a VirtualTourist member
We are planning to drive from Dayton, Ohio to the Grand Canyon this summer. There is so much to decide, and I know that we need to get rooms reserved ASAP, so I thought that I'd start by asking for advice here.
It will be me, my husband, and 2 of our children - ages 9 and 11. We will have around 16 days for this trip. I would like to consider taking different routes there and back. Possibly to St. Louis and then SW through OK into AZ one way, and then I70 into CO the other way. It doesn't have to be that way though. We have a son that lives in Phoenix, so would like for him to be able to drive up to meet us at some point along the way too.
I'm the only one that has seen the Grand Canyon or any of the other sites around there. The kids want to see it, Mesa Verde, and the Four Corners. I want to hit Zion and Bryce too, and have seen other places suggested here that sound interesting. They also want to take a raft trip (believe that I did one out of Durango, CO years ago).
Would love to hear your ideas on what all to see. It's hard to know how much time to spend at any location. We will want to spend a couple of days there and back to break up the driving time, so any ideas of what to see or do along the way are also appreciated. This might be crazy, but I'm also toying with the idea of extending our trip on either end. Husband can only take 2 weeks, but kids and I are free longer. Wonder if we could leave early and have him fly one-way to meet us along the route. Could take longer getting there that way and see more sites along the way. Or, send him home after 2 weeks by plane, and take extra time on our way home. Would have to add enough days to be sure that my solo driving time is limited each day. Not up to 7-8 hours a day by myself! Can do 4-5 though.
Finally, when should we go? Potential dates are last 2 weeks of June (up to July 4th weekend), first 2 weeks of July (leave July 4th weekend), or 2 of the first 3 weeks of August.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions of what to see, routes to take, and especially how long to spend at each location!
Part of the proposed route is following old Route 66 (St. Louis - AZ - GC) and I passed R66 a couple of years ago. You can find some road info, restaurants and inns from that part from my travellogues and reviews you easily find from my home page. Our trip idea was the road so I can't give you advice about other parts of your question, but you know GC is worth of more that one day visit and you had a lot of other interests also, so be careful with the itinaration, pick up the most musts and try to fix your route accordingly. Have fun, I really wish I could do something similar!
> Potential dates are last 2 weeks of June (up to July 4th weekend),
> first 2 weeks of July (leave July 4th weekend),
> or 2 of the first 3 weeks of August.
Do NOT go to the southwest desert sites in August -- the heat and the crowds will drive you crazy, and your kids will most likely whine the whole time. Even June may be a bit too warm, but August will be only worse.
> Wonder if we could leave early and have him fly one-way to meet us along the route
If that's an actual question, and not just thinking out loud, Southwest fares are just as good one way as they are round trip.
> The kids want to see ... the Four Corners.
Please be aware that the Four Corners is one of the most useless, wasteful tourist traps I've ever made the mistake of visiting. You'll drive through and to the middle of nowhere, pay3 per person (cash ONLY), get about one minute to stand there and have your picture made, and be surrounded by sales stands. Still want to go? Fine. But just be aware of what you're getting into.
If you're going to the Bryce or Zion, I'd recommend going to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In my opinion, it's a far superior experience. Not only is it less crowded, but the hiking is better along the rim.
Except for Denver, there aren't a whole lot of places for somebody to meet you if they arrive by plane. Maybe your son can bring him up (or take him back) to fly out of Phoenix?
I would choose June. Slightly less crowds.
Have you done a trip of this length before with the whole family? Most families seem to have a certain number of days where a trip becomes more grueling than enjoyable.
There are half-day raft trips on the Colorado River near Page. There are also ones near Durango, Moab and other areas in eastern and southern Utah. So you're going to be going by several places where you'll have a chance to do this.
Per the routing, it will get warmer as you go along, so I would start with the southern, Route 66 route and come back through Colorado. Consider taking US 50 back at least part of the way though. You won't have to go out of the way to Denver and will still get the same dramatic mountain views but also more small town Americana along the way.
What else you do depends, I think, on how much time you end up allocating to this. 16 days is certainly doable, but you can always use more time.