National Park itinerary- Utah, Wyoming

Old Mar 25th, 2015, 10:04 AM
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National Park itinerary- Utah, Wyoming

We plan to at last see some of the major NPs for our first time. We will travel toward the end of May into early June. We do not plan to hike much, and that on easier trails, (DW's knee is only good for a mile or two at a time) so we will see things mostly by car. Our plans are:

Day one; Arrive Salt Lake City - afternoon in SLC
Two; Drive to Yellowstone in AM. Arrive at lodging at West Yellowstone (already set). Remainder of day and days 3, 4, in Yellowstone
Day 5 begin in Yellowstone and drive in Grand Teton NP seeing sights along the way and ending in Jackson Hole.
Day 6 See some more of GT and drive to SLC to arrive by dark.
Days 7-8 Explore SLC and environs
Day 9 Drive to Moab, Arches and Canyonlands.( how much time to schedule in each - we would like to see both the Islands in the Sky and Needles area of Canyonlands.
Days 10-12 Arches and Canyonlands
Day 12 drive back to SLC from Canyonlands leaving late enough to arrive by nightfall for flight back on day 13.

Thoughts?
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 11:15 AM
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We took almost the same first half of your trip last August. We stayed a day longer in Yellowstone and GT, but with only a little hiking your timeframes look good. We had family in SLC so also used that as our base, but did not need 2 days to explore there. 1 day was plenty. In Utah we only saw Zion and Bryce. Zion was our favorite park overall, but lots of hiking so you could skip, but we strongly recommend Bryce. Having said that, we did not have time for Moab, Arches and the Canyonlands so I can't compare. Good luck and have a great time.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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thanks famof5 for you response - I also posted this on the Lounge since it gets more action than the US forum. Since posting, I decided to cut a day for SLC and substitute Zion and Bryce for Arches and Canyonlands. How many days did you spend in Zion and Bryce - how did you split it up?
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 11:47 AM
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I've been to all the parks you mention a couple of times and would second the vote for Zion as one of the best. It's fantastic and is good on any level: drive though, easy hiking, or really hard hiking.

Since you are looking at easy hiking the Riverside Walk and the Pa'rus Trail are perfect.

Definitely spend more time in Zion than Bryce.

I think it was a good move to switch to Zion/Bryce from Canyonlands, as the latter does not lend itself to a driving trip quite as well.

All the places you are going are truly special, you can't go wrong except you'll wish you had more time.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Zion and Bryce for Arches and Canyonlands? I probably wouldn't do it unless you have never scene Zion/Bryce.

One thing I do not enjoy about Zion is how overly crowded it has become. You can not drive yourself through the park after March 15 and are required to take shuttle busses. It is now a "Disneyland Experience".

Scenic Byway 12 is an amazing road, which you can take between Bryce and Torrey. Spend the night in Torrey.

Capitol Reef has some interesting sights if you aren't big hikers including the scenic drive, Fruita panel, & Fremont petroglyph panel very close to a turnoff from the highway and accessible.

The road between Capitol and Moab is also scenic, Moab is a cute little town. There is a driving loop inside Arches and the some of the arches are not very far on foot.

One of the nice ways to see Canyonland is to take a jetboat trip from Moab, Canyonlands by Night and Day is the big company.

You can also drive out to the viewpoints to see sunset.

And there is a brochure of interesting petroglyphs near Moab.

Personally, I think your first idea was better.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 12:56 PM
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We spent 2 days in Zion, then went 2 nights (1 full day) in North Rim of Grand Canyon, then 1 day in Bryce on our way back to SLC. Since Bryce was the end of a 2 week trip we were all exhausted and did not really hike. We did the whole place by car in about 3 hours. It was magnificent, but easy to do quickly if you aren't going to hike a lot. We highly recommend Cable Mountain Lodge near Zion. It was the nicest place we stayed by far. I would not really recommend Ruby Inn near Bryce.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 02:00 PM
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You don't seem to have enough time for both the Arches/Canyonlands area and the Zion/Bryce area so you will probably have to decided on one or the other. We've been to all the parks many times and you really can't go wrong with either combination of parks because the are both scenic & beautiful. If you think you will be coming back again then maybe save Bryce & Zion for another time when you can add the Grand Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks and fly in and out of Las Vegas.

To answer your question how much time will you need in Island in the Sky, Needles Canyonlands and Arches. Since you can't do a lot of hiking I would suggest seeing Island in the Sky district and do the Green River Overlook and the Grand View overlooks this is 85 miles round trip from Moab. Mesa Arch is only a 3/4 mile round trip hike and well worth it. Then I would drive in to Arches to see some of the park.

On the second day do the Island of the Sky district which will be about 160 miles round trip and then do some more of Arches. Arches being only 4 miles from Moab makes it easy to go in and do some of the short hikes in the early evening and stay for sunset on the red sandstone. If you add a third day to the Moab area then I'd do one park per day.

Utahtea
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 04:36 PM
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Your wife is restricted to relatively short hikes.

You can see quite a bit in Arches from your car or by doing short/easy hikes. The main thing you will miss is the hike to Delicate Arch.

In Bryce, you would probably be restricted to driving around to various overlooks and viewpoints. You wouldn't be able to hike down into the hoodoos. There's a trail at the far end of the park (no hoodoos) but it probably exceeds your wife's mileage capabilities.

So those two parks are somewhat comparable in that you can see quite a bit without hiking but you will miss out on some classic hiking.

Zion has a few easy hikes but for the most part, you will be riding the shuttle bus and wishing you could do more. I think the same holds true for Canyonlands, you will drive around (no shuttle), do some short hikes but wish you could do more difficult ones.

Utahtea's post brings up a very good point....there is a lot to see in the Zion/Bryce area. Most people fly into Vegas and spend a week or more in southern Utah.

But for Moab, most people fly into either Vegas or SLC and then make the long drive. It is out of the way. So for me, I would choose the Moab portion for this trip and save Zion/Bryce for another time when you can focus on that area exclusively and use the Vegas airport.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 06:11 PM
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There is a short accessible trail to a viewpoint looking to Delicate Arch. Many people do NOT hike to Delicate Arch, especially those with some fear of heights (like me).

A good idea to go on the NPS websites and look at some of the brochures to see what can be done. Many people who are avid hikers are not necessarily aware of what can be seen by those who are not.

For example, taking your own car down Scenic Drive in Capitol Reef is probably better than sitting in a shuttle bus in Zion.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 04:20 AM
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I'm a bit perplexed. You plan to drive to Yellowstone in May when there will probably be road closures due to snow then go down to Moab? I would put Yellowstone at the very end of the trip to hope for more of the park being open.

In any case in ten days, from SLC you would be hard pressed to do what you want to do.

Perhaps:

Day 1 - Drive to Moab, do a quick drive through Arches.

Day 2 - Explore Arches with stops/short hikes at places like balanced rock, the windows, sand arch and a couple of longer hikes, probably Devil's Garden at least to Landscape Arch and either Fiery Furnace Ranger led hike or Delicate Arch.

Day 3 - Explore Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands

Day 4 - Explore Needles District of Canyonlands

Day 5 - Drive to Capitol Reef explore a bit

Day 6 - Drive to Bryce, explore see sunset

Day 7 - Explore Bryce, see sunrise hike a bit drive to Zion

Day 8 and 9 - Explore Zion

Day 10 Drive back to SLC


OR

Day 5 - Drive to Grand Teton NP

Day 6 - Explore GT

Day 7 to 9 - Drive to Yellowstone, explore Yellowstone

Day 10 - Drive back to SLC
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 06:22 AM
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How do you suggeSt they "explore" given physical limitations?
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 06:26 AM
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I thought about that too, emalloy. But looking at the NPS site, there's really very little that isn't open in late May vs. early June. Most stuff is either open by Memorial Day wknd or it doesn't open til later in June.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/ocd_locale.htm
http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm

And mlgb...yes there is a short trail to a viewpoint of Delicate Arch. That is in no way comparable to the hike to Delicate Arch. They will still miss out on the premier hike in Arches even if they do that short accessible trail.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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WhereAreWe, there can be road closures in Yellowstone at any time due to snow (and also road repair). We meant with snow in late June, so I would opt for option 1 if they can't make for a later trip UNLESS there is very little snow so you can drive from south to north through the park and visit most of the sites at pull offs.

As with any loop, of course it could be done in either direction.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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Yeah, I totally agree with on that. I have suggested many times that people reverse their loops for various reasons. I just figured with this trip it might not work....it's hard to get lodging in Yellowstone just 2 months away and the scheduled dates for road/facilities opening don't seem to give any advantage to switching the order.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 02:24 PM
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We did this Utah trip this past year. We do not hike so much of our trip was driving. We loved driving Capital Reef, the views were awesome and we could stop the car and walk a bit. Canyonlands was not a favorite because we do not hike, was not a place to just stop and take a few minutes to walk around, and it is 32 miles from Moab which made for a long day in the car. We enjoyed Zion, Bryce and Arches because you can walk for short bits and Zion and Bryce offers lodges for lunch which was great! Also second the recommendation above for Cable Mountain Lodge: http://www.cablemountainlodge.com/ It is right next door to a bridge that you walk across and you are in Zion National Park, where you can catch the shuttle and go anywhere in the Park you choose.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 03:27 PM
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cd, you reflect my thoughts about Capitol Reef

Revised Itinerary, changed mind again about Bryce and Zion to save them for a trip to Las Vegas sometime in the future. Trip will be toward end of May. The National Park service says that most roads in Yellowstone should be clear by then. Of course, weather is weather, so who knows for sure.

day 1 Leave BWI, arrive SLC, afternoon in SLC

day 2 Drive SLC to YNP and then remainder of day in YNP checking in at Moose Creek Inn, West Yellowstone.

day 3 YNP

day 4 YNP

day 5 Leave West Yellowstone,, drive through YNP and through GTNP arriving at Morley’s (Idaho) by dark.

day 6 GTNP, sleep at Morley’s

day 7 Leave Morley’s to SLC via GTNP arriving SLC by dark

day 8 SLC and environs

day 9 SLC to Moab, afternoon in Arches and sunset at Arches, sleeping in Moab

day 10 Arches and Canyonlands Sleeping in Moab

day 11 Canyonlands – 3 hour river trip river trip and explore. Sleeping in Moab

day 12 Moab to SLC (alternative, Canyonlands to Capitol Reef NP sleeping there) - prefer alternative

day 13 Day either in SLC or alternative day in Capitol Reef, arriving in SLC by dark (alternative, SLC to BWI)

day 14 SLC to BWI

Doing this trip somewhat on a budget because we have a few more trips this year. Sleeping in the parks is preferable, but expensive.

Although DW can walk up to 2 miles at a time, she can do it several times a day, we will stay on easier trails however and see as much as we can by car.

Suggestions?
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 05:49 PM
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Why are you staying in Idaho? Are you thinking you will drive back and forth over Teton Pass?! Or through Hoback jct. to visit Gtnp? Not a good plan. Explain?
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 06:21 PM
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Dayle, I was wondering about that too. I spoke with the owners of where I plan to stay in Idaho and am told it is about a 45 minute scenic drive and their daughter commutes there. That is acceptable. Besides, I love mountain driving - drove alpine passes and the like and enjoy it.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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I'm wondering about that too. The valley is so absolutely gorgeous I can't imagine NOT wanting to stay there during a visit to GTNP.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 03:18 AM
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The owners are just doing a sales job on you. Why would you want to waste 2 hours every day doing a commute on your too short vacation? Believe me , the people who live on the Idaho side of the Tetons and commute to Jackson are doing it for financial reasons not for the beautiful drive. It's a nice drive but long and slow and mostly thru forest without a lot of scenic vistas. I've done it once when I was considering moving to Jackson and never bothered since.

Do not stay in Driggs or Grand Targhee in a condo. The Idaho side is developing , but is still mostly farms. Jackson Hole is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Don't miss a minute . You want to be in the Jackson Hole area and for your sake I really really hope you take my advice.
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