This trip is a “take 2”, having really loved our road trip carried out in 2018 too much. For a different itinerary, see Our Travel Guide to the American West.
I’ve planned this trip back to the western U.S. to discover new treasures. Because there are plenty of beautiful places to see, discover and rediscover from other angles.
Strategy in the American West with points
We were four adults for two weeks, travelling through Arizona, Utah and Nevada from May 6 to May 31, 2022. At the end of the first two weeks, I continued with my mom for a 10-day camping and Airbnb trip in Utah and Colorado! We covered a lot of miles but enjoyed every spot.
Given this, the article has been split in two for the first two weeks of the trip. Here’s part one in Arizona!
Here are the details of the flights we booked and the total cost for four people:
|Actual value $CA||Price paid $CA||Valuation point|
|2 round-trip flights Montreal – Las Vegas||$1,300||76,200 Aeroplan points + $224||1.4 cent|
|2 one-way flights Montreal – Las Vegas||$800||51,000 Aeroplan points + $163||1.2 cent|
|TOTAL for 4 people||2 100 $||127,200 Aeroplan + $387|
That’s a saving of over 81% on airfares thanks to reward points!
For the car, I booked an SUV with Budget via autoeurope for a value of $1,000 for two weeks. This reservation was made more than six months in advance, which I recommend to get better prices.
However, when we spoke to the clerk when we took possession of the vehicle, the SUV reserved was a Ford Escape model. For an extra $600, he offered us a Nissan Pathfinder for added comfort. The reservation was paid in cash, but this allowed me to unlock the bonus on my new Platinum card. You can also earn Aeroplan points with Budget by adding your number when booking.
|Itinerary||City||Selected accommodation||Actual value $CA||Price Paid $CA|
|1||Las Vegas||Marriott Residence Inn Henderson/Green Valley||368||17,500 Marriott points|
|2||Kingman||SpringHill Suites Route 66||460||40,000 Marriott points (2 rooms)|
|3||Sedona||Airbnb||322,5||110,000 HSBC points + $45 in cash.|
|5||Grand Canyon||Expedia – Yavapai Lodge||315||35 000 HSBC points + $100 HSBC travel credit + 40 S cash|
|6||Monument Valley||the View Motel||415||45,000 HSBC points + $190 – Lunch included|
|7||Teasdale||Airbnb – Serene||258||45,000 HSBC points + $225 cash|
|8||Capitol Reef||Airbnb – Serene||258|
|9||Escalante||Airbnb – Escalante – micro RV house||328||328 bonidollars|
|10||Page||Airbnb – Page||107,5||25,000 HSBC points + $15|
|11||Page||Airbnb – Page||107,5|
|12||Oderville||Airbnb – Yurt||602||55,000 HSBC points + $327 cash|
|13||Zion||SpringHill Suites St. George Washington, Utah||369||35,000 points per night: 2 Marriott certificates used|
|14||St George||SpringHill Suites St. George Washington, Utah||369|
|15||Las Vegas||JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa||550||40,000 Marriott points + $45 resort fee|
|TOTAL||5 152 $||
97,500 points + 2 Marriott Bonvoy certificates
395,000 HSBC Reward points
The total value of the accommodations at the time of booking was $5,152 for the first 2 weeks of the trip. We only paid $1,355 out of pocket thanks to the rewards points from the various programs we used, a saving of 73%! It’s pretty incredible.
Day 1 - Las vegas
- Overnight stay at the Marriott Residence Inn Henderson/Green Valley, continental breakfast included.
Our flight from YUL arrived at 11:00 am in Las Vegas. We spent the afternoon shopping and cooking dinner at our hotel. There’s nothing picturesque here, either in the room or the surroundings. The hotel is a little dated, even if the photos on the website look better.
*credit photo site Marriott
Day 2 - Kingman
- Las Vegas – Hole-in-the-wall Rings: 2h15, 224 km
- Hole-in-the-wall Rings – Oatman – Kingman: 2h30, 182 km
- Overnight stay in Kingman at the SpringHill Suites Route 66 paid with Marriott Bonvoy points
Our first day on the road began in the Mojave Desert with a short 2km hike, Hole-in-the-wall rings Trail.
After this stop, we headed for Oatman – a village along Route 66 with a Far West feel, where you can chat with donkeys – and then on to Kingman. Oatman Highway is truly sublime at Sitgreaves Pass.
After this beautiful day, we slept in Kingman. Our rooms were connected, which we greatly appreciated. Friendly welcome at reception, dark rooms and tasteful continental breakfast.
Days 3 and 4 - Sedona
- Kingman – Sedona via the town of Jerome: 3h45, 312 km
- Overnight stay at Airbnb paid with HSBC Rewards points
Sedona is a mystical city, an enchanting, grandiose paradise! I’m always so charmed every time. You have to experience it to understand it. Driving towards it, emerging from its red rock walls… one head isn’t enough!
Two days in Sedona is the minimum. I recommend 3-4 days, impossible to get bored here! You can consult the Viator platform to find an activity to your liking.
- Jeep Tour Trail or 4×4
- Admire the stars
- Mountain biking
- Numerous restaurants and art galleries
- Swimming at Oak Creek
I had wisely chosen the location of our Airbnb, which was within walking distance of some of the hikes. There’s no need to find parking or break your neck. We were even on the side of the paths to see the sunset over the city! A magnificent moment at the summit of Mount Sugarloaf!
I recommend a visit to Holy Cross Chapel in Sedona, built-in 1956. The architecture of this chapel is exquisite and unique! You can visit it for free, and if you’re not fit enough to walk to the top, a golf cart diver will take you there.
Sedona is an expensive place to stay. I found this little Airbnb, a separate annex to our host’s house. It’s quite a touristy place, and getting from one place to another can mean traffic jams in the city. So it’s essential to choose the correct location.
The Airbnb has a kitchen, one bedroom and one sofa bed. The host is very receptive to messages. Excellent communication. Here is the link to make a reservation: Trailhead Sanctuary. Sedona Red Rock Views.
Day 5 - Grand Canyon
- Sedona – Grand Canyon – 2h – 180 km
- 1 night booked via Expedia paid for with HSBC Reward points
Even though I’d been to the Grand Canyon before, I wanted to show my parents this magnificent, awe-inspiring park! We stayed at the Yavapai Lodge, a simple, clean room. I wanted to sleep in the park, because it was easy to get up early to see the sunrise! So we went to see the beautiful sunrise at Yavapai Point, a 5-minute drive from our room.
I suggest you stock up on food and fuel at Grand Junction or even earlier if you can. Grand Canyon Village Market is expensive. There are no service stations in the park. The network isn’t great, even in the rooms. For urgent needs, wi-fi is available at reception.
If you want to avoid the crowds when visiting the Grand Canyon, I recommend taking the shuttle and, instead of getting out, taking a few photos and getting back on the shuttle to the next stop, walking between the stops. When you’ve had enough, all you have to do is take the shuttle back. We were alone on the Rim, contemplating in peace! We walked from Maricopa Point to The Abyss, a distance of about 5 km. At each viewpoint, a sign indicates how many miles it is to the next stop.
Day 6 - Monument Valley
- Sedona – Monument Valley: 322 km, 3h30
- Overnight stay at The View Motel paid for with HSBC Reward points
- Buffet lunch included
The next long-awaited stop is Monument Valley! 3rd time here for me, but you can’t get enough of this kind of view! There’s something so enchanting about the desert! Access to the park costs US$8 per person. The America Beautiful card is not accepted.
As for accommodation, I chose The View Motel cabins instead of a hotel room, as it’s more comfortable for four people and there’s a kitchen (or so I thought …). The food in the restaurant is decent, but nothing more; I preferred to cook and enjoy our balcony for the evening. I was disappointed that they had removed the hob and all the crockery. It’s indicated on the microwave and fridge web page, but I ignored this detail since I saw a complete kitchen in the photos. I guess they want customers to have to eat in restaurants. We made do with the food we had and my camping kit. For the price it costs per night, I was very disappointed by this detail!
We didn’t get to spend the evening on the balcony like I wanted to. Sandstorm that lasted all night. I prayed hard that it would pass by sunrise. My prayer was answered!
If you’re sleeping here, you must set your alarm for sunrise. After all, you pay the total price for this magical moment!
Day 7 and 8 - Teasdale and Capitol reef
- Monument Valley – Teasdale ( Capitol Reef), 355 km, 5h00
- Overnight stay at an Airbnb in Teasdale paid for with HSBC Reward points
This will be one of your best days on the road! I saw the most beautiful road of my life, UT-95! The UT-95 is, in my opinion, a gem of a place to sleep if you own a camper van. Here’s a glimpse, as photos describe more than words.
As long as I’m in the area, I added an unplanned detour to visit Natural Bridge Monument. We were charmed by this little park! The America Beautiful card is accepted.
The place to be if you’re a starry-sky enthusiast! In some regions, it’s possible to see up to 15,000 stars throughout the night.
After a great day’s drive, we arrive at our Airbnb in the town of Teasdale, 20 minutes from Capitol Reef National Park. A beautiful little country house located near farmers’ fields. A peaceful spot with a lovely courtyard to relax in after your day’s activities.
Then I invite you to go and eat some of the best pies in the country at Gifford House in the historic Fruita district. It’s right next to the parking lot. We’re lining up to feast! Our favourites were strawberry-rhubarb and apple. We found the cherry one too sweet.
To wash it all down, we walked along the Hickman Bridge trail.
Day 9 - Escalante
- Capitol Reef – Escalante: 100km, 1h30
- Overnight stay in a micro house booked on Airbnb and paid for with bonidollars
On our route, I had chosen Scenic Drive 12, a road where you’ll make many stops. It runs for 200 km between Torrey and Bryce Canyon, and it’s not boring! We set off early to hike Lower Calf Creek, accessible from this road.
For our night in Escalante, we stayed in a micro house, the Hilltop Casita. This area is home to several micro-homes and RV campgrounds. You’ll need to check in at reception, and then you’ll be entitled to your guest gift basket for breakfast the following day! The owners will even ask you if you have any allergies. This allowed me to have a gluten-free bakery product. The pastries are very good! If you arrive after office hours, the hosts will contact you for the check-in procedure.
The cottage is equipped with a sofa-bed and a double bed. Outside, camping chairs are available so you can enjoy a fire if you feel like it. You’re just a 2-minute drive from local restaurants.
There are many things to do from Escalante:
- Scenic Drive 12
- Hiking in Grand Staircase-Escalante
- This is a place with several slot canyons for enthusiasts.
- Petrified Forest State Park
- Horseback riding day at Kodachrome Basin 1 hour for $54 or 2 hours for $75
- Fly fishing
We only flew over Escalante, but the place deserved a lot more attention. I’ll be back!
Day 10 and 11 - Page
- Escalante – Page 177 km 4h
- 2 nights in an Airbnb paid for with HSBC Reward points
To get to Page, I wanted to take Cottonwood Road, which passes through the Grand Staircase-Escalante. It links Cannonville to US89. Please note that this road is not passable in wet weather, even by 4X4. Find out what the weather’s like before you set off, or visit the Cannonville Visitor Center to speak to a ranger. It takes at least 2 hours to complete, not counting stops.
We start with a stop at Kodachrome Basin State Park, a park that I think is well worth a visit! It’s located before the start of Cottonwood Road, so you can only get there and back on Scenic Drive 12. The park boasts 67 chimneys, some of them tens of meters high. The chimneys are ancient solidified geysers in a variety of rather amusing shapes. The America Beautiful card is not accepted. Admission is US$10 per vehicle.
Continuing along Cottonwood Road, we stop to see Grosvenor Arch, a 45-metre arch carved from yellow sandstone. A short 200-meter paved path leads to the foot of the arch.
Then, a series of unique landscapes, with rocky colours shifting from red to white to grey, thread their way through our minds! We dine under a big tree on the side of the road to get some shade, as it’s boiling! A magnificent route not to be missed!
We arrive in Page at the end of the day to take possession of our Airbnb at Page in a mobile home park. Charming little house, clean and well decorated. Washer-dryer is available, plus lots of sweets if you’ve got a sweet tooth!
It is located close to stores and various activities near Page. On the other hand, the night was hardly restful, with the dogs barking incessantly in the neighborhood. Communication with the host was good, but nothing more. I’d go back anyway, as the price was affordable.
Day 12 - Oderville
- Page – Oderville – 105 km – 1h40
- Overnight stay with Airbnb in a Yurt paid for with HSBC Reward points
It’s a short drive to Oderville, but we needed a more relaxing day after our kayak trip!
We started with a short hike called The New Wave. Its wave-like rock formations characterize it. It’s an excellent alternative if you haven’t managed to get a permit for The Wave, a fascinating place limited to 20 people per day. My mother and I did it at sunset and finished in the moonlight with a headlamp. A totally different experience!
We arrive in the afternoon at our yurt with a magnificent view of the village of Oderville! What better way to spend the afternoon than by the pool, taking a siesta and preparing a delicious dinner on the BBQ? We loved our night here, even though it was expensive! But thanks to my accumulated points, I could pay for half the stay.
Communication with the host via Airbnb was excellent (Yurt #6). Arrival is autonomous, and all instructions are recorded in a book. The beds are ULTRA comfortable and the best night of the trip! A propane gas fireplace is provided outside for a cozy evening by the fire and a view of the sunset.
Day 13 and 14 - Zion and St George
- Oderville – Zion National Park St-George – 120 km – 2h
- Overnight stay at SpringHill Suites St. Louis. George Washington paid with Marriott Bonvoy points
To get to St. George, we pass through Zion National Park, which is on our way. The road is majestic, it’s unimaginable to see so much beauty opening up at every turn in front of us! I wanted to come for a hike in the park, but not one of those. You have to take the shuttle. The shuttle system was introduced to cover the park’s interior due to its great popularity. It works well, but you need to allow time.
On AllTrails, I found a little-used trail accessible by the scenic route. The trailhead isn’t signposted at all, so I think that’s why it’s a quiet spot. You’ll need to park in a nearby lay-by and walk about 1 minute along the roadside.
Our final destination was the town of St-George. This city charmed me with its proximity to various parks and activities. It’s still an excellent choice for those who don’t want to go too far from Las Vegas! You can read the details of my two days here in another article.
Day 15 - Return to Las Vegas
- St-George – Cathedral Gorge – Las Vegas – 4h30 – 436 km
- Overnight stay at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa paid with Marriott Bonvoy points
I’ve wanted to see Cathedral Gorge State Park for a long time. This park is not at all strategically located for visiting. Far from the most popular attractions, you’ll be delighted to explore it almost on your own! What’s more, taking a detour through this park let me discover a route I’d never taken before.
- Cost: $5 per vehicle; America Beautiful Pass not accepted.
The park’s geological formations are impressive, reminding us of Bryce Canyon. We parked our vehicle on Miller Point Road to begin the trail of the same name.
On arrival in Las Vegas, we check into our hotel, the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa. I chose this hotel a little way off the strip to avoid the city traffic. For me, Las Vegas is an essential arrival/departure point. I wanted to try a more luxurious place to spoil us at the end of our trip.
This overly large-complex is perfect for those who want to feel like they’re on vacation at a resort. Since I didn’t spend much time there, I feel I wasted my points in a place I hardly took advantage of. A simple hotel near the airport would have done the trick.
As soon as we arrive at the hotel, imposing palm trees flood the courtyard, giving it a southern feel. We use the complimentary valet service with our room rental. The imposing lobby is warm and welcoming, and check-in is a breeze. I’m informed that breakfast ($) is available at the Earl Grey Café in the promenade section. I’m left with a map of the premises to help us make sense of it all.
Our room is huge and overlooks one of the many landscaped gardens. The ivory marble floor and shower are tasteful. Let’s take a tour of the property, and hope we don’t get lost! There are plenty of landscaped gardens, a huge swimming pool where you can rent an umbrella or a private cabana. The beverages seem overpriced when I spot a poster with a Mai Tai special at US$22.
Room rental at the JW Marriott includes:
- Enhanced high-speed Internet access
- Valet parking
- Daily access to the Spa Aquae fitness center and relaxation areas (excluding the Hydra lounge and hydrotherapy circuit pool).
- Two (2) drink coupons at any Rampart casino bar
- 20 in free casino offers at Rampart Casino
- Food store restaurant promotions
- Discount at Tivoli Village shopping center
- Free bicycle rental
- A free round at the Angel Park putting course
The JW Marriott will meet the criteria of those who want to spend quality time by the pool or play a round of golf on the court overlooking the desert mountains. This style of hotel is more or less for me, but I still enjoyed my stay.
The Legends Oyster Bar and Grill
For dinner, we booked a reservation at the small, but not least, restaurant, The Legends Oyster Bar and Grill. Chef Jack is a Thai who started cooking alongside his grandmother. At age 11, Chef Jack moved to the U.S. and continued his culinary studies, working in his mother’s restaurants after school and on weekends here in Las Vegas. Although he had learned a lot from his mother and grandmother, at 18 he decided it was time to create his career at the Rio Hotel and Casino.
Reservations are strongly recommended. This is a small but very popular restaurant, and you’ll understand why when you taste the food! The service is fast, even too fast! Dishes arrive quickly, without always having finished the previous one… We had scallops and Rockefeller oysters, and panko shrimp as starters. My Legend Pan Roasted bisque with shrimp, crab and lobster was exquisite! Prices are pretty reasonable for this type of cuisine. We paid US$250 for four people, each with a glass of alcohol. I highly recommend it and will return the next time I visit!
So that was the first part of a long and prosperous journey! To follow the second part of my solo trip with my mother in Colorado and Utah.