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63 year olds need advice on 8 day trip to canyons

63 year olds need advice on 8 day trip to canyons

Old Feb 22nd, 2019, 01:12 PM
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63 year olds need advice on 8 day trip to canyons

My husband and I will be flying into Las Vegas on March 8 and out on the 15th. We are hoping to do a loop of the canyons but cannot not do more than easy to moderate hiking. We will be renting a vehicle and won't have 4 weel drive - probably a medium sized SUV. I'm having a lot of trouble trying to put together where to go and how long to stay due to the hiking limitations. It looked like Arches and Grand Canyon might be too much for our amount of time. So far were looking at:

Day 1 & 2 Las Vegas to Springdale with two nights there to see some of Zion.
Day 3 Travel to Bryce and spend one night.
Day 4 From Bryce to Torrey
Day 5 & 6 From Torrey to Page or Kanab (Antelope Canyon?)
Day 7 Back to Las Vegas
Day 8 Fly home

Does this look reasonable and are there enough things to see driving and on short hikes at the locations. Better suggestions?? We'd hoped to drive Hwy 12 since it seems to be a very scenic drive. Any suggestions you might have for us would be greatly appreciated!! The best routes would also be helpful. Not so much interested in the fastest, but the best. Thanks!!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2019, 04:22 PM
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It's possible that you'll get some cold weather/snow around Bryce, where the elevation is high, so maybe you'd want a backup plan (Arches?) just in case.
There will be some shorter hikes at both Zion and Bryce. At Bryce, you can stroll around the rim.
Many, but not all hikes at Zion start in the valley and go up. If the Narrows hike through the stream is even possible in March, you'll have to rent cold water gear in Springdale.
Some locals may weigh in on any limitations in March.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2019, 07:46 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I posted the date of our travel incorrectly. It is Actually May rather than March. It is good to know that there are some shorter hikes that may work for us. We were wondering if the Narrows would be too cold in May and how difficult it would be. Appreciate your help.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 02:58 AM
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It's possible that you'll get some cold weather/snow around Bryce, where the elevation is high. You likely won't need a backup plan but be prepared for cold temps.

Yes, at Bryce you can stroll around the rim, but if you can hike down below the rim among the hoodos you'll get an entirely different perspective. The queens garden/navajo loop is the easy/moderate trail that enables that - see the bryce canyon NPS website for more info.

Agree that at Zion many hikes start in the valley and go up. You can also check out their NPS website for trail info. At the time of your trip the water temps in the Narrows will be in the low 40's, and with all the snowfall this wear I'd expect a late season start to hiking up the river. Local outfitters in Springdale will have info if the Narrows is open - they do not allow hikers if the water flow is above some threshold. You do not need to hike very far up the narrows to appreciate it - as little as 1/4 to 1/2 mile past the end of the paved walkway & you'll be around a bend or 2 in the river and away from the crowds. Go there very early in the am to avoid the crowds as well. Last time I was there was ~5/1 a few years ago and a dry suit was needed for the long hike I did - basically a zip up heavy rubber suit all the way to my neck. I had mine open at the neck and when I stepped into a deep puddle I got soaked to the bone - had to strip down & dry out on a sunny rock I luckily found.

At a minimum, rent wet hiking boots and a wooden pole from an outfitter in town. The river runs the entire length of the canyon, and through town so you can dip your toes in when you first arrive and see if you can handle being knee deep for an hr or 2.


There will be some shorter hikes at both Zion and Bryce. At Bryce, you can stroll around the rim.
Many, but not all hikes at Zion start in the valley and go up. If the Narrows hike through the stream is even possible in March, you'll have to rent cold water gear in Springdale.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 04:35 AM
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If you are not going to do a lot of hiking, you could easily do the loop Vegas>Zion>Bryce>Page>Grand Canyon south rim>Vegas in your time frame. You can do the loop in the opposite direction if that suits your flight plans and ability to get reservations in/near the parks better.

First look at the available flights and see if you need to spend a night in Vegas at the beginning of the trip because you arrive too late or at the end of the trip because you have an early flight home. Then check the parks for lodging, keeping in mind that you can make reservations that can be cancelled if better options open up.

If you can be in Vegas by noon, you can get to Springdale/Zion well before dark, so plan 1 or 2 nights there, then drive to Bryce, hike a bit, see sunset, stay one night see sunrise hike a bit , then to Page for a night and tour Antelope Canyon near noon then head to Grand Canyon spend a night or two then head back to Vegas. We're older than you and have done similar loops.

If the logistics work better going the other direction, then arrange things that way.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 06:25 AM
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Emalloy provides very good practical advice. We are having a record breaking El Niņo year so you may see snow even as late as early May at higher elevations (Bryce and Rt 12) and even if Narrows is open, I wouldn't recommend it for your level of hiking. After you have reviewed the NPS website for Zion, and have determined your eta for Zion, you may want to limit your nights at Zion to 1. If it works with your schedule, you might want to check out Horseshoe Bend in Page at sunset. You might also want to get different sightseeing perspectives from a boat or smooth water raft trip from Glen Canyon dam
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 01:30 PM
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Thanks to all for your comments - they are all really helpful. We get to Vegas at 1:30 so we hope to be to Springdale by 6:30. Our return flight is early so we'll need to spend our last night in Vegas. I've reserved rooms in Springdale (2 nights), Bryce (1 night) and Torrey (1 night) all which can be cancelled just because I was afraid they might sell out. Nothing for the last part of the trip because we were not sure what to do. We had read of Calf Creek Fall, the scenic Hwy 12 drive, and Double arches in the Torrey area all being nice and not difficult hiking and that's why we included the part of the trip rather than the GC. Is that a mistake? There is so much to choose from it's really hard to determine where all to go and what see.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 03:26 PM
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If you have never see the south rim of the Grand Canyon, do at least a short hike on the rim without going down much from the rim. Do this even if you don't spend a night there.
On the way back to Las Vegas you will drive over the big bridge over Hoover Dam. Drive down to go over the dam. There is some free parking on the Arizona side after you go over the dam.
You don't have to spend your last night "in" Las Vegas depending on how early the flight is. The Hoover Dam Lodge is about 3 miles from the dam and you always have a choice of rooms in Henderson.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 05:31 PM
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Most people that enjoy the Grand Canyon never hike below the rim. You can simply walk the flat rim trail or drive to the numerous lookouts. IMO, GC is far better than driving Rt 12 and taking a hike or two around Capitol Reef. It also provides a more efficient use of your drive time since you had already included Page/Antelope Canyon in your plans. If you do decide to visit GC you should try for reservations immediately. If nothing available, try Tusayon and keep trying for GC park reservations.

Maybe you could plan another trip in the future and see Canyonlands and Moab from SLC and see the really iconic arches of Moab.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 05:45 PM
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You were very wise to get Zion, Bryce and Torrey booked with a May trip. They will be sold out.

There is almost no chance of the Narrows being open. Southern Utah is way over 100% of normal snowpack so May will most likely still be peak run off. The Virgin River could very well be near flood stage. It's an amazing thing to see when it's at that stage. Mother Nature's live demo of how Zion Canyon was made.

There are so many nice easy hikes at all the parks. Just get in to the Visitor's Center at each and check the brochure they give you at entrance. Be sure to buy your Senior Life Time pass at the first park if you don't already have one.

Everywhere you go will be wonderful. You will probably want to return! Just finalize your last days and do some walking to get ready.

Essential gear: wide brim sun hats, polarized sunglasses, hydration packs, high number sunscreen, lots of body lotion (the serious kind), lip balm with sunscreen. Refillable water bottles. Bottled water is not sold in the parks and there are few places to refill your pack/bottles. Know the water situation for each park ahead of time. Cooler for the car and a stock of water and snacks for picnic lunches in the parks. At most of the parks, it's way too far to drive out for lunch at the nearest town.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 06:44 PM
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Re: Dayle comment on snow - massive snow fall this year.
Look at this video - and place yourself upstream about 1/2 mile.
This was the flood os 2014

vaga
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Old Feb 23rd, 2019, 07:53 PM
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Wow Vaga - scratching Narrows for sure!! Took all of your advise and was lucky enough to get a cabin at GC for one night!! Thanks Dayle for the list of essential things we should bring - hugely helpful. I'd started a list but had not thought about everything you'd listed. Feeling much better about everything thanks to all you good folks. Still need to decide if we should cancel Torrey and do 2 nights in Page or leave it in. This is what we have for now:

Day 1 - Arrive in Zion around 6:00 p.m.
Day 2 Explore Zion
Day 3 Bryce
Day 4 Leave for either Torrey or Page
Day 5 Page (Antelope Canyon)
Day 6 GC
Day 7 Hoover Dam on way back to Vegas
Day 8 fly home

Hope that this looks reasonable. If not any suggetions would be great.
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Old Feb 24th, 2019, 03:43 AM
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Your plan sounds good to me. I would keep Torrey and explore Capitol Reef a bit unless you plan on taking the smooth water raft trip on the Colorado river from Page. Good that you scored lodging in Grand Canyon, I love being there before and after the day trippers get there. Do take a hike down Bright Angel Trail at least a short way. Here is a picture to show what it looks like.

DH on bright angel trail.
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Old Feb 25th, 2019, 12:55 PM
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Thanks Emalloy. We've now resevered all nights but Las Vegas so I can rest a little better now! All are flexible so changes can be made if needed. Thanks for the pic and the information. We're very excited to see this beautiful part of the country. Will be trying to put together a list of trails and things to do at each site. It's good to know that there will be a lot to choose from even for moderate hikers like us.
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