Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

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retire14
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Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by retire14 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:24 am

We are planning to do a 12-day tour of Grand Canyon and a few parks in Utah in early June. We would like to start from Vegas. Don't know where to start. Would like to spend time hiking around the parks also. Please suggest a high-level initerary so we can plan the details. Thank you.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:33 am

retire14 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:24 am
We are planning to do a 12-day tour of Grand Canyon and a few parks in Utah in early June. We would like to start from Vegas.
We're doing something very similar next month, spending a few days in Vegas then driving to Williams, Arizona for a couple of nights. Here are some links we've come up with in researching.

South Rim shuttle bus schedule:
https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/ ... -buses.htm

Official National Park Service web site for the Grand Canyon:
https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm

Seasonal weather in the Grand Canyon:
https://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/plan/ ... n/weather/

We're planning to eat dinner one night at Rod's Steakhouse in Williams, DW's brother used to eat there when he drove trucks through that area.
http://www.rods-steakhouse.com/

This also looked like pretty decent food (although I'm not sure we're going to have time to make it there):
http://www.pinecountryrestaurant.com/
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

open_circuit
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by open_circuit » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:38 am

We lodged in Williams and took the historic railroad into the Grand Canyon National Park with our kids a few years ago. The kids enjoyed the train. Maybe not the best way to visit GC NP if you do not have the kids and have no interest in the train.

Moab is a great base for the southeastern Utah parks. I presume you will want to visit Arches & Canyonlands? Maybe the Grand Escelante Staircase Monument?

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TxAg
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by TxAg » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:40 am

Make time for Zion. Bryce was nice, but we wished we would have spent more time in Zion.

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midareff
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by midareff » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:49 am

If you can try and get accommodations inside the park. The National Park Service is known to post cancellations ten days in advance of arrival so if you must, reserve outside the Grand Canyon that you can cancel without penalty. As I recall, the Arizona Room on the rim next to El Tovar does not take reservations so you can (if lucky) get a table to watch sunset over the Canyon at dinner. The Kachina Lodge gets El Tovar dining access and the dining room in El Tovar is reservations only, for El Tovar and Kachina guests only.

Hermit's Rest to Kachina is hike-able.. 12.8 miles as I recall, mostly slight downhill grade. .. amazing scenery and views. If you can work Bryce, Lake Powell and Zion in to your schedule they are all fabulous to see. Half day trip on Lake Powell to the Natural Bridge is worthwhile.

I was in a hail storm one year at the end of May at the Canyon, was staying at the Maswik Lodge that year. You are at altitude and weather can get a bit chilly even in summer .. like snow at altitude cold.

ddurrett896
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by ddurrett896 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:59 am

retire14 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:24 am
Please suggest a high-level initerary so we can plan the details.
Spent 10 days our there for my honeymoon.

Flying into Vegas, you can go north or south. South takes you to the grand canyon south rim and hover dam. The good parks are north.

We went north and skipped the hover dam, hit the north rim (Toroweap Outlook) but you must have 4x4. If not, there are still other areas you can access by car. The big plus is there is nobody else up there!

The below are all pretty close - Buckskin Gulch, South Coyote Butte, North Coyote Butte and White Pockets.

Google Buckskin Gluch. It's one of the largest slot canyons in the world and accessible by car on a dirt road. You can hike in then back out or do what we did and get dropped off at wirepass and hike thru it to the Whitehouse campground. The hike is 21 miles and not too bad, some rock scaling places and took us 12 hours. We planned to camp inside by kept going. If I did it all over, I would pack for the day (cutting my pack weight in half) and hike thru like we did.

Google The Wave. I'm sure you have seen this before. It's in the North Coyote Butte and accessible by car BUT you have to win a lottery for a permit and they are tough to get. Worth a shot - if you don't get it then hit Bryce or Zion as a backup which are close.

South Coyote Butte requires a permit but they are easy to get. Have formations like the Wave (some say better) but it isn't "the wave!" You HAVE TO HAVE 4x4 to get here and I wouldn't recommend if you have no experience on sand.

White Pockets requires no permit and you will probably see 1 or 2 people here MAX. Amazing place and REQUIRES 4x4. If you aren't confident on sand, you can always book a tour and hit White Pockets and South Coyote Butte at the same time.

An hour east of this towards Paige, AZ is Antelope Canyon. It's beautiful, I'm sure you've seen desktop images of this, and 100% a tourist trap. Good luck getting a picture without someone in the background. None the less, it's beautiful. If you do visit SCB, NCB or Buckskin Gulch, skip this. They are all better and less frequented.

Near Paige is a pull off called Horseshoe Bend. We never made it that far east but it's close and just a stop off the road.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:01 am

June is prime visiting time in that area. You will probably need to plan around available lodging. This is difficult to get inside parks and not that easy even outside the parks. Expect prices to be high. Weather will be hot to very hot, except possibly in Bryce. Traffic will also be heavy, so never plan to get anywhere in a hurry.

Personally I liked Bryce more than Zion. I enjoyed Williams but would not take the train. Try to make time for some days of hikes or walks rather than a drive-by in every park. While the parks are very busy at that time, once you get a few hundred yards from the parking lot there are many fewer people.

ddurrett summarizes some of the less-known (but spectacular) sites. A great many sites are accessible only by unpaved road and many also (really really) require high-clearance 4WD vehicles. Not practical for rental cars.

The Wave lottery will be very heavily attended and takes place in Kanab. This is a serious trip in June because of the heat, unmarked trail, and absence of water and shade. Not to be undertaken lightly.
Last edited by adamthesmythe on Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

tman9940
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by tman9940 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:04 am

You only need 2-3 days for Grand Canyon, in my opinon, if you are doing just the south Rim. I've never been to the parks in Southern Utah, but they look amazing. I would focus more time towards them. They are on my bucket list. Also, I've only seen pictures, but I'd try to get to Havasu Falls. The pictures look amazing with the crystal blue water with towering canyon walls. Furthermore, I'd check out Antelope canyon on your way into Utah...another one on my bucket list! I believe that is in Page, Arizona. Either way, enjoy your trip!

goodlifer
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by goodlifer » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:30 am

ddurrett896 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:59 am
retire14 wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:24 am
Please suggest a high-level initerary so we can plan the details.
Spent 10 days our there for my honeymoon.

Flying into Vegas, you can go north or south. South takes you to the grand canyon south rim and hover dam. The good parks are north.

We went north and skipped the hover dam, hit the north rim (Toroweap Outlook) but you must have 4x4. If not, there are still other areas you can access by car. The big plus is there is nobody else up there!

The below are all pretty close - Buckskin Gulch, South Coyote Butte, North Coyote Butte and White Pockets.

Google Buckskin Gluch. It's one of the largest slot canyons in the world and accessible by car on a dirt road. You can hike in then back out or do what we did and get dropped off at wirepass and hike thru it to the Whitehouse campground. The hike is 21 miles and not too bad, some rock scaling places and took us 12 hours. We planned to camp inside by kept going. If I did it all over, I would pack for the day (cutting my pack weight in half) and hike thru like we did.

Google The Wave. I'm sure you have seen this before. It's in the North Coyote Butte and accessible by car BUT you have to win a lottery for a permit and they are tough to get. Worth a shot - if you don't get it then hit Bryce or Zion as a backup which are close.

South Coyote Butte requires a permit but they are easy to get. Have formations like the Wave (some say better) but it isn't "the wave!" You HAVE TO HAVE 4x4 to get here and I wouldn't recommend if you have no experience on sand.

White Pockets requires no permit and you will probably see 1 or 2 people here MAX. Amazing place and REQUIRES 4x4. If you aren't confident on sand, you can always book a tour and hit White Pockets and South Coyote Butte at the same time.

An hour east of this towards Paige, AZ is Antelope Canyon. It's beautiful, I'm sure you've seen desktop images of this, and 100% a tourist trap. Good luck getting a picture without someone in the background. None the less, it's beautiful. If you do visit SCB, NCB or Buckskin Gulch, skip this. They are all better and less frequented.

Near Paige is a pull off called Horseshoe Bend. We never made it that far east but it's close and just a stop off the road.
Great suggestions. I'm going to AZ soon and might make time for South Coyote Butte. I have been to Horseshoe Bend. If you have seen any pictures of it, you have seen all there is to see there. I love nature and all, but I don't want to ever go back there. TONS of tourists streaming out of buses, no railings, nothing else to see there, and I actually got shoved from behind by a rude tourist while I was close to the edge. It is a long, hot walk from the parking area to the Bend and the steep hill is no fun.

If you are interested in Arches NP, I think the best time to go is at night. Very few people, not as hot, and the view of the stars is mind-blowing. You also get a chance to see a lot more wildlife. Bring lots of bug spray and more water than you think you need.

You might want to look into buying a National Parks pass.

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Steelersfan
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by Steelersfan » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:33 pm

TxAg wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:40 am
Make time for Zion. Bryce was nice, but we wished we would have spent more time in Zion.
I agree. Zion is better than Bryce, but seeing and hiking through the hoodoos in Bryce was a great experience.

Zion is my second favorite national park, after only Yellowstone.

DSInvestor
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by DSInvestor » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:10 pm

Consider hitting Moab, UT which is incredibly beautiful. Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, BLM areas like Fisher Towers, Corona Arch, Highway 128, Castle Valley. If driving from Grand Canyon to Moab, visit Monument Valley.

I have done The Wave (mentioned by ddurrett896 above) in North Coyote Buttes but it probably took me 30 days over 3 years to try to win a permit at the Kanab Ranger station. They allow 20 people in per day. 10 by internet lottery and 10 by in-person application at the ranger station. The good news is that there's lots to do around Kanab if you don't win a permit. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is worth visiting if you love animals. Stop in for a tour or to volunteer. I got to spend a morning playing with puppies. Zion NP, GrandStaircase Escalante National Monument, Grand Canyon North Rim are close to Kanab.

Consider getting a national park pass ($80). If anyone in the party is 62+, get the senior pass ($80 lifetime, $20 annual). You can camp at half price with the senior pass.

NPS Passes:
https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm
Wiki

carruthers209
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by carruthers209 » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:28 pm

https://utah.com/national-parks/grand-circle

We did the Grand Circle tour of national parks in Utah as well as an additional stop in the Road Scholar's tour brochure-Edge of the Cedars Park. Last spring we did pretty much all of the Grand Circle (except Arches-too far north). It was spectacular and breathtaking and we have memories for a life time. I had no idea that Utah (and Page, Arizona-Antelope Slot Canyon) contained such awesome sights. We started out in Las Vegas and did the circle in a counter-clockwise direction including the Antelope Slot Canyon, Monument Valley, Edge of the Cedars park (a hidden treasure of Ancient Pueblo Indians), Canyonlands, Grand Staircase, Capitol Reef, Bruce and Zion. We ended up back in Las Vegas. The Road Scholar tours are on their website and gave me a great guideline to follow since they do many tours in that area. Make sure you have a really reliable vehicle-we drove for what felt like hundreds of miles without seeing another car and definitely no cell service.

jaxbmw
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by jaxbmw » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:25 pm

We did the full circle from Las Vegas. We carried all of our gear on the flights and tent camped the route. It was a fabulous time and trip. On our way out of Vegas and stopped a a WalMart and loaded up the food and supplies we had planned out. Pretty easy.

We started at Zion. I am hearing that they may be going to reservations since it is so crowded. Since we were on property we had no difficulty taking the shuttles. The only way to go, a car can be a problem.

We were off to Bryce and did the horse ride down in the evening. It was a standout. The old lodge is showing wear but pretty neat to see. Experiencing the erosion and hiking through the bowl at Bryce is like being on the moon.

Went through Capitol Reef into Moab. Wanted to see arches before some of them collapsed. Moab was a nice respite to get cleaned up and go out for dinner.

Then drove to Monument valley and my dream. Camping overlooking the Mesas. In the morning I opened the tent flap and there it was in all its glory. What a fantastic site.

From there it was over to the Grand Canyon and the south rim with days hikes all around.

We like to do camping and going to the evening ranger programs. They are informative and you get to meet a bunch of like minded travelers.

JT

InMyDreams
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by InMyDreams » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:16 am

I've toured parks in UT the 3rd week of June - hot, some sort of biting no-see-'em, and a small fly.

and I've been around Moab and Goblin Valley State Park the 3rd week of June in a different year when it was pleasantly cool after late rains - and all the locals were expecting things to warm up shortly and those flying insects to return.

So, it pays to be flexible. Bryce's visitors center is ~8000' high - it was a lot cooler, and few bugs. The Park goes up to ~10000". Cedar Breaks is also elevated and quite cool. The area around Boulder (UT) is high and cool, and Capitol Reef National Park is somewhat elevated and cooler than, say, Zion.

As you head to UT from Las Vegas, you might take a look at Valley of Fire State Park in NV - and the road that extends into the park from its visitors center has some breath taking country.

If you make it all the way across UT - Mesa Verde in southwest CO is also elevated and therefore cooler.

Calhoon
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by Calhoon » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:10 am

zion is a must.

Bryce wildly overrated.

Capitol Reef is worth seeing.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by fourwheelcycle » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:30 am

We have done this trip.

Starting in Vegas, go to Hoover Dam, take the tour, then go to Zion, hike to Angel's Landing and hike/wade into the Narrows, go to Bryce and stay at Ruby's Inn, go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and stay in a cabin, walk to Bright Angel Point for sunrise and drive to Cape Royal for afternoon and sunset views, go to Page, Utah and see Antelope Canyon (a must see; aim for a tour around noon time), go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and stay in a rim cabin, get up early and walk along the rim, walk down the South Kaibab Trail to the first big rest area, do more hiking if time and energy allow.

On your next trip, stay in Sedona for several days - great hiking (Cathedral Rock), great mountain biking, rent a jeep and drive in the back country.

Moab is a great trip too. Hiking, dirt motorcycling, mountain biking, jeeping in the back country. We did a great family trip that started with a jet boat cruise into Canyonlands, then lunch in a riverfront park at the base of the Canyonlands plateau, then a thrilling/scary jeep ride up to the top of the plateau. Also, do the Arches Fiery Furnace ranger hike.

fasteddie911
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Re: Grand Canyon and Utah Parks

Post by fasteddie911 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:29 am

We did the circle trip a few years ago, probably my most enjoyable and memorable travel experience. Started in Vegas, drove to Zion (first North entrance and Kolob Canyon, then the South), then to Bryce, amazing drive along US-12 to Capitol Reef, followed by Canyonlands/Arches, then headed over to Telluride (another great drive), followed by Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Antelope canyon, Horseshoe Bend, South Grand Canyon then back to Vegas. Did this in about 10 days, mostly sightseeing and small hikes. As popular and nice the Grand Canyon is, I felt the other sights we saw were equally amazing in their own way.

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