Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Southwest Road Trip Adventure - Itinerary help please :)

Southwest Road Trip Adventure - Itinerary help please :)

Old Mar 30th, 2021, 06:15 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 15,186
Likes: 0
Received 22 Likes on 4 Posts
We live in Tucson and leave May 1 for the summer due to the heat. And Tucson is cooler than Phoenix due to a higher altitude so be careful.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 05:53 AM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Patty View Post
I love White Stallion! Have you been before? I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

If you decide to include Carlsbad Caverns, they're also requiring reservations. Reservations open 30 days in advance. There is an elevator available.

I wouldn't stay in Silverton for Mesa Verde. Durango is OK. The dwellings are actually some distance from the park entrance, at least another 40 minutes or so. Also the Cliff Palace Loop Rd is closed for construction until June 15th so I don't believe you'll be able to see it from any distance https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

The drive from Durango to Ouray is beautiful but twisty so may be more enjoyable without towing a travel trailer. I'm getting ready to start a trip report with some photos from the drive.

Here's a possible alternative slot canyon hike https://www.americansouthwest.net/sl...ss/canyon.html The trail head is about an hour from Page.
Patty, we haven't been to White Stallion before. We just wanted to incorporate a ranch stay in the trip and came upon it. We're really excited! I'm glad to hear you recommend it!

About how long is the tour in Carlsbad Caverns once you get down into the caverns? Is it self-guided, go at your own pace?

I'm so conflicted about whether to include Mesa Verde. We really wanted to go there! But if the road to Cliff Palace is closed, I'm wondering if we should still stop?? Especially if its another 40-45 minutes off the route.

I'm trying now to figure out how to incorporate the Durango/Silverton/Ouray area into our itinerary on our way to Santa Fe. It looks incredibly beautiful! I'm not sure if it makes more sense to stay in Durango and drive to Silverton, or stay in Ouray. I guess it depends whether we do Mesa Verde.
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 06:05 AM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by StantonHyde View Post
If you want to see the Grand Canyon--go to the North Rim instead. Then you are not going so far out of your way. I also have a trip report for Mesa Verde. It is amazing. I would just say--UNDERPLAN everything with a 5 year old. When my kids were that age, we spent an entire day at the Windows trail/parking lot in Arches. We hiked the Windows primative loop in the morning, had a picnic lunch, and they hiked to the arch on the other side of the parking lot in the afternoon and played in the sand. And that was it. It's not like the sights are on/off a highway. You have to drive a long way into Mesa Verde, for example. And you will need to check if visitors centers are open--we were at Arches in February and it was closed. Rangers were outside to answer questions, but that was it. I suggest buying some kids naturalist books--we had "Who pooped on the Colorado Plateau" for years and my kids loved it!! There is a book on Desert Holes, Scats and Tracks, etc. I am pretty sure you can find the park bookstores online--they are usually run by "Friends of Zion", "Friends of Canyonlands" etc. They have great books and great ideas like--Best Easy Day hikes. Check out the nps.gov website for each park. Look at the park newspaper--they will tell you if ranger talks are on, what campsites are available, they list every hike in the park and give it a rating. A great stop is Kanab--the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary tour is a hit! And check out all the critter tracks in the sand where you go--mice, birds, lizards, beetles, etc. Really fun to investigate.
StantonHyde. thank you for this wealth of info! It's sounds like you have lots of experience with kids in this area! You are so right about underplanning with a 5 year old. I always say, if we see or accomplish one thing in a day, we've done an amazing job. lol I have been looking for books to use during the trip (we are homeschooling), so your suggestions are perfect! Thank you!! We love animals too, so I'll be looking into the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Are you familiar with the Out of Africa wildlife park outside Sedona?

We really wanted to see Mesa Verde...what are your thoughts about going with a child (since it's a long way off the main road) if the Cliff Palace Road is currently closed and we won't be able to tour Cliff Palace? Should we still make it a priority? Or tour Bandelier instead?

For Peekaboo slot, is it worth spending only one day in Bryce and then going to Escalante to do Peekaboo on the next day? We were thinking we'd only hike the Peekaboo portion and then turn around before Spooky (since we'll have a child with us). Or would we better to spend our two days in Bryce?
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 06:26 AM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all so much for your guidance! This forum is SO helpful!! There have been so many great suggestions that I’m now having trouble completing the itinerary for the end of the trip. Lol We want to see it all!! As per suggestions (after visiting Moab and en route to Santa Fe) we’d love to incorporate Ouray or Silverton, CO and/or Durango and also a drive through Monument Valley. I’m having trouble figuring out which route would make most sense to accomplish as much of this as possible. Could anyone please suggest a route?



Places we’d like to see-

Depart from Moab-

Monument Valley

Mesa Verde (questioning this now since Cliff Palace Rd and Cliff Palace tours are closed)

Durango (considering taking the narrow gauge train- but not the one to Silverton as it would be too long for my 5 year old)

Silverton

Ouray

Arrive in Santa Fe



Would we be missing out if we just went to Durango and not Silverton or Ouray? We love Switzerland so I got really excited when I read that Ouray is the “Switzerland of America”! But I’m not sure how to make it fit in the itinerary. Or should we definitely go through Ouray and Silverton and skip Durango and riding the train? Trying to see as much as we can in a short amount of time, but we don’t want to stretch ourselves too thin. Thanks again for your help!
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 07:41 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,218
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Carlsbad Caverns is self guided (the guided tours to other parts of the cavern aren't operating due to covid) https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvis...ided_tours.htm

I also recommend the tours at Best Friends. Book early as they're limiting numbers Book Now | Best Friends Animal Society There are some short self guided hikes on the property as well. The setting is beautiful.

If you go to Peekaboo, you can stop at Devils Garden on the way back. It's along the same road and the formations start right by the parking area https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/devils-garden

There's an easy slot canyon hike closer to Bryce but the road to the trail head has an uphill sandy stretch that may require AWD/4WD https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/u...-narrows-trail

For all of the slot canyon hikes mentioned in this thread, you'll need to take just the vehicle.

How many nights can you spare between Moab and Santa Fe? Monument Valley is a detour out of your way and may or may not be open. It sounds like you can self tour Step House at Mesa Verde https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvis...ffdwelling.htm I've never seen that one as I've never been to the park during the months when Wetherill Mesa Rd is open.

Last edited by Patty; Apr 6th, 2021 at 08:26 AM.
Patty is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 08:53 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,218
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you mentioned animals, you might be interested in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum while in Tucson Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ - Zoo, Botanical Garden and Art Gallery
Patty is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 05:40 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,503
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The information shared about quarantining in New Mexico is outdated. Quarantining here is now recommended for 10 days, but not required.
https://cv.nmhealth.org/travel-recom...20of%20lodging.

You can do the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns in about an hour. It is stunning. I also recommend the sunset walk at White Sands if it's currently being offered.

If you can't do the tours at Mesa Verde, I would skip the whole park and save it for another trip. Bandelier National Monument near Santa Fe is open and has ladders that your son might enjoy.

If you're able to, visit The Needles section of Canyonlands. I would skip a second day at Arches to do this one.

Goblin Valley is a lot of fun. Have you seen "Galaxy Quest"? The scene where they go to the rock planet is set in Goblin Valley.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2021, 06:20 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,404
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ok--I would skip Mesa Verde with a 5 yo and come back another time. The ranger guided hikes are really amazing. For Peekaboo--it's an hours drive (one way) down a washed out, bumpy road to get there. It is an all day trip with a 5 yo. In fact, just go into it from the top vs. trying to get in from the mouth of the slot--there is a cliff you have to climb up into it. There is Dry Fork slot down there as well--very short, very flat, very easy. I think if you park at the first Dry Fork parking lot, you actually walk through or along Dry Fork to get to Peekaboo. I would absolutely skip Spooky at that age.

If you are working in Goblin Valley after a stop at Capital Reef, you could hike Little Wildhorse Canyon--or do the slot canyon suggested above that is close to Bryce. For small kids--I suggest the Bristlecone Loop trail at Bryce and then either the Mossy Cave trail or the slot noted above. I wouldn't go below the rim with a 5 yo because it is a haul back up

I would do Needles District for Canyonlands--and i would do the the Cowboy Spring Cave or Cowboy Cave or Cave spring hike. (gah!)

And yes, all of my trip reports for these places are with kids--and I have them for every NP in Utah plus Page/Kanab area, and Escalante. Mine are teens now but we have been doing road trips with them to Southern Utah and surroundings since they were quite small. For any hiking--remember that bribes are a must I used to put M&Ms in a baggy and shake it behind me when we would go up steep hills--a few more steps and you can have another one! I love, love, love looking at all of the "critter" tracks in the sand. You can see so much--lizards, mice, ground squirrels, beetles, etc. That Desert Tracks and Scat book is great. I think another book is "Oh Yuck" and talks about things like Desert Toads being able to burrow under the sand and keep moist in their own urine until it rains and they emerge. Again, great book!
StantonHyde is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2021, 03:13 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you decide to skip Mesa Verde, then stop at Aztec National Monument which can be on a pretty direct rout between Moab and Santa Fe. There is a restored kiva there which is very interesting as well as ruins. It is part of the National Park system..

Do get the America Beautiful pass for the National park properties. It gets you into all the parks, monuments etc. and will save you money on this trip.

if you decide to skip Monument Valley, consider doing a drive through Valley of the Gods. It is north of Monument Valley and there is no VC there, but is an easy drive through on a mostly flat gravel road with similar formations and perhaps some free range cattle. Do avoid all the unsaved roads if it has been rainy. They turn to mud that gets very greasy.

Last edited by oldemalloy; Apr 7th, 2021 at 03:20 AM. Reason: Stopped too soon
oldemalloy is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2021, 07:06 AM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for your information and recommendations! They’ve been keeping me very busy researching and reading trip reports!

Thank you for mentioning the restrictions in NM. We were unaware. We will be monitoring the quarantine recommendations in all states between now and then. Hoping/wondering if requirements will be different for those that are vaccinated.

So, you’ve convinced me…
I am trying to see if we can leave a day early to fit Carlsbad Caverns in.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum looks awesome! If you had to choose between this and Saguaro National Park, which would you choose?

It doesn’t look like Best Friends has any animal tours available when we’d be traveling through Kanab, but maybe we should still stop to hike around and stretch our legs?

Do you think Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon is worth forfeiting our second day at Bryce? It looks like a great adventure! Willis Creek is a great suggestion too. We had not heard of that one. Is it as visually striking as Peekaboo? (I’m a photographer )

Is 2 nights enough at Zion or would 3 be best?

I think sadly we’ve decided to skip Mesa Verde since it is farther off the route and we’ll be doing a LOT of driving with our young son. Plus the Cliff Palace Road will be closed and no tours will be available. We’re hoping to visit Bandelier National Monument this trip since it appears to be open. And also maybe the Aztec National Monument.

We can spare 2-3 nights between Moab and Santa Fe. I saw that Monument Valley was not too far from Moab so I thought it might fit nicely after Moab. It sounded like a not-to-be-missed location. Or would it be better to visit Monument Valley before Page, AZ? It’s really coming down to whether or not we visit Ouray/Silverton, CO after Moab. Does anyone have thoughts on this? It looks gorgeous! But will we be missing out on the best scenery if we skip Ouray and only visit Durango?

Here are two options I’m considering…

Option 1:

Moab to Monument Valley/ Valley of the Gods (spend 1 night, unless this is more of a drive through?)

Monument Valley to Durango (ride the train) (spend two nights)

Durango to Santa Fe

Head back East



Option 2:

(Move Santa Fe to the beginning of the trip)

Moab to Monument Valley/Valley of the Gods (spend one night)

Monument Valley to Durango (one night)

Durango to Ouray (one night)

Head back East

Thanks again!!
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2021, 07:15 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,218
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you decide to include the Needles district of Canyonlands, you could do that on your way to CO or MV. It's about 1.5 hour from Moab and you would be driving in that direction. My recent trip report also covers the Needles and Cave Spring trail there A fall meander from TX to CA

We also went to Valley of the Gods and other places in the southeast corner of UT. There's Goosenecks State Park which is similar to Horseshoe Bend and several short easy hikes to ruins in this general area. You could spend a few days here.
Patty is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2021, 07:50 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,218
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just saw your reply. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is right next to Saguaro West so you could do both. There are quite a few saguaros at White Stallion and if you end up riding there, the scenery is similar to the park.


This is what the Best Friends Sanctuary looks like


And this is along the Hidden Lake hike



If you're stopping there on a travel day, you may need to unhitch your trailer near the welcome center.

You may also be interested in hiking at the Toadstools https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/u...-hoodoos-trail It's right off of 89 between Page and Kanab.

I haven't been to Peekaboo so can't compare the two. Willis Creek is not a super tight slot.



You don't need a lot of time at Valley of the Gods itself and you can disperse camp there if you don't need hookups but there is a lot more to see in this area.

Last edited by Patty; Apr 7th, 2021 at 07:57 AM.
Patty is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2021, 05:29 AM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Patty for the photos! It's always helpful to see the actual sights when planning a trip! You made me even more excited about riding at White Stallion! And that's great to know about the museum and Saguaro being close to one another. We had been trying to decide whether to use one of our ranch days to visit Saguaro National Park or to see it en route to White Stallion.

With all the great suggestions, we're now shifting a few days of the itinerary to gain a day or two for other sights along the way. Could anyone weigh in on how many days you suggest for each park in Utah? This is what we're thinking, but I'd love some feedback. We'd obviously love to spend 5 days at each, but we're trying to fit in a lot in the time allowed for our trip. Is 2 nights, 1 day enough for Zion with a child?? Or would it be better to give Zion another night and reduce Bryce/Escalante by one?

Zion- 2 nights, 1 full day
Bryce - 2 nights, 1 full day
Moab (Arches/Canyonlands/Rafting) - 5 nights, 4 full days
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2021, 04:28 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,404
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Senoran Desert Museum in Tucson is amazing--really, truly fantastic. My kids loved it. And we drove through Saguaro NP on the way to the Museum and called it good! Check to see if Monument Valley is open given that it is on the Navajo Reservation. The East entrance to Grand Canyon NP just opened up--it is in the Navajo Reservation--so that could be a sign that more things will open up. The Rez got hit really, really hard with Covid--so many people died. They are still reeling. There has been a massive vaccination campaign but they will not hestitate to shut things down if they need to do so.

For Kanab--just a short distance outside it is the Pipe Springs National Monument. That is a fun, short sight to see.

Peekaboo is amazing because it is in the red, Kayenta layer and has natural bridges and pour offs inside of it. Google it to see some of the pix. But I would ditch the trailer to go down that washboard road for an hour.
StantonHyde is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2021, 05:16 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, StantonHyde! We are definitely adding the museum to our must see list in AZ! Since you have such vast experience with the Utah parks, what would be your thought on number of days in each park with a child? I know it's quick since we're trying to tour different states, but I don't want to have regrets either. This is what we're thinking...
Zion- 2 nights, 1 full day
Bryce - 2 nights, 1 full day
Moab (Arches/Canyonlands/Rafting) - 5 nights, 4 full days
I'm worried we may feel 1 day is not enough in Zion. We don't plan to do the Angels or Narrows hikes since we'll have our son with us. Should we take a night from Bryce and add it to Zion? Or keep 2 nights at each? Thoughts?
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2021, 09:01 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 743
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you have the time I suggest you take an inner tube down the virgin river in ZION, it is an easy drift, fun for the entire family - you are dropped off at the starting point.
donnae_b is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2021, 06:20 PM
  #37  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
donnae_b, that sounds like SO much fun!! My son would love to do that! Unfortunately, we just found out about the toxic cyanobacteria bloom in the Virgin River and streams of Zion NP. Have you heard anything about this? It just popped up on the NPS website when we were researching Zion.
broadway79 is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2021, 09:35 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,404
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
With a 5 yo, you can see Bryce in one day--do the Bristlecone Loop and Mossy Cave. In Zion, do the Emerald Pools trail, go to lower, middle, upper, and that's enough for one day. You can take the shuttle to the end and do the River Walk and let your little guy play along the river there. In Moab, 1 day for Canyonlands, 2 days in Arches, and 1 day rafting and you are done. And yes, they are having issues with the river--always check the park website for the most up to date info. Again, check out my trip reports for details on the hikes to do in each park with kids. As for taking nights, etc. The bottom line is that you don't want to drive after dark in this area. Too many deer, elk, cows on the road. So use that as your guide.
StantonHyde is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2021, 07:04 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 97
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've been to Tucson and Phoenix. I HIGHLY recommend that you go to Phoenix instead of Tucson. It's a shorter drive from New Mexico, for one thing- straight across I-40. There are some fabulous things in Phoenix for kids- including a dinosaur exhibit at the Science Center. THere's a nearby "ghost town", too, with panning for gold and an old time train ride. It's also closer to Sedona, and then you MUST go to the GRand Canyon! I can't believe it's not on your list! It's not far from Sedona. There's a campground right there. You'll also find that it's much cooler when you get that high up, and you'll appreciate the break from the heat.

Last edited by ethrush; Apr 10th, 2021 at 07:12 PM.
ethrush is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
slpearson
Road Trips
17
Feb 25th, 2013 12:42 PM
Eesmerelda
United States
6
Apr 5th, 2012 08:56 PM
Eesmerelda
Road Trips
17
Apr 2nd, 2012 07:35 AM
Eesmerelda
United States
29
Mar 24th, 2012 02:45 PM
garlicgirl
Road Trips
13
Jan 23rd, 2009 06:25 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


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 07:50 PM.