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4.5 out of 5 stars28
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 26 August 2009
Like many people I have used dozens of helpful travel guides to a variety of locations but I can honestly say I this is the best, and most comprehensive, I've ever seen. Greg Ward has written what is essentially the "Bible" to the classic road trip region of the 4 Southwestern states which you are likely to visit from Phoenix, or Las Vegas (which is also included). Its 600 pages make most other guides seem superficial by comparison. As well as the first-hand practical information, this book includes a wealth of background detail,for example 32 pages on the history of the region and culture of the Native American peoples. All of this is remarkably well written in a concise,articulate style by an author who is clearly passionate about this part of the States, but is objective enough to suggest what is worth visiting and what may be disappointing. The book has accompanied me on two trips to the Southwest and I would warmly recommend it to anyone planning a visit to this amazing region.
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on 19 September 2008
We bought and used this guide during our recent trip to the South West. We liked the author's style - this certainly is not a dry guide book. He might be a bit opinionated but he was nearly always spot on. The Motel reviews and recommendations were accurate and very helpful in choosing the right place to stay, particularly in small places.
I can warmly recommend it.
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on 20 February 2014
The earlier edition of this book has done sterling service on touring holidays in the US Southwest: we are looking forward to using this edition later this year on our next visit.This latest edition features improved information and better maps, building on the strengths of its predecessors. The book retains the rare qualities of being relatively downbeat and with a sensible emphasis on practical matters, providing good evidence for readers to make their own minds up. The Contexts Section of the book is also a good read into the bargain. The book is recommended for any traveller to the Southwest USA, but I suggest it should be an essential for the serious traveller who has not visited the area before. The area is vast, with a multitude of spectacular experiences: this book provides the opportunity to make plans for the best use of one's time - it is well worth its price for that reason alone! (A potential purchaser should also look out for for the AAA Indian Country Guide Map of the Four Corners which complements this book usefully). In the round, strongly recommended.
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I travel overseas extensively on self-planned tours, so I find travel books useful as I don't think that Internet travel sites etc can fully replace the information that a good travel book can supply.

Firstly, it may be stating the obvious but a real bonus of taking a book such as this one, dedicated to the specific region you are going to is that whilst it is still relatively large/heavy (it does after all cover a vast area !), it is not as weighty as a book covering the whole country, it is more detailed for the area and ALL all of it is potentially useful - and so it proved for me.

I bought this Rough Guide specifically to plan a month-long touring holiday of the fantastic National Parks of Utah, a trip to nearby Monument Valley + a short stay in Las Vegas (all of which is covered); unusually, having taken the book with me on the trip I found it far more useful than on previous trips when similarly equipped with travel books.

The main reasons for this were the comprehensive maps, the accommodation section (I don't usually use them, but as my plans changed they came up trumps on 2 occasions this time !) and the little 'titbits' of local attractions which I gained from massively, enabling me to visit additional viewpoints (courtesy of my change in plans whilst there) I had not been aware of and which proved to be as stunning as just about anything else I had already planned to see in Utah. This is more pertinent to this region since it is so vast and unpopulated eg accommodation can be sparse, you've MUCH less chance of finding someone to ask for directions/tips and mobile phone coverage in Utah is not brilliant either....

As usual for Rough Guides, you get excellent coverage of what there is in the area and well-detailed maps + what I find to be well-balanced, but nicely-opinionated, synopses; unfortunately, what you also get (still) is the absence of an integrated referencing 'system' between the map and the text ie map annotations related to the text.

The beauty of such a system (fantastically executed in other guide genres, such as Fodor's, but negated by them specifically with what I find are all too often inaccurate/over exaggerated synopses) is you can use the map to not only locate nearby attractions, but also highlight attractions you hadn't realised were there or considered properly.

So, with a Fodor's-type guidebook you can use the number annotations to locate the related text and appraise it, whereas with a Rough Guide you have to read the text/assess what is of interest and THEN with some difficulty find out where it is (using the often vague distance bearing from another town/attraction, which is usually the way locations are described in Rough guides, and as Sod's Law is inevitably activated discover it is nowhere near your planned location/route !). The result is that whilst a Rough Guide may have good maps and useful written information, it can be something of an effort to benefit from it - which is why I usually use them for planning rather than when actually on the holiday....

On this occasion I thankfully had time whilst in Utah to re-read the relevant bits of the guide for where my re-routes took me and 'realise' those little gems it contained - but it was largely luck that I spotted them on the re-read. With an annotated map you could identify them more readily, but as other guidebooks might do that properly the process is negated by their information often not being detailed enough in comparison to 'Rough' for those little gems to be mentioned anyway !

Examples are the excellent coverage given to such places as 'The Burr Trail', 'Muley Point', 'The Moki Dugway' and 'Calf-Creek Falls' - I had not planned to see these attractions, but thankfully I did courtesy of 'Rough' and consequently my holiday in Utah was even more enjoyable and fulfilling than it was originally going to be. I shudder to think how I would have felt to find out only later about these places as I was originally destined to have passed them by....

I also found this guide invaluable for helping me to arrange last-minute accommodation in remote places such as near Monument Valley and the lengthy I-70 in the north of Utah.

It's also worth observing that most of what this book contains will not 'age' too much, so it is not only valid for longer but also means you don't necessarily have to buy the latest edition to benefit from the guide; this edition, adorned with a photo of part of Monument Valley, is dated 2006 but still perfectly usable. There is a more recent edition which is heavily-discounted but also seems to have been 'lightened' as it, according to the Amazon info, has some 88 fewer pages...!

Map/text referencing 'gripe' aside, this Rough Guide should prove invaluable for any comprehensive visit to this magical area of the USA and is a snip for what should be a sub-£10 purchase price.
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on 24 March 2006
This book took a battering on our Southwest road trip. It was so handy it went everywhere. It helped us find good places to stay the night on thespur of the moment. If yuo're heading that way - check out the tiny town of Bluff near Four Corners in Utah. Top place and the most unexpected vegetarian restaurant.
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on 17 November 2013
I needed a book to start putting an itinerary together for the 5 South Westerns States of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Quite simply the task would not have been possible without this book. Some wonderful insights on what to do and where to stay and indeed even whether a place is worth bothering with. One minor comment for future editions - having a contextual map somewhere near each major area would be a great benefit. Otherwise highly recommend for holiday planning
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on 29 January 2015
In depth guide with warts n'all reviews. Contributors really know their stuff, an give some great tips and guidance. This guidebook is to prepare me for a 3 week road trip in Summer, and so far I have got a good itinerary planned using much of the information provided. Hopefully everything will work out for this extended road trip, but I have found this Rough Guide to be the most comprehensive guidebook I have seen, and at a very reasonable price.
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on 29 April 2012
A well-wrtten, detailed and informal guide which totally made our recent holiday driving through 5 south western states ( Nevada, Utah, Colorado , Arizona and a tiny part of New mexico). Gave us some fabulous scenic routes and took us off the main highways to discover gems such as Chloride just off Route 66 from Flagstaff to Kingman. Barely looked at the Dorling Kindesley guide to Arizona apart from the photographs !
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on 27 October 2011
This was the second edition of this title I have purchased. As ever, the rough guide is brilliant for new visitors but this version was disappointing in that the great dining tips seem to have been removed.
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on 19 January 2015
I usually always buy the RG books and have a lot. This one, I found, was way of the mark with its recommendations. Towns that are not worth visiting or too shabby turned out to be great! Restaurants that were supposed to be fantastic, were very poor. Unlike their other books, I quickly came top not trust this one.
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