Help with Utah trip!!

Mar 24th, 2008, 05:09 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 150
Help with Utah trip!!

My husband and I are planning a trip flying into Las Vegas (arrive at 10 am) picking up a car and driving to Zion.
Our original plan was Zion-2 nights at Cliffrose Lodge-
4 nights at Bryce (combo of Bryce Lodge in the park and Rubys for the days we can't get).
Return to Las Vegas for 3 nights- never been, thought we would check it out.
Now, after reading about all there is to do we are rethinking our days. The 2 days in Zion stay, thinking of cutting Bryce to 2 days then driving up to Boulder/ Torrey and maybe stealing a day from LV and adding it to Utah. Our trails we tackle will be easy to moderate. We want to drive Rt 12 up to Torrey and Capital Reef. Grand Canyon North is closed (2nd week of May)
Any suggestions to smooth out the loose ends of this trip? We were thinking 2 nights at Zion- 2 at Bryce then 1 night in Boulder- one night in Torrey-return for last day in Zion and then 2 nights LV. If we stop in Boulder, should we spend some time, then drive to Torrey and just spend one night, check out the area and return to Bryce or Zion later that day? I wanted to do the Burr Trail, but don't see where it fits.
I thought the last night in Zion, we could squeeze in things we didn't get to do the first time around, or just relax....

My son feels we shouldn't take a day from LV..we are not gamblers, live near Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun Casino, so we can fill our needs there for losing money. A show, check out some of the hotels, eat,stay at the pool during the day.
Any comments appreciated. I can take criticism, in fact I look forward to it!!
Allison is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,240
Las Vegas is in the eye of the beholder. For us, one night would be plenty!
elnap29 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 08:01 PM
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Cut two days from Vegas and you'll be happier. Vegas is a site to see, but that is about it if you don't gamble. You can see the hotels and eat at many many nice places. You might want to sneak in a show. Probably one of the Cirque shows.
Click on Utahtea, Dayle, or Meyer for some good ideas on that area. You could cut a day from Bryce and then pickup Hwy 12 and Cap Reef. I would hike to Calf Creek in route. The water for some reason at all of the pools I have been to in Vegas are absolutely freezing. I would probably spend both nights in Torrey and do what I wanted to on the way and then whatever you miss on the return.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 12:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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To make it smooth, I'd spend the first two nights in Bryce. It's just a couple hours longer to drive to than Zion. You can drive right though Zion to get an idea of what's in store at the end. After Bryce drive scenic Hwy 12 taking a side trip on the paved part of the Burr Trail and back and go up to Torrey for 2 nights. Gives you one full day in Capitol Reef. Then I'd retrace your Hwy 12 experience and go to Zion for as many days as you have left. This will cut out a lot of packing and unpacking and more time on the easy trails..there are plenty of them. I'm with the night in Vegas is enough for me.

utahtea is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 03:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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utahtea has a good plan to minimize unpacking/packing.

Since you'll be visiting 3 national parks (or 4 if you get to GC) you may want to investigate the various options.

If you're 62 or older you can buy a lifetime senior pass for $10 that's good for the car. Otherwise you can buy the Zion pass when you pass thru going and it's good for a week.

I don't think the annual pass will be worth it for you unless you have other trips planned.

While Bryce is beautiful, it's not a very big park. If you're really efficient, you can get a very good flavor in little more than a day.

Just make sure you sleep over at least one night and make it to Bryce Point for sunrise. Dress warm as it gets windy there and the observation area protrudes.

I'm interested in photography so I scheduled 2 days there. In the afternoon of my first day, after hiking Navajo Loop - Queen's Garden, I drove over to see Grosvenor Arch and stopped in Kodachrome Park.

When I returned to Bruce I then drove the Scenic Drive.

In my opinion the viewpoints of interest would be Bryce Point for sunrise, Inspiration Point, Natural Bridge in mid-afternoon as the sun shines in your face in the AM, sunset point to start hiking down Navajo Loop (and then again as the suns goes down) and Sunrise Point coming back up thru Queen's Garden.

This gives you a great feel for what the park has to offer.

On my 2nd day I did the same Navajo Loop - Queens Garden hike but put 3 1/2 miles of the Peek-a-Boo trail in the middle. It made for a pretty long day but worth it.

While quite close to Bryce, Zion is very different though beautiful as well. It's 4,000 feet lower and a lot warmer. It also has quite a few fairly easy hikes.

I particularly liked the Canyon Overlook near the East Entance. You can do that on your way passing thru the park on the first day or on your way back coming from Torrey. Depends on your timing each way.

You can read my detailed report by clicking on my name and/or see my photos at:

Myer is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 05:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 861
Hi Allison,
Back in Sept, we did a 10 day trip that allowed us to spend time mostly in Bryce, Escalante, and Capitol Reef. We've already been to southern Utah several times and wanted to spend more time seeing a smaller area. And, although we had been to Bryce a few times before for hiking and daytrips, we had never spent the night.

We also wanted to spend more time in Capitol Reef, Escalante, and attempt (once again) the hike into Horseshoe canyon. We both love hiking, the southwest landscape, rocks, photography, solitude, etc. We had a fantastic trip (as always) and I would recommend spending your first night in Zion just because it is an easy ride from LV and it's so nice to relax your first night in such a gorgeous place. We never spend any time in LV and only use it as a convenient airport. So I would strongly suggest as little time there as possible. You can relax in the hottub at Boulder Mtn Lodge or at Austins (Torrey) without all the hordes of people you'll have to deal with in LV. Your choice.

Here is my suggested itinerary:
First night in Zion - get a cabin in the park or stay in Springdale. You can be at Zion by 2pm and have some time to see a little of the park and have a nice dinner. Relax.

Day 2-3 Do the Canyon Overlook hike (only 1mile or so) as you drive out the East entrance of Zion. Take your time - take pictures. Get a great cup of coffee in Springdale at the Mean Bean. Check out Red Rock Canyon SP just before you get to Bryce - pretty scenery along the river. See many of the overlooks at Bryce/rim trail. Try to get a room in the park - Ruby's is too congested and so commercial. Spend the next day hiking in Bryce. We found the food at Bryce Lodge to be pretty darned good!

Day 4&5 Drive out Rte 12 stopping constantly. Lots to see and do. Calf Creek is a lovely hike. Stop at Kiva Koffeehouse just to check out the cool building and amazing views. Stop in Boulder to see the Anasazi SP -small but interesting to see the ruins and artifacts. Stay at Austin's Chuckwagon in Torrey - awesome value, great location, neat little town. Have dinner one night at Cafe Diablo, just down the road. The food at Austin's is really good too - take out Mexican (great value). We also enjoyed dinner at the Rim Rock (closer to the park entrance). Relax in hottub. Take a ride into Cap Reef - see the petroglyphs, stop at Visitors Center, etc.
Spend the next full day in park - we loved Cohab Canyon hike, Hickman Bridge, Chimney Rock. Drive the scenic road. We really love Capitol Reef - very dramatic scenery, few people, great town (Torrey).
Day 6 Drive to Boulder and stay a night in Boulder mtn lodge - very nice lodge, great dining on site at Hells Backbone Grill. Spend some time driving through Long Canyon on the Burr Trail - so scenic. There is a neat little slot canyon along the road that you can check out.
Day 7 & 8 Back to Zion. Spend a few days hiking around. There are plenty of great hikes and the shuttle is so convenient and easy. If you can, stay in Springdale and relax at Desert Pearl or one of the other nice inns.
Head back to crowded, noisy, nasty LV for your flight home. Here is a link to our trip report:

I'm happy to answer any questions. Have a great trip.
sharondi is offline  
Mar 25th, 2008, 05:23 AM
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I would head to Zion first, but I totally agree with Utahtea that the less you can unpack and change lodging, the better off you are. Most of the hikes that Utah, Meyer, Dayle list are easy to moderate shorter hikes. These are my speed for the most part and most anyone can do them. Consider Angels Landing and The Narrows for something more adventurous if you are up for it. Canyoneering is absolutely one of my all time favorite things I have done. I have only done it one time in Arches, but several of the areas you are in offer it. It is fantastic. Scary at first, but then you realize it is safe. Like hiking, it can be strenuous or mild. Endless exploring to be done this way. I forgot to list sharondi and peterboy earlier, they have many good suggestions. Do check out his pictures. I am taking thier advice and staying at Valley of Gods near Monument Valley the end of May, Can't Wait.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 08:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 150
Thanks for all the great suggestions! I am going to cut LV down to a day, and fit the other days into Zion, Bryce and Torrey. I may still squeeze a night into the Boulder Mountain Lodge. The more I read about the lodge and their restaurant-Hell's Backbone Grill, the more tempted I am to overnight there. Sharon, your comment "You can relax in the hottub at Boulder Mtn Lodge or at Austins (Torrey) without all the hordes of people you'll have to deal with in LV" sealed the deal.
Any opinions on the Burr Trail?
Allison is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,519

You can drive just the paved part of the Burr Trail and then turn back if you want to see some of the most ipressive scenery and a small, very accessible slot canyon.

If you drive the whole road, it's kind of long and slow going, very washboarded and dusty, but some great views of the waterpocket fold along the eastern edge of Capitol Reef Natl Park. You would come out between Hanksville and Capitol Reef.

If you go that way, you would miss the hwy 12 section up and over Boulder Mtn, also great views and elevation up to 11,000 ft. Maybe you could do both if you have time.
Dayle is online now  
May 22nd, 2008, 10:50 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1
I am driving from Salt Lake City airport to Boulder Mountain Lodge. Can anyone tell me how the roads are? I am from the midwest and am nervous about mountain driving. Is there cell phone service? Are there any places to stop for lunch on the way? Thanks for any help.
susanr925 is offline  
May 23rd, 2008, 12:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,189
From Salt Lake City Airport to Boulder City, Utah it is about 260 miles. The first 130 miles are on Interstate 15. You just have views of the Mountains not mountain driving. You will have cell service in this section. From Scipo take Hwy 50 down to Aurora, Utah. From Aurora take Hwy 24 south to Torrey, Utah. You will have some hills but no really curvey roads. You will start losing cell service in this area. Torrey does not have cell service as of a year ago.

The last 40 miles you head south on Hwy 12 from Torrey you will start climbing up a mountain road. Going South you will be on the inside of the mountain. It's does get curvey as you climb up and then head down to Boulder. We do this all the time in our motorhome and it's a great road.

(BTW...we have done this part of the road before it was paved!)

utahtea is offline  
May 23rd, 2008, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 861
Hope you will write a trip report when you return from Utah.
sharondi is offline  
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