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Arizona-Nevada trip - suggestions, advice?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by WindSpirit, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    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. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    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 :sekret:, 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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  3. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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

    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: Apr 28, 2012
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  4. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    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.
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  5. Kasey

    Kasey Correcting President Trump's grammar on Twitter :)

    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.
  6. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

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

    Flatfoote Active Member

    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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  8. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    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! :)
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  9. nyrak

    nyrak Active Member

    I saw "Love" last year. Best show I've ever seen.

    I saw "O" as well. Awesome & voidy ;)
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  10. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    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?
  11. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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

    paskatefan Well-Known Member

    Sedona & Oak Creek Canyon!
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  13. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    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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  14. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    Dancing with the Stars show is in Vegas now. If you can't get Cirque tix, that might be a fun alternative.
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  15. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    Thank you, guys, for all the replies!

    I'll keep it in mind. :)

    Many people told me about it and many of you mentioned it as well. I'll talk to my friend about it.

    I like turquoise, thanks for the info.

    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. :yikes: Arizona is already as hot as I can take... or not. I count on it being more bearable without all the humidity.

    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. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    :eek: 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. :lol:

    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.

    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.

    Yeah, that's what I was planning to do. I don't care about being on the strip, lol.

    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.

    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. :lol: 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 :swoon: , Death Valley, any park with a beautiful coastline, etc.

    The only time I'd go to see a DWTS show would be if it had a lot of Tristan in it. :)
  17. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    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: Apr 28, 2012
  18. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    :eek: 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.

    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.

    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. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    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. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    I'll be sure to do that.

    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 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. :lol: BTW, how much time do you have to get out of the jeep and walk around/take pictures? Probably not that much.
  21. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Probably about two stops, one for fifteen minutes, the other for ten. They may have a special trip for photographers -- give them a call.

    I edited in some comments about Montezuma's Castle into my original post -- we got some great photographs there. It really is a jewel of a small, easy to get to site.
  22. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

    I have a very soft spot for Tucson; if you like hiking, it's a gorgeous place- not quite as dramatic as Grand Canyon, but the sunsets in the mountains are quite unforgettable, and Sonora desert with all the saguaros is stunning. ( Phoenix did not do much for me, nature- wise, but Tucson is unforgettable). If you are driving through and just have a little time, Tucson Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum and Sabino Canyon hikes are easily accessible and oh-so- beautiful, but there is so much more, if there is time. Between saguaros, mountains and javelinas, I am in love. Great food, as well. Lots of interesting art galleries with Southwest theme; I enjoyed De Grazia Gallery in the Sun, also in the Northern side of the city (Mexican/ Southwest/ Native American art).

    I've visited Death Valley in winter; it is very interesting, but i would not say it is something to see in a hurry, it's kind of empty and vast and space age-y...
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  23. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Death Valley in mid-May? eek!
  24. paskatefan

    paskatefan Well-Known Member

    Saguaro National Monument - Tucson Mountain Park, Sabino Canyon, Sonora Desert Museum, Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Dam (straddles the border between AZ & Utah), Monument Valley, Zion national Park, Bryce Canyon (my favorite national park in Utah - spectacular!)
  25. BreakfastClub

    BreakfastClub Active Member

    For proximity, I second Valley of Fire SP, especially at sunset.

    Also those who suggested Zion, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from LV. (Bryce is about 5 hours and Arches would take a full day to drive to.)

    Driving through Death Valley was one of the most awe-inspiring things I've ever done, but I did it in December when the 75-80 temps felt nice. :shuffle:.

    If you decide to drive Death Valley, head into the mountains towards Pahrump, and go south on 372 towards Shoshone, taking Badwater Pass road into DV. (Don't take the short way in, which is route 190.) You'll go 70+ miles descending slowing into the valley... nothing for miles and miles and miles, but the road ahead winding and twisting down as if you're headed toward Oz or something. It's incredible and 100% worth it as long as you're sure you're in a reliable car. :)

    If you can exit north out through Beatty NV, don't miss the ghost town of Rhyolite. Really neat... and if you exit towards Beatty at sunset, you'll see some of the richest vistas, gold/red hues on the mountains and purple/pink skies on earth.
  26. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    We're in Death Valley right now and the heat is tolerable, about 90 - but will climb rapidly in the weeks to come.

    This place never ceases to amaze me. Zabriskie Point at twilight is one of the most memorable life experiences I've had. The landscape, colors and heat - and the sense of silence - really create the sense of another place and time. It gives me a feeling of awe and bliss, as well as one of utter insignificance as a person in relation to the vastness of life. But it is a comforting, not disturbing insignificance, if that makes any sense.
  27. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Those places are beautiful, but from what I am gathering, the OP has only a limited amount of time and she wants to see the Grand Canyon- it's the main thing. Of course the North Rim would allow opportunities to see Zion and Bryce canyon NPs, but that takes more time.

    Also, having seen all the places and having been awed by it, I still believe that there is nothing like the Grand Canyon. I have been there a dozen times and the place never failed to awe me.

    My recommendations, since your time is limited:

    Sedona: Take a jeep tour; it's the most efficient way to see gorgeous scenery. There are quite a few tours. I would recommend the one that takes you to the top, rather than deep into the red rocks. If you have time left over, see Red Rock Crossing. It's a great area for picnic, and it gives you a great view of Cathedral rocks. In between, just go for a walk in Sedona to see the eclectic shops and restaurants.

    Grand Canyon: It's possible to see them in one day. You can take the free shuttle to the west rim (many spectacular points on the way; you can get off and on the shuttle many times), all the way to Hermits rest (nice place to watch the sunset). You can see that part in a half day. I would recommend taking a bus tour for Desert Ridge (eastern portion of the GC), which covers some other points (Yavapai point among them) and covers a lot of area. This tour will take a half day. If you have the time, take a walk to El Tovar hotel, and watch the deer, and the sunrise if you happen to be nearby. It's great to see the sun come up there. Also Powell point along the west rim is a great place for watching the sunrise.

    If you have reservations at one of the hotels inside the park, it is the best thing because it will save you a lot of time.

    If your schedule allows it, you can take an aerial tour (small plane or helicopter) from the Grand Canyon airport.

    Las Vegas: Lots of beautiful places around the city. Valley of fire is great; otherwise (closer) is the red rock canyon area. If you have the time to visit Death Valley, it is well worth your time, but it will take a full day. You may want to take a guided tour or do it on your own. I would skip the smaller (red rock) places to see Death Valley, if your schedule allows it.

    I assume you know that Grand Canyon to Las Vegas is a fairly long drive (around 300 miles). I have never done that route.

    Enjoy your trip!
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  28. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member


    Do you or anyone else have any recommendations for where to stay in the Sedona area? We are not touristy types, but the area sounds too beautiful too miss.

    What about Southern Arizona near the Mexico border? I am wondering if is going to even compare to Death Valley or Northern Arizona/Four Corners area? Nothing in the materials I've been reading has really captured me, though we have no itinerary and have about two weeks to travel between mid-Arizona and San Diego.

    We're in Williams near the Grand Canyon now. Man, it's cold - but a jacuzzi fixed that just fine. Tomorrow we're off to explore and our dog finally gets some cool weather and hikes, she's just been such a great trooper as we've had a few long driving days.
  29. WindSpirit

    WindSpirit OmnipresentAdmeanistrator

    Thank you, very much appreciated!!

    My friends went to Las Vegas, rented a car there and went to see Sedona, Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. I didn't want to drive to Sedona and back, that's why I decided to fly to Phoenix and see all the stuff on the way to Las Vegas.

    From what I've seen on the Internet there's more hotels there than the locals. ;) Everything from motels; bed&breakfast; cabins in the woods to posh hotels.

    I haven't chosen my mine yet. Look Sedona up on Trip Advisor. I like to read the reviews before I go somewhere.
  30. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    King's Ransom is perfectly nice if you're looking for a moderately priced place not too far from downtown Sedona.

    L'Auberge de Sedona is quite the upscale place per SIL, and Enchantment Resort is right up against some amazing rock formations, with real distance from neighbors.

    There is also an incredible -- and not real expensive -- small lodge up on the Mesa with the Sedona airport (very close to downtown, but not walking distance) -- the views are amazing and the rooms are lovely.