American National Parks
glitterbiscuits · 29/02/2020 09:54
Has anyone had any experience of USA and the National Parks?
I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Lake Powell etc.
I'm not sure we want to drive ( no experience of the 'wrong' side of the road) or if we'd risk an escorted small group.
We'd go in the Spring so it's not overly hot.
HenHarrier · 29/02/2020 16:06
Driving in the US is quite straightforward, plus big automatic cars help.
Have you thought about which parks you'd want to visit? How long you want to go for? Budget? Age of travellers?
Lots of stunning parks in the Utah / Arizona area - Zion, Arches, Bridges, Bryce, Canyonlands etc as well as Grand Canyon, Monument Valley etc.
Companies like Exodus do small escorted groups.
Crawley65 · 29/02/2020 16:13
We hired a car and visited Yosemite, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Death Valley. The Rangers are great and provide free tours or have information sheets to self guide.
In Yosemite we went snow shoe walking and climbed up to the top of a waterfall. We walked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camped for a night. Also camped in Death Valley. We went to several information evenings about the park.
I’d love to visit Yellowstone next time.
MinesaPinotPlease · 29/02/2020 16:19
I took my 2 teens on a group Tour. We did Zion, Bryce, Antelope, Monument Valley and Grand Cannyon.
We camped at Bryce and Monument. Seeing the sun rise in Monument Valley was one fo my kids favorite ever memory.
It was also possible to take a hotel option but our whole group camped.
Was so relaxing - the tour guide brought all the camping gear and organised all the food.
We just had to sit back and listen to his stories and admire the scenery.
Can highly recommend it.
We went with this company.
ValedictoryMessage · 29/02/2020 16:26
Driving is easy outside of the cities.a good tip is to fly from your first airport and then fly onto a smaller airport to pick up car if you don’t fAncy driving through LA ....
You do have to book accommodation well in advance, Yosemite and Grand Canyon will already be booking up. The websites give you when booking open.
I hiked and camped down the Grand Canyon with a group.one of the best experiences of my life.
Just come back from Arizona, Sedona, it was amazing. So easy and Fantastic scenery.
BubblesBuddy · 29/02/2020 17:47
You can fly to Las Vegas and drive from there. Most high end holiday companies will have routes you can copy. Driving out of LA isn’t great but you don’t need to.
There are plenty of group tours. This is much easier if you are nervous drivers. If you go into Utah and Arizona, think about going home from Phoenix. Or starting there. Spring is great but make sure everything is open. October is good too.
glitterbiscuits · 29/02/2020 19:06
I think we are leaning towards self drive because I can't find any small group tours that cover every park on my wish list.
HenHarrier · 29/02/2020 19:24
You can buy a National Park pass that covers you for family entry to all parks for a year - buy it at the first park you visit.
I always put together an itinerary spreadsheet to include accommodation details and driving distances.
We tend to pick up a hire car a couple of days after we land, so you get a chance to get over the flight and adjust to the new time zone a little.
BubblesBuddy · 29/02/2020 19:32
Don’t forget distances are huge op. Don’t do too much driving. Also don’t forget some parks have limited accommodation inside them. Grand Canyon, Bryce, Monument Valley for starters. So you need to check distances and what is realistic. Accommodation in the parks gets booked up.
glitterbiscuits · 29/02/2020 19:59
Thanks @HenHarrier. I didn't know that. I'm going to research that now.
@BubblesBuddy, thanks we are happy to drive long distances in the UK so I'm hoping after being used to the wrong side we will be ok but great point on the best accommodation. You are so well travelled - are you Judith Chalmers?! ( can't think of a more up to date reference! )
HenHarrier · 29/02/2020 20:21
Plenty of places to stay outside the parks as well, and going in Spring means you’ll be outside peak season. In the past (pre Internet) we’d rock up to an airport, pick up a car and then just go where we’ve fancied with no planning at all. Bryce in February was spectacular - deep snow but so warm we were in hiking in t-shirts.
As we’re now stuck with school holidays I book ahead with websites like Hotels.com and for hire cars RentalCars or HolidayAutos.
Also use pick up some of the fancy travel brochures for ideas, ones like Kuoni and Flight Centre are useful.
Blueblackrose · 29/02/2020 20:23
Americans do national parks very well and on the whole development has been very controlled. We love Yosemite and Sequoia also Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.
BubblesBuddy · 29/02/2020 23:17
Ha!!! No I’m not Judith but I’m not young either! So I’ve had the time and fortunately enough money to travel!
Really do be careful about driving distances though. Some areas are not very scenic and can be a slog. Plan carefully. It’s nicer to stay and see your destination rather than driving long distances. We made the mistake of driving from Arizona to San Diego. We would not do it again.
Wasabiprawns · 03/03/2020 16:31
We did Yellowstone, tetons, moab & surrounding parks, down to grand canyon and lake powell last year. Fab trip. If you go using a tour company then you will be quite restricted in what you can do so it depends on what you want to do. Driving is very easy and generally not much traffic in these areas. It is much nicer to stay in the national parks but you have to book at least 6 months in advance. Tickets for Antelope canyon need to be booked early too.
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