Arizona, Las Vegas & Utah Sightseen
May 11, 2007 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Road trip Kansas -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Utah -> Colorado -> Kansas (May 21'st - 27'th). We need recommendation and advice with accommodation, attractions, any things else.

Thank you everyone for your input to my earlier post. As per your suggestions we have decided to drop LA from our itinerary. Anyway I compiled this post to be a complete post (including details from my last post), so you don't have to go back and see it)

Four International college students (over 21) from Kansas plans to go on a road trip Kansas -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Utah -> Colorado -> Kansas (May 21'st - 27'th). We need recommendation and advice with accommodation, attractions, any things else.

What we have
- Mazda prodigy 1993
- 2 Drivers
- GPS Unit
- AAA membership
- Sprint Mobile Phone
- 2 or more Digital Cameras
- Laptop

- Leaving Kansas on 21'st (5AM) and arriving in Grand Canyon around (4PM)
- Spending 22'nd sight seen in Grand Canyon (and Arizona)
- Leaving Grand Canyon on 23'rd (around 7AM) and arrive at Las Vegas around 2PM
- Spend the 23'rd night at Las Vegas
- Leaving Las Vegas on 24'th (around 8AM) and arriving at Utah around 1PM and look around
- Spend the 25'th and 26'th in Utah
- Leaving Utah on 26'th (around 1PM) and arriving at Denver, Colorado around 11PM
- Leave Colorado on 27'th (around 7AM) and head back to Kansas

1) Please give your comments about the itinerary. It's adjustable as long as the max is 7 days.

2) we are on a budget. so we need to find cheap accommodation.

3) Please let us know things to see in Grand Canyon, Utah (Specially in Utah we would like to see a Dinosaurs Cave or a museum) and Las Vegas (what are the place in Las Vegas we should see)

4) Tips about the attractions? (I read a review about the sky walk been a total rip-off) Any more tips like this? Where can I find coupons for attractions, meals and hotels?

5) In Utah what National Parks and where in it should we visit?

6) What are the scenic drives and en routes that we should take?

7) Places to eat?

8) We will be traveling in a Mazda prodigy 1993. Any car care tips for a long trip? what should we take with us?

10) Any general tips and trick that will be useful for us.

Thanks you all for reading this long post
posted by WizKid to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, this is going to be a fantastic trip. I have done the drive between Arizona, Nevada and Utah many times and it is very different from anywhere else in North America. This is the best time of year to be traveling through Utah because it is not too hot yet.

I live in Utah and I can suggest a couple things:

Zion’s National park can be accessed from the I15 about 20 miles out side of Cedar City. Once in Zion’s you can see all kinds of red rock monuments. There is great hiking all through Zion’s if you so choose.

If you have time to go to Moab (about 5 hours south east of Salt Lake City) you should really do it. It is hard to describe Moab with words, you just have to see it.

Once you are closer to Salt Lake, it is worth seeing the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. This is a little island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake with some great attractions.

There are so many other places you can visit in Utah. Like Park City, Snowbird Ski resort (you can take a tram to the top and walk around), and Wasatch Mountain range to name a few.

Of course there are plenty of Mormon tourist attractions worth visiting even if you are not Mormon. For example, Temple Square and the Tabernacle.

These are just a few, I can give you more examples if you can narrow down the activities you want to do. Like hiking, swimming, camping, fishing or just driving.

Finally, if you can make the time, Yellowstone National Park is only a few short hours (maybe 5ish) away and is always worth the drive. This time a year is amazing in Yellowstone.

Hope that helps! Have a great drive, you won't be disappointed!
posted by birdlips at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2007

The skywalk is on the north/west side of the canyon closer to vegas. I'd skip that. Although the South Rim is overcrowded with tourist, the views are better. That part is a national park so the entry fee is pretty fixed and not subject to discount. There's shit like an IMAX and the World's Most Expensive McDonalds. Skip that stuff and just gaze out over the cliff.

In Vegas, there's the trip down strip. Unless there's a convnetion you should be able to find a decent rate at the Excalibur on the south side of the strip, or the Flamingo at center strip.

If you leave early enough from Grand Canyon you can make it to Hoover Dam and do the tour. When I was on the road between AZ and NV a year or so ago, there's a lame department of homeland security checkpoint that slows you down before you get to the dam.

My favorite part of Utah is Zion National Park. Awesome rock formations and no one knows about it. It is just a few hours away from the Nevada state line.

Make sure your car's cooling system is up for the trip. Check the coolant levels before you leave each morning. The desert is not the best place to overheat.
posted by birdherder at 7:52 AM on May 11, 2007

Oh and take lots of water with you. If you get stuck on the side of the road, the heat creeps up on you FAST.
posted by birdlips at 7:54 AM on May 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for suggetions...

We are not hardcore hikers, hunters or campers. :-)
Anyway we like to drive and see the beauty of the nature.
Since you are from Utah can you pls suggest me some good Dinosaurs Cave or a Dinosaurs museum

The A/C in out car is not the best, but it works. How will the temperature be in these days (end of may)?
posted by WizKid at 8:06 AM on May 11, 2007

Just about everything in southern Utah. Arches (get there right when they open if you want a camp site, otherwise motels are plentiful in Moab), explore trails around Moab (dinosaur tracks are usually marked on trails!), Zion, Hike to a waterfall in the desert in Escalante. You should probably skip Canyonlands (which is completely amazing) because it's mostly ORV accessible and difficult to travel around in during a short trip. Bryce canyon. This is the perfect time to go to Utah and I am really jealous.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:39 AM on May 11, 2007

I did a very similar road trip (but starting in Pittsburgh) a few years back. In Vegas, we stayed at the Travelodge right across the street from the Bellagio. We slept 4 guys for $40. The room sucked, and the beds sucked, but we were only there for a few hours, and were so tired that we didn't care.

4 corners is horrible, but the drive through Arizona is absolutely beautiful. The view from the Navajo Bridge is amazing, as well.

We found that the best times we had were in the small towns we stopped in - seeing as you're starting in Kansas, those may or may not be of interest to you.

Oh, and as a recent visitor to Salt Lake City, you should definitely stop there - it's a fantastic town.
posted by god hates math at 8:46 AM on May 11, 2007

There are a number of beautiful hikes in Zion that are short but with astounding views. If you are feeling a little more adventurous you can hike Angels Landing. The hike is not too long but is fairly steep. And the final stretch is on some very exposed rock. If either of you are very afraid of heights it might be sketchy. I would HIGHLY recommend visiting Zion - it is absolutely AMAZING.

If you adjust your route to Denver a little and go through Durango, in Colorado, you can visit Mesa Verde National Park. It's a small park with Anasazi Cliff Dwellings that I believe are some of the oldest human structures in North America. And it is on top of an incredible mesa with astounding views of the surrounding desert. And Durango is a very fun place to spend a day.

I've only camped at either place. If you are willing to camp you should make reservations immediately. Though I can't say I would recommend it. It is far from the solitary, commune-with-nature sort of experience when there are 100 tents jammed next to each other. For Zion you can stay at any number of lodgings in Springdale, Utah. It is just outside the park and there are free shuttles all day.

This site has a lot of info about dinosaur stuff in Utah. The only attraction I've seen personally is the Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument, which is amazing, and currently closed.

On your way out I-70 to Denver you can easily visit Arches National Park. It's a smaller national park with plenty of incredible things to see just from the roadside. A short and pleasant hike will get you to Delicate Arch which is amazing.

You can stay in Moab if you are visiting Arches. There are any number of motels, hotels, bed and breakfast type places and a handful of interesting restaurants. Not quite Durango, but still a pretty fun little town.

The temperature down south will probably be creeping toward 90 by the end of the month.
posted by Grundlebug at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2007

It is gonna be warm. Add 5-10 degrees to the temps is showing for today. The humidity is low, so it isn't as uncomfortable as a midwestern hot day.

The good news GC and Flagstaff are at a higher elevation so it is cooler. But once you're off the mountains from Flagstaff heading west it will get warmer again. At least you're not going in August.

Especially since your AC isn't the best, you'd want to have water since you're probably going to lose a lot of fluids.

If you do have time, near Kingman, the're and old stretch of the original Rt 66 that meander through the mountains that wasn't nearly as comfy as I40. It goes toward a psuedo ghost town of Oatman. It is fun to see that and imagine what it was like to cross the desert in an old jalopy. You can see carcases of old Model Ts off some of the cliffs. It is slow and winding road but you see some nice vistas. It then meets back with I40 and you can go back to the road to Las Vegas.
posted by birdherder at 8:57 AM on May 11, 2007

(sidenote) Sorry for the overuse of "amazing" there. But the Utah desert really is astounding (sidenote)

Oh, I almost forgot Goblin Valley. This spot would also be very easy to see when heading out to I-70. And again, no heavy hiking needed to see the bizarre rock formations. You could easily do this in an hour or two.
posted by Grundlebug at 8:58 AM on May 11, 2007

Response by poster: Can anyone tell me the price of passes to Grand Canyon and other parks in Utah? (i'll also search on it, but ppl who hv been there knows better than me)

Is it worthwhile to buy that National Park Pass that given you access to all the parks?
posted by WizKid at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2007

Definitely just get the annual pass. I think it is $80, versus a $25/day or $50 park-specific pass.
posted by Grundlebug at 10:00 AM on May 11, 2007

Every American ought to see Hoover Dam at least once. The tour isn't as cool as it was pre-9/11, but the Dam itself is amazing nonetheless. Plus, they're building a flyover bridge for extra security, so this might be your last chance to drive over it. IMHO the Dam is way, way, WAY cooler than Vegas, so don't miss it. The Art Deco statues and architecture alone are worth the trip. If you get hungry, the Dam Dogs in the snack bar are justifiably famous. While you're there, be sure to find the plaque for the Dam's politically-incorrect mascot dog. If you do decide to cross the Dam, leave some extra time, because security/traffic sometimes creates delays.

There are some reasonably cool things to do in Vegas, other than gambling. It's 20 minutes or so off the strip, but there's a nice chocolate factory (Ethel M) that does free-sample tours and sells Vegas-souvenir chocolates. They also have a huge cactus garden and one of those living-organism water treatment plants you can tour. If you like Star Trek, the Hilton has a ridiculously over-the-top Star Trek: The Experience thing with a fun surprise at the end, which I will not give away. If you like rides, both the New York New York and Stratosphere have roller-coasters with views of the Strip. If you're going to gamble, find someplace with a $5 Pai-Gow table -- Pai-Gow is fun, easy, and there's a lot of pushing (ties), so you can play a long time (and thus get many free drinks) without losing a ton of money.
posted by vorfeed at 10:32 AM on May 11, 2007

Go to Antelope Canyon - it is like visiting another planet.

You can't drive up to/hike to the canyon - A guide needs to drive you out there (a 5 minutes ride from the parking lot, on a bench on the back of a pickup truck).

Don't bother with the Antelope Canyon tour companies in town - just drive to the parking site, and use one of the local guides.

And go in the morning/mid afternoon - the canyon gets really dark in the not-so-late afternoon.
posted by f4 at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2007

I'd probably skip Denver. Not that I don't like the city but I think you might find staying somewhere in the mountains a bit nicer, with definitely better scenery. Depending on where and when you stop for the day you could get in a hike as well.

Of course that gives you a longer drive back to Kansas on the 27th if you need to be back by a certain time that day.
posted by 6550 at 2:00 PM on May 11, 2007

Since you seem to only have the Grand Canyon on your itinerary for the 22nd, you should consider also working in a visit to Sunset Crater and/or the Wupatki ruins.

This area is probably about an hour from the South rim of the Grand Canyon, or about 25 minutes NE of Flagstaff on Highway 89. The hills are jet black with volcanic cinder, and there are old lava flows and you can take a short hike into an extinct caldera. I've only seen a tiny bit of the ruins, but what I saw was pretty striking.

And just off of I-40 about an hour East of Flagstaff is the Meteor Crater. It's a crater. Made by a meteorite. It's pretty big. Probably worth a brief stop.

And nearby is Monument Valley, which is where a lot of John Ford westerns were shot, and you can see red buttes poking up all around, really Arizona-y vistas. Come to think of it, Sedona is about an hour south of Flagstaff on the 17, and there are amazing views there. Might be straying a little far from your intended route, but do a search on Flickr for "Sedona" and check it out.

If you're into ludicrous New Age fantasies, then definitely go to Sedona and check out the magical energy "vortices."
posted by univac at 2:05 PM on May 11, 2007

Jerome, AZ is cute too
posted by A189Nut at 2:11 PM on May 11, 2007

This route is most scenic and avoids Interstates from Zion NP through the tunnel in the cliff(hwy9) to US hwy 89, to Page Arizona,very scenic crossing of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam. Next Hwy98 goes across northern Arizona Navajo land, Hwy 160 goes right by Canyon DeChelly Mesa Verde is nearby. Hwy 191 to Moab and Arches NP Take Hwy46 to Co. because the LaSalles are unlike any other mountain range. Durango, Alamosa and Gunnison have state colleges, Salida has good brew pubs, South Park is actually Fairplay, Rocky Mountain NP is near Boulder and from there it starts looking like Kansas .
posted by hortense at 8:07 PM on May 11, 2007

Go to Moab. From there, head east into Colorado via the backroads, not I-70 (I'm not positive which road I was on, but I was headed from Moab to Telluride or Montrose. It's not the road to Durango that I'm thinking of.)

I think there is some dinosaur track site outside Moab on Potash Road. But really, that's not the coolest thing there.
posted by salvia at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the tips.
We had a wonderful trip and I'll add some details about it to this thread so that others who needs similar advice can read my experience.

- at Moab we stayed at Lazy Lizard Hostel. It's alright considering it's only $9 per person. We rented a private room ($36) since there were 4 of us.

- If four ppl r traveling on a budget, I think it's better to use a motel that has free breakfast (such as Econo lodge, etc...), coz for a hostel u spends about $40 + breakfast $20 = $60.
U can get a room for 4 + free breakfast for about $80 (with AAA membership)

- Make sure you don't let you gas tank don't run below half. Always keep a tankful of gas. Some parts of I-70 can be very lonely.

- In Las Vegas rooms are really cheap. We stayed at Excalibur for $50 per room per night. But they have made a mistake with out reservation and have reserved only a single room for us the second day. Therefore all of us stayed in a single room.

- Even though they say only two per room, hotel is so big such that no one can keep track of u. SO if u wanna save some bucks even four ppl can book a single room and stay. Rooms have King size beds, so two ppl can sleep comfortably.

- Excalibur, Luxor and Mirage has a new scam, and don't get caught in it. They say that u can buy show ticket ($60+) for a discounted price($15+), But once they sell it they say that we have to participate in a tour of their new hotel to receive the tickets at the discounted price. It will waste half of your day (around 4 -5 hours). Since they accept only cash, we can't do anything about it. Not even a charge back on the credit card.
It's either go on the tour for 5 hours and get the tickets for the show or loose the $15 you already gave them.
posted by WizKid at 10:22 AM on June 29, 2007

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