Central Utah Advice Needed

Jul 9th, 2006, 06:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 14
Central Utah Advice Needed

I am planning a trip for the end of August and early September to finish up my Utah trip from last year. Last year I saw Canyon de Chelly (in AZ), Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, and the Islands in the Sky section of Canyonlands. I got a Southeast Utah Group pass to entice me back so I can finish Utah.

So this trip I would like to fly into SLC because I have already seen Zion and Bryce. At this point I am thinking I will drive to Grand Staircase on day 1 (and maybe stop to do Timpanogos Cave on the way) and stay overnight someplace (any suggestions?).

Day 2 I will do Grand Staircase and then drive to Torrey. I travel alone so I don't like to do hikes longer than 3 miles round trip. In that case is it worth going on a professional tour at Grand Staircase? Or are the views from roads and short trails good enough?

Day 3 is for Capitol Reef. Again, should I invest in a tour? Or are the views from the road and short trails good enough? At the end of day 3 I will drive to Moab.

Day 4 If I have not done so already (on Day 3) I will sign up for the Fiery Furnace Guided Walk at Arches for Day 5. Then I would like to take a day tour with tag a long tours (combination jet boar and jeep) to see the Canyonlands better.

Day 5 I will finish up at Canyonlands if necessary and take the Fiery Furnace tour at Arches. I will explore as much of Arches as possible and then go to Dead Horse Point for sunset (or is sunrise better)?

Day 6 I will finish up at Arches if needed and then drive towards Dinosaur National Monument. On the way I will see the San Rafael Swell and maybe Goblin Valley State Park.

Day 7 Dinosaur National Monument. Is it worth a whole day? Or just half a day? Maybe I could cut a day off my trip if I could do this all on Day 6.

Day 8 drive back to SLC for afternoon flight.

I really hoped to do this trip in 6 days but I can do 8 if needed. Does anyone think any of the parks can be done in less time? From what I have heard I will probably want to spend the time at Capitol Reef ... but if I can't hike far what can I see?

And an important note is I live in Phoenix so the heat does not bother me. Just in case anyone was thinking I would die out there ;0)
Argi is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 06:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
I'd take the maximum time you have-it sounds like you have a well planned trip but I don't see any room to cut. I'm also a single female who likes to hike, and has done so solo often (I actually HAVE to do this for my job) and I wouldn't worry about staying under 3 miles unless you are in a very remote, non-national park area. On any of the National Park trails you'll have company and will be found in case you trip and break your ankle. So, I don't think you need a tour, although at Grand Staircase you may feel more comfortable doing so as it gets less use than Capital Reef or Arches.

I think Dead Horse is best at sunrise but still very worthwhile at sunset.
christy1 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2006, 09:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,189
Not really sure what part of the Grand Staircase you plan to go. Most of it is pretty remote so maybe a tour would be best.

Capitol Reef is worth a whole day. The Capitol Gorge is a easy two mile round trip hike. Grand Wash is almost 5 miles round trip, but just walk as far in as you feel like it and then come back. You'll want to take the short walk around the Petroglyphs. Maybe go on a ranger led hike. If you're lucky there will be fruit to pick in the orchards.

What route will you be taking from Capitol Reef to Moab? If you take Hwy 24 up to I-70 you will pass right by Goblin State Park and I'd do it on this day instead of doubling back.

Dinosuar National Monument is very scenic along with the Quarry. You might not need a full day here, but pretty close to it. We were just there and they know have a shuttle up to the quarry. If you want you can hike back down the 1 mile to the parking area via a hiking path...not the shuttle bus road. We did it and it was very interesting. *Note: Buy the little booklet on the walk in the visitor center. We didn't know about it but there are number posts and we didn't know what they were about.

I agree with Christy1, that I'd spend the 8 days. If nothing else, just relax and enjoy the views!

BTW, there isn't any cell phone service in Capitol Reef.


utahtea is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 258
Accommodation in the Grand Staircase is mixed from the relatively pricy Boulder Moutain Lodge (which we loved)to B&Bs in Escalante town. There is a small place called Kiva Kottages between Boulder and Escalante. We had life saving iced latte at the coffee house there and the cottages looked interesting.

There isn't much in the way of short day hiking in this park/area but the views from the highway will keep you occupied all day. Try the information office just outside Escalante for details of short hikes.

There are lots of shortish hikes in Capitol Reef so I wouldn't think a guided tour is needed.

Diz01 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2006, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
I forgot about ranger led hikes-Utahtea's suggestion is great, and that would make you feel more comfortable. Call the visitor's center in advance and plan accordingly.
christy1 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2006, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 61
Do consider going to Canyonlands Needles district. For people that want a true taste of the canyons it is wonderful...off the track a bit but certainly confortable and safe for lone hiking.
I think your plan is wonderful and the time of year is great!
utahlover is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 29
Hi - we just returned from Capitol Reef/Grand Staircase. Capitol Reef is just beautiful; driving back and forth to the visitor's center (from our lodging at Comfort Inn, Torrey) provided wonderful scenery. Tourists avoid this park because it is off the tour route. Big mistake. Lots of views from the roadside including the route down to Escalante.
Comfort Inn was a great choice.
We did hike to "Red Canyon" but it was about 5 miles r-t and worth every step.
Advice from this volunteer from a visitor's center in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: remember to take plenty of water, some food, and cover your head and arms! Enjoy.
desertjoan is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 07:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 288
I've done the jetboat/jeep combo trip in Canyonlands you are considering and definitely found it worthwhile. The day long trip included some guided hikes in several areas and the guide was able to point out and explain some petroglyphs we might have missed on our own. Both the jet boat and jeep were enjoyable. It was nice to be able to spend time on land in the jeep and also on the water to get a feel for the area. I highly recommend it.
npurpleh2 is offline  
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