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  1. Default Kiwis - Heading off in 35 days for 6 weeks - family trip

    OK - As the title says - were off in 5 weeks for our family trip - some of this we have planned but most we have not.

    OK - so flights are into Denver - rental car (4x4) already paid for, first 8 days in Breckenridge - already booked into one of the resorts - we have some ski passes already as part of the package. Also have 2 nights booked in Vegas for New years eve & for the following days hangover.

    So Family consists of Mum & Dad - and two girls - 13 & 14 - the plan - a white Christmas - my girls have never seen snow, we live in Sydney so hence not the best place to have a white winter which is what this is all about - and then a road trip through to LA, for a Disney adventure toward the end.

    18th Dec arrival - 26 Dec leave Breckenridge

    26 - 31st - no plans so open to idea's etc - questions I have are
    1> road conditions - Yes it's winter - I'm a Kiwi who has lived for many years in Canterbury (south Island NZ) so am completely familiar with black ice and the fun adventure that can bring. So what should I expect on the run toward Vegas, and what's the best route for both a balance of sights and also travel conditions?

    31st - 2nd - Vegas - were not gamblers so are more interested in what is appropriate for the girls etc - were thinking of a couple of shows, were also not prudes and our girls are pretty well rounded. My wife and I are also doing a Vegas wedding renewal - yes I know tacky but heck while in Vegas........................

    2nd - 23rd Jan - Nothing planned and no commitments - so other than the grand cannon which were thinking of doing a helicopter trip & also a drive visit. We want to have about 1 week in LA, one daughter is into horses the second motorbikes - so is there recommendations as we head to LA for either of these?

    Budget - we have already paid for the accommodation, rental car for the sections outlined - have a budget of about 8k US for the balance and a reserve of another 8k US if needed - We have been saving for a while for this trip so don't want to cut costs and figure 16K US should cover us for the trip @ about $600 per day worst case and $300 best case. Is this realistic?

  2. #2


    You know that you can drive coast to coast in seven times in those 35 days. Though that does not allow for sightseeing. Just to give you an idea of how much you can drive.

    You should have no problem finding motorcycling and horse riding out west. There are so many places to see and I have not been out west yet. Though one thing on my bucket list is to drive the Pacific Coast Hwy. See the Red Wood forests, Yellowstone.

    There are people here that have the knowledge to get the most out of your trip.

    And to never have seen snow makes skiing a great adventure on this trip.

  3. #3


    From Breckenridge to Vegas: you have several possible routes, National Parks, scenic drives, all good. I've only driven from Colorado to Vegas once (it was great), so I'll let others comment on all the possible options.

    Vegas: (I've been four times, but then I enjoy gambling!) considering the age of your children, I have done the following that I would recommend: shows (as you say), the New York New York rollercoaster, walking up and down the strip including the fountains at the Bellagio, checking out the brilliant public areas of the Venetian, the rides at the top of the Stratosphere, the Neon Museum and the Fremont Street Experience. I personally find the 'old' Vegas really interesting.

    After Vegas: you have a lot of time. If I were you, I would do both the helicopter flight (which goes NOT to the GC NP, but which your daughters would probably find exiting) AND a proper overnight car trip to the GC. I would also spend some time in Death Valley NP and the Highway 1 (PCH).

    Others will be able to offer more detailed advice. You're in the enviable position of having a lot of time for this trip, so you should look on the (paper) maps yourself, to see what appeals - cities, small towns, beautiful landscape, etc, and come up with a route suggestion of your own. Your daughters would probably be more than happy to help with the research.

    Whatever you do, it will be an amazing trip!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default On the wing.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You're in for a great trip, with most of the roadtrip part dependent on weather at the time. So maybe you will find doing that part almost on the wing.

    What I can tell you is, that if you take your NRMA membership with you, you will have free tourism information and maps from the AAA anywhere in the US. A most valuable service. There's bound to be an office in Breckenridge. You may not be able to make firm decisions until a few days beforehand.

    Be aware that most flights to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas do not go to the National Park. If you would like a flight over the park there are flights from Tusayan airport (just outside the south entrance). From Vegas they just go to the West rim, which is nowhere near as deep, nor as spectacular as the National Park. If possible a night in the NP will be very worth while. Take in a sunset and/or sunrise over the canyon. You would need to check and book it now, as it gets booked up quite quickly. If there are no vacancies, keep checking back, as cancellations do happen and vacancies become available.

    Your budget looks quite healthy. Have a great trip.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 11-12-2015 at 03:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few ideas to ponder.

    That's quite the family adventure. Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It's impossible to say what the weather will do so far in advance but Interstates are a priority to keep open and the the main highways, so although it's possible to see delays it's not usually for to long. From Breckenridge you could head south to US50 and then head towards Montrose going over Monarch pass, through Currecanti Nat Rec area and by Black canyon of the Gunnison. Heading south on US550 would take you though the pretty mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton on the scenic' Million dollar Highway' From Durango you could then head west where you will find Mesa Verde NP and then head through Monument valley to the Grand canyon on route to Vegas. Note that most helicopter tours from Vegas do not go to the National park, they go to the West rim on Indian lands which is nowhere near as spectacular. If you want to fly over the Grand canyon NP I would consider doing a 45min flight from the Grand canyon airport in Tusayan.

    Now an alternative route from Breckenridge would be to head to I70 and head into Southern Utah where there are some amazing National Parks, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon and Zion NP from where you could head into Vegas down I-15. There are mountain passes at high elevation, particularly on the first option, so it would be important to keep up to speed with road and weather conditions as you go.

    If you visited GC on route to Vegas I would consider going to San Francisco and drive down the coast on Highway 1 around Big Sur into LA. If the weather was kind you could consider visiting Yosemite Valley which is quite spectacular, although if there is snow and ice there may be chain law restrictions in place. If you went from LV to the GC you could head south through Sedona and across to Joshua tree NP and possibly visit San Diego before rolling into LA.

    Of course there are lots of other options to so you should sit down with the family and do a little research and study a good map of the area. Let the Kids have an input so they have a vested interest in the trip which makes it more enjoyable for all. Getting them each a journal where they can make notes at the end of each day to record their experience is also pretty cool.

    Your budget looks healthy !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Suggestions

    Nau mai! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    This is a trip that need to be planned out, as it seems you have so far, with your wife and daughters. So let me just present some possibilities that fit in with what you've got so far and what you've told us of your objectives for this trip.

    First - between Breckenridge and Las Vegas. The drive alone is going to be incredibly scenic, maybe not quite South Island scenic, but pretty close with plenty of opportunities for adventures. Note that three of the best national parks are more or less along I-70 and I-15: Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. And Interstates Highways are your best bet for winter travel, especially in the mountains. They're the flattest and straightest roads around and they get first priority in being kept open by road crews. If you plan to hit three or four national parks during your visit, be sure to ask for an America the Beautiful Pass at the first park you come to. One $80 purchase will cover entrance fees for the holder and everyone in his/her car. Also, your daughters are just at (or a little over) the upper age range for the Junior Ranger Program but check into it at each park. It will give them some fun (and instructive) activities to perform for which they will earn some nice - and free - souvenirs.

    In Las Vegas. There are several great natural settings within day trip range of Las Vegas including Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Death Valley as well as the more 'artificial' entertainments of the city. If you are going both drive to the South Rim of and helicopter into the Grand Canyon, then you might just be better off taking your helicopter ride from Las Vegas. Normally, we don't recommend this as the way to see the Canyon because these flights take a while to get to the canyon and back and don't really go into the main part of the canyon (in the national park). They go into the 'West Rim' on native lands west of the national park. But some do fly into the canyon (which is not permitted in the national park) and land. Be sure to check out the details with your operator.

    Between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Going around to the South Rim is a good way to start a trip of a few days to Los Angeles. It's also worth noting that there are a few worthwhile although less well known attractions in the Flagstaff area such as Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered), the Museum of Northern Arizona which concentrates on Native American culture and artworks, and three national monuments (Your America the Beautiful Pass works at these as well): Wupatki, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon. Then on your final run to Los Angeles, you could stop at either of both of London Bridge (moved stone by stone to Lake Havasu City) and Mojave National Preserve.


  7. Default

    OK - So the trip to Vegas I initially thought of splitting between I70 & I25 running through the mountains via Salida, Alamosa, Durango but was unsure of the road conditions. It seems like the best option is to run the I70?

    Yep the south Island is pretty spectacular done this far to many times on bikes and in cars - We have also done a lot of Ausi via car (and bike without the kids or wife for that matter). Unconcerned on the time in the car - being in Ausi a 10 hour trip is not that unusual.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I wouldn't go back to I-25 - I-70 between Denver and I-15 in Utah is one of the most scenic Interstates we have. If the weather is iffy I'd stick to that. If the weather is good you can explore western Colorado and southern Utah.

  9. Default

    OK I think I can see the problem - you have to go through the Navajo Nation Reservation by the looks of it - I'm happy weather permitting to get off the beaten track so to speak, all the roads I've checked on google maps seem tarsealed and look OK (anyone been down a typical Ausi backroad knows what I mean).

    So from Vegas to LA - run up to Reno and then over to San Fran - or run down to San Diego - then run up the coastal road through LA onto San Fran? - Running south seems like the right way to go unless we loop north - then run south and go back inland before going back into LA.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    In Las Vegas, Blue Man Group is a show that would be tame enough for your teens, and wild enough for them as well. It's at the Monte Carlo.


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