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Mini Grand Circle trip this October - Southwest NPS - any advice

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Sep 9th, 2011, 03:08 PM
  #1
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Mini Grand Circle trip this October - Southwest NPS - any advice

We plan to visit the National Parks in the Southwest this October but only have five nights. We will have stayed in LAS for a few nights before a couple of our party join us and we begin. The current plan

Day 1 - morning drive to Grand Canyon South Rim - best place to catch sunset? - overnight in the park by GC Village
Day 2 - Lookouts via Desert View? enroute to drive to Page, AZ and overnight Lake Powell - arrive before sunset
Day 3 - Antelope Canyon, Fishing or Lake Powell boat tour - overnight Lake Powell
Day 4 - on to Bryce Canyon in the morning - overnight in the park - new moon so hopefully some stargazing
Day 5 - Zion National Park - overnight in the park
Day 6 - explore Zion in morning/early afternoon before drive to LAS with one more night before next day afternoon flight

We have mixed ability in our party of four so hiking would be light...interested in scenic viewing, photography and perhaps some fishing if the opportunity arises. Looking for great view points, dining recommendations and itinerary suggestions.
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Sep 9th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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Your itinerary looks really good to me. I wouldn't change anything.

Really any overlook at the Grand Canyon is good for sunset. There is a sunset point, but you have to take the free shuttle bus there and after sunset it can take a while before they can bus everyone away. It's also pretty crowded at this point even in October!

Lake Powell will be your best fishing spot if you decide to go fishing. The best time to view Upper Antelope Slots Canyon is mid day when the light comes into the canyon.

What I love about the shuttle buses at the Grand Canyon is you can take one to a point from Grand Canyon Village and then walk as far as you want along the rim and then pick up another shuttle bus to go farther or return. I love walking along the rim.

This also works for Bryce between Sunset and Sunrise Points. In Zion the Riverside Walk is an easy favorite. You might also check out Weeping Rock and Lower Emerald Pools.

You won't have any problem finding scenic views or places to take pictures!

Utahtea
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Sep 9th, 2011, 06:00 PM
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Grand Canyon South Rim - best place to catch sunset?

Hopi Point and Mather Point are the two classics since they look upstream for about 20 miles and you get a great sense of the scope of the canyon at sunset ... Mather is easier to get to and you can walk along the rim trail to get away from the mobs if the actual overlook is too crowded.

I'd suggest checking out both earlier in the afternoon when you first arrive (Hopi is on the West Rim drive, Mather near where you first come in to the park) and pick the one that appeals to you.
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Sep 10th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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Since you are limited on your hiking, you might want to ride a horse in Bryce. Getting down in the canyon really is nice. The horses pretty much do the Peek A Boo Trail. From my experience in Bryce-The 2 hour ride is really about 2 hr 45 minuntes. The 4 hour ride is really about 3hrs and 15 minutes. Don't know if it is always this way, or just what I noticed while there. I did the 4 hour ride and it was very nice. I didn't complain or ask anyone about it.

We enjoyed our 2 meals in Bryce Lodge and 2 or 3 meals in Zion Lodge. I personally didn't care for the 2 meals we had at Ruby's-just ok. We really really liked The Whiptail Grill in Springdale(just outside of Zion). The spaghetti squash enchilada was really great. This is in an old gas station and it doesn't look like much, but it is very good.

We enjoy picnic lunches at the parks, so maybe do a couple of those. Bryce has a lot of places that would be great for a picnic. Springdale has a couple of grocery stores and a couple of delis that are good. The lodges will also make a box lunch for you for a picnic.

I would try for a sunrise and sunset not only at the GC but Bryce also. Sunrises tend to have far fewer people than Sunsets.
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Sep 10th, 2011, 11:49 AM
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Question regarding Antelope Canyon, is this doable on one's own or do you need a guided tour?

Same for Lake Powell fishing, rent a boat, a guide, accessible shoreline? I have been there twice before (1976 and 1984) for a boat camping (remote) and houseboating experience. Been a long time, both times with a large group, and never a land only in Page.
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Sep 10th, 2011, 07:51 PM
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Question regarding Antelope Canyon, is this doable on one's own or do you need a guided tour?

Easy to do on your own. Try to get into both upper (easy walk on flat sand, high dark walls, best mid-day) and lower (much more difficult walking with ladders and tight spots etc but more variety and good all day) if you have time.
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Sep 10th, 2011, 08:13 PM
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Unless they've changed it you can't do Upper Antelope Slots Canyon completely on your own. You can go to the gate, but you have to be driven to the entrance and go in as a group or you can hire a tour guide in Page, AZ. Lower Antelope can be done on your own, but be aware that the pictures you see with the beam of light coming in are of Upper Antelope Slots
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Sep 11th, 2011, 04:47 AM
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I was just at Antelope Canyon last month. You get to the booth at the entrance gate and they sign you up for the next available tour - there is NO option of going alone. In our case, we arrived at 11:30 and the next tour available was the 2:00. There is also an option to pre-book with a tour company that leaves from 'downtown' Page. In that case they bring you in a truck the short distance from Page. Those were also sold out for at least several hours. I don't know if October would be less busy than August but from various people I spoke with on our trip said the second half of August when we were there is actually a slower time than the fall.
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Sep 11th, 2011, 05:59 PM
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isabel, that is a long time to wait for the next tour time. It is good to know that it can be up to that long of a wait if you don't prebook.
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Sep 11th, 2011, 11:19 PM
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We did a wonderful tour of antelope canyon that you can sign up for ahead of time. We did it with Chief Tsosie 928-645-5594 -they meet at 55 Lake Powell Blvd.in Page ([email protected]). They take you there in big SUV's - smaller number of people and our guide Vere played the flute for us. She was wonderful. She also helped us in setting up pictures. I would recommend a 10:30 or 11 AM tour so you can be in there by noon. They cost the same as the other tours. Make reservations for a dinner or lunch in El Tovar at GC. It is worth the experience. We enjoyed most of our meals in the park lodges. There are no great places to dine in Page. We just did the ride into Bryce Canyon - the half day and we were quite tired afterwards. You are at higher elevations and drier climate throughout this trip - be sure to keep fully hydrated and keep salty snacks handy. Bryce is at 7 to 9 thousand ft elevation and temperatures can be quite chilly in October - it could even snow. Be sure to dress in layers.
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Sep 12th, 2011, 11:37 AM
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You want to DECREASE your salt at higher elevations not increase them. Stay away from caffeine, liquor, and cut back on your salt. If you sweat a lot, then yhou might consider more salt. Most people get to much salt anyway.
I don't really think 7,000ft is high enough to experience anything more than a little bit harder to breathe. Everyone is different, but I would be suprised if you got sick to your stomach or a headache until 10,000ft or higher. Especially if you are not really doing much hiking. Again, each person is different on this and it can happen even if you are in good shape. When I ski in Colorado, I can really feel it at about 11,000. You will be acclimated a bit by the time you get to Bryce and that will help a lot. I don't think that would be an issue.

Weather is always a possibility, but the 3 times that I have been at the last part of October we still wore shorts.
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