US NATIONAL PARKS WEST, 2008

Insight

Day -3, Monday, September 8 Hurricane Ike
For the 5th time this season, we're watching a hurricane and hoping to "dodge the bullet" once again. Dolly went for the Texas/Mexico border; Edouard fizzled out to almost nothing; Faye liked Florida better (4 times); and Gustav tried to make like Katrina 3 years ago. But now Ike is a danger. As of earlier this week, it's been pointed straight at Houston, so I decided to change my flight to Phoenix - get out of town before the airport gets shut down and I miss the start of the tour. Frantic scramble in the early AM today to get all the reservations changed, and new ones made.

Day -1, Wednesday, September 10 (near) Hurricane Ike
By the time the weather guess-perts decided that Ike was going to go south of us, I had already made my reservations change. It is forecast to miss a direct hit on Houston (very wrong but what do weather guess-perts know - or their computers!), but the track which had moved well south has now been moved back north and it will be very close - close enough (= right over) that air travel Saturday morning will be disrupted. It's definitely a good idea that I'm leaving early. I now get to see some nice scenery so no real "loss."

Day 1, Thursday, September 11 Houston - Phoenix - Flagstaff
Oops, my original flight time flight is already fully booked, so I have to take an earlier flight. So:

Continental CO 2843Houston - Phoenix7:47 AM - 8:39 AM2:52

This means Super Shuttle is scheduled at 5:00 am (instead of 6) to get to the airport the required 2 hours early. Air travel is via Wells Fargo credit card points - no charge except $24 reservation fee but I did have to pay a bunch to change the reservation. The plane is a regional carrier contracted to Continental - an Embrarer with A/BC seating and I get an A solo seat. Just snack meal service but a reasonable flight otherwise.

Unfortunately, I have to go through "THAT" airport in Phoenix again. But it's not as bad this time since I don't have to make a connection.

I've rented a compact jalopy from Hertz (comp upgrade to a new Chevrolet Impala with only 251 miles on it), and drive up to Flagstaff. It's much cooler than Tucson and I've been in Tucson a few times in the last few years. Flagstaff also has interesting scenery locally, plus Meteor Crater, Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest are within reasonable driving range. There is a nice scenic route north from Phoenix to Flagstaff. There are several Motel 5½ locations in Flagstaff and I use one of them for 2 nights. I can do some local sightseeing today - zig-zagging my way for 400 miles in 8 hours), and then have all day tomorrow for major sightseeing. Caution: Flagstaff is at 7000' altitude so I have to be careful but have no problems. Hotel: Motel 6 (Motel 5 ¼) (2 nights)

Day 2, Friday, September 12 Flagstaff and sightseeing Eastwards
Rain was forecast for today, but didn't materialize. Low temperature 42F. A full day to visit those special sights mentioned above. Lots to see in the area and it's certainly much cooler here than it would be down in Tucson. I started out early and drove east to Winslow (I had an aunt and uncle who lived here years ago) for breakfast at McBurger - shades of Alaska prices: McBreakfast in the Houston airport was $2.79; here exactly the same thing was $4.79.

I see lots of 2-mile-long trains going east and west along the way. The ones heading west (to Los Angeles) are just LOTS of empty flatcars. The ones heading east are either loaded with 18-wheeler trailers, or double stacked with cargo shipping containers. There are also many "mobile parking lots" heading east on the highway as well.

Then on out to Petrified Forest / Painted Desert. The first was disappointing - not much left to see, but some nice overlooks in the Painted Forest. After that, back to Meteor Crater for an interesting stop. Next back to Flagstaff area for Walnut Canyon - first time there for me. VERY nice stop. Not much time left so just swing by the Lowell Observatory then back to the motel. 275 miles of driving today.

Hurrricane Ike update: according to the tv, the track has moved back to where the storm will head in directly over Galveston/Houston. Now I'm really glad that I "got out of Dodge." At least it's still "just" a category 2 hurricane. I just had a call from a neighbor - no wind or rain 'there' yet. The weather reports are playing up the storm surge which will of course be massive on the coast, but I/we are nowhere near that. It is power outage that would be our primary concern.

Day 3 (1), Saturday, September 13 Back to Phoenix - Scottsdale
Low of 44 this morning. Off early for a drive down "historic" state highway 89A through Sedona to Prescott, etc. It's the most scenic drive of the trip - beautiful, but no place to stop for pictures. There is a small town named Jerome south of Sedona. It clings precariously to the side of the mountain. I doubt that there is a place on any of the streets that is level for more than 6' at a time - and where it isn't level, it is very steep and winding. This makes for interesting driving - and NOT for larger vehicles.

Welcome back to Phoenix! After driving down from Flagstaff (easy 136 mile drive + some zig-zagging = 215 miles), then since nobody "meets" us at the airport, we have to use the complimentary transfer (a "SuperShuttle") out to the hotel in the nearby town/suburb of Scottsdale. I have an easy experience in returning my car and catching the shuttle. Arrive at the hotel about 2.

Our Tour Director (Lynne Hendrick) greets us at the hotel this afternoon. This evening at 6 PM, join traveling companions for a welcome drink - but no dinner - cheapskates! In fact, they don't include many meals at all on this trip, but it may turn out cheaper that way (wrong), just as on the Cosmos trip to Alaska and the Yukon. It's a group of 33, but only 7 are from the US; 2/3 from Australia/New Zealand, and 1/3 from Ireland. (2nd part of the trip has a higher percentage of US guests.) Hotel: Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort.

Although Hurricane Ike finally did make Galveston & Houston its main target, I just talked with my neighbor - both our houses came through the hurricane with no damage. Some neighbors' (across the street, and 2 doors down) trees lost a bunch of branches, one of which (large one) fell on their house, and my (other next door) neighbor's fence is in pieces in my back yard, but neither of our houses had any real damage. Of course it may be quite a while before power is restored - supposedly they will start on Monday but first do hospitals and emergency service command areas. Now I can relax and enjoy the trip with no worries about what I will find when I get home. Big relief to have that worry out of the way.

Day 4 (2), Sunday, September 14 Scottsdale - Grand Canyon
We head north this morning to visit the incredible ancient Indian cliff dwellings of Montezuma Castle National Monument (listed on the web site itinerary, but never mentioned, much less visited). We continue to the bohemian (tourist trap) colony of Sedona, in the heart of Red Rock Country and an optional jeep tour (see below - nice trip). Now it's on through beautiful Oak Creek Canyon to one of the natural wonders of the world - the Grand Canyon National Park. Don't forget the camera as we embark on our guided walk along the rim (what guided walk?) to watch the sun set over the canyon walls. Tonight (make that late afternoon wasting lots of viewing time) enjoy a very good dinner while taking in the views of the Grand Canyon's South rim. Hotel: National Park Lodges, Maswick North which is a 10 minute walk from the rim. (B,HD)

OPTIONALS: SEDONA:
Canyon & Cowboys Jeep Tour US $53 Enjoy an easy four-wheel drive ride in the scenic and historic Dry Creek Basin surrounded by seven majestic canyons to the hand-hewn log cabin that stands as a reminder of Sedona's colorful past. Relive the early cowboy days with tales of murder and moonshine at the old cabin. Approximately one and a half hours.

Day 5 (3), Monday, September 15 Grand Canyon - Lake Powell
We have free time to relax at the Grand Canyon this morning or see an IMAX film or take a scenic flight. Later, we stop at the Historic Navajo Trading Post for lunch (on our own) before traveling through a mini-Painted Desert and Navajo Indian Reservation to Glen Canyon Dam. This evening, after settling into our lake-front resort, we enjoy a cruise on stunning Lake Powell (ho-hum). Hotel: Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas. 2 nights. (B,HD)

OPTIONALS: GRAND CANYON:
Grand Canyon Imax Theatre US $13 This 35-minute spectacular film allows us to explore deep inside the innermost depths of the Grand Canyon. Go where viewers can never go on their own. See the canyon through the eyes of the ancient Anasazi, through the eyes of the first Conquistadors and today's modern visitor. Raft the mighty Colorado and soar like an eagle amongst the high plateaus. Travel with the first exploration party on a journey of discovery of this remarkable place.

All the flight prices have increased significantly - supposedly due to a gasoline surcharge, but I bet that the company added a bunch for themselves as well. I have 'second thoughts' as to whether I want to take one - also since I did this about 8 years ago when I did my 'Four Corners' trip.

North Canyon Tour - Helicopter Flight US $190 Experience the magnitude of the Grand Canyon and its splendor of ever-changing color in a perspective incomparable to any other method of seeing this "Wonder of the World." Our tour takes us over the deepest portion of the Grand Canyon, through the "Dragon Corridor," and continues to the North Rim, where we view the incredible geographical differences between the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon. During our return to the South Rim, enjoy breathtaking views of temples, shrines and rock formations sculpted by time while flying above the widest portion of the mighty Colorado River. Flying time is 25-30 minutes. Subject to weather conditions. Inclusive of taxes, $10 fuel surcharge and $6 local fees. For an additional $30 per person only, fly the newest & quietest helicopters in the Grand Canyon - the EC130. All seats face forward, larger windows.

Imperial Tour - Helicopter Flight US $250 Embark on this 45-50 minute tour of the panoramic magnificence of the Eastern Grand Canyon that combines with the renowned beauty of The North Canyon tour. The spectacular views of the Painted Desert and Colorado River alone make this tour worth its weight in gold. With so much to see and experience, the Eastern Canyon tour is as unique as it is beautiful. Subject to weather conditions. Inclusive of taxes, $10 fuel surcharge and $6 local fees. For an additional $30 per person only, fly the newest and quietest helicopters in the Grand Canyon - the EC130. All seats face forward, larger windows.

Grand Discovery - Fixed-wing Aircraft Flight $145 The original air tour of the Grand Canyon… Board an ultra-quiet 19-passenger, climate controlled de Havilland Twin Otter "Vistaliner" for a 40-45 minute "Grand Discovery" flight over the Grand Canyon. This tour covers the most famous and beautiful parts of the Grand Canyon including the Eastern "Zuni Corridor," the "Confluence," the North Rim and returns back through the Western "Dragon Corridor." The wings on this aircraft are located over the windows which allows for spectacular panoramic sightseeing and picture taking. Subject to weather conditions. Inclusive of taxes, $10 fuel surcharge and $6 local fees. I had planned to take this flight, but it was NOT RECOMMENDED as being a very rough flight.

Day 6 (4), Tuesday, September 16 Monument Valley Excursion
Today we explore Monument Valley, the true essence of the American West. It's about a 3 hour drive with a rest stop at a Burger King that has not only burgers, but a Navajo Cultural display of buildings, and a museum dedicated to the WW II Navajo Code Talkers. Then on to Monument Valley (Native American section) where our local Navajo guide, Carol, shows us the weathered sandstone towers and buttes of this timeless land. (Carol called our tour director, Lynne, "Lady-Chief No-Feathers") After an abbreviated lunch time due to fact that we are running about 45 minutes late (Navajo time), those of us who signed up for the flight get a great aerial view of the Valley (the pilot does a good job of circling around so we can see lots), then Rainbow Bridge, good views of the Dam, and finally landing at the Page airport. Very nice option. (B)

Charter: Monument Valley - Page 1:05

OPTIONALS: LAKE POWELL: Monument Valley, Rainbow Bridge & Lake Powell Fixed-wing Aircraft Flight $220 Instead of traveling from Monument Valley back to Lake Powell by motor coach, we offer the unique option of a spectacular 60-minute flight-seeing experience aboard fixed-wing Cessna with wings located over the windows for best viewing and all window seating. The stark yet breathtaking vistas of the Arizona-Utah border await us on this scenic aerial tour that departs from Monument Valley. Begin our journey with a flight over the many buttes, mesas, and spires that are the focal point of the amazing landscape of Monument Valley. Flying over this area gives us a completely different angle over this breathtaking landscape. We then enjoy a short trip over the rugged Canyonlands of the Utah-Arizona border area. Next, we will gaze down upon the deep blue-green waters of Lake Powell. Fly over the immense span of Rainbow Bridge, the worlds largest natural stone arch, and then on past Wahweap Marina and the Glen Canyon Dam before landing in Page, Arizona. On arrival, we transfer back to our hotel. Inclusive of taxes, $10 or more fuel surcharge and local fees.

Day 7 (5), Wednesday, September 17 Lake Powell - Bryce Canyon
There is the option of a breathtaking journey down the Colorado River this morning but I have to skip it due to my bad back. After picking up the rafters at Lees Ferry, we head west for first a lunch stop at Jacob's Lake, then a late arrival at Bryce Canyon National Park, a landscape of naturally carved amphitheatres, balanced rocks, gravity-defying bridges, and spires … at 8300'. Wildlife: Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope, Elk. We are running late and the Lodge staff is poorly set up so after a very poor (bad) dinner, we've missed the evening presentation. At least Bryce is beautiful - what little we get to see of it due to our very late arrival, the lousy service and very poor food in the restaurant, and the early departure tomorrow morning. Hotel: Bryce Canyon Lodge. (B,D)

OPTIONALS: LAKE POWELL: Colorado River Float Trip $65 Explore the only untamed section of the Colorado River, just south of Lake Powell and the mighty Glen Canyon Dam. Sit back and relax as our Wilderness River Adventures guide leads us on a breathtaking journey framed by Glen Canyon's rock walls rising over a thousand feet above us, amidst wildlife, Indian petroglyphs, folklore, and natural and human history. This half-day float trip is on comfortable and safe neoprene J-boats, and culminates at historical Lees Ferry, complete with early settlers' cabins. Tour starts at 7:30am and lasts approximately 5 hours. Inclusive of $2 National Park Energy Surcharge.

Day 8 (6), Thursday, September 18 Bryce Canyon - Las Vegas
After last nights experience, skip breakfast in the Lodge and just eat munchies. 40F this morning. Nippy! We drive to the colorful peaks, towering cliffs and lush valleys of Zion National Park. We board our narrated shuttle (open sides for viewing and a good narration) for the best (don't blink or you missed it) views of the park, before some free time to get a quick lunch. Then for a complete change of scenery, we hit Las Vegas. Tonight we enjoy dinner atop the Stratosphere (not offered), followed by a (now optional and not recommended) City Lights Tour of the 'Strip'. I settle for the views of the Bilagio hotel diagonally across the street (beautiful dancing fountains, etc.) and a brief walk in the local area. Otherwise, I would have preferred to skip Las Vegas alltogether! Hotel: Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. (B)

We had 33 travelers on the first part of the trip (Red Rock Country) but 14 left us in Las Vegas so only 19 make the trip tomorrow to Salt Lake City. However we gain 21 there for the northern loop so the bus will be full with 40 (Insight maximum). (Grumble, grumble) I would have far preferred to have stopped in St. George (Utah) tonight and totally skipped Las Vegas - which would have given us much more time in Bryce and Zion, but we had to go here to dump off those taking only the short tour … Las Vegas is the only volume airport in the area, but in my opinion, it's really a total waste of time and LOTS of my money/expense.

OPTIONAL: LAS VEGAS
Las Vegas Sights & Lights $29 Join us for this exciting night on the town in the "City That Never Sleeps" (This was included on the web documentation, now an optional, but the tour director recommends NOT taking it - latest show very poor!)

Bally's Jubilee $72 A brilliant spectacle filled with beautiful showgirls. Jubilee sets itself apart as the true Vegas production show.

Day 9 (7), Friday, September 19 Las Vegas - Salt Lake City
We drive (long and boring drive 8 - 5:30) to Salt Lake City, host city of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and home of the Mormon Church. Once settled into our hotel there is time at leisure to explore Temple Square. There is also a wonderful unexpected extra - 2.25 hour concert - see below. Hotel: Marriott City Center. (B)

OPTIONAL: SALT LAKE CITY Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Utah State Symphony - free Presented on the Tabernacle grounds - free concert with access for us arranged 'at the last moment.' VERY nice and THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE ENTIRE TRIP! Many thanks to Valerie at the Marriott.

Day 10 (8), Saturday, September 20 Salt Lake City - Jackson Hole
After our abbreviated (they are holding a 3K charity run and many streets are blocked) orientation tour of Salt Lake City, we head north to Wyoming. We cross the historic Oregon Trail and climb over the Teton Mountains to the western town of Jackson Hole. Dinner (excellent) tonight is at a local specialty restaurant. Two sessions of rain washed out walking around town both before and after dinner. Very nice dinner at least. Hope it isn't raining tomorrow. Hotel: Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole. (formerly the Wagon Wheel, much renovated since I stayed here years ago) (B,HD)

Day 11 (9), Sunday, September 21 Jackson Hole - Yellowstone
We explore Grand Teton National Park today, stopping at Jenny Lake for awesome views. We also stop at Lewis River Falls - site of the "old" Hamms Beer commercial with the cute bear. Later, we enter magical Yellowstone National Park, a world of erupting geysers, steaming fumaroles, burping mud pots and hot pools. We make one stop then head to our lodge. We arrive just in time to see the most famous geyser of them all - Old Faithful. Nice dinner tonight. The lodge is a more modern one - the original lodge is being refurbished / renovated. We have a decent, but not great dinner. Hotel: National Park Lodges - Old Faithful Snow Lodge. 2 nights. (B,D)

OPTIONAL: JACKSON HOLE: Snake River Rafting. $59 - no thanks - that back problem. I just can't sit that long with no back support.

Day 12 (10), Monday, September 22 Yellowstone Excursion
38F this morning; forecast 70% chance of thunderstorms, rain, and snow up to 1"; high 44. We did get a very brief snow flurry about noon and two brief rain showers later in the afternoon, plus the high was indeed 44 with often high wind, but nothing drastic. Time today to walk among the gushing geysers, see free-roaming herds of buffalo (not - just a few singles here and there), wild bears (none) and elk in their natural habit (not exactly - one band of 28 in "downtown" Mammoth Hot Springs; a bull and his harem) and experience the roar of the Lower Yellowstone Falls (very nice stop). The bull Elk apparently saw his reflection in the tinted window of a big SUV and charged it repeatedly. Many big dents, but it's a government car. Heavy clouds and gloomy light most of the day sorta messed up many of the views we did get to see. Of course it clears up nicely just after we get back to the hotel. (B)

Day 13 (11), Tuesday, September 23 Yellowstone - Billings
Weather: heavy frost this morning and whitecaps on Yellowstone Lake; 70F when we get to Billings this afternoon at 5PM. We finally got to see a bunch of Bison - small "herd" near the fishing bridge, then a much larger group a few miles further. After leaving the park, we travel down Shoshone Canyon through the Absaroka Rocky Mountains to the old wild-west town of Cody to visit the (fantastic) Buffalo Bill Historical Center, built in honor of one of America's great western legends. Along the way we pass through a small town named Belfry. Their high school football team is called the "Bats." Tonight we stay in Billings, Montana. Hotel: Crowne Plaza Billings. (hotel renamed) (B)

I just checked Hurricane Ike power outages - still 17% outage in my zip-code area but I don't know if my house is one of them.

OPTIONAL: BILLINGS Montana Steak Dinner at the Rex Restaurant $45 Located in the heart of Billing's Historic District, this has been long considered Billings' finest steakhouse. Originally called the "Buffalo Bill Bar". Both Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane were frequent patrons during the 1930s. NOT RECOMMENDED

Day 14 (12), Wednesday, September 24 Billings - Custer State Park
Long driving day: 7:45 - 5:30. Today we see where Custer made his last stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn Monument. Unfortunately the power is off (maybe someone didn't pay the bill) so everything is shut down/closed. Power may be back on by next week. The last stop of the day is the Crazy Horse Memorial, a gigantic sculpture dedicated to all Native Americans. Then we drive back to the safari-like surroundings of Custer State Park, known for its abundant wildlife (see tomorrow morning). We don't stay in the lodge itself, but in a new addition, Creekside Lodge, about ¼ mile away but meals are in the State Game Lodge. The State Game Lodge was the Summer White House for President Calvin Coolidge. President Eisenhower also came here often. Hotel: State Game Lodge. 2 nights. (B,D)

Day 15 (13), Thursday, September 25 Black Hills Excursion
Cool morning; deer, bison, and female big-horn sheep are right on the grounds by the buildings as we go to breakfast. At breakfast, there is an overweight lady - all 2 ½ of her - who can't fit in the chairs which have arm-rests; they have to bring her a bench to sit on. Now it's on to Deadwood for our (short) tour (half the normal length) of this once lawless town. Then we come face to face with the American Presidents at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Finally we get to see bears - by driving by Bear World USA where they rescue young bear cubs. We never did see any bears in the wild in any of the parks. We get back to the Lodge just in time for the optional dinner trip. (B,OD)

OPTIONAL: CUSTER STATE PARK Buffalo Safari and Chuckwagon Cookout $83. Includes a jeep 4x4 sightseeing tour through herds of buffalo and lots of other animals, plus an "authentic" (so they claim) Chuck Wagon Cookout at a secluded canyon with food and "entertainment".

Day 16 (14), Friday, September 26 Custer State Park - Cheyenne
We travel across wide-open, almost barren, grasslands into Wyoming for more of the same, and see scattered houses where the population averages 1 person per 325 acres (half a square mile). We stop at historic Fort Laramie, site of one of the great frontier outposts, before continuing to Cheyenne where our hotel is a historic, almost original one, built in 1911. No two rooms are the same. Hotel: The Plains Hotel. (B)

Day 17 (15), Saturday, September 27 Cheyenne - Denver
It's only 100 miles from Cheyenne to Denver, but we go the long way: detour through the Rocky Mountain National Park. It's one of the major highlights of the entire trip. We start out by turning off at Estes Park and go through Big Thompson Canyon (beautiful drive) then climb into the Rocky Mountain National Park and cross Trail Ridge Road to the source of the Colorado River. There is lots of bright yellow fall color, but due to reflections in the window and/or utility lines in the way, not much chance for good pictures. There's a brief almost invisible snow flurry about noon and a couple of very light rain showers later, then the weather turns overcast and gloomy. On arrival in the 'mile-high' city of Denver we see all the highlights on our orientation tour before a dinner at the hotel - but I skip that and go to dinner with friends. When I try to call, my room phone won't make outside calls since dialing 9 first could also get me into long distance and I don't have a credit card on file. I have to go down to the lobby and use a pay phone. Nice dinner. I do get my boarding pass printed out here so it's ready for tomorrow. Hotel: Sheraton Denver. (Hotel was previously an Adam's Mark) (B,D)

Day 18 (16), Sunday, September 28 Denver - Departure - Home
We bid farewell to friends as the tour ends today. A complimentary transfer to Denver International Airport via Super Shuttle is provided. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes (stops at our hotel) so no problems catching it except for a long wait since our hotel is the last one on the route and some shuttles filled at other hotels. I take the 7:15AM shuttle to make sure to get to the airport the required 2 hours early. Original plans to stay 2 extra nights cancelled. (B)

Continental CO 034Denver - Houston11:21 AM - 2:44 PM2:23

Catch the local "Super Shuttle" for the trip home, finally (new driver who isn't yet knowledgeable about the area) arriving 4:45PM.

It was a very nice trip (except for the Las Vegas totally wasted day) so I sign up for more Insight trips in the future.

IKE UPDATE: As I get home, LUCKILY I do have power, internet, and cable but I have to call the cable company tomorrow - the outside cable is loose so it's a bad picture. I did lose about $250 worth of frozen food (Many thanks to neighbors who cleaned out the freezer to avoid a real mess) but that $$ amount is minor compared to what could have been. The power in my area was out for 10 days (Sept. 13 - 23).



Animals seen: Bison (lots), Elk (lots), (female) Mountain/Big Horn Sheep (lots), Prong-Horn Antelope (lots), Prairie Dogs, Deer, (female) Moose (3), Burros (6), Bears (young in a refuge - caged; none in the wild), Wolves (none).

Unusual animals: Kangaroo (ranch), Emu, Osterich, Camel, and Llama.

OPTIONALS:
SedonaCanyon & Cowboys Jeep Tour (~90 min)$53
Grand Canyon Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre $13
North Canyon Tour - Helicopter Flight (25-30 min) $190
Imperial Tour - Helicopter Flight (45-50 min) $275
Grand Discovery - Fixed-wing Aircraft Flight (40-45 min) $145
Lake PowellMonument Valley & Lake Powell-Fixed-wing Aircraft (~60 min) $220
Colorado River Float Trip (~5 hrs)$65
Salt Lake City Mormon Tabernacle Choir free
BillingsMontana Steak Dinner$45
Custer St. ParkChuckwagon Cookout$83


HOTELS:
Day 1-2: Flagstaff Motel 6 Nice enough
Day 3: Scottsdale Scottsdale Cottonwoods Resort. Nice but $$$
Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park Lodges Maswick N good but basic
Day 5-6: Lake Powell Lake Powell Resort Nice but $$
Day 7: Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon Lodge nice, bad service/food
Day 8: Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino OK, overdone, $$$
Day 9: Salt Lake City Marriott City Center nice - good location
Day 10: Jackson Hole Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole very nice
Day 11-12: Yellowstone Old Faithful Snow Lodge modern but nice
Day 13: Billings Crowne Plaza Billings very nice
Day 14-15: Custer St Park Game (Creekside) Lodge very nice, fair meals
Day 16: Cheyenne The Plains Hotel very nice but no I'net
Day 17: Denver Sheraton Denver ¢heap$kate$, but nice