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dmpalena Dec 19th, 2009 10:17 AM

Utah, Arizona Fall Itinerary---Any thoughts?
My husband and I are in the initial stages of planning a trip out to the Southwest next fall. Right now we are thinking about going mid September to beat the winter weather. Our preliminary plans are to visit Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. Two years ago we traveled to Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef and loved the vacation. We have considered a variety of routes we could use, trying to avoid into one city and out of another to avoid any expensive drop-off fees for a car rental. Initially I thought we would fly into Phoenix and go north, then east from there, but the cost of renting a car there seems to be significantly higher than if we were to start the trip out of Las Vegas.

Wondering if any fellow fodorites have any suggestions and/or recommendations on a proposed itinerary that starts and ends in Las Vegas. We have been to Vegas before and are not interested in spending ANY time there, so I was thinking of flying into Vegas and heading straight for Springdale, Utah to spend our first night. We absolutely loved the road trip we took via Route 12 from Zion to Bryce and would like to repeat the trip this time ending in Moab to spend at least three or four nights. I understand that the driving time from Zion to Moab (even using Route 12) will be about 7-8 hours and that is fine with us, especially since it is such a beautiful drive.

I would appreciate some feedback about how long to plan on staying in the Moab area. We are not hikers but will do some short hikes to see the sights in Arches National Park. I would like to see the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands as well as the Needles District and understand that we will not be able to do both on the same day, so I am figuring on at least three full days in Moab. Will that be enough considering we will be doing a lot of our sightseeing from the car and our short hikes? We will be heading on to the Grand Canyon via Monument Valley after our stay in Moab, then on to Vegas to fly home.

How realistic is our itinerary and do you have any suggestions for improving it? We are planning on about 8-9 nights for this trip. If I can get a decent rate on a car and/or airfare in or out of Phoenix, would it be better to go that route instead? We actually visited the Grand Canyon before and were hoping to see it again this time around, but it's not necessarily a "must do", though we would really like to see Monument Valley. Am I right in thinking that mid September would be a good time to visit these parks, weather wise? I'd like to plan a time when the chances are we are going to get clear, sunny (not too hot) days.

Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions! Wishing everyone a very happy holiday!

spirobulldog Dec 19th, 2009 11:33 AM

What about flying into Salt Lake and out of Vegas. or vice versa. Did you see Goblin Valley on your previous trip. Be sure and see Deadhorse State Park overlook(overlooks island in the sky district). I assume you will be seeing the Grand Canyon from the North Rim? The hike to Delicate Arch is a little strenuous, but if at all possible I would do it and just take your time. The hike to Landscape Arch is easy. You don't have to do the entire loop trail, just go to Landscape and back. Double Arch is my favorite arch and it is right on the road along with a few more. Balanced Rock is right on the road. If your budget allows, consider taking a small airplane(4 seater)Tour from Moab. Maybe a 4 wheel drive tour as well.

I have been to all of the places you mention except Bryce. My least favorites were Cap Reef and Monument Valley. But still enjoyed them.

You might even want to wait until firstor middle of October. Everything on the North Rim closes Oct 15.

If you go in Mid October don't miss the Drive in Timpangos Canyon near Salt Lake. Some of the best fall colors I have ever seen.

emalloy Dec 19th, 2009 12:44 PM

We did a similar trip a few years ago and had a fine time. Your thought to go to Springdale the first night is a good one. If going all the way to Moab is too much, then you can stop in Green River, there are plenty of places to stay in that area.

If you spend a day in Arches, and a day in Island in the sky (and maybe Dead Horse Park) spend the night, then hit the Needles district on your way towards Monument Valley, you should have enough time to do some hiking and get a feel for the area.

There are some interesting things to do in Page, between Monument Valley and GC. Antelope Canyon is very interesting and there are half day smooth water raft trips on the Colorado river from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. I have a couple of pictures at if you want to get a look at this area.

If the North Rim is closed, go to the south rim on your way back to Vegas. The road in from the east is the nicest approach to the canyon and I like the South Rim better, but have only gone there when it is not crowded.

Get a National Park pass if you do not already have one and have fun planning and taking the trip.

dmpalena Dec 21st, 2009 11:56 AM

Thank you both for the great recommendations!!! The airfare and car rentals are much cheaper for flying into and out of Vegas so that's probably the route we'll take. Not sure whether to head for Moab first (by way of Zion and Route 12), then down to Monument Valley onto the Grand Canyon and back to Vegas, or the other way around. If we end in Springdale, UT at the end of the trip we will only be 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Vegas and would probably be able to get a late afternoon flight home. Otherwise the trip from the Grand Canyon to Vegas would be longer, meaning we would have to spend another night (probably in Vegas) so we can fly out the following day. Do you see either way causing any issues? Thanks, again, for the responses!

emalloy Dec 21st, 2009 12:29 PM

If you are willing to wing it, you could wait until about 10 days before you leave and check the wether during the time you'll be gone. We've done the trip in both directions, with variations, and it was fine either way. In any case, if you get in at a reasonable hour, go a few hours towards the place you are to start from. There are places to stay near Bullhead City before Hoover Dam in the GC first direction if that is what you choose, but not much as I recall between there and Kingman. If you want to stay in the National Parks, there might be last minute cancellations to hook up with last minute also.

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