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help with an April week in Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Great Basin

help with an April week in Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Great Basin

Old Jun 9th, 2024, 11:26 AM
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help with an April week in Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Great Basin

Hi, You have all helped me many times before. this time my college roommate (from over 50 years ago) and I are traveling to 4 national parks over my April vacation. I live in New Hampshire and she lives in Tucson, AZ. We have already booked our flights in and out of Salt Lake City for April 24-30 and will rent a car at the airport. We have very early flights in so are planning to travel first to Moab and see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, then Capitol Reef, and then Great Basin before returning to Salt Lake City to fly home. We are in our mid-70's and like to take what we call strolls or walks instead of hikes - so pretty level ground and not too long. She thinks we should skip Great Basin because it is so early in the season and for time's sake. I want to include it because i can't imagine coming back at a different time just to do that one park (I am on a quest to see all 63 national parks, and she doesn't necessarily care about that). I do realize we won't be able to go up the mountain on the park road but i will be happy with just doing the cave tour and looking around. So all that being said - how many nights would you suggest in each park, trying to do all four? We stay in hotels rather than camping and certainly don't need luxury, but do need clean and safe, complimentary breakfast is a plus unless there is a relatively cheap breakfast nearby, and we are looking for suggestions for places to stay. We generally return our rental car the afternoon before (so the sixth night) staying close to the airport in order to fly out relatively early the next morning. Any other suggestions about things not to miss would be great too. Thank you in advance.


Last edited by barbaralois; Jun 9th, 2024 at 11:59 AM. Reason: New post
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Old Jun 10th, 2024, 04:28 AM
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Your day 1 will be for travel to SLC then down to Moab. I would allow at least two days for Arches a one for Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands and one for Needles district. Then another day for Capitol Reef.

Have you gone to the NPS web site for Great Basin ? There are road closures right now and in April I would not be surprised if there was snow in the higher parts of the park and some unplowed roads or other closures too. Also many of the roads in the park are unpaved which might be a no no for a rental car.

If you have not been to Bryce and/or Zion a drive through them would be much more bang for your buck than GB in my opinion even if it was just a quick circle through. There has always been snow on the trails in Bryce when we visited in April, but the roads have been cleared and the views spectacular.

It usually takes longer to drive from place to place in this area than the estimates on google maps tell you. You also have to watch out for large animals on the road like deer, elk, antilope and even horses and cattle in the”open range” areas.

Best wishes for a fantastic trip.


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Old Jun 10th, 2024, 04:34 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions on number of days- that seems reasonable. We have already been to Bryce and Zion (not that they aren't worth going to a million more times) and Great Basin would just be a check off for me on my National Parks list. I have been on the website and am pretty sure the roads will not be open in the higher parts of the park, and I would be content if i could just go on one of the cave tours so not much time there. It IS out of the way but also out of the way of pretty much everything else that we have already been to.

Looking forward to this trip!

Barbara
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Old Jun 11th, 2024, 07:03 PM
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If you click on my user name, you will see trip reports for all of the national parks in Utah. Most of mine are trips with kids--thus easier hikes for all
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 03:46 AM
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StantoHyde - thank you! A lot of valuable information on here. Have you ever gone to Great Basin National Park? I know it's not really the right time of year for it, but it fits into the schedule. And have you ever stayed or had an impression of Bowen Motel in Moab? Some of those hikes you took with kids could definitely be up our alley.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 09:24 AM
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I've said this often but it's worth repeating. At arches protect your lens of your camera or phone. If it will take one. I used either neutral, sky, or circular polarizing filters to protect against the very fine blowing dust. For the same reason you may want to use a light mask for yourself. The hardware store kind are ok for that.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 01:04 PM
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Basingstoke2 - thanks for that great suggestion. i would not have thought of that!

Barbara

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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 03:14 PM
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I was in Moab's camera shop when a fellow came in to replace the lens on his Canon SLR. The store owner in this small town had several lenses from which to choose and all were expensive and he explained what happened to the lens, said it happens often and gave him the advice I passed on to you. The Canon owner was not happy but bought the new lens and left with the lens and a protective filter. When he left, the store owner told me he makes a lot of money replacing lenses and keeps a variety in inventory.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 07:54 PM
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I have not been to Great Basin. I know folks who have. I would say it is worth it if you are "collecting" all of the parks or you want a REALLY remote experience. For the average national park visitor, it is something to skip. It is quite out of the way and you pass through some SPARSE desert to get there. Not so high on my bucket list.

The Bowen motel is in town and it looks to me like it can get a noisy crowd??? If you want something less expensive, try the Apache Motel or the River Canyon Lodge.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 07:56 PM
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In Capital Reef, I love Austins Chuckwagon-centrally located and nice clean rooms. Instead of Great Basin, you could see Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse Canyon after Capital Reef. Or go over to Escalante--Grand Staircase is a National Monument.
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Old Jun 12th, 2024, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by StantonHyde
I have not been to Great Basin. I know folks who have. I would say it is worth it if you are "collecting" all of the parks or you want a REALLY remote experience. For the average national park visitor, it is something to skip. It is quite out of the way and you pass through some SPARSE desert to get there. Not so high on my bucket list.

The Bowen motel is in town and it looks to me like it can get a noisy crowd??? If you want something less expensive, try the Apache Motel or the River Canyon Lodge.
We stayed at the Bowen and there was no noisy crowd, in fact there was no "crowd" at all. It is typical motel in style, clean and very convenient at the edge of town near Arches. It has a pool but does not serve breakfast although there is a good breakfast place a block away.
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Old Jun 13th, 2024, 01:48 PM
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You're right that April is very early for Great Basin. My only visit there was in mid-May and it was sleeting heavily that day so we only made it as far as Mather Overlook. We didn't do a cave tour but if you're content with that and not expecting to be able to do much else then April could work. There aren't many accommodations nearby. I think there's a motel in Baker and a couple of Airbnb type places. We stayed in Ely as we were on our way home to CA but that would be even more out of the way for you.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 03:35 AM
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StantonHyde, I tried to make reservations at Chuckwagon earlier and it said all rooms were unavailable on those dates, so I was looking at other places. After your post I was thinking about it again and called them and in fact, it is too far out to reserve rooms there but I will keep checking now that I know that was the problem. Looks like a perfect place for us to stay.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 03:37 AM
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Hi Patty, I made reservations in Baker at the Stargazer Inn of course sight unseen, but it looked like the best possibility near there. and yes I am content with just a look around at Great Basin, and who knows we could get lucky and see more than what i am expecting. Thanks for your comments.
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Old Jun 14th, 2024, 03:39 AM
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Basingstoke2 Thanks for your thoughts on the Bowen Motel. I went ahead and booked three nights there and looking at the reviews about traffic noise, I did request a quiet room and fingers crossed that it was a good decision.
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Old Jun 15th, 2024, 06:41 AM
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At Bowen I would stress that it is a plain place - nothing fancy just a clean and comfortable place to sleep in a convenient location. In our room the floor was a bit creaky. In Moab we particularly liked The Broken Oar restaurant which met our criteria of good food, good service, good prices, and pleasant ambiance.

Near Canyonlands we stayed at The Broken Spur Motel and Steakhouse. It far exceeded expectations. The rooms are large and well appointed, it is actually a convention center. The steakhouse part is very good too with large, well prepared steaks and sides and good prices.

If you have time in Moab,
a Jet Boat ride down the river is time well spent. Jet boat refers to means of propulsion, not speed which is a lot of drifting.
If interested I have a TR under my name describing our trip to NPs in Utah and also Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. The TR includes a description of the ride down the river with lots of photos.

BTW, if your camera takes filters, a circular polarizing filter is very valuable bringing out true colors even on an overcast day as well as protecting your lens.
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Old Jun 15th, 2024, 12:01 PM
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My mistake. - - again. The Broken Spur is near Capitol Reef NP, NOT Canyonlands.
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Old Jun 16th, 2024, 03:54 AM
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basingstoke2 - thanks for that last post and the encouragement on Bowen's. Clean, comfortable and convenient is all we need. Reading your trip reports was very helpful. I love reading reports of other people's trips. and we will check out the Broken Oar Restaurant.

Broken Spur was the other place i was looking at in Capitol Reef besides Austin's Chuckwagon - both look nice.

My college roommate doesn't really like boat rides - however i will try to convince her on the jet boat ride down the river because of the Thelma and Louise connection - we have named each of our trips to national parks together Thelma and Louise - this one is Thelma and Louise Take Nine. Her husband wants to know which of us in Thelma and which one is Louise and EVERYONE tells us not to drive off a cliff.

And Karen is the photographer on our trips and I am the journalist - I did already tell her about the filters for her camera.
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Old Jun 16th, 2024, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by barbaralois
basingstoke2 - thanks for that last post and the encouragement on Bowen's. Clean, comfortable and convenient is all we need. Reading your trip reports was very helpful. I love reading reports of other people's trips. and we will check out the Broken Oar Restaurant.

Broken Spur was the other place i was looking at in Capitol Reef besides Austin's Chuckwagon - both look nice.

My college roommate doesn't really like boat rides - however i will try to convince her on the jet boat ride down the river because of the Thelma and Louise connection - we have named each of our trips to national parks together Thelma and Louise - this one is Thelma and Louise Take Nine. Her husband wants to know which of us in Thelma and which one is Louise and EVERYONE tells us not to drive off a cliff.

And Karen is the photographer on our trips and I am the journalist - I did already tell her about the filters for her camera.
Thank you for your kind words. Based upon our experience there I would not hesitate to recommend Broken Spur to anyone.
Since Karen is a photographer she likely is familiar with using a circular polarizing filter. If not she should get one and learn how to use it before the trip. For nature photography it can make a huge difference,
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