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Please help with South West itinerary and route questions.

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Aug 6th, 2011, 09:50 AM
  #1
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Please help with South West itinerary and route questions.

The problem is I don't have enough time so I'd really like some advice on the best use of my 5 days at the end of September.

Plan so far
Fly into Grand Junction on Wed 28th arrive 1pm
Fly out of ?? preferably Albuquerque on Sunday 2nd Oct around 3pm

We would like not to back track too much and would love to see the following
1. Arches NP (inc hike to Delicate Arch.. more hiking if time allows, ha!)
2. Canyonlands NP (recommended hike? one day here?)
3. Monument Valley and / or Antelope Canyon (yes I know) best driving route? upper or lower canyon.. this is really a photo op not looking into canyoneering!
4. Mesa Verde or Canyon de Chelly?

Where should we stay on Wed/Thurs/Fri nights? We have points to use with several chain hotels. There will be 3 of us (inc DH and DD) so prefer a room that we can share with 2 beds.

Stay Sat night at Hyatt Tamaya, fly home from ABQ?

Or would it be better to fly out of somewhere else? Skip 4 and head for Vegas? or Phoenix?
Anyway, 1,2 and 3 are high on my wish list but it was very difficult to pare it down. I'm open to other suggestions but we'd prefer not to revisit Bryce/Zion/ Capitol Reef/ Escalante/ Bandelier / ... but we would like to squeeze in a little of NM.

Thanks for your help!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 10:40 AM
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I think this is way to much given your time frame. You really only have 2 full days {Thursday and Friday}. Forget Vegas or Phoenix.

I would opt for Mesa Verde over Canyon de Chelly. If you did that on Friday, you could drive to ABQ on Saturday [about a 3 hour drive if you spend Friday night in Durango]. That would give you some time Saturday afternoon for ABQ and yes, there are some great things to do in ABQ - you do not have to go to Santa Fe [you are sure to get some replies saying how much better SF is than ABQ].

You could do Mesa Verde on Saturday and drive down to ABQ early Sunday. It won't give you much time, if any, in ABQ and you did want some time there.

I think this needs some input on the Utah part, I am not that good with distances etc up there. Others will help on that leg.

I don't think you realize how far these places are from each other and that there are no interstates or freeways to get you around. The roads are local roads, often only 2 lanes.

Hope this helps some.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 10:44 AM
  #3
 
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Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly are two very different experiences. Of the two, the hike and jeep tour of Canyon de Chelly have given me the more satisfying memories.

HTTY
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Aug 6th, 2011, 10:47 AM
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DH just said that you could do 1,2 and 3 and Canyon de Chelly [he lived in Chinle for a few years] but that Mesa Verde would be out of the way for you to do w/ the others in your time frame. He also said you won't have much time at any of the places.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 11:12 AM
  #5
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Yes, well I knew it was too much LOL!
We like to squeeze in what we can but we are not up for really long drives of >6 hours. Friends recently drove 7 hours + from Moab to Las Vegas for a flight home the same day, ack!... we don't want to face that kind of drive before flying home

I haven't booked the flights yet so really I wanted to know if Albuquerque would be the best airport to fly out of if we stuck to the first 3 items on our wish list.

If we skip Monument Valley and head towards Antelope Canyon then Albuquerque seems like a long drive. Maybe it would be better to fly out of Vegas? It looks a lot closer just that d#@* canyon in the way

Page to Phoenix and fly out is another alternative (ROUTE 89? Stay in Sedona on the Sat night or Phoenix?) I know it will be hot, 95F not unusual for the time of year..

Have been to Santa Fe and Albuquerque previously and no burning desire to return to Santa Fe on this trip.

OK.. I think I've convinced myself that I'll have to skip Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly this trip OR skip Antelope Canyon. At this point I'm leaning towards skipping the former two.

I guess I need to be within a 4 hour drive of an airport either Phoenix/ Las Vegas / Albuquerque or ? on the Saturday night to make my flight home on Sunday.

Deb, we really wanted to fit in Albuquerque at the end of this trip to relax/eat the local food but it might not work..
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Aug 6th, 2011, 11:40 AM
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I'd pick Monument Valley over Antelope Slot canyon in a heart beat! The Antelope Slot Canyon is nice but it's an hour tour boom your done. Now Lake Powell is another ball of wax and worth the visit but maybe when you have more time.

Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly is a very hard choice.

Monument Valley to Canyon De Chelly to Albuquerque is 323 miles.

Monument Valley to Mesa Verde back to Grand Junction via the Million Dollar Highway 550 is 381 miles...which might be cheaper to fly in and out of the same airport.

Utahtea
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Aug 6th, 2011, 02:47 PM
  #7
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Thanks, utahtea!

I was coming to the same conclusion regarding Monument Valley.. so I'm prepared to skip Antelope Canyon and I've also decided it's probably best to skip both Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly.

New plan.. fly into SLC
Arches
Canyonlands
Monument Valley

Drive to Phoenix for last night and fly home.

Best place to stay for Wed? Thurs/Fri? Moab? We might spend first night in SLC as we have friends there but it depends on DH, the driver...
We plan on arriving in Phoenix late on the Saturday night maybe 10pm (stop for dinner enroute in Sedona? where?). Fly home Sunday night on the red eye.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 03:09 PM
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I haven't been to Monument Valley, Mesa Verde or Canyon de Chelly. However, I would definitely pick Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and maybe something else around Lake Powell over Canyonlands. Just my opinion.

Also, I wouldn't want to miss Arches NP.

At Arches I would try to plan a late afternoon hike to Delicate Arch to see the sun set, Fiery Furnace ranger-lad hike (you can now book this online) and possibly spend some time in the Windows section where you have a nice concentration of Arches and not much work to do.
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Aug 6th, 2011, 03:25 PM
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Sounds like a good plan. This will give you more time for Arches and Canyonlands and in Moab.

Canyonlands Hikes: Mesa Arch in Canyonlands is a must short 3/4 mile round trip hike. I also like the two mile Grand View hike. Upheaval Dome is another hike in the area. Make sure you go to Green River Overlook while in Canyonlands.

Arches: Delicate Arch is my favorite. Landscape Arch is a one mile hike, the Windows and double arch can be seen from the parking area but take time to walk up to them and Park Avenue is my other favorite hike. Start at Courthouse Towers parking area instead of the Park Avenue turn out to do this hike so you are hiking up hill first and then down hill on the way back.

While in Moab drive out the scenic Hwy 128 along the Colorado River to Fisher Towers. This is one of my favorite drives. A shorter drive would be the Potash Road Hwy 279 and look for petroglyphs. Check out http://www.milebymile.com/main/Unite...el_guides.html and http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2013/travel.html

I would definitely at least drive though Sedona. We didn't eat there so can't recommend any place but it would be good place for a meal. You might also want to stop at Montezuma's Castle National Monument http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm which will only take about an hour at the most to see and would give you an idea of what Mesa Verde is like.

Utahtea
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Aug 6th, 2011, 07:14 PM
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Don't forget that Arizona (except the Navajo Reservation) is not on DST, so you gain an hour going there!
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Aug 6th, 2011, 07:40 PM
  #11
 
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Here's a thought -

Right now AA has a 10:30 AM flight from Boston that arrives in Durango at 4:41 PM (change at ORD and DEN) and fly from SLC to BOS at 2:30 PM (change DFW, arrive 11:30 PM) for $374 (versus $325 on Delta for BOS-SLC/PHX-BOS with comparable times).

Renting a car at DRO would be considerably more, though - like $300-400 more. But it puts you in the middle of things.

Unfortunately, flying into SLC and out of DRO or Farmington, NM, is considerably more expensive.
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Aug 7th, 2011, 07:55 AM
  #12
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Thanks Cranachin, I think I've looked at every airport combo within an 8 hour drive of Moab.
Flying in and out of Phoenix is dirt cheap on non stop flights, car hire is also the cheapest, there is a Hyatt resort in Scottsdale we can stay at for free for the first and last nights..

or we can fly in and out of Grand Junction, pay more for flights (about $450 more) but they're not direct so we effectively lose a day of vacation, more for car hire ($250 more), pay for all hotels...

decision time!
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Aug 7th, 2011, 08:10 AM
  #13
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Leaning towards the long drive from Phoenix because my DH doesn't mind driving, we'd add a day to the trip as we can leave on a direct flight the previous evening plus we'd get the red eye home.

In addition to saving $$ this option allows us to see a little of Sedona and gives us some downtime in the resort on the last day.

It's just a lot more drive time than I care for! We would stay 2 nights in Moab (arrive about 8pm after 8 hours driving + stops). Spend 2 full days in the parks then drive back.. we need to find somewhere to spend the Friday night between Moab and Phoenix preferably less than 4 hours from Moab OR spend Friday in Moab and do the full 8 hour drive back the next day

I think I'd prefer to split the drive partly because the hotel I've booked in Moab (Best Western Canyonlands) is not available on the Friday night!
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Aug 7th, 2011, 08:27 AM
  #14
 
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Deb, we really wanted to fit in Albuquerque at the end of this trip to relax/eat the local food but it might not work.

We'll catch you next time around!
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