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  1. Default Seeking advice..traveling from South Carolina to Grand Canyon and Utah National Parks


    I am planning a road trip with my family (wife and 3 kids - 9, 7, and 4) from South Carolina to the Grand Canyon and to the Utah National Parks. We will travel for 15 days in the middle of May. I am seeking advice on the best way to navigate this road trip. My initial plan is to make it from SC to the Petrified Forest National Park in 4 days and visit this park on the 5th day. We would then travel to the Grand Canyon and spend days 6 and 7 getting there and enjoying that park. On Day 8 we would travel to Zion National Park and on day 9 we would visit Bryce Canyon NP. On Day 10 we would visit Arches National Park and then on days 11 - 15 we would begin our journey home hopefully stopping for a day to see family and take in the sights around Denver, CO (maybe even Rocky Mountain NP?). Is my timeline possible or do I need to make some serious adjustments? Any advice on how to space out the travel days to AZ and back to SC would also be greatly appreciated (also best places to see along the way). I would also love your thoughts on the best way to manage the hotel situation. Any tips on deals to use a particular chain and get a better rate?

    Thank you!!!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It looks to me like you've got a very good foundation for a plan. You're making the most of the time you've got available, without ever having to push yourself too hard. 4 days to get from SC to AZ, and Denver back to SC should be ok, where you'll have to be on the road for most of the day, but still should be able to get out and stretch your legs at a couple of interesting spots each day.

    Check out the RTA Map Center for lots of ideas for places you might enjoy visiting along your route.

    For hotels, there are a few things to do. First, many chains do have some kind of loyalty program, and most chains have several different brands connected to them. I'm a fan of the choice hotels program (Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Econolodge, etc), simply because they frequently have a "get your 3rd stay free" promotion. Other good options for discounts include coupon books, often available at truck stops and highway rest areas. Also, sites like priceline and hotwire can get you excellent prices, but you do end up taking a gamble because you don't know the actual hotel and specific location until after you've committed to pay.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    A couple of comments here....

    Petrified Forest won't take you all day, unless you decide to do some hiking in the Painted Desert or some of the short nature hikes. There are some spots in Holbrook and Winslow that are part of the old Route 66, that you might like to check out as well. Holbrook is your best bet for lodging when at Petrified Forest, as the park has no lodging available within. (However, there is a small cafe' and gift shop on the north end.)

    We like the Wyndham properties, and are members of that chain (Super 8, Days Inn, among others). We are also members of Choice hotels (Michael mentioned above). Each year, the two chains have different incentive plans. On top of all that, we've done the coupon bit, though not so much in the past 2 years.

    As far as handling three kids and two adults with hotels, that is going to depend on a number of things. In some areas, they'll offer a cot for the 5th body and let you stay in one room. You could opt for two rooms, asking for adjoining rooms (door in the wall between the two rooms). In some areas, a suite may be available, where there are two bedrooms, and a sofa bed in the sitting area. Maybe you'll want a combination of these, just for your own peace-of-mind.

    You will probably want to purchase the National Park annual pass ($80) at the first park you stop at. With GCNP asking $30, PFNP asking $20, and so forth, you'll find it will pay for itself. Also at each national park, stop at the visitor center and register your children for the Junior Ranger program. They will have to answer questions and do small activities to help them understand and enjoy each park, then earn a souvenir patch or badge.

    Also, have your children keep journals. The older ones can actually write, keep photos, draw photos, in theirs. The 4-year-old could probably just draw pictures to remember things. When they go back to school in the fall, they will have something for "Sharing" in class!


  4. Default

    Thank you both, this is very helpful information. Yes the hotel situation with 5 is a big concern. We can't afford 2 rooms so we'll have to figure that out. I will look into the loyalty programs you both mentioned as well. Is the $80 per person or per vehicle?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    $80 per vehicle for a whole year.

    A note - the Motel 6 in Holbrook is inexpensive and probably one of the nicest Motel 6's I've stayed in.

    There are a few websites that list hotels that will take more than 4 in a room - a Google search will find them. Otherwise, you will need to call individual properties - which you probably should anyway to ensure you can book one of the permitted rooms.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by mwusct View Post
    Thank you both, this is very helpful information. Yes the hotel situation with 5 is a big concern.
    Maybe this link will help you.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Just so you know, starting out from the GC and visiting Zion, Bryce and Arches NP over 3 days will not allow much time to explore the parks, although it is possible to get an overview. Whether or not it is a little fast paced for the Kids is something for you to decide. I love Zion and Bryce, but I do wonder, given the circumstance, if you would be better off going direct to Arches from the GC via Monument Valley and take a more relaxed pace back through Colorado.

  8. Default

    Thank you so much

  9. Default

    You might have snow in May at Bryce

    There might be road closures at RMNP.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    According to the NPS, Trail Ridge Road through RMNP is scheduled to open on May 22, weather permitting.

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