4 day Utah Parks Itinerary Challenge

Sep 22nd, 2015, 06:46 AM
  #1  
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4 day Utah Parks Itinerary Challenge

My adult daughter and I will be visiting SLC from November 3-7, 2015. It's entirely a fluke that we are going together because our schedules are very different. We've never been to Utah, but would love to see at least two of the parks while we are there. I have an Ansel Adams (COLOR!) poster of Monument Valley in my office, so it would be great to go there. However, I understand that our brief time there will limit us.

So, we are trying to determine the best way to see our national parks in this limited time frame. Since, we are like babes in the woods, we welcome any and all suggestions on how to maximize our time. We arrive at SLC around 2:30 and will be renting a car. We would love to hit the ground running once we arrive.

I've booked a house on airbnb, but now think it's best to find accommodations on the road. It probably wouldn't make sense to hit one park, then rush back to SLC, then go back out the next day. I figure we would waste a lot of time that way, so I know that I have to cancel that reservation.

We are not adventurers, but we have a great appreciation for nature. We aren't in the best of shape, so hiking is out, but we can do some walking to see the sites. I have arthritis and she has sciatic issues.

If you can give us your ideal itinerary for our four day stay (including accommodation suggestions) we would be so very appreciative. The more info and details the better!! We realize that time is surely slipping away, so it could only help us at this point. lol

Thank you so much for your consideration!

Renee
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 07:40 AM
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First, realize that you'll be driving 3.5 to 4.5 hours to reach some national parks so 1) no way you can daytrip from SLC and 2) if you leave immediately on the 3rd you'll be driving in the dark.

It might be best to spend the first night in SLC and do some sightseeing there, then hit the road first thing in the morning.

I'd either go to Moab for the whole time, or visit Zion and Bryce (and possibly Capitol Reef). I think that's a good time for fall colors in Zion so that would be my first choice. There are enough easy walks for a couple days there, and then move to Bryce for a day.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 07:44 AM
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Thank you! That makes sense. It will give us a chance to start fresh the next day. You are right, we do not plan to daytrip from SLC that is why I am canceling my initial reservation.

I hate that my time there will be so short, so I will probably try to maximize it by seeing Zion and Bryce rather than just one park. You are amazing....this certainly helps me to get my bearings. I appreciate you.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 08:24 AM
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Just a heads up: the shuttle for Zion stops running in late October (at least during the week) so you will be able to drive up and down the main canyon to the various trailheads in your car.

In light of that, I'd opt to stay in Springdale because there are more dining options, and drive into the park each day. At Bryce you can either stay in the park or right outside the entrance.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 09:40 AM
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Good advice so far. As long as it is not over Thanksgiving, you should not have trouble getting lodging in either Moab for Arches and Canyonlands or in Bryce and Zion. I like being in the parks so that we don't have to drive after dark when animals like elk, deer, and antelope sometimes are on the road. We're not foodies, so the in park food has been fine for us.

If it has snowed, expect the trails to be snowy in Bryce. I would head there first and perhaps do just one day there then head for Zion.

Do have a plan B in case of heavy snow and check with the rental car company about driving if you need 4wd or chains.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Ok, so on day 2, we will stay at a hotel in Springdale after a day of enjoying Zion park. I think the next morning, we will head out to Bryce which I assume is another 4 hours away. That leaves us with one day to spare. Would you suggest that we make our way back to SLC or spend one of those days at one of the parks? If so, which park would you recommend. I would assume it would be the larger of the two that would require more time to check out.....
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 10:32 AM
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Thanks, emalloy! I'm a southern girl and didn't even consider the possibility of it snowing. I will have to grin and bear it because I hate snow. lol That certainly does change things when it comes to renting a car. Thanks for the info! Would I have to be equally concerned about snow in the other parks or is the terrain manageable at the others?

Oh, I just saw that Bryce and Zion is roughly 1.5 hours apart. That's good to know! I'm thinking that I should probably invest in an annual park pass at this point.

If we are in the throes of a winter storm (heaven forbid) what could be our plan b? I'm completely like a fish out of water on this one.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 11:15 AM
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I'd follow emalloy's suggestion -- SLC one night, then head to Bryce for one day/night and then to Springdale/Zion for a couple of days then back to SLC.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 11:55 AM
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Thank you, Janis!!
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 12:27 PM
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It's unlikely there would be a snowstorm in Zion in early November. It's a possibility in Bryce but also unlikely. I think if you just check the weather forecast and are willing to rearrange your hotels if there's a storm at the beginning or end of your trip you will be fine. I don't think lodging in Springdale or Bryce will be sold out for your dates - midweek in early November is not a popular time to visit.

I would go to Zion first, then Bryce and leave the possibility of a trip to Capitol Reef open for the last day.
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Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:32 PM
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I second staying in Springdale. We were there in May and the shuttle was so convenient. I wouldn't want to even bother with a car, even if I could drive in the park. Lots of nice hotels and restaurants in Springdale.
While we were in Bryce (in the middle of May), it snowed! It was awesomely beautiful but we were leaving that morning and we didn't go into the park. I highly recommend very warm clothes (even when it didn't snow, it can be cold. ) and buying a snow/ice scraper for the car before just in case. I had to buy one the morning that we left so I could clean the windows. We stayed the next 5 nights in bakingly hot Las Vegas and when we moved on (to SF), we left it in our hotel room. I'm sure that the maid had no use for it and threw it away.
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Sep 24th, 2015, 06:47 AM
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>>We were there in May and the shuttle was so convenient. I wouldn't want to even bother with a car, even if I could drive in the park.<<

The OP will have to drive their car into the park, the shuttle is not running weekdays in November.
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Sep 24th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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Thanks, WhereAreWe! I hadn't heard of Capitol Reef, will check it out.

Thanks for the tips, Taltul! I appreciate it!
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