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Help needed to round trip, 11 days out of Las Vegas in RV

Copenhagen, Denmark
3 posts
Help needed to round trip, 11 days out of Las Vegas in RV

Hello we need some advices for our vacation next summer from 3 to 29 of july 2019

We are a family of 2 adults, and our three children aged 12, 17 and 19.

we will arrive in San Fransisco 3 july and our plan is this, so far.

One way rental car, from SF to Las Vegas 6 july to 13 july

3-6 San Fransisco. Alcatraz, Pier 39, Golden Gate bridge, cycle around and just recover from the long flight if possible.

6-11 On higway one to Los Angeles. Monterey whalewatching, Hearst Castle. And maybe three days in Los Angeles.

11-14 Las Vegas. Daytrip to hoover dam, and or maybe Death Valley.

14-24 Roundtrip out of Las Vegas in standard Rental RV 25'.

This is the hard part for us. We have something we really want to experience and maybe in the following order or vice versa, Such as Zion, Bryce, Lake Powell (Wahweap) Four Corners, Mesa Verde (CO) and then back to Las Vegas via Grand Canyon.

24-29 New York City

29- Copenhagen (Saving money for next trip)

Regarding the days in UTAH, We consider this.

2 days in Zion, one overnight

1 day in Bryce, maybe a night nearby somewhere.

1-2 days in wahweap for powerboating on Lake Powell, and if possible a night on a beach somewhere in tent.

2 days to get to Four corners and Mesa Verde

1 day to get to Grand Canyon

2 days in grand canyon at last.

Is this totally crazy or does it make sense. We would appreciate your advice.

How about Boondocking after Wahweap towards Mesa Verde. Is this safe out in nowhere, or could there be any unwanted guests if we would try that, for the experience?

Thanks in advance

Christa And Søren

3 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
22,174 posts
42 reviews
11 helpful votes
1. Re: Help needed to round trip, 11 days out of Las Vegas in RV

First of all you should reconsider renting an RV for the Utah portion of this trip. You will find it very inconvenient when actually visiting the parks. Parking will be difficult to find. The only people who will have a decent view of all the wonderful scenery you'll be driving by are the passengers in the front seat. RVs are slow, gas guzzlers. Then there's the work that goes into RV travel - mundane and sometimes unpleasant stuff like emptying the grey and black water tanks, going thru the process of putting everything away each time you move the RV, the process of leveling the RV, hooking up, etc. every time you stop for the night. With your older teens, you basically have 4 adults. The sleeping arrangements for 4 adults can be less than desirable.

That said, let's take a look at your plan.

For a full day at any destination, you need two overnights. So putting your proposed itinerary in to that context, here's what it would look like.

Las Vegas to Zion NP - You want two days here. So you need 3 overnights. One overnight will only get you two partial days.

Zion to Bryce - You want one day here. So you need 2 overnights.

Bryce to Page/Lake Powell - Renting a power boat isn't cheap. The price this year is $550 per day. That's something to consider. Camping on beach with a tent at Lake Powell is done all the time by visitors. You will need a porta-a-potty with you. Again, one day is two nights. Two days is three nights.

Lake Powell to Four Corners and Mesa Verde. You should two nights at Mesa Verde to give you one full day there. Four Corners is a drive thru stop that's somewhat out of the way. It will cost you $5 per person for a 5 minute photo op at Four Corners.

Mesa Verde to Grand Canyon. Again, if you want two days at the South Rim Grand Canyon, you need three nights there.

So if you think of your travel in how much time you need at each destination, 11 days isn't enough time.

The region between Wahweap and Mesa Verde is primarily Native American Land - meaning it's private land. Camp on the reservation without permission may mean an unwanted guest in the form of the local police. That would not be a pleasant encounter. There may be some public land. You would have to do a lot of research to know how to access it without traversing private land. Also, boondocking places may not be suitable to access by RV - dirt roads.

Level Contributor
3,419 posts
45 reviews
35 helpful votes
2. Re: Help needed to round trip, 11 days out of Las Vegas in RV

You need a minimum of 2 nights at Springdale for Zion and 3 nights would be much better. In addition to needing the time to see Zion because there is a lot to see, you need the time to deal with the reality of the crowds and mandatory shuttles there.

You need 2 nights at Cortez to see Mesa Verrde. The drive time within the park means you need a full day to see much.

You only need 1 night at the Grand Canyon unless you want to do major hiking there.

As Connie says, the UT section of the trip would be much better without an RV. You are trying to cover a lot of ground on a tight schedule and dealing with an RV will make it much more time consuming. If an RV is top priority I'd drop Mesa Verde.

Four Corners is "meh". However, you are passing near Monument Valley which is amazing. Ideally you would want a night there.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
68,333 posts
250 reviews
250 helpful votes
3. Re: Help needed to round trip, 11 days out of Las Vegas in RV

Southwest and Grand Circle Trip Planning

Everyone wants to visit the parks in the western USA. It's something that every family can and should do at some time. These vacations can be life changing and bonding experiences. Or they can be nightmares.

Most travelers equate being in the parks and outdoor environments with hiking. It's important to understand that hiking is not a requirement for enjoying the wilderness. Time is. This cannot be understated. One cannot begin to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the national parks unless and until they spend time there. It can be as simple as sitting at a single view point for hours, or as elaborate as day long hikes or extended back country camping trips. But arriving at a view point, snapping a picture, and driving on (a la Clark Griswold) is simply not going to do it. At the very least, most of the national parks in the southwest need a day or longer, just to self tour the many attractions and view points therein. Sunset and sunrise are generally the most peaceful and stunning times of day in the sun's rapidly changing light. So overnight stays at, or as close as possible, will enhance a visit to any park.

Logistically, it takes about a half day or longer to travel between most of the parks in the 4 corners states. Often, the scenic drives are enticing enough to warrant additional stops and detours along the way. Regardless, it takes at least two nights at any park or destination to have just one full day there. Many trip planners fail to understand this.

Driving at night in the high desert region is strongly discouraged. Roads are desolate. Ambient lighting is non existent meaning highways are very dark. Wildlife of all sorts and sizes populate the roads from dusk until dawn. Even domestic farm animals like cattle and sheep wander on the pavement.

When trip planners are also expressing a specific desire to include hiking as a regular activity at the parks, and asking for advice on which trails to focus on, they need to realize that they will probably need multiple days and nights at the stop in order to do the hiking or whatever other activities, beyond quick snapshots, they have in mind.

Everyone wants to 'see as much as they can'. What they fail to realize is that by adding more places and activities to a list, without increasing available time, they wind up seeing less and reducing the quality of their vacation time. It's far better to plan more time at fewer parks and destinations, than to rush around and do little more than touch all the bases.

Everyone wants to stay 'off the beaten path' and avoid the places that are 'touristy'. The path that's well worn is that way because it includes the best places already. If you're planning to tour the parks, you are by definition, a tourist. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you insist on avoiding the most popular sites and activities, you'll be planning a second tier, inferior, vacation. Do the top tier first, then come back to explore more in depth.

So when planning your family vacation in the 4 corners region keep a few points in mind.

0. Less is more. Fewer parks and destinations will mean more quality time at the places you choose. Odds are, if you do a proper vacation at just one or two places, you'll return again to focus on different parks in the future.

0. Advance planning and reservations will save you time and money. Park lodges book up as much as a year in advance. The most sought after accommodations go to those who plan and commit the earliest.

0. Traveling by RV is slower and usually more costly than using a car and traditional hotels and lodging. Even campsites book months in advance.

0. Information found on the Internet is helpful, but needs to be verified. Add 30% to most map app drive time estimates. Use park websites along with traveler review and forum sites like TripAdvisor. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last. But there is much you can learn from folks who have been there and done that.

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