south out of Flagstaff and catch Slide Rock State Park -- great fun for the kids (and adults too). Head west on I-10 out of Phoenix and catch Joshua Tree National Park. My kids loved climbing on the rocks and looking at all the "weird trees" when they were about that age, too.

    Petrified Forest National Park is about 2-3 hours east of Flagstaff and would be a nice diversion, but probably a bit out of your way.

    Your LV to Zion, Zion to Bryce, and Bryce to the GC (assuming South Rim here) look well planned. A day to drive from Bryce to the South Rim and two days in the GC will give you time to do some hiking along the canyon rim or even a short way down into the canyon.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Activities for the children.

    With five children, be sure to call in at the visitor centre on arrival at each park (and I think Hoover Dam as well). Enrol the children in the Junior Ranger Program which will give them, and you, a greater understanding of where they are and the significance of each place. They will be rewarded with some nice souvenirs to take home.

    The activities are age appropriate, and may take a little longer than you have planned to spend at each park.... but so worthwhile. If this were me, I would be doing the trip anti clockwise, and visit the GC first. It is the largest of the parks, and you will get a good idea there of how long you will spend at each park.

    There are some lovely short walks into the canyon for terrific views. The children will love them. Of course, if possible, I highly recommend you stay for a sunset. A memorable experience. Exit the GC via Desert View Drive with its many viewpoints and overlooks.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Breaking up the Drives

    All good advice so far, especially the bit about signing the kids up for the Junior Ranger program at every national park and monument you stop at. The activities are park and age specific, and the souvenir patch or badge alone make it worth the price (free!) and the work (fun!). Actually, what I'd like to concentrate on here are a few stops on your longer drives that will help break them up. Between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, besides the Calico Ghost Town that Donna Mentioned, you can also stop at Mojave National Preserve, specifically consider a short (5 mi. one way) detour from Exit 233 of I-15 to Zzyzx (the name alone will have your kids' interest) for a short self-guided hike on the Lake Tuendae Nature Trail and a look at the Desert Studies Center which, unfortunately, doesn't offer tours - it's a working facility.

    The next modestly long drive where a break might be in order would be from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon. Your best bet along this stretch is to call ahead to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center for the Glen Canyon Dam in Page and ask about both tours and their Junior Ranger program. Both the adults and kids might also enjoy a stop at the Cameron Trading Post before entering Grand Canyon National Park.

    Your final long haul is from the Grand Canyon back to L.A. I'd actually encourage you to break this up into two days. Otherwise, you're looking at around 500 miles of solid driving, culminating in trying to navigate the Los Angeles Basin. Stops to look into on this stretch include a possible detour south along the Colorado River to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge, the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, and Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve.


  5. Default

    I actually like the idea of doing the trip in reverse since the kids have been looking forward to seeing the Grand Canyon! I'll definitely sign them up for the Junior Ranger program too. So many good suggestions so I'll definitely consider many of these. So glad I found this site and forum!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Recording to create memories.

    Julie, it would be really great if you could keep a log or journal of this trip. Then come back to our special reports forum to share it. We love to hear how the trip went, and see your photos as well.

    Which brings to mind another thing. My grandchildren all keep journals each time they go on a trip. It is a great souvenir to have and something to share with others and look back on in years to come. All it takes is a little assistance from parents, but no prompting. Each child can record their most memorable activity of the day. This can be done in a paragraph or two, a sketch, photos, the stub from a ticket or even something picked up along the way.... or a combination of all or some of these. (One grandson has a journal from when he was two and a half. Another shared his at show-and-tell with his class.)


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