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  1. #1

    Default Newbies first roadtrip need help!

    My hubby, son (12) and I are thinking of doing a national parks vacation next May/June. I found a nice tour suggestion online but need some advice on how to plan out our visit as far as timing. I have never done a big road trip since Iím from Hawaii. My husband is originally from Ohio but hasnít done a road trip since his college days in the 80ís and never one like this.

    The plan is to start from Las Vegas and drive to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef (Kodachrome, Grand Escalante maybe), Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and drive back to LV.

    The online site estimated it as a seven day trip but I have no idea on how long it will take to get from park to park, how long we might want to be at each place, what city we will be near at the end of each day, etc.

    I donít want to rush through but I also worry about our son being bored with a week of NPís if there are no activities for him to participate in.

    My initial thought was to do an RV trip but Iím not sure about costs for rental/fuel, etc. , then finding places to park overnight for hook ups etc. Maybe driving a car is easier but can it be cheaper? That said, though Iíve never stayed at a motel before, I wonít mind as long as itís well maintained and safe.

    Any help is appreciated!
    Last edited by Seeker13; 07-30-2009 at 08:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default basics

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    The first thing you should know is that traveling by car and staying in motels will almost always be cheaper than renting an RV. Between the extra cost for rental, fuel, and the campsite fees, its usually quite a bit more for an RV. Basically, and RV should be chosen because it fits with how you want to travel, not because it will be a big cost savings.

    The trip you've described would be possible, but pretty busy for a week. Here you'll kind of have to know yourself and what pace you and your family would enjoy. 6 places in 7 days is going to be rushed for a lot of people, especially when you factor in a couple of hours of driving most days.

    What I would really recommend is just pulling out a map and seeing what makes sense to you and see if you can come up with a plan on your own that might better fit you and your families own goals better than a premade list - after all that freedom is what separates a roadtrip from other kinds of vacations.

  3. Default

    Las Vegas to Zion 160 miles, approx 3 hours driving time.

    Zion to Bryce 86 miles, approx 2 hours driving time

    Bryce to Capitol Reef 130 miles, approx 4 hours driving. Scenic Hwy 12 is beautiful and you will want to make stops. I'd skip Kodachrome state park.

    Captiol Reef to Monument Valley 188 miles, approx 5 hours driving.

    Monument Valley to Grand Canyon 178 miles, less than 4 hours driving

    Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, 278 miles, approx 5 hours driving.

    Over 1000 miles, also take in to consideration unpacking and packing up again if you stay in motels. Also eating, you really won't have much time in anyone place and will barely get to see anything. I think this is way to many places to visit for such a short time.

    I know you are worried about your son being bored in the parks, but he might be more bored in a vehicle for most of the trip.

    For the lenght of time you have, I'd suggest, the S. Rim of the Grand Canyon for two nights to have a full day to explore the park, one night in Page, AZ and do the 1/2 day float trip on the Colorado River. No rapids, but even our 17 year old nephew said this was the highlight of his trip. Two nights at Bryce so you have a full day to tour around the park, then two nights at Zion so you again have a full day to tour the park and do a few hikes. Rent intertubes in Springdale and float down the Virgin River with beautiful views of Zion as you go. This route is about 820 miles.

    As mentioned, and RV can be pretty expensive, but Las Vegas would be the place to do it. If you decide I can help with campgrounds.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    1. That distance from Capitol Reef to Monument Valley involves the Moki Dugway. To go around adds 40 miles. Before taking it, check with the rangers at Natural Bridges for current conditions.

    2. With the security procedures and construction at the Hoover Dam, I'd allow more than 5 hours to get from the GC to LV.

    If I were planning that trip, I think I'd allow 10 days to do it right. It certainly can be done in a week, but a lot of your sightseeing would be out of your car windows. I do NOT recommend driving in southern Utah after dark, that's open range country and a lot of the cattle are BLACK.

    If you allow more than a week and happen to get back to LV early, you could always take some day trips to fill in the extra time, such as Death Valley.

  5. #5


    Wow thanks for the tips!

    Michael: Well out goes the RVing, I think weíll just rent a car. Also, I kind of thought 7 days seemed short for all those places so thanks for confirming my suspicion. I really want to be able to soak in whichever parks we visit.

    Utahtea: Your trip suggestion sounds great and our son would really enjoy those float trips since heís such a ďwater-baby. I just checked google maps for LV to GC and the drive goes up I-15 pass Mesquite almost to the Utah border, then down towards GC. Is that the quickest/easiest route? Also mapped GC to Page which shows 174 miles and just under 6 hours drive. And Page to Bryce shows 150 miles and 3 hours drive. Itís only a 24 mile difference but 2 more hours driving? Why is that?

    GLC: Wow the Moki Dugway would probably get me car-sick. Thanks for the tip about driving at nightÖIím sure my hubby wonít want to do that.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default which rim

    The route you've described to the Grand Canyon sounds like you would be heading to the North Rim. If that is where you are going, then you do need to go all the way into Utah before going back into Arizona - although at this point you'd be going right past Zion National Park, so you might as well stop!

    Of course, the other option which gets more traffic but isn't necessarily better would be to go to the South Rim, where you'd go over the Hoover Dam, down to I-40 in Arizona and then head back north at Williams.

  7. #7


    I definitely want to go to South Rim and the google map seems to map it out from LV go up north, then drive back down and around to GC/SR. It looks like SR on the satellite map but its a pretty round about way to get there. I figured we'd drive through Hoover Dam that's why I'm confused about why google maps showed that route.

    I couldn't figure out how to make it show me an alternate route through Hoover Dam.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default manual

    I've noticed that problem with Google before too.

    A couple things you can do is either manually drag your destination spot to the south rim - which is pretty easy to see if you take a look at the map.

    The other option would be to tell the program to go to tusayan az, which is the small village just outside the south rim.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Grand canyon village.

    Google tends to think of Grand canyon as the North rim however if you type in 'Grand canyon village' it will take you to the heart of the South rim. Your trip is one full of natural wonders and I doubt your lad will get bored but I would include him in the planning and let him look at the map and make suggestions, it will make a big difference during the trip. The drives between the parks are full of interesting points where you can take short stops for photos and a run around and you could get your lad to keep you updated via the map of what you are passing by.
    You can start your trip as per your first post, I-15 to Zion and travel back via I-40/ Hoover dam or complete the loop the other way around but obviously if you travel from Vegas to GC south rim to start Zion would be your last port of call. As long as the weather is not bad just before or during travelling the Moki Dugway you will be fine and the views are splendid but if it is washed out the diversion isn't to bad. We actually went down in a 30ft RV with no problems.

    How much time can you have for this trip ?

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    As long as the weather is not bad just before or during travelling the Moki Dugway you will be fine and the views are splendid but if it is washed out the diversion isn't to bad. We actually went down in a 30ft RV with no problems.

    How much time can you have for this trip ?
    We have decided to change our route from Las Vegas to Zion, Bryce, Page, GC/SR then back to LV for about a 7 day trip. So we will not be traveling the Moki Dugway.

    Thanks for the suggestion for our son to do location updates, that will help the boredom as will our stops for some river boating time.

    Unfortunately our son's friend went to GC and told him it was boring, but I told him when "mom" plans trips it's always fun, lol!

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