Utah road trip itinerary help needed please!

Old Sep 24th, 2020, 03:44 PM
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Utah road trip itinerary help needed please!

We are planning a 10 day road trip from SFBay Area to Utah. We've been to Zion, Bryce, Arches, and Canyonlands already, so this time we want to visit Capitol Reef and Grand Escalante.
We're planning on stopping at Great Basin Park in eastern Nevada to break up the drive and do a hike in the park one day as well.
My quandary is whether to include Grand Escalante. Is there enough in the Capitol Reef area to keep us there a few more days? I don't want to shortchange that area, and it would mean less driving, but also don't want to miss Grand Escalante since we're "in the area". Alternatively, should we skip Great Basin and focus on the Utah parks? Any advice would be much appreciated.
day 1 - drive Great Basin
day 2 - hike Great Basin
day 3 - drive Capitol Reef, see a bit in the aft.
day 4 - hike and see Capitol Reef
day 5 - more Cap. Reef for most of the day, then drive to Goblin Valley to spend night
day 6 - Goblin Valley and Little Wildhorse Canyon
day 7 - drive Grand Escalante, see a bit in aft.
day 8 - Grand Escalante
day 9 - drive 1/2 way home
day 10 - drive rest of way home.
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Old Sep 24th, 2020, 05:25 PM
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What month? Do you really want to drive your own vehicle through the barren desert of eastern Nevada? Do you intend to camp at Goblin Valley State Park?
Great Basin National Park is not that much different from the territory you drove through to get there IMO.
One way to avoid a lot of driving is to take the Amtrak California Zephyr to SLC (arrives early morning) and rent a car. When we went to the area, we rented a car at the SLC airport and made day trips from our motel in Green River. The advantage of the train is that you go through the desert in the middle of the night.
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Old Sep 24th, 2020, 05:55 PM
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I know people who have been to Great Basin and loved it. Driving your own vehicle is no issue--I do it ALL the time in Southern Utah etc. I love the desert and would not want to miss it. I think your itinerary is good. Capitol Reef is 2 days max. The other awesome benefit to driving your own car is that you can go all the way to the end of the road in the park and see the wash--truly incredible to drive through that tight, windy, road with the red walls all around you. You usually don't get to see that unless you hike places. Stay in Escalante and you can easily do 2 good hiking days there. If you click on my user name you will see trip reports for Capitol Reef and Escalante. Some of my favorite hikes!
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 09:36 AM
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There are a few excellent sights in the area.

Not far from Bryce Canyon is the town of Cannonville.
There's a visitors' center there.
Just on the south end of town the road splits. Left takes you to Kodachrome State park which I didn't find interesting. However, the right of the fork takes you on a hilly, dirt road (so not just after rain). You want a place called Willis Creek. It's an actual slot canyon that's easy to go through. Go through about 5 of the slots as they get better the more you hike thru. The slots are each fairly short and in between wide open so not much danger of getting caught.

I was there some years ago.

The drive on that road is an adventure. Ask at the visitors center if there is a sign for the little parking lot. For years there wasn't but I think now there is now.
The whole experience is worth a few hours for sure. You can see a bit of a stream in the photo. On the way back it was high enough that we had to jump around the stream. Most likely rain somewhere feeding the slot.

A little further along the main highway (Route 12) there is a turn off south (Hole in the Rock Road) to Devil's garden Escalente. Not to be confused with I think Arches. The drive on the dirt road is 8 - 10 miles. Don't go fast to kick up rocks and dirt.
This is a more grown up version of Goblin Valley state park which is much closer to Arches. Definitely worth a couple of hours.

And then Lower Calf Creek Falls. A beautiful waterfall that's about 125 feet high. This requires a hike of about 2.5 miles. The trail is mostly flat but I remember there was sand on the trail so you have to lift your feet walking. Also, there wasn't that much shade. But the falls are beautiful.

Just for distances.
From Bryce to Cannonville. Along Route 12 about 20 minutes.
Willis Creek is about 25 minutes south of Cannonville
From Willis Creek back thru Cannonville, along Route 12 then right turn on Hole in the Rock Road to Devil's Garden is about 1.5 hours.
Then back up that road. continue east on Route 12 to Lower Calf Creek Falls is about 45 minutes.

There are other sights along the way but I don't remember them. I was there about 10 years ago. Once with my daughter and once with a friend.

Last edited by Myer; Sep 25th, 2020 at 10:09 AM.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 09:51 AM
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That road down to devil's Garden is "Hole in the Rock Road".

Goblin Valley is definitely a fun park but it's a long drive from the other Escalente sights. A little over 3 hours. We stopped there on the way from Arches going towards Bryce Canyon.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 11:57 AM
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The drive on Route 12 from Canyonlands to Escalante is worth a day into itself. Calf Creek Falls is definitely worthwhile, but as Myer notes the sand makes it seem like more than 2.5 miles even though its level. Make sure you stop at Kiva Koffeehouse north of Escalante for drinks and a snack.

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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 04:13 PM
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Thank you for all your suggestions.
I'm leaning toward skipping Great Basin Park this time (even though we'll be driving "right by" as we drive east from California) as I don't wash to rush Capitol Reef, Little Wildhorse Canyon, and Grand Escalante. It sounds like there is plenty to see in those parks. Otherwise, we'd be spending just 1-1/2 days in each park. Strong opinions?
Thank you!
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