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Grand Canyon & Petrified Forest in late March?
Old 12-22-2011, 10:19 AM   #1
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Grand Canyon & Petrified Forest in late March?

The kids are out of school the last week of March. I will have 8 or 9 days off in a row to do a trip. We are considering dewinterizing the camper and towing from the Denver area south to Santa Fe and then heading west into AZ to see the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon.

A few questions:

- Any RVers wish to opine on the wisdom of doing this in late March? I get March average temps of daily low around 30 and daily high around 60 in both the Forest and the South Rim of the Canyon.

- How long should we plan on spending at the Canyon? Any must do things?

- What other sights should we make a point of seeing along the way?

- Since this will be in the off season, I think we will have the luxury of playing things by ear and camping where we feel like it without reservations in advance. Is this true?

- Any other suggestions welcome.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
The kids are out of school the last week of March. I will have 8 or 9 days off in a row to do a trip. We are considering dewinterizing the camper and towing from the Denver area south to Santa Fe and then heading west into AZ to see the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon.

A few questions:

- Any RVers wish to opine on the wisdom of doing this in late March? I get March average temps of daily low around 30 and daily high around 60 in both the Forest and the South Rim of the Canyon.

- How long should we plan on spending at the Canyon? Any must do things?

- What other sights should we make a point of seeing along the way?

- Since this will be in the off season, I think we will have the luxury of playing things by ear and camping where we feel like it without reservations in advance. Is this true?

- Any other suggestions welcome.
Brewer, I don't have a lot to offer other than a relatives experience at the south rim over Thanksgiving weekend. He said it was very crowded at the campgrounds although he was actually camping and not RVing. He also noted it as one of the most 'international' experiences he's had in a while. Evidently, that is a popular destination for foreign visitors. I can PM you some of the sights from the south rim if you're interested.
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Old 12-22-2011, 05:48 PM   #3
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The campgrounds at Grand Canyon are very busy. You may luck out in the off-seasons, but I would not count on it. Better to have reservations. These NPs are very popular. For example, at Yellowstone, all the campgrounds were full the first day they opened, and not all the roads were yet cleared of snow. Yes, these places are that popular! On the spur of the moment, we decided to stop by the South Rim in our recent trip, and had to stay at an RV park outside the NP.

I don't know if you want to hike down the canyon (I have not done that myself), but just to spend time taking the tour bus and walking along the rim to see the highlights would take 2 or 3 days, if one does it leisurely.

You may want to spend time in Williams, or even stay in an RV park there. It is about an hour drive south of the rim, and is one of the Route 66 historic towns. A bit touristy, but may be great for kids. Can also take a train to go from Williams to the Rim. We have not, but from the Web, many people like that.

If you have time, may want to spend a half-day in Flagstaff (between Williams and the Petrified Forest) to see Walnut Canyon, a National Monument, where one sees how the Indians built their homes into the side of the canyons. Good light walking for the kids, and educational too.
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Old 12-22-2011, 06:30 PM   #4
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We were there this fall. Hiking into the canyon with young kids wouldn't be something I would do. The Grand Canyon is all about the view, IMHO wait until they are older. There aren't 1/2 day trips by mule into the Canyon any more.

I recomend Mesa Verde NP. Visit the cliff dwellings and role play with the kids what it would be like to live there.
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:23 PM   #5
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We were at the Grand Canyon south rim in April this year, March should be a good time but could be a little cool. The rim trail along the south rim is a good starting point for taking in the views, it's a few miles long but an easy walk, most of it is level and paved. Along the rim trail is the 'Trail of Time' and Yavapai Museum, both must sees. Have dinner at Bright Angel or El Tovar restaurants, very good food and great views looking out into the Canyon. I would spend 2-3 days there, you can do some short hikes into the Canyon if the kids are not too young. Hiking down to the Colorado river requires an over night hike and reservations are needed.

Hoover Dam is about a 5 hour drive from the south rim and may be of interest. Sedona is also worth visiting, about a 2 hour drive from the south rim and worth a couple days.

If your family are big baseball fans March is spring MLB season in Scottsdale/Phoenix, probably the most popular tourist season in the Phoenix area.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:24 PM   #6
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We stayed at a campground in Williams and drove to the south rim. It was a nice campground with an indoor pool and hot tub. The kids really liked it. If you hike to the bottom then you will want more than a day otherwise you can do a few hikes in one day along the rim. The museum is excellent. Petrified Forrest is fun to see also. Sedona is worth the trip if you have time. Mesa Verde NP is really good for kids and ours loved it.

Lots of great campgrounds in that area. I really liked that part of our trip as their was so much to do. You will really like it if the weather is good. We were there in June so I cannot speak to March weather.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:33 PM   #7
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I can't help you with rv'ing but I stopped at the Royal Gorge bridge in Canon City and Taos on my way to Santa Fe from Colorado Springs. Fun to take this detour, but it did add several hours to our trip. DW liked the shops in downtown Santa Fe.

Also went to Petrified Forest. Was not impressed. Lots of sections of petrified trees have been stolen/vandalized.

We have been to the South rim of the Grand Canyon in the spring, but not as early as late March/early April. Could be a little cool then. Definitely hike the rim trail instead of trails into the canyon if you have kids. I agree with others on dinner at the El Tovar. Maybe spend 2-3 days at Grand Canyon.

We like Sedona. Maybe spend a day there. Take the kids on a Pink Jeep Tour. Beware of 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona if you're pulling the RV. Very scenic, but very hilly.

I took a route through monument valley/ eastern Utah 2 years ago. Its a great scenic route, ending at Moab. Then you can jump on 70 and head back to Denver.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:13 AM   #8
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You don't say how old your kids are but a hike down the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon is very cool. Allow twice as long to hike up as down. Depending on how fit your family is, Three Mile Resthouse could be a reasonable turnaround point for a day hike. If you are really ambitious hike from there out to Plateau Point where you will see the river and Inner Gorge. If you just want a small taste One and A Half Mile Resthouse is ideal turnaround point. Or hike the South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point.
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:46 AM   #9
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Back in the day when we had a camping trailer, we camped on both the Grand Canyon north rim and south rim on separate trips. We went in the summer when the kids were out of school. The south rim was warm during the day and pleasant at night. The north rim was pleasant during the day and cool at night. I would not dream of going to the Grand Canyon anytime of the year without reservations.

On one trip we drove across the Royal Gorge suspension bridge in Colorado. I don't advise this for people who are afraid of heights.
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:19 PM   #10
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Not much to add except everyone should see the Grand Canyon in person at least once, one of those places that you simply can't appreciate in pictures (Niagara Falls is another). I would second Mesa Verde NP though, an incredible look at another time & culture. Best of luck...
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:09 PM   #11
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I stopped at the Royal Gorge bridge in Canon City and Taos on my way to Santa Fe from Colorado Springs. Fun to take this detour, but it did add several hours to our trip. DW liked the shops in downtown Santa Fe...
We have not been to Royal Gorge Bridge, so I am committing this to memory for the next time we pass through the area.

We also enjoyed Taos and Santa Fe in our RV trip of summer 2011. Taos may be too much of a detour for the OP, as he has only a bit more than 1 week. But Santa Fe is right on I-25, and he might plan a stop there already. Northern NM has many interesting places to camp, and one has to be an RV full-timer to even scratch the surface. The USA is a big place!
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:53 AM   #12
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The Petrified Forests can be seen in a day or so. Very little shade, so your timing may be good. We visited in Oct & drove from site to site. We did not hike much.

If you visit, you must go to Winslow and stand on a corner.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:59 PM   #13
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The wife and I did a similar vacation a few years back. Would suggest that you make sure to bring some warmer clothes just in case, we experienced some cold temps during our trip.

Don't know if you enjoy microbrews or not, but Flagstaff has a couple good ones and isn't too far away from the GC area. Anyways, hope you and the family enjoy the trip.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:38 PM   #14
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The Painted Dessert is highly recommended by me. You can imagine yourself on an alien planet, the terrain is so strange. You might also want to stop at Meteor Crater if the space program is of interest to you. Also, Sunset Crater is a great walk around a volcanic cinder cone.
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:58 AM   #15
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Assuming you have full propane tanks and electricity, I wouldn't worry about the temps, in a hard sided camper (can't recall if yours is a pop-up, I didn't think so?). I thought the furnace'd run more in 20 degrees with a 30 mph wind, but it didn't, in mine, last spring. The tanks freeze, obviously, if you use them in that type of weather - so, don't. But, if it just gets down to around freezing, you should be fine with the furnace lit.

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Old 01-17-2012, 11:48 AM   #16
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Grade school aged kids aren't into vistas, mine didn't pay attention to the Grand Tetons except as something to climb or nearby lakes to fish in until they were older. You can experience both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forrest in one park and on our visit this fall it was a place for walking and viewing. Each kid is different, mine wanted to interact with what they were seeing at that age which is why I think they would enjoy seeing the ancient abodes and gaining an understanding of the conditions our early peoples lived in would be attractive.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:14 AM   #17
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Brewer, not too far out of your way is Canyon De Chelly National Monument, one of my favorite places.

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Old 01-18-2012, 01:15 PM   #18
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Just so you know, Flagstaff and Grand Canyon can be colder than Albuquerque/Santa Fe. We drive to Las Vegas every mid-April for a conference, and twice it's been snowing in Flagstaff.

The winds can also howl, and so you have to keep an eye on the closures on the I-40 between Gallup and Flagstaff. Bookmark on your phone: NMRoads
They have an app as well I think.

If you are in Flagstaff, you must drop south to Sedona if you haven't seen it. It's a pricey little town, but drop-dead gorgeous! The red rocks will have you drooling...

I second the trip to Mesa Verde but it's a different route than you are planning. I loved the Petrified Forest, but do get out and walk around the shorter hikes as you can't see the close ups of the logs from the car. There's a nice short hike around the southern Visitor Center, and one in the middle of the drive. It takes about 3-4 hours just to drive (slowly) thru the park. Allow a full day.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:18 PM   #19
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Brewer, not too far out of your way is Canyon De Chelly National Monument, one of my favorite places.

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Good one and you may like Hubbell Trading Post

http://www.nps.gov/hutr/index.htm
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:59 PM   #20
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Eh, the trip is off. Does not work with my work schedule and the weather appears iffy. Another time.

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys.
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