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Unread 16 Jun 19, 02:07 AM  
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Puddle5
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Trip to LV, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion

Hi All just returned from our west coast trip so thought I would do a TR

Thank you all for the help with planning, etc.

The trip was booked in a bit of a rush without my usual level of planning so, I would have done things a bit differently if I had planned it longer.

Hubby is 60 this year so original aim was to go to Las Vegas for him to see Celine Dion. When I looked I realised she was finishing in LV in June, hence the more rushed planning. Didnt really fancy spending more than a few days in LV and so looked and decided to do LV, Grand Canyon South Rim, Bryce Canyon NP and Zion Canyon NP. Booking it now I would have added time in GC North Rim, Monument Valley and Page, they will have to be another trip!

We booked trip through BA holidays and got what I believe was a really good price, just over 2k

This included everything Flights, hotels and car hire, except the accommodation in Zion, which I booked separately as I really liked the look of Cable Mountain lodge which wasnt available through BA.

We flew out on a Monday and plane was delayed for over an hour before boarding and then we spent about another hour sat on the plane as we had missed our take off slot. It was a very old plane.

My IFE system didnt work, and they kept trying to reset it after about three hours the gave up and there was a seat behind me so they asked the people behind me if I could move. Not very happy, as they obviously werent happy, and I felt very uncomfortable sitting there, the person next to me kept encroaching on my seat, so watched one film and returned to my original seat. Not great on an 11hour flight! The flight was almost full so no other seats in sight.

As it was a LV flight there were obviously some Stag and Hen groups on the plane some of whom were very noisy and well oiled.

We arrived late evening, the pilot had made up some time and I think we were only about 1-1.5 hours late arriving.

We got a taxi to the Bellagio, $40 including tip, I think we paid a bit over the odds, and the forums all say tell them not to take the tunnel (which he did), but I felt uncomfortable saying anything.

We arrived at the Bellagio, the lobby is gorgeous and there was a short queue to check in. We checked in and made out way through the casino, which is huge, to the elevator to the guest rooms, there is a security guard in the entry way who checks you have a room key.

I was a little disappointed in the room as we had booked a fountain view room and although on the seventh floor most of the view was blocked by the buildings in front, and all we could see of the fountains was when the show was on, and you could see the tops of the water. It was however a good view across the strip seeing the Eiffel tower outside Paris hotel and Balloon, etc.

Second issue was, on pulling back the sheets to check the bed, discovered that the sheets on one side of the bed were covered in dried on tissue paper and other bits. Not impressed, rang housekeeping who said they would be up to change them.

Although we had been up over a day, we went for a short walk out of the Bellagio to the other side of the road and picked up some bottled water in CVS to give housekeeping time to sort things out.

We walked back to hotel and watched the fountain show actually being able to see all of it! Housekeeping had been changed the sheets and left a couple of chocolates. Into bed for the night. Didnt find the bed very comfortable on my side of the bed there was a dip in the bed which meant I ended up sleeping in the same place as you felt like you had to climb out of it to move around the bed.

Even though very tired still up by 7am the following day. Had a shower and discovered the shower was blocked so all the water was building up in the shower tray, so had to be very quick as did not want it to spill over! Another call to housekeeping!

Our stay included two buffet meals (either breakfast or lunch) so we headed down for buffet breakfast. Quite quiet at this time in the morning. You pay on entry, we signed this to our rooms as would be credited back on check out. They give the option to include 18%, 20% or 22% tip or no tip. I choose no tip as read that you even have to get your own drinks, so wasnt going to tip 18% for this unless service was spectacular. I am normally a reasonably generous tipper but dont like to be ripped off. Anyway, glad I did this as we only saw our waitress once when she cleared away some of the dishes near the end of our meal! I did leave a 10% cash tip however.

The buffet was very good huge range of foods and really enjoyed it not sure I would have paid nearly $60 though for the two of us if it had not been included.

We had a wander around the hotel, blew $2 on the slot machines (heavy Gamblers &#128521 and then had a wander down the strip to go to the T mobile shop to pick up a $40 tourist sim. They guy there was really helpful and said he would test the phone first as no all UK phones would accept their network. Good job he did as my phone wouldnt accept it. Hubbys phone (much newer i phone) is a works one and so he can use it abroad (not for Data though) so didnt want to change that, as all our CC are linked to that number, so if they text us re use abroad they contact that number.

Decided to just use WiFi as much as possible. Main reason would have been for the maps but thought I had ordered a GPS with the car. Had a wander round New York, New York hotel and walked back to Hotel. I wanted to go to North premium outlets so although we looked at bus route ended getting a taxi. $25 inc tip.

Spent a good few hours buying lots of stuff for grandkids and then had late lunch in Cheesecake factory, really nice meal but very large so ended up sharing a piece of cheesecake at the end!

Taxi back to Bellagio and a rest before heading of to Celine Dion. Hubby is a big fan, but I was not, however I have to say she was superb!

Back to the hotel via Starbucks

It was very hot when we were in LV over 30 degrees C

The following day had breakfast buffet again, waitress cleared plates a few times and asked if we needed anything else so gave a bigger tip. Our Daughter in Law had given us $15 to bet on red so went to a roulette table and asked them what to do! Put the money on red and won! The guy then couldnt believe we were happy to walk away with our$30 . We however were very happy!

We then had a walk next door to Caesars to visit the forum shops. I thought these were very good, lots of lovely fountains and shops! Whilst wandering discovered there was a Cheesecake factory there and also a Carmines. When we had been in New York last year had planned on going to Carmines but in the end didnt ,so as it was my birthday, we went in and booked for a very early dinner.

We had planned to see Big Elvis at 2 pm and then go to Fremont street to Mob museum and Light display so timing was a bit off.
Went for a wander through Paris hotel and Flamingo, etc and got to Harrahs Piano Bar for about 1.30 people were already queuing for BE so joined the queue. It is free to go in and see him, just buy a drink.

We really enjoyed his show. I am a huge Elvis fan, hubby isnt but he enjoyed the show as well.

Had my photo taken with him and left nice tip, then wandered out to cross the road to Caesars to go for our meal in Carmines. When looking to cross came across bus stop and talked to some other tourists getting the bus to Freemont street, seemed reasonably straight forward so decided to do this rather than get a taxi. $8 for a 24-hour ticket each, much cheaper than taxi which would have been about the same as to the NPO, as quite near to each other.

Good meal in Carmines but not outstanding. We crossed back over and got our bus ticket and then got the Deuce bus to Fremont street, we should have waited for the SDX as this only stops at a few of the stops and is more touristy the Deuce seemed to have more locals and stopped at every stop.

We got off the stop marked Mob Museum and the driver pointed us in the right direction, a few hundred yards on the other side of the road. We spent a few hours there and enjoyed it.

When we came out it was getting dark, but it was a five-minute walk across the street to Fremont street. We were about 20 mins early for the light show so spent that trying to figure where to get the bus back to the strip! In the end we came across to Fremont street ambassadors who pointed us in the right direction (on the corner of Fremont street and centre street by entrance by Binions).

We watched the light show which I found a little disappointing, over much quicker than I thought. Got the SDX bus back down the strip. Much quicker and more tourists and got off right outside Belllagio.

During the night got up to use the bathroom and couldnt open the bathroom door! All in all disappointed with our stay in the Bellagio. Lovely Hotel but too many issues!

Following morning we picked up the car from Avis desk at the Bellagio. I hadnt booked GPs so added that on (stupidly didnt ask the price thinking it would be about $10 a day- shocked when I checked and $21 a day- motto -prebook if you want one! Given a Kia Sportage, had a few marks so took photos.

Driving out of hotel and onto Interstate was fairly straightforward. Having GPS was good but had also downloaded off line route via Google maps which would have worked just as well.

Drove out of LV and after about 10 miles so a sign for a Walmart pulled off and went in and bought a largish cooler $16, ice, water and some food and snacks, etc.

Off to Hoover Dam. Before you go through the security point there is viewpoint signed on left side of road, we went to this and you have great views over Lake Mead. Shortly after security point there is a pull off on the left and here you can walk up to the road bridge for great views looking back on the dam.

Drove down and over the dam, we did not park at the visitor centre $10 but went over the bridge to the Arizona side, there are multiple car parks and all except the first one are free. We walked back down to the bridge and had a wander around and up to the visitor centre.

We didnt do the tour as it was incredibly hot, and I felt a bit unwell. Very interesting place though. You have to turn around and go back the way you came as road doesnt let you re-join interstate.

Noticed chip in windscreen when back on road, must have been when car was parked as not heard anything whilst driving, very annoying as we had a problem with a chipped windscreen splitting screen when in Canada. Decided we would wait and see how it went.

Drove the rest of the way to Kingman, lots of roadworks, desert and not a lot else! The distances are vast and often you have no phone reception, very, very hot. When we got to Kingman turned onto Route 66. All in all, found this disappointing. Arrived at Seligman and stopped for coffee, found this a bit sketchy and was unnerved by the men wandering around with guns in holsters!

Entry to East interstate closed, so a bit of fun trying to figure out which way to go as GPS wanted us to go via the route closed. Save by google on phone as able to look for an alternative!

Drive as we got closer to Williams and Flagstaff became more interesting and pretty. Spent night at Little America hotel in Flagstaff which was an awesome place, lots of little touches that made it an outstanding hotel. I had been a bit annoyed with myself that I hadnt booked two nights in Grand Canyon but after seeing this place I was glad we spent the night there. Flagstaff seemed a lovely place and it was a shame we did not have longer to explore.

Following morning up early to head to Grand Canyon. I had been in two minds what to do as journey time was about the same via South or East entrances. We would be leaving via the East entrance the following morning to head to Horseshoe bend but as we had long journey to Bryce knew wouldnt have much time to stop at the viewpoints along Desert View Road. In the end decided to head to East Entrance and this turned out to be exactly the right thing to do!

We arrived at entrance to park about 8am and bought America the Beautiful pass. The lovely park ranger was keen to tell us that if we only signed the first signing place, we could pass it on to family, etc who may be visiting and they just signed in the second place.

By the way do not bother pulling into the viewpoints along the east entrance road until you get to the park entrance. The first viewpoint after the entrance was Desert View and here, we got our first look at the Grand Canyon. It was really quiet with only a few people around and an absolutely awesome view with the Colorado river winding well below. I think as a first look this was beyond compare.

We had a breakfast sandwich from the caf there, very tasty and saw our first Darwin award candidates (there were a lot over the course of the trip)! A young dad with two youngish boys was on one of the paths with the boys running through the bushes obviously chasing something, as I drew closer, he said its a snake as he was American, I thought nice must know what it was. I was then gobsmacked when the children asked him if they could pick it up and he said No I dont know if its dangerous and we are a long way from help they were probably 12 inches from it! He then did get them to move away but I couldnt believe he had been letting them chase it!

We drove along Desert View Road stopping at all the viewpoints, Navajo point was also awesome but spoilt by some tourists standing precariously on the edge to take photos. We moved on as I did not wish to see an accident. It was easy to see how so many deaths occur as some people were really stupid in trying to get photos.

We also stopped at Tusayan museum and ruins along DV road and this was quite interesting to have a wander around. Saw some lovely deer on the roadside

We arrived at the visitor centre around 1pm and it was very busy! Difficult to find a parking place but eventually got one and set of to the Rim. Mather point by the visitor centre was like a zoo and I think some of the views we had seen previously were better.

We walked along the rim trail to Yappivya point, again insanely busy and then back to the visitor centre.

We headed to Yappivya Lodge for our one night stay here. There is a huge shop here which you can buy all sorts of grocerys, gifts, etc. Picked up some ice $5! There is also a bank and post office.

Went to our room and was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was, very clean. I had expected it to be much more basic, but as we booked late happy to get a room in the park. Quite a few deer wandering around.

We drove into the village and parked near Maswick lodge, walked down to get the Red bus to Hermits Rest (no cars allowed along this road)

We rode to Hermits Rest had a look around and got bus back to Pima Point in time for sunset. The bus stops at all the stops on the way out, but only three on the way back. We stayed so Hubby could photograph sunset, but this was a little disappointing as there was partial cloud cover. Did have a bit of a sunset. Then got bus back to GC village walked up to Maswick lodge and had a lovely pizza and drove very slowly back to Yappivya lodge.

Following day up early for long drive to Bryce via Horseshoe Bend, set off at 6am. Hoping to be there before 9am but got there about 9.45 after stopping for more deer along DV Drive and a last look at Navajo point and Desert View point.

Do not underestimate the driving times, with stops the journeys are long and add plenty of extra time onto what google says. Lots of roadworks etc as well that really slow you down.

Horseshoe Bend was very busy, but easily found a parking place in the new parking lot. Lots of building work going on, building a visitor centre I believe. $10 dollars for parking.

Its just over a mile walk to Horseshoe Bend in very hot conditions and mostly uphill on the way back but well worth the trek! The water was a beautiful green colour and seeing the tiny boats below puts the size into perspective. Again, saw lots of Darwin award nominees!

Drove through Page -no time for stopping this trip. Did stop at Glen Canyon Dam bridge and had a walk over it very picturesque. About 3 miles after this was a viewpoint marked Waheep (I think) please drive this as you get absolutely stunning view looking back over the Dam and Lake Powell.

You go past so many interesting rock types on the drive, this was really interesting after hearing about the Grand Staircase at a Ranger talk in the GC

Stopped in Kanab for food and coffee and then a very pretty drive up to Bryce following the river which was flooded at points. When you turn off onto Highway 12 you go through Red Rock Canyon, which is stunning and drive under two red rock stone bridges. You can pull in between the two bridges to take photos.

We arrive in Bryce about 4pm and checked into Best Western Grand, nice hotel, only criticism very noisy aircon/ heating. It was noticeably cooler in Bryce high of 19C.

We went for a drive into the park, only a few minutes drive away and stopped at Sunrise point for first view of the Hoodoos.

Recommend if going, you go to Sunset point or Inspiration point for your first view as more impressive, but it was still very good. Saw some Prairie dogs driving out of the car park.

Then went to Sunset point to check it out as Hubby wanted to return at night to photograph the Milky way above the amphitheatre. Sunset point was easy access to park and walk to the rim.

We got back to Bryce about 8pm and choice to eat seemed to be limited to Rubys inn or a fast food place next door. Went to Rubys and there was a long queue for the restaurant but this moved very quickly. They have a menu streaks, pasta, etc or you can have a buffet $22 each. First night we ate of the menu, very good. Second night we had the buffet, again very good.

You soon discover all the properties in Bryce seem to be owned by the Ruby family. Although called Bryce City it is really tiny!

We went out at 12.30am and drove to Sunset point about a hundred-yard walk to the rim. There were another couple there, also photographers. It was incredibly dark and absolutely awesome to be able to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. Hubby got some great photos! Absolutely freezing though!

Later start the following morning. Continental breakfast was included in the room rate but had bacon, eggs sausage etc. Not a huge range but nice and filling.

It was a gloriously sunny day but again highs of 19c. You are at over 8000 feet and the elevation certainly has an effect.

We decided to walk the Queens Garden Trail this morning. It was disappointing that the Navajo Loop was still closed so had to do a there and back trip, but it was fantastic hiking down among the Hoodoos - incredible.

We went back to hotel for a break and then later in afternoon went to do the scenic drive. Stopped at Inspiration point first and walked to the three viewpoints. Really good view of the amphitheatre. Lots of different deer on drive back.

Drove to the furthest point along the road (about 18 miles) elevation 9115 feet. Stunning views!

Stopped at viewpoints along the way back, dont miss the Natural Bridge a huge red stone arch!

Dinner at Rubys again and sleep

Up following Am and drive to Zion Canyon NP stopped at Red Canyon Visitor Centre and one trailhead and did short walk, this is a very pretty area.

We entered Zion from the East Entrance and again this is by far the more picturesque entry way.

We stopped just before the tunnels and walked the Canyon overlook trail. About 1-mile return but awesome views overlooking the Canyon. Look up on the trail we saw a couple of long horned sheep.

We then waited about 15 minutes for our turn to go through the tunnel. It is a really long tunnel and very dark. As you drive through there are a few places where you can see out and can get some shots if you have your camera at the ready, everyone drives very slowly through! When you come out of the Tunnel you drive down a series of switchbacks to Canyon Junction, outstanding views.
You cannot drive up the main canyon you have to get a free shuttle bus past Canyon junction.

We drove out the west entrance and about 100 yards, to the entrance for Cable Mountain Lodge. This was outstanding both in terms of location and accommodation.

You only had to walk about 100 yards over the bridge, and you were in the NP at the visitor centre. There was a mini market coffee shop, pub, etc on site.

We checked in and went to room which was actually an apartment with living area, kitchen and separate bedroom and bath. There was a terrace to sit on and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains, awesome!

We went for a brief walk over to the Visitor Centre; remember to take you park pass if you walk over. Checked out where we would get the shuttle the following morning and debated whether to get the Springdale shuttle to find somewhere to eat or drive. In the end we drove and stopped at Pizza and Noodle and had a nice meal overlooking the main street in Springdale.

We noticed most parking in Springdale and around the park entrance was $20 glad parking was free at the hotel!

The following morning, we walked over to get the shuttle about 8am. Very busy and had to wait for about five different shuttles before we got on. Drive up the Canyon is stunning. We got off at end point and walked riverside Trail. River still very fast flowing so Narrows still closed. Pretty walk among the canyon walls.

Shuttle back and got off at big bend -very good views of Angels Landing (looked great walk but heights not for us!)
As we were sat waiting for next shuttle a wild turkey walked past 😊

Back on bus to Weeping rock and short walk up to this, weeping quite a lot!

Back on bus again to the Grotto and off and walked path to Zion Lodge. Had snack and drink at lodge and then walked to Lower Emerald pond. All the walks were very busy.

Then got shuttle back to visitor centre and hotel.
Had a rest -temps very hot again, lower elevation, in low 30s

Got on the shuttle and got off Canyon Junction and walked Parus trail back to visitor centre, very pretty, flat trail running back and forth over the river.

We had dinner at Zion Brewery, next to Hotel and had a fantastic meal, highly recommend, and then went for a quick dip in the pool. The views from the pool are outstanding.

Went out about 12am and drove, again very slowly to Canyon Junction for hubby to get some more night photos, the moon was still up so no Milky way but some nice shots of the stars above the Canyon.

Following morning packed everything properly for flight home and went to get rid of cooler. Asked room attendant where to put it and she said she was happy to have it if we didnt want it.

Drove out along west road to interstate, nowhere near as pretty drive as along east entrance.

Long drive towards LV and Valley of Fire. We were getting slightly concerned as brakes on car started to make a squealing sound especially when turning to the left ☹

In the end we did decide to go to the Valley of Fire but head back then to interstate rather than go via Lake Mead, Valley of Fire was interesting but extremely hot.

As this is a state park separate entrance fee than from Annual Pass, but only $10, At the visitor centre they were advising people against any hiking due to the heat. Got out a few times, but in the end just got to hot to get out of the car and go look at things!

As we were driving out of the park got a text from BA to say flight delayed from 9.30pm to 1.15 am ☹

We arrived in LV at about 5pm and decided to go to South Premium outlets to kill a couple of hours. Car had to be back for 7.30pm. As we pulled into the car park brakes made an awful noise, so panicking then about returning the car!

Did a bit of last-minute shopping and had a meal and then drove the mile or so to the car rental return. This is off site at LV, and you have to get a shuttle bus over to the terminal.

On the journey over there was no sound from the breaks at all!

Handed car back informing them about the brakes, etc and said they needed to get them checked before renting out again.

Got the shuttle to Terminal 3 and went to check in. On check in they asked if we knew about the delay and we told them yes. We were given a $19 voucher for food.

We waited until about 9.30 (most places were starting to shut) to eat as we hade eaten earlier and then hung around. Plane didnt get in until after 12 and thought this is never going to get away at 1.15.

Around 1.20 they said having problems with heating regulation on plane and started to think we may not be flying. At about 1.30 they started boarding and we eventually left just after 2am. Again, very full flight. Pilot came on and announced still having problems with cabin temp. We were sat toward the back and it was boiling! At the front it was apparently freezing. What followed was a very uncomfortable flight, which eventually landed 4 hours 15 minutes late! Lots of very upset passengers with connections.

Only good thing was straight through immigration and customs. Baggage was waiting when we got there and parking bus outside. But then long drive home. Got home at 11.30pm after travelling from 10am the previous day (minus 8hr time diff)!

Oh well, put in EU compensation claim.

We had a fantastic time all in all. Bryce Canyon was both of our favourites and would love to go back and do other parks in the area and GC North rim

Sorry so long and I hope of some interest to you all!
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Unread 16 Jun 19, 01:47 PM  
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KarenG
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Really enjoyed your report. Some things weve done before and lots we havent, so thanks for the inspiration for another trip
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Unread 16 Jun 19, 02:11 PM  
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Nice report thank you
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Unread 16 Jun 19, 09:56 PM  
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thanks for your report, I am in the process of planning a return to Vegas after 15 years, and was thinking about booking the Bellagio as it looked so luxurious back then! Might not now LOL.
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Unread 20 Jun 19, 10:17 PM  
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Sounds a great trip. We went to Bryce and Zion for a week last year we hope to go back with family sometime next year its such a beautiful place.
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Unread 20 Jun 19, 11:06 PM  
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Yes florida girl loved Bryce and Zion. Bryce being our favourite.

Wordsworth if it hadn't been for the problems the Bellagio would have been a beautiful hotel and location was first class. I liked the look of Caesars and if we ever went back would probably try that.
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Unread 24 Jun 19, 08:01 PM  
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Great TP thanks for posting.

We just returned from LV & flew same BA flights as you. We also had issues with the IFE, very rude staff and delays sitting on the tarmac waiting for slot to park! Not as bad as your delay though! Really annoying when you pay for premium economy & the flight is just a horrible experience. The food home was truly awful!

This was our first stay in LV and we had booked 4 night cosmopolitan 2 night at the mirage. We were upgraded to a suite with balcony fountain view for free and loved the Cosmo so much we paid to stay and ditched the mirage.

Red rock canyon was lovely. We wanted to do Hoover Dam but the hot weather put us off! We only lasted 40 mins by the pool!

Sounds like you squeezed lots in!
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Unread 24 Jun 19, 09:18 PM  
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Hi Prettymiarose, thanks for reading

Glad you had a good time, the Cosmo is next to the Bellagio isn't it? You probably saw more of the fountains than we did LOL!

Hoover Dam was really interesting but very, very hot, Lake Mead was very pretty, something for you to do if you go again

Definitely the worst flights we have had with BA and we have flown with them for years. We had the euro compensation but even so horrible flights.

I am flying with them to Hong Kong in Oct so hope for a significantly better flight. I book quite a lot with BA because you can easily book separate hotels and customise your trips but they really need to up their game especially with all the risk of strikes, etc.

We did do a lot and had an awesome time and would definitely like to go back and do some of the things we missed, not flying BA though until they upgrade the planes on this route!
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