Southwest national parks planning help

Old Dec 19th, 2016, 05:04 PM
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Southwest national parks planning help

Hi all,

Trying to do a 10-15 SW National Parks trip. I would fly from Atlanta to Vegas, rent a car and do a mix of driving, day hiking, outdoor activities and somewhere do 2-3 backpacking. I have been Googling around... Hoping to do with when its not too hot nor too cold, some time in Spring?

-Not clear yet on which parks I should camp at vs lodges/hotels? (aka which ones are worth camping vs not).

-And for camping which ones needs a permit? ( I do have camping gear).

-Not clear on how many days I need at each spot. Im assuming some are more of an in and out day hike while others may require a couple of days of staying there to explore.

Im thinking Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Moab, Capitol Reef, Arches, Escalante, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, Lake Powell and whatever is worth stopping in between and whatever scenic drives are cool.

I have not even figured out which hikes specifically in those spots. Im thinking at Grand Canyon I do want to backpack and camp one of the rims for a couple of nights.

Would appreciate any suggestions.

reflex is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2016, 08:56 PM
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I don't camp, but I would take the longer time to do this trip.

Driving between most of the parks is going to take a while. Once you factor that in, you may need to cut your list of things to see down.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2016, 09:09 PM
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Two campgrounds in Canyonlands:
The Devil's Garden campground in Arches will be closed from March 1 to October 31 for renovation.
There is also a campground at Goblin Valley State park.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2016, 10:12 PM
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It would be easier to suggest some books that are applicable to the vast area you plan to visit.

1. Fodor's Utah: with Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef & Canyonlands National Parks (Travel Guide) > Print only.
2. Hiking (family): Wow Utah Canyon Country - > Print only
3. Backroad 4-wheel driving: Canyonland National Park Favorite Jeep Roads and Hiking Trails. White Rim Trail (road) is the premier scenic area in Island In The Sky. This book has an excellent description of that 110 mile road. > Print only
4. Touring guide focusing exclusively on all south Utah Parks for driving, hiking and Mountain Biking: There are two books: 1) Zion to Escalante, Utah and 2) Escalante, Utah to Moab.
> E-book and print which is a single book.
5. Serious backcountry hiking. Author Micheal Kelsey has a host of books. Caution: I find his directions to be rather brief, but adequate for experienced hikers. > Print only.

The park that is focused on hiking is Canyonlands - Needles District. My favorite hike there is: Salt Creek Canyon. 22 miles one way. Many Indian ruins and rock art. The famous > All American Man < pictographs is found there. Kelsey's Canyonlands book has a section on this park.

Another is Canyonlands - Maze District covered in books 4 and 5 above. Book 4 #2 has driving, hiking and camping instructions. Kelsey book above also has a hiking section on this park.

All available on amazon
Cost for all books is less than a decent night's motel.

RVvagabond is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2016, 12:49 PM
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> Im thinking at Grand Canyon I do want to backpack
> and camp one of the rims for a couple of nights
Camping above the rims is do-able IF you plan a few weeks ahead. Don't arrive late in the day and expect a camp site!
Backpacking / camping below the rim requires planning four months in advance, and can still be problematic. The Park receives 30,000 requests to do so each year, and issues only 13,000 of them.

Note that if you can't get the dates you want to backpack in The Canyon, getting permits to do so at other NPS sites is much easier -- just be flexible about where you're willing to hike.
PaulRabe is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2016, 04:23 PM
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The Devil's Garden campground in Arches will be closed from March 1 to October 31 for renovation.

Probably all booked up anyway. It is one of the smallest campground in a very popular national park. But there are many national forest and BLM campgrounds in the area, some of them at fairly high elevations in the mountains behind Moab, so they can be cold at night; those campgrounds are in aspen forests.
Michael is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2016, 04:30 PM
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The Grand Canyon extends west beyond Grand Canyon National Park
My preferred extension is the North Rim within the Kaibab Forest. There are many trails down to the Colorado River. Nankoweap, Thunder River and N. Bass and the most challenging. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument book describes these trails.

Good news: none are crowded.
Bad News: Help may not be coming soon.
No permits are needed although the long arm of Grand Canyon Park stretches to the river should you want to camp along the river. Or, just walk back a tad to the Forest Service boundary.

RVvagabond is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2016, 09:23 PM
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Realize that for National Parks it can take, sometimes an hour to drive to the next spot. Not all, but just setting expectations on visiting them. You'll probably be at one for a whole day if not more. Went to Bryce and it was awesome! Heard that Zion is better. Your list seems long and you may want a couple of quick hitters like Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon, both in AZ. We got some video from when we went to a couple of these places:

0 - 2 minutes is Bryce Canyon
5:32 - Begins the Grand Canyon
10:07 - Antelope Canyon

Hope this helps some and let me know if you have any questions.
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 02:32 AM
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If you are planning on doing your trip this spring, then you are late for lodging in either some of the hotels or camping areas. As has been mentioned, they do fill up very early and then when the time gets close people cancel as they find they can't make the trip.

I would check on some of the places where I would want to stay in the park and then plan the route of the trip based on where I could stay. I would really want to be in the park for Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde. The time saved getting to the areas you would want to visit and the benefit of being there before and after most of the day trippers are make this a real bonus.
emalloy is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2016, 08:34 AM
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We used Mather campground at Grand Canyon, which was convenient to laundry facilities as well as stores and food service.
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