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  1. #1
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    Arizona-Nevada trip - suggestions, advice?

    My best friend and I are planning a little trip to Arizona, mainly to see the Grand Canyon, but we'll have a few days (Wednesday to Sunday, although we won't have time to do anything else on Sun but to fly back to NYC)

    Our general plan is:

    • fly to Phoenix and rent a car there, drive to Sedona (get a hotel there), see what we can in and around Sedona


    • drive to Grand Canyon (South Rim) and spend a day there and see everything we can


    • drive to Las Vegas (get a hotel there), see the town and a show (maybe Cirque du Soleil); fly back to NYC


    I've been trying to choose a Cirque du Soleil show, and I'm torn between Mystere and O! Any other shows (not necessarily CdS) that I should check out?

    If we have enough time in LV, maybe we could drive to Death Valley.

    Any advice (favorite places/things to do and those to avoid) about Sedona, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas? Maybe a jeep tour worth checking out? (there are hundreds of those between Sedona, Grand Canyon and LV) Favorite, accessible (and not terribly expensive) hotels?

    Personally I'd rather go on a jeep tour around Sedona and go to places I could not go by myself there (I'm not planning on driving on any back roads myself, let alone rocks), but at Grand Canyon I would prefer not to be tied to anyone's schedule. But maybe there is some great jeep tour there that I don't know about. One I was interested in was a one-day river trip, but it doesn't operate on the days we're going to be there. Right now, driving there by ourselves, leaving the car in the parking lot and jumping between free shuttles seem like the best way to go about it. I want to have lots of time to just enjoy the views and take pictures.

    I think we might need one more place to sleep between Sedona and LV, something relatively close to the Grand Canyon (or at least something on the way to LV, as we're not going back South or go East after reaching Grand Canyon) Any suggestions?

    BTW, is it more worth it to see Las Vegas or go to Death Valley? I'm not a gambler and we can see a show late at night, so we could spend the day doing something else.

    Any advice or suggestions will be much appreciated!!

  2. #2
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    At the South Rim, do try and stop into El Tovar, a historic lodge, even if just for a drink or cup of hot chocolate. If you like history, it's a former Fred Harvey lodge, so to get in the mood for the trip, you and your friend might want to check out the Judy Garland classic The Harvey Girls.

    Around Vegas, I know you are into photography, so Red Rocks Canyon is a great spot, right outside of town. If you are into Americana and feats of engineering, the Hoover Dam isn't too far, and the tour is interesting.

    If you are interested in UFOs and other , a day long drive to the infamous Area 51 is a lot of fun. The drive through the desert is beautiful (photo ops!), and at the end of it there's a kitschy little restaurant that has a display of alien stuff and of course a little gift shop. Do a little research in advance to sort out the directions to the entrance to Groom Lake (it's unmarked).

    Have fun!

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    Almost the only thing I have ever done in Sedona is eat dinner at L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek.

    Since you're going to be in the area, you should think about buying turquoise jewelry. There are roadside stands and shops on the way up to the South Rim as well as stores in Sedona and Flagstaff.

    The choice between Las Vegas and Death Valley depends on your tastes. I'd go to Death Valley for the spectacular scenery, but Las Vegas does offer shows and shopping that may appeal to you.
    Last edited by Vagabond; 04-28-2012 at 06:25 PM.

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    If you're driving between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, stop off at Hoover Dam and take the tour. I found it really interesting.

    I think you go through Kingman from GC to LV. I can't remember where I stayed, but they have several hotels of the Comfort Inn, Best Western ilk.

    You didn't say when you are going, but if you want to stay at specific places, you may want to book now for anything in or around a National Park. Also, Death Valley will be hot, and a lot of the facilities there are closed. The Inn (Hotel California!) will be closed, but the Furnace Creek Ranch is open year round.

    As for Vegas, I'm of the opinion that it's worth a trip once. It just has to be seen to be believed. Nothing in Vegas is cheap, but there are mid-week deals to be had. As for O v. Mystere - haven't seen either, but my sister has seen both. She recommends O - especially since that's one you won't see anywhere else.

  5. #5
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    I'm in Northern NV as opposed to the Vegas area, but have been down there (and Grand Canyon). I'm not sure how far of a drive it would be to Death Valley, and if you are just wanting to go there to say you've been there; but about 50 miles or so from Vegas is the Valley of Fire state park, which is beautiful, and closeby to that is Lake Mead, which is also beautiful and peaceful if you are a nature/photography person. Also, further on (if you want to drive 2 1/2 to 3 hours) you can get into southern Utah's Zion National Park, which is gorgeous and kind of a smaller version of Yosemite. Having been to all three places (and Hoover Dam, which was already mentioned as well), I would much prefer them to anything in Las Vegas on the strip, although I can't say I've seen either of the Cirque shows (maybe I'll take a short road trip down there some week soon just to visit the shows).

    Also, if you stay at a hotel off the main Vegas strip, you can get much better deals, and still only be 10-15 minutes away from the action.
    I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.~W. C. Fields

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    Re: Cirque shows ..... "Love" is excellent. Liked it much better than "Mystere", but I haven't seen "O".

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    My sister saw "O" and loved it. Stay at the Bellagio, and make sure you get a lakeside room. Viewing the fountain show from your room is a great experience. And make sure you find out what channel the TV uses to pipe the music in. We were silly enough to try and hear the music through the glass. I kept saying there must be a way to hear it in the room, and everyone pish-poshed me....until the room service guy happened to tell us what channel on the TV you could hear the music! LOL.

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    Since you are going to be in the Vegas area, you might want to check out Hoover Dam. They have tours, and it's quite a sight to see. Lots of good photo ops there!
    Nubka - Unpaid Slave Laborer...

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    Quote Originally Posted by attyfan View Post
    Re: Cirque shows ..... "Love" is excellent. Liked it much better than "Mystere", but I haven't seen "O".
    I saw "Love" last year. Best show I've ever seen.

    I saw "O" as well. Awesome & voidy

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    I will be going to AZ in May as well and make a 1-day road trip to the Grand Canyon, but for me, I'll be coming from Pheonix/Scottsdale. Besides Flagstaff and the outlet mall at Anthem, any other interesting stops between Scottsdale and the Grand Canyon?

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    I'm in California now heading towards the Grand Canyon, will post as I go along.

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    Sedona & Oak Creek Canyon!

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    The Grand Canyon is wonderful, but I'd rather invest my time in southern Utah with all the different just-as-beautiful parks: Bryce Canyons is my absolute favorite, but Zion is gorgeous too. I believe Arches isn't far....I need to go look that up. Hoover Dam is fun, and so is Lake Mead. All of southern Utah is unreal. Wish I could go back soon!

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    Dancing with the Stars show is in Vegas now. If you can't get Cirque tix, that might be a fun alternative.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  15. #15
    OmnipresentAdmeanistrator
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    Thank you, guys, for all the replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    At the South Rim, do try and stop into El Tovar, a historic lodge, even if just for a drink or cup of hot chocolate.
    I'll keep it in mind.

    Around Vegas, I know you are into photography, so Red Rocks Canyon is a great spot, right outside of town. If you are into Americana and feats of engineering, the Hoover Dam isn't too far, and the tour is interesting.
    Many people told me about it and many of you mentioned it as well. I'll talk to my friend about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    Since you're going to be in the area, you should think about buying turquoise jewelry. There roadside stands and shops on the way up to the South Rim as well as stores in Sedona and Flagstaff.
    I like turquoise, thanks for the info.

    The choice between Las Vegas and Death Valley depends on your tastes. I'd go to Las Vegas for the spectacular scenery, but Las Vegas does offer shows and shopping that may appeal to you.
    I'm planning to see a show in the evening anyway. Shopping doesn't appeal to me at all, especially in expensive places.

    Death Valley was a good idea until I realized that it takes 3 hours one way to get there. Also I don't know how I'd take the heat. Arizona is already as hot as I can take... or not. I count on it being more bearable without all the humidity.

    Quote Originally Posted by znachki View Post
    You didn't say when you are going, but if you want to stay at specific places, you may want to book now for anything in or around a National Park. Also, Death Valley will be hot, and a lot of the facilities there are closed. The Inn (Hotel California!) will be closed, but the Furnace Creek Ranch is open year round.

    As for Vegas, I'm of the opinion that it's worth a trip once. It just has to be seen to be believed. Nothing in Vegas is cheap, but there are mid-week deals to be had. As for O v. Mystere - haven't seen either, but my sister has seen both. She recommends O - especially since that's one you won't see anywhere else.
    I'm leaving on May 16.

    Yeah, I read the Death Valley is more of a winter trip. But I thought that as long as I'm already there and it's still not summer, maybe it could be worth a trip. I loved seeing pictures from there.

    I'm going to Las Vegas only because we decided it's not worth driving back to Phoenix since distances are huge in those parts of the US, and we need a major airport to fly home from. I don't mind seeing Vegas, it's just not very important to me. I'd rather see all the sights around it than go on the town.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasey View Post
    I'm in Northern NV as opposed to the Vegas area, but have been down there (and Grand Canyon). I'm not sure how far of a drive it would be to Death Valley, and if you are just wanting to go there to say you've been there;
    Nooooooo. I don't think I'd go anywhere only to be able to say that I've been there. First of all, I'm too lazy for that.

    BTW, my mother's cousin was like that. He's been to a lot of places. Most of the time only for a few minutes and he took hundreds of crappy pictures to prove it. 70% of which were unusable because they were missing a head, etc. But he still ordered double prints and made you go through them when you came for a visit. BTW, he didn't know anything about the vast majority of the places he visited. He just went there because the name was famous. Why, he didn't care.

    I would like to see the Death Valley because it sounds like an interesting place, plus the camera seems to love it.

    but about 50 miles or so from Vegas is the Valley of Fire state park, which is beautiful, and closeby to that is Lake Mead, which is also beautiful and peaceful if you are a nature/photography person. Also, further on (if you want to drive 2 1/2 to 3 hours) you can get into southern Utah's Zion National Park, which is gorgeous and kind of a smaller version of Yosemite. Having been to all three places (and Hoover Dam, which was already mentioned as well), I would much prefer them to anything in Las Vegas on the strip, although I can't say I've seen either of the Cirque shows (maybe I'll take a short road trip down there some week soon just to visit the shows).
    Thanks for all the suggestions. It looks like a trip to Death Valley is a long one, too, so maybe we'll go to any of the places you suggested instead.

    Also, if you stay at a hotel off the main Vegas strip, you can get much better deals, and still only be 10-15 minutes away from the action.
    Yeah, that's what I was planning to do. I don't care about being on the strip, lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by manhn View Post
    I will be going to AZ in May as well and make a 1-day road trip to the Grand Canyon, but for me, I'll be coming from Pheonix/Scottsdale. Besides Flagstaff and the outlet mall at Anthem, any other interesting stops between Scottsdale and the Grand Canyon?
    Sedona? I think you're going to be driving through there anyway. From what I've read they really recommend seeing Scottsdale and Sedona. If not even for the towns themselves, it's for the spectacular scenery around them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Holley Calmes View Post
    The Grand Canyon is wonderful, but I'd rather invest my time in southern Utah with all the different just-as-beautiful parks: Bryce Canyons is my absolute favorite, but Zion is gorgeous too. I believe Arches isn't far....I need to go look that up. Hoover Dam is fun, and so is Lake Mead. All of southern Utah is unreal. Wish I could go back soon!
    My friend wants to see the Grand Canyon. I do too. If we can, we'll try going to any of the places you guys recommended in Utah. I don't have time right now to study the map, but I will later. I wish we had more time, but we only have a few days. And I already said no to going to LA. LA doesn't have any appeal for me whatsoever. I'd rather go to San Francisco, but the things I'd love to see in California the most are things like the redwood parks , Death Valley, any park with a beautiful coastline, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceon6 View Post
    Dancing with the Stars show is in Vegas now. If you can't get Cirque tix, that might be a fun alternative.
    The only time I'd go to see a DWTS show would be if it had a lot of Tristan in it.

  17. #17

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    Phoenix Airport has the most expensive car rental rates of any airport I've been to outside of NYC. Taxes and fees came to about 70% of the base rental charges last time I rented there -- just don't be surprised. (The car rental pickup is also a pain -- you go outside and take an airport-run huge bus to the central multi-story car rental facility about fifteen minutes from the airport, and when all the people dump out of the bus, the lines at Hertz and Avis can be kind of ugly. They managed to run out of cars the last time we were there, and there was about a two hour wait to get a car -- and you're stuck in the equivalent of a huge parking garage with absolutely nothing around.)

    There is a national monument with some very cool Indian cliff dwellings very close to the freeway not far before you reach Sedona. It is easy walking, and a great introduction to cliff-dwellers on a much smaller scale than you'd see at Mesa Verde. We spent about an hour and half there and really enjoyed it. http://www.dreamsedona.com/montezuma-castle.html (There are some stairs to scramble up, but you can see a lot even without doing that if stairs are an issue.)

    Do you have a pair of binoculars? I'd consider bringing them.

    The Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona is fantastic. http://pinkjeeptours.com/ -- The Broken Arrow Tour will get you (in the jeep) up in areas you would never imagine a jeep could reach outside of commercials. They have some other tours that are much milder (less of the jeep climbing up rocks and jolting) but unless you've got back problems, I'd highly, highly recommend this one.

    The canyon road between Sedona and Flagstaff is a gorgeous drive. Flagstaff could be pretty cool (certainly quite cool relative to Vegas) so layers would be your friend.

    Have a great trip!
    Last edited by barbk; 04-28-2012 at 04:11 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    Phoenix Airport has the most expensive car rental rates of any airport I've been to outside of NYC. Taxes and fees came to about 70% of the base rental charges last time I rented there -- just don't be surprised. (The car rental pickup is also a pain -- you go outside and take an airport-run huge bus to the central multi-story car rental facility about fifteen minutes from the airport, and when all the people dump out of the bus, the lines at Hertz and Avis can be kind of ugly. They managed to run out of cars the last time we were there, and there was about a two hour wait to get a car -- and you're stuck in the equivalent of a huge parking garage with absolutely nothing around.)
    Thanks for the warning. I was planning to rent a car online and just pick it up there. Online prices seemed pretty normal.

    I read that in general it's much cheaper to rent a car anywhere outside the airport, but like I said the online prices didn't seem too bad. Will I have to pay some aiport tax when I get there that isn't mentioned online?

    And I'm hoping if I rent it online in advance, they will have a car for me. Oh well, we'll see.

    The Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona is fantastic. http://pinkjeeptours.com/ -- The Broken Arrow Tour will get you (in the jeep) up in areas you would never imagine a jeep could reach outside of commercials. They have some other tours that are much milder (less of the jeep climbing up rocks and jolting) but unless you've got back problems, I'd highly, highly recommend this one.
    I know about this one. I would love to see the sights, but I'm not necessarily crazy about getting jolted around the car. I'll have my camera and I wouldn't want to drop it, eek.

    The canyon road between Sedona and Flagstaff is a gorgeous drive. Flagstaff could be pretty cool (certainly quite cool relative to Vegas) so layers would be your friend.

    Have a great trip!
    Thank you! Yeah, one reason why I didn't want to fly to Flagstaff (from Phoenix) is the scenery on the way when you're driving. But then again, it might be worth seeing it from the air, too.

  19. #19

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    Just check your car rental site and make sure that the quote includes all fees and taxes -- call if you aren't sure. Since you're dropping the car in Vegas, I don't know if there are many off-airport options that work. We normally rent off-airport from one of the Enterprise local rentals, but we return it at the same place.

    I bring our camera on the Pink Jeep tours and have never had a problem just keeping it zipped in my pocket until we stop to get out. They have grab bars overhead the whole way around the jeep. My B's 82 y.o. MIL has done it both years we've been there!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    Just check your car rental site and make sure that the quote includes all fees and taxes -- call if you aren't sure.
    I'll be sure to do that.

    Since you're dropping the car in Vegas, I don't know if there are many off-airport options that work.
    Yeah. Sometimes you have to pay extra for convenience. If I had to take a cab to/from the airport, it'll probably end up being the same cost.

    I bring our camera on the Pink Jeep tours and have never had a problem just keeping it zipped in my pocket until we stop to get out.
    I have a big DSLR camera, I don't have pockets that big. Of course I could always keep it zipped up in a bag. But I would still worry about it, I guess. I know they offer quite a few tours, I'll try to pick something that will be great for the soul and as well as my camera. BTW, how much time do you have to get out of the jeep and walk around/take pictures? Probably not that much.

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