East & North out of Vegas
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Jan 30, 2012 11:00 AM Last Post By: Marocfan
Jan 19, 2012 4:53 AM
East & North out of VegasHi All,
My brother & I are planning a trip to Vegas in April & plan to spend a week driving 'The Grand Loop' East & North out of Vegas taking in Grand Canyon, Durango Colorado, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon & Zion National Park.
If anyone has any ideas of interesting places to see/eat.stay along the way it would be greatly appreciated.
The trip is for my brothers 40th. My Father is also coming. I have travelled extensively through SE Asia & Australia in my youth but this is my first time in the USA!
We will probably be travelling by car unless I can convince them to let me hire a motorcycle!
Many thanks, Ian
Jan 19, 2012 5:38 AM
Jan 19, 2012 5:51 AM
2Quick lesson on geography:
Las Vegas to Durango is approximately the same distance as London to Aberdeen.
You want to fit sites in an area basically the size of the UK in a week.
If you plan on driving to each place and taking a couple pics, you'll be fine.
If you plan on spending any reasonable amount of time in any of the parks, you need to cut back, not add more.
I'd suggest dropping Durango (out of the way) and Lake Powell (it's a big lake), at the least.
Jan 19, 2012 7:37 AM
3American travel is mostly on the Interstate highway system in the part of the west you are going to... Be aware that the Blue Highways can be in poor condition and poorly served... On the Interstate there are motels and resturants of all kinds... Motel 6 and Super 8 are the cheapest... I would avoid "independant" motels...as they can be in bad shape and oftena are part of the sex/drug trade locally...not exactly dangerous...but unpleasant at 3am if a fight breaks out...
If you want a non-MickyD's eating experience...ask at the gas station if there are any locally popular restruants in town...every town as that "one place" that everyone goes to...
Zion is a short drive from Vegas through the desert and the Virgin River Gorge...Stay at St George if you want a nice town Then drive to Zion as a day trip...and Bryce and Durango are futher off still... Not much in Durango...
The Grand Canyon is a must see...you can stay at Bright Angel Lodge ...or splurge and stay at El Tovar...which is a big log lodge...Or you can just go there to eat and drink ... The Canyon area is walking distance from the Canyon village...on the rim really. But there are cars and shuttles...for futher "view points"... Try hiking down the Canyon ...but remember to take water and that up hill is harder than down hill...
Bryce is a lonely little place in the middle of Utah farmland...a bit of a drive...Amazing...but an anomaly that is off by itself... Zion is OK...but you have to get out of the car to appreciated it...it is on a highway that is used as a cut through by locals...so its a mixed bag of traffic there...
I would include Death Valley which is really amazing for the vistas... spend some time there...really a day trip from Vegas...
Renting a car in Vegas is easy and cheaper than most places in the US...be sure to get unlimited mileage as the distances in the American west are long...but the scenery is always great and ever changing... Just the drive will be interesting...
Jan 19, 2012 8:07 AM
Jan 19, 2012 8:09 AM
Jan 19, 2012 8:44 AM
Jan 19, 2012 8:49 AM
7The burgers are okay. Fries (potatoes) are okay. They like fried.
You'll see simple fare out there. Mexican and Chinese are alternatives.
There was a passable Chinese place in Hurricane, Utah, just outside Zion.
Pretty good Mexican in Kanab.
If you crave coffee, beware. Terrible everywhere other than Starbucks.
Jan 19, 2012 11:18 AM
Jan 19, 2012 11:47 AM
9Personally, I've learned the hard way to avoid anything more adventurous than a chicken sandwhich at restaurants in small Utah towns. Keep it to simple, basic, American fare and the food's alright. Everything else I've had has been terrible approximations of whatever they were calling it on the menu. I suppose you might do a little better in the bigger towns like Kanab, and Springdale just outside of Zion has some pretty good more sophisticated options. Otherwise, keep your expectations low and they'll likely be met.
Around Monument Valley you get into Navajo country, so you should try a Navajo Taco - basically a huge piece of fried bread with an equally huge pile of taco toppings piled on, it ain't gourmet, but it is delicious.
Durango and especially Flagstaff (which isn't on your list, but you'll be passing through) are considerably more cosmopolitan with a variety of excellent restaurants. Flagstaff in particular has an assortment of great options way out of proportion to it's relatively small size.
I agree with some others that you should drop Durango and Lake Powell. Durango is a nice enough town and there is a lot to do in the area, but you won't have time to do any of it - and April is a rough time of year (skiiing is winding down, everywhere not snow-covered will be muddy). Lake Powell is strictly a drive-by attraction unless you have a full day or more to spare on a boat rental or tour. You have better options.
Instead, from Bryce take hwy. 12 east through Escalante, Hwy 24 through Capitol Reef, then turn south at Hanksville and take 95 and 261 to Mexican Hat (Monument Valley). That's a full days drive, but VASTLY more interesting than Lake Powell. If you feel like you're missing out on hiking Antelope Canyon, there are alternative hikes all along this route that you'll find just as interesting. Even dropping Durango and Lake Powell, you'll find that the loop as I've outlined will be a busy 10 days.
I would NOT consider this route by motorcycle in April. No matter how you do it, you'll be traversing a good deal of high terrain where cold and even snow are very possible. Unless that sounds like fun, I'd give it a miss.
BTW, contary to #3, you will not be on interstate highways for most of this trip. From Vegas to St. George, then from Flagstaff to Vegas (actually part of that is not interstate, but it's four-lane divided so close enough). The rest will be on two-lane secondary roads, which are generally in fine condition unless you hit a late-season winter storm. I also would strongly disagree with the charactization of Bryce and Zion offered by #3 (Zion is way better than "OK", and I wouldn't do either as a day-trip from St. George, for starters) but that's more subjective.
Jan 19, 2012 1:18 PM
Jan 19, 2012 2:04 PM
Jan 19, 2012 2:14 PM
12We did a 4-day loop tour from Vegas which covered the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion and had ample time at each place, without rushing.
On the way to Grand Canyon you might like to stop at Seligman, a little town on the old Route 66, which has heaps of tacky tourist souvenirs. But you're a tourist, and it's a bit of fun. Try a hot dog at the hot-dog stand there with the enormous menu.
Jan 19, 2012 4:04 PM
13I've traveled by car through the area you're planning to visit, including most of FlagStuff's (excellent) itinerary, and in good weather it would be vehicular orgasm to travel it by motorcycle. Hwy. 12 in Utah is one of the world's great drives, and if you rent a car and the weather turns out bright and sunny you'll be hating the fact that you're in a cage. So here's what I suggest:
Plan your trip so that you can swap car for bike at the last minute if the weather forecast is good. You can cancel a car rental on minimal notice with no penalty -- I'm not sure if this is true if you purchase through a British rental broker, but it's certainly true if you book directly through a major US rental company or through a major online booking engine (Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, etc.) Dunno what the policies are of motorcycle rental firms; they may be less flexible. Check the weather forecast for multiple locations along your route -- elevation varies greatly in the places you plan to travel, and therefore temperature too. Consider getting a bike for a loop west from Vegas into Death Valley (low elevation, warm), and a car for a loop east (high elevation, cool).
Jan 30, 2012 11:00 AM
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