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  1. Default Family Trip from FL to National Parks in SW June 2011

    Hi - I live in sunny but currently cold Tampa and am looking to take my family on a summer vacation to the national parks of the southwest US. I recently got back from Vegas and decided my kids (now 12 and 14) are of an age where they will appreciate the drastic difference between Florida and this part of the coutry. I am planningto be gone 12 days and would like to visit Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon. I would love some advise on what offpath particulars to visit and stay. I am also debating if a RV would be a good choice for part of the trip. I'm not too keen on tents as deathly afraid of snakes. Any recommendations on rafting tours, etc. Would love to not only visit this beautiful part of the world but would like to get to know some great places and people (ie: diners, hot spots, other notable places). Any help provided would be greatly appreciated!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Are you thinking of flying west and then driving around, or are you hoping to drive all the way out there and all the way back? Driving the whole way would be a little tough with 12 days, because you'll need at least 8-9 of those days driving to AZ/UT and back.

    As far as going in an RV, it certainly is a lifestyle choice issue. It is a good way to really get into nature and really spend your nights in the parks. However, renting an RV is going to be a fair bit more expensive than just staying in motels (and there will be plenty of motels in and around all the parks you'll be visiting.) I will say I would do one or the other, as renting an RV for just part of your trip is going to be impractical and a good way to waste both time and money.

    The loop you've laid out covers things pretty well. There are a few other things in the area you could also check out, but it will depend upon how much time you really have.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Less Road, More Trip

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your proposed trip is about at the very edge (and maybe a little over) what I would try to do with a couple of active tweens. Yes, it's entirely possible for you to drive from Tampa through Colorado to Utah and then south through Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back across the Southwest and South back home (or the other way around) that would require 10 full days of serious driving averaging about 10 hours a day including fuel meal and rest stops. That leaves a little time each day for visits to roadside attractions, but not time for really wandering off the straight and narrow Interstate routes. Even then, you'd only have two days worth of time to split between Rocky Mountain, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest National Parks. Then there are all the National Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, Historical Sites, great museums and everything else for which there'd be no time. So...if you really think your children can enjoy (not just put up with) such a grinding and unending pace, then you are right, this is the age when they are forming lifetime memories.

    Unfortunately RVs are hardly ever cost efficient modes of travel. By the time you pay the rather substantial rental fees, add in double to triple the cost for gas, and pay for campground parking each night you are simply better off with your own car (or even a rental) and a motel room each night. The cost inefficiency only gets worse on relatively short trips like yours. And another consideration, you can't get as far as I was assuming in the first paragraph with a slower RV, so you'd have even less time at your destinations. If you'd rather maximize your time in the Southwest, you might want to consider flying into somewhere like Denver, Las Vegas, or Phoenix, wherever you could get a good price on tickets. Even Dallas would save you four full days of driving that you could better spend elsewhere. Then do a loop trip back to wherever you flew in to, thus avoiding one way drop-off charges on the car rental.

    Once you've worked out the basic travel plan that will work best for you we can be of more help on the specifics. Be sure to think about the kinds of things your kids would like to see, as "hot spots, other notable places" is a bit vague to offer much of a clue.


  4. Default updated info

    We will definately fly to Vegas or Phoenix to begin our trip. So with 11 entire days in the SW, is this plan feasible? What are some great places to eat and stay?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default that'll work

    11 days for a trip to explore the SW should be quite nice, if you are flying out.

    As far as places to stay, that's going to depend upon your budget, if you decide to go the RV route, and your own tastes. For example, around the Grand Canyon, if money is no option, you could stay at one of the hotels right on the rim. If you're looking for more budget friendly options, then going down to Williams for Flagstaff would be a better bet, if you are going to the north rim or coming from Monument Valley, you might look at some place to the east of the Canyon. Once you've got a better idea of your route, some things will also come into focus.

    Restaurants just aren't something we can usually provide good info on. First, there are thousands of them, and on a relatively small community like this, there's just no way for us to have a good enough sample size to provide good specific details. There's also the fact that restaurants change hands so frequently that a great place today could be under new management serving lousy food by tomorrow. There are occationally exceptions, but generally the best advice we can give is to ask the locals what their favorite places to eat are, and look for places with full parking lots!

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

    Default Wonderful !

    If you want to stay inside the parks to experience the real 'feel' of them then you can't beat the RV experience in my opinion. They are not so budget friendly, but in the parks where lodging is dearer than 'normal' and the campgrounds very good value, it narrows the gap on costs. At Approx $20 a night the sites book up real quick, especially for larger RV's where sites are limited, so that's an area you will have to work on.

    Starting from Phoenix you could head to Monument valley and then to Arches and Canyonlands. The 'Devils garden campground' in Arches is wonderful and you can comfortably visit the 'Island in the sky' district of Canyonlands from there. From Arches you could head to I70 and then UT 24 through Hanksville to Capitol Reef and then Utah scenic 12 from Torrey to Bryce canyon and then to Zion NP. 'Rubys Inn' is a good place to stop at for Bryce and the NP Watchmen campground at Zion. In an RV you will have to be escorted through the Mount Carmel tunnel which carries a small fee and wait, but it is straight forward enough.

    You could then head for Page and possibly take an Antelope canyon tour and/or visit Lake Powell. Next stop the Grand canyon South rim [of course you could go to the North rim from Zion]. Mather campground is in a great location not to far from the village and rim area, but in a peaceful wooded setting.

    A short ride back to Phoenix and that should be a trip you and the kids will never forget !

  7. Default

    I am back to planning and wonder what the traffic will be like in mid-june. I am leaning towards renting a home between Zion and Bryce for a week versus doing the RV thing. We still plan to visit both the south and north rims of the canyon, canyonlands and arches. Any rafting trips (not too rough) you could recommend or places to rent near the north and south rims for a couple of nites.

  8. Default

    Traffic at Zion and Bryce canyon was virtually non existent when i went June 19 of 2009, and just a little more traffic in June 16 of 2005. Mid June is an excellent time to visit the southwest and four corners area. Its warm but not HOT, and the nights are cool. The north rim of the canyon was a little chilly but the southern rim was nice. I love the view from the south rim but the solitude and tranquility of the north rim won me over. Instead of standing in a crowd at the south rim we were able to sit on a nice log bench at the north rim lodge that overlooks the canyon and just relax. No, you dont have to stay at the lodge to enjoy the chairs or the view. The contrast in scenery to what we have here in the southeast is amazing. People like different. Westerners want to travel east and we in the east want to see the west. This is an amazing country and the kids will remember your trip for the rest of their lives.

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