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  1. Default Spring roadtrip from MN through CO & AZ

    My family (2 adults, 1 - 9 year old) has decided to take an 11 day spring break (end of March) road trip from Minnesota down to Denver, Mesa Verde, Page, AZ (Lake Powell & Grand Canyon), Four Corners, Great Sand Dunes and Colorado Springs.

    We had it all mapped out when we realized that all of the campgrounds in Mesa Verde & Great Sand Dunes area are still closed. We are assuming that this is because it is still cold/cool at night.

    We are not a big camping family but for the the savings we were planning to tent our way through the trip. Since we can't do that I'm considering getting all of the hotel rooms through priceline. My big question is, is this a trip that we should really wait and take in June? Or will it still be worth taking even though its not exactly warm? Second question is: would anyone advise camping / tenting at Lake Powell (Page, AZ) at the end of March or does it get way to cold at night that we'd be happier getting a hotel? We may be from Minnesota but really don't want to be so cold that it ruins the trip.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Being Efficient

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    On a RoadTrip such as the one you're contemplating where you plan to cover many miles and spend a bit more than half your time driving, it's important to be as efficient as you can in the use of your miles and road time to maximize the number of places you can see and the amount of time you can spend at them. You'll have time for maybe half a dozen or so major stops (half day to day) and maybe as many shorter ones (2-3 hours). Camping starts to eat into the time you have available what with set up, take down, and having to get those done during daylight hours. And you are right, it will be 'cool' at night. Even in Page and around the Grand Canyon nighttime lows will usually get to the low 50s (freezing temperatures have been seen in May). Remember, you'll be on the Colorado Plateau with elevations in the 7,000-8,000 feet range. So camping may not be a savings that you can afford. On the other hand, I wouldn't delay the trip into June or else you'll just be another one of the thousands of tourists vying for viewing spots. However, my experience with Priceline and other bidding sites is that they're very good at getting you rooms in cities and tourist spots where there's some competition and empty rooms, but not so good where the choices are few and far between. Still it's worth a shot. I generally tend to just use and similar sites to see what's available and do the price/amenity comparisons myself.

    The other place to increase the efficiency of your trip is in the routing/itinerary. I note that having Mesa Verde on the outbound leg and Four Corners on the homeward leg means that you're going to be covering the same ground twice. An alternative outbound routing would have you continue west on I-70 from Denver across Loveland Pass to Colorado National Monument outside Grand Junction, then down US-191 by Arches National Park and through Monument Valley on US-163 towards Page. You can easily visit Mesa Verde on your way between Four Corners and the Great Sand Dunes on your way home. Also, don't overlook the fact that as you head west on I-80/I-76 to Denver you will basically be following the route of the old Oregon Trail past many historic sites and landmarks.


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