Road trip through Southern Utah and Arizona

Old Oct 5th, 2009, 10:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Road trip through Southern Utah and Arizona

Hi, I just became a member and feel I may have found the right place for sound advice...
Similar to a recent inquiry, my husband and I will be flying into Las Vegas and rent a car for our road trip. We have 2 1/2 weeks and hope to visit at least two of the parks in Utah and then go into North East Arizona and from there travel on to central and southern parts of the state. Our time will be from Oct 25 to November 11th. The actual itinerary is in the planning stage. We are seniors and unfortunately beyond real hiking, but can manage walks of between 5 - 10 km on flat terrain. I already read on a previous post that the parks in Utah have good short walking opportunities, so I feel good about that. What concerns me is my husband's fear of heights, both when walking and driving (along sheer drop offs). Any advice or comments about this is appreciated (I have booked our flights, so we have to go...) I also would like to know whether the weather in the northern part of our trip (southern Utah and northern Arizona) will still be fall like (will there still be nice foliage?)

As I plan the rest of our trip I will no doubt have more questions, but in the meantime I look forward to receiving a reply to these. Thanks!
henniej is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 10:53 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,204
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
I've been to Utah twice and northern Arizona (Sedona) once in the past three years.

While I'm non-stop all day, I only do "easy". Or "fairly easy".

I'm a new senior but train somewhat before such a trip so that I can go all day without a problem.

There are very few sheer drop-offs. Some of the signs on Rt 12 had me a bit concerned (slope and curves) but if you drive slowly they're not a problem. Actually they're more a problem for the passenger than the driver.

You can easily pick hikes that are fairly short and not steep. An where they are a bit steep it's more a stamina issue than a "hanging over a cliff" issue. If you happen to go down Navajo Loop in bryce and are winded (elevation) on the way up, just stop and rest and drink water. Nobody is forcing you to go non-stop or faster. They can walk by as most trails are wide.

My concern is the weather in late October. Last year we drove from Escalante where we hiked in 95 degree weather to Bryce (I've been there twice in two years) the next day where a cool front went thru and it was 37 degrees in altitude.

Before I give you my opinions I'd like to hear from some of the others about what you should expect temperature and snow-wise in each place.
Myer is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 10:55 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You might consider Zion as your first option. We were there last year the 3rd week in Oct and Fall Folliage was ok. In Zion, there are plenty of options that don't require looking down, but rather looking up. Hike as many of the short hikes as you can. Riverside Walk, Emerald Pools(go to the first one, then continue on if you feel like it), Canyon Overlook Trail is nice, but this one has some dropoffs. Bryce does not close, but a lot of the facilities close Oct 31 in Bryce. A drive through Monument Valley would be good and once again, there aren't really dropoffs here, but monoliths to look at. If you head up to Arches(may be out of your way), you can find several good hikes there, without the dropoffs. Mesa Verde is interesting. Some of the trails to the ruins don't have dropoffs, but some of them do.

The drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef might be something you would want to do.

You should act now if you want lodging "in the park" in Bryce and Zion.
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 10:55 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,204
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
I forgot to mention. If you want to see photos of my trips there you can go to:

www.travelwalks.com

and select trips from 2007 & 2008 to Utah and Arizona.
Myer is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 10:56 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,905
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You'll get lots of advice from folks here and everyone has their favorites. If you don't need the Vegas experience, I would get an early flight and take off immediately. Do stop and get and go to Zion and stay overnight there the loop hike over the little bridge is pretty easy water and snacks and maybe a cheap cooler and ice. I would probably head north on i 15 and the scenery is spectacular. From there I'd go to Bryce for one night and drive/hike along the rim and stop at all the pretty places. Bryce may be cold and the elevation is high so pace yourself. Then rt 12 to 24 and hit Capitol reef NP (one day). Continue on 24 to i 70 east and then south on 191 for Arches and Canyonlands (2 to 4 days depending on weather and interest). Continue south on 191 and go into the Needles district of Canyonlands, stop at newspaper rock for petroglyphs and take the easy hike into cowboy camp. Then decide if you want to go to Mesa verde this is about an hour and a half east of 191 on 491 to 160. Otherwise continue south on 191 to 163 through Monument Valley (1 day). Next continue south on 163 to 160 west to 89 to 64 and into Grand Canyon (at least 1 overnight) hike along the rim trail west of Bright Angel lodge and when you get tired use the park service shuttle. I'd leave Grand Canyon the way you came in and then go south on 89 to Flagstaff and stop at Wupatki and Sunset Crater. Then go east on i 70 and stop at Walnut Canyon. Now you need to decide if you want to go to Petrified forest/painted desert or head back south to Sedona and points south. There is plenty to do in southern Arizona too and on your way back to Vegas you might want to stop at Hoover dam.

enjoy the trip
emalloy is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 11:03 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you don't have a Senior National Park Pass, get one.
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 11:45 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,204
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Yes!! yes!! Yes!!

You are seniors so buy a senior pass for $10.

Good for the car and not just one person.

I saved more than that just parking my car around Sedona, AZ two years ago. Let alone all of the park entrances.
Myer is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 12:03 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow, my head is spinning. This is fantastic. Thanks folks. I have been surfing this site in the meantime and there is SO much info, GREAT!

We will arrive in Vegas mid morning, so I think we will head straight to Zion, since it seems to be late in the season weather wise. May be it would be best to just keep an eye on the weather forecasts once we are there, and then decide which direction to turn? Another (hopefully not dumb) question: should we be concerned about altitude? We are flying in from Toronto Canada. And is the Senior National Park Pass available to non US citizens and where do we get it?

Thanks again!
henniej is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 12:30 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I don't think you would have a problem with Zion weather. Bryce is one of the highest places in southern Utah, the weather there could be a bit iffy.

I just read that Canadian residents do not qualify for the Senior Pass, but you could get the annual pass. If you plan on visiting only one or two parks over the next year, probably just pay the regular entrance fees. By the way, the fees are free some weekends this year.

You might want to allow a day before doing any hikes or a lot of walking if you are high altitude. Avoid liquor and caffeine. Drink water, sport drinks, or lemonade
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 12:43 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No one has mentioned Hovenweep National Monument in Southeastern Utah, more or less between Mexican Hat and Cortez, Colorado. It is a Pueblo ruin that makes an interesting contrast to Mesa Verde, should you decide to go there.

This is, by the way, real empty country except for all that scenery. Make sure you keep the car well-fueled and have plenty of water and snacks.
Ackislander is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 05:28 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,204
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Far be it from me to suggest cheating, but if you happened to have a driver's license from as US state, that's all you need to get a senior pass.
Myer is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 07:37 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That's OK Myer, we don't mind contributing to the US economy... Which reminds me, can we buy wine in Utah?

Also, as far as car rental, any recommendations on which type of car (just thinking of possible snow...)? We will stick to paved roads, but are just wondering whether a 'heavier' car might be better, rather than a small economy.
henniej is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 09:31 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looks like Arizona is getting mostly overlooked here. Any idea on how you want to divvy up the 2.5 weeks? 4-5 days each in southern Utah, northern AZ and central/southern AZ is reasonable in my opinion. Plenty to see and do in each section - my one early November trip to Arizona found most of the fall colors were done, except at lower elevations and more in the southern part of the state. You might be in luck with your trip but it really all depends on so many factors that it's impossible to guess right now.

2.5 weeks really isn't a lot of time for all that's out there. If you're flying in/out of Las Vegas, you may want to consider skipping southern Arizona on this trip to give yourself more time for everything else.

One thing which probably no one will mention is the chance to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Visitor services close on October 15th but the road will remain open as long as weather permits, so you might be able to drive in for a day trip on your way through the area. That's assuming you are going that way rather than a more roundabout way to get to Arizona.

I wouldn't base a car rental on possible snow. Pick whatever gives you enough room and fits your budget, the only place you have a decent chance of seeing snow is Bryce Canyon. Not saying it can't happen elsewhere but Bryce can get snow all year round.

Honestly, the area you're covering is so huge you may want to narrow it down and post a topic for each section. I thought about giving specific advice on parks and hikes and things to see/do, but it would be the longest post of my life trying to cover 1.5 states and 2.5 weeks.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 10:12 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 17
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks WhereAreWe, what you are saying makes sense. We are just starting to read up and plan in more detail. We want to do at least one or two of the parks in Southern Utah first because of the time of year and then work our way south, may be via the Four Corners? If we can see some of the Grand Canyon via the North Rim, then we could skip going to the South Rim to save time, or would we miss too much? We also would rather see a few places in depth than too many superficially. Hopefully there will be opportunity to come again, although there are so many places and so little time... This will be our first trip to the South West and we do want to make the best of it.
henniej is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 11:19 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 229
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hennieej - Yes you can buy wine in Utah. Every restaurant we ate in had at the very least one or two available by the glass, as well as a selection of beers. Some places had a full liquor licence and we could get Margaritas too. Restaurants in larger towns such as Moab had broader wine lists. We also purchased wine at the State Liquor store (an excfellent selection there) in Moab to have a glass in our room.

Generally it appears that Utah's liquor laws have been relaxed in recent years, and we had no problem getting a drink.

The only exception to this was when we stayed in the Navajo nation where possession is against the law.
quiUK is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 01:42 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you seem to be mainly interested in national parks, I would suggest skipping southern Arizona entirely. Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus are the 2 big parks down there, and neither is as spectacular as the scenery you'll find in Utah or northern/central Arizona. Unless you need to visit Tucson or Phoenix, I would go no further south than the Sedona area.

Also, I would suggest you find a website or two which gives the latest fall color conditions for the Sedona, Flagstaff and Zion area. Keep checking on those and try to plan your trip accordingly - a span of 2.5 weeks will make a huge difference in fall foliage, but little difference in the average temps, so I don't see the need to plan on visiting the Zion area first and then work your way south. Hope that makes sense - essentially what I'm saying is the average temp will not be much different from 10/25 to 11/11 so don't base travel plans on that, look at where the fall colors are at peak and go there first.

You may be able to hit the aspens at peak color outside Flagstaff, and see some good color near Sedona as well.

I would recommend seeing the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for sure, North Rim if it works into your itinerary.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 05:21 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Isn't everything closed at the North Rim on Oct 15? I guess the road might still be open??
spirobulldog is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 07:29 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As I said in my first post: "Visitor services close on October 15th but the road will remain open as long as weather permits, so you might be able to drive in for a day trip on your way through the area."
WhereAreWe is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2009, 07:55 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Someone mentioned Mexican Hat and parts of Route 191. I was there in the 90's and I remember some high drop offs (no guard rails) that scared my wife.
earthperson is offline  
Old Oct 7th, 2009, 10:21 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 977
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
emalloy mentioned going north oh rt 12 to Capitol Reef.

With your husband's acrophobia, I would like to point out that there is a section of Scenic Rt. 12 called 'The Hogsback' that some have mentioned bothered them. I'll post a link to a picture of it and you can decide. I have a bit of acrophobia but find that, with exposure, my anxiety fades a bit. I find that I am much better at the end of a trip to canyon country than at the beginning.

Here's the link to the Hogsback picture:

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/88442508
peterboy is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:47 AM.