NP planning advice


Jan 22nd, 2014, 01:18 PM
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NP planning advice

Thanks to everyone for such great advice on here. I recently started planning a trip to Utah and want to get your advice on the best use of our time. 2 active adults, like to hike but not sure about Angels Landing and the huge dropoffs!
We are planning sometime in Sept, probably will go after Labor Day. Xtra vaca day would be nice but probably not worth the traffic. Leave from Portland OR. Drive through Boise, overnight somewhere around Salt Lake City maybe, then head into Zion (16 hr drive so most likely won't drive straight through). Once arriving we have 8 nights, could possibly add 1-2 more.
3 nights Zion Springdale, liking Desert Pearl
2 nights Bryce
Drive up Hwy 12, catch Goblin Valley along the way to Moab
3 nights Moab, Arches NP Hike and Bike maybe

Is this realistic? What am I missing? Should we go to Page and see Antelope Canyon? Is Canyonlands a day visit or just stay around Arches? I'm reading through hike suggestions for all the parkes and looking at pics now, so excited! Thank you.
eroz is offline  
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:11 PM
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The more nights you can add the better.

There's a lot of different things you could add, but I wouldn't go all the way to Antelope Canyon since it is really quite a ways out of the way based on the rest of your itinerary. IF you were going to add it, I'd say you would need to drop the Hwy 12/Goblin Valley idea and go the other (longer) route from Brcye to Page and then to Moab. And you would probably need to drop one night from Bryce (or add one night to your trip) to make that work - keeping in mind that even then you're bypassing a lot of stuff to keep to your schedule.

I don't know what your schedule looks like, but I would think if you left home on Saturday of Labor Day weekend it would be ideal. You would miss all the Friday afternoon traffic, and would arrive at Zion late on Sunday (again, missing all the traffic). The park would be busy but would clear out pretty significantly by Monday evening.

But in any case, if you can add 1 or 2 nights then absolutely do it. You don't really need 2 nights at Bryce, particularly if you get there in early afternoon and leave late morning or early afternoon the next day. That gives you time to do 2 decent hikes plus see sunset and sunrise.

Coming from SLC, stop in at the Kolob Canyons section of Zion and do a hike before heading to Springdale.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:59 PM
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I would only stay one night by Bryce. And I'd visit Capitol Reef NP on your way to Goblin Valley SP.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 03:46 PM
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Sounds like a good plan.

At Zion you can also bike in the park (road bike) and nearby (mtb).

The hike to Scouts Lookout(approach to Angel's Landing) and beyond towards the West rim area makes a great day hike if you're not up for the final push to AL.

Lots of other great hikes in Zion, as well as Bryce.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 06:26 PM
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I agree with the above. Leave Saturday before Labor Day. You'll be driving mostly in areas without lots of traffic and folks with kids will be heading home to get ready for school.

I would do one day at Bryce.

Do spend some time in Canyonlands when you visit Moab.
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Jan 22nd, 2014, 08:05 PM
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Desert Pearl is really popular with families so be prepared for a kid invasion. (they will be mostly gone by Monday/Labor Day night though) There are LOTS of hotels around SLC--right off the free way. Great for a cheap, clean night.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 07:59 AM
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thanks for the Desert Pearl kid warning, maybe we'll rethink that After the long drive I was looking for something nice but more quiet. Maybe we'll even leave Friday night and get a good 6 hour head start or something...

OK, I also feel better about not squeezing in Page AZ or Antelope Cyn and will focus on these, and just have 1 night at Bryce.
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Jan 23rd, 2014, 04:56 PM
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I'll put my vote for as many days as you can squeeze in for this trip and add at least one night in Torrey to visit Capitol Reef and then the next day you would have more time to see Gobblin Valley before reaching Moab.

If you want to do some hiking in Bryce, then two nights might be better. That gives you one full day to see the park. If you can't squeeze in two at Bryce and one at Capitol Reef, then one night at Bryce will do.

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Jan 23rd, 2014, 06:06 PM
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Always as many days as you can on almost any trip. Then work with what you have. There are several worthy places between Bryce and Moab. You mentioned Goblin Valley. Depending upon the route you take there Willis Creek slot canyon, Devil's Garden Escalante (as opposed to the one in Arches), Lower Calf Creek Falls and Goblin Valley.

I agree with a previous poster about one night in Bryce. It's spectacular but very small.

Plan on getting there late in the afternoon, see evening at Sunset Point, get up very early for a spectacular sunrise at Bryce Point (other have different favorite spots) and hike down Navajo Loop and back up Queens Garden for an experience of being down in the Hoodoos.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 10:47 AM
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OK, I will check into Capital Reef area, that may be a good in between. We are now thinking we may just fly and rent a car to have more days to enjoy vs. 3-4 days just in transit. in/out of Vegas, so maybe
4 nights Zion
1 nt Torrey/Capital reef
3-4 nights Moab
1-2 nights Bryce
Circling back to Bryce since we have to get back to the airport anyway, does that make sense? Thanks everyone, super helpful advice.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 12:52 PM
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If you don't find what you want near Capitol Reef, spend a night in Green River before Moab. To cover Capitol Reef, Goblin Valley, Arches and Island in the Sky (Canyonlands) DW and I spent 6 nights at the Robbers Roost motel in Green River. It is not fancy, but is a lot cheaper than the places in Moab.
The Amtrak California Zephyr does stop in Green River but we opted to get off in SLC and rent a car there.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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I would suggest Austin's Chuckwagon in Torrey. It isn't much, but is clean. There store/deli is very good. There is a ton to see between Bryce and Moab.

I would see Devil's Garden in Escalante(not to be confused with Devil's Garden in Arches NP)
Calf Creek Falls is a good hike to one of the few waterfalls in the area. This hike doesn't have that much shade.

I like to have homemade pie at The Gifford House, which is directly in Capitol Reef. Buy your pie and eat it in the picnic area(almost always a ton of deer with you there). The picnic area is somewhat part of one of the many orhards in Cap Reef that is interesting. You are likely going to be there during Apple Season, Pick and eat as many as you like for free, must be consumed there. I think they let you take them with you for a small fee. Cap Reef has very good color and some nice hikes. Hickman Arch is a nice one. I hiked 25 miles there one weekend. The good thing about Cap Reef is there isn't many folks there, so it is a good place for solitude. It is my least favorite of Utah parks, but still worth 1-5 days.

I like Goblin Valley early morning or late evening. The sun cast some interesting shadows on the Goblins. Goblin Valley is one of my favorite Utah spots. Very unusual
Right near Goblin Valley is an awesome slot canyon called Little Wildhorse Canyon(not to be confused with Wildhorse, you won't Little Wildhorse). Little Wildhorse is in almost full shade the entire day, so it is a great hike to do, even in the heat of the day. Do not do this hike if rain is a threat.

Also near that area is Horsehoe Canyon/Great Gallery. This is what most people consider the best petroglyph/pictograph(I get them confused)in the world. Very few people see this. The hike is fairly easy, but the road there can be terrible after a recent rain. We made it fine is small rental car. This is the canyon where Aaron Ralston was found in(the hiker who amputated his own arm). He was actually in BlueJohn Canyon, but hiked out on his on in Horseshoe. This hike has very zero shade.

You mentioned Angels Landing. My family and I have been to about 35 national parks. Angels Landing and The Narrows would both be in my Top 5 hikes of all time favorites. I would even put both of those ahead of rafting the Grand Canyon. So, if your adventurous, go for it. My wife stopped at Angels Landing, it isn't for everyone, but really it isn't that bad(well ok, it is huge dropoffs and my daughter crawled on her behind for a bit on the last part).

Most people like to do Delicate Arch in the evening. I've done it then and it is great. However, I prefer it in the morning with the sun coming up over the La Sal Mountains. In the morning you will have it to yourself, at night be prepared to share it with 100+ people.
Do the entire Devil's Garden in Arches, it's great too.

I always mention This is canyoneering and is my all time favorite things I've ever done in anywhere. Safe and amazing. It is adventurous. The guides and owner are great. This is also offered in Springdale, but I have not gone with them. I'm sure it would be good there too.
If you do The Narrows, at least rent you footwear and socks from Zion Adventure Company in Springdale. You may even want a wetsuit.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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I always manage to get time zones fouled up in Arizona/Utah/Nevada. Just make sure you know what time zone and if it's in an Indian Reservation as it may be different there too.
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Jan 24th, 2014, 04:57 PM
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Is Mountain Biking on your 'bucket list?
It is is, the Goblin Valley/Temple Mountain, Red Canyon and Moab (best) should be on your agenda

Hiking Zion - Angels Landing - pant and puff. Observation point is superior and easy if entering from the east, not from the valley bottom.
Capitol Reef has an excellent overnight canyon hike.
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