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Help with trip itinerary: Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands

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Help with trip itinerary: Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands

Old Sep 11th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Help with trip itinerary: Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands

Hello everybody:
Thanks to all the information gathered in this forum and in Fodor's Utah travel guide I have been able to pencil out an itinerary, I would like your comments and suggestions.

My husband and I will be traveling during Columbus Day week. We'll be flying from NY to Las Vegas on Sat early morning and flying out of Las Vegas on the red-eye flight a week later on saurday night.
Here is what our itinerary looks like so far:

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas, pick up rental car. Spend day seeing some of the sights, have a nice dinner. Go to bed early.

Day 2: Drive to Zion, about 3 1/2 hrs (Zion Lodge is booked, so we'll have to stay somewhere else nearby for 2 nights).
Take a ride in the afternoon to Kolob Canyons.

Day 3: Zion Canyon, Riverwalk/Narrows hike if possible; otherwise Emerald Ponds Trail and/or Canyon Overlook Trail.
Drive the Zion-Mt Carmel Hwy and Tunnels.

Day 4: Drive to Bryce Canyon, about 2 hrs. Stay for 2 nights.
Drive Main Park Road. Hike Navajo-Queen's Garden Combination Loop.

Day 5: Horseback tour: 1/2 day Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail.

Day 6: Drive to Moab, about 5 1/2 hrs. Stay for 2 nights.
Drive Arches Main Park Road. Maybe do a couple of the easy trails.

Day 7: Canyonlands Islands in the Sky area. Drive the park road, hike Grand View Pt and Mesa Arch Trail.

Day 8: Drive back to Las Vegas to catch late flight back to NY.

My questions are:
Is this itinerary doable? Am I packing to much in just a few days?
We are not really the athletic type, but we are not in bad shape either. How is the Narrows trail at Zion, is it realy difficult and demanding?
Would you recommend change/add/remove any hikes; or days spent in each area?
Plase help us with recommendations of things that we should not miss.

Thank you everybody for all your help!
gladyola27 is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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Add the hike to Delicate Arch in Arches to your list.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 11:52 AM
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Overall it is a good plan. There are so many wonderful things to see, you will find yourself enjoying it all.

There are a few tweaks I would do.
Day 2, I might just head to Kolob Fingers Canyon first rather than go back out to I-15 later. You could do this if you have the hotel already. There are many in Springdale which are good and that is a nice place to stay when visiting the park. You might still have time to take a shuttle ride into the main canyon that afternoon/ evening which I would recommend just to get an overview of what it there.

Day 3, The Narrows is a difficult hike due to the nature of the river bottom which is covered in large ballsize rocks. But it is a fabulous hike and I would highly recommend it. Go to Zion Adventure Center to pick up some boots and hiking poles which will help. Then just go as far as you feel comfortable with. Orderville Canyon is 2 miles up and can take 2-3 hrs to get to. You don't have to get far to enjoy that unique area.

Other hikes to enjoy would be Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, or Pa'rus. I would leave the Canyon Overlook and other side of the park for the next day so you aren't backtracking.

Day 4, Do the Canyon Overlook trail in the morning. It is better in the morning light. Enjoy the drive out of Zions. Take the time to stop at Red Canyon on the way into Bryce. Even doing those two things first you will still have time for the scenic drive and Navajo/Queen's garden loop trail at Bryce.

Day 5. In the afternoon you could check out the Fairyland Loop. You don't have to do the whole hike. Or go to Mossy Cave. OR you could drive up to Torrey along scenic 12 and spend the night there.

Day 6 I hope you plan to go via hwy 12 through Capitol Reef???? Get lunch in Green River so you can stop and see Canyonlands Island in the sky and Dead Horse Points first before getting all the way to Moab. You can see these fairly quickly, an hour for DHP, and a couple for Island in the Sky- Mesa Arch trail is the only one there that I feel is essential. (Skip the drive and hike to Upheaval Dome but be sure to stop at the Green River Overlook).

Day 7 Doing the other parks on day 7 will allow you the whole day at Arches and you will use it. Park Avenue, everything in the Windows Section, Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch are all great hikes to do. (bring a picnic cooler basket to eat lunch in the park- no concessions here)

Day 8, Assuming you will be going I-70 to I-15. On the section west of Green River be sure to be on the lookout for pull offs (not even rest areas or anything, but you'll know when you want to pull over) for the fantastic views of the San Rafael Swell.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 11:54 AM
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On Day 7, I meant doing the other parks on Day "6" will allow you all day for Arches.
InSandy is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2011, 02:14 PM
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I didn't think that "The Narrows" difficult at all. The rocks are slippery and that is something that a person isn't used to. You certainly could slip and fall(we didn't). I would rent the shoes and/or pants for the hike. Check with Park Rangers before hiking. You don't want to be in this if there is rain anywhere in the area.

If you can do Navajo Loop/Queens Garden you can do the hike to Delicate Arch. Having been to almost all of the major areas in Utah twice, Delicate Arch leaves the biggest impression on my mind.

Stop at The Gifford House in Capitol Reef for pies

Stop at Goblin Valley on your way to Moab.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 02:31 PM
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Thank you so much for all the information. This is great!
Will add Delicate Arch and go for The Narrows if the conditions are good.
I have to get a road map and plan all the drives. I do want to take Hwy 12 (everybody says it is such a scenic drive). I don't know if we'll have time to stop at Coral Reef NP; but I think InSandy's suggestion to do Canyonlands on day 6 sounds great. And we will stop for pies at Gifford House!!!
I am still trying to decide on spending the 2nd night near Bryce, or move on to Torrey. On one hand I feel we would be more relaxed if we stay 2 nights at each hotel, but on the other hand, it would save an hour drive on the long ride the next day and I've also heard that Torrey is quiet nice.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 04:12 PM
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I would consider flying into and out of Salt Lake City. It's a much shorter drive back from Moab.

Also, if you did that you'd have an extra day since you wouldn't spend a day in Las Vegas.

I would do canyon Overlook on the way out of Zion going to Bryce.

Plan on getting up very ealry and going to Bryce Point for a spectacular sunrise.

Yes, add Delicate Arch hike to be there an hour before sunset. Amazing as it turns orange in the setting sun.

Rather than Torrey you could consider staying in Escalente. There are a few nice, reasonable motels there.

There is something nice about spending two nights at the same place. However, shortening that ride is a good idea if you can.

I always try to plan at least two nights at each place. However, last year I went to Utah with my daughter for 3 days and we stayed at 4 different places in four nights. For a short trip it wasn't bad. We just didn't unpack at all.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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My brain was turned off. I read Torrey but thought Tropic.

Torrey is a good idea but quite far from Bryce.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 04:54 PM
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It is about 2.5 hrs from Bryce to Torrey. So you could save more than an hour the next day on the drive to Moab. With you having seen Bryce the day before and the horseride in the morning I'm not sure what else you would need to see at Bryce, so it makes sense to me to get on the road and give yourself more time in the Moab area the next day.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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The pies are directly in Capitol Reef, which is pretty much right on HWY 12. I wouldn't suggest any hikes there, but do stop for pies. They have them in the mornings, but are usually out of them by the afternoon. Eat them at what I think is one of the very best picnic areas in a National Park. The picnic area is right next to the Gifford House.

I would suggest staying at Austin's Chuckwagon in Torrey.
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Old Sep 11th, 2011, 10:02 PM
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One thing no one has commented on is time of year - you will be in higher elevations and in very arid climates - Bryce is over 7,000 to 9,000 Altitude. Check weather - it can snow and be quite cold. Be sure to drink plenty of water particularly while hiking and take along salty snacks. We just did the half day horseback ride into Bryce Canyon - it is 8 miles roundtrip and 1000 ft. down and 1000 ft back. You will be tired afterwards. You said you were not athletic but in good condition - you should be able to do all the hikes in Arches (I say that because I did them and I only do easy to moderate hikes). They are worth doing. If you are driving Rte 12 you will be viewing spectacular OMG scenery going to Moab - be prepared for stops. Check the Park lodges daily via telephone even though the web site says they are full, they get cancelations frequently. I have almost always been able to book rooms via telephone and it is worth staying in the parks and avoiding the drives in and out. You get to talk/hike with the rangers, listen to the talks in the evenings. Have a great trip and bring plenty of layers.
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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I'd get out of Las Vegas and head straight to Zion. It's only a 2.5 hr drive to Springdale. There are many great lodging and dining options in town. You can have a nice meal and take a dip in the hottub surrounded by the splendor of Zion (instead of Las Vegas).

Spend the next full day and night in Zion. Then head out the east entrance towards Bryce on day 3 doing the Canyon Overlook trail when you exit the tunnel. Spend the rest of day 3 hiking in Bryce and get a room in the park so you'll be close to hiking trails and overlooks. Spend day 4 horseback riding & hiking and another night in Bryce.

Head out scenic route 12 to Torrey on day 5 enjoying the incredible sights along the way. Spend the afternoon in Capitol Reef. Day 6 & 7 in Moab and back to Las Vegas on day 8. An extra 2 nights would give you a more relaxed itinerary, allowing for more exploring.

You are going to have a great trip!
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 05:43 AM
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sharondi,
How did this post get done? This is a 20111 post!!!
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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There was some spam (since removed) that brought the post to the top. Sharon didn't notice the date.
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Interesting that was the only post by the OP and no trip report. Maybe never even came back to read responses.

Oh well.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 12:54 PM
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Hiking Virgin River from Riverside is not difficult. Just that 1) rocks are very slippery - yes, use a stick 2) could be chilly. Zion Adventure Center has a video - see that before you go wading. Nother there is cheap.

Actually one day in/out of Bryce is adequate including that one the hike. I'd forget the horses unless it is a passion.

At Springdale, if you enjoy Mexican food, eat at Bit and Spur.
As you pass through Green River, stop at Ray's Tavern for a whooping big burger and one of the micro brews.

In Moab, have a pizza and microbrew at Eddie McStiffs. If you appareciate Petroglypys, drive the Potash Road. There are signs where they are located.

Island in the Sky - Mesa Arch is a must do as the sun rises.
The bottom of the arch becomes illuminated - famous calendar picture - need tripod. See YouTube below
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmR3hvTGfbk

Goblin Valley is well worth a 2-3 hour visit. Best at sunset.

Why are you ignoring Kodachrome State Park outside of Cannonville? Their sandstone chimneys are unique to the world especially the one at the campgound. It is a drive-through experiece much like Bryce. It will consume about 2 hours. See their video at web site below.

http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/kodachrome
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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I'm not passionate about horse. As a matter of fact, have only ridden them a few times in the last 20 years. I enjoyed the ride at Bryce, because you can look around and don't have to look where you are going. The horses do that for you. Plus, you get to see Peek A Boo loop. I wasn't willing to hike Navajo Loop/Queens Garden and then tackle PAB too.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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Had no idea it was an old post - too bad. Thought I had some pretty good advice.
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Old Jun 13th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Sharon,

You always have good advice! When are you two planning to come out this year? I'm working on a late sept long weekend with some friends who would come up from Albuquerque.

We should finally do a GTG!!!
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Old Jun 18th, 2013, 04:03 AM
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Thanks, Dayle. We are hoping to get out there sometime in early-mid Oct and spend more time in the southeast corner of Utah exploring Cedar Mesa/Natural Bridges/White Canyon, etc. With Peter's rock art paintings at Edge of Cedars State Museum, we want to spend more time in that area and maybe attend an art festival in Bluff. No solid plans yet though. I'll keep you posted!
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