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Help needed -- Western National Parks April trip

Help needed -- Western National Parks April trip

Old Feb 18th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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Help needed -- Western National Parks April trip

Hi,
My wife and I are trying to plan a one week trip for the last week of April and I need some guidance in picking a western national park destination and itinerary for that time of year. We do have the option of waiting until late June/early July as well.

Ideally, we'd like to visit the national parks of southern Utah or northern Arizona, but I'm concerned that the Utah parks may be too icy yet for the best hiking. We've thought about Yosemite or the Redwoods, but again I'm conerned about the weather and I know booking lodging at this late date is a major issue as well.

As I mentioned, we could put the trip off until late June/early July, but I'm concerned that at that point the desert destinations will be too hot.

Any advice? Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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We traveled to Sedona, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion in April (2006), and had great weather. You can read about our trip on our travel blog (www.hitherandthither.net), and you'll see that we did encounter some snow in Bryce, but nowhere else. We had a great time!

Ashley
www.hitherandthither.net
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Hi Fax,

Hiking in the southern UT parks will be fine in April. Little chance of snow or ice (if any only at highest altitudes), possibly a little rain. April can be warm and sunny or have some rain.

Yosemite will still have lots of snow in April.
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 02:27 PM
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Just a clarification about snow in Yosemite in April - the high country will have snow, but there generally isn't snow in the valley at that time of year.
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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You can't really go wrong with the Utah parks. You could probably hit 2 of them and maybe even 3 of them. Arches and Canyonlands are hard to beat. Moab has plenty of lodging and restaurants. Zion and Bryce are equally as good, with Lodging inside the park if that interests you. You could possibly sneak in a day or 2 at Capital reef with either one of these options. Capital reef is a little out of the way as there is no airport very close. Death Valley is another very good option. We did Death Valley and Sequoia about a month ago and enjoyed it. Big Bend in Texas is a good option as well.
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 05:25 PM
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Wonderful photos and trip report,Alovesa! Loved the Thai ones too - wish you both a lifetime of happy travels. We are now in our sixties, still enjoying non-touristy travelling like you, and look forward to more of you reports. Thank you.
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Old Feb 18th, 2008, 05:33 PM
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Forgot to answer the original post! We've driven from Las Vegas (after a flight from Sydney), through Flagstaff and up to Moab around Easter a couple of years ago, coming back thru Bryce (too much snow, but stunning - no walking below the rim) and Zion. Wonderful trip, Canyonlands is a fantastic experience (no crowds like the Grand Canyon) and Arches though freezing cold, was great too. Better than in the heat, I think.

We often travel at this time of year, off season, and mostly have found the weather is OK. We keep museums for rainy days - haven't been to many museums in the West, I must say.
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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Thanks for all the replies, all! Very helpful.
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 11:28 AM
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What do you think of these two itineraries?

#1
day 1 fly into vegas
day 2 moab
day 3 moab
day 4 bryce
day 5 bryce
day 6 zion
day 7 zion
day 8 zion
day 9 fly out vegas

#2
day 1 fly into phx
day 2 sedona
day 3 south rim GC
day 4 bryce
day 5 bryce
day 6 zion
day 7 zion
day 8 zion
day 9 fly out vegas


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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Hi Fax,

# 1 is not doable because it's too long of a drive from LV to Moab. IF you want to include Moab, you need to limit Bryce to 1 day and Zion to 1 or 2.

# 2 is done by many - I much prefer southern UT to Sedona because Sedona (while pretty) is highly developed, not a Natl Park.

#3 You could also do a nice trip by including Zion, Bryce and Escalante/Boulder, Capitol Reef if you have time.
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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Dayle,
If we were to do #3, would we fly in and out of Vegas? It looks like all those areas are within driving distance of each other. Would you recommend picking one place as a base for the full week?

Our first priority is visual impact-- we won't be visting spas or anything, so maybe we should skip Sedona.

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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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Fax,

Yes, fly in/out LV. Although the 3 parks/monuments are fairly close distance wise, driving time is very slow because there are so many photo ops, hikes, and picnics along the way.

Some people stay at Zion and do a day trip to Bryce. I do not recommend this because one of the very best sights at Bryce is sunrise. It's too far to drive as a day trip to include sunrise.

I would fly into LV and drive to Bryce first. Spend 2 nts. Then head up kwy 12 to Escalante and Boulder.

It would be REALLY nice to stay at least 1 night in one of these places so you can do a hike or two along the drive. (Calf Creek Falls or more) Just staying at the bould Mtn Lodge and eating at their excellent restaurant, Hell's Backbone Grill is worth the overnight, aside from the awesome scenery.

Continue on to Capitol Reef and spend 1 night.

Go back to Zion via I-70 and I-15 if you want a change. Or go back on hwy 12 and enjoy again!

Stay at Zion 2 - 3 nights. It's only a 2.5 hour drive back to LV from there.
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 02:26 PM
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Fax,

Sorry for the bad typing. Make that the Boulder Mountain Lodge in Boulder.

IMO, if you want the best scenery, the Natl Parks are the places to go!

I love Moab. You could easily spend a whole week just there, but it's a long drive from anywhere. I believe the closest major airport is Grand Junction, CO.

Happy planning!
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 04:04 PM
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April is an excellent time to be in Yosemite. The waterfalls are near to peak, and as noted, there isn't any snow in the valley.

Regarding a Utah itinerary, I agree that a Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase - Escalante, Capitol Reef combination is best for a one-week visit. It maximizes visual impact while minimizing time spent in the car. Aside from the trip from Vegas to Zion, the whole trip is scenic. April should be fine weather, and you won't have the crowds that summer will bring.
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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Fax,
Here's a LONG trip report w/pictures from our Sept '07 trip.

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

I'm with Dayle - stick with the nat'l parks. Late April will be an awesome time to do Zion, Bryce, Escalante and Capitol Reef. The drive along Rte 12 is simply amazing - some of the best scenery anywhere. Check out the pictures and trip report and see what you think. Happy to answer questions!
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 10:34 AM
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Alright, I've got the flights and lodging all booked now. We're doing:

Zion Lodge 3 nights
Boulder Mtn Lodge 1 night
Austin's Chuckwagon Hotel (Torrey) 1 night
Bryce Lodge 2 nights

I tried to do Zion last, but the lodge was all booked up. All the advice was very helpful. Thanks again!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 05:27 PM
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It sounds good to me, Fax. You'll have a great time.

The only change I might make is to spend 2 nights in Zion Lodge, then hit the Desert Pearl (or other good lodging w/a hot tub)in Springdale for the last night after Bryce. The drive to Vegas from Springdale is so easy that I prefer to spend our last night in Zion/Springdale than LV.

We loved staying in a cabin in Zion but having a little more luxury on my last night by staying in Springdale (while being so close to the park) is nice. Just my 2 cents -(of course, it's cold and snowy here and I haven't been on vacation since our Utah trip in early Sept so I'm cranky).

You'll have a great trip either way. Be sure to eat at Hell's Backbone Grill at Boulder Mtn Lodge. Great stuff! Some pics:

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/86567204

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/86567191

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/86567235
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Old Mar 1st, 2008, 03:20 PM
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i second the suggestion of staying at the desert pearl.we've stayed there several times and have never been disappointed. it's beautiful,comfortable,and clean. we usually get a second floor pool side.in zion,angels landing is a great hike and at that time of year the heat shouldn't be a problem,just pace yourself. the view is worth it. another thought,if you've never seen the grand canyon, the north rim is about 2hours from zion.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 08:44 AM
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Is the North Rim open in April? I am also planning a trip April 10-20 from Vegas to Phoenix.

I would like to make it to Arches, but it is starting to seem like I'm trying to do to much. It is just me and my 15-yr-old son. I had a nice loop back from Arches going through Mesa Verde and Chelli, but then realized I never made it to the Grand Canyon. If I could work in the North Rim on the first leg of the trip, it might work better. But then, the rental car might not hold well on that side?

Thank you to everyone for the suggestions on itinerary and lodging!
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Old Mar 2nd, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Try to stay in zion and ask for the motel lodging, a bit nicer than the cabins. Being in the park is best, but we LOVED the Desert Pearl also and would love to stay there again, too.

Altho the north rim is much less crowded, we didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the south rim. We've been to the south rim countless times - as well as all the utah and arizona parks - and they all still fascinate. Not so with the North Rim. JMHO.

Have a great time.
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