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  1. Default Visiting the Southwest in September for the first time. We need advice!

    My husband & I are planning a road trip to the southwest in Sept. We've never been there so we want to see a lot. We have 3 weeks but I'm not sure if it is possible with the list I prepared. Plus I don't know how much time we need in each place. We're not going to do major hiking. We want to drive the best scenic routes by car. We'll do easy hikes when they present themselves.
    In terms of budget, I was thinking of flying roundtrip into Las Vegas (from NY) & renting the car. I've never been to Vegas either.
    This is my thinking so far. Depending what time our flight gets us in, we would immediately like to drive to the north rim of Grand Canyon. Then Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonland, Mesa Verdes, Taos, Sante Fe, Albuquerque, Sedona, South rim Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, then back to Las Vegas. I spoke to many friends about their experiences which made me believe I need to go to both north & south rim of the Grand Canyon. I've read about both places Also, is there anything I am missing? Anything I should eliminate?
    I've been researching but I am so overwhelmed. With your experiences, I hope you can guide me. Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks like a solid plan.

    Hello and welcome back to RTA.

    If you wish to see a bit of Vegas then I would just stay your first night there rather than flying in collecting the rental and heading straight out on the road, no point in starting out tired. Whichever way you decide you will save a little mileage by heading to Zion first and then GC North rim. Between Bryce and Arches you could drive scenic Byway 12 through Capitol Reef. You can visit both rims and as you are going pretty close to the south rim on the way back it's worth it in my opinion. Visiting the number of National parks on your list will make the annual pass for $80 good value and you can purchase that from the first park you visit.

    You seem to have a solid plan, so if there is anything in particular you feel overwhelmed by then let us know but so far, so good.

  3. #3


    One place I didn't see on your list that is a SouthWest "must-see" is Monument Valley. It's along US route 163 at the Utah-Arizona border. It is on the Navajo reservation and they have a nice self-guided drive around the area, so you don't have to do any hiking.

    Nearby are a few hidden gems that aren't on many people's radar: just north of the "town" of Mexican Hat, take state road 261 to Goosenecks State Park. It isn't much more than just a lookout point, but the view is quite unusual and spectacular for its symmetry. You'll probably be the only people there.

    Continue on route 261 to Mokee Dugway, which is a spectacular stretch of road and fun to drive. At the top is a cutoff to Muley Point which is another lookout point looking down on the Goosenecks and out to Monument Valley in the distance.
    Turn around here and head back. At the bottom of Mokee Dugway there's a turnoff to Valley of the Gods. This is sort of a mini-Monument Valley, and the road ends up back on Route 163.
    These attractions are all free, except for Monument Valley where the Navajo charge a small entrance fee.

    Note that some of the roads I am suggesting are dirt or gravel, so don't take them if it is raining. They are in good shape and passable by any car. But I would recommend renting an SUV or minivan in Vegas as you'll be spending a lot of time in the vehicle and it's nice to sit up high for sightseeing. Hopefully gas prices stay low until then.

    Have fun,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum, MarkDask!

    Thanks for jumping in with your suggestions. Those are all excellent places to visit in this part of the world. If you're driving Moki Dugway, then I'd also recommend Natural Bridges, which is just a bit farther north.

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkDask View Post
    Note that some of the roads I am suggesting are dirt or gravel, so don't take them if it is raining. They are in good shape and passable by any car. But I would recommend renting an SUV or minivan in Vegas as you'll be spending a lot of time in the vehicle and it's nice to sit up high for sightseeing. Hopefully gas prices stay low until then.
    The only thing I would warn is that many of these roads could violate the terms of a rental agreement - and that includes if you are renting an SUV. I would not take a rental car through Monument Valley - take one of the guided tours instead. I also would not drive out to Muley Point in a rental. Both of those trips could easily be considered "off-highway" by a rental company and result in problems, especially if something goes wrong with the vehicle.

  5. Default

    Thanks, Dave! I appreciate your input. I will take your advice about staying first night in Vegas. Also, going to Zion first, then GC north rim. Yes, the NP annual pass is a great deal. If I have any other questions, I will definitely ask.

  6. Default

    Thanks Mark. I appreciate all your suggestions. I never thought about renting a SUV but it may be worth it. I am concerned about the rental agreement that Michael mentions in the next post. But all good advice & suggestions.

  7. Default

    Thanks Michael.If we decide to go to Monumental Valley, we will take a guided tour. All I need now is to figure out how long we need in each place.

    Thanks to everyone for getting back to me so quickly!

  8. #8


    I might be wrong here, but you may only be in "violation" of your rental by driving on dirt roads if you are buying insurance from them. I've never actually read a rental agreement. I did once look into using my "Gold" credit card as insurance, but it plainly said that it would not cover you on "unsealed" roads. You can use your domestic car insurance, e.g., State Farm, to cover your rental vehicle, but call your agent first to make sure you are covered in a rental car and if they'll cover it on dirt roads.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. I've often flown to LAS, rented a car and then gone camping road trip. And if you're camping, you're most likely going to be driving on dirt roads somewhere.

    On the dirt roads I mentioned you'll probably be driving quite slow, so an actual vehicular accident is unlikely. The most probable scenario is a chipped windshield or a ding in the paint from a stone thrown up by a passing vehicle--neither of which the rental company will appreciate.

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