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UPDATE: Need vacation planning help!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by J.Alan, Apr 14, 2007.


    Without having been to any of the western destinations, it is difficult to plan any type of itinerary and I was hoping to get some suggestions for planning a family vacation for sometime in June of this year.

    We have round trip airline tickets on Southwest Airline from Nashville, TN to anywhere they fly (for each of us).

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    We had a fantastic time going to Yosemite last summer, about the same time, and would like to take in a lot of natural wonders, with minimal city time.

    Here are some ground rules:

    Family of 4, with two girls, 8 and 11
    One week “on the road” (could include weekend on each end of the week)
    We would rent a car at our destination airport, and drive
    We want to stay in hotels of good quality, like Hampton Inns, etc
    I want to take my photo gear (of course)
    We like to be independent, but might consider a guided tour or two

    Some destinations we are strongly considering are Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, or Spokane. Utah has a lot of National Parks that would provide endless photo ops, and Idaho, would certainly be within range. I don't know if the Tetons are within reach from one of those destinations, but that is also a possibility.

    (Manchester, NH could be an option because we could combine the trip with seeing family “back-home”. But that is the least desirable option due to us being familiar with that part of the country).

    If I can put together a good agenda, we will plan out the vacation and get underway. Where and what would you suggest?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  2. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Joe....consider Arizona. Fly to Phoenix, rent a car then drive about three hours to the Grand Canyon. I would recommend staying there for at least two days because there is so much to see and the changing ambient lighting changes the look of the Canyon. After leaving the canyon, drive south into Oak Creek Canyon the ultimately into Sedona. Plan to stay in Sedona for two or even three days. The Sedona area is as photogenic as any place on earth. I can recommend a company in town were you can rent a Jeep for you to drive along with your family and you then follow a tour guide who is in his own Jeep. A three-hour tour is real reasonable and the photo ops are plentyful. You can visit nearby Jerome and other quaint locations with your trip ending back in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for some sightseeing and a bit of shopping??? If this sparks an interest, let me know and we can speak more about it.
  3. F15Todd


    Feb 1, 2005
    Utah does have a lot of NP down in the south, but this is not a place I would want to see in June, to damn hot! I would pick Portland, it's a great city and not that far from the coast.
  4. WOW! What an opportunity! Frank is right about AZ! We went there 2 yrs ago and just simply had a blast! We also went to Utah - talk about gorgeous! All 3 of my kids had a glorious time! We spent time in Moab, Castle Reef, and I can't remember the name of the mountian area that we were in. You just can't go wrong with these places! We loved the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in AZ, The arches in Utah were stunning! And talk about photography - we took over 1000 photos on our trip!

    I do recommend you only choose 1 place or 1 state to explore. When we took our vacation, we did too much in too little time. We were gone a month and went through Canada, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and that doesn't count stopping to eat, sleep, or visit relatives! What ever ya'll do, I hope ya'll have a wonderful trip and take plenty of photos!
  5. Joe, you are going to be deluged with suggestions, with each person listing his own personal preferences. It's hard to go wrong anywhere west of the front range.

    I personally favor Northern New Mexico and the Four Corners region of NM, CO, UT, and AZ. But Frank's suggestion is certainly a valid one. I have toured most of the western states and I found something to enjoy in all of them.

    And of course, one week isn't enough.
  6. Thanks, Frank.

    I am glad I posted this as there will be a number of great suggestions. I will definately consider this option and will let you know if I would like more details.

    Do you have a link to some pictures I can look at?
  7. Todd, thanks for mentioning

    the heat. I was wondering about that area in June.
  8. Dianne, what time of

    year did you go? I was in UT in October and November, and it was quite pleasent, but June could be broiling. A/C in the car certainly will help.
  9. Oops, forgot about the heat! I can't remember - June or July and yes it was quite hot! We still had fun though as we had our camper and could just retreat there when ever we wanted to! I still remember the beauty we saw and how wonderful it was to see so much!
  10. Jim, I figured that

    I'd get a whole bunch of suggestions, but I have really no idea where to start, either. The American West is a vast place. I was hoping to distill a few suggestions into a reasonable itinerary. The west obviously stirs mant emotions. I can't wait to go!
  11. RaceTripper


    Jan 6, 2007
    St. Louis
    Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota (and Devils's Tower in Wyoming). Plenty to do, plenty of places to stay, and seriously great photo ops.

    Just don't go in early August during the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgess.
  12. If I may offer a fun suggestion - when ya'll get all these wonderful places offered, put them all in a hat and let the kids choose! Or let them see what these places all have to offer on the net or by books. I bet they'll help make your decision! ours certainly did!
  13. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    Easy. Fly to Denver and rent a Winnebago and wander around. Forget about motels. Eat breakfast at some funky small town cafe each morning, picnic the rest of the day. Grill chicken & burgers at night, light a camp fire, look at the Milky Way like you've never seen it before, sleep like a baby with Alpine scent in your chilly nose at 8000 feet. Get up early, boil some coffee and do it again.....

    The Western US is just too vast to see more than a piece in a one ot two week vacation. I'd start in Denver taking in Rocky Mtn Natl Park then go north through Wyoming taking in The Grand Titons and Yellowstone, circle back through the Dakotas to see Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. Let each day be an adventure, maybe throw a dart at your Rand-McNally in the morning and go there that day.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2007
  14. What destination would I

    fly to? Salt Lake City?

    It looks like it would then be quite a drive....have to check the map.
  15. The Black Hills & Badlands are gorgeous. Rapid City has an airport and you can fly into there & easily rent a car. Plenty for a family to do and if you want there's always some gambling in Deadwood, along with a ton of Old West History. Spearfish has the Passion Play (dramatization of the last 7 days of Christ) that runs June - August. As someone said the first couple of weeks in August you don't want to go unless you have your hotel reservations 6 months in advance because of the Harley Rally. Spearfish in the middle of July has a Corvette gathering and a HUGE arts & crafts festival in the city park. There is also Mt Rushmore about 20 minutes from Rapid City and Crazy Horse Memorial 20 minutes or so further south. If you want any idea of places to see and do in South Dakota & Eastern Wyoming shoot me a message. I spent the first 25 years of my life there. I grew up between Sturgis, Spearfish, Belle Fourche & Deadwood, all within 45-60 minutes of Rapid City. Devils Tower is about 20 - 30 minutes west of the SD/WY state line if I am calculating right. (been awhile since i have been there). So it would be easy to include in the trip agenda too.

    Another good place for photography would be Yellowstone, which no one has suggested. Lots to see & do there and lots of photography. One of my favorite places to visit.

    Western US has soooo much that it's wide open and easy to find something to do!!!
    Good Luck!!!!
  16. Flying to Spokane would put you within 300 miles of Glacier Nat'l Park, the Nat'l Bison Refuge near Missoula and the Sawtooth Range in Idaho. Yellowstone is so crowded in the summer months.

    Flying to Denver puts you in range of Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Great Sand Dunes NP, and Mesa Verde NP. Mostly high elevation locations and cool summer temps.

    I agree with the previous comments about UT being too hot - I've been in Zion in the summer when the tar was boiling up through the cracks in the asphalt at 107 degrees.

    Choices, choices....

  17. RaceTripper


    Jan 6, 2007
    St. Louis
    And if you go to the Black Hills do not pass up Custer State Park and Needles Highway. Those were some of our favorite parts.

    We liked it so much in the Black Hills and Badlands we've talked about going again (road trip from St. Louis for us).
  18. LMFS

    LMFS Guest

    I'd start in Seattle
  19. haze2


    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Phoenix is getting hot in June but you would only be launching your trip from there. Once you start north the terrain rises and the temps drop. The canyon is around 6000' and Flagstaff is over 7000'. You could also fly into Albuquerque and plan a trip that cound include Santa Fe, Durango, the four corners, southern Utah, Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, painted desert, and more. It would be warm, but nothing like the heat of southern AZ. If you come through Phoenix, let me know. I'll have you all over to the house for a swim and we'll throw some burgers and corn on the cob on the grill.
  20. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Sorry about the pictures, I shot film during those visits.
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