Just back from a fabulous trip, here's the cliffnotes version!
Just back from a fabulous trip, here's the cliffnotes version!
Just back from 10 days in the beautiful southwest, we had a fabulous time! Thanks to all of you who helped me in my planning!
We flew direct to Las Vegas and were famished so went directly to Ellis Island, primarily because it was close to our hotel, Paris, and also because of the good reviews here. The steak special was very good—I was envisioning a thin little steak and was quite surprised with a super thick, filet type steak! Service was a little off but overall a good stop, and my teen boys liked their root beer.
Paris was a beautiful hotel, we enjoyed our stay in a Red Room but didn’t try any bribe tricks for a view room because of the noise. Our room was fresh and beautiful, on the 30th floor so no noise. Used the wifi at the little bakery and then we were off to a trip down the strip. We walked to Wynn and back, stopping for a $1 margarita at Casino Royale and to see the Bellagio fountain show. Toured around in Bellagio, Venetian, and Mirage but frankly we were so tired from getting up early and the flight that it was an embarrassingly early night. Got the kids back to the room and set up with a movie, and DH and I went our separate ways gambling a bit, he in the poker room at Planet Hollywood and me at the slots in Ballys. We broke even!
In the morning we were off to Zion which was just beautiful on a bright sunny day. We hiked Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, the Riverside walk. DH wouldn’t go on Canyon Overlook because of the heights and Angels Landing was not even a thought! Fabulous day! We stayed at Cliffrose Lodge which I highly recommend. All the reviews are true. Our room was great and roomy, and looked right out on a nice lawn to the Virgin River. Used the hot tub which is 24 hours but the pool was cold. Got pizza at the Flying Monkey which was very good, the nice thin kind.
In the am my DH and two teen boys went to do a canyoneering day with Zion Adventure Co. Mike was their guide and they had a fabulous time canyoneering in Kolob Canyon. He was patient and so helpful for my three newbies. I had to sit out because my bum knee was acting up, but I soaked up the serenity at Cliffrose. We ate at Oscars that night on Mike’s recommendation and everything was wonderful!
Off to Bryce the next am on another clear sunny day, just gorgeous! I remembered its grandeur from my middle school trip and it was still as beautiful! Did all the view spots but I couldn’t hike so that was about it. Had an overpriced and “ok” meal at Zion Lodge because there weren’t many options, but it wasn’t worth the $ IMHO.
We stayed at the Bryce Best Western Grand and our stay of 2 nights was not without trouble. While the room was clean and roomy, the service there was abysmal. The “free breakfast” was a train wreck with ¾ of the food being gone by the time we got there towards the middle of the “open” hours – not the end. There were a lot of angry people and the manager began importing food in from the hotel next door, which was under the same management I guess. It was really crowded and disorganized and we had some toast and called it good. In addition the wifi would not work hotel-wide and the management really made no real efforts to fix it – one reservationist even argued with me about it and got really snarky. They eventually gave my computer genius hubby a phone number to call their IT dept and work it out himself! Hmm. Not impressed at this facility but like I said the room was very nice.
Spent the next day as our “free day” checking out Highway 12 towards Escalante. We didn’t make it quite to Boulder because my driving DH was getting a bit spooked by the roads and no guardrails. We did check out Hole in the Rock road to Devils Garden, on the recommendation of this board, and the boys had a total blast there! I would heartily recommend this spot for anyone with kids who need to burn off steam! They spent probably 1.5-2h just running and climbing the boulders having a great time. A great cure for too much sitting in the family minivan! Grabbed Subway in Escalante since dinner options at Bryce are so weak.
Next morning we were off to Page, AZ looking forward to Antelope Canyons. Absolutely fabulous! Otherworldly and peaceful, so beautiful! The highlight spot of our trip for us. We got on the reserved list at Upper, then went to do Lower while we waited. Took about 1.5h in lower and I think I liked it best. I know the kids did, with all the climbing and tight corners. Went back to Upper and it was just gorgeous too. Loved, loved, loved them! Had dinner at Bonkers, great meals, reasonably priced. Thanks TA! Also got fabulous real-fruit shakes at RD’s drive in under the recommendation of our guide Bonnie. The hotel in Page was the Holiday Inn Express, just ok, kind of tired and drab. Kind of uneventful.
Next day was Grand Canyon day and another beautiful sunny day. We took our time stopping a couple Navajo jewelry stands (everything looks just alike?? Kind of disappointed in that but the prices were really low) and stopping for lunch for a Navajo Taco at the Cameron Trading Post. It was very good, hubby and I split one. Our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon was at Desert View and it was awesome. Did all the tourist spots up to the Bright Angel Lodge then got our cabin. They surprised me—very clean, spacious, and everything we needed. They even have TV’s now. We got parking right outside our unit, and because of the kids, they gave us two adjoining units in a duplex so no noise from others. Awesome service all the way by Xanterra people. Went on the tram to sunset at Mojave Point and it was so nice, so beautiful. Almost everyone gets off at Hopi Point, so our little spot at Mojave was heaven. The bus ride with everyone going back to Bright Angel was packed but everyone was mellow. Dinner afterward was a very slow affair with everyone unloading at Bright Angel after sunset, we waited an hour for a table at the restaurant and it was just ok. Kids and dad hiked Bright Angel in the am then we had breakfast at the BA restaurant again. Breakfast much better than dinner, very good esp. the blueberry pancakes, yum!
Off to Sedona. The drive down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon was just beautiful, kind of wished I had settled on a hotel or cottage there. Stopped at the Dairy Queen to check jewelry, but disappointed that they all have exactly the same thing, I really wanted something different. We stayed at the Sedona Real, which was ok. Our first double queen was **tiny**, the rollaway I’d requested would fit but then no one could use the bathroom!! Upgraded to the only available thing, a king suite, which in retrospect I wish I’d have spent that $$$ at a smaller place in Oak Creek Canyon. It was fine but nothing special.
We rented a Jeep from Barlow and had a great time doing Soldiers Pass and the Outlaw Trail. Liked that they were less full of people than broken arrow plus it was our first time and we weren’t sure about driving broken arrow. Kids had a blast and it was great family bonding time I got uptown to do some shopping and found my unique piece of jewelry I had been looking for—boy could I do some damage shopping in Sedona! Ate dinner at Red Rock BBQ as my sons love BBQ – it was good and priced reasonably. Coconut crème pie was really good! Overall Sedona was just beautiful and a relaxing end to our vacation.
Traveled the long and boring drive back to Vegas with little to be diverted by. Passed Hoover Dam but we’d seen Glen Canyon dam so we just passed on by. Stayed at a very nice Holiday Inn Express in Henderson and hopped a flight back to Michigan, tired and thrilled with all we had seen and done, thanks again for all your help!!
Nice report! You hit some places that we missed on our recent trip to the region. This has me itchin' to go back. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
Thanks for the report. You packed a lot in a little time - my kinda trip! Glad you had a good time.
Thanks for posting. Sounds like you had a great adventure!
Thanks for sharing.
At Bryce, the Rubys Inn complex and BW Grand aren't just managed by the same folks, they are owned by the same people. The Ruby family has been hosting visitors to Bryce for about a 100 years now. When it gets crowded, food gets short. Never expect anything beyond mediocre food anywhere around Bryce. That's just the way it is.
Hoping that you learned that when visiting the parks in the Southwest, other than Springdale and Sedona, there really aren't any options for great lodging. But the important thing is just having a place to sleep and clean up. The vacation is all about the outdoors.
Thanks for your TR Snorkelgirlie. Enjoyed reading it. Sorry for your BW Grands stay. We had better experiences there. And I agree, Flying Monkey has good pizza's!
always nice to read about other people's experiences when they are traveling - will be going to tour some of the same area in May as my Swiss husband hasn't seen it all yet.
Very nice and interesting report. We stayed at Cliffrose once when Dessert Pearl was full and we enjoyed it very much. Sounds like your family enjoyed everything they did and it worked out well for you.
Great TR....enjoyed reading it! Sounds like you all had a great time on your adventures!
We weren't impressed with Ruby's either! Just to.....commercialized for our taste and actually ended up getting a room inside Bryce at the last minute! Enjoyed that much better!!
Thanks for taking the time to write this up and share your experiences with all of us here!
*thumbs up* Glad you had a good trip!
We recently stayed at Ruby's and the room was fine (we usually camp, so our standards are low, lol), but I thought the food was abysmal. We always temper our expectations for food in places like that, but even with our low expectations we found the food particularly bad. The flavored popcorn in the little grocery store was yummy though. :)