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  1. Default Need Help! GC to Arches to Yellowstone???

    Hello! I am brand new to this site and to road trips of this type! I would like to take my family on a trip this September but I'm already overwhelmed trying to plan this out. The high points of where we'd like to go include Grand Canyon to Arches on our way north to Yellowstone. We have a relatively flexible time schedule although we need to keep it in the 7-10 day timeframe. There will be me, my husband, my father and my 2 kids (6 & 8). We would like to fly in, rent a car to drive to these locations, then fly home. That said, the rest is up in the air! I need to know where to fly into (and out of), how many days to spend in each location, where to stay, what attractions/reservations I need to have planned ahead of time, etc. A lot, I know! I realize with a little over a week to spend we will not be able to see everything. This trip is designed to get a taste, keep things moving with the kids and show my father the American West (a dream he's always had). Any and all advice appreciated!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I'd recommend you go to Yellowstone first, before facilities start shutting down for the season. The closest major city airport is Salt Lake City. The most economical way to do it would be to return to SLC after the GC, but you could return to either Las Vegas or Phoenix if time is an issue, which it might be. There will be a one way drop charge for the car, and I'd anticipate airfares may be higher doing it that way.

    To properly see Yellowstone, you need 3 days. You can try to get lodging in the park, or you can stay in West Yellowstone or Gardiner. If you stay in West Yellowstone, I can highly recommend the Evergreen Motel. Arches can be seen in a day, you will need to stay in Moab, no lodging facilities in the park. You also need a full day at the GC, try to get lodging in the park, or stay in Tusayan or at the Cameron Trading Post. It's well worth viewing either a sunrise or sunset at the canyon rim.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default 'This trip is designed to get a taste...'

    Hi, and Wrelcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Nothing quite like fulfilling a life time dream

    First thing to consider is that flying into and out of the same airport is nearly always more cost effective than into one place and out of another. In the same way, returning a rental vehicle to the location where it was picked is always more budget friendly. Keeping this in mind, you could fly into and out of several locations on such a loop, so choose the one which gives you the best deal over all.

    I take it you are planning this with good quality maps, if not, I urge you to get some. The detail for which you are looking will not be found on a small screen. Then I would urge you to follow the advice in the following paragraph:-

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    Good maps are available from AAA (free to members) or you might prefer something like a Rand McNally road atlas. Good maps are invaluable during the planning and essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on electronics.

    On these maps you will see just how much there is in Southern Utah. For a trip of just over a week, you might like to focus on this area, including the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Yellowstone may be a bit much as it really deserves half the time you have for exploring national parks.

    Unless of course, since 'This trip is designed to get a taste....' you may want to just get an overview of most parks, with a view to returning at some future date. In which case you could probably see a couple of the main attractions in Yellowstone in a day and a half or two days.

    For the children, don't forget to enroll them in the Junior Ranger program at each national park you visit. They and you will learn a lot, and they will get some cool souvenirs on the completion of the program.

    Most of the rest of the information for these areas can be found on the national parks website, which has a wealth of information, including accommodation.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    We'll start with the basics, in terms of the minimum amount of time you need.
    The Grand Canyon really needs at least 1 full day.
    Arches needs a day.
    Yellowstone really needs 3 days.
    You also need basically a day each to drive between those points - so right there you're already at 7 days.

    But then you'll also have to factor in driving to airports - and the airports you should use depend in part on your budget.

    The cheapest option would almost certainly be to fly in and out of the same place, saving both on airfare and car rental. Salt Lake City would be the logical spot in that regard. If you did that, you might want to focus on the north rim, which would save you a fair bit of driving and time.

    Another option would be to fly into Vegas or Phoenix, and out of SLC. That would save you a little time, but will likely be more expensive. That would make it a bit easier to visit the South Rim, which does have more services than the North Rim.

    If money isn't a concern, then you can start to look at some of the smaller airports - especially around Yellowstone. Perhaps flying into Vegas or Phoenix, and flying back from Bozeman, MT or Jackson, WY.

    With your timeframe, I'd also give some serious consideration to skipping Yellowstone for this trip, and just focusing on the southwest. Places like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Monument Valley are just a few of the amazing places you could enjoy, that would mean a lot less time in the car, and a lot more time to explore. Alternatively, you could also easily spend a full week just around Yellowstone and Grand Teton and not come close to running out of things to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    To take in Yellowstone on this trip you should be thinking of at least the 10 day option so that it's not too much of a rushed trip for the family.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    To take in Yellowstone on this trip you should be thinking of at least the 10 day option so that it's not too much of a rushed trip for the family.
    Thank you so much to everyone who has shared your wisdom with me! I think we could certainly do 10 days. It sounds like we should start with Yellowstone first. Should I be shooting for earlier in Sept vs later so we don't run into bad weather or closed attractions? What are your favorite things to see and do while at Yellowstone/Arches/GC? I saw a post about a float trip available in Page, AZ. How soon in advance do you typically have to book such things? I appreciate the advice about utilizing an Atlas as well - will do!

    Noel (OH37)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you are doing Yellowstone, Arches, and the GC, I don't think you would have time to do that raft trip. You have 9 days full with those attractions and the point to point drives and there's a LOT more to see in Utah besides Arches.

    The earlier the better, as long as it's after Labor Day.

  8. Default

    So...more research leads to more questions! I have been reading all the great info on YNP's site and the site for lodging actually has some great packages of different lengths that include lodging, some meals and some activities. That seems pretty worthwhile given we are totally new to Yellowstone. Any opinion on such packages?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    It was suggested that you start with Yellowstone, because things start to shut down within the park between Labor Day weekend and the end of September. They have to shut down things like hotels, restaurants/cafes, rental places, for the winter. Roads close as the weather needs, with the "center" of the 8 loop often closed early on.

    My husband and I are probably some of the least adventurous people. In the three parks, one of our favorite things to do is to get out of the car and hike. It's amazing how the crowds thin down if you are 1/2 mile from the road. Yellowstone has a lot of boardwalk "trails". Arches has several great trails - we enjoyed the one back to Landscape Arch. Grand Canyon of course has the rim-to-rim trail, but I wouldn't recommend that one unless you have 3-4 days extra (you don't seem to). However, you could go down into the Canyon a half mile and then back up, if you've a mind to!

    I think, though, once you've booked your flights, timed your drives to Yellowstone, then Yellowstone to Arches, then Arches to the Grand Canyon, and then your drive back to the airport, you will have used up your 10 days. That's WITHOUT a float trip.


    Donna

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default North Rim?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    I think, though, once you've booked your flights, timed your drives to Yellowstone, then Yellowstone to Arches, then Arches to the Grand Canyon, and then your drive back to the airport, you will have used up your 10 days. That's WITHOUT a float trip.
    You could save some time by going to the North Rim from Arches. It is just as spectacular as the more cluttered south rim, less crowded, a thousand feet higher (so the canyon is deeper) and still has all the views (some even better) and activities as well as a lodge and visitor centre.

    Lifey

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