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Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

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Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Me and the boyfriend are planning a last minute trip to the Utah area, where he’d also like to see friends at Lake Tahoe and visit the pools and restaurants at the Reno casinos.

We have 9 days to travel the first week in June (he enjoys last minute planning, it’s made me pretty anxious!). Our budget is tending towards frugal with a reasonable splurge here and there.

I’m a third generation New Yorker with minimal (but quickly expanding!) travel experience, whose still learning to appreciate nature. While I like hiking, yoga, and heat, I’m not into extreme or advanced physical anything, don’t gamble, and suck at water sports. I’m excited about doing things outside of my comfort zone though.

I’d love some general or specific input about our destination choices! He really wants to see the Zion Arches, or even stop into Arizona to see Antelope Canyon (which sounds a little ambitious to me).

Is it possible to combine these destinations effectively in 9 days?

How about throwing Arizona into the mix?

Are there scenic routes you would recommend between any of the stops?

Or fun roadside attractions?

We’re especially into offbeat, odd, or bizarre attractions.

Really, suggest anything from sights to see to travel pointers to accommodation suggestions. I’d appreciate any feedback, thanks 😊

24 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,447 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

You are going to have to choose between Tahoe and Utah. If your 9 days includes your travel from your home and back, you effectively have 7 days. You could spend most of those 7 days visiting the 3 destinations in Utah and Arizona that you mentioned. Zion to Lake Tahoe is a 9.5 hour drive, no stops. So if you do that in one long haul, you've lost another day.

That said, there's another issue with a last minute plan to visit the destinations in Utah. You will probably find it very difficult to get hotel reservations near Zion and in Moab. A tour of Antelope Canyon has to be done on a paid escorted tour. The canyon is hugely popular and advance tour reservations are strongly recommended and you may find that tour times are very limited.

Before you purchase any air fare, you should some research about what it takes to visit the places you listed, including drive times between them, hotel availability, etc.

Level Contributor
10 posts
1 review
2. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Thanks for the honest assessment Connie! The accomodations and tours were my biggest concern.

Last year we drove the Pacific Coast Highway, hitting San Fran, the redwoods, and Portland in 10 days. Same deal, all last minute planning, but this struck me as very different. He's traveled to these places before but I think he tends to do activities that don't involve as much time constraints, and in the past had an RV.

Could you recommend some sites that are less popular? Or even hikes or other parts of Utah that don't need tour guides? Things we could do ourselves with more flexible time frames.

Or do you think a Tahoe/Reno trip might be more flexible and realistic? As long as a whole lot of not-NYC nature is incorporated into the trip we'll be happy! ;)

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,447 posts
41 reviews
3. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

The only place that would require a paid tour is the Antelope Canyon tour near Page Arizona. While you can certainly pony up for guided tours in to backcountry of Utah,, but if you just want to visit the national parks, you can do that on your own.

I think you should do some research on the Lake Tahoe area and Utah. Research air fares and car rental. You'll be in the great outdoors no matter where you are. Tahoe is in the mountains with a big beautiful lake. You could probably base in one location when visiting Lake Tahoe. And you may be able to get by without a car if friends are willing to drive you around or loan a car. A trip to Utah parks involves driving between destinations and changing hotels almost every day. The scenery would be red rock, canyons, and some mountains. So very different from Tahoe. And it would be a shame to come all the way to Utah and not visit the primary sites. You are going to have to decide what kind of trip you want as they would both be very different.

Read this article about planning a trip to the national parks in Utah.

https:/…Trip.Planning.html

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10 posts
1 review
4. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

I'm so eager to see the desert, the scenery is completely new to me! I think the idea of seeing Tahoe, which is very different, appealed to us both, as if we're getting two trips in one, but I was worried we'd be spreading ourselves far too thin and it sounds like that's probably the case.

That link is EXACTLY what I needed, thank you! I was trying to picture these massive scenes of desert and canyon in my head, and the time we have suddenly seemed very small for our little bodies to travel while actually experiencing the nature, which is the whole point. The advice given there seems to really put things in perspective.

Your description of driving from place to place and staying in a different hotel every night is exactly what I was preparing for. My main concern is that it seems like with such limited remaining accommodations, we'd have to book our hotels in advance. He needs more spontaneity built into his travel, so I think campgrounds might be an option to think about, which comes with its own costs and preparations.

Thanks for the link!

We might also consider flying into Denver, seeing a bit of Colorado, and driving into Utah. That's a shorter drive but still mixes up the scenery a bit.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,447 posts
41 reviews
5. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

I understand the need and desire for being spontaneous and having flexibility when traveling. My husband is the same way. It pained him greatly when he realized that for a short trip that we are taking to some of the same places next week, we had to make advance hotel reservations. We booked hotel rooms a month ago. In several places, our first and second choice hotels were booked. One hotel in a small Utah town was booked for the entire month of May. In a couple of places, we got the last room at a hotel. We had to adjust our plans accordingly. But because we know the area, have been to most of these places more than once and are local to the area, making changes in our plan wasn't a big deal. We just ended up with a slightly different trip, but a workable one for us.

Yes, camping brings it's own set of problems. One of them is that you will also need to make campground reservations. There are even fewer campgrounds in the region than there are hotels. You'll find first come first serve campgrounds near the national parks. But those often fill up early in the day. So unless you can be at a destination early in the day, you may be out of luck camping. Obtaining appropriate camping equipment and bringing it with you will be expensive. You can rent basic equipment at REI in Salt Lake City. But you'll lose part of your 9 days dealing with picking up the equipment and returning it.

If your focus is on Utah, flying in to Denver does not make for less driving. It makes for more driving. Denver to Moab/Arches is a 5.5 hour drive, wheels turning. Salt Lake City to Moab is 4 hours. The state of Utah has some of the most varied landscape in the US....snow capped mountains and forests in the north, red rock canyons, and desert in the south. Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains. Denver is not in the mountains. In fact, fin Denver, the mountains are not up close and personal like they are in SLC.

Edited: 11 May 2018, 23:09
LA
Level Contributor
11,479 posts
1 review
6. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Forget about flying into Denver.

It doesnt help as you have too few nights to make it feasible.

Look at flying into Las Vegas then making a loop of the southwest Utah parks: Zion, Bryce, down to Grand Canyon. Back to Las Vegas.

Fly to Reno, 2 nights in Tahoe. Fly home.

Very very fast trip. Not able to see everything. Next issue will be the challenge of accommodations / camping. You will need reservations for campgrounds in any of these places. Lake Tahoe is at 6500 ft elevation and the nights are definitely cold in Tahoe in early June. Even a chance of snow.

This is a HUGELY popular time of year to visit and you are leaving planning very late.

Get ahold of Lonely Planet Southwest USA and look at their suggested itineraries. Or the Moon Guide Southwest USA is also good. Loads of practical advice, more than what we can provide

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,447 posts
41 reviews
7. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Pareo has provided an alternate plan for visiting the southern Utah parks and the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. But if Arches/Moab is a priority, flying in to Las Vegas isn't the best scenario.

You and your boyfriend need to decide on a plan quickly. As each day passes, the less availability you'll find for hotels and campgrounds.

utah
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3,381 posts
42 reviews
8. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Here's an idea for you that isn't Tahoe, but may give you a bit of the mix you are after. Also, I'm suggesting some ideas that I think you can more easily find last minute accommodations:

1) Fly into Salt Lake.

2) Spend 2 nights in Park City. (If too pricey look at Kamas or Salt Lake.)

2a) Drive the Mirror Highway above Kamas and check out Mirror Lake. utahsadventurefamily.com/things-to-do-on-the… (Event though I mention this first - do this at the end of the trip to give the snow more time to melt.)

2b) Drive Guardsman pass to Big Cottonwood Canyon

2c) Spend a day on the Alpine Loop - Cascade Springs, Bridal Veil Falls, Timp Cave, Scout Falls, and more are fantastic - if you are interested in Alpine Loop let me know and I can give you more detailed info.

3) Moab - accommodations maybe be pricey, but you should be able to find something. Spend at least 4 nights here - you could even do 5. There's almost unlimited stuff to do in this area. Arches, Canyonlands, beginning biking, Granstaff Cayon, Jeep tours and much more.

4) Torrey/Capitor Reef. Spend a night or two here. Accommodations may be more tricky. Visit Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse Canyon between

5) Bryce - Accommodations will be the most tricky - you may have to stay further from the park than is ideal.

6) Head back to Salt Lake. Fly home.

(You could possibly squeeze Zion in as well - but that's getting pretty tight on time - and accommodation at Zion will also be tricky.)

While it's not Tahoe, this gives you the opportunity to do a great mix of desert landscape and gorgeous mountain lakes without an insane amount of driving.

utah
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3,381 posts
42 reviews
9. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

Let us know what you decide and then we can give you more details on things to do and ideas for offbeat attractions - for know your plan is too broad for me to know where to even start.

LA
Level Contributor
11,479 posts
1 review
10. Re: Last Minute Tahoe/Reno/Utah Trip

You mention "Reno casinos and pools"

Reno casinos dont have the pool scene that Las Vegas has. Partly because of the climate, and partly because Reno gets a slightly older gambler demographic.

It's about 45 min to 90 minutes to Lake Tahoe from Reno, depending on where you are going so Reno isnt that convenient for visiting friends in Tahoe

If you want to ckeck out casinos with pool scenrs, it's another reason to go to Las Vegas

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