UTAH-16 days, BEST things to see and do

Dec 18th, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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UTAH-16 days, BEST things to see and do


Planning a trip to UTAH in May for the first time. I don't know too much about UTAH accept for the National Parks and great skiiing in winter. Will have 16 days. Flying RT to Las Vegas and renting a car.

Would like to see Salt Lake City and Park City, as well as some of the National Parks like Zion and Bryce and Arches. Any suggestions on places/attractions we should not miss, as well as hotel and restaurant recommendations, etc?

free2b4862 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 01:47 PM
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With 16 days you should have time for a nice trip. Depending on your interests, do you like to hike, photography, vegging by the pool, fancy lodging, etc.? In any case, I would not miss the National parks including, Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, and Grand Canyon.

If you are interested in Native American historic sites then I would also want to go to Canyon de Chelley, Mesa Verde, and maybe some of the petroglyph and pictograph sites like Butler Wash, Buckhorn Wash, Sego Canyon, Nine Mile Canyon, and the sites near Moab.

There are so many neat places to visit. Have a great time planning and taking your trip.
emalloy is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 03:05 PM
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Captiol Reef is my least favorite NP there. I would stop and see it though. Pick some fruit in the orchard and eat in the orchard with the deer. There is a place in the orchard that sells homemade ice cream and homemade pies.

My all time favorite activity in Utah is canyoneering with www.derserthighlights.com

A few other things that we enjoyed that emalloy didn't mention. Deadhorse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park(don't miss Little Wildhorse Canyon, about 5 miles from the goblins), Natural Bridges National Monument. Timpanogos Cave not far out of Salt Lake is nice.

How much hiking do you like to do?
My all time favorite hikes that I have done in Utah are:
Angels Landing in Zion
The Narrows in Zion
Delicate Arch in Arches
Devils Garden in Arches
Horseshoe Canyon to see The Great Gallery in Canyonlands
Little Wildhorse Canyon
Sipapu Bridge hike

Most of these hikes aren't your average hike. They are somewhat adventurous. Most of them are 2 to 6 hour hikes.

I would stay "in park" in Bryce and Zion. Make reservations ASAP.

If you are adventurous don't miss the canyoneering. Also you might consider rafting the Cateract Canyon on an overnighter. I haven't done it, but have done the Grand Canyon and it is a fantastic experience. I haven't been to Bryce and it is high on my list. From all that I have read the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop is the trail to hike there. It looks to be a fairly easy hike.

If you haven't been to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you will be fairly close. Also might consider Lake Powell/Page.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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Buy a National Park Pass.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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I would be tempted to do Moab area first, then on to Bryce and Zion. Moab are will be the warmest and you would most likely be better off to do them first as the more into summer you get the hotter they will be. Bryce will be fine, you can cool of in Zion in The Narrows. Oh yeah, Probably would want to see Calf Creek Falls on scenic Hwy 12. I haven't don this one either.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 03:16 PM
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If you are determined to include SLC and Park City, then you could start in LV and work your way to SLC and fly out of SLC.
It would work however to do a BIG loop with SLC and PC in the middle of the trip.

2 days Zion
2 days Bryce
1 day Capitol Reef
3 days SLC/Park City
4 days Moab
2 days Mesa Verde
2 days GC

If your 16 days include travel days, then skip Mesa Verde and save that whole area for another trip. There is much to see and do, plenty for another 3 week trip in the area.
Dayle is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 03:27 PM
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PS - May is nice in the mountains, but June, July, August and Sept far better for summer sports! May is perfect for southern UT, so you might want to skip SLC and Park City this time and spend more time in the south.
Dayle is offline  
Dec 18th, 2009, 08:24 PM
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If you're into somewhat adventuresome hiking, there are some very interesting choices near the Utah-Arizona border:
(1) Buckskin Gulch. Possibly the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world. This can be done either as a day hike, or hike the entire canyon overnight - weather permitting.
(2) The Wave. Located in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (more specifically, Coyote Buttes North), it's become very famous in the last decade, for having incredible wave-like patterns in the sandstone. If you're interested, you have to win the lottery - literally. Permits for this area are sharply limited; an Internet lottery is held on February 1 for the month of May (apply during January); odds are probably less than 1 in 10 of getting a permit.
(3) If you lose the lottery, there are still plenty of other vistas in the nearby Coyote Buttes South. A permit is required; they go pretty fast. Apply on February 1 at 11am MST for the month of May.
lgott is offline  
Dec 19th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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In case nobody as said so thus far, Utah has many great scenic drives, including Highway 12 between Bryce Canyon and Torrey, which is one of the most beautiful in the US, and Highway 24 between Torrey and Hanksville.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 05:14 AM
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I agree with Dayle. Either fly into LV and out of SLC if you can or skip SLC this trip.
BarbaraS is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 05:54 AM
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Thanks for all the replies! I've been to Mesa Verda before (fantastic!, a very long drive up), and to Grand Canyon twice so no need to do those again this trip. We are not hikers, but willing to trek a bit to see something really scenic! My original plan was to fly into SLC and fly out of Las Vegas, however the car rental would be like $1000 more to pick up the car in SLC and drop off in LV!!!! MUCH MUCH cheaper to pick up and return car rental to same airport/location. I learned that last trip when renting car in CALIF, same deal, cost us $500 more to rent in San Francisco and drop off in San Diego than if we picked up and dropped off same location. And there seems to be very limited DIRECT flights from Newark airport to SLC in May, will cost $200 more to fly to SLC than to Las Vegas, so looks like Las Vegas is much better deal. Thanks again!
free2b4862 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 06:51 AM
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Most of my hike suggestions would probably not be for you. Delicate Arch and Landscape Arches are the two easiest of my suggestions. You could walk a short way in "The Narrows" and turn around whenever you wanted to This is really easy hike you are just in ankle deep water. FUN FUN FUN!! Landscape is super easy(just don't do the entire Devils Garden Trail, simply turn around and go back the way you started), Delicate Arch is a little strenuous, but I think most people can do it, just take your time. It is all downhill on the return, so the hard part is the hour or so that it takes you to get to the top.

You might search on "Myer" on fodors. He does hike, but he has a lot of great suggestions that aren't as wild or strenuous as my suggestions. He has some nice photos as well.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 07:14 AM
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I agree with recommendations above.
For a restaurant suggestion, I'd include Hell's Backbone Kitchen in Boulder, Utah. It serves fresh, organic delicious food and has an intersting story.
elnap29 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 08:42 AM
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Seeing as though you've already been to the Grand Canyon, then I recommend adding Lake Powell to your itinerary. Doing the type of trip you're considering, you can choose to visit it from the "uplake" side, which is Bullfrog Marina, about a 3 hour drive from Moab; or the "downlake" side, near the town of Page, Arizona (which is just a short distance South of the Utah border). Not only is Lake Powell extremely scenic, but on the "downlake" side (Page AZ) particularly, there are a lot of fun and easy activities that you can do such as smooth water rafting on the Colorado, boat tours on Lake Powell, 4x4 tours to slot canyons such as Antelope, Waterholes, etc., just to name a few.

I don't recall seeing how many people you'd be traveling with, but the absolute ultimate Lake Powell experience is a houseboating trip, which you might be able to work in seeing as though you've got 2 weeks+. However, those 1. tend to book up several months in advance 2. tend to be expensive and more conducive to large groups traveling and 3. usually have a 3-day minimum, which is what you'd need really to do justice to the whole experience anyway.

Regarding the rental car pricing issue, one downside - or upside depending on your point of view - to this part of the country is that cities are few and far between, so most rental car outlets are going to charge sizeable drop-off fees for returning a vehicle somewhere other than where you picked it up. With that in mind, and in light of what you seem to want to accomplish, I too would encourage using Las Vegas as your starting and ending point.
K_Bot is offline  
Dec 21st, 2009, 10:20 AM
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As Spiro wrote, I don't do "hard" but I'm pretty much non-stop.

You can look for my trip reports to Utah in 2007 & 2008.

You can also see my photos at:

There are some hikes that are more tiring than diffcult such as Delicate Arch. However, I would highly recommend it an hour or so before sunset.

It's mostly uphill all the way there but you can rest as often as you need. Conversely, on the way back it's much easier and downhill. Nothing difficult.

Also, if you're riding thru Escalante, you can look into Lower Calg Creek Falls. A bit long at 2.5 miles each way and not much shade but the falls at the end are amazing.

In Zion, the Riverside Walk (which is the pre-start of the Narrows) has amazing scenery and I also saw some deer.
Myer is offline  

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