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Please help with my itinerary: Arches, Torrey, Bryce section

Please help with my itinerary: Arches, Torrey, Bryce section

Old Nov 21st, 2016, 03:11 AM
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Please help with my itinerary: Arches, Torrey, Bryce section

I'm planning a two week trip through the southwest this June. I've always gotten great help here. I'm struggling with the second half of my trip with regards to time needed/routes.

Day 1 Fly to Las Vegas
Day 2 Hoover Dam Tour, Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim
Day 3 Grand Canyon Bike Tour Grand Canyon South Rim
Day 4 Drive to Page Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Point Monument Valley
Day 5 Jeep Tour, Drive to Moab Stay in Moab
Day 6 Arches Moab
Day 7 Arches/Canyonlands Moab
Day 8 Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef?? Torrey??
Day 9 Escalante Lower Calf Creek Falls? Bryce
Day 10 Bryce Bryce
Day 11 Zion Springdale
Day 12 Zion Hike Narrows Springdale
Day 13 Zion Springdale
Day 14 Fly Home

The trouble starts on Day 8. I thought we'd leave Arches early, hit Goblin Valley State Park (three kids, ages 13, 13, 14) - I thought it would be a fun stop to hang with the hoodoos/formations for a couple of hours. Then, my original plan was to hit Capitol Reef, and spend the night in Torrey, before taking scary Route 12 down to Bryce, perhaps stopping at Calf Creek Falls. OR, we could hit Goblin Valley State Park, and drive around on the highway, bypassing Route 12, and go directly to Bryce? Do you think cutting out Route 12 would be a huge mistake? I do feel like that leaves me with an extra day at the end - but not enough time to add the North Rim of the GC in. Any thoughts for me?
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Old Nov 21st, 2016, 06:04 AM
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Night of day 1 stay at the Hoover Dam Lodge 3 miles from Hoover Dam (not in LV).
Route 12 depends somewhat on the weather. If it is clear and nice, go for it. On the way back from Zion to Las Vegas, stop to see Valley of Fire State Park.
If you are back in Las Vegas early enough, the kids might want to see the Fremont Street Experience and the 62+ lb. gold nugget at the Golden Nugget. The all you can eat buffet is good at the the Nugget as well.
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Old Nov 21st, 2016, 08:58 AM
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I gather you have never been to this area before. You are taking on a great distance. My first recommendation is to make this two trips. You do not have time to enjoy any of the beauty of any places you are going. Weather is very variable in some of these areas. Take flash flood warnings seriously.

If you are flying a short distance, going to Hoover Dam is possible the same day, as well as, depending on your stamina, driving to Grand Canyon. If your family is young, or you are flying a long distance, you are taking on too much. Slow it down. Spend night one in Las Vegas or Henderson which puts you closer to Hoover Dam. Day 2 Go see Hoover Dam and drive to Grand Canyon. That will still get you to Grand Canyon in the evening. The Grand Canyon is a couple of hours off the highway still, and there used to be caverns that you could visit. Be sure you pack sandwiches, and have a full tank of gas, as there are few places to stop on the way. One day at the Grand Canyon if enough if all you want to do is go to the rim, take pictures and visit the visitor center. So that would be Day 3, the Grand Canyon. Day 4, again, pack sandwichs, carry water and be sure to have a full tank of gas, check your tires. It is a long, beautiful isolated trip from the Grand Canyon to Moab. Driving to Monument Valley is enough for day 5, with children. Take day 6 for your jeep tour. Day 7 go to Moab, and you can still see Arches, as it is just at the end of the town of Moab. Go back the next day to see Arches. It is, in my opinion, the most incredible, breathtaking park. Drive to the back of the park and work forward the second day ( Day 8), since everyone stops at the beginning of the park, you will see more with less crowds. I highly recommend seeing Canyonlands while you are there and Horseshoe National Park. Now, you are very far from Las Vegas. Account for weather changes and the fact you need to catch a plane home. As you said it is at Day 8 your plans break down. I don't recommend Capital Reef and HWy 12, UNLESS you are a nerves of steel, work well under pressure traveler, as you put yourself very far, Utah HWY 12 is VERY isolated. It is, beautiful, but, not always passable due to weather, even in summer. It is very windy also. Frankly, unless your kids and your entire family are highly adventuresome, take Hwy 70 to Hwy 15, see the Lewis and Clark Museum, and make that day 9. If you can stay in a hotel by Bryce that night, the night of day 9. Day 10 go see Bryce and drive to Springdale. This is still, an amazingly fast trip. Day 11, 12 go see Zion. Day 13 drive back to Las Vegas. Day 14 fly home. Notice, I skipped Capital Reef, and Torrey, and Goblin Park. Capital Reef is so far, with not alot to see unless you have time to hike. My favorite thing there was the night sky. Absoutely brillant. Very few choices for restaurants. I too had wanted to see Goblin Park,by the time we got to the exit for the entrance to the park, we had had enough driving, and it is at least another hour or more off the HWY, plus return time, and the time in the park, and then you come back to the HWY and you are in the middle of nowhere. It is you and the rattlesnakes on the road. The scenery was volcanic like. Layers of ash. Hope this helps. Have fun.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2016, 04:23 AM
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I have to respectfully disagree with some of the above post. Highway 12 is not some unreasonable adventure that the average family would struggle with. It is just a road - a beautiful road that I would make all efforts to include in your trip. Goblin Valley is one of our favorite places out of all the stops you are going to make and I would definitely not cut it out. I am always encouraging people to do less on their trips but you have a decent amount of time. I think your plan is overall very good but could use a little bit of small tweaking. Here are my tips:

If you can manage it, an overnight in Monument Valley would be great. We absolutely love it there and would prefer that to the night in Page (alternatively you could cut 1 night from Bryce). The View Hotel in Monument Valley is maybe my favorite place I have ever stayed and you won't wonder how it got it's name!

On Day 8, I would get an early start and head to Goblin Valley. This is an underrated place that is always a highlight. As you mention, you don't need a ton of time but it is a great stop. Continue on to Torrey and see whatever you are able to see that afternoon. Last year, we did a very similar to trip to what you proposed and we expected Capitol Reef to be our least favorite part. It ended up being a real highlight. It is the least visited of Utah's five national parks and it is beautiful. It has a ton of fun things to do as well. Unfortunately, you won't have a ton of time for the park but you can at least get a peak. Check out some of the viewpoints along the scenic drive, get pie at the pie shop, and if you have time perhaps take the short hike to Cassidy Arch. Don't miss the excellent petroglyphs which are right by the road and don't take long at all to see if you are in a bit of a hurry.

Day 9, another early start would be good here so you can take your time enjoying Highway 12 . The hike to Calf Creek falls is really beautiful but took us much longer than we expected. You might have to give it a pass so you can enjoy the rest of the sites along the way and get to Bryce in time to check it out. Try to get a room in Bryce for this night - the cabins in the park are great and steps away from the rim. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to be at an overlook soaking in the views.

Day 10 - all day for Bryce (unless you add a night to Monument Valley earlier in the trip and shorten Bryce to only 1 night).

Day 11 - Head to Zion.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 03:03 AM
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I fully agree with db6040's great advice. You have put together a great itinerary and have enough time to enjoy all of these incredible places. Do not skip Route 12 - it is not scary and it is one of the most beautiful roads in the country. Your kids will love Goblin Valley State Park - spend a few hours there and head to Capitol Reef. It is a truly spectacular park - uncrowded, great historical and geological features; a real gem and one of my favorites. You won't regret it. The short hike to Hickman Bridge is lots of fun. Austin's Chuckwagon is a great place to stay in Torrey - clean, comfortable, nice pool and hottub, laundry and nice general store on site. Highly recommended.

Monument Valley is beautiful and well worth a drive through the Valley. Is your Jeep Tour on day 5 in MV? You can do the tour through Monument Valley on your own and instead get an early start toward Moab.

Be sure to hike down into Bryce Canyon - it is a so incredibly beautiful among the hoodoo's. If you can't find lodging in the park, I'm sure the kids will enjoy all the amenities at Ruby's. For Zion, I'd suggest getting a room in Springdale and taking the wonderful shuttle into the park. So easy and convenient. You have a wonderful trip planned. You'll love it!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 03:53 AM
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I'll agree with sharondi and db6040, your plan is good. On day 8 if you are staying in/near Moab, the fast way to Goblin is up 191 to 70 then down 24.

I do hope you have your lodging set at this point. If not, get that done asap. Many folks make reservations a year in advance, so if you find there is no in park lodging, make reservations near by and look for cancellations. I prefer to be in park, but I don't usually travel with kids and the in park lodging is basic. They have no pool and often limited WIFI so most teens would like a few days with those at least.

Keep a cooler filled with drinks, snacks, lunchables, etc. Fill your gas tank any time it gets to half full and you see a station. Try to drive in the daylight, not after sunset.

Have a fantastic trip!!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 04:54 AM
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Thank you all so, so much! I've been rewriting the last part of the trip for days - and then I have to remind myself that it's ALL good and amazing - and it will be fine. I am adding white water rafting in Moab, and my husband and kids are more excited about that than anything I really appreciate everyone's input - and I'm sure I'll have more questions as it gets closer. (I won't make any promises for a trip report, my last one got about 1/3 done, and then I went back to work, and never finished it, gulp).
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 09:06 AM
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I'm not sure why you think Rt 12 is scary when in fact it is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. Just don't drive at night because of the deer and always look out for crossing wildlife. There is always lots of road kill on this road.
I didn't care much for Arches because it was so crowded even in late May. The Disneyland of National Parks. Corona Arch right outside of Moab was much more enjoyable http://www.discovermoab.com/family_corona.htm .
Also Moab has a great Aquatic Center located next to a nice park if your hotel doesn't have a pool. I really enjoyed this.Outdoor and indoor pools. http://moabrecreation.org/Index.aspx?NID=141
Capitol Reef is the best kept secret of national parks. I would spend some time exploring here and skip Calf Creek Falls. A nice short hike is the Fremont River Trail https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...Park_Utah.html.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 12:05 PM
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One more vote for Route 12, and another vote for emalloy's route from Arches to Goblin Valley, and then on to Capitol Reef. The landscape goes from Mars to the high aspen country -- it's one of the most scenic highways in the world. I would suggest getting into Arches fairly early in the morning to avoid some of the crowds. Some of the Arches are best seen in the morning, and others are better in the evening -- I think the discovermoab.com site breaks it down for you.
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 12:44 AM
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The 'scary ' part of route 12 is known as Hogsback.
The scary part is about 1/2 mile. Really not scary.
It truly is a magnificent 'byway' road starting from Escalante to Torrey. Past Hogsback a couple of miles is the town of Boulder. Recommend visiting their (ancient) Anasazi Indian museum.

kayaker mentioned Corona Arch. This is THE exciting arc near Moab if the government has not prohibited rope jumping (government does not like fun)

db6040 recommended Cassidy Arch as do I. It is really a 'pot hole' arch best viewed from its top. Two routes: Short route is a very steep climb. Longer route is very scenic and a gradual climb. Ask at visitor center for map or download it. (Capitol Reef is one of my favorite parks ESPECIALLY Cathedral Valley (high clearance vehicle required)

Since you are traveling in June, there is time to research. These are my recommended books for this area available at Amazon:

1. Fodor's Utah: with Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef & Canyonlands National Parks About 325 pages
2. Overall touring guide of southern Utah Parks: Utah Parks Driving, Hiking and Mountain Biking. Available in Kindle (about 1,000 pages) and paper back format (about 750 pages). This book gives a time saving mile-by-mile driving guide.
3. Hiking (family): Wow Utah Canyon Country –Very well illustrated. About 440 pages.

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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for the additional responses! Vaga, your books are going on my Christmas list - I always try to get a few good books for our travels.

We're going to keep Goblin Valley and Capitol Reef (and Rt 12!) all in. I think we'll be able to make it all work.
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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I'm glad you're keeping Capitol Reef in. We loved it! And highway 12 was awesome, not scary. Hiking down among the hoodoos at Bryce is one of my best memories, and we took gorgeous photos, too.
You'll have a wonderful trip! (The Cameron Trading Post on Highway 89 had a woman at work on a gorgeous Navajo rug when we stopped. Also...I had a burger on a Navajo fry bread "bun". Delicious!)
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Old Nov 26th, 2016, 01:59 PM
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Since you hinted a purchase of thos books, I went to Amazon to confirm that they are still there
1) Fodors is still there:

2) Wow is still there

3) Utah Parks Driving, Hiking and Mountain Biking
It has been divided into two parts now. Type in those names.
Zion to Escalante
Escalante to Moab.

IF you have a 4-wheel drive, this is the BEST driving tour in Moab area: Camping reservations are required ASAP - repeat ASAP. However, it can be a very long day trip
Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJqbE1JgP8c
Note: This video shows route clockwise. That is what I recommend as it is the popular route. Road is narrow at places and difficult to impossible to pass on coming vehicles (driving counter clockwise).

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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 11:37 AM
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2nd Ooops

It appears that Amazon is confused on the print version book. They now show it as a 3rd party issue.

I found an alternative site for the print copy


PS./ Last ooops ?
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