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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Herne Bay, Kent, England
    Posts
    6

    Default Grand Circle trip advice

    Hi all -I am fairly well travelled in the US but would like some help planning a roadtrip from Las Vegas. We have 8 days to do this, ending back in Las Vegas on the 9th day by about 2-3pm. I have been studying the maps, reading other people's road trips, checking the NPS Guides and am happy to either go out on I15 to Zion or to Williams/Grand Canyon. We would like to visit Zion, Bryce Canyon (taking in the best sights, eg Grand Staircase), then on to Canyonlands, Monument Valley and possibly Glen Canyon/Page. It would be preferable to do a 2 night stop a couple of times but 1 night for others. There are 4 of us - my partner had a total knee replacement in November and my friend's husband had a spinal op a few years ago (we are all in our 60s) so whilst a bit of walking to some of the main attractions will be ok, we will not be able to do long treks. I am not sure whether or not as I mentioned above which way to go round. Advice would be gratefully appreciated along with suggestions as to places to stop overnight.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Perhaps a Modification or Two

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You actually have the makings of a very good week plus RoadTrip through some of the great natural wonders of the American Southwest. I would, however, suggest just a couple of modifications. I would skip Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Page area, both because they are a bit off from and slightly complicate what is otherwise a nice round circular trip, and because there are at least as good or better options. I would do the trip in a clockwise direction, because we drive on the right (as opposed to left) side of the road making right turns is easier and because doing so means that when you drive through Grand Canyon National Park, the canyon itself (and parking lots) will be on your side of the road.

    Instead of Grand Staircase and Page, I'd add Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. Your basic route would then be from Las Vegas up I-15 into Utah and take UT-9 east to Zion. Then continue east on UT-9 to US-89 north. UT-12 will take you to Bryce Canyon, but return back to US-89 and continue north to I-70 east. This is itself a great scenic road which you'd take all the way to US-191 south which will take you to three destinations. First up is UT-313 into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park as well as Dead Horse Point State Park. Returning to US-191 south next up is Arches National Park and finally, via UT-211, the Needles District of Canyonlands. Note that the various districts of Canyonlands are not internally connected. After Canyonlands continue down US-191t US-161 to Monument Valley. this is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park, not a national park, so your national parks pass ($80 at the first park you come to) will not work here. I would also heartily recommend that you hire a native guide and his high clearance four wheel drive vehicle rather than try to drive yourselves over the very rough roads. Continue south on US-161/US-160/US-89 to Cameron, with a stop to window shop at the Cameron Trading Post, to AZ-64 through Grand Canyon National Park. AZ-64 will eventually bring you out at Williams and then it's just a short hop on I-40/US-93 back to Las Vegas via Hoover Dam.

    A couple of other things worth noting. As mentioned above, the annual parks pass is probably a good idea if you are going to be seeing four or more national parks and monuments. It covers entry fees (only) to all parks in the system for everyone traveling with you. There are also a number of other smaller parks and attractions that you'll be near on your circuit that you might want to check out especially in the Flagstaff area including Wupatki, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon National Monuments, Lowell Observatory, and the Museum of Northern Arizona. And at every park you come to, check in at the visitors center or ranger station. They are a font of knowledge about their respective parks and can certainly direct you to shorter flatter hikes that will allow you to get the most out of your visits even with reduced mobility.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I think the most efficient way to do this would be LV->Zion->Bryce->Canyonlands->MV->Page->GC->LV. However, I doubt you will have enough time to do it all comfortably, especially if you are looking at any 2 night stops.

    Lodging as needed: For Zion, stay in Springdale or head to Bryce and stay at Ruby's at the entrance. Other options are in Panguitch and Tropic. If needed, there are options in Torrey, which is by Capitol Reef (UT-12 from Bryce highly recommended, then UT-24 to I-70 to US-191 to get to Canyonlands and Arches). There are plenty of options in Moab. Pickings are a bit slim around MV, there are a few hotels in Kayenta or you can stop ahead of time in Monticello or Blanding. I think the only lodging at MV is Goulding's. Page has ample choices, for the GC look in Tuba City, Cameron Trading Post, or Tusayan. On the way back to LV you have Williams and Kingman.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Definitely take UT12 and 24 to I-70. It is a spectacular drive, with a most meaningful interpretive wayside stop along the way.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Herne Bay, Kent, England
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thank you very much all of you. We will definitely be buying a Parks Pass as we will already have been to San Francisco, Yosemite and Death Valley before LV. Once back in LV we have booked a condo for 9 nights to relax.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    You have a wonderful trip planned ! I would recommend you stay in Springdale to visit Zion NP where you could spend 2 nights, or continue to Bryce for your second night by leaving Zion in the afternoon through the Mt Carmel tunnel. If you wanted to spend a night near Capitol Reef NP then there is a nice Best western resort nearby, not the cheapest but very nice and a lovely location. You should plan on a couple of nights around Moab so you could visit both Canyonlands and Arches NP. In Canyonlands drive right down to Grandview point for wonderful views and along the way you can stop at the Shafer trail overlook and Mesa Arch for a great view of the 'Washerwoman' rock through the arch. From Moab through Monument valley towards the Grand canyon the Cameron Trading post would be a nice place to stop for the night, if you don't mind a 5 hour drive plus a break in the middle to visit MV that is. It's then a short drive to the east entry point into the south rim and all the viewpoints along Desert view drive to the main area near the village. If your budget permits then staying the GC village for a night would be very nice and give you time to explore a little more the following morning before heading back to Vegas. You could speed things up a bit if you wanted to go to Page but personally speaking I would prefer to spend more time at these amazing National parks. Once you have decided I would recommend you check out lodging options and book them as the park lodgings [and those closest to the park] can book up well in advance, often only leaving a few high priced options available.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Herne Bay, Kent, England
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks Southwest Dave. I am going quite square eyed looking at maps, mileages etc. I was just about to ask a couple more questions - partly now answered. I had wondered whether or not to spend 2 nights to see Zion and Bryce. Had a look at Ruby's as suggested above but no availability on 18 June. I have booked a night at Panguitch - Quality Inn Bryce Canyon but I have free cancellation up until a couple of days before so can cancel or make it 2 nights? I also was wondering about 2 nights around Moab. We have 8 nights our disposal. I have visited the Grand Canyon several times but rest of party haven't so I would like to spend a whole day and don't mind the GC Village but at the moment not sure what day we will arrive so I can investigate booking. On the last day I would like to arrive back in LV by mid afternoon to take over condo. The other couple then have 2 nights before flying back to UK. Christopher and I will then have 9 nights in the condo. Therefore maybe Cameron as you suggest - early start to GC, stay overnight in GC or just outside at Williams maybe? I keep churning it all over and getting nowhere fast! Please help. Thanks, Elaine

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you want to see a sunset and/or sunrise at the GC and can't get lodging inside the park, I'd suggest Tusayan. Not the best budget choice, but very convenient being right outside the south park entrance. This will avoid driving any distance after dark, it's at least an hour to Williams on a dark single carriageway highway. Cameron/Tuba City is on the wrong side of the park from LV and Flagstaff is even farther than Williams.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Herne Bay, Kent, England
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Ooh I forgot to say also that our friends sharing the trip would prefer to stay a couple of nights in some places so as not to be living out of a suitcase so to speak but I know on this sort of trip it is a tall order. In 2000 with some other friends I did a 7 night trip, LV to GC and on to Cortez and Durango, MV, Page etc so know distances and terrain involved. Also know that timings on mileage through mapquest etc never work out - it always seems to take twice as long!

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

    Default Computers and their times.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elaine53 View Post
    Also know that timings on mileage through mapquest etc never work out - it always seems to take twice as long!
    Well, maybe not twice as much. But computers aren't human, and you're not a robot. You need to stop for fuel, food and bathroom as well as for red lights, slow down for construction and congestion, and occasionally strike an accident up ahead. Computers travel at or above the speed limit for 100% of the time, never need to slow down or stop. At the times they quote, they don't even have time to take a photo, but expect you to stop to take a photo and load it onto their site. It's no way to 'enjoy' a roadtrip.

    We always recommend to add about 20% to the quoted times.

    Lifey

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