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Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Sydney
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18 posts
4 reviews
23 helpful votes
Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

hi,

we - my husband and 2 small children - 3 & 5 - are visiting USA for white christmas with friends in Minnesota.

We are arriving in LA and doing some theme park stuff first - but have from around the 17th December to 23rd december - when we are expected in Minneapolis - available for other things.

I have always wanted to go to Monument Valley (tragic John Ford fan)but wonder whether it's possible. I don't know whether it would simply to too cold or roads no good or whatever.

We are completely flexible - can fly to somewhere to start, can hire a car, we've considered hiring a RV, etc. we were planning to fly out from somwewhere like Vegas to Minneapolis, but nothing sorted out yet. so any ideas for realistic itineraries that don't involve constant days of driving (children!) would be great.

Any advice GRATEFULLY received.If it's a really bad idea, please tell me upfront!!

Colchester UK
Level Contributor
1,627 posts
1. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Hi Anne

Monument Valley, December averages. Temperature 16c high, 3c low. Probably chilly for you Aussies, but to us Brits almost tropical! Oh, and about half an inch of precipitation. Just for the record there is never a bad time to visit the amazing American Southwest.

As you are flexible try this. Get a cheapo flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and then:

17 Dec: Leave Las Vegas on US95, skirt the Mojave National Preserve, then take NV163 to cross the Colorado at Davis Dam and enter Arizona. Now take AZ95, CoRd153 and scenic CoRd10 (Historic Route 66) to Oatman. Oatman is an old mining town that has barely changed, looks like a film set. Let the kids feed and pet the "wild" burros whilst you strut the sidewalks like John Wayne. Continue on Historic Route 66 over scenic Sitgreaves Pass to join I-40 and continue to Kingman and overnight here.

18 Dec: Leave on I-40 then at exit 53 take AZ66, Historic Route 66 again, and near Peach Springs you'll find Grand Canyon Caverns, www.gccaverns.com, a good place to break your journey. Rejoin I-40 near the old Route 66 town of Seligman. AZ64 will bring you to Grand Canyon Nat Park and Grand Canyon Village. www.xanterra.com for lodgings in the park.

19 Dec: Take scenic AZ64 and check out the many overlooks along East Rim Drive, taking your last look at the canyon from The Watchtower at Desert View. Continue to Cameron and check out the trading post (www.camerontradingpost.com) and have a bite to eat in the very good restaurant. US89, US160 and scenic US163 will bring you to Monument Valley. There is, literally, only one place to stay at Monument Valley, and that is Goulding's Lodge (www.gouldings.com), what a location! Check out the John Ford/John Wayne museum and have a meal in the restaurant and watch the sun set on Monument Valley, magical!

20 Dec: Take an all day tour of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park with your Navajo guide, available from Goulding's Lodge. Great fun and very informative.

21 Dec: Leave Monument Valley and return to Cameron. Take US89 to Flagstaff (www.flagstaffarizona.com), taking the scenic loop road to Wupatki Nat Mon, an ancient Native American pueblo, and Sunset Crater Volcano Nat Mon, let the kids scramble amonst the huge lava flows.

22 Dec: Take AZ89A, the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, to Sedona and on to the old mining town of Jerome. Take a mine tour and see if you can find the oldest restaurant in Arizona. Continue to another old mining town, Prescott. Good retail therapy here. US69 and I-17 will bring you to Phoenix.

23 Dec: Fly to Minneapolis.

www.nps.gov will give you information on all National Parks and Monuments, you might find www.arizonatourism.com useful too.

Have a great trip.

Tony

tony.grant2@ntlworld.com

Sydney
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18 posts
4 reviews
23 helpful votes
2. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Thanks tony - that sounds awesome.Any itinerary that includes Route 66 and Monument Valley gets the big thumbs up from me!

this doesn't sound like too much driving either - will investigate cheap flights from

LA to Vegas.

MUCH appreciated. Anne

New South Wales...
Level Contributor
3,667 posts
3. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Good advice from Tony. But why bother with a flight from LA to LV if you are just going to drive out of LV. By the time you get to LAX, check in, board, fly, and get out of LV you could have driven up the interstate via Barstow and Needles etc. On your own time frame and much more interesting.

We paid $US80 drop off fee for our car hire from LAX to PHX. Wouldn't expect much less LV to PHX.

And we think MV sounds like a really good idea.

Sydney
Level Contributor
18 posts
4 reviews
23 helpful votes
4. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Thank you both for the advice!

some new developments today in that our travel agent has found us a good fare that can have us fly into & out of vegas for same price as the minneapolis leg, so i'm tempted to take that. .. got the weekend to decide.we had pretty much thought may as well just drive it if it's only 4.5 hours from LA to Vegas. but with the little people, we're now considering the flight option, although it's in & out of Las Vegas.

Anyway, If we did that, we’d fly out of Las Vegas on the 23rd, rather than Phoenix.

So, how much of this is still feasible?

i.e. can we (or SHOULD we?) still do what Tony recommended and just work out how to get back to Vegas. And my question is: is it TOO much to squeeze in Bryce or Zion on the way?

We are not worried about driving say 4-5 hours a day (poor long suffering children are used to that) but would probably prefer not to do TOO much more in any day. I guess that's why Tony’s route appealed – but I would dearly love to shoehorn in Bryce, so might put up with whingeing children for some more scenery!

FYI My husband and I have been to the Grand Canyon several times before (but as side trips from Vegas, flying to canyon, overnighting, etc), so it’s not as critical for us. We have been to Hoover Dam too.

From Tony’s itinerary:

17 Dec: Leave Las Vegas on US95, skirt the Mojave National Preserve, then take NV163 to cross the Colorado at Davis Dam and enter Arizona. Now take AZ95, CoRd153 and scenic CoRd10 (Historic Route 66) to Oatman. Oatman is an old mining town that has barely changed, looks like a film set. Let the kids feed and pet the "wild" burros whilst you strut the sidewalks like John Wayne. Continue on Historic Route 66 over scenic Sitgreaves Pass to join I-40 and continue to Kingman and overnight here.

18 Dec: Leave on I-40 then at exit 53 take AZ66, Historic Route 66 again, and near Peach Springs you'll find Grand Canyon Caverns, www.gccaverns.com, a good place to break your journey. Rejoin I-40 near the old Route 66 town of Seligman. AZ64 will bring you to Grand Canyon Nat Park and Grand Canyon Village. www.xanterra.com for lodgings in the park.

19 Dec: Take scenic AZ64 and check out the many overlooks along East Rim Drive, taking your last look at the canyon from The Watchtower at Desert View. Continue to Cameron and check out the trading post (www.camerontradingpost.com) and have a bite to eat in the very good restaurant. US89, US160 and scenic US163 will bring you to Monument Valley. There is, literally, only one place to stay at Monument Valley, and that is Goulding's Lodge (www.gouldings.com), what a location! Check out the John Ford/John Wayne museum and have a meal in the restaurant and watch the sun set on Monument Valley, magical!

20 Dec: Take an all day tour of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park with your Navajo guide, available from Goulding's Lodge. Great fun and very informative.

21 Dec: Leave Monument Valley and ..........???......

22 Dec:...............?............ arrive back in Las vegas by evening (morning flight to Minneapolis)

23 Dec: Fly to Minneapolis.

thank you again!

Anne

New South Wales...
Level Contributor
3,667 posts
5. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Anne,

I'm on the computer late (Donna) so I get a chance to answer. My slant is probably a little different from the men. With your new idea I would think of going a bit further the first day, as you will want to have more time available for the other things I think are worth doing. As you have seen the Grand Canyon before I think you should by all means see the great things south of Vegas, but then get to Monument Valley which I am sure you will really enjoy. To do a circuit back to Vegas you will also enjoy I think going back by continuing up the 163, then take the 95, Natural Bridges was an enjoyable stop for us along this route. Continue on through Hanksville, and Escalante (interesting though perhaps not where you will want to stay). Overnight at Bryce Canyon or nearby if you can as Bryce should be beautiful at this time of year. On to Zion another wonderful and scenic National Park. From there easy trip back to Vegas via Valley of Fire State Park.

Whilst Tony's plan back via Sedona etc (though then it was so you could head to Pheonix) is also very scenic, if you like spectacular rocks, etc the northern route will be your thing too.

We have travelled these areas with young children (though not quite as young as yours), and always found that a bit of driving was a good thing as they went to sleep for a while and then were rested for when we wanted them to get out and explore some of the beautiful National Parks in this area.

Whatever you decide you will have a great time, as the blokes have been telling you this is a great part of the world to visit.

Watford, United...
Level Contributor
45,108 posts
54 reviews
74 helpful votes
6. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Tough call! If you drop the Grand Canyon from your itinerary that would give you a night each in Bryce and Zion from where it's about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive back to Vegas.

If you think the kids would appreciate the Grand Canyon then you will I think have to choose between Bryce and Zion. Being December I would (very sadly) cut out Bryce. The weather could (but not will) be bad and Bryce, being at a much higher elevation, would be the first to be affected.

That would mean driving from Monument Valley to Springdale, the town attached to Zion, via Page on the 21st to give you the best part of a full day at Zion on the 22nd. If your flight isn't too early on the 23rd you could also spend that night in Springdale.

The final option would be to drive straight from LV to the Grand Canyon although that would mean missing Oatman which I think the kids would enjoy.

More to think about!

adamhornets@yahoo.com

Sydney
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18 posts
4 reviews
23 helpful votes
7. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

THANK you all so much for this advice - it's totally invaluable and MUCH appreciated.

And thanks Donna for your great advice - totally agree with you - i am banking on the getting bored going to sleep factor on the drives so that we can do some little walks when we get to a scenic spot.

I am now thinking i will be the worse mother in the world if i deny children the opportunity to see Grand Canyon! They haven't been to the States at all, so we do feel they should see the GC - mind you, it's no REAL hardship going again,we totally loved it. It's more that i would have liked very much to see the famous Bryce Canyon after being told so often that it's so spectacular. But Monument Valley is the big dream, so i definitely don't want to ditch IT.

Will have another think.

About how long to drive from Springdale to Vegas do you think??

Colchester UK
Level Contributor
1,627 posts
8. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Hi again Anne

You could try this.

21 Dec: Leave Monument Valley on scenic US163, then US160 and US89 to Bitter Springs, with some views of the Painted Desert, there are better, around The Gap. Now take scenic US89alt and cross the Colorado on the Navajo Bridge at spectacular Marble Canyon. Good place to stretch your legs here, but hang on to the little 'uns, it's a long way down! You'll find a reasonable diner and gas station at Soap Creek. Continue past the Vermilion Cliffs Nat Mon to the to the town of Kanab and rejoin US89. Just north of Kanab you'll find the Moqui Cave, somewhere else to break your journey and the chance to see some dinosaur footprints. Now take very scenic UT9 to Springdale and overnight here. Try www.utahsdixie.com for information on lodgings. It doesn't really matter where you stay it's an amazing setting. If you have time take the scenic road through majestic Zion Nat Park to the Temple of Sinawava and walk at least part of the Riverside Walk to The Narrows. This is a level easy walk, thinking of the little 'uns again, and shouldn't cause you any problems, unlike some of the other trails in the park.

22 Dec.If you didn't have time yesterday, visit Zion Nat Park this morning. Then leave Springdale on scenic UT9 to I-15 and head south, through the stunning Virgin River Gorge to Las Vegas. If you have time, Springdale to Las Vegas is about two and a half hours, leave I-15 at exit 75 and take scenic NV40 to Valley of Fire State Park. Stretch your legs by taking the easy Petroglyph Trail, loads of petroglyphs, to Mouse's Tank. Continue through the park then scenic NV167, alongside, sort of, Lake Mead, NV147 and US95 will bring you to Las Vegas. You may find it easier to overnight somewhere like Henderson, rather than in Las Vegas itself, just a thought.

23 Dec: Fly to Minneapolis.

I haven't suggested visiting Bryce Canyon Nat Park. We are talking December here and because of the altitude Bryce Canyon, though very beautiful with a dusting of snow, may prove a little too cold for young children, plus you could have, possibly, problems on some of the roads. Also be aware that some of the smaller attractions, eg Moqui Cave, may not be open at this time of year.

By the way did I mention this is an amazing part of the World? Enjoy.

Tony

tony.grant2@ntlworld.com

New South Wales...
Level Contributor
3,667 posts
9. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

Alright let's have another try. Assuming you are flying into LV you could reverse the loop, keep in mind all of Tony's suggestions and insert as appropriate.

From LV head to Zion first, Valley of Fire is on the way, and you can't help but drive up the Virgin River Gorge. Stay at Springdale and allow time to visit Bryce as well. Bryce may be inaccessible and, if so, then so be it. But you are so close, Bryce with snow is truly spectacular, and to not allow time would be a bad idea. If you can't get to Bryce then use this extra time at MV. Your accommodation bookings at this stage will need to be a bit flexible. There are accommodation options within 20 miles of MV if Gouldings doesn't suit.

Head through Kanab to MV via Marble Canyon etc and stay a couple of nights at MV. Maybe stop at Page the night for an Antelope Canyon tour and to break the drive.

From MV back to LV through Cameron, the GC (east to south), and Oatman.

Try putting these stops into an itinerary, use MapBlast or simlar for times/distances and see how you go. Should be entirely possible.

If you're not going to Phoenix then forget Sedona (this time).

Noel & Donna outtrimau@yahoo.com

Sydney
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18 posts
4 reviews
23 helpful votes
10. Re: Beginner's guide to Monument Valley. . . advice needed!

LOL tony - i'm Getting a slight feeling that you LERVE this part of the world! but i'm pretty quick - maybe someone else wouldn't have picked it!

but seriously - your enthusiasm is very infectious and i'm feeling very excited about it, winter notwithstanding. 3-16 is fine for us - we live in sydney so it would be like a cold winter's day here, fine for sightseeing as long as not too foggy or showery or snowy!

thanks again for taking the time to respond with such detailed comments.

Anne