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National Parks - West

Leesburg, Florida
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National Parks - West

My wife and I are planning on touring the National Parks out West mid-May 2015. Right now we are looking at: Day 1 - starting from Las Vegas, driving to Zion NP and then to Bryce Canyon, staying at the Best Western. Day 2 - Drive to Salt Lake City staying at the Red Lion Hotel. Day 3 - Drive to Jackson Hole staying at the Rustic Inn. Day 4 - Drive to Yellowstone staying at the Explorer Cabins. Day 5 - take a private tour of Teton and Yellowstone (10 hrs). Day 6 - Drive to Billings stay at Holiday Inn Grand. Day 7 - Drive to Little Big Horn stay at Hotel Alex Johnson, Rapid City. Day 8 - Drive to Mt. Rushmore & Crazy Horse staying at Hotel Alex Johnson. Day 9 - Drive to Denver stay at the Comfort Suites @ Evergreen Pkwy. Day 10 - Drive to Moab stay at Quality Suites. Day 11/12 - Drive to Monument Valley stay at the View Hotel. Day 13/14 drive to Grand Canyon stay at El Tovar. Take float trip on Colorado River. Phew!

Any and all suggestions, sites to see, hotels, etc. All would be appreciated. Thanks!!!

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1. Re: National Parks - West

Wow! I couldn't't imagine this whirlwind trip. We spent over a week in Yellowstone & Tetons last year and 12 days in just Utah this past May and covered so much ground on each trip. I'd suggest you cut down your number of destinations so that you can truly enjoy these amazing places.

Central Florida...
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2. Re: National Parks - West

Agree, you are in the car more than in the parks. Lose half of your planned destinations, or double your time. Personally, RT from LV I would visit Zion, Bryce, Page, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon, plus maybe Sedona. You need two nights at each location to enjoy one full day. If you want Yellowstone, and Mt. Rushmore and Denver, that would be another 13 day trip, maybe round trip from Denver or SLC.

Tacoma, Washington
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for Road Trips
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3. Re: National Parks - West

My suggestion....don't even attempt this......it's nuts. You aren't going to see much of the parks. By the way...mid may there are still weather issues in yellowstone where passes may not be open.

You cannot do float trips for a day in the grand canyon. The float trips for a day is up at lees ferry.

Drop Yellowstone, grand Teton, and rapid city/black hills then in 2 weeks it's or reasonable and o able.

Day 1 drive to Zion, day in Zion

Day 2 Zion

Day 3 Bryce

Day 4 Capitol reef and UT 12 ..night Torrey

Day 5 drive to Moab, pm moab

Day 6-8 Moab

Day 9 monument valley

Day 10-11 page

Day 12-13 grand canyon

Day 14 return o Vegas.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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4. Re: National Parks - West

Have you actually calculated mileages and drive times? You're proposing over 3,000 miles in two weeks. I think you'll most be driving *by* the National Parks...

The Road Trips forum is a great place to get advice for a trip like this:


5. Re: National Parks - West

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Removed on: 28 August 2014, 13:18
Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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6. Re: National Parks - West

3000 miles in 2 weeks is only 200 miles a day which really isn't all that much.

Leesburg, Florida
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7. Re: National Parks - West

I really appreciate all the comments and critical advice. Having never been to any of the locations (except for the Grand Canyon) we do not know what we would like to see or do. We can increase the length of the trip (its nice being retired). We have a son who lives in Vegas so that will be our start/end point.

Everything in between is up in the air which is why your information will be a big help.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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for Utah
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8. Re: National Parks - West

Ok, If you can extend your vacation time then here is what I might recommend for minimum amount of days in the parks, towns etc.

Zion -2

Bryce 1

extra day in here for travel time - 1

Capitol Reef - 1

Salt Lake -1 (includes travel time)

travel to Jackson -1

Grand Tetons -1

Yellowstone -3

Billings with travel time- 1

Little Bighorn with travel to Rapid City - 1

Mt Rushmore -1

Other Black Hills attractions -1

Badlands? - 1

travel to Denver -1

Rocky Mt Natl Park - 1 ?

To Moab- 1 (could really extend this by two or so days by visiting Vail, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, and/or Colorado National Monument)

Moab area- 3 (Arches 1- Canyonlands -1, other -1)

Monument Valley -1

(no float trips from the south rim. You'd have to add a day at Page for that)

so Page- 1

Grand Canyon - 2

To Las Vegas -1

I included three national parks you didn't (Capitol Reef, Badlands and Rocky Mt) which you should see especially since they are right on the way.

I count up 27 days

That would be a great trip and while still a bit fast would allow for some maneuvering as you need it on the fly.

Edited: 31 July 2014, 17:13
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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9. Re: National Parks - West

While I'm obviously a big fan of TripAdvisor and do much of my trip research online, if I were *starting* to plan a trip like this, I would probably start with a guidebook that summarizes all the National Parks. Frommers, Fodors, National Geographic, etc., all have such guidebooks, available on Amazon for less than $20. You can quickly get a basic feel for how to access each park, where to stay, activities, services, etc., and you'll find that some parks will capture your interest more than others. Then, once you have some reference points, think in terms of a map and an itinerary.

Keep in mind that you need TWO nights in a location to have a full day there. Also, avoid planning long drives after sunset. These areas are remote, unlit (i.e. very dark) and potential for wildlife on the road. Not that the wildlife are dangerous, but you don't want to risk hitting one.

And do visit the Road Trips forum!

Kipling. SK
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for Zion National Park
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10. Re: National Parks - West

I have taken a look at your plan, and without personally being too familiar with all the destinations on your list it does seem doable. What everyone is trying to tell you is that you will not have time for the sites in the parks. At best you can see the main scenic routes in each park, and make stops at the premier park features. No time to totally experience the area properly. At best you have a car tour planned. Even quoting mileage in the plan does not help too much as you will be passing through many areas where the speed limits will be drastically reduced. You need to map your drive times and add a suitable cushion for gas/delays/meals/etc.

Do not be discouraged by what is said here, but consider the words of those experienced. It is still your trip and you need to do what is best for you. The contributors can still list the must sees once you finalize your route.

For example, at Zion you should take the mandatory shuttle up the main canyon. You will find the start of the shuttle route at the park visitor center located by Springdale/SW entrance.

At Bryce, head for the main Amphitheatre, namely Sunrise and Sunset Points. Hike the rim trail in part. Drive the 18 mile scenic route to the south only if you have time before heading out again.

Edited: 31 July 2014, 18:53