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Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

NH
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107 posts
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Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

I am looking for opinions on whether to do an escorted tour (thy book park lodges and tix and ease of parking) or on our own to go from Az or Utah to SD parks. We do not need to stay in as upscale hotels that are used on trips, but would stay inside a park at some, other times in $100/nt hotels, and tours usually have too much food.. But I want to know w shorter stays 1-2 nts per park on a tour, would we be misisng out on many of the to do sites at parks.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

If you are comfortable driving a rental car and making arrangements by phone,in English, then independent auto travel would be the better option...When ? (season) is your trip planned for ??? carracar

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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2. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

I've never taken an organized tour of parks, so I can't give you a first-hand comparison but I will say that our national parks are generally well-organized for self-booking and self-touring. I'm also not a fan of the "10 destinations in 10 days" style of travel; you'll probably cover more miles on a tour but (imo) experience less.

With very few exceptions, I would also want my own vehicle. Some parks have shuttles that are convenient but, even in those parks, there are areas that aren't covered by shuttle routes. Now, if you're only spending 24 hours in a park, it may not feel like you're "missing" anything but, for me, getting away from the crowds and experiencing a park on my own terms is a large part of why I visit the National Parks. Of course, your mileage may vary. :)

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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3. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Definitely self tour. You need to book your lodging right now though, especially for the parks. Go to the Utah forum and read the sticky about planning a Grand Circle Tour

Mesa, AZ
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4. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Escorted tours generally take the decision making, stress, and confusion right out of your day. They have a preplanned itinerary, they have an allotted time for the various activities offered, they know the route to drive and where the constructions zones are. And, there is always someone (friendly) available to answer your questions. Plus, they have lodging available to them when lodging may not be available to the general public because tour companies often book numerous rooms when reservations open for the season.

However, if you don't like being on a tight schedule, or if you want to participate in activities that are not on the day's agenda then you may want to travel on your own. This may require booking park lodging 13 months out, this will require research on your part regarding various activities in a park, and you will also need to begin looking at rental car rates. I have found that the further out you book a rental car, the better the price is.

Keeping a notebook of your interests and containing your reservations is a must. A paper trail is really nice to have when there is no wifi or cell phone coverage in an area.

NH
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107 posts
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5. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Yes very comfortable w rentals and research but it is very time consuming. I

I woudl liek to travel in mid May to Mid June before summer crowds. And the fall is especially pretty time not to leave here in NH.

But what do your suggest? Are roads still navigible in May in SD ?

I need to know whether individuals can get accomodations at some park lodges a lead time.

NH
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107 posts
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6. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Excellent pt ont he shuttles not going all the places we might like inside the parks.

Are god routing materials for self drives avaiable online if we decide to go it alone.

Do you know if there are a number of chain resaonable priced hotels near entrances of our parks?

NH
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107 posts
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7. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Agree there are those conveniences to the group travel.

I do wonder about chain hotel bookings near the entrances.

I agree soemtimes hard copy is better w itineraries etc than relying on wifi.

NH
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107 posts
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8. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

i definitely will look at that sticky. Thank you

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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9. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

Dajwaj, first of all, how much time do you have? Do you have a list of national parks that you're interested in? While Arizona and Utah is a logical grouping, South Dakota isn't. It sounds like you mean to cover Arizona *to* South Dakota... which is an immense area.

NH
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10. Re: Tour vs independent travel through route of national parks

I have plenty of time as retired

But I want to think about doing on our own vs a trip of 2 wks w a high end bus tour which is going all that way