Utah parks itinerary feedback

Old Mar 11th, 2022, 01:49 PM
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Utah parks itinerary feedback

Hi Everyone: We are planning to travel to the Utah parks in April 2022 and wanted to get your feedback.

About us:
  • Family of 3. Wife and I (mid-40's).
  • Kid: 12.
  • Vegetarians.
  • Casual hikers (4 mile hikes)
  • Vegetarians
Proposed itinerary
  • April 8: Arrive Las Vegas
  • April 9: Drive to Zion. Visit Valley of Fire SP on the way
  • April 10: Zion NP
  • April 11: Drive to Bryce Canyon
  • April 12: Bryce Canyon
  • April 13: Drive to Moab, Capital reef on the way
  • April 14: Canyonlands in AM, Arches in PM
  • April 15: Canyonlands in AM, Arches in PM
  • April 16: Drive to Monument Valley. Monument Valley tour in evening
  • April 17: Drive to Las Vegas. Horshshoe bend on the way.
  • April 18: Fly out.
Questions:
  • What is the best way to see Zion NP? I understand private cars cannot go in the park. There seems to be a shuttle. Is there a way to get a tour jeep or something else to see Zion?
  • Same for Arches. I understand we need to reserve. Any suggestions how to maximize the trip?
  • What are the best must-do hikes in each of these parks in your opinion?
  • We plan to rent an SUV. Do we need a 4x4 absolutely? We do not really plan to go off any beaten path AFAICT. If so, any suggestions how to book a 4x4 with Avis (can't see anything on their website apart from a Jeep which is 2x the price of a midsize suv).
  • Food recommendations for vegetarians?
Thank you!
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Old Mar 11th, 2022, 02:12 PM
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Sounds like fun. Since Zion is one of the nation's premiere national parks, you may want linger longer there. You won't have any trouble getting vegetarian food in Springdale (Zion) or Moab (Arches, Canyonlands). They are major tourist towns and more and more tourists want vegetarian food. If you Google the town names and "vegetarian restaurants" you'll see them.

Last edited by PrairieHikerII; Mar 11th, 2022 at 02:14 PM.
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Old Mar 11th, 2022, 02:17 PM
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In Zion, you can drive yourself on all open park roads except the the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during the shuttle season.

You can drive yourself through the park and to all the overlooks. Unfortunately, the most popular hiking trails are on Zion Canyon Scenic Road.

You can also drive into Arches, but you need a timed permit to enter the park. Once you're in, you're in.

Canyonlands in AM and Arches in PM doesn't really work given the distances between the two. Plan at least one full day in each park. Less driving, more time in the parks.

https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvis...servations.htm

No, you don't need a 4x4. Most park roads are paved. There are a few out of the way spots in Arches, but mostly for access to the more rugged hikes. Still passable in a regular car if conditions are dry.

You'll want to pack a cooler for day trips into the parks - lots of places to picnic, no places to buy food (other than the lodge on Zion Scenic road and perhaps a lodge in Bryce, not sure about this). You'll have no trouble finding vegetarian options in Moab, Springdale near Zion, and Bryce Canyon City.

There are some very popular hikes at each park, but most popular doesn't equate with 'best'. You'll find plenty of hikes to choose from. Emerald Pools in Zion is a good one as is Devil's Garden in Arches. Loads of options in Capitol Reef and several good hikes in Canyonlands.

I have a few trip reports here that might give you some ideas:

Got rocks? A winter visit to Utah’s Orogenous Zones

Into the Great Wide Open: Winter Edition

Into the Great Wide Open - A nine day road trip


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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 09:30 AM
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Thank you so much for the replies! Melnq8 your trip reports are very helpful!

Quick question (and I am sure I will have more of these): Do you think the following is doable:
  • Arrive Zion on Saturday Evening.
  • Sleep in Springdale (Holiday Inn)
  • See Zion NP on Sunday (all day).
  • Sunday evening drive to Bryce Canyon City
That way we wake up and see Bryce Canyon all day instead of having to drive 2 hours in the morning before we get to the park.

Thoughts?
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 10:07 AM
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I agree with everything melnq8 posted. Your first stop should be to get the cooler and whatever will keep your gang happy. As I recall neither. Arches or Canyonlands has much to offer for food.

It would be nice to be in Bryce to see sunrise, but I would not want to be on those roads after dark. Hitting an Antelope, deer, elk, horse, etc, on the way to Bryce would spoil the whole trip. If you could do it in daylight it would be safer. We have photos of Antelope right next to the road in Bryce.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 10:10 AM
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It would be a bit rushed for my tastes, unless you have time on arrival to go into the park to see the tunnel and the overlooks, and then maybe spend most of Sunday on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive hiking and exploring, then head to Bryce from there.

You'll have about 12 hours of daylight. I don't think I'd want to make the drive to Bryce in the dark. There's a lot of free roaming stock in Utah as well as other animals, like deer on the road.

Expect plenty of people in Zion.

Last edited by Melnq8; Mar 12th, 2022 at 10:17 AM.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 10:17 AM
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Got it. So 2 nights in Springdale it is. We'll drive to Bryce the next day and maximize time there.

Next set of questions:
  • Bryce to Canyon Reef: Scenic byway: Is it okay to do in the afternoon (say around 2 pm to 4 pm) - that way we can head to Bryce in the AM again and sneak in another hike or view.
  • Which National Park pass would you recommend we get so we do not have to worry about tickets a lot. We are not huge NP visitors (yet).
Thank you so much.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 10:26 AM
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I'd suggest the annual America the Beautiful pass, which is good for a year - $80. Otherwise you have to purchase separate entry to each park (around $35 per park for up to a week), but I don't think they're interchangeable from park to park.

Yes, fine to drive the Scenic Byway to Capitol Reef in the afternoon.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 12:28 PM
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Bryce to Canyon Reef: Scenic byway: Is it okay to do in the afternoon (say around 2 pm to 4 pm) - that way we can head to Bryce in the AM again and sneak in another hike or view.

I wouldn't leave that late if you're planning to drive all the way to Moab that day. It's approx 3 hours from Bryce to Capitol Reef via Hwy 12 including a couple of scenic/view point stops (no hiking) plus whatever time you plan to spend at Capitol Reef (do you plan to hike?) plus another two hours from Capitol Reef to Moab.

My husband and I both liked Moab Kitchen even though neither of us is vegan/vegetarian.

I also wouldn't split Canyonlands into two different mornings assuming you're planning to visit the Island in the Sky section. That's a lot of unnecessary driving back and forth. If you're planning to also visit The Needles section, I would do it on your way from Moab to Monument Valley. Less backtracking this way as The Needles is an hour and a half from Moab. Just leave early.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 05:22 PM
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Patty : We will stay at the Red Sands hotel in Torrey overnight so won't be driving to Moab the same day.
  • Arches and Canyonlands: How "easy" is it to get a morning pass for Arches the day before? I have entry passes for the afternoon purchased for 2 days just in case.
  • Monument Valley: We were planning to stay at Gouldings lodge. The lodge has a 3.5 hours evening tour offered whilst booking the room but I also found a "similar" 3.5 hours tour online via Monument Valley Safari tours (starts at 4 pm). What do you recommend?


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