Please help me cut down my trip

Old Feb 20th, 2013, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
I don't think Great Sand Dunes is a 2day/night stop. Also, you aren't really spending much time in Capitol Reef, so just continue on to Bryce for that night.

I think you need to step back and think about what's really important on this trip. Take a couple days and just mull it over and simplify, you're making this too complicated.

Drive from Denver and camp 3 nights in the Black Hills. Take a day trip to Badlands instead of an overnight, it will simplify your life not having to take down and set up camp in another location.

Or you could skip Badlands completely as InSandy suggested, that and cutting a day from Sand Dunes gets you back down to 21 days. I've been to Badlands twice, spent 5 days camping there in November and I'd definitely go back, but its not for everyone. It will be quite hot in July so keep that in mind.
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 01:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,699
I have been to (almost) all of these locations. All are beautiful and worthwhile in their own, varied, ways. However, for definite WOW factor, I wouldn't go any farther east than Denver on this trip. In fact, I'd stick with your SLC entry point and, after visiting Yellowstone and Tetons, would stay west of the Continental Divide. Last fall we did a circle tour of parks from Las Vegas via Zion, Bryce, Arches, Durango, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Page and North Rim in two weeks. The two fantastic Wyoming parks would bring you to three weeks, busy but doable.

Hope you have a great trip! Drink lots of water!
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Old Feb 20th, 2013, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,737
I'd skip both nights at the Sand Dunes since it will be HOT in August. The creek is my favorite part and it will be long gone. You can make a quick stop on your drive from Durango to Denver and walk around for a couple of hours if you want, but since you are cutting out nights, I'd start there.

Do you have a back-up for the Fruita Campground. I've wanted to stay there for years, but I've read that it can be difficult to get a campsite. So I'd spend several hours in Capitol Reef but skip the overnight and head directly to Bryce. Not saying Capitol Reef isn't worth it, but just a suggestion to take out a night.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 02:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 18
Okay. Thanks for all your firm and wise words. We made some cuts, left in other things. I think we have a plan we can stick with. Here is where we settled:
1. Arrive Denver
2. Awake Denver Hotel [7/25]
• Drive 4 hours to Lusk, WY
3. Awake Lusk Hotel
• Drive 2.5 hours to Rapid City KOA
• Custer State Park , Rushmore
4. Awake Rapid City
• Day Trip to Badlands (Pinnacle entrance)
5. Awake in Rapid City [
• Jewel Cave
• Drive 6 hours to Cody, Rodeo ?
• Hotel OR Tent @ Cody KOA
6. Awake in Cody
• Drive 2 hours to Yellowstone
• Tent @ Norris NP Camping Ground
7. Awake in Yellowstone
8. Awake in Yellowstone
9. Awake in Yellowstone
• Yellowstone/Tetons
• 1 hr Drive to Jackson, hotel
10. Awake in Jackson
• Grand Teton Mad River Tours)
• Jackson Alpine Slide?
• 6pm shootout in Jackson
11. Awake in Jackson
• 5 hours to Salt Lake City, hotel
12. Awake in Salt Lake
• Morning on lake?
• 3.75 hours to Capitol Reef
• Tent at Fruita NP Camping Ground
13. Wake up Capitol Reef
• Explore Capitol Reef
• Drive to Bryce Canyon? Or straight to Grand Canyon
14. Wake up Bryce/Grand Canyon
• Explore GC North Rim
• Tent at NP Camping Ground
15. Awake Grand Canyon
• Drive 3 hours to Lake Powell
• Tour of Dam
• Tent @ Wahweap Camping Ground or Lone Rock Beac
16. Awake in Lake Powell
• Rent Boat
17. Awake in Lake Powell [8/9]
• Drive 5 hours to Moab
• Explore Canyonlands, tent at Willow Flat or Squaw Flat
18. Awake in Canyonlands [8/10]
• Explore Canyonlands – boating?
• Head to Arches, Tent @ Devils Garden NP Campground in Arches
19. Awake in Arches [8/11]
• Explore Arches
20. Awake in Arches [8/12]
• Drive 5+ hours to Denver
• Hotel TBD
21. Awake in Denver
• Fly home

Thanks for all your help!!!
saveme is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2013, 07:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 441
Yup, Looks like a plan that will work and still get in most of what you were hoping to.

In Lusk we loved our stay at the Covered Wagon Inn. I was very surprised to get something that nice in a little town in the middle of nowhere like Lusk. Highly recommended.

On your day 11 when you have stay in SLC but the next morning see the lake. I'm assuming you mean the Great Salt Lake. Really the best place to see this would be from Antelope Island which is an hour north of SLC. So I have a couple ideas for you there.

First you could come south from Jackson via 89 to Montpelier and Bear Lake then through Logan to Brigham City where you'd meet up with I-15. This is a beautiful drive and would be the way I would go if I wanted to enjoy the drive. Since you will be leaving Jackson in the morning you could easily stop off and see the lake that afternoon before arriving in SLC. (exit is near Layton/Syracuse). And I would suggest staying in the south end of the Salt Lake Valley like Sandy, so you wouldn't have as much morning traffic to deal with through town. (though don't arrive in town between 4 and 6pm or you'd have evening traffic to deal with.)

Then the next morning (day 12) just drive straight to Capitol Reef, where you could enjoy the afternoon seeing the park (and hoping to get there in time to get a spot at the Fruita campground).

Then on Day 13 you would be able to enjoy the drive south along fabulous hwy 12 and spend some time at Bryce before heading to Grand Canyon. I think you really need to be at the Grand Canyon those two nights to get the most from your visit there. I love the North Rim campground. Look for the Kaibab Squirrel. It would be the end to a couple very long driving days but you would have a chance to breath for a night before packing up and moving again.

Also, Squaw Flat campground is in the southern (Needles) portion of Canyonlands. This is a great section to visit but there is certainly no boating there. If you are serious about taking a raft trip on the Colorado then you'll want to be at a place in Moab. Even Willow Flat CG (being in the northern section- Island in the Sky) is out of the way for a river trip. Since you'll have done the scenic float in Jackson I'm not sure another raft trip is what you want. Maybe try a canyoneering trip, or do a biking trail. Anyway. I'd probably skip the boating and stay at Squaw Flat, and explore Needles section on day 18 before heading up to Arches. But if you want to do something else (like boat or bike or canyoneer) then I'd skip the Needles section and just drive into Moab and stay at one of the commercial sites there. There are some BLM campsites along the river or in the Sand Flats area that would be okay as well.

And last, be sure to take the hwy 128 out of Moab back to Denver. Beautiful drive, and great for a last impression before your trip is over.
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Old Mar 1st, 2013, 08:14 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 18
InSandy -- those all sound like TERRIFIC suggestions. Thank you!
saveme is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2013, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 441
You are welcome. It will be a trip to remember for sure.
InSandy is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 04:31 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,471
I'd do it differently...

I'd fly into Vegas. Visit Hoover Dam. Drive to Grand Canyon (north rim). Head to the parks in southern Utah. Work my way north. Hit Jackson Hole, yellowstone, Devil's Tower, Badlands (I LOVE them). Then continue south and fly home from Denver.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2013, 09:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,905
saveme,Sounds like a great trip. Do check with the site for the National parks you want to camp in and see if you can reserve a spot now. Do get a National Park pass, it is $80 and is good for a year for all parks for a year.
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