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Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Switzerland
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

We're coming from Switzerland and have the opportunity to make a Grand Circle southwest park tour mid September 2012. Obviously we are too late to get any lodgings in the parks now, so my question is: do I need to book the hotels on our stops now, or is there enough lodging along the route to be flexible and find something as we arrive?

Also, We currently planned for the itinerary below, but we are still flexible and we DO actally have two more days. Any recommendation on where to spend those two additional days?

Day 1 - Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Day 2 - Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon

Day 3 - Bryce Canyon to Torrey

Day 4 - Torrey to Green River

Day 5 - Green River to Moab

Day 6 - Moab to Blanding

Day 7 - Blanding to Kayenta

Day 8 - Kayenta to Page

Day 9 - Page to Tusayan 

Day 10 - Grand Canyon

Day 11 - Tusayan to Sedona

Day 12 - Sedona - Hoover Dam Las Vegas

Thanks in advance for your advise!

Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
1 post
139 reviews
1. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

We recommend you book your hotels now! We are planning a similar trip and in the same area. Started making our firm plans yesterday and found many many hotels are booked solid. We did find some, but it wasn't easy. We had no idea that September is a prime season for this area. Have a great trip and who knows? We may see you there!

Usk, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
101 posts
2. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Are you going to do any hiking? If so, you could spend 2 or 3 days in Zion.

I was there last Oct and Zion and Bryce weren't too crowded.

You may have already seen the below link.

http://www.utah.com/byways/

You'll pass through the Virgin River Gorge on your drive from Vegas to Zion, which is spectacular in its own right.

There are a lot of great drives around Zion alone.

I thought about going back to Southern Utah this year, but I decided to go to your country.

Maybe you have already been to Utah and know about it, but if not you are going to see a great area. I went there for the first time last year and loved it.

Check out this site. This guy hiked across southern Utah and made a video. He has several videos.

www.acrossutah.com/wordpress/?page_id=13

Usk, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
101 posts
3. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

You should read Desert Solitaire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Solitaire

Also, Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon.

amazon.com/Over-Edge-Death-Grand-Canyon/dp/0…

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
Level Contributor
7,727 posts
455 reviews
4. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

As to lodging, make reseravation now. Check at the parks as there could be cancellations. You might get lucky. Lodging inside the National Parks is most important at the Grand Canyon. There are good lodging options in Springdale for Zion and jst outside of Bryce Canyon as well (although I think staying in the Lodge at Bryce Canyon is a plus for the location).

As for your itinerary, I think it is a bit rushed. I would skip the overnight at Green River and head straight to Moab after Torrey (so you will pick up another night). Also not sure why you are staying at Blanding for a night. I would add one night to Zion and at least one more to Moab (3 nigths in Moab would be better). Page and Sedona both deserve more time as well.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
Level Contributor
7,727 posts
455 reviews
5. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Also check out the following link:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28965-c177493/Utah:U…

This will take you to a travel article that was created my many of the regular contributors here in the Utah forum and is a primer of sorts for planning a trip such as yours. There are links included in this article to other TA resources, such as the Top Questions where you will find sample itineraries. I think this article will be of great value to you in planning your trip.

As for the books that 36mike36 recommended, both are good books, but neither are really trip planning material. They do both provide interesting insight into the area. However, I did not read Desert Solitude unitl after my third or fourth trip to the region. I do not think that I would have appreciated it at all without first hand knowledge of the area and the connection to the land that comes with actually being there. Just my two cents.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
Level Contributor
16,548 posts
170 reviews
6. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

I'm with Ohiohicks in that you are too rushed.

Try this:

1- LV to Zion

2- Zion

3- Zion morning, to Bryce afternoon

4-Bryce morning on to Torrey in the afternoon

5- Capitol Reef stay Torrey (or on to Moab in afternoon)

6- on to Moab see canyonlands on the way there

7- Arches stay Moab

8- Assuming Monument valley, stay Kayenta if you need to

9- to Page

10- to Grand Canyon

11 Grand Canyon

12 to Sedona

13- Sedona

14 to LV via Hoover Dam

There are cancellations in the parks, calling direct once you are here is a good way to get in at the last minute. Make reservations everywhere. There are not a lot of options.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,162 posts
250 reviews
7. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Agreeing. Way too rushed. Kbecjeans plan makes much more sense. Finding lodging could also be a determining factor, but try to follow her plan. And by all means, get busy booking all lodging right now.

Switzerland
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
8. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Thank you all for your competent replies - it's highly appreciated. Knowing how much time these trip takes is difficult when you don't know the region, so this will really help us to make the best out of our time in the Southwest. We'll stick to Kbecjeans' recommendations and start booking hotels today!

See you there, or maybe when you come to Switzerland one day I can show you the ropes ... :)

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
Level Contributor
7,727 posts
455 reviews
9. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

Yes, Kbec has laid out a better itinerary. Still hard to fit in all into the time that you have, but certainly an improvement.

BTW, artys007, I forgot to say "welcome to the forums!"

Switzerland
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
10. Re: Short term Grand Circle planning - itinery and hotels?

I managed to get lodging for everywhere except for the Monument Valley (Kayenta or Mexican Hat) where all lodgings seem to be booked solid on Fri Sept 14 :(

Since I love photography and really have the Mittens on my list, I still would like to catch sunrise or sunset pics. We're coming down from Moab and going to Page the next day. If we cannot find accommodation, should we go for late check-in in Page? Any idea?

Edited: 30 July 2012, 03:23