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Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Watchung, New Jersey
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Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Hi Fellow Travelers!

I am planning a sightseeing road trip for late August with two kids (age 5 and 10) and two grandparents in tow. Trip duration is between 8 and 14 days depending on which route we will choose.

Option 1: Fly to Las Vegas from NY/NJ - Drive to Southern Utah national parks/Grand Canyon NP -> drive to Denver via Million Dollar highway and Aspen --> Fly out of Denver back to NY/NJ

Option 2: fly to SLC or Jackson -- drive to Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP -- Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park -- Colorado Springs -- Fly out of Denver

Option 3: Fly to Denver -- 8 hr drive to Yellowstone/Grand Teton -- Salt Lake City -- Moab, UT (Arches and Canyonland NP) -- Denver (for Rocky Mountain NP and Colorado Springs) -- Fly out of Denver

Dear husband has only 1 week to 1.5 week of vacation time, so he prefers option 2 which appears to require less time and less driving than option 1, but a quick check of the airfare shows flying into either Salt Lake City or Jackson to go to Yellowstone is almost $400 more than flying into Las Vegas, plus grandparents really want to see the Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountains. Option 1 and 3 would require about 12-14 days, and dear husband may not be able to join for the whole trip. Option 3 has an advantage of fly in and out of Denver, which saves our airfare and car rental fees. I am not sure if it is flexible enough to be compressed to 10 days or allow husband to fly out of Denver a day or two earlier than us.

Any feedback would be appreciated!!

Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

If you only have eight days, the best option would be to just fly into SLC and visit Yellowstone/Tetons for the week and then fly out of SLC. If you have 3-4 more days you could possibly add Moab with Arches, though it would be a little rushed and you would lose a day driving. Or fly into Vegas a do a grand circle loop that includes Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce. This is how I see things and the times are minimums, basically to the entrances of parks. Driving through will require additional time. The more stops, the more time required.

Option 1: Vegas--Grand Canyon -Monument Valley -Moab -Ouray - Aspen - Denver (20 hours driving)

Option 2: Salt Lake- Yellowstone/Tetons- Salt Lake-Wasatch/Snowbird/Park City (9.5 hours driving)

Option 3: SLC-Yellowstone/Tetons- Moab-SLC (17 hours driving)

Other option: Vegas-Grand Canyon- Bryce- Zion- Vegas

Salt Lake Is 3.5 hours closer to Yellowstone, and nearly 2 hours closer to Moab than Denver. You will already get to see one of the most picturesque ranges of Rocky Mountains at The Tetons. You could also visit The Wasatch Range flanking SLC and be 1 hour from the airport. Take a Tram ride at Snowbird for easy access to views at 11,000 feet. Park City is 30 minutes away. Drive the Alpine Loop, past Sundance on the backside of Mt Timpanogos. Consider just dropping RMNP from the itinerary for this trip. Whatever the case may be, I think you will have to adjust some of your plans given the timeline. Here are some pics of the Wasatch.

http://www.davidwhittenphoto.com/index.html?wasatch.html~home

Edited: 08 May 2014, 18:29
2. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

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Ohio
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3. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

agreed-- too little time. Choose either the GC and grand circle OR Yellowstone and Tetons. Either will be great a great choice and all will enjoy the places and pace.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Don't think you can beat viewing wildlife with kids that age so my pick will be Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP.

Sydney
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5. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

I thought Canyonlands was al least as stunning as the GC. I've only seen Yellowstone in winter, but even then the wildlife was amazing.

I vote Yellowstone and Grand Tetons!

Marcellus, New York
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6. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Did you check rental car rates too? I always found Vegas to have incredibly high totals due to the airport tax and all the fees. The rates won't look bad, but the grand total including taxes and fees was enormous.

Another place to check flying into is Idaho Falls. Granted, there are limited flights in and out of there, but we find the flights are usually less into there than Jackson, especially during the summer. Plus the rental cars are sometimes really reasonably priced.

For the age of your kids, I'd vote Yellowstone and GTNP. Lots of very different things to see, lots of animals, lots of stinky thermal features (which they WILL remember). We did the Grand Circle - although I didn't know it was called that at the time - when my kids were 7 and 9, and it was a good age. At 5 years old, I don't think my daughter could have done the Narrows hike at Zion, for example. Your child may be different, but I'm just sharing my experience.

Oh, and are there any mobility issues for the grandparents? If there are, I think YNP is probably more friendly due to the boardwalks in many areas providing more consistent footing.

Happy planning!

Uden, The...
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7. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

To John 259259. You can remove your own post. Click on "report inappropriate content" and then: "Remove my post"

Norwich, United...
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8. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Tet14, many thanks for that info, will do.

Watchung, New Jersey
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9. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Looks like Yellowstone/Grand Teton is the way to go! I heard yellowstone lodging is already hard to come by at this time, so I'd better get the process rolling soon...

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Southern Utah/Grand Canyon - Colorado OR Yellowstone - RMNP?

Good decision. Have fun!