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Old 05-02-2021, 10:03 AM
 
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Greetings All,

Hoping for sound advice on better vacation option for a family of 5, children 15, 14, and 11. Love the idea of both. We will do some mild/midlevel hiking. have been to all places myself, but children have not. Unfortunately, news media on the east coast paints SF in rough light and it's been a while since I've been back. We do have some (distant) family in SF area, but not necessarily a huge factor.

Option 1: fly into Vegas, time there and then road trip to Grand Canyon and surrounding countryside.

Option 2: fly into San Francisco, time there and then road trip to Yosemite and PCH, including small towns, Big Sur.

Love the epic quality of both options ... Many thanks in advance.

(note: I mistakenly had posted this thread in the General US subforum because I hadn't realized this subforum existed.)
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
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How many nights is the trip?
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:12 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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And when? Many national parks have very restricted entry rules this year and many accommodations are already way overbooked. If you're planning for this summer you're probably going to be very disappointed in the options. And of course any desert-area road trips in the summer will subject you to high heat. There's also a very severe shortage of rental cars in some places, leading to very high prices or no availability at all.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:14 AM
 
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nights: apprxoimately 10-12. We have some flexibility

Mid July
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Old 05-02-2021, 01:20 PM
 
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With either National Park, you will find in Park lodging at a Premium, to find the availability for July you really should have been looking about 6 months ago. You still may find a room here or there, but right now you may need to start looking at areas Outside the Parks. Which can be anywhere from 20-60 minutes away. This is probably going to be your biggest hurdle. Your second hurdle is that Yosemite is still going to be on a Reservation the only basis for visiting. So you will need to be sure you either have lodged inside of the park or a reservation allowing you in well in advance.

Reservations to get enter Yosemite for July opened up last week and still have days remaining, but many days especially around the 4th and weekends will likely book up quickly.

Option 1
Pros - You are only about 4 1/2 hours from EITHER the North Rim or South Rim. The South Rim is more of what people think of when they hear the Grand Canyon, but the North Rim is a good alternative and will be slightly cooler.

Cons - Heat. You are going during the hottest time of the year. Temps will likely be 100+ every day. So don't plan on doing a lot of hiking unless you are very well prepared. Also, the "Countryside" here is a Desert that can be beautiful but also will likely not fill up 10-12 days. Las Vegas does not have a lot for kids, especially your younger kids.

If you do this option, I would also look at going to Zion & Bryce Canyon NP. They are also driving distance from Vegas just in the opposite direction.


Option 2 -
Pros - This will be a much cooler option, with the hottest area being Yosemite. But that will still only be in the 80s-90s unless you hit a heatwave. You can easily fill 10-12 days by visiting the cities along the coast. More Family-Friendly than Las Vegas.

Cons - As mentioned lodging may be extremely difficult inside of Yosemite. Even though California is supposed to be fully open by then. That is not guaranteed and may still not be as "fully open" as Nevada or Arizona are. If this is the case it may limit some of your options.


I will throw out a 3rd option that may be more epic than you want, but something to possibly consider as a combination of the two.

Fly to SFO
Take PCH down the coast
Yosemite (exit via Tioga Pass to the Eastern Sierra)
Las Vegas
Grand Canyon

After the Grand Canyon, you can drive back to Vegas or down to Phoenix. The one issue here is that figuring you are renting a car the 1-Way rental fees may be very cost-prohibitive. If you had a few more days you could then loop back to San Francisco.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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It's not impossible to do Yosemite in July 2021- I just scored the elusive four night reservation at the Yosemite Valley Lodge then because I was on the Travel Yosemite web site right when someone cancelled a reservation and it dropped back into the available pool- but it's going to require a combination of perseverance, luck, and a willingness to throw money at it. if budget allows, I'd look at the Yosemite West development- private condos and such within the park boundaries because that's one of the lodging options that does not require a reservation.

The Travel Yosemite web site portal is glitchy. If you see an available room or tent cabin in the search engine that then disappears when you click on it, try calling the reservations number on your phone and they can often do the reservation that way. (My Gen X self still finds this odd)

The Yosemite reservation system explained here-

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/reservations.htm

If you want to make speculative park reservations, choose the 'I've got an annual pass' option for $2 and get your America the Beautiful Pass, which can be purchased for $80 from REI or the first manned National Park you get to, later.

if you can make it work, this is actually a great year to visit Yosemite, both because the reservation system will cut down on overcrowding and because the Glacier Point Road will be close in 2022 and likely a good amount of 2023 for repaving.

'Nearby' Sequoia/King's Canyon is not doing reservations this year so you can work that stop around Yosemite dates.

IIRC, there are some sections of PCH that got taken out by wildfire/landslide last year so check road status as you map out the trip.

The Grand Canyon is not limiting entry. if you want to explore other parts of that region, note that the Navajo Nation tribal parks like Monument Valley remain closed at this time with no reopening date set yet. They have at least allowed the reopening of the east entrance of the Grand Canyon. (The access road to it goes through tribal land)

For the main canyon of Zion NP, there's a limited number of timed tickets for the mandatory shuttle bus along the route-

https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvis...tle-system.htm

Again, if you can make it work and get shuttle reservations, the limited capacity will make it a great year to visit Zion. We were there in June, 2018 and the crowding was bad enough to negatively impact the experience.

The Kolob Canyons part of Zion is open and not capacity-controlled. Also just up I-15 is the Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is alike a baby version of Bryce Canyon NP if you don't want to detour to Bryce.

Tours of the inside of Hoover Dam are still suspended because of covid concerns and crowding in the elevators. I'm not sure what the timeline for reopening is.
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Old 05-02-2021, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Middle of the valley
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I would lean any trip towards the kids. If you will have fun in either, I would get their input, they are getting to that age.

I would lean towards the Vegas/Grand Canyon. You get a lot of fun outdoor stuff, and anything else you could possibly want to do you can do in Vegas. Shows, rides, etc. I think this one would be the easiest easy fun for the kids.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:04 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Mid July would keep me and my family far from LV or GC. That is a very nice spring break destination with death valley flowers, and utah NP (much more memorable than GC, which is best seen by air or raft)

From your choices.... I would do north (redwoods) PCH, but it too can be foggy and cold in heat of summer.

July I do Seattle / Portland, north pacific coast Rainier, olympic and north cascades national park. Or redwoods, crater lake Lassen NP, Lava Caves.... (From SFO)

Or Alaska. (We rent a cabin and fly in by float plane. )

Or Vancouver Island (when Canada opens)

Or Glacier and Yellowstone and Tetons.

We continue to have a great time in SF, especially the Free library tours + hiking Presidio....golden gate.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:08 PM
 
Location: Dessert
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July is monsoon in the desert, so you could expect rain, heat, and humidity if you choose the Vegas/GC trip.

I'd prefer the California option, and include a trip to Muir Woods.
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Old 05-02-2021, 11:59 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
41,559 posts, read 53,573,061 times
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With kids I'd go option #1, for historical benefits and variety of entertainment.
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