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  #51  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:12 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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Originally Posted by Pitchmeister View Post
no day has more than 5 or six hours of driving, with exceptions.
One thing that I've learned to think about - a drive that is only 4 hours on the first day of driving becomes closer to 5.5 hours on 6th or 7th day of driving. By the end of two weeks, it's closer to 6 or 7. I like driving. I like road trips, but I admit that it does take its toll on me and I have to take more frequent breaks and rest more.
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  #52  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:20 PM
Rick Kitchen Rick Kitchen is offline
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Drive about 1 hour to Zion National Park. Spend the whole day there. When you are done there, drive about an hour and 15 minutes to Bryce, Utah. Stay the night there.
In July/August? :O

If you are really committed to going through Yosemite, I recommend staying overnight in Carson City. There are quite a few casino hotels there, though clearly not as many as in Reno or Vegas.
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  #53  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:24 PM
ioioio ioioio is offline
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I'm making things worse, but wanted to mention that Las Vegas has some fine roller coasters and other thrill rides.

Review of Las Vegas roller coasters
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  #54  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:30 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Originally Posted by Pitchmeister View Post
Nothing David Hasselhoff about it. The two of us just really enjoy rollercoasters, and I went to that park in 2009 and have never seen such a density of awesome, diverse, world-class rollercoasters anywhere.
If you're serious about rollercoasters, check out Marine World in Vallejo (very close to San Fran, and don't let the name fool you. Kick-ass coasters!) or Knott's Berry Farm (again, don't be fooled by the name!) in the LA area. Hands-down the best concentration of thrill rides I've ever experienced.

They got this one that absolutely terrified me ever single time I rode it. We went on a off-season weekday, and there were probably 100 people in the whole park.

They didn't even make us get off the rides! Just kept strapped in and rode it again and again, as much as we wanted.

Also, I'd skip Vegas, unless its just a place to stop for the night. Over-rated.

Have fun!
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  #55  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:35 PM
PaperBlob PaperBlob is offline
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Originally Posted by Rick Kitchen View Post
In July/August? :O
Hah! Well, THEY are the ones who want to see all of these very hot places that time of year. I was just trying to get as many of the places they wanted to see on an itinerary that wouldn't be so rushed and crazy.
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  #56  
Old 03-21-2017, 03:36 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Originally Posted by Rick Kitchen View Post
In July/August? :O

If you are really committed to going through Yosemite, I recommend staying overnight in Carson City.
Waaaaay out of the way. Bishop has no shortage of hotel rooms. But hey, thanks for the shout-out.
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  #57  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:13 PM
Common Tater Common Tater is offline
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Originally Posted by amarinth View Post
One thing that I've learned to think about - a drive that is only 4 hours on the first day of driving becomes closer to 5.5 hours on 6th or 7th day of driving. By the end of two weeks, it's closer to 6 or 7. I like driving. I like road trips, but I admit that it does take its toll on me and I have to take more frequent breaks and rest more.
One rule of thumb I like, is to have one day set aside for rest for every 100 miles of driving (one way), if that makes sense. For example a 1000 mile trip, spend five days doing anything but driving. Camping, sightseeing, etc.
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  #58  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:27 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Originally Posted by Common Tater View Post
One rule of thumb I like, is to have one day set aside for rest for every 100 miles of driving (one way), if that makes sense. For example a 1000 mile trip, spend five days doing anything but driving. Camping, sightseeing, etc.
Those numbers don't make sense. A day of rest for less than two hours (100 miles) of driving?
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  #59  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:34 PM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is offline
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Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
Also, I'd skip Vegas, unless its just a place to stop for the night. Over-rated.
There's so much stuff in and near Vegas that anybody should be able to find something to do for a day or two. I liked the Museum of Atomic Testing and the Hoover Dam tour (but get there early before the deluxe tour sells out).
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  #60  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:34 PM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Thank you, every one, for all your suggestions. We did not take them lightly, and really tried to take them to heart. I'm sure some of you think this is still overly ambitious, but this really seems much more doable due to cutting Arches and Monument Valley, which I imagine are among the worst offenders, heat-wise, and also took us at least 500 miles out of our way.

By the way, many of you suggested skipping Vegas altogether. We still believe our two stops are worthwhile for two reasons: I just enjoy the complete over-the-top decadence of the place, to me it's the best and the worst about the USA in one tidy package. It's not about the casinos, but the whole tacky ambiance of it. Also, it's a stop that allows us an affordable, but awesome bed in the middle of the desert while we go from A to B. I wouldn't want to drive Grand Canyon Village to LA non-stop, definitely not after our two monster hiking days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatopescado View Post
If you're serious about rollercoasters, check out Marine World in Vallejo (very close to San Fran, and don't let the name fool you. Kick-ass coasters!) or Knott's Berry Farm (again, don't be fooled by the name!) in the LA area. Hands-down the best concentration of thrill rides I've ever experienced.

They got this one that absolutely terrified me ever single time I rode it. We went on a off-season weekday, and there were probably 100 people in the whole park.

They didn't even make us get off the rides! Just kept strapped in and rode it again and again, as much as we wanted.

Also, I'd skip Vegas, unless its just a place to stop for the night. Over-rated.

Have fun!

That is a complete game-changer! Thanks, Gatopescado! Assuming you meant Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (which is what apparently Marine World is called now), that solves our problem of visiting the park on a weekend, which we definitely would have in any case with Magic Kingdom. We have incorporated this into a revised itinerary, which is as follows:

Day 1 - Arrive at SFO, explore city

Day 2 - sight seeing in San Francisco

Day 3 - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ("Marine World"), about 1hr away from SF. This will be a Wednesday, so yay!

Day 4 - drive into Yosemite, hike a bit, relax (driving time 4 hrs)

Day 5 - Glacier Point hike (we've been told if you're not doing this hike, you might just not bother going at all), no driving today.

Day 6 - drive to Lee Vining via Tioga Road, maybe spend the evening at Mono Lake (driving time 2 hrs, assuming my Google-fu has not failed me - it's a bit difficult calculating this trip since Google keeps assuming Tioga Road is closed)

Day 7 - continue to Las Vegas, enjoy a show, wander the strip (driving time 5 1/2 hrs - this one's gonna suck, but I can't see any worthwhile stops along the way)

Day 8 - drive to Zion (driving time 3hrs)

Day 9 - drive to Bryce Canyon (driving time 2hrs) Depending on how much time we want to spend there, we could leave on the same day and shave off an hour or two of driving from tomorrow. Do we want to be in Bryce at some particular time?

Day 10 - drive to Grand Canyon Village (Antelope Canyon is probably out, though along the way, since the tours are already sold out). Depending on the previous day, max. driving time 5hrs

Day 11 - hike down South Kaibab trail (yes, we will bring plenty of water!)

Day 12 - hike up Bright Angel trail

Day 13 - drive to Las Vegas, enjoy a bed (driving time around 4 1/2 hrs - gotta do it some time...)

Day 14 - continue to Los Angeles, see all the City of Angels has to offer (driving time 4hrs)

Day 15 - see the rest and leave LAX at 6pm

So, major driving summed up:

Day 1 - x
Day 2 - x
Day 3 - 1hr
Day 4 - 4hrs
Day 5 - x
Day 6 - 2hrs
Day 7 - 5 1/2hrs
Day 8 - 3hrs
Day 9 - 2hrs (+?)
Day 10 - 5hrs (-?)
Day 11 - x
Day 12 - x
Day 13 - 4 1/2hrs
Day 14 - 4hrs
Day 15 - x (except for LA traffic, so maybe around 5 hrs)



One more question: What's the accomodation situation like in most National Parks? We're prepared to camp (will bring a tent and sleeping bags), but a bed every once in a while would sure be welcomed. Are the prices extortionate? Can we even get something 4 months in advance? Like I said, Grand Canyon is basically taken care of, it's the other parks (Yosemite, Zion, Bryce) I'm most concerned about.

Please be gentle! And if any of you ever need some pointers for Berlin, I'd be more than happy to help out!
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  #61  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:53 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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I'm wondering about the "Glacier Point Hike"--are you talking about hiking up the 4 Mile (actually 4.8 mile)Trail and returning the same way? If so, get an early start--that trail doesn't have a whole lot of shade in the summer. Another option you might consider is taking the bus tour(not the shuttle bus) one way up to Glacier Point and then hiking back to the valley on the Panorama Trail which takes you down via the Mist Trail, which is pretty spectacular.

Last edited by blondebear; 03-21-2017 at 04:54 PM..
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  #62  
Old 03-21-2017, 04:59 PM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
I'm wondering about the "Glacier Point Hike"--are you talking about hiking up the 4 Mile (actually 4.8 mile)Trail and returning the same way? If so, get an early start--that trail doesn't have a whole lot of shade in the summer. Another option you might consider is taking the bus tour(not the shuttle bus) one way up to Glacier Point and then hiking back to the valley on the Panorama Trail which takes you down via the Mist Trail, which is pretty spectacular.
That sounds great - we'll definitely keep that in mind. What sort of temperatures are we looking at in Yosemite Valley?
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  #63  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:01 PM
Twoflower Twoflower is offline
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Originally Posted by Pitchmeister View Post
Day 1 - Arrive at SFO, explore city

Day 2 - sight seeing in San Francisco

Day 3 - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ("Marine World"), about 1hr away from SF. This will be a Wednesday, so yay!

Day 4 - drive into Yosemite, hike a bit, relax (driving time 4 hrs)

Day 5 - Glacier Point hike (we've been told if you're not doing this hike, you might just not bother going at all), no driving today.

Day 6 - drive to Lee Vining via Tioga Road, maybe spend the evening at Mono Lake (driving time 2 hrs, assuming my Google-fu has not failed me - it's a bit difficult calculating this trip since Google keeps assuming Tioga Road is closed)

Day 7 - continue to Las Vegas, enjoy a show, wander the strip (driving time 5 1/2 hrs - this one's gonna suck, but I can't see any worthwhile stops along the way)
Much better! For Glacier Point, since you're serious hikers, I recommend the loop via Vernal/Nevada Falls, the Panorama Trail, then down the Four Mile Trail. Or reverse, if you want to start with a really steep climb.

Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining is about 2 hours drive; good on you for making it a whole day -- you'll want to stop often to enjoy the views. Swim in Tenaya Lake, climb Lembert Dome. Mono Lake is also worth some time.

Lee Vining to Vegas - consider 395 to Big Pine, then 168 over the White Mountains. Short side trip to see the Bristlecone Pines, oldest trees on the planet.

National Park lodging is generally reservable a year in advance. Can be pricy, but there are options like tent cabins in Yosemite that are rustic but comfortable.
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  #64  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:03 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Camping in Yosemite requires Devine Intervention. Might be hard to get a room in Lee Vining. I think there is only one hotel. Bishop is a short drive in the right direction and should be plenty to pick from. If you don't mind camping, simply roll out of the park and head off into the woods. Problem solved, and its FREE! Plenty of places to do this north of the turnoff to Mammoth. I do it every so often. Never have a problem. South of there, not too much.
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  #65  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:11 PM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Originally Posted by Twoflower View Post
Much better! For Glacier Point, since you're serious hikers, I recommend the loop via Vernal/Nevada Falls, the Panorama Trail, then down the Four Mile Trail. Or reverse, if you want to start with a really steep climb.

Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining is about 2 hours drive; good on you for making it a whole day -- you'll want to stop often to enjoy the views. Swim in Tenaya Lake, climb Lembert Dome. Mono Lake is also worth some time.

Lee Vining to Vegas - consider 395 to Big Pine, then 168 over the White Mountains. Short side trip to see the Bristlecone Pines, oldest trees on the planet.

National Park lodging is generally reservable a year in advance. Can be pricy, but there are options like tent cabins in Yosemite that are rustic but comfortable.
Thank you! After yesterday's beating, this sound very refreshing, and upon checking out your recommendations, these are definitely things we will do. Very excited now!
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  #66  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:19 PM
Lightlystarched Lightlystarched is offline
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I've hiked the GC several times, usually in spring or fall. It will be VERY hot at the bottom in August. There is also no shade on the South Kaibab trail.

Have you read about the German tourists in Death Valley?
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  #67  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:19 PM
Deeg Deeg is offline
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I've lived in southwest Utah and have been to all the parks you've mentioned (did the S. Kaibab-B.A. hike as well). You're second itinerary looks doable. One thing is that--if you really like hiking--you're not leaving much time for it. Zion, especially, has some amazing hikes (Narrows, Angel's Landing). Since you've already hiked the GC maybe skip that part and do back-country camping in Zion?

Camping sites in Zion Park will be tough to get but you might get one just outside the park. At this point there's no chance at getting a room in the park (unless you got lucky with a cancellation) but there are lots of places outside the park (including some B&Bs).

I don't know about camping availability in Bryce but keep in mind that it is ~ 9000 ft so it'll be relatively cold at night. Hotel options are more limited than at Zion. Bryce is best at sunrise because the main part of the canyon faces east.

There are also some great little state parks in that area as well.

Last edited by Deeg; 03-21-2017 at 05:21 PM..
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  #68  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:22 PM
Pitchmeister Pitchmeister is offline
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Originally Posted by Lightlystarched View Post
I've hiked the GC several times, usually in spring or fall. It will be VERY hot at the bottom in August. There is also no shade on the South Kaibab trail.

Have you read about the German tourists in Death Valley?
I have, and that's why we're avoiding the area.

Thank you for your concern, but I've done this exact hike before, in late August. I know what I'm in for, and do not take it lightly. One thing I learned last time is to take twice the amount of water that seems crazy while walking down South Kaibab. Worse than no shade, it doesn't have water along the way. This really made us enjoy that water station at the bottom eight years back!
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  #69  
Old 03-21-2017, 05:56 PM
Twoflower Twoflower is offline
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Depending on your actual dates, there is still lodging available in Yosemite Valley; reserve now. http://www.travelyosemite.com

Campsites in the Valley are probably all full, but there are less crowded campgrounds elsewhere in the park. If you're ok with more primitive camping (i.e., outhouses) there are campgrounds in Yosemite, as well as outside the park near Lee Vining and June Lake, that will always have space available.
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  #70  
Old 03-21-2017, 08:00 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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RE: camping in and around Yosemite--as mentioned, there are several campgrounds just outside of the park along CA120. Besides the spots to the east, there is Diamond O campground not far from the west entrance on Evergreen Road and quite a few primitive sites along the dirt roads in the nearby National Forest.

As far as hotels go, first off, if you'll be paying a premium for anything close to the park in summertime. Make your reservations now! There are several places in Lee Vining--nothing fancy, but no big deal if you're just spending the night. I've stayed at the Lake View Lodge and it was fine. There's also Mono Vista RV Park which has tent sites and showers.

On the west side there are hotels, cabins and the like strung out between Groveland, Buck Meadows and the park entrance. If I had my choice I would stay at Evergreen Lodge or the newly-opened Rush Creek Lodge. Both pricey but worth it if you want to splurge.
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  #71  
Old 03-21-2017, 08:12 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Originally Posted by 48Willys View Post
I have no idea where to start. I could write a book on what is wrong with these plans.

I have lived in the western US all of my life, over half a century. In August that part of the country is HOT!!! Take at least two gallons of water per person per day. I am NOT kidding! Keep it in the car & take it with you when you go hiking. I always carry four gallons of water per day with me when I plan on just driving, through that area, not hiking anywhere. I do this even in the wintertime. If my wife is with me, we carry eight gallons of water.

I have no desire to come look for you when you fall over from heat stroke! I am prepared & I will come look. I will help carry you out, but please, take plenty of water, so I do not have to. I have done that way to often. It is usually some tourist who thought that the locals were kidding them when they said to take along, & drink, a lot of water. Also, do us both a favor, read up on the signs of dehydration. Know them well. If you do half of what is on your list during the hot afternoons, you WILL get dehydrated. I guarantee that. Recovery time from dehydration is longer than most folks think that it is. A week, not a day, & certainty not hours.
Dehydrated and sun burned. It can be very dry in this part of the country and you won't feel the heat or loss of fluids. 38 degrees can feel like 24 because your perspiration cools you off better than if you're in a humid environment. VERY easy to get dehydrated and sun burned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 48Willys View Post
One of many roads to not drive at night is the one east out of Yosemite. The views are stunning, don't miss them. Be aware that at dawn & dusk, the wildlife is on the move. Think about deer & elk jumping in front of your car. On that twisty mountain road, deer & elk can kill you. Elk are the size of horses. Hitting one of them can ruin your whole day.
Seriously, dawn and dusk are dangerous times to drive in the canyon areas. The mule tail deer are thick as mosquitoes and half as smart. Make sure you get car rental insurance. Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated when you pick it up.

One thing you may not be aware of is visibility. It's common for the dessert area to have 241 kilometer visibility. Stars will be incredibly bright at night away from cities. It's a great time to watch satellites go by. Here's a site to start with that charts out the space station. If you sit back and look up an hour after sunset you'll see a lot of satellites go by. Staying at a place like Zion canyon will afford you some great views. Pay attention to their hiking instructions. If you hike around the canyons cut into stone they are deadly when it rains.
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  #72  
Old 03-21-2017, 08:32 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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If you dump Day 9, you can fit in Knott's Berry Farm, which for my money has better roller coasters than Six Flags. You are hiking the Grand Canyon - you don't really need to see another big hole in the ground. Zion is much prettier.
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  #73  
Old 03-22-2017, 12:19 AM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Pitchmeister, I hope these links give you helpful information about hiking in the Utah parks.

Utah Bucket List

Tips to avoid crowds at Zion Park.
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  #74  
Old 03-22-2017, 08:00 AM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Looks MUCH more doable.

2 days at Zion and Bryce (including driving) stand out to me. Yeah, I guess there is SOME value to quick hits to say you've been somewhere, but I'd probably pick one or the other, and spend both days there.

And you'll need to figure out and narrow down what you want to do on those 2 partial days in LA, or else you could spend a lot of the time on expressways.

I really like Red Rock Canyon west of Vegas. IIRC, there is a hokey "old west" town near there which we found to be a hoot. Possibly an "only in America" experience. Really neat dive bar.

Staying at lodges in state and Nat'l parks is our preferred vacationing. The rooms aren't too pricey (especially outside of the main lodges), but are rarely luxurious (which we don't mind). The food is often pricey. We tend to go down to 2 meals a day - bring snacks for early breakfast, see some sights, then try to his a late lunch - maybe a buffet. Stock up for the afternoon's activities, then hit the nice dining room for an early dinner. Off hours, you'll likely find a cafeteria, tho the offerings may be slim and pricey.
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  #75  
Old 03-22-2017, 02:42 PM
Bullitt Bullitt is offline
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Originally Posted by Lightlystarched View Post
Have you read about the German tourists in Death Valley?
Sad story: July 1996, a man and his girlfriend and each with their own son, disappeared in DVNP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitchmeister View Post
I have, and that's why we're avoiding the area.
If you enjoy the SW USA scenery then Death Valley is truly beautiful.

So, too is Valley of Fire, and since you're doing a quick drive-through then it's worth an hour for a quick drive-by shooting (photos). It's not like you need more places to go, but hey, you never know. And on your day 6 it's right along your way. No need to stop at the Visitor's Center -- it's not that great. Just drive into the valley, enjoy the views, and drive out.

Map, Vegas to Valley of Fire to Zion: https://goo.gl/maps/yGLUyZ3mZ9s
-- it adds 1:20 to the direct route (map), and less if you don't drive all the way into the valley. The entire detour can be one hour.

Some quick images: https://www.google.com/search?q=vall...w=1470&bih=795

On a bright, sunny day the valley really lights up beautifully.

Last edited by Bullitt; 03-22-2017 at 02:43 PM..
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  #76  
Old 03-22-2017, 02:53 PM
Enola Gay Enola Gay is offline
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If your travels take you through the central coast, have a stay a the Madonna Inn. It has all sorts of quirky rooms. We try to go there every year or two and last time we stayed in Daisy Mai which was like staying in a cave. Very cool.
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  #77  
Old 03-22-2017, 03:00 PM
Bullitt Bullitt is offline
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Originally Posted by Enola Gay View Post
If your travels take you through the central coast, have a stay a the Madonna Inn. It has all sorts of quirky rooms. We try to go there every year or two and last time we stayed in Daisy Mai which was like staying in a cave. Very cool.
+1 for the Madonna Inn, just off of Hwy 101 in San Luis Obispo. A nice place to stay. And a nice place for a meal. If you don't have time to stay the night, at least stop in for a restroom break. The restrooms are unique as well.
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