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  1. Default Grand Canyon and Utahs big 5 plus in January

    We are a family visiting from Australia. Our children are 17 and 20.

    Our itinerary is to spend time in San Francisco, then visit the Grand Canyon.

    However the more I read, the greater is our interest in also visiting Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument valley, arches, canyonlands nation parks and places like horseshoe bend. I have not driven in the US and want to know if it will be easy to navigate. I have read lots of threads and understand people's views on having maps etc.

    I have a number of questions I am hoping people might assist me with.

    We can allocate 10-14 days travelling from San Francisco and doing the trip below.

    My thought are:

    Flagstaff or Cameron spending 2 nights at the Grand Canyon
    Page 2 nights horseshoe bend ? Other recommendations
    Moab 2/3 nights Arches/canyonlands
    Springdale 2 nights Zion/Bryce Canyon
    Las Vegas 2/3 nights
    Fly back to Aus

    How does this itinerary look? Is the balance right, have I allocated sufficient time to each spot. We like to do some hiking, nothing over the top though. Also open to guided tours from each location. Where is the best place to stay for monument valley, we want to take a couple Navajo tours.
    Any recommendations on accomodation at each stay would be appreciated . Should we stay closer to Bryce Canyon?

    On our way west my wife wants us to go down the coast initially to visit San Simeon, I was thinking about cutting back through Death Valley, worth while??

    Look forward to any responses

    Thank you


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A nice trip.

    Hi Wayne, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    As I read through your post, I could not help thinking, have you thought of flying into/out of Las Vegas? The great benefit would be that you could do a loop trip from Las Vegas It would look something like this. Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley / Horseshoe Bend, Arches and Canyonlands, Bryce Zion and back to LV. Death Valley can be done as a day trip from LV. It is not likely to be too hot and definitely worthwhile. It is an amazing landscape and at that time of year you could do some of the short hikes. (I visited in May some years ago and it was 110F by 10am.)

    If you would like to stay in the Grand Canyon NP (recommended - even though I have never been able to afford it) you will need to make reservations as soon as you have your firm dates. It will give you an opportunity to catch a sunset/sunrise over the canyon. A memorable experience.

    After Arches and Canyonlands you would head (over scenic UT12) for Bryce Canyon, which can be seen in half a day, a little longer if the hiking trails among the hoodoos are not covered in snow. On entry into Bryce, stop at the visitor centre, watch the movie, drive to the end, and stop at all the view points on the return journey. Then head down to Zion. Your allocation of days sounds great to me for people who'd like to do some hiking.

    With the passes over the Sierras likely to be all closed, I would leave the coast for another trip. It is a long way from your other attractions, and as you will see on your maps, there are many other sights in southern Utah and northern Arizona.

    You don't say in which State you live, but if you are a member of the RACV, NRMA or similar, take your membership with you. It will give you access to tourism information from the AAA in the USA.


  3. Default

    Thank you Lifey for the prompt reply. We are from Sydney and do have NRMA membership.

    Your suggestions make a lot of sense. I will discuss with the the Mrs.

    May be back with more questions another day. Hope that's ok?



  4. Default

    I should of mentioned we would be staying 10 nights in San Fran prior to our trip across to Nevada etc...that was the reason for the drive and taking in some extra coast line.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default In that case.....

    In that case, if you are not totally committed in SF, I would head down the coast a day earlier and head to San Simeon or Cambria area via Big Sur and maybe Hearst Castle, if that interest. Then head towards the Grand Canyon from there. You should be able to avoid the LA traffic completely, and head around the south end of the Sierras. Depending on where you want to stop you could drive through Death Valley, to LV or spend a night in DV on your way to LV..


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    From the coast to the Grand canyon, I would stay in Williams or Tusayan for night 1 and then stay at the Cameron trading post the following night, unless your budget could manage staying in Grand canyon village.

    From Page AZ take US163 on the way to Moab, it'll take you right through Monument valley.

    I would use 2 nights in Moab [if you have no extra time] and then head towards Bryce canyon for a night via UT24 and UT scenic12 which will take you through Capital Reef NP and it's a beautiful drive. After sightseeing in Bryce head to Springdale for 2 nights.

    If you are not in a rush to get to LV during the day you could detour through Valley of Fire State park.

    As with all travel during that time of year, check weather and road conditions before commiting to a particular route.

  7. Default

    That's what we were thinking Lifey.

    Otherwise as you suggested it would be very rushed.

  8. Default

    Thank you Dave for those suggestions. Very hard to research everything and the experience everyone is sharing is fantastic.

  9. Default

    Hi Wayne,

    Having done a similar trip I would suggest travelling down from San Francisco down the coast but turning East at San Louis Obispo heading to Bakersfield. From here you could do a day trip up into the Sequoia National Park for the Redwoods. From there you could travel across Death Valley N.P. consider Stove Pipe Wells for accommodation then head into Las Vegas the next day.

    From there you could do a loop around through Zion, Bryce Canyon, Moab around to Grand Canyon and Flagstaff.

    This is all achievable but does take some time travelling but well worth it. You might want to consider if you need all 10 days in SF.

    We have travelled this exact route and are in the process of planning our second trip at the end of this year to revisit some of these places again as they were amazing. Happy to help with any questions you might have.


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