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-   -   Arizona, Utah, Colorado for 1 month April-May (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/arizona-utah-colorado-for-1-month-april-may-797081/)

FAMfromNY Jul 23rd, 2009 05:33 AM

Arizona, Utah, Colorado for 1 month April-May
 
I am planning a trip in April to May for 1 month. We will probably fly into Vegas and rent an RV or Campervan (one that works easily with carseats). This trip will be well over 3000 miles and my DH and I will have a 30 month old and 16 month old with us for the trip.

The big places I would like to hit are:
Vegas (Quickly drive through and ooh aaa and be outta there)
Grand Canyon (Hope to stay at least 1 night & do a hike down in)
Page (horseshoe bend & the best dam view & antelope canyon)
Zion (maybe kanabs grand canyon)
Bryce canyon (at sunrise) and (bryce national bridge in evening)
Canyonlands
Arches/Moab
Capitol Reef (chimmney rock & Hickman Bridge)
Driving the escalante (lower creek falls & Willis creek)

Which trails are less than 2 miles, safe, and do-able with toddlers (we will have baby carriers/toddler backpacks so we will probably be carrying them on our backs mostly)

Are the things I have suggested easy enough to do with toddlers?
Can someone suggest more for us, or easier, or possibly a ROUTE for us to take...
I've checked out maps and maps and maps.... Cant settle on anything yet.

Also -- what is the best time of year to visit these places, I understand it will be chilly in april/may but I thought (again) that it would be do-able.

How long should we spend at each place to get plenty of photos, a quick hike in, and enough sleep/rest??

I also need suggestions as to where to park this RV (cheapest) -- so far people are telling me the national parks are the cheapest.... is that true? Anyone know of prices for the parks?? Is it allowed to park overnight in rest stops? Are there many rest stops or is this a thing of the east coast (never been west but east coast has thousands of rest stops).....


Lastly -- we will head over to colorado to check out Fort Collins, denver, colorado springs, grand junction, montrose.

We can stay with someone in colorado springs for a week too -- so does anyone have suggestions of where to go and what to check out around that area (IN APRIL/MAY)

THANKS!!!
Amanda

fmpden Jul 23rd, 2009 06:19 AM

No going to comment on your total plans but keep in mind that April followed by May are the wettest months for the front range -- Ft. Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs. Which can mean heavy snow in April and rain in May or a combination there of. And more so in the mountains.

Rest stop in Colorado once were frequent with small area every 30 miles or so. They have been slowly replaced with major rest stops that are now much further apart and located at major city/town exits. Don't know how that compares with the east coast nor overnight parking policy. WalMarts are famous for allowing unofficial overnight parking of RVs -- no hookups. And we have lots of Wal-Marts.

hugglynn Jul 23rd, 2009 09:59 AM

I can comment on some of the hikes.
Zion, shorter/flatter hikes include Pa'Rus Trail, Riverview Trail and probably the Emerald Pools would be doable. Angels Landing/Scout Lookout with little ones on your back wouldn't be good unless you are in great physical shape. Hidden Canyon hike is also rather steep and not recommended with children--but a breathtaking hike.

Arches, a lot of the visits to the arches should be doable with little ones. Windows, Double O, Landscape. Balanced Rock & Skyline Arch are visible from the road. One of the most difficult is the hike to Delicate Arch, but it is also the most scenic and breathtaking IMO. There is a separate viewpoint for Delicate Arch if you can't do the main hike.
While in Moab, be sure to take the scenic drive along the Colorado River (Route 128?)..the turn off is right before the bridge heading north.

Antelope Canyon should also be doable.

Driving lower Calf Creek, the hike to Calf Creek Falls is 5-6 miles RT. Some of the hiking area has deep sand. Keep this in mind if you see the trailhead and want to stop.

ElendilPickle Jul 23rd, 2009 10:51 AM

A little chilly, IMO, beats the heat you'd suffer later in May.

At Bryce, you can hike along the rim (pretty flat) and go partway into the canyon, maybe on the Queen's Garden trail. We hiked partway down Queen's Garden just before sunrise and got some great shots of the hoodoos lighting up.

Antelope Canyon will work well with little kids.

I wouldn't park overnight at a rest stop; it's illegal in many states and can be dangerous. Check the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov for camping information.

Lee Ann

Dayle Jul 23rd, 2009 11:56 AM

FAM,

You should be sure to get an annual Natl Pass which will get you into all the parks and save a ton of money. Camping fees in the parks will be additional. I would try to make advance camping reservations if you want to camp inside the parks in southern UT in spring.

You will get park maps and info at the entrance stations. They will give you the usualy hikes and points of interest. If you need detailed advice, head for the visitor's centers. The rangers are great and very patient.

DO NOT go near Moab during Easter week. Jeep Safari has thousands and thousands of off roaders of every type. It's awful if you aren't one of them!

I think you are trying to cover an aweful lot of places even with a full month. Plus, as already mentioned, you need to plan for possible spring snow storms at your higher elevation destinations even in April - Bryce, especially will be very cold for camping. It's at 8,000 ft. Try looking at the Lodge, or at Ruby's just outside the park.

utahtea Jul 24th, 2009 01:15 AM

Grand Canyon, South Rim, Mather campground inside the park. You can leave the RV in the campground and ride the free shuttles and not have to worry about parking. Current fee is $18.00 a night. http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/cg-sr.htm I'd spend at least two nights so that you have one full day to explore the park. I wouldn't venture down to far into the canyon, there are a lot of switchbacks and long drop offs. I'd recommend walking along the rim and riding the free shuttle buses to the different overlooks.


Lake Powell, you will probably want to stay at the Tent & Self-contained RV Spaces. I don't know what the current price is. http://www.lakepowell.com/rv-campgrounds.cfm When you do the Horseshoe Bend hike make sure that the children are in backpacks because there are NO railings when you get to the edge and there is a BIG drop off. Upper Antelope Canyon will be very easy for them.

Zion National Park, South campground is first come, first serve and is $16.00 per night. Watchman Campground has electrical and is $18.00 per night. You can make reservations at Watchman, but I doubt you will need them in April unless you are there over Easter break. (Figure the week before and after Easter kids are out of school) The campgrounds are near each other and both have fantastic view. http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisi...ds-in-zion.htm

In Zion the Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock, the Pa'Rus Trail, Lower Emerald Pool trail are ones I'd recommend with young children. I'd recommend 3 nights in Zion.

Bryce Canyon National Park, North Campground is open year round and Sunset is closed for the winter, but not dates as to when it opens. http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

There are also National Forest campgrounds in Red Canyon on Hwy 12 before you reach the turn off to Byrce. I've never stayed at these.

I don't know if you will run into snow on the trails by the time you reach Bryce or not. If trails are open then go down the Navajo Loop and come up the Queen's Garden. Walking along the rim between Sunset and Sunrise point is one of my favorites too and will be easy.

Capitol Reef, Fruita campground is one of our favorites. It's only $10.00 per night. We've never done Chimmney rock hike. It's 3 1/2 miles and Steep climb. http://www.nps.gov/care/planyourvisit/trailguide.htm I'd recommend Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge hikes. Hickman Bridge might be ok, it's a pretty good climb in the beginning from what I remember. Make sure you check out the Petroglyphs.


Depending on the size of the RV you rent, you might find it hard to park at Calf creek or even fit in to one of the campsites there.

Canyonlands, Island in the Sky District. The Willow Flat Campground only has 12 campsites, Maximum RV length is 28 feet, there is no water and this campground fills up fast in the spring and fall. http://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Arches National Park, Devils Garden Campground is really neat campground, but you will want to make reservations if you want to camp here. There aren't a lot of sites that will take the larger RV's. http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Moab, Utah. There are a lot of private campgrounds in town but the cheapest will be the BLM campgrouds along the Colorado River. http://www.discovermoab.com/campgrounds_blm.htm

BEWARNED...you don't want to be in Moab, Canyonlands or Arches during Easter Jeep Safari Week April 4 -12. http://www.discovermoab.com/calendar.htm

When you leave Moab for Denver, you will want to take the scenic Hwy 128 back up to I-70

I'd spend at least two nights at each location so you have one full day to enjoy the parks. With two little travelers your going to be busy! (Been there done that!)

Sorry, can't help with the Colorado part of the trip.

Utahtea

FAMfromNY Jul 24th, 2009 06:04 AM

Holy cow, information --- Thanks!! All that information about which trails to take was awesome. I'll be sure to check it all out.

I have one more question. Fishing.... Where are some good places to go fishing along this route? My DH will not consider this a vacation unless he goes fishing at least once! :)

We will have the smallest RV available (19-25 feet) and our flights will be from denver to denver (cheaper for RV rental if pick up/drop off in same location).

Here is our VERY rough outline for our days while there...
Does it seem doable and where would people suggest we spend our 'extra 5 days' ??

We have the RV for 25 days --
April 12 - May 7 OR April 19 - May 14
(How snowy is south western Colorado during these times?)

Here is our outline: with 5 extra days ----
spend wherever we want

Day 1
Fly into Denver
Pick up RV
Drive to Colorado Springs

Day 2
Enjoy Colorado Springs
Drive to Buena Vista

Day 3
Drive to Montrose

Day 4
Enjoy Montrose

Day 5
Drive to Grand Canyon

Day 6
Enjoy GC
Hike GC

Day 7
Rest

Day 8
Drive to page
Enjoy page

Day 9
Enjoy page

Day 10
Drive to Zion
Enjoy Zion
Hike zion

Day 11
Enjoy Zion
Drive to Bryce

Day 12
Enjoy Bryce
Hike Bryce

Day 13
Drive to escalante
Enjoy capitol reef NP
Get to Torrey

Day 14 (6 hrs total of driving….)
Drive to Fly Canyon
Enjoy Canyonlands
Drive to Monticello

Day 15
Enjoy Canyonlands & Arches

Day 16
Drive to Grand Junction via Route 128


Day 17
Enjoy Grand Junction

Day 18
Drive to Fort Collins
Enjoy FC

Day 19
Check out Rocky Mountain NP (estes park)

Day 20
Check out Boulder/Denver



Thanks again everyone.
I love this forum.
:)

utahtea Jul 24th, 2009 11:27 PM

Keep in mind some that you are going to be traveling though mountain ranges that are slow going expecially in a motorhome. Sounds like you are renting a small RV so there is going to be some time involved in converting tables into beds each night and again each morning. I'd recommend going with the 24 foot if possible because after that period of time you are going to welcome the room. Especially if the weather is bad an you can't get out doors much.

Day 1
Fly into Denver, Pick up RV,Drive to Colorado Springs

Day 2
Enjoy Colorado Springs, Drive to Buena Vista

Day 3
Drive to Montrose

Day 4
Enjoy Montrose
(Check out Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park)

Day 5
Drive to Grand Canyon
(422 miles and a slow driving 8 1/2 hours not counting gas and eating stops.) I suggest breaking this up. Maybe a night in Gouldings, Utah so you can take a quick trip up and see Monument Valley before going on to Grand Canyon. (Monument Valley will add another 50 miles to your route)

Day 6
Enjoy GC
Hike GC

Day 7
Rest
(good idea!)

Day 8
Drive to page, Enjoy page
(138 miles 3 hours driving) As you exit the Grand Canyon stop at several of the overlooks.

Day 9
Enjoy page
(I don't know about Colorado, but if you want to fish in Utah this will probably be your best bet. Lake Powell is a big fishing lake!)

Day 10
Drive to Zion, Enjoy Zion, Hike zion.
(117 miles but you're looking at least 2 1/2 hours driving depending on how long you get stuck at the Zion Tunnel) You are not going to have much time for hiking. I highly recommend using the one or two of your extra nights here, because this is such a beautiful location to camp.

Day 11
Enjoy Zion, Drive to Bryce
(87 miles and 2 hours driving time)

Day 12
Enjoy Bryce, Hike Bryce

Day 13
Drive to escalante
Enjoy capitol reef NP
Get to Torrey
(Bryce to Capitol Reef is 125 miles but it's a slow scenic route and plan on at least 4 hours.) This is not going to give you much time in Capitol Reef for any hiking. I'd suggest using an extra night here.

Day 14 (6 hrs total of driving….)
Drive to Fly Canyon
Enjoy Canyonlands
Drive to Monticello
(Capitol Reef via Fly Canyon to Needles District of Canyonlands and back to Monticello to spend the night is 282 miles and you are looking 8 hours of driving.) I would highly recommend forgetting the Needles District and drive to Moab via Hwy 24 and I-70.

Day 15
Enjoy Canyonlands & Arches
(Monticello to Moab, then the scenic drive into Arches and Canyonlands is 166 miles and 6 hours of driving. You won't have any time for hiking. You really need three nights in Moab so you have one day at each Canyonlands - Dead Horsestate Park and one in Arches. There's also the paved section of scenic Potash Road Hwy 279.

Day 16
Drive to Grand Junction via Route 128


Day 17
Enjoy Grand Junction

Day 18
Drive to Fort Collins
Enjoy FC

Day 19
Check out Rocky Mountain NP (estes park)

Day 20
Check out Boulder/Denver

Utahtea

fmpden Jul 25th, 2009 10:28 AM

Personally I would skip staying in Grand Junction continue on to Glenwood Springs. Much more interesting area and closer to Fort Collins. From Glenwood S to Fort Collins is still a five hour drive with lots of interesting stuff in between.

Do you have reason or need to be in Fort Collins? Fort Collins is not that interesting either. Estes Park at that time of year will be pretty dead. Hiking in any of the mountains will be limited by two conditions which you cannot avoid -- snow and mud. It the Spring is cold and snowy you could lots of snow even at lower elevations. And if it is warm and rainy, then it is mud with lots of run off. There is a reason that some folks call April and May mud season.

Weather is tricky at that time of years. The snowstorms tend to be wet and heavy and will quickly closing roads especially secondary roads which you are using a lot of. The SW can get hammered just as bad as the central mountains. You just have to be prepared if not a little over prepared. I am not trying to be discouraging but just to make you understand that traveling in our mountains in April and May is different than June and July by a big margin.

sheri_lp Jul 26th, 2009 01:35 AM

If you can stay in Colorado Springs for a week - I'd put that at the end of your trip and re-arrange the first week.

When you get into Denver, head to Montrose first and work your way south like this:

Day 1
Fly into Denver, Pick up RV,Drive to Montrose

Day 2
Enjoy Montrose
(Definitely go to Black Canyon - easy walking with kids)

Day 3
Head south - option to stop in Telluride to see the mountains
Or bypass Telluride and stay in Cortez (150 miles or 3 hours from Montrose) with a visit to Mesa Verde National Park.

OR Day 3
Leave Montrose, visit Mesa Verde and head on to sleep in Kayenta that night (another two hours from Cortez).

Day 4
From Kayenta, you can go 4 hours to Kanab for the night with a stop at Page on the way.

Day 5
Now we're still heading to Grand Canyon on Day 5 as your original plan, but becuase you worked your way south, your final drive to the Park is only 4-5 hours, instead of the 10-plus hours you were facing if you were to have left from Montrose.

As far as the rest of it, I agree that Grand Junction isn't worth a stayover unless you're really tired from driving. I'd rather go on to Montrose than stay there.

Then you could take 50 East toward Gunnison, and see some really pretty mountains as you head back to the Springs.


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