More Utah/Arizona May trip questions

Old Feb 4th, 2006, 10:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 720
More Utah/Arizona May trip questions

Hi again,

Thanks to all who answered my original post under Utah/Arizona Trip???

I secured 2 of the permits to "The Wave" (Yes!!) and can now finalize things.

Here's what I have:

5/10 fly into SCL 4:00 pm, get rental car and drive toward Moab. Need car. Need lodging.

5/11,5/12,5/13 Moab to see Arches and Canyonlands. Have lodging.

5/14 Trying to find something in or near Monument Valley. Gouldings is booked.

5/15 Grand Canyon a little hiking, see sunset 5/15 and sunrise next morning. Enjoy viewpoints on the way out. Have lodging.

5/16, 5/17, 5/18 Page Balance of 16th to hike to Horseshoe Bend overlook and just whatever else grabs us. The 17th take photographers tour of Upper Antelope Canyon.
The 18th most of day will be spent hiking to "The Wave" and in that general area. Need lodging.

5/19 head to Bryce with whatever stops along the way grab us. Check out Fairyland area in Bryce. Overnight in Bryce cabin.

5/20, 5/21 Torrey. Sunrise Bryce then head out fairly early for Torrey. Want to stop and hike to Calf Creek Falls on the way if there is time. Otherwise we'll backtrack and do it the next day. See as much of Capitol Reef as possible. Need lodging.

5/22 Additional time in CR then head for Salt Lake City where we'll overnight. Want to see Temple Square at night. Need lodging.

5/23 9:00 am flight back to Pensacola

I know that's a lot in the time we have, but we get up and out before dawn and don't hit bed until after the sun is down.

I still have some questions.

1. In May are we likely to be able to find a place to stay somewhere between SCL and Moab on that first night or should I try to estimate how far we'll feel like driving and book something now?

2.. I was reading about some of the interesting things to see near Kanab and wondered if we should consider spending the night of the 18th in Kanab since to get to the trail head for "The Wave" we have to go about 34 miles west of Page on HWY 89, so we're almost halfway to Kanab anyway. This would also cut our driving time to Bryce the next day. Opinions?

3. Any ideas on a good place convenient to the airport in SLC to spend the night of the 22nd so we don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and/or fight morning traffic to return the car and make our flight?

Have many, many suggestions for trails, places to eat, lodging, etc. but I'm always open to hearing my fellow fodorites favorites.

Thanks so much for your help. This is absolutely the best travel site and most giving, sharing bunch of travelers a person could hope for.


Floridafran is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2006, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 36
Your trip sounds like a LOT of driving. You could fly into Grand Junction to get to Arches NP faster. That is way easier than driving from SLC. Utahís roads are great, but on some of the highways you have to slow down to 25 when you go thru small towns. And it can be mountainous two lane driving in areas. Stay on the interstates if you are pressed for time. Northern Arizonaís roads are NOT great on 160 and 89. The roads there are poorly maintained in the Indian Nation, and the surfaces are wavy like a roller coaster in areas. It will take at least a day just to drive to the South Rim from Mexican Hat.
Iím assuming that you are staying at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon? The road into the North Rim opens around May 15th depending on the road clearing of snow.

If this was my trip I would skip the South Rim and just do Page and the Wave. The Wave is a all day hike with some rock scrambling. It is very Big with the landscape photographers. You need GPS and a good map in the backcountry. However, a lot of people have gone to the Wave now, so the trail is probably well marked by the BLM. Most people car camp at White Horse Campground below the ranger station when they go. A lot of people car camp on the road into the Wave - ďCoyote Wash roadĒ which is free BLM land. Not much lodging in the area, except Kanab.

Also, when you go to Bryce, go straight up Cottonwood Creek Rd, which is the new Grand Staircase Escalante area that Clinton made in the 90s. The road is gravel now. If you are a photographer there are some really wild rock formations to shoot. Itís well worth the drive. Have lunch at Grosvenor Arch or Kodachrome Basin State Park. The road is the back door way to Bryce. And Calf Creek is a great place to see off the 12. I have not been in years, but the trail to the falls is one of the best. Soft sand the whole way. You really donít need boots.
Capitol Reef takes only a couple of hours to see. There are a few short main trails and also the Fruita Mormon homesteads which are interesting. Again, the park is popular with photographers.

If you have time, check out Leeís Ferry/Marble Canyon area below Page. You can stop at the Marble Canyon visitor area and walk the old bridge that goes across the Colorado river. And you can get your feet wet in the Colorado river at Leeís Ferry. The area is big with the fly fisherman. There is a real nice hike down Cathedral Canyon Trail, which is a slot canyon that goes down to the Colorado River. Itís about a 2 hour round trip hike that is not that technical. Also, the Paria Canyon dumps into the Colorado at Leeís Ferry. You can hike up it and take photos of the old homestead, cemetery, buildings, and corrals. There are a LOT of interesting things to photograph here.

There are four main hikes to do at Arches. The one that has the least people on it is Park Avenue. However, you need two cars to do it , that is why itís not crowded. You can walk half of it and turn back, or walk the whole trail and turn around.
Delicate Arch and the Windows areas are VERY crowded. Hike on weekdays only if you can.

Canyonlands has great overviews of the rivers. Checkout Dead Horse Point State Park.
Also, when you head for Monument Valley you might want to drive the lower entrance road (211)to Canyonlands. It will take a half day, but it is totally different from the northern section of the park. Has better rock formations and hiking.

Moab will have the best restaurants on your trip, except for SLC. Try the two popular brewpubs there. Good bars are hard to find in Utah, due to the restrictions on booze.

Here is my web site with a great map of Arches NP.

Have fun and donít drive to much.
mapper is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2006, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,598
Hi Florida,

I live in Utah and go down to Moab at least once a year. It's a 4 - 4 1/2 hour drive from the airport taking the Hwy 6 route through Spanish Fork Canyon to Price.

There are a couple chain hotels in Price. Nothing special. After that there is nothing until Green River where there are several cheap chain hotels (Motel 6, Super 8, and some nicer). Once to Green River, you are only 45 minutes to Moab.

There are hotels very near the SLC Intl Airport, but many downtown are much nicer. Downtown to airport is only 15 minutes max even in morning traffic. Our airport is one of the easiest you'll ever use.

I disagree that it takes only a couple hours to see Capital Reef. There are many medium to longer hikes there that are really great. One not too long and very worthwhile is Hickman Bridge. Also, be sure to take the riverside walk to see the petroglyphs (rock art).

Definitely do the Calf Creek hike, but I recommend starting very eary in the morning. It's extremely popular and gets crowded and the parking lot can be completely full very early. I'd say start hiking by 9am for max enjoyment.

There is a very nice B&B in Torrey, The Sky Ridge. Other than that there are several motels.

One very nice lodging option if you had time to stay in Boulder, is the Boulder Mountain Lodge. Excellent restaurant, Hell's Backbone Grill, reservations required even for lunch.

Have fun!
Dayle is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2006, 08:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,059
I agree with Dayle, there is no need to stay close to the airport. Stay in downtown Salt Lake the night before you leave.
BarbaraS is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2006, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 442
Having done the "Wave" twice I can assure you there is no "trail" to it. Nor is it marked in anyway. Let's leave it that way. The map BLM suppled you with the permit is of little use. I highly recommend getting a copy of Robert Hitchman's publication issue #85 The South Coyote Buttes available from Photograph America 415-898-3736 or
Start out early, carry lots of water and sun protection and check your surroundings often. If you are staying out to get the good light on the 2nd wave be sure to bring a flashlight to get back with.
Photodog is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 720
Mapper, Dayle, BarbaraS, and Photodog,

Thanks to each of you for your input.

Mapper, the tickets to SLC are in-hand so that's not changable. I've been to your map site and found it very helpful. Thanks.

Dayle, thanks for the heads-up on going to Calf Creek Falls early in the am. Since we won't be leaving Bryce until after the sunrise we may need to plan Calf Creek for early the next morning.

How is the driving on HWY 6?

Dayle and Barbara, I'll check into hotels downtown. Any suggestions?

Photodog, you're correct about the "Wave" and lack of a trail. We have GPS coordinates for each of the "major waypoints" but I think it would be wise to get Hitchman's publication as well. Do you have any other photo tips? Thanks for the reminder to take a flashlight. We always each have one since we routinely stay out until after sunset but it doesn't hurt to have that idea reinforced.

By the way, as a hint to how popular the Wave has become. I secured my 2 permits at exactly noon on February 1st as soon as the calendar came up for availability. When I was able to get back to my computer 3 hours later, not a single pass was left for the entire month of May.

Thanks again for the help and any other suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Floridafran is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2006, 08:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,059
If you want to splurge the Grand America is suppose to be fabulous. The Hotel Monaco would be a good choice, eat at Bambura for dinner. There's a couple of nice Marriotts downtown.
BarbaraS is offline  
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