You might try: www.tourthesouthwest.com
Have you thought of driving yourselves?
Hi. we will try TourtheSouthWest. We did consider driving but with nearly 700 miles though it was a bit much. We have looked at another tour company but the hotels look to be poor - although it would appear that none are really good in the National Parks.
Re. driving. You can't compare European traffic to USA traffic. Las Vegas and around will be busy but most of the roads, wide and in excellent condition, are very easy driving. 4/5 days for Las Vegas-Zion-Bryce-Page (maybe also Monument Valley)-Grand Canyon-(maybe also Sedona)-Las Vegas will be short. You easily can spend all day in each NP and guided tours seldomly give you enough time to explore even if you are no hikers. You're visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world. Please take your time!
Hi Tet. Thanks for that - you have reassured us about driving!!!!. I have looked at all your other posts and you are obviously knowledgeable about the area. Which route round would you take? Any suggestions of where to stay? None of the ones I have looked at appear exactly brilliant - we need comfort (though not necessarily "posh"). Clean bed, hot water and availability of fairly decent food are priorities. Our first time to the States. Our itinerary is
New York - 3 days
Fly to Los Angeles - 3 days
Fly to Las Vegas - 3 nights
4/5 days touring canyons etc.
Fly to San Francisco - 4 nights
Yosemite NP - 3/4 nights
Big Sur Coast - 2/3 nights
Fly home from LA
This means we are only hiring a car in blocks.
We went to South Africa earlier this year and spent an awful lot of time driving!!!
You certainly can compare driving in SA with driving in the western USA (but the drive is on the "wrong" side of the road of course) but less potholes in America. SA's Karoo has similarities with the desert scenery in the USA and Blyde River Canyon is great but wait till you see Grand Canyon NP! Ok, which route would I take...
New York makes a great stop but you also could think of spending all of your time in the West and leave NYC for another visit. I also already would rent a car in Los Angeles. The LA area is huge and distances are long. I also would not want to go to Las vegas right after Los Angeles but make a LV stop later. This would be my prefered route:
Day 4: Arrive Los Angeles
Day 5: Los Angeles
Day 6: Los Angeles
Day 7: It's a long drive but I would bite the bullet and drive from LA to GCNP south rim. It's app. 8 hours and it's all on interstates except for the last hour which is on a very good flat 2 lanes highway.
Day 8: All day for GCNP
Day 9: GCNP to Monument Valley. Make stops on this route like in Cameron and maybe Navajo NM and explore Monument Valley.
Day 9: Monument Valley to Page. Visit Antelope Upper Canyon around midday and see Horseshoe Bend overlook and Lake Powell. Also a visit to Glen Canyon Dam is recommended.
Day 10: Drive from Page to Bryce Canyon NP. Stops along this route. It's 3 hours between Page and Bryce so you can see some of Bryce same day.
Day 11: Spend time for hiking a bit in Bryce and drive to Zion NP in the afternoon
Day 12: All day for Zion NP
Day 13: Drive from Zion to Las Vegas and visit Valley of Fire SP on your way.
Day 14 and 15 for Las Vegas
Day 16: Now you can deliver the car and fly to San Francisco. The drive via Death Valley, us395, Mono Lake and Tioga Pass to Yosemite NP and SF is one of the most scenic but it'll take 3 days to explore not counting the days for Yosemite NP. So:
Day 16: Flight to San Francisco
Day 17: San Francisco
Day 18: San Francisco
Day 19: San Francisco-Yosemite NP
Day 20: Yosemite NP
Day 21: Yosemite NP
Day 22: Yosemite NP to Monterey.
Day 23: Monterey: Whale whatching, Aquarium, Carmel, Point Lobos SR
Day 24: Monterey-Big Sur-Cambria.
Day 25: Cambria: Enjoy Moonstone Beach and visit Hearst Castle.
Day 26: Cambria to Santa Barbara
Day 27: Santa Barbara along the coast to Los Angeles.
Day 28: Home planning your next.
Stay shoter or stay longer at places, all up to you. Don't hesitate to ask more questions.
The thing about the distances is that it really doesn't matter too much whether you are driving or someone else, it is still a lot of land to cover.
I liked your itinerary. I enjoy New York and thought that would be an excellent beginning to your trip.
I'm not sure what kind of reviews you've been reading about lodging that would make you call it dismal. I haven't stayed somewhere without hot water since the early 60's when we stayed at the bare minimum fishing cabins in Yellowstone. Nowadays even the campgrounds have hot showers available.
I can't think of any hotels that wouldn't have the clean bed, hot water and decent food that you request.
I agree getting around LA will be difficult without a car. I can understand Tet's reasons for saying just drive from there to GC, what with the time to drop off the car and get to the airport and wait for take off etc, you could be half way to Las Vegas. If you do decide to take a driving holiday however remember the distances are huge. There is no getting around that. But they are for the most part wide open distances without distractions.
If you want to read a brilliant trip report from fellow countryman who recently returned from a long first time visit to the US start here: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g45963-i10-k228518…
You can click on his name and find the rest of his wonderful posts about their trip around to some of the same places.
Thanks to you both. We have to consider all the options. My husband does not like driving on the right (actually it's more about sitting on the wrong side of a car!!) so I will probably do most of it. We have friends in LA so will be ferried around there for 2/3 days. However, we will look at driving to GC and going the route Tet suggests - my USA geography knowledge is not brilliant so I have to spend some time seeing where each place is!!
All the posts I have looked at seemed to show that getting decent food in the National Parks was not easy. Is that not right? Any suggestions about where to stay appreciated.
Thanks a bunch
Give you some hotels in the NP's etc.
Grand Canyon NP: El Tovar, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge and Bright Angel Lodge are right at the rim. El Tovar is the classic parks hotel. Good food at El Tovar and Arizona Room near Bright Angel. The other hotels inside the NP are Maswik and Yavapai on a short distance of the rim. Just outside the NP lodging in Tusayan. Don't expect 4 or 5* accomodation.
Monument Valley: Goulding's Lodge and The View Hotel are your best optiobs close to MV.
Page: Courtyard by Marriot is the best hotel imo. Lake Powell resort is close to the lake. Many other hotels in Page.
Zion: Springdale has lots of hotels. Desert Pearl Inn is among the best.
Las Vegas: 100s of hotels. Maybe splurge at the Venetian or Bellagio but options are countless.
San Francisco: Also here so many choices
Yosemite: We always stay outside the park so can't tell you about lodging here.
Cambria: Try a hotel on Moonstone beach.
You'll find tons of good restaurants on your trip, no worries about it. We almost never had bad meals even not in small towns in family restaurants.
Make your reservations for accomodation esp. for GCNP and Yosemite far in advance. September still is a busy month. Buy an America the Beautiful pass at the entrance of your first NP at $ 80,-- valid car and passengers for all NP's and NM's and also other places (not for State Parks) Saves you money.
As Kbec has said, read the 22 posts of Ray (Sommersetboy). Although its memory lane to us, regular posters, it can be a bit confusing though but his writing style is brilliant. Btw, I also gave Ray some hints....And as you prob enjoyed Garden route you will like hw1 along pacific coast and both Cape Town and San Francisco belong to the most beautiful cities in the world.
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