SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3427
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by psteinx » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:34 pm

RE-EDITED (3/26/2019): Plans changing - time window now late May/early June. Now thinking flight out, driving return back, from Scottsdale to Flagstaff/G.C. area to Santa Fe to north of Dallas to St. Louis 'burbs. Mainly looking for thoughts on possible interesting waypoint(s) from Flagstaff to Dallas. Details in new post further down.

=== Stuff below from earlier version(s) of this post/plan. Thanks to those who provided feedback. ===


EDIT : Now zeroing in on a specific route. Fly into Las Vegas, then drive to Grand Canyon area, then south to Scottsdale. Details in my Feb. 7 post downthread. The remainder of THIS post (below the line) is my original request for suggestions.
------------------------
Thinking about a trip to the Southwest in mid/late March. Two parents, 2 teen kids. Central point of vacation would be ~2 days visiting my father-in-law in Scottsdale. But would potentially add some other sightseeing on to the trip. We've been to Phoenix/Scottsdale many times, but the kids (and in some cases, the adults) haven't seen some of the broader SW USA regional attractions.

Trip duration is somewhat flexible, could be 5-9ish days. Coming from St. Louis area - likely to fly (possibly open-jaw), but would be open to something involving one-way Amtrak and/or a vehicle rental.

Candidates for other spots to visit include the Grand Canyon (we'd be coming from the south), Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and/or any interesting parks and the like. We'd be open to camping or renting a cabin for a night or two, though coming from a distance, we likely wouldn't have our own camping gear handy.

Santa Fe - how interesting is this city, for a day or two of tourism?

Grand Canyon - OK, so you show up, have a look at how big it is, then what? My wife wouldn't likely tolerate a really strenuous hike (i.e. to the floor), but the kids and I might.

Las Vegas - I've been a number of times, but not for a long time, and not with teenagers. If I understand correctly, some of the things that appeal to kids (pirate show in front of Treasure Island, MGM's theme park) are gone, and while we're not prudes, I'm not sure if I want to walk up and down the strip and have folks pushing nudie show flyers into our hands.

Other parks? What's notably interesting within, say, ~4 hours of Scottsdale?

Camping/Cabins? Anything especially notable in this area? Good campgrounds that would rent decent gear, at a reasonable price? Nice/scenic cabins?

Amtrak? Amtrak runs (I think), sort of, from Santa Fe to near the Grand Canyon, towards Las Vegas. But basically none of these (nor Scottsdale) are really directly on the line (according to a map I have from Amtrak). There are apparently alternate connections available for most/all of these (Buses, I presume), but I'm guessing this would not be very seemless. I like the idea of a scenic trainride through the southwest, but it seems like a poor fit for what I think we'd be interested in.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by psteinx on Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:02 pm, edited 5 times in total.

ttjt_99
Posts: 38
Joined: Sun May 21, 2017 7:49 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by ttjt_99 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:38 pm

I took my son to San Diego a couple years ago. We took a day trip to Joshua Tree National park and we both loved it. It is a desert, but if your teen is in to the outdoors, I think its well worth the trip. I'm hoping that with the government now open, they were able to get it all cleaned up.

Rupert
Posts: 4122
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by Rupert » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:46 pm

Sedona (red rocks), Flagstaff (Lowell Observatory, many national monuments nearby), and Page (Antelope Canyon) with one day at the Grand Canyon south rim (north rim won't be open in March) squeezed in there somewhere. Hiking to the floor of the Grand Canyon is an all-day event, and I'm not sure you'd want to do it in March when the weather could still be a bit sketchy. But you can hike down a ways to see the Canyon from a different perspective and get away from the maddening crowds at the rim. I think a trek to the Grand Canyon is a mandatory part of the American experience, so I would make the effort. It would be even better if you could score a reservation at one of the park hotels so you can experience sunrise and sunset at the Canyon. Call Xanterra and ask about cancellations (which is the only way you'll get a room there at this late date, I'm pretty sure).

walker46
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:06 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by walker46 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:24 pm

How sensible are your teens? I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times and one thing that always scares me is teenagers and foreign people (mostly French for some reason) who feel they must take selfies of themselves as close to an unprotected edge as they can.

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:37 pm

here is last week's thread on pretty much the same question:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=271110

After reading that thread, I saw a great video on youtube.com about Grand Canyon in one day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk7nXPdoU8k
There are others.

Seriously, check out youtube.com for some videos about all the places you want to go to.

Anyways, the areas you mentioned are all about outdoors, hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain biking. If you don't want to do mostly those things, then one could go to Anytown, USA with a population of 300,000 or more.

Hike to top of highest peak in Arizona: Humphreys Peak just outside Flagstaff. You will probably need microspikes and maybe an ice ax that you know how to use at that time of year --- if the Forest Service has the trail open.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
fortfun
Posts: 2455
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:31 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by fortfun » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:58 pm

A little unconventional, but how about getting a house boat on Lake Powell for 3 nights. Beautiful scenery. Water will be a bit chilly but still swimable.
https://www.lakepowell.com/houseboating ... xperience/

My parents did this trip with us a teens and it's one I'll never forget.
Photos:
https://www.google.com/search?q=lake+po ... 40&bih=758
Last edited by fortfun on Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

adamthesmythe
Posts: 3030
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:47 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:00 pm

In March go south to Tucson, visit the Desert Museum and Saguaro National park (if you haven't been). In both Phoenix and Tucson hiking should be very pleasant with a good chance of a wildflower bloom.

Don't even think about Amtrack. Rent a car. It might not be cheap if you are there at the same time as spring training.

For more northerly places, including the Canyon, weather might be good and might be terrible.

texasdiver
Posts: 3202
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by texasdiver » Mon Feb 04, 2019 3:08 pm

Did the trip from San Francisco back to Texas a couple of years ago with kids, stopping for excursions at Yosemite, Gran Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Taos. I'd have to say that Grand Canyon and Taos were the highlights for the kids. They found the Taos Pueblo fascinating

heyyou
Posts: 3572
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:58 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by heyyou » Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:18 pm

In Tucson, spend a day at the Sonoran Desert Museum with its zoo. Do attend the scheduled hawk show where the tamed hawks fly in to eat shredded raw meat from the gloved hand of the trainer, a dozen feet from where you are standing. You can even feel the air movement from their wings, as the trainer tells about the hawks' family life.

At the Grand Canyon, either walk or use rental bikes on the horizontal East Rim Trail. DW can drive to each next lookout (there is only one without car access) as your group moves along on the eastern portion of the Rim, but West Rim will only allow the park buses and bicyclists on the highway in busy seasons while the Rim Trail is open to walkers and bicyclists. The West Rim lookouts are spaced closer than on East Rim, so hikers and bikers can always catch the shuttle bus back when they choose to stop exercising at that high altitude. At the CG, always look south too, for a glimpse of snow capped San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, a hundred miles away.

Page has numerous good sites and sights: Vermillion Cliffs up close, Lee's Ferry and the Spencer Trail on which to burn some youthful energy to gain an amazing overlook of significant geology, also the motorized half day raft trip from the bottom of the dam to Lee's Ferry, and the horseshoe bend river overlook in the edge of Page (a common calendar photo). Antelope Canyon narrows is like a cave with a skylight sized open roof (search for photos from there), there are Glen Canyon Dam tours, and authentic Mexican food in Page. There is very good food at one of the cafes on Hwy 89A at either Cliff Dwellers or down the road at the cafe next to the Vermillion Cliff gas station, I can't remember which. It is the cafe where the restaurant is separate and set far back on the west side from the gas pumps and store nearer the highway. Several miles past the Vermillion Cliffs store and gas, on highway 89A, a few miles (two?) after you start up the steep grade towards Jacob Lake and the North Rim, there is a scenic overlook with ample parking, that is worth the drive to it. Besides the vast view from that overlook, with binoculars, look at the rim of the Vermillion Cliffs where they are facing west. Look for where there is some whitewash on the very top of the cliffs, as that is where the condors perch. You are too far away to see the birds, but look for them soaring anywhere else from GC to there. As Dorothy said to her dog, in the Wizard of Oz, "Toto, I think we are not in Kansas anymore."

Carefreeap
Posts: 2599
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:28 pm

Don't forget that the South Rim is at 7,000'. In March you are likely to have some snow. The North Rim (at 8,000') generally doesn't open until May 15th. Have you made reservations for the GC yet? You might have trouble getting reservations this late. Maybe try the Miwok?

How old are your kids? Have your kids been to the Heard Museum in Phoenix? What about the Desert Botanical Garden?

If you and your kids like to hike there's lots of hiking opportunities in and around Scottsdale. I was a docent at Spur Cross Ranch in Cave Creek. During the "season" there are guided hikes during the week in addition to the weekend guided hikes. It's a nice day trip up to the Ranch followed by lunch or dinner in Cave Creek. I'm partial to Rancho Manana's patio. :beer

Another vote for the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson.

Also check out Karchner Caverns https://azstateparks.com/kartchner

and Chiricahua National Monument: https://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm

4nwestsaylng
Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:03 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by 4nwestsaylng » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:13 pm

Grand Canyon is about an hour drive from Flagstaff, and both can be very snowy and cold in March. Sedona would be good, very scenic, maybe you could do a bit of hiking if not icy or too cold.If you can get a good deal off season, stay at the Enchantment Resort, out of town in a canyon area.

I agree Tucson would be a good choice-Sonora Desert Museum, I am not sure Old Tucson is still there-it was in many movies including Rio Bravo, El Dorado.
It is a built out movie location, yes, touristy but if you like old westerns you will recognize it. Don't bother driving to Nogales or Tombstone.

Otherwise not that much there, it is just another large city,but with good Mexican food. If you go, try El Charro in the old town, it is in an old house, has been there for decades. Great chimichangas.

They could look at the campuses of the University of Arizona in Tucson and Arizona State in Phoenix, in case they ever think of applying.

If you are in Scottsdale, there is ice skating at the Ice Den in North Scottsdale, and of course great pools and golf, all at high season pricing.

Santa Fe will be cold. Apart from the architecture and some Indian art/turquoise, not that much for teenagers. I have only been there in June, and even then it got cold at night.

Camping and cabins at that time of year-outdoor camping not so much. You might consider going up to the Payson area east of Phoenix, might be able to rent a cabin, but again it will be cold.People go up there in the summer to escape the heat.Not a great idea to camp in desert areas in California or Arizona alone, it can be dangerous.

Alternately, after Scottsdale just drive over to San Diego and spend a few days, they will love the beaches and you can go to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park.You will see lots of desert during the drive, and then get to the beaches.

InMyDreams
Posts: 640
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:35 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by InMyDreams » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:41 pm

Canyon de Chelly? Monument Valley?

The Four Corners area has many old Native American sites, including Hovenweep. Probably too cold to go to Mesa Verde, but barring rain, you might do OK at Chaco Canyon.

Lower Calf Creek Falls near Escalante is an easy and pretty hike. Get a guide book to find Upper Calf Creek Falls. There's a museum in Escalante and also Dolores, CO. Lots of OHV roads and trails in the Four Corners area. Bears Ears National Monument.

Oh, and - if you're in the Four Corners area - there are ski resorts. Not sure about snow conditions in March.

Painted Desert in AZ, and Petrified Forest. Sonoran Desert museum outside of Tucson. Also Sabino Canyon.

March should be a nice time of year!

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by livesoft » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:27 pm

4nwestsaylng wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:13 pm
Not a great idea to camp in desert areas in California or Arizona alone, it can be dangerous.
Trailheads in the Superstition Wilderness are only 90 minutes from the Phoenix airport by car. There is no problem camping in that desert wilderness. I spent several nights there alone and never once felt that I was in any kind of danger. I even saw a couple of families more than a day away from the trailhead.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

tindel
Posts: 149
Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:06 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by tindel » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:31 pm

Another vote for heading south to Tucson. I lived there in my pre-teens in the mid 90's - In addition to some of the other suggestions, I enjoyed the Titan Missile Museum a lot. Colossal Cave in Vail was cool too. I also enjoyed Tombstone at that age. There's still bullet holes in the ceilings of many of the old saloons and brothels there. OK Corral is fun too. It's fun to let your imagination wander and be in the center of the Old West. Bizbee was a cool town too.

If you head north - I like Sedona a lot. Near Flagstaff is also the huge meteorite crater that was fun to see as well as volcano flows.

We like Santa Fe a lot and we visit there somewhat regularly. It's just a fun town to relax and see some art, enjoy the Native American culture - Pecos National Historic Park is worth seeing.

IMO
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by IMO » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:28 pm

OP, thoughts on your post and some of the responses:

1) Are you planning on driving to/from Phoenix for your excursion? Driving to/from PHX to Santa Fe or San Diego is 500 miles 1 way, seems like a very undesirable thing for most teens, in my opinion. I don't think San Diego is the Southwest, I believe it is West Coast if your trying to see the "Southwest."

2) Personally I don't really know what your teens would find special about Santa Fe over other closer places such as Sedona or the Grand Canyon? Perhaps they have an unusual appreciation of Pueblo style architecture?

3) I'd recommend keeping it more local and not spend a significant amount of time driving long distances across states:

a. Drive through Sedona. Sightseeing, dayhike, pink jeep tour, hot air balloon.
b. Drive to Flagstaff. Can go see Sunset Crater on way to Grand Canyon and if they have interest there are also Native American ruins to visit also on the way up to the Grand Canyon (Wupatki). If you staying in Flagstaff and wanted to do a fun teen hike, find the lava tube cause it's a novelty. Teens never ski/snowboard? A day a AZ Snowbowl is very teen friendly. There is a very cool "tree top" type of adventure in Flagstaff teens and active adults would enjoy (presuming it's open in March?).
c. Go see the Grand Canyon. Sure it's a big ditch just as Mt Everest is just a big mountain. One can do a short hike and
drive some of the rim and visit some of the attractions. Again, you want to see the Southwest right? If you do or don't appreciate visiting someplace like the Grand Canyon, then not sure why you'd appreciate sightseeing other Southwest places?
d. Consider Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Lake Powell is possibly an option if there is some boat tour (I think whoever advised swimming in Powell in March must be from the North Pole).

The above seems alot more enjoyable than making the drive all the way to Santa Fe, in my opinion....

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3427
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by psteinx » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:03 pm

Thanks all for the input. This gives me some stuff to look into. Probably will confine things a bit more geographically...

MJS
Posts: 416
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by MJS » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:09 pm

Consider renting a cabin in Dead Horse State Park, near Sedona. Visit petroglyph sites & ruins, hiking trails, Jerome, the Copper Museum, and the Grand Canyon.

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by livesoft » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:14 pm

I will follow-up to write that my family (2 adults, 2 millennials) visited Arizona for Thanksgiving. Flew into Phoenix, stayed near Flagstaff, visited Grand Canyon, Sedona, the meteor crater, Walnut Creek National Monument, hiked Fat Man's Loop in Flagstaff, hiked to top of Humphreys Peak near Flagstaff, cooked turkeys, ate them. Not all of us did all these things as we were in a big family group staying at an AirBNB. I went by myself to AZ early and stayed longer than my family in order to do more rigorous backpacking (S Rim-to-River-to near N Rim and back).
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3427
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by psteinx » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:16 pm

OK, narrowing things down a bit further:

I think I'm focusing on Northern Arizona. Specifically, flying into Las Vegas, spending a night there, then driving out the next day, possibly doing a Hoover Dam tour, then spending a few days around the Grand Canyon/Williams/Flagstaff/Sedona area, before driving down into Scottsdale.

Something like:

Day 1: Arrive mid-day, Las Vegas, show the kids the spectacle. Do a buffet and perhaps a show.
Day 2: Drive out, check out Hoover Dam (Full tour, or just a stop and look?), drive into Williams or Flagstaff and stay there.
Day 3: Go up to Grand Canyon and spend the day there
Day 4: Visit Sedona perhaps or more time in Flagstaff, end up that evening in Scottsdale.

Questions:
Las Vegas - Hotels/shows that would work well with parents and 17, 13 yo teen kids? I'm thinking something mid-strip (convenience), and sort of mid-priced. New York, New York, for the roller coaster and general location? Good shows that aren't crazy pricey?

Hoover Dam - Worth a multi-hour tour (both kids into engineering)? Does the tour need to be booked in advance?

Near Grand Canyon - I'm pretty unfamiliar with this - I think I went once as a kid, but have almost no memories of it. It seems that the possibilities are to stay in a hotel/lodge basically at the south rim, or to stay further south in Williams or Flagstaff. Is it hard to get bookings into the south rim lodges? Super pricey? Strong advantages to doing this vs. staying in Williams/Flagstaff? As mentioned above, we have some tolerance for hiking and physical activity, but not TOO much (my wife would probably pass on anything but a rather leisurely hike). How tough is the hike down to the canyon floor? Someone else in this thread mentioned biking (rental bikes) along a trail. That might be appealing. General thoughts on what to do, where to stay, and how much time (1 or 2 days) to plan for the GC? Also, there's a train that heads up from Williams to the GC. Probably scenic and fun. Maybe stay in Williams and take the train up for a day trip?

South of the GC - So, there's Flagstaff, Sedona, and ??? Meteor spot by Flagstaff, Red Rocks by Sedona, probably pretty scenery all around. Would be interested in one of the 4x4 tours. Also, horseback riding, maybe hiking, maybe ??? Will a lot of this stuff be closed in March?

tofutofu
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2018 5:32 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by tofutofu » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:43 pm

Don't miss Meow Wolf while in Santa Fe. I think your teens will like it.

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/cu ... rt-728202/

Rupert
Posts: 4122
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by Rupert » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:54 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:16 pm

Questions:

Near Grand Canyon - I'm pretty unfamiliar with this - I think I went once as a kid, but have almost no memories of it. It seems that the possibilities are to stay in a hotel/lodge basically at the south rim, or to stay further south in Williams or Flagstaff. Is it hard to get bookings into the south rim lodges? Super pricey? Strong advantages to doing this vs. staying in Williams/Flagstaff? As mentioned above, we have some tolerance for hiking and physical activity, but not TOO much (my wife would probably pass on anything but a rather leisurely hike). How tough is the hike down to the canyon floor? Someone else in this thread mentioned biking (rental bikes) along a trail. That might be appealing. General thoughts on what to do, where to stay, and how much time (1 or 2 days) to plan for the GC? Also, there's a train that heads up from Williams to the GC. Probably scenic and fun. Maybe stay in Williams and take the train up for a day trip?

South of the GC - So, there's Flagstaff, Sedona, and ??? Meteor spot by Flagstaff, Red Rocks by Sedona, probably pretty scenery all around. Would be interested in one of the 4x4 tours. Also, horseback riding, maybe hiking, maybe ??? Will a lot of this stuff be closed in March?
I would do one full day in GC National Park and plan to spend a night in the park or somewhere nearby. The south rim lodges start booking a year in advance. Your only hope to snag a room for this March will be through cancellations. Keep checking the Xanterra (the company that runs the GC lodges) website for those. The prices are high -- think resort prices ($200 or so for the cheapest rooms)-- for just average to below-average quality rooms. That's typical of national park lodges. You pay through the nose for the privilege of not having to drive in and out of the park each day and for a little alone time with the park before and after the maddening hordes of tourists arrive and depart. Tusayan, which is just outside the park gates, is an option to consider. You may still be able to find a room there. Williams or Flagstaff would be your other options. The train runs from Williams. I've never done it, but many people like it. If you do the train, you'll be in the park just when it's most crowded. I find it unappealing for that reason.

I don't recommend trying to hike to the floor of the Canyon if you only have "some tolerance" for hiking. You can't do the round trip in a day anyway (the NPS strongly recommends against even attempting it). See https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hiking-faq.htm . Remember that if you hike down, you also have to hike back up. It's about a 15-16 mile hike round trip with an almost 4500 ft elevation change. It will take you twice as long to hike out as to hike in. Definitely a firm "no" for your wife. That said, definitely plan to do some hiking in the park. There are lots of trails, some paved for folks who aren't avid hikers. The link I provided gives some info.

Become more acquainted with Sedona. You could spend the whole trip there and be happy. I recommend the Pink Jeep tours. Flagstaff also has much to offer. You could also spend the whole trip there and be happy. Do you have any interest in the Lowell Observatory? Everything you're considering is open in March barring any new government shutdown. (Note GCNP was open even during the recent shutdown. I believe the State of Arizona picked up the tab. I'm not as sure about the national monuments nearby.)

koryg75
Posts: 40
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:48 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Las Vegas->Grand Canyon->Scottsdale)

Post by koryg75 » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:33 pm

We are going to Nevada in March with our 9yo kids. After some research I chose Mystere for a show that will give them a good idea of Vegas shows. It is age appropriate and not horribly expensive (you could spend less but you could also spend a lot more). It’s also right on the strip.

InMyDreams
Posts: 640
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:35 am

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Las Vegas->Grand Canyon->Scottsdale)

Post by InMyDreams » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:36 pm

I hope you'll save Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly for a future visit. Load up with some of the movies that have used MV for scenery before you go:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_a ... n_pictures

Canyon de Chelly
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canyon_de ... l_Monument

I was in MV in October a couple of years ago - the morning was quite brisk. You may drive on the roads in your own vehicle, or sign up for a ride with a guide. Their vehicles are open air. We chose to walk the Mittens. Gorgeous morning.

We couldn't get a reservation near Canyon de Chelly - there was a race going on, and rooms were booked solid. We had a very nice room in Bluff, and went to MV from there.

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Las Vegas->Grand Canyon->Scottsdale)

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:52 pm

A day in the Grand Canyon is fine. Everyone can hike some along the South Rim trail which has zero elevation gain or loss. Yep, it is flat. And one can jump on a bus about every half mile if they get tired anyways. Mom can stay up at the rim while everybody else hikes a little ways down the South Kaibab trail to Ooh Aah Point which is only a 1.8 mi total out and back with 900 ft elevation down. It is totally worth it for folks who can only stay a day and don't want to hurt themselves. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adve ... fety-tips/
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

IMO
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by IMO » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:45 pm

psteinx wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:16 pm
OK, narrowing things down a bit further:

I think I'm focusing on Northern Arizona. Specifically, flying into Las Vegas, spending a night there, then driving out the next day, possibly doing a Hoover Dam tour, then spending a few days around the Grand Canyon/Williams/Flagstaff/Sedona area, before driving down into Scottsdale.

Something like:

Day 1: Arrive mid-day, Las Vegas, show the kids the spectacle. Do a buffet and perhaps a show.
Day 2: Drive out, check out Hoover Dam (Full tour, or just a stop and look?), drive into Williams or Flagstaff and stay there.
Day 3: Go up to Grand Canyon and spend the day there
Day 4: Visit Sedona perhaps or more time in Flagstaff, end up that evening in Scottsdale.

Questions:
Las Vegas - Hotels/shows that would work well with parents and 17, 13 yo teen kids? I'm thinking something mid-strip (convenience), and sort of mid-priced. New York, New York, for the roller coaster and general location? Good shows that aren't crazy pricey?

Hoover Dam - Worth a multi-hour tour (both kids into engineering)? Does the tour need to be booked in advance?
(In scene with Chevy Chase, "Any Dam questions?") https://youtu.be/SBQ-vW6rz_Y

Near Grand Canyon - I'm pretty unfamiliar with this - I think I went once as a kid, but have almost no memories of it. It seems that the possibilities are to stay in a hotel/lodge basically at the south rim, or to stay further south in Williams or Flagstaff. Is it hard to get bookings into the south rim lodges? Super pricey? Strong advantages to doing this vs. staying in Williams/Flagstaff? As mentioned above, we have some tolerance for hiking and physical activity, but not TOO much (my wife would probably pass on anything but a rather leisurely hike). How tough is the hike down to the canyon floor? Someone else in this thread mentioned biking (rental bikes) along a trail. That might be appealing. General thoughts on what to do, where to stay, and how much time (1 or 2 days) to plan for the GC? Also, there's a train that heads up from Williams to the GC. Probably scenic and fun. Maybe stay in Williams and take the train up for a day trip?

South of the GC - So, there's Flagstaff, Sedona, and ??? Meteor spot by Flagstaff, Red Rocks by Sedona, probably pretty scenery all around. Would be interested in one of the 4x4 tours. Also, horseback riding, maybe hiking, maybe ??? Will a lot of this stuff be closed in March?
OP, this overall looks like a much more realistic and enjoyable itinerary than your original thoughts.

Someone may be able to give thoughts on having taken the train from Williams to Grand Canyon. Williams itself is pretty small and not much for teens, but staying there does make taking the train option more convenient.

If you drive into Flagstaff directly instead to spend night, be sure to go into the historic district for dinner and/or breakfast. Beaver Street brewery is a popular dinner spot for locals and Dara Tai is popular for M-Sat for lunch. Quite a few other neat local restaurants in the historic area.

I'd say 1 day at GC is fine, you really don't need to spend a number of days there to enjoy it. You don't hike down to the bottom, that's an overnight issue. If you hiking, you just go for a 1-2 mile hike down to get out and get some exercise. Honestly, don't remember if they rent bikes at the GC to ride along rim some. We had never taken an out of town visitor to the GC from more than a day trip. Edit: Seeing the GC can by quick as shown by Chevy Chase:
https://youtu.be/gf6R1WFfdpo

If you drive up from Flagstaff, you can make the drive straight up from town. When you get to the Grand Canyon entrance, you can make your way east along the rim with stops and exit and head down south on route 89 back to east side of Flagstaff. If you had enough energy, then just make a quick 1 hr detour off 89 to Sunset Crater if the kids want to experience some lava flow remnants up close (it's a short stop/short walk tour). (Or you could do this in reverse).

Also, nice to come in from your long drive from the Hoover Dam:
Check into hotel in Flagstaff, do the GC daytrip and then come back to same hotel (and not have to pack up the car and check out, IMO).

Personally, regarding making the excursion to Meteor Creator, I'm not that big on that. With many yrs in Flagstaff, we never thought is was worth it to go there, but that's just me (too many other things/activities/places). I'd rather spend the time/energy on Sedona route to PHX.

Edit: I mentioned possibly an great outdoor activity for teens/active adults in Flagstaff that could be done just before heading to Sedona via 89 as it's on the way.The link has information (https://flagstaffextreme.com/ including winter weather questions in the FAQ. Just don't think this is the type of thing a kid forgets, and isn't that what's a main important part of your trip?

On your trip from Flagstaff to PHX, it is best to head down 89 (which is now on the west side of Flagstaff) into Sedona along Oak Creek. You can stop at "the overlook" and that's a good place to buy reasonable priced local Native American jewerly, if interested. Taking this route into Sedona and then out via I17 will give you great scenery, with a short hike being a nice thing to get up/out of the car (or a pink jeep tour, etc). There's a main shopping area where the Oak Creek Brewery is located that is worth stopping at for both food and any quick shopping. Then you drive out with more scenery of south Sedona area to interstate 17. Not taking the route through Sedona, even if you weren't stopping, would be to miss an iconic aspect of the Southwest. Hiking/biking within the Red Rocks is something that one should definitively make part of your trip (IMO). I always told people, it's hard to be "in" the Grand Canyon via hiking, but Sedona really lets you quickly and easily get "into" the red rocks.

Weather in March is hard to predict. The GC rim is at about 7K feet(edit), Flagstaff is at 7K feet, Sedona is at about 5K feet, and PHX around 1K feet. You could have snow at 7k and 5K feet, or your could have very reasonable pleasant weather in Flagstaff that only gets nicer when you get to Sedona and nicer when you get to PHX. You need to simply play it by ear, but understand the weather possibilities. I'd look online for specific vendors to see if something is expected to be open or not. But even then, keep the potential weather issues in mind.

Hope that's helpful.
Last edited by IMO on Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by livesoft » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:57 pm

IMO wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:45 pm
....The GC rim is at about 5K feet I believe, Flagstaff is at 7K feet, ....
USGS benchmarks along the South Rim trail are between 6800 and 7000 ft.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

IMO
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, ???)

Post by IMO » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:08 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:57 pm
IMO wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:45 pm
....The GC rim is at about 5K feet I believe, Flagstaff is at 7K feet, ....
USGS benchmarks along the South Rim trail are between 6800 and 7000 ft.
Thanks, forgot it really was higher than I remember! Makes sense, the drive up from Flagstaff doesn't have much elevation drop/gain.

Edit: Was thinking more of Lake Powell by mistake but that's at 3,652′

Topic Author
psteinx
Posts: 3427
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens (Las Vegas->Grand Canyon->Scottsdale)

Post by psteinx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:54 pm

OK, so a change of plans. Original trip to AZ in mid-March cancelled. (Flight cancellation, rebooking options bad.) Now thinking late May/early June, with 5 of us (rather than 4 before, adding my oldest daughter to the mix), and coordinating with the need to drop my oldest daughter off in a small town (Sherman) about an hour north of Dallas. Thinking of reconceiving this as a bit of a cross country drive.

Specifics (very tentative):

Fly all 5 of us to Phoenix. Get rental minivan. Spend a few days with father-in-law in/around Scottsdale. Then:

* Drive to Flagstaff. Maybe stop off in Sedona on the way or see other nearby sights of interest.
* Visit Grand Canyon for a day. Return to Flagstaff that night.
* Drive east. Probably to Santa Fe. Maybe depart early AM, arrive with enough time to see a bit of S.F. that afternoon, heading out the following day. Or set things up to spend a bit more time in S.F. Or some other location along the way.
* Drive east some more. Maybe go straight to Sherman, TX. Maybe stop off again at some other interesting waypoint. Maybe try to spend a day in Dallas/Ft. Worth proper.
* Drop off my daughter, then drive home to St. Louis area. Probably relatively directly.

OK, so, is Santa Fe going to be very interesting for my teens and us? We like history and have a moderate tolerance for museums. Cool outdoor stuff is fun too, and hopefully the weather should be nice then. Will have just seen Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, so if Santa Fe is too broadly similar (i.e. Southwestern pueblo-style), then maybe it won't be that interesting?

Another possibility is to get a little more Texas-vibe (which our kids have had little exposure to) - Amarillo instead of Santa Fe? Maybe something in a rancher/cowpoke vein? Or try to spend a full day or so in/around Dallas?

Thoughts/suggestions?

btenny
Posts: 5143
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 6:47 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by btenny » Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:41 pm

You might look into driving up to Cortez, Colorado and go see Mesa Verde National park. This park is a really cool cliff dwelling city that was built by the Indians back in 1100 or so. It is just outside of Cortez which is sort of on the way from Flagstaff to Texas. The drive to Cortez will take you right though the heart of the Navajo Indian reservation and through the painted and petrified forest. So you can also stop and buy some cool Indian artifacts or Indian jewelry or paintings. There are several small towns on the res.

http://www.americansouthwest.net/colora ... _park.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Desert_(Arizona)
https://www.nps.gov/pefo/index.htm

livesoft
Posts: 68608
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by livesoft » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:08 pm

Look at the map. You've got Petrified Forest National Park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, maybe even CapRock Canyons State Park and the aforementioned Mesa Verde NP possibly on a driving route. I don't know what will appeal to you. I have been to all of them. I suspect all will pale in comparison to the Grand Canyon NP, but at least Caprock Canyons has bison that are not fenced and could overrun your tent if tent camping.

In Flagstaff, hike to top of highest point in Arizona, it's only a 10 mile round-trip.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

MJS
Posts: 416
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by MJS » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:51 pm

On the drive from Scottsdale to Flagstaff, stop at Montezuma Wells to see some earlier civil engineering projects. Not as stunning as Hoover, but notable in its time.

At GC, see if you can get reservations for the mule ride along the rim. Not too strenuous, but a charming chance to see great depths.

Be sure to try fry bread tacos.

fasteddie911
Posts: 286
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 3:13 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by fasteddie911 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:16 am

I might even consider going up to Page, AZ after GC to see antelope canyon, horseshoe bend. Then driving across to see monument valley then Mesa Verde. You can venture up to Durango too. Then make your way down to Santa Fe and thru texas. Take a few more hours but well worth it imo.
Last edited by fasteddie911 on Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

vested1
Posts: 1833
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: SW USA vacation spots w/teens. Scottsdale->Grand Canyon->Eastward (Santa Fe?)

Post by vested1 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:45 am

I would recommend taking the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon, as well as a fairly new attraction, just outside of Williams called Bearizona.

https://www.thetrain.com/the-train/?gcl ... gJ8PfD_BwE
https://bearizona.com/

There are 6 levels of ticket for the train. We chose Coach class, choosing not to face other passengers and enjoying the view from the large windows. Musicians play songs in the aisles, food and drinks are served, and cowboy actors commit a train robbery before you reach the canyon. While waiting for the train in Williams there is an outdoor show performed, featuring a shootout staged with a western themed backdrop, and who's actors appear later on the train during the robbery.

Bearizona is a wildlife park, where you can stay in your car and drive through a large fenced off area with bears, wolves, bison, elk and more, isolated by species but otherwise roaming in their natural environment. Hint: Keep your widows closed. You can then park your vehicle and enter the other section of the park to see a wide variety of animals, including bear cubs tussling with each other and climbing trees.

The Birds of Prey show is especially good, where you sit on split log benches, listening to rangers describe the particular birds that they bring to the stage, while raptors fly inches over your head in response to the offer of food from another ranger at the rear of the audience. Different species of hawks, eagles, and owls are part of the show, which is fascinating.

There is a well stocked gift shop and restaurant, and the park doesn't feel like a zoo because it's apparent that the animals are treated well.

Post Reply