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Aug 2nd, 2011, 08:21 PM
  #1
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Best national park from Salt lake city

I am planning a last minute six day trip over Labor Day weekend. We are on a budget and I have seen some cheapish flights to Salt Lake City. Which would be the better national parks to visit from here in six days : GTNP and Yellowstone or Zion and Bryce?
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 08:58 PM
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Last November my DW and I went to SLC and rented a car and visited Arches, Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) and Capitol Reef National Parks. We also visited Goblin Valley State Park.
I am not sure that you will have enough time in the parks you named compared with the time driving back and forth to SLC.
Going to Zion and Bryce are more often visited from Las Vegas than Salt Lake City.
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 10:34 PM
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Have you thought about just staying around Salt Lake..maybe Park City about 45 minutes from airport? You could proab get some really cheep hotel rates and that time of year the aspens are beautiful
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 11:24 PM
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I'm living in Utah right now, Bryce and zions are pretty close together and its an easy drive from SLC (about 4.5 hour drive)....thats what I would do since you could hit two on the same vacation, but again thats my traveling style.

I'm not a big fan of Park City its resort town and nothing special. I've not been to yellowstone so I can't speak to that but my friends have and didn't really have much to say about it.
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 11:30 PM
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the parks around moab... Arches, Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) and Capitol Reef National Parks are 5-6 hours away from SLC but the drive is not as easy as going to zions bryce (the drive to zions and bryce) for the most part are on straight roads and speed limits were just increased to 80 or 85 on some stretches.
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Aug 2nd, 2011, 11:36 PM
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Vow,that's a great plan for one.Salt lake city is the best choice.Have a nice time!
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:34 AM
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All of the parks are very different.

Assuming you have 6 fulls days not counting travel I would first look at a few things.

Have you ever been to the Utah parks? What are the chances that you are able to return in a reasonable amount of time.

Assuming the worst, that you don't expect to return in a reasonable amount of time I would go to Arches with a quick stop in Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point then drive over to Bryce & Zion (not sure which order as one is farther from Moab but the other is closer to SLC.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:57 AM
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www.utah.com/nationalparks

Arches Bryce Canyonlands Zion

u do not have time for anything else

amazing enough I love Arches best

for the awesome sculptures and mountain biking

around Moab.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 03:58 AM
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classic.mapquest.com long slog up to Jackson

will be supercrowded too.... would avoid
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 06:31 AM
  #10
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Thanks guys- any hotel recommendations. Have a budget of around 150 a night or happy to camp. Scenic places if poss.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 07:40 AM
  #11
 
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if you haven't been to yellowstone and Grand Teton, go there
If you have, Arches
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 08:48 AM
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Always try for in park.

After reading what starrs wrote I'm having second thoughts.

I been to the Utah parks and Bryce & Zion several times (Arches once).

I went to Yellowstone & Grand Teton last year and could easily go back again.

Each park has a theme. Yellowstone has several. Then add in the spectacular GTNP.

Plan two trips.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 07:30 PM
  #13
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ooh - so torn!! Thinking of flying now into SLC and out of Las Vegas. so the itinerary would be:

Day 1- Fly into SLC AM- drive to Moab
Day 2 Moab- Arches
Day 3- Moab- Canyonlands?
Day 4- Leave Moab AM and drive through Bryce Canyon to Zion
Day 5-Zion
Day 6-Zion and drive to Las Vegas for flight in late PM

Is this too much? Any tweaks welcome!
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 08:02 PM
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You would be kicking yourself for years if you drove into Las Vegas just to turn in your car and pay a drop off fee. I think I would drive all night on I-15 to turn in the car back at SLC.
On our November trip we stayed at the Robbers Roost motel in Green River for 6 nights. (Less than $80/night).
For a 7 day trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, plan on flying to Jackson Hole and renting a car there.
Beware of Fox Rental cars.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 03:48 AM
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I love the Utah parks, but I would think that you would find the weather in GTNP and Yellowstone much nicer at that time of year. If the elk are in rut, you will have a very memorable spectacle and the parks are fantastic. If you did the drive from/to SLC you would still have a nice visit in the parks.

Have a great trip no matter which route you take.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 05:48 AM
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Ok great. Would love to fly to Jackson Hole but the flights are just so expensive!
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Aug 4th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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I see by your recent posts that your 6 days include arrival and departure days.

You don't drive thru Bryce Canyon.

Now that I see your days this is what I would do.

Fly into and out of SLC. SLC will probably have less traffic than LAS. It's a small airport and car rental is right in front of you. So even though it's a longer drive it's probably a better drive. And save money. No drop-off fee.

Day 1. Drive to Moab. You'll probably pass Arches around 5PM. Go directly in before going to Moab. Hike Delicate Arch trail in time for a great sunset. Then check in at Moab.

Day 2. Arches.
Try to make reservations for the Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike. You can now make reservations online in advance.

Also, the Windows section is very compact and several excellent arches. North & South Windows, Double Arch, Turret Arch. You also go right by and stop at Balanced Rock.

Add more as time permits. Research which are of interest to you.

Day 3. Canyonlands & Dead Horse Point.
Other than Mesa Arch in Canyonlands (this is the only arch you'll see where you approach it at the top) which is a very, very short walk, I liked Dead Horse Point more.

In fact there are many other things I would do before spending more time at Canyonlands. Personal opinion.

Leave by 3PM

If you skip Canyonlands and maybe spend an hour or two at Dead Horse Point and then leave you can spend a few hours going to Goblin Valley. It's about 30 minutes out of your way and a fun stop for a couple of hours.

I would be tempted to go to Zion first for a few reasons. I believe the drive from Bryce to SLC is a bit shorter and leaving Bryce at the right time might be easier. See my Bryce plan below.

Day 4 & Day 5. Zion.
Select hikes at Zion. Emerald Pools, Angel's Landing. Maybe Narrows. Select based on conditions and interest.

Leave by mid-afternoon of day 5 and do the Canyon Overlook hike on the way out of Zion's east entrance/exit on the way to Bryce.

Get to Bryce in time for sunset (not one of the strong points but still worth it.

Day 6.
Get up very early and over to Bryce point for a spectacular sunrise.

Then grab a snack breakfast and hike down Navajo Loop and back up Queen's Garden. This will give to a great feel for the Bryce hoodoos.

You should easily have this completed by noon. I normally suggest people see the Natural Bridge viewpoint as it's the only one that's different and you will have seen Bryce Point (sunrise), Sunset Point (start of Navajo Loop) and Sunrise Point (end of Queen's Garden). However, if you've been to Arches NP you've seen enough arches.

The start and end point are a half mile apart so you'll have a great scenic walk to get your car.

The drive from Bryce to SLC is very pleasant and very easy. Excellent highway.

SLC is very close to the city and it's a small airport. Auto return is simple and fast.

You could have a great little trip.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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It is about equal drive time from Bryce or Zion back to SLC (about 4+ hrs.)
It is about 3 hrs from Zion to Las Vegas. For an extra hour drive time you could save drop off fees.
This is a tough trip to make in 6 days, though Myer has done a valiant effort to give it a good try. His plan works pretty good for me. I also feel like Canyonlands can be seen in half a day. Take the Mesa Arch trail, the Shafer trail, Grand View and Green River Viewpoints and you are done.
I'd skip Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef and hwy 12. From Moab take I-70 to either Bryce or Zions.
Skip the scenic drive in Bryce, just stay in the area of the main amphitheater. It is where all the best stuff is anyway, (sunrise, sunset and inspiration points). Take the Navajo to Queen's Garden loop trail. Simply luscious.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 06:53 PM
  #19
 
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Woops. Didn't mean to take the Shafer trail... just look at it from the overlook.
Actually taking it would be an adventure, but probably not in your time frame.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 08:15 PM
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Just want to add that the Shafer Trail is a high clearnce dirt road and I wouldn't attempt it in a regular vehicle. Most Rentals also don't allow off road driving...and this is off road! If you are tempted, they do rent 4 x 4 jeeps in Moab and it's a great drive into Canyonlands!

Utahtea
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