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Roadtrip from Aspen to Phoenix

Old Mar 31st, 2017, 08:10 AM
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Roadtrip from Aspen to Phoenix

Hi everybody,

So... I'm planning a nice roadtrip with my husband from Aspen to Phoenix in June. We will only have one day in Aspen and then we'll hit the road. It's quite challenging because we have only 8 days to enjoy most of Arizona and Utah. What would you recommend as a perfect itinerary?

Also, what's making this trip planning more challenging is that we already have been 2 times in those states and seen almost all of the "popular" national parks ( Bryce canyon, Grand canyon, Zion, Escalante, Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley). It doesn't mean we don't want to go back visit some of them like Zion (narrows), Escalante and Grand Canyon (Havasupai). Would you have any advice on which park can offer the most to discover for a second visit? We really love wilderness and hiking, so any trail that's different/special or beautiful, please share it with us! Also, any alternative to the main attractions/places that could help us get off the beaten tracks is more than welcome.

And finally I didn't mention Colorado because there's only a small part of the road that will take place in this state but if you have anything that's worth the stop, we'll take it too! (let's say from Aspen to Moab)

Thank you so much if you read until the end
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 08:35 AM
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How are you getting to Aspen? Nothing beats riding the California Zephyr (either direction) through the Glenwood Canyon. Have you been to the Glenwood Cavern or been in the world's largest hot spring fed swimming pool?
Going south from Aspen you have Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde to visit.
Take US 160 from Mesa Verde and visit the Four Corners monument on the way to Monument Valley and Phoenix.
Let's hope that Phoenix is not too hot in June when you are there.
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 08:51 AM
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Welcome to Fodors Sandalc,

If I were taking this trip, I would head down the Million dollar Hwy through Durango and as tom suggested see Mesa Verde, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I'd give the 4 corners a pass.

I would stop into the Needles District of Canyonlands. I'd also revisit Arches and the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands

If you're very adventurous, hit the Maze District of Canyonlands

If those are all been there done that places, then look at Natural Bridges NP and when you leave, go down the Moki Dugway and on to Goosenecks of the San Juan state park. Then to Monument Valley.

There is so much to see in the Grand Staircase area that you could spend weeks and not scratch the surface.
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Old Apr 1st, 2017, 01:15 AM
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Thank you for your help!

I will fly to Aspen from Switzerland to join my husband (already there for work). We decided to fly back from Phoenix to change a little bit because we usually did fly back from Vegas.

I'm really interested by this Million Dollar Hwy because it would be a total different itinerary for us. I guess it's a scenic road, but also is there a lot to see and stop ? Because it's a 5h30 drive and for us swiss (we have a really small country) it looks like a lot of road for one day

Glenwood canyon looks amazing, I think I will add it to the trip if we decide to go north.

Regarding the south part of the trip in Arizona to Phoenix, any suggestion? Sedona is worth to stop one day & night? Flagstaff? New Mexico?
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Old Apr 1st, 2017, 06:35 AM
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If you do find yourself driving the Million Dollar Highway (US 550) you might enjoy spending a few hours in Silverton and a few days in Ouray en route. Durango is also a great place to explore for a few days.

Coincidentally, Ouray is known as the Switzerland of America. It's a pretty little town known for it's hot springs, ice park, towering mountains and outdoor activities. It's a place we, as Coloradans, visit whenever we can.

http://www.ouraycolorado.com/

The 10 mile drive from Ouray to Ridgeway is one of my favorite drives in Colorado.

For some ideas of what to see and do in the area, you might want to take a look at my recent trip reports and photos for the area:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57665686229774

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...ntain-girl.cfm

PS - I love Switzerland, we're headed back again in May
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Old Apr 1st, 2017, 11:36 AM
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Where does your flight to Aspen originate? Are you renting a car from Aspen to Phoenix? A one way rental may be very expensive even for foreign travelers.
You may want to fly to Denver and drive from there through Glenwood Springs to get to Aspen.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2017, 01:55 AM
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Thanks again!

Ouray region looks really nice (and yes, looks a lot like Switzerland ) but it seems to make much more driving per day if we go this way through GD Canyon and then Sedona/Phoenix. I've to admit that planning 6 different itinerary for this trip is starting to make me crazy! there's so much to see...

I'm flying from Geneva and the fly is already booked so, that can't change (same thing for the fly out from Phoenix). We checked the price for a one way rental and it seemed ok.

Anyone could tell me if the McDowell Sonoran conservancy and the Apache trail road are worth another night in Phoenix?
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Old Apr 2nd, 2017, 06:15 AM
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Where does your flight from Geneva land in the US? I'm pretty sure it does not land in Aspen Colorado.
You might want to drive to Tucson from Phoenix to see Mount Lemmon and the Sonoran Desert Museum.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2017, 05:32 PM
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I'd drive 3.5 hrs from Aspen to Ouray - spend the night in a lovely inn soaking in a hot springs tub in this scenic little town. Then head down the Million Dollar Hwy, have lunch in Durango and continue on to Mesa Verde for a night or 2. Sign up for a few ranger-led hikes to check out the cliff dwellings.
There are some incredible hikes in the Needles District of Canyonlands like Chesler Park. It is incredibly remote and beautiful but we camped since there are no great lodging options nearby. Hiking in Natural Bridge NM is also great - no in-park lodging (only camping) but you could stay at the Valley of God B&B and drive up the Moki Dugway to Natural Bridges to do a day hike. The Valley of Gods B&B is a rustically beautiful and unique inn - solar powered and in the heart of the highly scenic Valley of the Gods.
Monument Valley is just a 1/2 hour south.
From MV, you can head to Sedona or Grand Canyon for a few days before you end up in Phoenix. I find Sedona too touristy for my taste but it is pretty. I guess I'd prefer the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon myself. Great hiking at the North Rim - far less crowded.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 12:41 AM
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Your Swiss Franc to dollar is not favorable (horrible actually), but if you can afford it, I highly recommend staying at this very historic hotel in Durango.


http://strater.com/


Been to your country several times.
One of the best in the world: Sprungli

Vaga
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 09:38 AM
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Vaga h god, just saw the exchange rate CHF/USD and yes, it's horrible! I'm always happy to hear (read) that people love my country, if you need any advice for a next trip please let me know!

Sharondi : Thank you for the precious tips! We really love to hike so your suggestions seem great. I never checked the Valley of gods but I think it's quite like Monument Valley, but I have to say that the bed and breakfast looks nice.

Regarding the GD Canyon we first wanted to hike down and up in 2 days but we were too optimistic I guess (everything is booked until 2019). Does the north rim offer some day hikes that are interesting (scenic)?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2017, 11:35 AM
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My husband, Peter and I love to hike too, Sandalc, especially in the southwestern US. We have done a fall trip to the area each year since 2012 and several others prior to that, so we've done a lot of exploring and hiking. We also spend a good deal of time exploring Ancient Puebloan ruins and rock art sites, and that usually brings us to some pretty remote backroads and trails.
Valley of the Gods B&B is unique and the setting is just beautiful. There is a 17 mile dirt road that winds through it - we camped out there a year or so ago. Monument Valley, while beautiful, is highly developed and can be explored using a Navajo guide. There isn't a whole lot to do there on your own but drive through on the bumpy scenic road.
I was lucky to have hiked down into the GC on two different trips back in the early 1980's when I was in my 20's - no flush toilets or services yet. One of the toughest hikes ever - and I did it in early April before the real heat! You won't find the big dramatic views of the GC at the North Rim but it is still spectacular. And it is uncrowded and quiet - we did a 10 mile hike on the Widforss trail that was relatively easy and very enjoyable. If you can score a cabin or room, its worth a visit.
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 08:04 AM
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You have a lot of options so it just depends on your total time and distances. The quickest route to Phoenix will be I70 through Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, and south. Probably not the most interesting. At Glenwood Springs you could drive east for 20 miles through Glenwood Canyon and then turn around and continue to head west. OR continue east taking the route over Tennessee pass between Beaver Creek and Vail to Leadville. Leadville has a real hidden gem in the Mineral Belt trail - 12 miles hiking/biking, paved loop through the old mining history of Leadville and surrounding areas complete with signs. Surprisingly flat except for one steep hill. You could also reach Leadville by going out the back side of Aspen over Independence Pass (great drive). Shorter but you would miss Glenwood Canyon.

From Leadville continue south and west to Gunnison, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a Grand Canyon on a smaller scale but just as impressive. Then just continue to work you way west and south. Those routes would add three to five hours of additional driving time.
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 11:20 AM
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I'm Sharondi's husband. The Chesler Park hike in the Needles District of Canyonlands is one for your bucket list. Long but such amazing scenery and you won't see very many other people out there. You can read an illustrated account of our adventure starting on this page about halfway down. (9/3 entry) http://www.pbase.com/peterb/utah_201..._report&page=9
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Old Apr 7th, 2017, 01:08 AM
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Thanks to all of you I will now start planing this amazing trip
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