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  1. Default Grand Canyon from California with kids

    Hi All,

    (I edited this as I went along)

    In July we plan to take about a 10 day trip to GC and other parks, mainly for sightseeing and hiking. Leaving from Near Sacramento.

    Kids are 8/10.

    Trying to figure out how long to stay in each place hotel wise in regards to the time it takes to see and do things there.

    So far I got this planned...

    Head straight to Vegas (8 hour drive). Stay 3 nights. Head to Zion (about 3 hours drive) Stay 2 nights. Will have a full day and a half there (Want to do the Narrows if the kids can do it).

    Head to Bryce for 1 night then head to Page/Lake Powell (about 3 hours drive) Maybe stop and see Grand Staircase, if possible from there, stay 1 night. Not sure what we will do here, maybe a boat tour and just check out the sights and dam...?

    Head to Grand Canyon (will stay in Tusayan) and stay for 3 nights.

    Then head home via 40 to Barstow. Might stop for 1 night somewhere if needed.

    Total 10-11 nights. Can do an extra day in Vegas if we take off 1 day in Grand Canyon.

    Was thinking of also seeing Canyonlands and Arches but then would have to stay in Moab for at least a night.

    Any input helps :)
    Last edited by expy2010; 06-06-2018 at 02:17 PM.

  2. Default

    When heading from Bryce to Page is it better to take 89 or 89A?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,827

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Taking this one step at a time.....Sacramento to Las Vegas is 568 miles. Count on it being closer to 10 hours, for two reasons: Google Maps is never right on time (they don't factor in gas stops, traffic slow-downs, construction, your pit stops) and you have kids (you'll need pit stops).

    Next step....Las Vegas with kids. Plan carefully, as the Strip with kids may not be the greatest thing. Oh, there are things to do like hotel pools, a few museums and kids attractions, but the main stuff is for adults.

    Zion ... Personally, I'd skip a day at Las Vegas and do two full days at Zion, especially if you want to do any hiking. The Weeping Wall was fun for my kids, as The Narrows was closed that week due to flash flooding.

    Grand Canyon ... allow 2 full days if you can, especially if you want to really stop and see all the lookout points and maybe walk 1/4 or 1/2 mile DOWN a trail. (If you do that, take plenty of water, wear good shoes, and remember that "what goes down, must come up".)

    As for your trip home -- allow the better part of 2 days. It's almost 800 miles from the GC to Sacramento, going 40 through Barstow.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,544

    Default More Time in the Parks

    I wholeheartedly agree with Donna about spending as much time as you can in the National Parks. Nothing against Las Vegas (Full Disclosure: RoadTrip America and its parent company are headquartered in Las Vegas) but it is just another big city. As far as the kids are concerned, you've got as good, if not better, family attractions in California. The thing they won't see at home are the amazing red rock national parks of Utah and Arizona. A few specifics:

    Plan on buying an annual pass at the first national park you come to. If you visit as few as three national parks it will pay for itself, but the clock on 'annual' starts ticking when you purchase it, so there's no sense in buying it too early.

    Plan on checking in at the main visitors center at every national park/monument you enter. They will know the best trails appropriate for your, and the kid's, hiking skills. More importantly, you will want to sign the kids up for each park's Junior Ranger Program. Your kids fall right in the middle of the target age for this program and they'll learn a good bit about the parks while earning badges and certificates.

    Between Bryce and Page, I'd just stick with US-89. While US-89A has the edge in scenery (a very personal opinion - yours may differ), it is very close and the extra 45 miles needed to go by way of US-89-A are probably not worth it, especially if your kids start getting antsy. Also, only US-89 goes through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. BTW, national monuments are typically not as developed or staffed as national parks, so start asking about Grand Staircase-Escalante as you make earlier stops at Utah's national parks.

    From the description of your route, I assume that you'll be coming around to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (Cameron to Tusyan and Flagstaff). If so, be aware that there are several smaller, but very worthwhile parks and other attractions in the Flagstaff area. High on any such list would be Sunset Crater Volcano, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon National Monuments, even Petrified Forest National Park might be a possibility. Then there's the Museum of Northern Arizona (Native Americans and Geology) and Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered).

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default

    Then head home via 40 to Barstow. Might stop for 1 night somewhere if needed.
    An overnight stop is a must on the way home for safety's sake.

    Was thinking of also seeing Canyonlands and Arches but then would have to stay in Moab for at least a night.

    With the driving considered you would really need 2 nights. You could take one from each of Vegas and Grand canyon but would that leave you feeling rushed ? An alternative would be to visit Capitol Reef NP for a night after Bryce canyon and then from Hanksville take US95/UT261/US163/US89 and enter the South rim via the east kiosk. The drive is very scenic and as well as Capitol Reef, you could divert to Goosenecks State park and you will drive through Monument valley, not to mention the rather exciting drive down the Moki Dugway !

  6. Default

    Thanks for the input guys, still going over it.

    One thought I had was to maybe skip Vegas altogether. There's a lot of things to do there, even with kids, and may require a trip of it's own someday. Maybe just do our National Parks so we can really get to take so much more in.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Nothing against Las Vegas (Full Disclosure: RoadTrip America and its parent company are headquartered in Las Vegas) but it is just another big city. As far as the kids are concerned, you've got as good, if not better, family attractions in California.
    You're right. Everything I see there for the kids we have already done here.

    Thanks, still researching and will plan this better.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    An alternative would be to visit Capitol Reef NP for a night after Bryce canyon and then from Hanksville take US95/UT261/US163/US89 and enter the South rim via the east kiosk. The drive is very scenic and as well as Capitol Reef, you could divert to Goosenecks State park and you will drive through Monument valley, not to mention the rather exciting drive down the Moki Dugway !
    Wow, looks cool.

    So to divert to Goosenecks we take 316 from 261. Go back to 261, hit 163 and will pass thru Monument Valley right? Or do we take 42?

  9. Default

    Would it be better if we started in Zion, North of GC, went around, Bryce/Page/Tusayan/Whatever we visit along here to South GC and went home that way (hwy 40 to Barstow) or start from the South side of GC, reverse, and go "up" and visited Zion last? I ask just based on not knowing all the elevation changes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default

    Yes you would take 361 in and out of Goosenecks SP and back to 261. It wouldn't make a lot of difference which way round you done your trip although I much prefer to enter the South rim from the east entry point as you follow the direction of the Colorado river and enjoy many viewpoints as you head into the main area.

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