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National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Negril, Jamaica
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National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

So we're going to be in the Las Vegas area for 9 days over Thanksgiving (Sat->Sun). The main purpose of the trip was to go to Death Valley but nine days is a little much, so we were wondering where else we could go. (We're not going to waste time in the city itself.)

My research suggested the following spots might have decent weather at this time of the year in addition to Death Valley:

Mojave National Preserve

Joshua Tree

Zion (sort of on the cold side)

I was thinking 4 days in Death Valley, 2 in Joshua Tree and 2 in Zion but am open to feedback.

We'll be skipping Bryce because it looks pretty cold/snowy at that time of the year. We've never driven on snow/ice and don't want to make this a first time. I've been to Yosemite before and I think we'll skip that too on this trip because the Tioga Pass will be closed. It's a bit far anyway...

So few questions:

1. How many days should we spend at Death Valley? I figure at least 3, but was wondering if we should do more. We would like to see the whole park (not every sq. mile obviously but the roads driveable in a normal car) and do a few day hikes. Any thoughts on Stovepipe vs Panamint will be appreciated as well. (We already have reservations at both for the whole week that we can adjust.)

2. Is Mojave National Preserve worth seeing? If so, how many days? Just drive through? Would this be as impressive after Death Valley?)

3. Same questions for Joshua Tree - how many days? If the weather and scenery are decent, we'd like to do one or two nice day hikes? How does Joshua Tree compare to Death Valley?

4. Is it a good time for Zion? Should we do 2 days or more?

5. I suspect Kings Canyon & Sequoia will also be cold and will have the possibility of snow?

6. Is it worth it to go up to Mono Lake and/or does the closure of the Tioga Pass nix it?

7. We've been to the Grand Canyon so will skip that but if anyone thinks that substituting some of the AZ or UT parks for Joshua Tree and Mojave after Death Valley will be better, we're open to suggestions. (The primary considerations are weather and proximity to Vegas. Quality of scenery is a close second.)

Thanks!

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Green Bay, Wisconsin
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1. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

It all depends on what interests you. Some people would spend the whole 9 days in Vegas, partying. Others (maybe like yourself) don't want anything to do with Vegas and only use it for the airport.

Check out the Valley of Fire photos on Google to see if that would interest you. Also, Hoover Dam.

Irvine, California
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2. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

You should ask for opinions on the optimum number of days required at each location on the forums for the NPs you're looking at visiting.

Four days at DV would be too much in my opinion. You can see virtually all that's worth seeing in half that time. On the other hand, you could easily fill four days at Zion if some of the longer hikes there interest you.

Negril, Jamaica
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3. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Thanks - we will definitely be checking out Hoover Dam on a day trip (maybe on our last day there). Valley of Fire also looks pretty neat - maybe we will check it out on the way to/from Zion.

And yes, we are only using Vegas for the airport. :)

Encinitas...
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for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
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4. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Unless you have a 4x4, generally the Mojave Preserve can be seen as a drive thru.You go right thru it between DVNP and JTNP. There are hiking trails but they are few and fairly spread out. Much of the cool stuff is accessed via dirt roads.A 4x4 would open up the possibility of running the Mojave Road from Laughlin to Barstow.

The Mojave Preserve has more Joshua Trees than Joshua Tree National Park.

JTNP takes a couple days. Near Palm Springs is some great hiking at the indian canyons,Ladder Canyon, and even the top of the tram if an early winter snow has not rolled thru yet. Cactus to Clouds is a great hike (one of the hardest dayhikes in the country) but there is a window of opportunity between it being too hot, to having snow, depending on the month you do it.

DVNP is a huge park and takes several days to explore. You can rent Jeeps at Farrabees in the park.

Mono Lake is not effected by a Tioga closure. Mono Lake sits at the base of the pass. A couple years ago with the lack of snow Tioga was open on New Years day. Saw the signs on 395 as I did a loop of DVNP.

I would not miss Zion. Average day temps in November are in the 50's 60's. Great hiking weather.

Edited: 26 August 2013, 19:50
Negril, Jamaica
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5. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Thanks, dez40. Few follow-up questions:

1. Is that couple of days for JTNP incl. the Palm Springs hiking? Does the Park sort of blend in with Palm Springs? If we had to pick between Palm Springs/JTNP, which one should we pick?

2. Is it worth it doing a big loop as follows - Vegas to Mojave/JTNP/Palm Springs to Death Valley to Mono Lake to Zion? Or will we be biting off more than we can chew? In particular, I wonder if you think the detour to Mono Lake is worth it especially given that we will probably end up skipping Sequoia and Kings Canyon which seem to be on the way (though I believe one has to go around to the West from DVNP to enter?). We can always just leave Mono Lake for another trip.

Right now I'm leaning to 4 days for DVNP, 2 for JTNP/Palm Springs and another 2-3 for Zion but am open to changing that.

Thanks again!

Encinitas...
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for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
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6. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

I would probably leave out Mono Lake on this trip.It would be pretty far out of the way, and you might later want to combine a trip over Tioga Pass with a trip north of Mono Lake to Bodie State Park in the warmer months.Sequoia cannot be accessed from the east. You need to go up the central valley to get there.

PS and JTNP are less than an hour apart. There is great hiking near both. I would try for three days in the PS/JTNP area.

The indian canyons are nice in that you will find flowing streams, waterfalls and palm trees. JTNP is completely different with more boulders and peaks with long views.

Pics of each.

https:/…

https:/…JoshuaTreeNationalPark

After PS try driving to Lone Pine,(Alabama Hills,Western Movie Museum)then cut across DVNP. From DVNP you could head to Zion, then return back to Vegas.

If you look thru the Galleries section of the picasa site, you can see pics of all the places mentioned for some more ideas for destinations.

Negril, Jamaica
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7. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Thanks - I guess if we do 4 days at Death Valley and 3 in JTNP/PS, we will be a little short of time for Zion - particularly if we go to the Hoover Dam. Maybe we'll leave Zion for another trip? Though maybe Zion is preferable to JTNP/PS?

Encinitas...
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8. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

All depends on what you want to see. November is a great time to be visiting all those places.The Narrows at Zion may be a little cool, but rental gear is available in town.

www.zionadventures.com

Zion is just short of three hours from Vegas.

The weather in Palm Springs is usually very nice that time of year.

Edited: 28 August 2013, 16:48
Salt Lake City, Utah
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9. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

Zion is way better than the CA stuff....if you are fit. If you are a couch potato then choose accordingly.

Black Canyon below Hoover has good hikes...accessed by rental boat. Weather is very nice in Nov.

Edited: 29 August 2013, 06:19
North Carolina
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10. Re: National Parks around Vegas over Thanksgiving

I'd visit Zion. It shouldn't be all that cold in November. We've actually been there in December and found it nice. We visited Mojave in December of last year, and the weather was quite nice. I'd probably avoid Bryce Canyon in the wintertime, and maybe even at Thanksgiving. It is more prone than the other two places I've mentioned to have snow. We know, since we were in a blizzard there once in December and it is located at a higher elevation. Stick with places that are at a lower elevation and you'll be fine.