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May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Sydney, Australia
8 posts
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May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Ok here we go

I have about 12 days. Yes I know more is required, but this is all we have.

Three of us in total. 2 adults & 1 x 14yo

We just want to take in the whole Desert/NP American experience.

A small amount of hiking is ok, we are interested in the sights, history, a little bit of adventure & a bit of shopping for the wife. Budget is important but I am open to ideas if it will enhance our experience..

I really really want to do Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Monument Valley & Mount Rushmore.

I was planning to hire a RV where I must leave from San Diego & I must return to Vegas (For an event that is only on this one specific nite) & from Vegas I will explore Yosemite & travel through to San Fran.

I have virtually realised that doing all 4 events as nominated above in a RV over 12 days is probably to big an ask to really enjoy & take everything in. I have looked at flying into Jackson, Rapid City, Denver, Salt Lake etc, whilst trying to still achieve the big 4 above, but with connections, restricted flight days, weight restrictions etc coupled with still the long drives, I have come to the landing point that Mount Rushmore will have to go. I am open to suggestions.

So this is what I have come up with. Let me know your thoughts, ideas, suggestions.

Day 1 - San Diego to Phoenix

Day 2 - To Grand Canyon

Day 3 - To Monument Valley

Day 4 - To Canyon Lands

Day 5 - To Arches

Day 6 - To Salt Lake City

Day 7 - To Twin Falls / Craters of the Moon / Idaho Falls

Day 8 - To Yellowstone

Day 9 - Yellowstone

Day 10 - To Salt Lake City

Day 11 - Cedar City

Day 12 - Zion - Drive to Vegas

I know some days will be rushed so the question is what do I leave out to better enjoy or do I rush my way through. I am prepared to be on the Road by 6/7am daily with about a 6/7pm finish daily. (Plenty of time to relax later).I will not be back on this side of the states, so I need to do as much as I can. If Mount Rushmore goes, I will look at flying into Rapid City from New York / Florida on my next trip

I look forward to your thoughts

Kind Regards

Aussie Andy

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
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1. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Well, I'm glad you've realized Mt Rushmore might be pushing it too far. It is wonderful, but you are certainly being ambitious.

Now if you just stick to the main parks and ignore all the wonderful spots in between you might be able to pull it off.

So here are my thoughts.

Day 4-5... You'll be staying in Moab so plan two nights there for the two parks. There are two main sections of Canyonlands. See the southern Needles section on your way between Monument Valley and Moab. Also there are two good ways to drive that route, the more exciting way would be on rte 261 (detour into see Goosenecks SP) up Moki dugway (google it), and past Natural Bridges (which would take about 2 hrs to see so you decide. ) The other more direct way will take you through Bluff- stop at the fort as well as Twin Rocks trading post. (and you might still want to detour into Goosenecks. It is a short detour and would be a short stop, but a fantastic view). Spend day 5 at Arches. And then on day 6 drive into the Island in the Sky northern section of Canyonlands for a half day visit.

Day 7. Skip Craters of the Moon.. A minor park in a busy schedule. There are portions of this same volcanic action along I-15 north of Blackfoot. Stop at the rest stop and take the walks through the lava flows. (it won't be signed that way, just look for the rest stop) Give yourselves another day for Yellowstone, or use that day for a full day in the Tetons. Lots of options for overnight at the Tetons, stay in the parks.

Day 10 If you come south from the Tetons then you might consider the drive along the state borders and into Evanston and thence stopping in Park City for the night.

Day 11 From Park City it will only be a 4 hr drive to Zion, or Bryce. Stay at the parks. Best route would be to drive to Bryce, get a very short visit then drive to Zion for the night. (but leave so you drive while still light. You'll want to see the Zion scenery). That way you'd have more time at Zion before leaving to LV (It isn't enough for Zion or Bryce, but ...)

So this is my suggestions for changes

Day 1 - San Diego to Phoenix (you might consider pushing on and staying in Sedona this night. Even if you don't see much of Sedona it will be more enjoyable than Phoenix, plus you will be closer to GC and you'll want as much of a full day there as possible)

Day 2 - To Grand Canyon -- stay in the park- book lodging now

Day 3 - To Monument Valley -- Enjoy the east rim of GC on the way out. Again book for MV now (or as soon as you can. Limited lodging options and booked out early.)

Day 4 - To Moab via the Needles section of Canyonlands

Day 5 - Arches, stay in Moab

Day 6 - To Salt Lake City Via Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands

Day 7 - To Yellowstone - stay in the park. Enter the West Entrance

Day 8 - Yellowstone

Day 9 - To Tetons - exit south entrance of Yellowstone

Day 10 - To Park City via Evanston

Day 11 - To Springdale via Bryce

Day 12 - Zion - Drive to Vegas

And yah, for a quick trip like this an RV may not be your best option.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

You are so awesome, Thank you so much for taking the time to reply in so much detail. I will research your options. I am so much enjoying the research side & cannot wait to travel to your country. I know I do not have enough time to do everything, so advice from experienced people is what I will rely on to put together a fairly rigid itinerary allowing for a little flexibility. With such little time I need a plan to keep pushing us along so your advice is muchly appreciated

I assume you are suggesting a SUV and lodge accommodation.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
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3. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Greetings Andy,

Welcome out west,

Which month will you be arriving? This will help in knowing activities, weather, etc.

Kbec has some great ideas and possible itinerary. Mount Rushmore would be impossible with everything else. Skip Idaho Falls in favor of Park City. I might also add to just visit Monument Valley for enough time to do a backcountry tour and see get a general feel of the area. Then head up to Moab the same day via the Moki Dugway ( though maybe not in an RV) . You could use this extra night at Zion, near the end of your holiday. Or if you're into river rafting, spend the extra day in Moab and go down Westwater Canyon for some class III-IV rapids.

I would also keep trying to look at flights to base this trip out of Salt Lake or Las Vegas if possible. You would cut out some driving in day 1. If you flew into SLC you could go to Yellowstone straight away, which would potentially open up two extra days by scratching Phoenix or Sedona and the repeat of SLC/PC on the way to and from Yellowstone.

The shopping for your wife on this potion will likely be in Salt Lake at City Creek Center, Gateway, or up in Park City on Main Street or the Factory Outlets. Park City will also have fun for your 14-year-old in the way of ziplines, the alpine slide and mountain coaster, and a Winter Olympic bobsled run at the Utah Olympic Park.

Salt Lake City, UT
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908 posts
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4. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

To reiterate what was mentioned above, time of year is of vital importance in determining the viability of your plans, especially when including Yellowstone. Summer is short there, and the park is far less accessible in the offseason.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Thanks again to all.

Sorry I left the month(s) off

Late April & Early May, so I still have plenty of time to put this all together.

I understand a few areas may still not be open.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
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6. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Your biggest concern that time of year will be Yellowstone. Many facilities do not open till later in May. They do start to open the roads in late April, but it is still weather dependent and you may need to adjust your plans if the roads are not open. Hopefully the road from West Yellowstone to Madison and then south to Old Faithful will be open. That is the one they plow first. The road south to the Tetons may not be open though as it goes over a couple high passes.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Thankyou again for your reply.

I understand that that the west entrance is open all year round to West Yellowstone. From that point the road is ploughed the 3rd Friday of April. which is 18th. I am there 28/29-04-14. So hopefully I can get through to Madison, old faithful etc.

I am leaving San Diego 20.01.14, so I will get updates and if it looks like most of yellowstone is still closed down, I can add in days at GC, SLC, Zion etc. (I am actually arriving into LA 09/04/14, so I can start to plan my RV trip then)

Appreciate you advice. It is most helpfull

Regards

Aussie

Andy

Newcastle, Australia
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402 posts
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8. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Why do your trip in a RV? Pricey and inconvenient for the places you want to travel. The places you mention are unbelievable, but do take time to visit them. You will need to book well in advance for in-park accommodation. I would not arrive and seek accommodation on the day. Concentrate on Utah, Nevada and Arizona. In your limited time, you could see and do much. This area is rich in sights and scenery. Leave YNP and GTNP for a later visit.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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9. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Taking an RV from warm California to very cold Yellowstone in April might not be a great idea as you will have to keep the RV plugged in or running at all times to keep the water systems from freezing. Plus there can be storms and snow along the way, which makes driving an RV extremely difficult.

The West Entrance is not open year round, only the North entrance. IF they say the road at West Entrance opens April 19, that is the earliest and most likely there still will be snow and possibly closures at that time. Most services will be closed at that time inside the park. www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/ocd_locale.htm

I would stay in the Southwest portion of the country visiting Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Mesa Verde, and other areas in CO, UT, AZ and NM.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: May I ask for your assistance to provide valuable advice

Again many thanks for you replys

I am more confused now then ever.

My heart was really set on travelling to Yellowstone. I am just not sure now. I dont want my overiding excitment to visit YS effecting my judgement to make a logical call based on expert advice. (Remember I ditched Rushmore based on commonsense)

I mean from arches is it better I go through Denver to Rushmore & skip , GT & YS

Plan A

San Diego - Sedona - GC - GC - Canyonlands - Arches - SLC - YS - YS - GT - Park City - (Bryce)Zion - Zion/North Rim/St George

Plan B

San Diego - Sedona - GC - GC - Canyonlands - Arches - Denver - Denver - Mount Rush - Casper - SLC - (Bryce)Zion - Zion/North Rim/St George

Plan C

May I suggest you put something together as a suggestion. 12 nites where I leave from San Diego & return back to LV.

An important consideration for me is that I will never be back. This is my 1 & only shot of seeing YS so its now or never. For that point that also goes for GC, Zion, etc, etc, so if these experiences (Canyons) are more valued due to seasonal & time factors then thats the path I will take.

So here is a few questions

Is embarking upon this whole journey crazy in a RV. The RV is 24 ft long, so its not a big one.

Will the RV sites in YS be under 5ft snow? I am looking at staying at Madison & Mammoth.

I understand that the loop roads that are open can accomadate RV's.

Do I have to have hook ups? I am very niave with all of this. My winters are +20 degrees celcius.

Will I get any type of YS experience from 28/04/14 - 30/04/14

Same goes for GT from an experience point. I was looking at spending a nite in n around there somewhere. Visiting Snake canyon etc.

Look forward to hear back from you

Regards

Andy