I’ve received a couple of travel questions on Facebook and at the AAA Great Vacations Expo that might be helpful for other people planning similar itineraries, so I’m going to repost them here occasionally. Feel free to send me your travel question at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I can’t answer it, I’ll get you in touch with someone who can.
Question: We’re two retirees planning a trip out West. What parks shouldn’t we miss? What are the hotels like out there? Should we go in July or September?
Answer: With the West being such a huge region, I asked this couple to tell me a little more about what they wanted to see. Turns out the Grand Canyon was tops on their list. With that as a “must do,” I encouraged them to head up into southern Utah, where they could visit Zion National Park and – my favorite of the national parks – Bryce Canyon. If they had a little more time, they could dip over to Antelope Slot Canyon near Page or even check out Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona’s northeast corner (which I did last September – read the report here).
As far as hotels go, they were wondering if there were Sheridans and Marriotts along the route. I cautioned that the hotels in small towns near many national parks tended to be lower on the luxury scale – think Hampton Inns, Holiday Inns and Best Westerns. I recommended that they splurge for a night or two at some of the more interesting (and pricier) lodgings inside the parks -Zion Lodge in Zion National Park; Bright Angel Lodge or El Tovar at the Grand Canyon - alternating with more affordable chain hotels for the rest of the trip. You do need to book ahead for park lodging (as I found out when we were shut out of the gorgeous View Hotel in Monument Valley).
Time of year to go? September, no question. The crowds of schoolkids will be gone, and the weather will be little cooler.
Do you have any further advice for this couple? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll make sure to pass it on!