Big Five Trip report

Old May 8th, 2015, 01:12 PM
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Big Five Trip report

Just returned from a great trip to Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion parks in Utah. I got to spend a day in Arches back in December 2013 and vowed to return to the area. We got a lot in as we are early to bed early to rise people. The basics:
- Arrive Aril 24 around 8 PM, drive to Mesquite and stay at Best Western. OK if it was $70.00, but for $115.00 was overpriced.
- Apr 25 drive to Moab long, but scenic. Stopped at the rest areas along Route 70 all worthwhile and different views. Arrived Arches around 2 PM and did Park Avenue (parked at bottom and hiked up) then to Windows section. Got caught in the rain at Park Avenue, but worth it seeing the water run-off of the walls. Check into Best Western Canyonlands. Great hotel in center of town yet quiet in room. Very good breakfast, nice pool/spa area, walk to many restaurants. Ate at Desert Bistro and right behind the hotel which was great as it was raining. Not cheap, but food/service very good and large portions.
- Apr. 26 off to Canyonlands, dodged rain all morning, afternoon cleared some. Went to Mesa Arch – great view, Aztech Butte hike – saw granaries, Upheaval dome – OK, Green River Overlook – spectacular, Grandview overlook and trail to end – again great. Stopped at Dead Horse Point overlook on the way out, very nice though I think we preferred the Green River overlook and it’s more expansive views. Dinner at Miguels Baja in Moab was just OK.
- Apr. 27 to Arches. Finally no rain, nice yet windy day. Got to Delicate Arch lot around 7:30, plenty of parking despite construction and great hike. Few people up top, ran into many more on the way back down. Headed to Devils Garden to see Landscape Arch and many more. Trail out to Double O was a bit rough as it was very windy and there is a narrow fin section you have to cross. Headed back out stopping at Sand Dune/Broken arches, Fiery Furnace overlook, and Double Arch we somehow missed when we visited Windows earlier. Double Arch is one of the more impressive arches we saw especially when you get right under it. Drove out 128 along the Colorado River to Fishers Towers to view, but not hike – very nice. Got a pizza and salad at Paradox to go and ate it on the upper deck at BW – very good pizza and nice view.
- Apr 28 up and out towards Bryce. Stopped at Goblin Valley that was interesting then Little Wildhorse canyon. After climbing the boulder at canyon entrance it was an easy and dry walk. I had read there is often water, we only went about 1.5 miles so maybe further in. Went to Capital Reef stopping at Fruita for their pie and the wraps we had packed. We eat wraps every day when hiking, healthy and easy to pack. Nice peaceful stop for lunch, must have been rough actually living here though – very remote. Took the scenic drive in then headed towards Route 12. Route 12 is one of the more scenic and varying drives I’ve been on. From snowy mountains to parched red and white rock. Picked up brother/sister in law at Bryce airport and checked into Bryce Canyon lodge. They couldn’t come for the whole trip and didn’t want to drive out so took a puddle jumper in from Las Vegas. The pilot gave them nice tour on the way in – I was a bit jealous. Stayed in the motel rooms that are simple yet clean and well furnished. Ate both nights at lodge restaurant that we found very good with excellent service.
- Apr 29 off to Calf Creek Falls hike. I realize we backtracked, but what a nice drive. Prior to hike drove them on the Hogback section of route 12 that is a bit of a sweaty palm kind of ride. Calf Creek was beautiful, the sandy trail makes for a workout considering it’s only six miles round trip and little elevation change. Stopped at Kiva Coffeehouse on the way back, what a great view and good coffee. I’m going to try and get a room there next time out. Back to Bryce to the various viewpoints then wine on the porch and dinner.
- Apr 30 hiked the Queens Garden/Navajo loop though Wall Street section was closed due to rock fall on trail. You can still do a loop though. Showered, packed, and then off towards Zion. Did Canyon Overlook trail prior to tunnel then checked in at the Cliffrose. Great place on the river, got a two bedroom suite on the river with spectacular views off the deck (request room 42). They have a nice pool area, decent continental breakfast, and very short walk to the park. Went to the Zion visitor’s center and then rented shoes/socks/stick for narrows hike at outfitter near the entrance. Spotted Dog for dinner was great, so good we did it both nights. They had a salmon special one night that was about the best I’ve ever had – cooked perfect medium rare over a risotto cake. Recommend their mushroom starter as well.
- May 1 off to Angels Landing hike. I’ve been to a lot of parks and done a lot of hiking, but don’t know if I’ve ever done one as hairy as this one towards the top. We went early so it wasn’t too bad going up. Coming down there were people coming up and passing them is a bit hairy with the shear drop sometimes on both sides. Went back to our room to get our narrows gear and have lunch. Decided not to pack those bulky creek shoes/walking sticks and the shuttle doesn’t take too long. Went to the Narrows in the afternoon that again was a highlight. Water level was just right, they said 57 CFS and highest it got was mid-thigh. Not sure how far we went, about 90 minutes in less than that out. This is a hike that pictures don’t do justice, have to actually be there. I recommend renting the creek shoes, you blow right by those wearing Teva’s and regular water shoes. Spotted Dog as mentioned again for dinner.
- May 2 up and poke around the visitor’s center a bit again then off to Las Vegas. We wanted to stay the night in Vegas and fly out Sunday morning so we could spend another day at Zion. With the big fight Saturday night hotels like the MGM were like $700.00 a night and Southwest flights Sunday double that on Saturday so it wasn’t worth it.
We did a little over 1400 miles, never felt rushed, and saw a lot so it was a great trip. Except for the rain the first two days weather was great as well.
DaveS is offline  
Old May 8th, 2015, 02:41 PM
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Great trip and report.

As I read I tried to see what you did and didn't do.

Not enough left to say you have to go back.

I'm sure other places will call your name.

You sure have more nerve (and probably younger than me) than I do.

Five years ago I took my daughter to Utah for 3 days (she's married with a then 3 1/2 year old so days are numbered).

We went up Angel's Landing as was a Scouts Lookout. She wanted to go beyond but I somehow won out.

Now, when do we see photos?

Again great trip and thanks for the report. Brings back memories.
Myer is offline  
Old May 9th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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Great report and you could have paid more for places to stay. BE HAPPY!!!
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Old May 10th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. It makes me want to return soon.

Thanks for the report.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 03:21 AM
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Thanks for the trip report. Sounds like you really did your homework and hit all of the highlights in each national park and in between. Great trip!
sharondi is offline  
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