We are planning a "long-ish" family trip for the summer (up to a month). The goal of the trip is to get to Grand Canyon but we want to use this trip, our fifth road trip but the first in three years, to also visit other national and state parks, towns, and cities. We haven't defined the route yet but we know that we want to visit, in addition to other locations you may suggest, Zion, Arches, San Juan and Carson National Forests. We are starting from College Station, TX and are planning on doing this during June next year. The group is composed of two adults and five kids, ages between 10 and 1, so we prefer to avoid long driving stretches, unless unavoidable, and prefer to break them down into smaller ones around other attractions and interesting places, even if these are not the most popular ones.
In terms of logistics, we have learned that it is often difficult to find lodging inside the parks for families of this size, but we could stay in towns around the parks if these are not too far away. Do you have any recommendations of towns that could serve this purpose and that are worth staying there for a couple of days? Towns that we could use as center of operations for a longer period and visit different places from them? (don't need to be parks, but places that you would recommend visiting as well).