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GCSR and southern Utah in May- itinerary feedback?

GCSR and southern Utah in May- itinerary feedback?

Old Jun 8th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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GCSR and southern Utah in May- itinerary feedback?

I got great feedback from folks last year planning my Ireland trip, and now I’m back to plan a US adventure. I’m 30, relatively fit, love hiking, and I will be traveling solo if it matters. I probably will fly in/out of Las Vegas and want to visit Grand Canyon South Rim, Moab, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. It will be my first trip to the area. It’s a lot to aim for. I’m comfortable with a packed vacation schedule, and often prefer it to too much downtime, but I want to be sure I’m being realistic about my timing, especially with the amount of driving necessary. I do need SOME flexibility to relax, after all. My rough itinerary:

May 1-15, 2014

Day 1- Arrive Las Vegas and make the drive to Grand Canyon South Rim, assuming I can get an early flight from the East coast to allow for driving time. I’ve booked Bright Angel Lodge for 2 nights.

Day 2- GC

Day 3- GC to Page. Is it possible to see Horseshoe Bend and tour Antelope Canyon with an early start?

Day 4- Page to Moab. This looks like a long drive- what to see on the way? I thought of the Delicate Arch hike for sunset if the timing works out.

Day 5/6- Arches. Delicate Arch and Fiery Furnace hikes at least.

Day 7- Canyonlands

Day 8- ?- I’m getting muddled here. Not sure if I want another day in Moab, or if I should head for Torrey, maybe visiting Goblin Valley en route. Anything else on the way to see? Is Torrey a logical stopping point on the way to Bryce Canyon?

Day 9- With a full day in Torrey, I would visit Capitol Reef. I at least want to do the scenic drive and a short hike, see the petroglyphs. If I stayed in Moab, I would drive to Torrey this day and either try to visit Capitol Reef on arrival, or fit it in the morning of Day 10.

Day 10- Capitol Reef in AM if needed, Rt 12 to Bryce Canyon. What to see? If I visit Capitol Reef, is this making too long a day? Bryce evening program (Saturday). Stay in Bryce lodge (need to book this soon!)

Day 11- AM Bryce hike- Navajo loop/Queens Garden?; then to Zion. Will probably stay in Springdale.

Day 12/13- Zion

Day 14- Zion to Vegas

Day 15- Home
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Obviously, there’s plenty of planning time ahead, but I at least wanted to have a good idea of when/where to reserve lodging, especially any in park lodges. Of course, I’m such a planner that I’ve gotten myself caught up in details anyway. It’s really the Moab and Moab to Bryce section that’s getting me scrambled. So much to see- I know I can’t get to it all, but it’s hard to estimate how much time I need for sightseeing and driving. I imagine I’ll return to the area ‘someday’, but it’s likely to be many years, so I’m trying to make the most of it!
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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I just got back from Zion/Bryce/GC - there's a short trip report at the bottom of this thread for the Zion /Bryce part. As you'll see I didn't have too much down time. Since you like to hike you can certainly stretch yourself. I was solo and loved the remoteness of being out on the trails alone, but never felt too isolated either.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-days-each.cfm

I may be in the minority but at Zion I actually like to stay in the town of Springdale over the Zion lodge. There's a new LQ in Springdale that is a great location, and a brand new Hampton Inn that wasn't open when I was there a mo ago. I stayed at Cable Mtn lodge, which is 2min walk from the pedestrian entrance to the park, where you get the park shuttle buses. Loved the location.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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Go to North Rim. Less crowded and beautiful. Closer by many hours to Zion and Bryce.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 12:00 PM
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You didn't mention when.

You could add another day in Moab. Half day rapids on the Colorado and you can go to Fisher Towers (it's in the Citibank Accessories commercial (Youtube)) for a nice hike there.

Being solo does matter as there are some less visited places that you may want to be careful about.

Goblin Valley is a nice stop for a couple of hours on the way to Torrey. Are you into photography? There are usually some people there though probably not a lot.

Lower Calf Creek Falls hike ends at a beautiful waterfall. That usually has a fair number of people.

A little further east about 10 miles down Hole-in-the-Rock Rd is Devil's Garden Escalante (not to be confused with the one in Arches). This is a grown up version of Goblin Valley. Basically you walk around thru the rock structures. Definitely a photographers dream but you might be there alone.

Same with Willis Creek slot canyon just below Cannonville a few minutes east of Bryce. In fact you will be alone so probably skip that.

Back to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. You can definitely visit both the same day. However, you want to be there when the sun is high in the sky.

Too early at Horseshoe Bend and it will be a dark shadow. If the sun isn't high in the sky you won't get that great effect in Antelope Canyon.

I was there 6 years ago, didn't take a tour to AC. Paid for parking, paid for the driver/guide and off we went. It might be very popular now. Maybe somebody else can comment.

As you can see there are worthy sights that are not in national parks.

A good place to sleep over between Torrey and Bryce so you can take in those sights is either Boulder Mtn Lodge in Boulder or Prospect Inn in Escalante. I've stayed at both on different trips and would again.

In Capitol Reef I didn't find the scenic drive much. But a couple of hikes were good. Hickman Bridge and Chimney Rock.

Some people like Capitol Reef. Not my favorite. We went on both of those hikes and were pretty much alone. Not good if solo.

Back to Bryce. For that early morning I'd get up very early and go to Bryce Point for a spectacular sunrise. Then take a nap, grab some breakfast and do the NL / QG hike. This gives you a great feel of the park and being down in the hoodoos.

You can see my photos of these places at:
www.travelwalks.com
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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That's some good info Myer, thanks! The 'when' will be May 1-15- plenty of time to play with the itinerary. Lower Calf Creek Falls looks like a gorgeous hike. Maybe I can try to include an extra night in/near Escalante. It's something to think about.

As for being solo- I've traveled and hiked plenty of times on my own, so I take what precautions I can, such as only hiking more difficult/strenuous trails when others are around. That said, some of my favorite life moments were experienced completely alone on a summit, just me and the wind and birds- perfect. I also tend to have much better luck spotting wildlife when there's no one else tramping around! Good points, though. If a particular activity is more risky than 'average', I'd like to know it.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 01:57 PM
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My dates were exactly the same as yours - day one on my trip report = May 1. I was alone on all the trails I hiked in both Zion and Bryce, but never completely alone in case something happened.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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I've been to southern Utah once or twice a year for the past 7 years or so. Golbin Valley is my second favorite. My very favorite is canyoneering in Moab. www.deserthighlights.com

I also really like Little Wildhorse Canyon. This is a couple of miles from Goblin Valley.

Your find thru day 7

Day 8
Drive to Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse Canyon
Overnight in Torrey

Day 9
Have pie at Gifford House in Capitol Reef. Explore Capitol Reef. It is my least favorite, but many people would argue with me on that.

Day 10 On to Bryce. See Calf Creek Falls and Devils Garden(Escalante Devils Garden-there is another one in Arches)

I prefer seeing Delicate Arch the first thing in the morning rather than at Sunset. It's a zoo a sunset and you are likely to have it to yourself in the morning. I've done it both ways.
You mention Fiery Furnace, but you might also consider doing the entire Devils Garden. I would for sure hike at least to Landscape Arch. Don't miss the short hikes(10 minutes) to Balanced Rock, The Windows, Turret Arch, Double Arch(not to be confused with Double O).

I've been to every place that you mention 2 or 3 times. I have not been to Page. I would stay "in park" at Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Zion rather than outside. I like the lodges. In Torrey, I like Austin's Chuckwagon.
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Old Jun 8th, 2013, 09:21 PM
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This advce is from one who has been certified by Guiness - The Perfect Pint - to pour Guiness tap beer into a glass.

Since you appear to be 'fit', I prefer North Rim GC to tourist infested South Rim. Also you can camp free outside of the rim.
The absolute best hiking in Canyonlands is Canyonlands-Maze District - reqluires 4-wheel drive and limited permits. Another hiking opportunity is Canyonlands-Needles.

Capitol Reef - there are two parts. The one on the highway - somewhat of a yawn and Cathedral Valley which is superb! High clearance vehicle.

Page to Moab via highway 89 via Kanab I assume. Thus you can see The Wave - exceptionally famous. google The Wave.

Zion should not be ignored.


Considering the cost of the trip, invest in these books available from Amazon.com

1)Hiking Biking and Exploring Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity by Michael Kelsey. Not a detailed guide, buAbout 300 pages. It is factual and his history of the area is excellent. I have all his books.
2) For off road driving - Canyonland National Park Favorite Jeep Roads and Hiking trails - David Day - about 300 pages
3) Very detailed driving instructions, hiking and mountain biking of all Utah parks mentioned - Utah Parks Driving, Hiking and Mountain Biking - Rogalla. This is a Kindle book but can be read on any desk computer. About 1,000 pages
4) Hiking The Wave - David Day again. Short, but only 99 cents

All of above combined are less than the cheapest motel room you can rent.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 07:22 AM
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I haven't been to Little Wild Horse so I'll defer to spiro.

However, I would definitely not skip the short hikes in Arches. I don't consider them hikes but they are definitely worth the time to go to them.

Balanced Rock parking lot is right by the road. It's a great spot and while most people just get out of their car and walk a bit towards the Rock, walk around it to get views from different sides. I didn't realize how large it is until I looked at my photos and saw some people near the base.

Also, The Windows area with the Windows, Turret and Double Arch are great. You can walk right thru Turret and also right into Double.

Definitely worth an hour or so.

There's a reason Delicate Arch has so many people there for sunset. It's spectacular. I found that in general the people cooperate when taking photos before the sun really starts to go down. Then people don't get in the way when the sun is going down and the Arch is turning bright orange.

One of those "remember for a lifetime views".
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 07:25 AM
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I'm really not suggesting you skip anything due to being solo. However, while none of the places I described is dangerous, some have very few people there and all you need is a badly twisted ankle to cause problems.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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J62,
I'll chime in since I live in Utah and frequently travel solo.
When hiking in the National Parks, if you are on the main trails, you will rarely be alone. There is usually plenty of traffic on all the trails in the park map/guide. If you hike on less popular trails outside/inside the parks, get advice from the visitor's center rangers and register with them so they know where to look......probably not going to need to, but just in the off chance.

If you hike a lot, you know what to pack and what to do, not to do. Just remember our climate is extremely dry and you need to take much, much more water than you would take for hiking in other parts of the country.

It would be great if you could add not one, but two, days. 1 for Moab where you could do a whitewater trip and one in Boulder or Escalante so you will have plenty of time to hike Calf Creek Falls or other.

Important: you must sign up in advance for the Fiery Furnace and sometimes it's booked up for a day or so in advance. Go in to the Arches Visitor's Center as soon as you arrive in Moab to sign up! Then you can plan your other days around availability for this hike.

I like Capitol Reef and my favorite hikes there are Hickman Bridge and Golden Throne. Be sure to stop and see the Gifford Farmhouse and orchards, plus walk the boardwalk along the Fremont River to see the petroglyphs.

Have fun!
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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PS- May is very popular for all these areas, so be sure to get your lodging booked well in advance for those places you haven't done yet. Especially Boulder Mtn Inn and Escalante.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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North Rim is not open until May 15th so that's not an option for this trip. You could luck out and find the road open if it's been an easy winter but you can't count on that - and the lodging doesn't open for the season until May 15 anyway.

Personally I think an afternoon plus 2 more full days in Arches is probably too long. The drive from Page to Moab is 4.5 hours so you'll have a lot of time in the afternoon to explore. Arches is relatively small and a lot of the hikes are very short so you can see a lot in a day. Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace and Devils Garden are all great but you shouldn't need 2.5 days to hike all of them plus see a lot of the other arches.

So rather than add another full day to Moab, I'd just condense Arches to 1.5 days and use that other day for some other stuff in the area. I managed to do Devils Garden, Delicate Arch and a bunch of stops all in one day so add another half day for Fiery Furnace and I think you'll be fine. Sunset is around 8:15 pm in early May so really, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to get there in time from Page to do several short hikes to the easy arches plus Delicate Arch at sunset.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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I think a couple of years ago they started reserving places for Fiery Furnace either online or by phone. I don't remember which.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Thanks all. For those that mentioned it, I'm not planning on missing the shorter hikes in Arches. I just haven't looked into those much yet. Thanks for the advice on that Myer. WhereAreWe, that's just the practical advice I need- I'm always worried over giving myself to little (or too much) time. I'd rather drop something entirely than short change myself elsewhere. I can't add any more days to the trip, but this thread is helping to sort things out.
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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You have a great trip planned, Megan04. If you leave Page early on Day 4, take Route 163 in Kayenta and you'll drive thru Monument Valley and up into Mexican Hat. The Valley of the Gods is also off of Rte 163 - you might consider staying the night at Valley of Gods B&B, a really unique place in the middle of nowhere. Highly scenic. That would give you some time to check out Monument Valley/Valley of Gods, Edge of Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding (excellent collection of ancestral Puebloan artifacts and pottery, ruins on site), and even a drive into Canyonland Needles District (very scenic section of Canyonlands) on the way to Moab.

I think 3 full days in Moab is good. A day or two for Arches, a day for Canyonlands and Dead Horse. You should take the beautiful drive out Route 128 along the Colorado River toward Fisher Towers - really scenic. You can also do the Rock Art tour in Moab - lots of fun to explore.

Capital Reef is one of my favorite parks and the town of Torrey is just beautiful. Austin's is a wonderful place to stay although there are other inn's that are closer to the park. The Cohab Canyon hike is fun. A stop at Goblin State Park enroute to Cap Reef is very do-able and you'll be driving past the turn off for it on Route 24. It is pretty remote spot but has some crazy rock formations!

Scenic route 12 is an amazing drive - lots of places to pull over and take photos. Calf Creek is a nice hike to a pretty waterfall. It's only about 1.5 hr drive from Torrey to Escalante so you have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, maybe do a hike, stop at the Anasazi Museum in Boulder, and still make it to Bryce.

Hiking in Bryce is all fantastic! Fairyland Loop, Navajo/Queens Garden, Peekaboo - incredibly scenic. The drive into Zion's east side is also gorgeous! There's a nice short hike just as you arrive at the tunnel called Canyon Overlook - awesome views of Zion.

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/85429039

Here's a link to our trip report from last fall:

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/utah_2012_trip_report

We hoping to get out there again this fall to spend some time exploring the southeast corner of Utah more thoroughly.

Please ask questions! There is a wealth of great advice from those of us who just love this area! Enjoy the planning!
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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Sharon, I'd love to ask more questions! Can anyone offer a time estimate for the drive from Moab to Torrey, including an hour or two for Goblin Valley, if I choose to stop? In searching I've come across anything from 3-5 hrs (non-stop). I am considering dropping the 4th day in Moab, Day 8, in favor of heading to Torrey. Would there be time for a few hours in Capitol Reef late afternoon or evening if I get an early start from Moab?

Going with Myer's ideas, I might like to spend Day 9 going to Escalante, and hitting the Lower Calf Creek hike at least. I would stay in Escalante overnight. This could make Day 9 a nice low key day, which I might be wanting as I enter week 2. I'll also need to consider some time to do laundry in this time period as well! Decisions...
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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About 3 hours not including any stops. I would allow 1 hour at Goblin Valley and 2 hours at Little Wildhorse Canyon(about 10 minutes from the Goblins)
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 05:31 PM
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It's 3 hrs from Moab to Torrey and you'll add 1-2 hrs with a stop at Goblin SP. It's about 12 miles from Rte 24 to Goblin SP. If you leave Moab by 9am, you'll be at Goblins by 11am and to Capitol Reef by 1 or 2pm - plenty of time to get in a short hike, check out the visitors center, the petroglyphs and the old schoolhouse and farmhouse.

Austin's in Torrey has a nice laundry facility on site and a well stocked general store with everything you could possibly need. They have a deli and make excellent tacos/burritos, etc to order (very reasonably priced).

It's only 1.5 hrs from Torrey to Escalante. You'll want plenty of time for stopping along Rte 12 for stunning vistas. Calf Creek is a 5.5 mile hike - its a flat walk in sand. Not difficult but usually very hot down in the canyon

It's only 1 hr from Escalante to Bryce so you may just want to go for it. If not, we've stayed in the Prospector Inn (as Myer suggested). Also checked out the little cabins behind Escalante Outfitters and they are a good deal for $45/night. Escalante Outfitters makes great food and they sell everything - even bottles of wine and liquor. They have free wifi too.

A room inside Bryce is your best bet. Being able to wake up super early to be out on the rim for sunrise/sunset and easy access to the trails is so worth it!
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