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Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Queensbury, New York
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Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Will be flying to Las Vegas from NY. We will have 8 days total. Was looking to do Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. Anyone have any ideas on this trip. We will be traveling with 2 children. Any spots that are must sees or any info at all would be greatly appreciated. We have never taken a trip like this and want to get the most out of it. Interestingly we have done some extensive traveling but have never seen the US except the east coast.

Marina, California
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1. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

What time of year are you doing this?

8 days in plenty for the places you've outlined, so you could add a few more. You may want to look at also visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Very pretty, and they form part of the Grand Circle that thousands of tourists do each year. But it depends on how much time you would like to spend in Vegas. With two kids, I would think two days would be enough, but it's up to you.

Queensbury, New York
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2. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Was thinking of arriving in Vegas on Fri and Leaving there on Sun. With a rental car. Then heading out to Hoover and down to the Canyon. would love to add Zion and Bryce. Could definitely spend less time in Vegas if it meant seeing Bryce or Zion. We would be taking this trip in late August 2014. Thanks --blams

Houston, TX
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3. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

You might want to change your day of arrival and stay in Las Vegas. The hotels are generally more expensive for weekend days as compared to weekdays.

If your budget permits, for Bryce and GCNP book a room inside the park. It's nice to be able to be there for sunset and sunrise. For Zion, check in Springdale. Lots of choices, including places with swimming pools that everyone might like in August. You can take the shuttle from Springdale (if your hotel isn't within walking distance of the park entrance) to the park and then, in August, you use the park shuttles to move around the park.

Once you have your dates, get on the park lodging right away. They accept bookings a year in advance and often are full. For GCNP it's www.grandcanyonlodges.com; company is Xanterra. For Bryce, it's www.foreverlodging.com/brycecanyon; company is Forever Resorts. If GCNP is full, check in Tusayan, AZ. If BCNP lodging is full, check in the Ruby's complex just outside the park. Then, closer to your travels, call the companies directly or check online; cancellations do occur.

Marcellus, New York
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4. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

A couple things - first, when you visit Hoover Dam, I would strongly recommend going right down to the dam itself and touring it before looking at it from the bypass bridge. The view from the bridge (which you can only see if you walk over it) changes your perspective SO much, it makes the dam look really, really tiny. If you haven't already stood on the dam and awed at how massive it is, that shift in perspective wouldn't be appreciated. Also, be sure to look in the little buildings on the dam itself if they are open - there are gorgeous "gold" doors on the buildings that lead to a small marble-lined foyer with restrooms off of them; well worth taking a peek if you can (I've been there when they were open and when they weren't).

I'm not sure how old your kids are, but within Vegas the only spots I plan to take my kids (will be 9 and 11 when we travel) are the M&M store (four floors of wall-to-wall humanity shopping for chocolate themed items...which makes me ponder why I'll be taking them...but anyways) and the fountains and (if allowed) the conservatory and chocolate shop at the Bellagio. If you do go to the Bellagio, be sure to do those last two if you can - I had never seen a river of chocolate until I went there, and the conservatory is ever-changing but always impressive IMO. When you enter the hotel from the strip side main entrance, the conservatory is just off the lobby, past the HUGE Chihuly glass sculpture on the ceiling. If memory serves, you can find the chocolate shop by exiting the the conservatory toward the back-left (relative to where you entered) and taking a right. This might have changed as City Center has fully opened since the last time I was there...which reminds me, there were some cool shops and interesting things to see in the shopping are in city center. All I recall are frozen poles...going to have to look that up for my kids too!

For Zion, if you can swing it I would highly recommend the lodge right in the park. Honestly, the pricing wasn't all that much more than comparable lodging in Springdale when I was looking for rooms last summer (we got a two-room suite for about $50 more than a regular room at the Best Western), and going to sleep and waking up in that valley was well worth the cost. Walking around at night was interesting...we came across a family of deer grazing outside the hotel. One tip - be sure to bring flashlights if you plan to be out and about at night - the lighting outside is minimal at best, I am assuming in deference to stargazers. FWIW, I found that being able to drive into the park and only needing the ride the shuttle from the hotel to the stop for the river walk to be really convenient.

Bryce- same thing. Stay in the park if at all possible. We stayed in one of the western cabins, but I don't think you could go wrong with a choice, as all the lodging is a short walk from the amphitheater. Be warned, though - if arriving at night and wanting to walk to the rim, when you hit the sidewalk be VERY cautious from that point on, as there is no railing. We showed the kids the edge of the amphitheater at night (with a strong flashlight) and it would have been a little startling had we not known what to expect from a previous visit.

Not sure your level of familiarity with travel out west, but we like to think of Utah as a right-to-die state. If you visit a national park there and aren't careful, you CAN perish. And some of the roads... ~shudder~ there was this one knifes-edge road we drove that gave me chills. Gorgeous, but one wrong move and it was over, as there were no guardrails along most of the road. It made for gorgeous views, but dangerous driving if you were at all distracted. We did not do much, if any, driving at night there (except for major highways when necessary). Just a FWIW thing...

Edited: 04 August 2013, 02:51
Queensbury, New York
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5. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Based on your replies I thought it would be best to do the loop. My thoughts were to arrive in Vegas as early as possible in the day. Since we have children and are not interested in gambling we would not need more than a day there. See what we can see Fri night and head out early Sat. am. We would then head to Zion, This trip would take approx three hours. I dont really know much about Zion or Bryce NP's so I cant say how long we would need at each. If Zion was a day long then we could head for Bryce that evening and stay overnight somewhere along the way or stay right in the park as suggested above. If we stay then we would leave Sun morn for Bryce. If possible we would stay the night there too. That would put us on the road for GCNP on Mon. Bryce to GCNP is about a three hour drive. We would like to stay in the park but understand it is difficult to get a place in the park. I would like to be able to have at least two days there. This would put us leaving GCNP on Wed afternoon. Since the lonest single drive will be from GC to Hoover I thought we could find a place between them to stay for the night. Then to Hoover Thurs am. This itinerary leaves us extra time since we will not be flying back to NY from Vegas until Sat. Any thoughts on this plan in general or what to do with the extra day to day and a half? Which park deserves an extra day? or should we plan for something else along the way or have I left too little time at each. Thanks for the replies-blams

Encinitas...
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for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
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6. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Bryce to GC north rim is 3+ hours. Bryce to GC south rim is closer to 6.

If you want to visit Glen Canyon Dam in Page between Bryce and GCSR, its cheaper to tour than Hoover, less crowded, just as impressive. Also has a bridge in front of it, just like Hoover.Page is worth an overnight too to see the lake,Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

GCSR and GCNR are both in the neighborhood of 5 hours from Vegas. The NR facilities close for winter on Oct 15.

Zion takes more time to visit than Bryce. I would plan two days there at least. Bryce can be seen fairly quickly. Generally a full day and a night will be ok.

Edited: 06 August 2013, 07:24
Albany, New York
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7. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

To make a real circle I would suggest also adding a stop in Page, AZ where you can enjoy Antelope Canyon, Horse Show Bend and Powell Lake. I took this circle this Spring, it was a fantastic life time trip. I also went to Monument Valley. All together it took me the total of 10 day.

Edited: 06 August 2013, 16:31
Queensbury, New York
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8. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Thanks dez I see my mistake in drive times to GCNP. Also will consider the extra day in Zion and happy thanks for the idea about Page. Doesn't look like it would take too long to add that to the docket.

Queensbury, New York
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9. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

When I detailed this itinerary with my family they thought it sounded like we were trying to pack too much into the time that we have. I realize it will be a lot of driving and there will be something to do at all times but do not feel as though we will be rushed through any of it, and not enjoy our trip. Also this is not supposed to be a trip to a resort where we are lying by the pool and sipping drinks all day. I feel as though we will not visit this area again for a very long time and would like to see what we can. Any thoughts?

Oregon Coast
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10. Re: Looking for ideas for road trip to Grand Canyon

Okay, I'm going to add one more thing to the list, LOL. Page -- take a look at the smooth water float trip. It's suitable for children as young as four I believe (no rapids) and is *great fun*!

grandcanyon.com/colorado-river-discovery.html

Las Vegas actually has a bunch of attractions that are family friendly. We don't gamble and enjoyed museums and particularly the Fremont Street Experience. However, it is a large adult-oriented city and is totally different from the great natural parks in that part of the country.