LV & National Parks Loop

Old Apr 29th, 2009, 01:38 PM
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LV & National Parks Loop


Looking for a little help from the experts! We leave the UK for Las Vegas on Sunday and plan to stay there for two nights before heading off on a camping trip.

We would like to visit Zion, Bryce, Lake Powell, Monument Valley & the Grand Canyon. We are thinking about spending two nights in each place, with the possible exception of Monument Valley where we may only spend one night.

Does this itinerary sound reasonable? Is one night in Monument Valley enough? We would look to do the self-drive around the park and possibly a horse back tour. Would we be better to cut down a night somewhere else then have extra time at another place?

We have also heard about the Meteor Crater, east of Flagstaff. Is this worth visiting bearing in mind the detour from our route? Also is there anything fundamental we have missed on our trip?

One final question, we have read various reports about the temperature at this time of year in thiese national parks. As we're likely to be tent camping most nights we are wondering given the altitudes, would a sub zero sleeping bag be advantageous? Or are we just mad to be thinking of camping at this time of year here??

Thanks in advance.
DelorusP is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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Hi Delorus,

No camping this time of year is usually ideal. Possible exception at Bryce which is much higher altitude and could be very cold at night. Right now your biggest problem is going to be that you have made no reservations for camping!!

This is peak season in the southern UT National Parks. Try for a camping reservation through the links at the National Park Website. If you can't get a reservation at any certain place, you should try to arrive at the Natl Park no later than 8am to snag an unreserved spot and the previous camper pulls out! Later than that and you can't count on a place.

Other options are private campgrounds outside the parks, like Ruby's campgound at Bryce and KOAs.

I'm going to Moab, Valley of the Gods and Capitol Reef myself for vacation next week. Can't wait!

Have a good time!
Dayle is offline  
Old Apr 29th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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You plan sounds good. What do you plan to do at Lake Powell? Float trip, boat tour, Slot canyons, Horseshoe bend? If you plan on either a float trip or boat tour you will need two nights. If you're not doing either of these, then you could get by with one night at Lake Powell and do two at Monument Valley.

I agree with Dayle that you should make reservations as soon as possible. Reservations for North Campground in Bryce don't start till May 8th. I'd look at all the campgrounds and your dates before making any reservations to make sure you can get all your dates incase you have to change your route.

Your route can be done in either order. I actually like to start with Grand Canyon and work my way to Zion for a couple of reasons. Day one, get the long drive out of the way instead of having it on the last day. The scenery as you leave the Grand Canyon going towards Monument Valley gives you great views of the painted desert. It's just a short three hour drive from Zion to Las Vegas so depending on when you have to be might be able to squeese in a short hike.

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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 07:05 PM
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I guess you don't have reservations. We did a similar trip last May during the two weeks surrounding Memorial Day weekend. We made reservations for friday, saturday and sunday nights of that weekend but went on the fly the other days. We had no problem in Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands if we got to the campground before noon. At Arches, you have to line up at 6:30 am. But there are plenty of motels in Moab.

We did not go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon but have been there on other trips. We prefer to stay in lodging there.

Both the Grand Canyon and Bryce are fairly high in altitude and the nights are very cool. For next week, the nights at Bryce are forecast to be in the high 30's or low 40's. That's farenheight.

I can't comment on the Meteror Crater. We've always skipped it.

There's not much to do in Page unless you take a boat tour or go into the slot canyons.

In Monument Valley, it's probably best to stay in a hotel. The campgrounds are not that great there and it can be very windy. We stayed in Mexican Hat. There is a free campground out at the Goosenecks there but it was too cold during our visit to camp that night.

You might want to get the book: Utah Camping by Foghorn Press. We found it invaluable.
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 07:08 PM
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We've been to all of these, and I'm sure you have a great time wherever you go! Personally, I would not overnight at Lake Powell unless you have some sort of boat trip in mind...Unless you're out on the water, there's really not much to do there other than look out at it. I think one night at Monument Valley would be sufficient. If you want to do a bit of a detour, and are interested in the Native American aspect of the southwest, you might consider going to the Hopi mesas northeast of Flagstaff, rather than the meteor site. Here's a site for info about this, or you can do a general internet search for more about this. Have fun!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 05:05 AM
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That's a great help thanks!

I had also thought about the long drive at the very end - we may change the plan and start at the GC.

In terms of what we were going to do at Lake Powell, we would like to visit Antelope Canyon and also hire kayaks and spend some time exploring out on the water (I think I have read about renting kayaks in Page) I had thought about maybe only doing one night there but still not sure if MV will entertain us enough for two nights so may have to readjust a bit more.

We haven't made any campsite reservations yet but will do for the weekends like Supercilious suggested and then just hope for the best elsewhere! At worst, we have a car we can sleep in

Natalie, thanks for the link about the Hopi Mesas, I will have a look at the link but I certainly like the sound of it!

Thanks again for your help, I can't wait to get going now!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 05:54 PM
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There are several places to rent kayaks at Lake Powell. The problem is that the least interesting part of the lake is right there at Wahweap which is crowded in summer with motor boats and houseboats. It may not be so bad in early May. More interesting kayaking for day use may be found at the upper lake marinas but these require considerably more driving to get to.

You should consider the boat trip out to Rainbow Bridge National Monument instead. You get to see quite a bit of the lake and the Rainbow Bridge itself is quite a sight.

You could also take a half day rafting trip on the Colorado below the dam.

For Monument Valley, one night is enough unless you are going to visit the neighboring parks - Navajo National Monument or Canyon de Chelly. Then, you could stay in Kayenta as a base from which to explore. The guided ranger hike to the Betatakin Ruins is very memorable if you are in shape to do it.

You shouldn't have to sleep in your car (unless to keep warm) if you get the campground book I recommended. It will give you alternative places to camp if the National Parks sites are full. For instance, at Bryce, there are National Forest campgrounds nearby and there is the Kodachrome Basin State Park which is about a half hour away and has a beautiful campground with hot showers. Try to avoid the RV campgrounds that are just outside the park.

Speaking of Bryce, I'm not sure what your actual itinerary is but the road from Bryce to Torrey, Utah on Hwy 12 is one of the most spectacular drives in the US. I'm not sure if you are going this way but it is one of the highlights of the region.

The weather forecast looks pretty good for next week in that area. I'm sure you will have a great trip.

By the way, the best map for this region is AAA's "Indian Country". If you are a member of the AA in the UK, you can get free maps and guide books at any AAA office in Vegas or elsewhere on your travels.
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