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Southern Utah Trip

Old Aug 16th, 2012, 11:34 AM
  #1  
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Southern Utah Trip

Hi, I am planning a trip to southern Utah in late March and was wondering on if this itinerary sounds good.
Day 1. Fly into Las Vegas, spend the night
Day 2. Drive to Zion, I love hiking so any suggestions would be great
Day 3. Spend whole day in Zion
Day 4. Drive to Bryce Canyon, spend afternoon and a night there
Day 5. Drive to Capitol Reef in the morning spend the afternoon and a night there.
Day 6. Drive to Arches in the morning, spend afternoon there.
Day 7. Full day in Arches
Day 8. Drive to South Rim Grand Canyon, stopping at Monument Valley
Day 9 and 10. Spend at GC
Day 11. Fly back from Flagstaff
I just wanted to get some info on what type of weather to expect. Any hikes, restaurants would be great.
dshamritsky is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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This sounds good to me, though you may run into snow along the way. Obviously you could spend more time in some of the parks, but I think you'll get a good overview.

Be sure to catch the sunrise at Bryce Canyon before you leave.

Lee Ann
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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Posted too soon - you might want to look at flying home from Vegas to avoid one-way rental drop-off fees.

Lee Ann
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 12:33 PM
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I agree. Go back to LAS and save the drop-off fees.

That's a lot of driving. Let's see if we can smooth this out.

On day 2 you're driving to Zion. It's a 3 hour drive. If you leave right after breakfast you'll have half the day in Zion.

I would spend more time in Zion since the weather will be warmer than some other places in higher elevation.

So you should have Day 2 from noon, Day 3 and Day 4 until noon.

On Day 4, depending on the conditions in Bryce you'll either be able to hike down a bit of Navajo Loop or just along the rim.

But on Day 5 get up very early and go to Bryce Point for the sunrise. Will be cold but good things are worth it.

The drive to Capitol Reef is long and you may have snow on the road. That's a problem.

Arches is a very good park. Try to get to Delicate Arch for sunset.

GC is far from one of my favorite places. I go places for a combination of scenery, waterfalls and wildlife. It falls short compared to other places on all accounts.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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what would you consider to drive from bryce to capitol reef other than that road. Also Avis does not charge different destination drop-offs. I have never seen the GC before so I want to at least look at the area
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 01:19 PM
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There are some National Monuments available also.
You will be there too early in the season for Cedar Breaks, but Natural Bridges should be viewable. Also there are the fascinating Goosenecks of the San Juan (River), Monument Valley, and some state parks. There is a good, if small, on Utah 12 between Bryce and Capital Reef.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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I was in Zions two weeks ago and the Narrows is so unique and really beautiful. You walk in the water the entire time with rock walls on either side of you and make sure to bring some kind of camelbak with water, snacks, and a camera (like in a few plastic bags). We prepared poorly and had to go back only 2 hours in because we didn't have anything to eat. We didn't know how to bring a camera so putting it in plastic bags in a backpack/camelbak would be my suggestion. Also you can't drive to the base of the trails in Zion, you go everywhere by shuttle which took a lot longer than expected (40 mins from parking lot to beginning of Narrows which was only about 6 miles). If you get a chance hike Angels Landing, amazing hike.

In Arches (was there last month) you are able to drive to the base of every trail, some arches were right off the road and others you parked your car at the base and hiked too. Delicate is probably the most famous, I also liked Landscape Arch, Double Arch, and Corona Arch (a little outside of the park but really beautiful). Also do SlickRock, you bike on some kind of petrified rocks/sand dunes. Its difficult, but awesome. Have so much fun!
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 02:35 PM
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If you haven't seen Grand Canyon then you should. Unfortunately after seeing the Utah parks you may decide GC doesn't compare.

On your other thread you ask about going from Moab to GC. I've never driven that so somebody else will have to answer.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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Between Capitol Reef and Arches plan on a stop at Goblin Valley State Park. Were you planning on staying in Torrey?
Sounds good if you have no drop off fee.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 06:15 PM
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I LOVE the goblins!!
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 02:33 AM
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Yes tomfuller, i am staying in Torrey, not sure where yet, If you have a suggestion it would be much appreciated. I will try to include Goblin into or trip plan.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 04:08 AM
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Your itinerary looks good although I would suggest taking one of the days from Grand Canyon and adding it to Moab area. That will give you some time to stop at Goblins on the way from Cap Reef to Moab. And also time to visit Canyonlands and other sites around Moab.

If your flight to LV gets in early enough, I'd leave for Zion that day - as Myer mentioned, it's only a 2 1/2 hr drive. That way, you'll have 2 full days in this gorgeous park. You might hike Angel's Landing (even if not to the top), Canyon Overlook hike on the east side of the tunnel is a great short hike. Here is the view at the end:

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/85429046

The Narrows might be off limits in March if water is too high or too cold. Hard to say. But its a great hike if its accessible.

Short ride to Bryce - less than 2 hrs - and some of my favorite hikes. The Fairyland loop -

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/85511202

and Queens Garden/Navajo loop are both incredible. Dining in the park at Bryce is pretty good although I suggest heading into Springdale for dining while in Zion. The in-park food was not good.

There are also lots of fine lodging options in Springdale and travel into the park takes just a few mintues although at that time of year, you should have no trouble getting rooms in any of the parks.

The drive from Bryce to Torrey on Rte 12 is amazing - although you may have snow in March. If you can rent a 4WD SUV, that might be a good idea. I am headed out there in a few weeks and I got a great deal from Dollar Rental for an SUV for 11 days - $400! Dropping it off at a different airport though will add significant cost.

In Torrey, I can recommend the Best Western and Austin's Chuckwagon. Both were spotlessly clean, good value. I love Capitol Reef - fascinating geological features, colorful rock formations, and you'll have the park to yourselves. Torrey is a great little town - good food at Cafe Diablo and Rim Rock. Also a good selection of food options at the store/deli at Austins.

Talk to the rangers about hiking in Capitol Reef. We are planning to finish Cohab Canyon/Frying Pan hike on our upcoming trip. Last time, storms cut it short. Hickman Bridge is a nice short hike.

Goblins State Park is outside of Hanksville on the way to Moab and worth a few hours. Fun place to walk around among some very odd formations:

http://www.pbase.com/peterb/image/21330435

There are lots of lodging options in Moab. Arches is incredible, one of my favorite parks. Devils Garden is a really fun hike. Delicate Arch is a classic.

We haven't been to Moab in awhile so I'm not sure about dining options. I'll post a trip report when we return in mid Sept and I'll be sure to include info on Moab. On past trips, we've stayed at River Canyon Lodge and it was just fine and a block off of the main drag, which is nice. Lots to see and do in Moab - do a search on Fodors and I'm sure you'll get plenty of information.

The South Rim is a must if you've never been to the Grand Canyon - it should be really nice in March with small crowds and maybe a little snow! You have a wonderful trip planned. Don't hesitate to post some questions once you do a little more research. Enjoy the planning!
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 04:14 AM
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I LOVE GC and the south rim is my favorite. I've done the loop you are planning and it is great. While you are in the Moab area, do stop in at Canyonlands Island in the Sky for a quick drive, stop, look at the major view points at least. DH thinks it's as impressive as GC.

If you do come down the Moki Dugway through Mexican Hat on your way to Monument Valley, make sure it hasn't snowed recently as it is an E ticket ride when it is not snowy.

If you can do your driving in day light and be aware of animals on the road especially in the "open range" areas where there are not only deer and pronghorn, but horses and cattle have the road too.

Have a fantastic trip.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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Thanks Sharondi and everyone else for all the great info. I think I will cut off a day from Grand Canyon and add it to Moab so I can see Canyonlands for a bit. Goblins Valley looks very cool and is right on the way to Capitol Reef if I remember right.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 04:40 AM
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I was also wondering if I would need a 4WD car rental for this trip or would a normal sedan rental work. I am probably going to stay on the paved roads and not on the gravel/dirt roads.
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Old Aug 17th, 2012, 06:41 AM
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Right near Goblin Valley is a really awesome easy slot canyon called Little Wildhorse(they even sell t-shirts at Goblin Valley visitor cntr for LW). Don't confuse it with Wildhorse, you want Little Wildhorse. You can spend 2-6 hours at it, depending on how much of it you want to do. You will need 1-4 hours at Goblin Valley.

I've stayed at Austin's Chuckwagon twice and also liked it.


I don't know how adventurous you are, but www.deserthighlights.com in Moab is absolutely fantastic. I've been with them twice and hoping to go again soon.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 02:36 AM
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Thanks for all the ideas for smaller parks, i had completely forgotten about thoose. Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse look really cool for driving between Capitol and Arches. I have another thread asking for things to do between Arches and GC. Desert Hiighlights looks really cool, will have to check it out.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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I was thinking about how much time I would need in all of the smaller parks in between Capitol Reef and Arches because I wanted to see Goblin Valley. Also how long would i need to spend in goosenecks and monument valley. Again, I thank everyone who has commented and those who add anything interesting.
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Old Aug 18th, 2012, 08:10 PM
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Hadn't read this thread when I responded to the other one. Your time is fairly short, don't know how much extra stuff you can fit in and still have a good experience.

Hikes in Zion- Riverside Walk if not the Narrows, Hidden Canyon, Kayenta from Grotto to Emerald Pools, upper emerald Pools can be beautiful in March, good time to see it all.

If Kiva Koffehouse is open on hwy 12 just before the river bridge stop off there. Great place for lunch.

You asked what other road to go between Bryce and Capitol Reef...any other road would be a dull and longer route. Go hwy 12.

Day 6 if you haven't eaten up all your time with Goblin Valley and Little WIld Horse stop in to Canyonlands before you get to Moab/Arches. It is a bit of a back track otherwise and it is easy to see in half a day. DO catch Dead Horse Point as well sunset there is nice. March days are short so it might be harder to do it all before dark.
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Old Aug 19th, 2012, 07:02 AM
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In Springdale look at the Cable Mountain Lodge, it is very nice, right outside Zion NP and you can walk into the park from there in less than 5 minutes. All of the lodging in Springdale is on the expensive side, we paid about $135 per night, last October which is less expensive than many other places. The park shuttle I believe starts April 1, so you may be able to drive into the park in March, check the Zion page on the National Parks website. Temperatures should be high in the mid 60s and low down to mid 30s. You can download the park guide which provides all the information you need to know. The narrows may not be open for hiking in March due to high water levels.
The drive on Hwy 12 from Bryce to Torrey is spectacular and there is only 1 section about 1-2 miles that is ' the scary bit'. The Best Western in Torrey is very pleasant, quite new with super views from the rooms on the back of the building, they have small balconies and are a great place to watch the sunset.
The drive from Torrey to Arches, assuming you will go via Hanksville and around the top, first part, stunning scenery, second part not exciting but okay.If the Fiery furnace hike at Arches is available at that time of year, you shoud do it, it isn't as dificult as it appears. I did it last year after much soul searching and was pleasantly surprised, but you must do it with the park rangers guided hike.
I am guessing but I think Moki Dugway would not be a good idea in March. We rented a 4 wheel drive, Rav 4, it actually was less expensive than a compact.
We spent about 3-4 hours at Monument Valley, having the 4 wheel drive meant we didn't have to take the very expensive jeep tour and could take as much time as we wanted to do the loop drive. When I look at photos from our trip, it was definitely one of the highlights.
The Desert Rose Inn in Bluff was a great place to stay, very reasonable prices, not sure how early in the season they are open.
Trying to drive from Moab to GC in one day and see MV on the way is probably too much.
On the topic of drop off fees, I know you said you did not have them with Avis, often people assume the fees are outrageous, but if you look at the cost of driving back to your start point, gas and maybe a night's lodging or two along the way, it isn't expensive, we paid $250 to drop off the rental in Phoenix rather than at our start point in Denver.It would have been at least 1 full days drive plus an overnight, meals, gas etc and cut 2 days off our vacation.
Sounds like it will be great, have fun
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