Summer Vacation to Grand Canyon...Help!!

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by HelloChum, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. HelloChum

    HelloChum Mouseketeer

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    Trying to plan a summer family trip to Grand Canyon without breaking the bank. We have never traveled to this area--i'm a bit overwhelmed and looking for some advice.

    We were thinking of flying into Vegas--taking in Hoover Dam, etc. and making our way to Grand Canyon, Sedona,....and flying out of Phoenix.

    We are a family of 5--DH and 3 DSs (16, 14, 11) and me--already checking into hotels in Vegas and Sedona, it seems we will need 2 rooms. Is this what others have found?

    Should we even stay overnight in Vegas--we have never been and are wondering how family friendly it would be. Certainly it is a very different atmosphere than the Grand Canyon/ Sedona. Any family friendly hotel suggestions? It seems as though we will need 2 hotel rooms from checking online--any hotels with family suites? Any places/areas to definitely avoid?

    Should we skip Vegas in favor of Moab, UT?


    Is this a "typical" Grand Canyon itinerary? Any suggestions for additional stops or sights? Any suggestions for hotels along the way? What have you done?

    Many thanks for any replies or suggestions!
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  3. Staceyms

    Staceyms Earning My Ears

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    We are also going to GC in June & are a family of 5. We are staying at the Sky Ranch Lodge in Sedona as they have some rooms that sleep 5. It has good reviews on Trip Advisor too. The Sedona & Grand Canyon forums on Trip Advisor are a great source for info and the members are very helpful.
     
  4. nd5056

    nd5056 DIS Veteran

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    No, you should see Vegas at night. And there's a lot to see...
     
  5. mom2travel

    mom2travel DIS Veteran

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    We recently did a trip that included some of the places you are planning. We flew into Phoenix, then went to the Grand Canyon, then Vegas via Hoover Dam, then to Anaheim/LA (DL). It was DH, DS14, DD10 and I

    We spent one night at the Grand Canyon (South Rim). We walked one of the paved trails late afternoon when we arrived viewing basically from the edge. The next day we did part of one of the unpaved trails down into the canyon. I think how long you spend there depends upon how much your family likes hiking, or whether you would do a mule ride or something else.
    We stayed at the Yavapai Lodge at GC (wanted El Tovar but by the time we decided we were going to do this trip it was booked). 2 beds and a couch/day bed - just check that you have sheets for the day bed when you arrive

    Driving from the Grand Canyon to Vegas with a stop at Hoover Dam... the traffic was AWFUL near HD because of construction (not sure when it will be over, but something for you to check - it was in both directions so would affect you driving from Vegas to GC also). DH had wanted to do a tour of HD but we got there too late (pretty much just missed the closing time).

    The Valley of Fire (near Overton, NV if recalling correctly ??) looked pretty interesting also. We would have liked to see it and do some hiking, but it was too much for the time we had. It may have been an hour from HD and 40 minutes from Vegas

    We stayed at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. I had done a little bit of research and it was one of the hotels at which you do not need to walk through the casino to get to/from the lobby and your room. It is at the end of the strip though, so I guess it depends on what you would be interested in doing while there. The kids did walk through the casino to get to dinner. We ate at the House of Blues but there are many other restaurants right there, and other attractions. For us, Vegas was more of a stop-over to break up the trip from GC to LA. Mandalay Bay did have 2 queen beds and roll-aways, so 5 could fit if 2 of the kids will sleep together (not sure about fire codes/occupancy limits). We didn't feel like there was anything inappropriate/non-family-friendly, but we didn't go out on the strip either. The rooms are inexpensive too. Oh, and we didn't use them because it was a bit too cold, but the pools are great at Mandalay Bay! There is a wave pool and a lazy river too.

    DH and I are not into the casino thing, so could have easily dropped Vegas from our itinerary. I think if we were doing it again, we would have spent a second night at the Grand Canyon and left right after breakfast to hit the Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire.

    Have fun!
     
  6. Mom-to-2-Princesses

    Mom-to-2-Princesses Lovin' It!

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    While I am sure you will get good info here, please check out the tripadvisor forum boards. They have some very good suggestions and will help you plan your time wisely.

    Part of what you do will plan on how much time you plan on spending -- I am assuming you are looking at a one week trip?

    Another area you might want to check out is Page/Lake Powell. It was beautiful and would have some great activities for your boys.

    We did a Spring Break one week trip two years ago, here was our itinerary - (NPS-National Park):
    Day 1 (sat)- flew into Phoenix, went to Montezuma's Castle (NPS), stayed night in Flagstaff
    Day 2 - Wapatki (NPS) and Sunset Crater (NPS) dinner at Cameron Trading Post, drove to Page, night in Page
    Day 3 - Page - Dam tour, Antelope Slot Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, night in Page
    Day 4 - Explored area, Lee's Ferry, toadstool hike, beach time, night in Page
    (** we were there in the Spring and it was a little cool so we didn't do the River Raft or a boat on Lake Powell -- this would be a MUST do in the summer)
    Day 5 - drive to Grand Canyon, do view points/sunset, ranger led programs, stayed in park
    Day 6 - Hiked into Grand Canyon (Bright Angel) to first rest stop (1.5 miles) out by noon. drove to Sedona, saw some sights, night in Sedona
    Day 7 - Sedona (pink jeep tour, Oak Creek Canyon, slide rock, hikes -- so many choices!), night in Sedona
    Day 8 Sedona, do more fun stuff and drive to Phoenix, night in Phoenix
    Day 9 (sun) - Flew home early

    My thoughts on your trip -- if you aren't really "into" Las Vegas than I would fly RT through Phoenix. The car rental companies are going to add a huge fee for dropping off in a different location.

    Glen Canyon Dam (Page) and Hoover Dam are very similar. If you do the Glen Canyon dam tour you will be getting the same info, etc. I've actually done both tours and enjoyed the Glen one much more. That said, the Hoover dam tour might have changed with all the changes there.

    Moab is suppose to be wonderful (and my family is heading there in June for the first time) but it is just that little bit too far with the other spots you want to see. If you have two weeks.....

    Also check out the NPS.gov site regarding the national parks. We love them and think the ranger led programs are awesome!

    I'm sorry I can't help much with hotels -- we are a family of 4 and usually stick with the Best Western brand. I can tell you from planning my Moab trip that rooms and activities are aleady filling up. I have had to be very flexible with my times.

    Good luck and have a great time!
     
  7. nd5056

    nd5056 DIS Veteran

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  8. RyJMom

    RyJMom Mouseketeer

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    Spring Break 09 we flew into Vegas with the kids (7 and 10 at the time) We stayed that 1st night at the Luxor then got up early the next morning and went on to the Dam and Grand Canyon. It was an easy 5 hour drive. We stayed 1 night in the park. The next morning we hiked a little ways down into the Canyon. That afternoon we went back to Vegas and stayed 2 nights at Paris. The kids loved Vegas maybe even more than the Grand Canyon. We did the rides at NYNY and Statosphere. We saw Mac King at Harrahs (very family friendly and cheap) Did alot of people watching at the Forum shops. I love Vegas and Hubby and I go every year. It was fun to show the kids Mom's favorite town. I think there is tons of fun for kids in Vegas if you plan ahead for the family friendly sites. Take a look at Smarter Vegas for hotel codes. My last several trips I have found the best room rates there.
     
  9. BCBug

    BCBug Mouseketeer

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    Lodging close to the Grand Canyon: we stayed at Cameron Trading Post, very reasonable rates and good sized rooms. Great restaurant, too.
     
  10. kacaju

    kacaju DIS Veteran

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    We flew into Vegas stayed one night just to say we did. Kids had fun. We drove out tot he Grand Canyon and looked at Hoover Dam, didn't stay long. Then we checked out the Grand Canyon Caverns. It is really cool, they are a dry cavern. Then off the GC we stayed two nights in the park on the rim. You can't beat that, it is like having a Castle view in Disney!! We then headed to Antelope canyon then drove to Bryce Canyon. Stayed one night there and then went to Zion Park. Stayed a night there and then headed back to Vegas. Stayed the night and went home.
    It was GREAT trip and my girls still talk about going back!!
     
  11. eduk8r26

    eduk8r26 DIS Veteran

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    Tusayan is right outside the main entrance to South Rim on Highway 64 There are a few places to stay there, as well as the Imax movie "Hidden Secrets of the Grand Canyon". It is not to be missed. Plus this summer I think they will be running a shuttle from the Visitor Center there into the park. Parking is terrible inside, especially in the summer.
     
  12. caribear

    caribear I love WDW!

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    Dh and I stayed in a cabin along the south rim at the Bright Angel Lodge. We could look out our window and the rim was right there...it was so amazing...but the cabins are very small and only sleep 2. Try to spend a night along the rim....it is amazing! We also had a delicious breakfast at the restaurant in El Tovar.
     
  13. PrincessMom98

    PrincessMom98 Mouseketeer

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    This is one of my favorite areas! Sedona is beautiful, but my first choice would be to make a loop from Vegas - Grand Canyon - Page - Bryce - Zion - Vegas.
    See www.grandcircle.org

    The lights of Vegas are neat to see one night but its not the top of my list especially with kids.

    Grand Canyon - See www.grandcanyonlodges.com for reservations. Kachina and Thunderbird are on the rim. Maswick and Yavapai are the budget options. A free shuttle runs to get around on. Take a hike to get away from the crowds be sure to see the sunrise or sunset the colors are spectacular.

    Page - visit Lake Powell, Glenn Canyon Dam or take a 1/2 day raft trip with http://www.raftthecanyon.com/.

    Bryce - Stay in the park in one of their cabins if you can. There is also a Ruby's Best Western right outside the park.

    Zion has a lodge in the park but there are lots of hotel options right outside the park in Springdale. We have stayed at the Bumbleberry Inn and really liked it. There is a free shuttle in the park and another one that runs through Springdale to the park.

    If you go to Sedona I'll second the Sky Ranch Lodge. It is up on a bluff overlooking town. There is also a restaurant/diner at the airport near the hotel that I would recommend. Also check out Slide Rock State Park. The natural water slides are a lot of fun!

    HTH - If you have any questions feel free to PM me. I love trip planning!
     
  14. mafibisha

    mafibisha DIS Veteran

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    Do a search on the Forums at www.fodors.com . You'll find more details and helpful information than you'd ever need. Its like the DIS for National Parks.:goodvibes
     
  15. jojo0612

    jojo0612 Mouseketeer

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    My husband and I have always dreamed about packing up and heading out west! Don't know if anyone can answer this or not, but compared to a trip to Disney, how expensive is it to visit the Grand Canyon? I mean I know the most expensive part of the trip would be airfare, but like hotel, food, etc. ? Did you find it was cheaper or comparable to the price you paid for a Disney vacation?
     
  16. PrincessMom98

    PrincessMom98 Mouseketeer

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    You are right, the airfare is probably the most expensive part. Our last trip we drove out and stayed in our camper so its hard to compare (we spent 6 weeks for the same cost as a friend's week at POR). The parks I listed in my previous post have nice rooms in the park or right outside for around $100 - $110 night. At the Grand Canyon there are food courts in the two lower priced hotels that are reasonable. The real savings is the price of disney tickets vs a National Park Annual Pass! The NPS pass is $80 a year for your whole family. If you are only going to the Grand Canyon the entrance fee is $25 per car for the week. In the park Ranger programs including the Jr Ranger Program are free. My kids loved collecting Jr ranger badges from the parks we visited and we all learned a lot doing them. Any questions just ask!
     
  17. Ryansdad0727

    Ryansdad0727 DIS Veteran

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    I sent you a pm. We stayed at the Yavapi lodge on the south rim. $150 a night but was worth it to be at the canyon for 2 nights. Those accommodation book up quick so they may be gone by now. The Hoover Dam tour from Vegas is great. Well worth the money. Vegas is not exactly kid friendly but you can go the the hotel/resorts and watch the free shows. Madame Tousseau's is also good. Grand Canyon is beautiful.
     
  18. Staceyms

    Staceyms Earning My Ears

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    Our airfare out of Houston for 5 was ~$1400, I night at El Tovar in the Grand Canyon National Park is ~$450. 5 nights at Sky Ranch Lodge is ~$940 (Rim View Double Queen with roll-away) 1 weeks entry into GCNP is $25/car.

    If we fly to Disney the airfare is usually ~$2000 - $2500. Off-site at a condo for a week last Spring Break was about $850 and 7 day basic park tix for 5 were about $1100. Last year we drove to Florida instead, so it was a little cheaper.
     
  19. HelloChum

    HelloChum Mouseketeer

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    I knew I came to the right place with my questions--thanks so much for all of your helpful replies. The website links, itineraries and hotel suggestions all are GREATLY appreciated.

    Surprisingly, I was not horrified by the airfare--we should have some flexibility to travel on the "cheaper" airfare days. We are w/i an hours drive of 3-4 airports with SW--that helps. (Just flew to Disney in August and had my airfare shocker then!)

    What is disappointing me is that I fear I have begun my planning way too late- :worried: -it seems the Grand Canyon hotels on the rim are pretty much sold out. I had my heart set on El Tovar. There are openings the last two weeks of August, but that won't work for us. Now, thinking maybe I should plan now for next spring break and get the hotels I want.

    Would April be less crowded than summer?

    I'm going to take a peak at the websites and look into everyone's suggestions and go back to the drawing board and figure this out!

    Thank you:flower3:
     
  20. Staceyms

    Staceyms Earning My Ears

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    [
    What is disappointing me is that I fear I have begun my planning way too late- :worried: -it seems the Grand Canyon hotels on the rim are pretty much sold out. I had my heart set on El Tovar. There are openings the last two weeks of August, but that won't work for us. Now, thinking maybe I should plan now for next spring break and get the hotels I want.

    ]

    You might get lucky, I only booked my room a couple of months ago. I called and asked for any two nights in June after the 4th. I then booked the airfare and everything else around that. I later canceled one night.

    Stacey
     
  21. caribear

    caribear I love WDW!

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    If you still plan to go in August I would suggest booking a hotel near the CG that can be cancelled without penalty ( and that you would not be disappointed with)....and then calling to check on El Tovar weekly. We went the 2nd week in August...and I booked a cabin at Bright Angel Lodge 8 days before we left! I had a couple of choices too...one of those being El Tovar...so cancellations do happen and I was told by the reservations agent to call 2 weeks out...and then call every day thereafter as openings do occur.
     

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