Trip Report - Grand Circle

Nov 28th, 2003, 06:59 AM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Grand Circle

Here is my trip report of our recent Grand Circle adventure?a trip of a lifetime with many great memories. This trip hooked us onto hiking and the southwest! We had such a great time that I am planning another trip to Arizona this spring. Thanks to all of you who provided so much info on the area. You made 4 Canadians really happy!!

Day 1 - Drove from LA to Kayenta - stayed at the Hampton Inn Kayenta ? quite comfortable accommodations, dinner and breakfast in the dining room was ok ? nothing fabulous, service was good (If you eat dinner in the dining room save your receipt ? you get a discount in the gift shop). Visited the Burger King next door for the Navajo Windtalker exhibit. There are artifacts from the war in the exhibit and was interesting because we had just seen the movie "Windtalkers" with Nicholas Cage.
Day 2 ? Visited Monument Valley, did a jeep tour with a Navajo guide named Joe. Really beautiful majestic area and the tour was good but very dusty (take care of your camera). We had to wait at the tour booth to get a private tour - it was just the 5 of us, which was nice because we took as long as we liked at the various stops. The other guides took approx. 12 people!! After the tour we drove back into the park on our own and did the 17-mile scenic driving tour. It was a little bumpy in our rental car (a Dodge Neon) but we still did it. Ate a late lunch in the cafeteria. Warning about the gift shop (or more my stupidity) but I bought a dream catcher there and assumed that it was Indian made ? not so, because I saw an identical one later on in the trip with a "Made in China" sticker on it. Did a brief tour of Goulding's lodge, then we headed out for Chinle, AZ and stayed at Thunderbird Lodge Canyon de Chelly. The accommodations were adequate ? but food in the cafeteria was expensive for what it was especially breakfast which was a la carte (bacon/eggs/toast/tea was the same price as our dinner the night before!)
Day 3 - Drove to Canyon de Chelly (AZ) and did the 2.5-mile round trip White House Ruin hike. The hike was really exciting because it was a new adventure for us and the ruins were quite nice but nothing compared to Mesa Verde ruins (see Day 4). Did the 40-mile South rim scenic drive before heading out towards the Four Corners National Monument. This was a huge disappointment ? it is $3/person but when we arrived they were about to close and no one was there to take our money. The gate was open so we drove in ? took the picture of us all sitting on a corner of each state and left ? total of 5 minutes. All there is is a huge area with the 4 states and wooden souvenir stands surrounding it. Don?t get me wrong ? it?s something that as a tourist we had to do but I?m so glad that we didn?t pay $12! Drove to Cortez, CO stayed at Best Western.
Day 4 - Mesa Verde Ntl Park and did the Cliff House ranger guided tour. This was amazing ? and a highlight of the trip. All the ruins here are breathtaking. Later we did the Spruce tree ruin hike as well as the scenic drive. Drove to Moab, UT and stayed at Slick Rock Campground. The cabin was cute ($29) and we never had to wait to use the facilities. Moab was bustling as there was a bike festival going on. Make sure to visit the Tom Till Gallery in town ? he is an amazing landscape photographer (www.tomtill.com)
Day 5 ? Visited Arches Ntl Park doing the scenic driving tour as well as quite a few of the hikes. The arches throughout the park are breathtaking. This park was another highlight of the trip.
Day 6 ? Visited Dead Horse Park that is at the entrance of Canyonlands Ntl Park ? island in the sky district. These 2 parks were quite scenic but I think because of our world wind tour through so many parks and so many states that we were getting a bit tired. They didn?t really hit me as much as Mesa Verde and Arches.
Day 7 ? Vegas ? what can I say ? we went from total nature to a total urban area ? I had to visit the outlet mall to reintroduce us back into the city life!! Stayed at Whiskey Pete?s at Stateline ? a huge bargain at $19.95/room ? which was gorgeous!.
Day 8 - Valley of Fire, NV ? this is well worth a visit if you don?t want to gamble in Vegas. There are pertoglyphs and a few hikes as well as a scenic drive. Also visited the Lost Civilization Museum, which was small but interesting.
Day 9 - Death Valley ? be prepared for lots and lots of driving from site to site. It?s impressive because of its size and vastness but it is a huge dessert after all. Yet again this may be my opinion because of all the other parks we visited on this same trip.
Day 10 ? back to LA.

Whew ? it was tiring and we had to hustle but it was FABULOUS!! If I had to do it again?. I would do this in 14 days, visit Antelope canyon and Canyonlands Needles district. And throw in 2 days at a pool!!

MaryRay is offline  
Nov 28th, 2003, 07:06 AM
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Sorry everyone - something got wierd and my apostrophes and hyphens turned into question marks. My apologies...

MaryRay
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Nov 29th, 2003, 07:39 PM
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MaryRay,

Sounds like you had a fantastic trip. Thanks for the report.

I have one question...did you go to Dead Horse Point AND Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky District) OR just Dead Horse State park? They are two different parks and the entrances are at different locations. I prefer Canyonlands over Dead Horse State park...I think there are more views.

Utahtea
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Nov 30th, 2003, 04:14 AM
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We did both Dead Horse and Islands in the sky on the same day. Dead Horse was off the same road. As you had said when we were planning this trip we did tons of driving considering that we started in Los Angeles, I think we put 3000 miles on the rental car!! It was totally a memorable trip and ranks up there with our trip to Asia and India.

Thanks for all your help with the itinerary your suggestions were incredibly helpful. As well thank you for helping with our new trip itinerary for Arizona this spring- you must travel alot!!
MaryRay is offline  
Nov 30th, 2003, 11:10 AM
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OK, you did get to both. I was a little confused from the report.

The first time we went to Island in the Sky, back in the dinosaur age...LOL...the road to Dead Horse Point was paved but at the Y in the road it turned to a washborad dirt road to go to Canyonlands. It took ALL day just to drive to Green River Overlook and Grand View. We didn't have time for anything else!!!

Yes, we travel a lot and for 30 years so we've covered a lot of ground

Utahtea
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