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  1. Default Too Ambitious? SoCal to YSNP via GC, Ant Cyn, NM, CO, Zion, Bryce, ID Falls in10 days

    We are an active family with 4 kids ages 12-18 who want to take the opportunity to introduce our kids to some of our beautiful country while they still want to hang out with us. We'll give them a sampling of a few places with the hopes they (we) will return at a later date to further enjoy.

    Our itinerary seems to push the limits but we plan on being on the move constantly.

    Day 1: First stop is Hoover Dam, route 66 to Williams with an ON stay.

    Day 2: Early start to GC with a stop at Antelope Canyon (flexible w/this one), Four Corners Monument and camping ON in Mesa Verde, CO.

    Day 3: Off to St. George for our 2-day stay to visit Zion and Bryce.

    Day 5: Trip to Idaho Falls and ON camping before heading to...

    Day 6: Our 4 days of adventure each side of Yellowstone. Final night in Yellowstone will be in Jackson.

    Day 10: Headed to LV for ON stay before back home to SoCal

    According to the maps, etc., most places are relatively close and although we will be constantly moving, are flexible about some things. I have a feeling we will be beat! What do you think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA! Your thoughts that you might be pushing the limits might be right on it.

    Day 1 should be okay. SoCal to Hoover Dam to Williams will be a very full day! At almost 500 miles (starting your mileage in LA since you didn't say where you're starting), though, it will take about 10 hours just to drive, then add time for the Hoover Dam. Bear in mind, you can still tour down inside it, but you no longer drive on top of it.

    Day 2, though, is not going to give you ANY time to actually SEE the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon to Mesa Verde is about 300 miles. Grand Canyon should command a full day to actually see it. With the crowds of the summer, you'll need that time. When are you going to see Mesa Verde? If you want to see the ruins, and take a tour down to one of them, you'll have to allow a full day. I know you say you'll go back to really see the places, but you won't have gotten enough of a sampling to make that decision of what to go back to.

    Day 3 is another one. You've camped in Mesa Verde (300 miles from Grand Canyon) but then you need to backtrack and do another 330 miles to go to Zion (mileage to Springdale, UT, which is closest to Zion). Zion is a day's visit, Bryce is a half day (and another hour and a half drive from Zion). So I'm not sure where you've allotted the time you need for these parks.

    Day 5 and 6-9 seem okay, too. Bear in mind that Yellowstone is HUGE. Make sure you have camping reservations in one or more places. Jackson lodging is expensive -- hubby and I ended up going from West Yellowstone, MT to Grand Tetons and then over the pass to Driggs, because the price was more reasonable.

    Day 10 is about impossible, if not deadly. It's almost 1000 miles. That is 20 hours on the highway, assuming you're going to LA. You need an extra day here.

    This is what I'd recommend: First day, drive to Grand Canyon. Day 2, see the Canyon. Day 3, drive up to Zion, spend the rest of that day seeing Zion and the next day too. Day 4, drive up to Idaho Falls. Spend Day 5, 6, and 7 seeing Yellowstone, Day 8 seeing Grand Tetons, and Day 9 and 10 driving home. Eliminate Antelope Canyon, Four Corners and Mesa Verde for this trip, and save it for the next trip.

    At the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, get the kids involved in the Junior Ranger program. It's a great way to get your kids learning something during the summer in a fun way that they won't know they're learning! You might also want to buy the annual pass, at $80, at the first park you enter, and it will get into the rest of the parks without paying. It doesn't help you with camping fees, though.

    BTW, you'll want camping reservations at all of the parks. If you have to take 2 or 3 different campgrounds at Yellowstone, it doesn't hurt.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I have to completely agree with Donna, you are trying to squeeze in so much, that you've forgot to leave time to actually see the places you'll be driving to - or leave enough time to safely drive back home.

    I'd leave off Hoover Dam for another time - it's an easy weekend trip from LA.

    You need to make a choice between Mesa Verde and Zion/Bryce. It just doesn't make sense to try to get to both areas in the time you have. Zion/Bryce (and really, probably just one of them) would be a fair bit easier, as it would mean fewer miles and easier access back to I-15 to head north to Yellowstone.

    And you need 2 days for the trip home - that's not optional. Trying to drive home - or even to Vegas - from Jackson isn't just a bad idea, it's very dangerous.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Way too much !

    Just to echo what has already been said, it's too much and I think that you are in danger of your Kids not wanting to hang out with you after the first few days, so yes it is to ambitious. I would forget about Antelope canyon, Four corners and Mesa Verde this trip and enjoy a day at the Grand canyon before heading towards Bryce or Zion, staying near to either park rather than adding another load of miles staying in St George. What you could consider doing is visiting Bryce on the way up and then spend a night in Zion on the way home.

    Of course your other option would be to visit all the places you mention (and perhaps a couple More) and leave the long drive to Yellowstone for another trip.

  5. Default Revised Itinerary

    Donna, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! You made some excellent, thought-provoking comments.

    This was our first plan and then we were going to toss Four Corners, et al but then somehow came back to the original. The more I think about it and read your ideas here, the more it seems we should save that for the next road trip. You are correct - we are traveling from Los Angeles - good guess! We do have 1-2 more licensed drivers who could drive some day time distances to help a bit.

    I have booked all reservations in advance (not too late to cancel, thankfully).

    Possible new itinerary:

    Day 1: Bypass Hoover Dam, head straight to Grand Canyon and on to Williams with ON stay.

    Day 2: Grand Canyon to enjoy some of its splendor. Possible drive to Antelope Canyon then to Zion for ON camping.

    Day 3: 2-night's stay to see more Zion and some time in Bryce (2.5 days total for this may work nicely).

    Day 5: Trip to ID Falls and ON camping before heading to....

    Day 6: 4 days in Yellowstone with stays all around the park. Donna - Indeed lodging in Jackson is $$$ and originally planned on staying in Driggs as well, but just found a reasonably-priced hotel for some time in Jackson our final day. We are doing almost exactly what you and hubby did in Yellowstone!

    Day 10: Headed to Las Vegas for ON stay due to long drive home with a stop in Park City, UT.

    Definitely nixing the Four Corners and Meza Verde this trip. The Junior Ranger program is a fun idea! The annual pass is a must! Reservations around Yellowstone were going quick over a month ago when I booked them. We are staying all around the park. Adventure awaits!

    Thank you so much, Donna!

  6. Default

    Michael -

    Yes, for sure we were trying to squeeze a lot in but certainly don't want to miss it ALL.

    Good point on Hoover Dam and the mileage. As far as the drive home goes, with 4 drivers total, I was thinking we would be good especially with a stop in Park City. One has a provisional license who we will allow to drive early for an hour max on an open and the other is more experienced, but we (adults) will be handling most of the driving. Do you have an opinion you would like to share on that idea?

    Thank you for your time!

  7. Default

    LOL - that is something to think about, indeed, Dave.

    The stay in St. George is due to a rental there so it will be home base for 2 days. Still tossing around the idea of Zion vs. Bryce. Since we are now skipping Mesa Verde and have an extra day, may stay in Zion for camping the first night in town and then split the next 2 days over more Zion and Bryce for one entire day.

    Must keep Yellowstone! These kids have a ton of energy but not sure about us adults - I think we'll all be looking forward to sleep each night!

    Thank you, Dave.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you MUST drive more than 600 miles in one day, use the "speed run" procedure - rotate 3 drivers in 3 hour stretches with an awake navigator in the shotgun seat and the off duty driver taking a nap in the back. In this order - drive, navigate, sleep, repeat. When you stop every 3 hours to switch, spend at least 15 minutes out of the car and moving around. Make maximum use of your provisional driver as a second navigator to keep the driver and primary navigator awake.

  9. Default

    Great tip, glc.

    I thank you. I will enforce this procedure. Falling asleep on the road is never good. I did it once and am so glad I will have help this time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think your plan to drive from Jackson to Las Vegas in one day is an extremely bad idea. It's 700 miles, which is not a safe or reasonable driving distance (about 14 hours on the road). You're certainly not going to have time for an extra stop in Park City along the way. Trying to do that kind of drive with kids is going to be tortuous for them, it's not going to be safe for any of you, and you'll really be giving all the wrong lessons to your teenage drivers. Do you really want to be teaching your kids that's its perfectly fine to drive 100 miles more in a day than professional drivers are allowed to do because of safety laws?

    Get rid of the idea that you have an "extra" day around Zion, and use that day to give yourself enough time to safely drive home.

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