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Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Wales
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Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Hi

We would like to fly from U K to Denver do a 14 day road trip in Sept/Oct /07 or April/May/08 , which is the best time to visit. Start diving through the Rocky Mountains, and finishing spending 4 Nights in Las Vegas Nevada. We will both be very nervous first time drivers in the U S. Can you suggest a driving Itinerary and directions etc, finishing in Las Vegas Nevada .We would like to visit the places listed below ,but are open to all suggestions as to over night stops on the way .If possible we would like to avoid driving through cities. Is there a Highway that travels through most of the Rocky Mountains.

1 Night /Mesa Verde National Park

1 Night/ Bryce Canyon National Park

1 Night/ Zion National Park

1 Night/ Grand Canyon

4 Nights/Las Vegas

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

First of all, please get a good road map of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada and study it now. There are more roads than you can imagine, some big, some small and the online mapping websites sometimes do not route you the best way!

I am assuming you want to travel through the Colorado Rockies. Only one place on your list is actually in Colorado, Mesa Verde.

This trip is doable, but you are not spending enough time at the places you have. I would cut down on the Vegas time.

My recommendation is either do the Colorado Rockies as one trip, flying into Denver and then visiting Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, through the state to Durango / Mesa Verde and back to Denver. OR do the places you have mentioned as a trip, flying in and out of Las Vegas or Phoenix.

If you are set on driving through Colorado, I would take I70 west to Utah, then go to Moab and Arches National Park. Then to Mesa Verde. From Mesa Verde, go to North Rim Grand Canyon, then Zion, Bryce ending up in Las Vegas.

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Vail, Colorado
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2. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

I would vote for Sept/Oct 07, the leaves will be turning and the drive out towards Las Vegas will be lovely. Denver is a pretty large city as is Las Vegas so there will be no avoiding that part of city driving. Denver airport is alittle outside of town so you'll be able to get your wits about you before you get on to the major highway.

Mesa Verde is in the far Southwest corner of Colorado and not an easy days drive from Denver. Upon leaving Denver I would take Highway I-70 west, stop in Vail for the night and enjoy the beautiful mountain air and views, it's about 2.5 hours from the airport and would give you some time to get over your jet lag. Then continue to head west out I-70 to Glenwood Springs to Hwy 82 and then to Hwy 133 in Carbondale. 133 in a beautiful road that will afford some great mountain views. Countinue to Delta via hwy 92 and then on to hwy 550 south towards Ouray, a tiny mountain town with some great hot springs which you will need since this is a long days drive. From Ouray you head over Red Mountain to Durango and wst on 160 to Mesa Verde. You could always spend extra night between Vail and Ouray depending on your schedule. As far a being uncomfortable driving in the US. These are mountain roads, not alot of traffic but alot of twists and turns and slower driving if you are uncomfortable with mountain driving then I would skip Mesa Verde and head to Moab, Utah instead which is more highway driving but still very beautiful.

From Mesa Verde I would go west on 160 to the Grand Canyon South rim and then North on 89 to Bryce and Zion and then take Hwy 15 to Las Vegas.

14 days should afford you a nice amount of time to enjoy the area. Have a great trip - DM

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Charlotte, North...
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3. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

First off, since you're doing the Rockies, I would suggest going in September rather than October. October is too questionable with snowfall sometimes.

Day 1: Drive to Estes Park and explore the eastern side of Rocky Mtn. NP. Spend night in Estes Park.

Day 2: Drive Trail Ridge Road, explore western side of the Divide, and stay in Grand Lake.

Day 3: Drive west to Kremmling, then south to Dillon. Take the interstate west to Grand Junction. Then, travel south and take in the beauty of the Million Dollar Highway. Spend the night in Durango. Some may suggest that this driving route would be too tiring. However, IMO if you want to get the most of your trip, you need to take a day just to drive. Plus, the views along these routes are pretty spectacular! This would be ~8 hours driving time.

Day 4: Spend all day in Mesa Verde NP. Spend night in Cortez.

Day 5: Spend morning in Mesa Verde NP. Then drive to Page, Arizona for the night.

Day 6: Explore Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. Try for lodging at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim.

Day 7: Spend the day at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Spend the night in Kanab, Utah.

Day 8: Drive to Bryce Canyon NP and spend the day there. Spend night at Ruby's Inn.

Day 9: Drive to Zion NP and spend day there. Spend night in Springdale.

Day 10: Drive to Las Vegas and tour Valley of Fire State Park.

Day 11-14: Vegas

How does this itinerary sound? This would incorporate all of what you listed, plus Rocky Mtn National Park. The only problem is that you would only have 3 1/2 days in Vegas instead of 4, but IMO it is well worth it. If you need route directions, let me know. You can use mapquest.com, however, and it will generally give you a good estimate of driving times and directions.

As far as being possible to avoid cities...actually, you will be surprised at the lack of large cities along this route. Other than Denver and Las Vegas, the largest city you would travel through is probably St. George, Utah, and that city holds a population of around 75,000. Trust me, most of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona are sparsely populated with most of its citizens residing in its larger cities (Denver, Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Phoenix)

Sean

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4. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Check out mapquest.com. You can plot out directions with all of the stops included. I never leave home without a printout. I also agree that September would be an ideal time to go.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

All great ideas. Fall is a beautiful time to visit, even into early Oct, but Sept is probably the best.

Another route that could be taken..

From Denver take US 285 south to near Alamosa to see the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Then head west on US 160 to Pagosa Springs over Wolf Creek Pass. In Pagosa they have some nice hot springs and plenty of lodging. On to Durango, Mesa Verde and Cortez all on US 160.

In Durango you could take the train to Silverton, seeing some incredible scenery. Take the bus back and you can let the bus driver do the hard work while you sightsee!

At the Grand Canyon, you have the choice of 2 rims, the South Rim which has most of the tourist services and the North Rim which is more remote, quiet yet still has some services. North Rim would be closer to Zion/Bryce.

Have fun.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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6. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Oh I forgot... please be very careful when planning trips to the mountains using the online mapping websites. Many times I have seen these directing people over some routes that are difficult 4x4 roads. Stay on US or State highways and ask about smaller roads. That is why a good paper map is always an important tool!

Wales
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7. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

Thanks to everyone for your great ideas .What do you think about this add an extra day to our trip fly into Denver, stay for 1 night at the Doubletree Hotel on Quebec Street getting over our jet lag. . Do they have a free shuttle service from the airport ,I think I read somewhere they have an Avis counter at the Hotel ?.We could rent the car from the Hotel, what size car do you think is best for us to rent there are two of us. Compact Car/ Standard Car, or Full Size Car .any advice on the car below please.

Thanks

Pontiac G6 or similar / Chevrolet Monte Carlo or similar/ Chevrolet Impala or similar

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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8. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

A day in Denver may be good, but I don't know if staying at this Doubletree is the place to be. You may want to find a place near downtown Denver and Lodo to enjoy all the restaurants, shopping and even a baseball game if the Rockies are still doing good or a hockey game if the Av's have started!!

I would just rent a car at the airport unless the price is a lot different. You will have more choice in cars. I would get a either an intermediate or standard car. The extra engine size may help get up and over many of the mountain roads. I don't think the gas mileage is that much different and you can be more comfortable.

Enjoy

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9. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

TNsoccer 07 had a great itinerary --

but I would consider one thing...if it were me, I'd shorten my stay in Las Vegas and add more time to my schedule of RMNP/Colorado/Utah, and the other natural areas. Vegas to me gets boring after a couple of days. I would rather spend my time in the other areas and then just do 2 days in Vegas at the end. I'd hate for you to rush through all the beautiful places and miss out on some fun adventures and then get to Vegas and regret being there so long and missing out.

just my opinion though... have a great trip.

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Charlotte, North...
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10. Re: Rocky Mountains to Las Vegas

I echo what ajpesina said. I have driven the strip in Vegas twice before and on both occasions, that drive was enough for me. I'm not at all a city dweller. Give me the national parks or just unspoiled nature and I'm happy. : ) I definitely don't think 4 nights in Vegas is necessary, but everyone has his/her likes and dislikes.

Sean

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