I am planning a long road trip in two sections - the first one is from Denver to Las Vegas and the second is along the pacific coast. I have the latter mapped out pretty well, thanks mainly to many posts in the tripadvisor Oregon forums which were very useful. But the first segment worries me and I'm posting here to ask for advice.
I will be travelling with my parents who are semi-active, but cannot really hike much (arthritis and heart problems), so I'm trying to plan a mostly auto-touring type trip. At the same time, since I'll be the only one driving, I don't want to push myself too much either, if possible. But, given that the whole trip (both segments) is only about 11 days long total, I've put together a rather aggressive itinerary. I want to know if it is practical at all or if I'm just going to kill myself.
Here's the itinerary I have so far:
Day 1 (9/13) - Arrive Denver airport early (8am), rent car and then take one of these two routes to Estes Park:
i) via Golden Gate Canyon and Peak to Peak, or
ii) via Loveland and Glen Haven
Grab lunch, and drive the Trail Ridge Road all the way through to the other side
Overnight at Glenwood Springs
Day 2 (9/14) - This is the day I'm conflicted about. It basically consists of driving along I-70 and highway 128 in Utah to get to Moab and then as far down south along the route to Grand Canyon as possible. Where to stop and what to see are giving me trouble.
Here are the two options I have (any other options are most welcome!):
Go to Colorado National Monument and do the Rim Rock Drive
Then from Colorado NM to Arches National Park via 128
Explore Arches NP (drive the Windows loop and to Delicate Arch), stay for sunset (7:30pm)
Skip Colorado National Monument, go straight to Moab via 128
Check out Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands and possibly Arches if time permits (not sure which of these will offer the best sunset viewing possibilities)
Then stop overnight at Blanding or maybe even Mexican Hat depending on how much energy I have left and lodging availability (camping is not an option, but otherwise we're quite flexible and any old reasonably comfortable motel will do)
Day 3 (9/15) - Drive south toward Grand Canyon
Stop at Monument Valley briefly - take in the view from parking lot of The View, and maybe a little bit of hiking along the wildcat trail if we get there early enough and trail is not too strenuous
Drive to Cameron Trading Post to get some picnic supplies and then do the Desert View Drive, stopping for a picnic somewhere nice along the way
Stay either in the Grand Canyon Village or close to the park
Day 4 (9/16) - Take the Hermit Road shuttle to explore inside the park
Drive to Hoover Dam in the evening, spend a little time there (we probably won't do a guided tour or anything, just have a look-see)
Time permitting, drive via Lake Mead shore to Valley of Fire and leave for Las Vegas a litte after sunset (7:30pm)
Otherwise, just drive straight to Vegas from Hoover Dam
Spend a little time that evening on the strip (I've been there before and am not a huge fan so how long we spend there depends on my parents)
Fly out to Portland next morning for west coast trip.
I've already booked flights into Denver and out of Vegas, so if at all possible, I would rather not adjust the dates. Instead, I'm willing to forgo seeing some places and making the trip more manageable that way. The only place that is a must-see for us in this trip is the Grand Canyon. I wanted to show them some highlights of each of these 4 states along the way, but if that is not doable, I am open to just driving along some scenic routes and stopping at fewer places.
It's just that this is my parents' first (and possibly only) visit to the US from India and I want to cram as much as I possibly can into it. Having said that, I do want them to enjoy the trip and not feel like I'm hustling them around from one place to the next without giving them time to take it all in.
Any advice at all would be much appreciated. Thanks!