Trip to Las Vegas and Monument Valley
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jul 9, 2012 5:20 PM Last Post By: geo_nerd
Jul 8, 2012 4:05 AM
I'm hoping for some help and advice re a trip my partner and I are hoping to make next year (possibly June/July time). We are open to a range of ideas and advice, however we both want to visit Las Vegas and Monument Valley. So we figure a road trip (perhaps starting and finishing in Las Vegas) would be a good idea. We love exploring the natural world, so looking at a few maps we noted that Zion NP and Bryce Canyon are en route which may be good to visit. However at this stage of planning it really is quite a blank canvas so any ideas on the following would be much appreciated:
- When is the best or cheapest time to visit these areas?
- What is a suitable route for such a road trip and roughly how long should we consider spending in each place?
- Are there any hidden gems, or places off the beaten track that are worth visiting that are often overlooked?
- Are there any B&Bs, hotels or motels that are worth staying in?
- I'm vegetarian - are there any decent restaurants that serve good veggie food in some/all of those areas?
- Any tips/advice to get the most out of such a trip?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks in advance,
Jul 8, 2012 4:46 AM
Probably four nights between Monument Valley and Springdale (Zion NP) is enough - inclusive.
Towns like Springdale (Zion NP) are cool towns and will have a lot of good dining options.
Jul 8, 2012 6:08 AM
2I suggest you expand the above loop tour to 6 nights out & to Include the Grand Canyon South Rim on the way to MV. Plan your first overnight in the Park for sunset/sunrise...Drive the 64/89/160 to Join Ian's route... Time your arrival at MVfor "evening light"and go on to Mexican Hat to lodge...Most places the Vegetarian options will be rather limited ... Plan on packing a cooler with supplies purchased in Las Vegas... Happy trails ... carracar
Jul 8, 2012 6:13 AM
Jul 8, 2012 6:42 AM
4How much time will you have?
IMO, a week will allow you to see a respectable slice of Southern Utah, but you could easily spend a month...
I'd aim for early to mid May. The lower elevations start to get rather hot buy June.
If time allows, a good loop would be: Vegas - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon (S. Rim) - MV and/or Valley of the Gods - Natural Bridges - Hite Crossing - Hanksville - Capitol Reef - Boulder - Escalante - Bryce - Zion - Vegas. There are hundred of neat places and things to see and do along the way: Rock gardens, slot canyons, waterfalls, etc.
Jul 8, 2012 11:44 AM
Jul 8, 2012 12:35 PM
Jul 8, 2012 12:48 PM
7Two weeks isn't bad unless you're a big hiker. That eats up serious time especially at Zion, which is quick to see "casually" but has miles and miles of great hikes.
How long is "a few days" in Vegas? Assuming you mean three days and assuming you are not a hardcore hiker, I'd do:
4- Drive to Grand Canyon - South Rim
5- Grand Canyon
6- Drive to Monument Valley (personally I'd skip it, but you say it's a "must")
7- Drive to Moab
8- Visit Arches/Canyonlands (from base in Moab)
9- Visit Arches/Canyonlands (from base in Moab)
10- Drive to Bryce Canyon via Highway 12, visit Bryce Canyon in evening
11- Visit Bryce Canyon some more, Drive to Zion, visit Zion
12- Visit Zion
13- Drive back to Vegas
Whoops, looks like I'm a day short. I don't feel like editing all the numbers, but I'd probably add that day to either Moab (say, to go rafting) or Zion (if you're big on hiking).
Jul 8, 2012 12:59 PM
8When is the best or cheapest time to visit these areas?
The best is late September through mid-October. The kids are back in school, the worst of the heat has finally broken in the lower-elevation deserts, while the higher country will feature changing fall colors. Late Spring is second best, although it can be terribly windy. If there is a cheaper time, it is the dead of winter - January and February.
What is a suitable route for such a road trip and roughly how long should we consider spending in each place?
I like the general route suggested by others above, modified as you continue your research. There is a lifetime of stuff to see and do. I think a 7-8 days is a minimum for the full loop suggested above, 4-5 days for just GC/byrce/Zion, 10-12 days if you wanted to include Arches and Canyonlands (you should!) or two to three weeks (up to a lifetime) to really explore the marquee attractions plus getting a bit off the beaten track.
Are there any hidden gems, or places off the beaten track that are worth visiting that are often overlooked?
YES, thousands (if you're willing to walk a few miles). But before I start prattling on about every lesser-known gem in Utah and Arizona, I'd like to see an itinerary so I know your main route and how much time you'll have for exploring and detours. I know you're not there yet, but the suggestions above are great and will more than get you started with a basic itinerary.
Are there any B&Bs, hotels or motels that are worth staying in?
There are B&B's scattered about, especially in the main tourist areas. B&Bs in the US are not budget accommodations, typically they're small, usually reasonably charming, owner-operated lodges that serve breakfast. They can be informal or very luxurious, but they're not usually a bargain. You'll find at least a few in and around Springdale, Moab, Bluff, Flagstaff, Torrey, possibly one or two around Tropic or Escalante.
I'm vegetarian - are there any decent restaurants that serve good veggie food in some/all of those areas?
Yes and no. In the larger towns you'll do fine. Springdale and Moab, and especially Flagstaff, will have great options. Other towns, you'll be able to find something, but I wouldn't characterize what you're likely find as "good veggie food". It'll be more like meaty food served without the meat (bean burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, and the like). Usually most restaurants even in small towns will have one or two token vegetarian options, beyond that, you may have to ask for something. You're probably used to that to some extent. Self-catering at least part-time is a good option, just on budget and logistical grounds, and from a dietary standpoint as well.
Any tips/advice to get the most out of such a trip?
Take your time. It is better to see fewer places well, than to spend most of your trip in the car trying to complete a list. Don't get totally hung up on the iconic or well-marketed stuff - Monument Valley or Antelope Canyon, for example. Not that there's anything wrong with the famous locations, but I'd spend a another week in Canyonlands before another day in Monument Valley.
Jul 8, 2012 1:05 PM
9Forgot to address the vegeratian thing:
If you're a super careful vegetarian, be careful at Mexican restaurants because they often use lard in their tortillas and/or beans.
You should have no trouble finding decent veggie options in Vegas, Moab, and Springdale (Zion), and at the park-operated restaurants at Grand Canyon. Other places, you might want to self-cater out of a cooler.
Jul 8, 2012 1:57 PM
10Wow so much useful information and itinery ideas to digest. It's perfect to give us a starter for refining our plans. I think we need to have a bit of a think and do a little research based on the ideas you have all given. However I suspect we may well be back with more questions.Thank you so much.
Jul 8, 2012 10:34 PM
11Check out the itineraries for various guided tours from Vegas, like this one. They will give you an idea of the best routes to follow.
Jul 9, 2012 2:06 AM
12If you can find the time put http://www.nps.gov/cach/index.htm (Canyon de Chelly National Monument) on your list also, amazing place!
Jul 9, 2012 8:43 AM
13Claire, here are a few of the hidden fun spots in the area, and a gob of links to investigate. Pick a few that look good and enjoy!
Jul 9, 2012 4:18 PM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$105.78 per night
(2 star Hotel)
From US$89.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$87.20 per night