Must see spots and hikes in Utah

Old Mar 15th, 2016, 07:53 AM
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Must see spots and hikes in Utah

We are traveling to Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. It will be myself, my husband and 7 year old son.
What are the must see spots and favorite hikes in each park? Hikes under 5 miles are preferred, but we're open! Thank you!
jj1206 is offline  
Old Mar 15th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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Start here:
BigRuss is offline  
Old Mar 15th, 2016, 08:49 AM
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Also suggest viewing these books. Then, when you have a basic plan, it would be more productive to submit suggestions.
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5. Primarily a driving touring guide covering all of Utah:
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RVvagabond is offline  
Old Mar 15th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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For Zion I would put Scout's lookout on the must try list of hikes. It may be too much vertical for a 7y/o, or Mom/Dad, but the views halfway up Zion canyon looking both down into the valley as well as up to Angel's Landing & Observation point are amazing.

I would also put a bottoms up Narrows hike as a must do. You only need to go as far as you want, but at a minimum 2-3 bends of the river past the end of the paved walkway. Just getting away from the crowds, to where the river is confined between the walls of the slot canyon is sufficient. The experience is about hiking in the river with old sneakers & a wooden walking stick, having fun.

For Bryce, definitely hike the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop trail to get down among the hoodoos. I see a lot of kids eyeing the rocks as playground equipment or something to try to tip over (ie acting like 7yr olds) so if your son is rambunctious in that way you'll need to be a watchful parent.

Also be sure to get to the far end of the park road and hike among the ancient pines.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 10:23 AM
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For Arches there are several hikes that are quite easy and also have interesting rock formations to see. The Windows, Turret Arch, Sand Dune Arch, Balanced rock are all really walks. Pine Tree Arch, and Landscape Arch are pretty easy hikes.

Delicate Arch hike is awesome, and we did it in October and we're past 70yo geezers, but I would not rank it as easy. We live at sea level and the hike starts at about 4300 feet above that and increases in elevation 430 feet. That is up and then back down a 43 story building in my book. The first part of the trail is a nice wide path and fairly flat. Then you get to the slick rock and are really going up we stopped often to "catch a breath" and have some water. Then you get to the place where it is about 3 feet wide along a cliff edge with no railing and people going the other direction who are clinging to the wall so you have to go on the outside to get around them. I would hang onto the 7 yo in this part and cling to the wall here. Then you come around to a beautiful, open, fairly flat area and finally see the arch - awesome.

In Canyonlands Island in the Sky District I would definitely do the canyon overlook hike, and Mesa Arch hike both are pretty easy, not much elevation change. Upheaval Dome hike has some elevation gain and an interesting view of the dome.

If you get to Canyonlands Needles District, do the Cowboy Camp/Cave Spring hike.

Always drink about 3 times as much water as you think you need.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 10:39 AM
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I have just finished planning an upcoming hiking trip to Zion and Bryce. The two guides that were most useful to me in choosing which hikes we would most enjoy were the "Lonely Planet Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks" and "Moon Handbook Zion and Bryce". These guides described the hikes in good detail--length, elevation change, location in the park, scenic landmarks,etc. I found both of these at my local library.

Another good resource is the NPS website for each of those parks. You can not only find info on the hikes but also info on special ranger programs and activities for kids.The websites for Zion and Bryce are:
longhorn55 is offline  
Old Mar 15th, 2016, 05:30 PM
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Wow, thank you all! I have a lot of reading to do and then I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 08:10 PM
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If you click on my user name, you will see trip reports for traveling with kids to all of the places you mentioned. (we live in Utah so we can do these places as weekend road trips)
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 10:51 AM
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My favorite hike in Arches was out to Delicate Arch. It is one of my favorite Earth Caches.
Reading the recent logs, someone went out on New Years Day.
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 04:19 AM
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Your trip sounds like a great one - we love all of the places you are visiting. As many have mentioned, the Narrows might be a good one for Zion. There are many, many short hikes you can do from the various shuttle stops in that park. Probably the greatest hike I have ever done is Angel's Landing but I would not attempt it with a 7 year old. Weeping Rock is an easy walk that your son might enjoy. In Bryce, hiking Queen's Garden is a special experience. But I don't think it is a place you HAVE to hike that much. We are very into hiking and do it all the time - but Bryce is the one park I am happy just sitting on the rim and soaking in the views. it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. If you can - I suggest staying in the park. In October, we stayed at one of the park cabins and could walk to the rim in under two minutes. You can't beat that!!

Capitol Reef is a park many overlook but they shouldn't. It is the least visited of Utah's five national parks and you can really get away from the crowds here. Make sure to take some time to walk around the working orchards. You can pick and eat fruit for free while inside it and you can take a bag of fruit out for a very nominal fee. Your son (and you) might enjoy picking his own apples or pears - my husband and I had a blast doing this.

In Arches - Delicate Arch at sunset really is the must see. You won't be alone (not by a long shot) but if you get there early and grab a place to sit you can watch the sunset at this classic location. It will be very memorable. Also consider the hike to Landscape Arch (short spurs along this trail to other worthwhile arches). Many places in Arches can be seen without long hikes - Double Arch, balanced rock, sand dune arch. I just suggest driving the main park road and stopping at all the stops.

Canyonlands - one short hike that I wouldn't skip is Aztec Butte (2 miles round trip). It is an easy walk and ends up at an ancient Native American granary. It is a really neat walk through pretty scenery. I love this little hike and the history of the place. Another short one - really more like a stroll (.5 miles each way) is to Mesa Arch. This is a pretty spot and extremely easy to get to. When seeing Canyonlands, you might want to visit Deadhorse Point State park which isn't far off.
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 12:17 PM
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Here are some of our TOP OUTDOOR ADVENTURES in UTAH!
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 01:31 PM
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The one thing we noticed about Arches was how hot it was, and we went in early October. That affected the hiking difficulty a lot. I don't know when you are going, but if it is summer, be aware.

In Bryce, we also loved Queen's Garden. Just amazing.
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Old Mar 18th, 2016, 04:41 AM
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In Zion, be sure to hike Canyon Overlook trail located just outside of the tunnel as you drive out the east entrance toward Bryce. It's a pretty short hike but very fun and highly scenic. If you're lucky, maybe you'll see some desert bighorn sheep roaming around.

Hiking in Bryce Canyon is magical! Queens Garden is less than 2 mi and is beautiful. You could also hike down into Wall Street (if its reopened by then)- its a fun and interesting section of the Navajo Trail - and then hike back up. Just be sure to take some time to get into the canyon among the hoodoos.

I am a big fan of Capitol Reef - the bright colors, interesting historical and geological features, and lack of crowds make it unique. There is a nice hike to Hickman Bridge that's short and enjoyable. We also love Cohab Canyon. Be sure to check out the historic orchards and the petroglyphs - talk to the rangers at the visitors center, and do the scenic drive.

I hope that your itinerary has you driving Scenic Route 12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef - there are lots of incredible vistas and overlooks along the way.

Arches has many short walks of interest. The Delicate Arch hike is usually busy with people but is an iconic hike and fun. Its especially fun to do at sunset but you'll need flashlights to hike out. This is a very scenic park but it gets very crowded. Park Avenue is a short but fun hike too.

You will truly enjoy your trip - be sure to ask questions of the many helpful folks on this forum. We love the southwest!
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Old Mar 21st, 2016, 06:10 AM
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Thank you all! We're leaving tomorrow and i'm feeling much more confident in our itinerary. I may ask more question as we're out there.
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Old May 20th, 2016, 09:25 AM
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Super helpful information!!!
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