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Utah's National Parks during Thanksgiving break 2023.

Utah's National Parks during Thanksgiving break 2023.

Old Jun 16th, 2023, 05:29 AM
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Utah's National Parks during Thanksgiving break 2023.

Dear All

We're planning for a road trip during this year Thanksgiving week in November. We know that it's a very aggressive plan, but as vacation time is limited, although wanted to extend, but couldn't. So, we need to manage our trip within this short period of time. Our initial plan is as follows:
Day 1 ( Tuesday ) : Arriving at Las Vegas at 1 am from East Coast. Staying in Las Vegas.
Day 2 ( Wednesday ): Early morning, start driving to Zion National Park , visiting Zion and drive to Bryce Canyon. Try to visit Bryce Canyon as much as we can. Overnight stay at Bryce Canyon.
Day 3 ( Thursday ) : Will try to cover the places in Bryce Canyon and start driving to Canyonlands NP and visit some places. Overnight stay in Moab.
Day 4 ( Friday ) : Visit Arches NP, overnight stay in Moab.
Day 5 ( Saturday) : Start driving to airport hotel at Denver Int'l airport. It is a 6 + hours drive.
Day 6 ( Sunday ): Flight from Denver Int'l airport at 7:30 am.
As it is our initial planning for this trip, we will really appreciate any suggestion from you.
Thanks.
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 06:37 AM
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You might get lucky with the weather for this”drive by” trip through these very beautiful areas and have no rain, snow, sleet, or ice affect your plans. I hope you have a plan B that does not involve very long drives at that time of year and does allow more time in the parks.
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 06:59 AM
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Well -- the plan starts to fall apart Wed morning

Vegas to Zion to Bryce is a 5 hour drive . . . IF you don't run into snow. So even best case, you'd have very little time in either park. By late November Bryce Canyon will have usually had 10 inches to 2 feet of snow. If so, some trails will be closed. Then on Thurs you have another 5 hour drive . . . if you don't run into snow.

At that time of year there is a bit over 9 hours of daylight so 5 hours on the road leaves not much time for anything else.

(Moab to DIA could take considerably longer than 6 hours depening on weather)

I'd actually reconsider the whole plan.
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 07:09 AM
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Yikes. In this case, less is more. I suggest a major re-think, as you've got 10-12 days of sights squeezed into three days (arrival and departure days are write-offs, as is the drive to Denver).
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 07:14 AM
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Ditto on the weather.
Personally, I'd be ok booking Zion. At about 4000' elevation it's low enough that you don't go over any high passes to get there. But be prepared with at a minimum strap on ice spikes & walking poles so you can at least walk on some trails that aren't just at the valley floor. The route from Vegas is mostly interstate, and then good high speed state roads the rest of the way.

Anything beyond Zion is a crap shoot, and even if you can get there may not really be enjoyable being outside.

An alternate plan is Yosemite. The time I've spent at Yosemite thanksgiving week has been by far some of the most enjoyable I've ever had there. With spikes and poles, and winter weather gear and precautions you can still see much of the park, maybe even including hiking up to Glacier Pt. Soooo few people, clear blue skies, a dusting to a few inches of snow on the ground every morning. Of course you have a risk of BIG winter storms that can ruin your plans starting on Tuesday... But that would be my reco over Utah parks that time of year.
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 10:56 AM
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How about: Fly into Denver , drive I70 through Colorado National Monument (wow), stay in Fruita (or Grand Junction). Next day to Moab/arches area (2 hours), lots of sights and scenery along the way (if weather is good go via beautiful red rock canyon byway on 128 back to 191). Lots of daylight left for Arches, more area hiking/viewing the next day, or pick another park. I think SLC, Denver, or even Grand Junction would be better than Vegas for Utah access. Don't forget to check to see if you need park entry timed reservations!
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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 05:19 PM
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Yup ! I need to rethink my whole plan.
Again, thank you so much for your great suggestions.

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Old Jun 16th, 2023, 06:44 PM
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Round trip to Vegas. Zion should be okay. Red Rock Canyon. Grand Canyon (South Rim).

Being from the East Coast, I assume you know how to drive in snow.


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Old Jun 17th, 2023, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bumpmaster
How about: Fly into Denver , drive I70 through Colorado National Monument (wow), stay in Fruita (or Grand Junction). Next day to Moab/arches area (2 hours), lots of sights and scenery along the way (if weather is good go via beautiful red rock canyon byway on 128 back to 191). Lots of daylight left for Arches, more area hiking/viewing the next day, or pick another park. I think SLC, Denver, or even Grand Junction would be better than Vegas for Utah access. Don't forget to check to see if you need park entry timed reservations!
We live in CO and we usually drive from our home to Grand Junction, then our first stop after Grand Junction is Capitol Reef, and it's easy to stop at Goblin State Park for a few hours en route to Capitol Reef. We then continue on to Bryce and further into Utah.

I agree that flying into Denver might be a better option - if you arrive early in the day you can drive to Grand Junction and still possibly fit in a visit to CO National Monument that afternoon, spend a night in GJ and then head west the next day, making a stop in Goblin Valley State Park, then continuing on to Capitol Reef for a few nights. From there you could drive the 2+ hours to Moab, spend a few nights there - if you spend three nights, you'd have time for a day in Arches and a day in Canyonlands. Then from Moab head back to DIA which will take you just over six hours.

Personally, Capital Reef is my favorite of the Utah parks...small and accessible and it gets a fraction of the crowds that Bryce and Zion get.
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