[Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

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TSR
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[Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am

I'm having a "significant" birthday this year, and my s/o and I would like to celebrate with some sort of national park trip. A little cliche, but we're thinking the Grand Canyon. We are open to other suggestions. Given work schedules, we can potentially travel between (and including) 10/5 and 10/9, though we do not insist on using all of that time. We're in good shape and enjoy hiking. If the Grand Canyon, we'd like to do the full hike up and down, but are open to other thoughts. We are happy to camp, but we are also happy to stay in moderate luxury if that would make the trip better. Note that my proposed dates encompass the Columbus Day holiday, if you think that matters. A few questions:

If the Grand Canyon
1. Best way to get there? We'll both be flying from the east cost. Is there a best/cheapest/easiest way to travel?
2. What do we have time for? We would be happy to do a night in Vegas (nice meal, etc?) then drive there, then hike, or whatever. But we'd also consider doing other parks in the area.
3. Is that time of year decent for the Grand Canyon?
4. What all should we definitely do while there? We're not ordinarily, like, "helicopter ride" type people, but we're happy to do any reasonable activities.
5. If we haven't booked anything yet, are we already too late?

If not the Grand Canyon
1. Where else? I'm thinking it might not be enough time for Yellowstone. I've been to Yosemite. What else would be great that time of year?
2. Any other ideas? She's a geologist and loves places with rocks, for what that's worth.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Likewise, if you just KNOW the perfect schedule and want to plan this whole trip for me, I would not be opposed. :wink:

Thanks!

*****************************************************
UPDATED to add that our request for back-country permits was denied! Their suggestion in the email was that we try to apply next year in the earliest window possible, which happens to be the window in which we applied this time. Sigh. I'm aware of the possibility of same-day permits, but I'm not sure that we're willing to fly out there just to risk it. Guess I'll be cycling through everyone's other ideas!
Last edited by TSR on Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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carorun
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by carorun » Mon May 14, 2018 10:46 am

I visited in April 2017 and hiked from the South Rim to the bottom of the canyon and back. I think October is a good time to go - it's not super hot and won't be packed with tourists.
TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am

If the Grand Canyon
1. Best way to get there? We'll both be flying from the east cost. Is there a best/cheapest/easiest way to travel? I flew into PHX and drove to the Grand Canyon. Vegas is another option, but the drive to the South Rim is a bit longer.
2. What do we have time for? We would be happy to do a night in Vegas (nice meal, etc?) then drive there, then hike, or whatever. But we'd also consider doing other parks in the area. I think ~3 days is a good amount of time to spend at the canyon. Enough to acclimatize, walk around, and do the hike
3. Is that time of year decent for the Grand Canyon? I would think so, but check the weather because I'm not sure when snow starts. It may be a bit windy but it won't be super hot either.
4. What all should we definitely do while there? We're not ordinarily, like, "helicopter ride" type people, but we're happy to do any reasonable activities. I did a one day rafting trip with helicopter ride and while it was nice, it wasn't really worth it. I got great views on the hike.
5. If we haven't booked anything yet, are we already too late? You're likely right on time. When I booked, I had to request my backcountry permit for hiking 5 months in advance and it runs on a lottery system. Check the guidelines on when to apply and take care of that as soon as you can, then book travel. The permit is like $9/person so if you get it and can't make it, no big loss. However, the lodge at the bottom of the canyon sells out 13 months in advance, so you'd need to plan to camp inside the canyon. Some lodges at the rim may be sold out by now but I'm sure one or two still have availability

TSR
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Mon May 14, 2018 10:54 am

carorun wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:46 am
I visited in April 2017 and hiked from the South Rim to the bottom of the canyon and back. I think October is a good time to go - it's not super hot and won't be packed with tourists.
TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am

If the Grand Canyon
1. Best way to get there? We'll both be flying from the east cost. Is there a best/cheapest/easiest way to travel? I flew into PHX and drove to the Grand Canyon. Vegas is another option, but the drive to the South Rim is a bit longer.
2. What do we have time for? We would be happy to do a night in Vegas (nice meal, etc?) then drive there, then hike, or whatever. But we'd also consider doing other parks in the area. I think ~3 days is a good amount of time to spend at the canyon. Enough to acclimatize, walk around, and do the hike
3. Is that time of year decent for the Grand Canyon? I would think so, but check the weather because I'm not sure when snow starts. It may be a bit windy but it won't be super hot either.
4. What all should we definitely do while there? We're not ordinarily, like, "helicopter ride" type people, but we're happy to do any reasonable activities. I did a one day rafting trip with helicopter ride and while it was nice, it wasn't really worth it. I got great views on the hike.
5. If we haven't booked anything yet, are we already too late? You're likely right on time. When I booked, I had to request my backcountry permit for hiking 5 months in advance and it runs on a lottery system. Check the guidelines on when to apply and take care of that as soon as you can, then book travel. The permit is like $9/person so if you get it and can't make it, no big loss. However, the lodge at the bottom of the canyon sells out 13 months in advance, so you'd need to plan to camp inside the canyon. Some lodges at the rim may be sold out by now but I'm sure one or two still have availability
Great thoughts. Thank you!

fishmonger
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fishmonger » Mon May 14, 2018 11:13 am

Not sure where you'd be travelling from, but Acadia Natl Park is great that time of year. Cooler temps for sure, but the foliage should be at or just beyond peak

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fortfun
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fortfun » Mon May 14, 2018 11:50 am

TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am
I'm having a "significant" birthday this year, and my s/o and I would like to celebrate with some sort of national park trip. A little cliche, but we're thinking the Grand Canyon. We are open to other suggestions. Given work schedules, we can potentially travel between (and including) 10/5 and 10/9, though we do not insist on using all of that time. We're in good shape and enjoy hiking. If the Grand Canyon, we'd like to do the full hike up and down, but are open to other thoughts. We are happy to camp, but we are also happy to stay in moderate luxury if that would make the trip better. Note that my proposed dates encompass the Columbus Day holiday, if you think that matters. A few questions:

If the Grand Canyon
1. Best way to get there? We'll both be flying from the east cost. Is there a best/cheapest/easiest way to travel?
2. What do we have time for? We would be happy to do a night in Vegas (nice meal, etc?) then drive there, then hike, or whatever. But we'd also consider doing other parks in the area.
3. Is that time of year decent for the Grand Canyon?
4. What all should we definitely do while there? We're not ordinarily, like, "helicopter ride" type people, but we're happy to do any reasonable activities.
5. If we haven't booked anything yet, are we already too late?

If not the Grand Canyon
1. Where else? I'm thinking it might not be enough time for Yellowstone. I've been to Yosemite. What else would be great that time of year?
2. Any other ideas? She's a geologist and loves places with rocks, for what that's worth.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Likewise, if you just KNOW the perfect schedule and want to plan this whole trip for me, I would not be opposed. :wink:

Thanks!
October is maybe the best time of year to do a rim to rim trip in the Grand Canyon, as the North Rim is still open. I've done the trip several times. Here's what I would recommend.

1. It should be early enough to get back country reservations, if so fly into Vegas and leave from the South Rim. Get reservation for the first night at Phantom Ranch and the second night at Cottonwood Campground. Hike out of the North Rim on the third night. Pay for the shuttle back to South Rim.
2. If you can't get reservations, fly into Vegas and drive to the North Rim. You should be able to get last minute reservation there as long as you arrive by 8AM (when the office opens). Get your first night at Cottonwood camp and your second night at Phantom Ranch. Hike out to South Rim on the 3rd day.
3. Make sure to stop at Ribbon Falls (either route).
4. If you have time, make day stops at Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon (hike up the Virgin River a bit).

It will be a trip you'll never forget! PM me if you need any specifics.
Thanks,
Ben

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by rjbraun » Mon May 14, 2018 12:01 pm

TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am
I'm having a "significant" birthday this year, and my s/o and I would like to celebrate with some sort of national park trip. A little cliche, but we're thinking the Grand Canyon. We are open to other suggestions. Given work schedules, we can potentially travel between (and including) 10/5 and 10/9, though we do not insist on using all of that time. We're in good shape and enjoy hiking. If the Grand Canyon, we'd like to do the full hike up and down, but are open to other thoughts. We are happy to camp, but we are also happy to stay in moderate luxury if that would make the trip better. Note that my proposed dates encompass the Columbus Day holiday, if you think that matters. A few questions:

If the Grand Canyon
1. Best way to get there? We'll both be flying from the east cost. Is there a best/cheapest/easiest way to travel?
2. What do we have time for? We would be happy to do a night in Vegas (nice meal, etc?) then drive there, then hike, or whatever. But we'd also consider doing other parks in the area.
3. Is that time of year decent for the Grand Canyon?
4. What all should we definitely do while there? We're not ordinarily, like, "helicopter ride" type people, but we're happy to do any reasonable activities.
5. If we haven't booked anything yet, are we already too late?

If not the Grand Canyon
1. Where else? I'm thinking it might not be enough time for Yellowstone. I've been to Yosemite. What else would be great that time of year?
2. Any other ideas? She's a geologist and loves places with rocks, for what that's worth.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Likewise, if you just KNOW the perfect schedule and want to plan this whole trip for me, I would not be opposed. :wink:

Thanks!
If there's any way to extend your travel dates, I would suggest that you consider a rafting trip down the Colorado River. If you could swing the Upper Half trip (starting 10/6, 4 spots shown as remaining) you would only hike out of the canyon. I did a trip with Canyon Explorations many many years ago and loved it. Not sure how the outfitter or experience (pre-cell phones) may have changed over the years, but it was a very special and memorable experience. If you can't go this year, perhaps consider for a future trip. One of the nice things about Canyon Explorations was that all of the boats were powered by humans. Personally, I would not want to ride a motorized raft (loud loud loud, a lot of people, etc.), so if you decide to go I suggest you consider that aspect (among others) before committing to a particular trip.

http://www.canyonexplorations.com/index.php

Fwiw, we visited Sedona after the trip and liked it fine.

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dm200
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by dm200 » Mon May 14, 2018 12:36 pm

I/we have been to Yosemite several times during October. Wonderful, wonderful place - and the weather is nice in October - and the crowds are not as large.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TxAg » Mon May 14, 2018 12:38 pm

Just a thought....it would make for a long travel day but you could fly in to El Paso and drive to Big Bend NP. October would be a nice time!!

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon May 14, 2018 12:44 pm

We just last month did the Vegas/Grand Canyon trip, staying a few nights in LV, then renting a car and driving to the Grand Canyon. We drove from LV to the Hoover Dam, from there we took AZ state highway 93 down to Kingman, then picked up Route 66 to Williams, Arizona, where we stayed a couple of nights. If you happen to pass through Kingman, be sure to stop at Mister D'z Route 66 Diner on East Andy Devine Avenue. It's a 50's-themed drive-in, and has IMHO absolutely the bests milkshakes ever.

In Williams, the Pine Country Restaurant has great meals (open for breakfast) and a wide selection of pie.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Watty » Mon May 14, 2018 12:47 pm

TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:35 am
we can potentially travel between (and including) 10/5 and 10/9, though we do not insist on using all of that time.
Five days including travel time is not nearly enough time to make flying from the east coast worthwhile even if you took red-eye flights and had free tickets. You are more or less talking about three days on the ground since the nearest big airport is a decent distance from the Grand Canyon.

I would find something on the east coast, or maybe do something like Seldona Arizona where you closer to the nearest airport.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by knightrider » Mon May 14, 2018 12:52 pm

I did not like the Grand Canyon. Too many tourists that ruined the whole atmosphere of being one with nature. There are tons of other scenic parks in Utah/Arizona that are much better. Arches National Park was much better IME..

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by nimo956 » Mon May 14, 2018 12:52 pm

You can look into doing the Zion-Bryce-Grand Canyon North Rim triangle. I think that access to the North Rim starts to close around mid-late Oct.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon May 14, 2018 1:02 pm

fishmonger wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 11:13 am
Not sure where you'd be travelling from, but Acadia Natl Park is great that time of year. Cooler temps for sure, but the foliage should be at or just beyond peak
We were there mid-late October last year. Loved it, but the town of Bar Harbor begins "shutting down" in late October when the cruise ships stop coming for the year. (Just in case that might impact OP's consideration.)

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Mon May 14, 2018 1:03 pm

fortfun wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 11:50 am

October is maybe the best time of year to do a rim to rim trip in the Grand Canyon, as the North Rim is still open. I've done the trip several times. Here's what I would recommend.

1. It should be early enough to get back country reservations, if so fly into Vegas and leave from the South Rim. Get reservation for the first night at Phantom Ranch and the second night at Cottonwood Campground. Hike out of the North Rim on the third night. Pay for the shuttle back to South Rim.
2. If you can't get reservations, fly into Vegas and drive to the North Rim. You should be able to get last minute reservation there as long as you arrive by 8AM (when the office opens). Get your first night at Cottonwood camp and your second night at Phantom Ranch. Hike out to South Rim on the 3rd day.
3. Make sure to stop at Ribbon Falls (either route).
4. If you have time, make day stops at Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon (hike up the Virgin River a bit).

It will be a trip you'll never forget! PM me if you need any specifics.
Thanks,
Ben
Extremely helpful. Thank you!

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by CULater » Mon May 14, 2018 1:57 pm

Rim to rim hike is a major hike. I didn't get the sense you're thinking about that. Plus you have to reserve the Phantom Ranch months in advance, and also have campsite reservations 3-4 months in advance. Plus you'll have to backpack all your camping gear if you plan to overnight anywhere but the Phantom Ranch. Crowds in Oct aren't as bad since school has started. Weather should be good, if cool on the rim (GC is at 7000 ft. altitude). I've hiked the Canyon several times. Hate the Bright Angel trail from the South Rim because everyone is hiking down it. Tell you the truth, one time I just hiked along the South Rim from the main village area to the Hermit's Rest. Several hour hike and you're right on the rim. Hardly anybody on it after you get away from the village area. Flat, you just need your water bottle and a snack. The road is closed to cars to Hermit's Rest but shuttle busses run on it so you can catch a shuttle either to or back from Hermit's rest. Unless you're into backpacking and climbing a mile up and out of the GC I wouldn't mess with that one.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Alf 101 » Mon May 14, 2018 2:20 pm

In my opinion, September and early October are the best months almost anywhere in the world. I think the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone are great options, as well as Yosemite or Acadia. I think the choice depends a fair bit on where in the country you'd like to go.

That said, I wouldn't talk you out of the majestic west. We made a fairly easy trip to the Grand Canyon a number of years ago. My wife had a conference in Las Vegas that started on a Monday, so I flew out with her the Friday evening before. We rented a car and drove to the South Rim. We hiked down the South Kaibab on Saturday, carrying light camping gear, slept out along the river, then hiked up the Bright Angel on Sunday. Then we drove back to Vegas, had a nice meal, and she dropped me off at the airport. A good time was had by all, though clearly you could enjoy this trip at a slower pace than we did. This was March, so it was chilly at the rim, but very pleasant at the bottom. Note that the North Rim, and anything rim to rim, is a more serious endeavor -- likely beyond the scope of what you propose.

One problem with Yellowstone is where do you fly into? You can fly into Jackson Hole, though the price of that ticket can waiver. I like that area -- the Absarokas, down through Lander and the Wind Rivers, through Thermopolis and over Big Horn Pass. You could easily spend the full time in Yellowstone though, on day hikes and short drives.

Another thought is to fly into SLC and down to Zion -- a very spectacular park in its own right. Head down I-15 to Zion, then take 389 east to 89 and see Bryce. Then 70 East to 191, and Moab to see Arches and the Canyonlands.

The Grand Canyon is aptly named. I'd look into permits; if available, that's a great way to go. Both Yellowstone and Southern Utah are also great geological destinations, and would be worth investigating. All involve some great scenery, options combining hiking and driving, and also options for camping and/or decent places to stay.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by mak1277 » Mon May 14, 2018 2:29 pm

Alf 101 wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:20 pm
Another thought is to fly into SLC and down to Zion -- a very spectacular park in its own right. Head down I-15 to Zion, then take 389 east to 89 and see Bryce. Then 70 East to 191, and Moab to see Arches and the Canyonlands.
Why not fly into Vegas for a trip to Zion? It's much closer than SLC.

Zion is gorgeous, but I think if you have your heart set on Grand Canyon that's the answer. If it was me, though, I'd try and take a little more time. You're really going to chew up two full days traveling from East Coast to Vegas, getting a car, etc. There's no way around it sadly.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by MJS » Mon May 14, 2018 2:46 pm

Consider renting one of the Canyon rim cabins at Bright Angel Lodge: dawn & sunset are fabulous. If you are any kind of foodie, walk over to El Tovar for breakfast. You might enjoy hiking the Canyon one way and taking a mule the other ... unless you object to profound vertigo.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fortfun » Mon May 14, 2018 2:50 pm

CULater wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:57 pm
Rim to rim hike is a major hike. I didn't get the sense you're thinking about that. Plus you have to reserve the Phantom Ranch months in advance, and also have campsite reservations 3-4 months in advance. Plus you'll have to backpack all your camping gear if you plan to overnight anywhere but the Phantom Ranch. Crowds in Oct aren't as bad since school has started. Weather should be good, if cool on the rim (GC is at 7000 ft. altitude). I've hiked the Canyon several times. Hate the Bright Angel trail from the South Rim because everyone is hiking down it. Tell you the truth, one time I just hiked along the South Rim from the main village area to the Hermit's Rest. Several hour hike and you're right on the rim. Hardly anybody on it after you get away from the village area. Flat, you just need your water bottle and a snack. The road is closed to cars to Hermit's Rest but shuttle busses run on it so you can catch a shuttle either to or back from Hermit's rest. Unless you're into backpacking and climbing a mile up and out of the GC I wouldn't mess with that one.
You can can get last minute walk-up backcountry permits at the north rim on the same day. I've gotten them there the past 3 years without any problems (in October). You do have to be waiting at the back country office the second the Ranger walks up. They can get you reservations to all 3 back country sites (they have access to several every day). That's a nice way to split up the hike (7 miles per day). I would recommend Kai Bob trail for North and South Rims. It is a major hike but one you'll never forget!

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fortfun » Mon May 14, 2018 2:51 pm

TSR wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:03 pm
fortfun wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 11:50 am

October is maybe the best time of year to do a rim to rim trip in the Grand Canyon, as the North Rim is still open. I've done the trip several times. Here's what I would recommend.

1. It should be early enough to get back country reservations, if so fly into Vegas and leave from the South Rim. Get reservation for the first night at Phantom Ranch and the second night at Cottonwood Campground. Hike out of the North Rim on the third night. Pay for the shuttle back to South Rim.
2. If you can't get reservations, fly into Vegas and drive to the North Rim. You should be able to get last minute reservation there as long as you arrive by 8AM (when the office opens). Get your first night at Cottonwood camp and your second night at Phantom Ranch. Hike out to South Rim on the 3rd day.
3. Make sure to stop at Ribbon Falls (either route).
4. If you have time, make day stops at Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon (hike up the Virgin River a bit).

It will be a trip you'll never forget! PM me if you need any specifics.
Thanks,
Ben
Extremely helpful. Thank you!
You can can get last minute walk-up backcountry permits at the north rim on the same day. I've gotten them there the past 3 years without any problems (in October). You do have to be waiting at the back country office the second the Ranger walks up. They can get you reservations to all 3 back country sites (they have access to several every day). That's a nice way to split up the hike (7 miles per day). I would recommend Kai Bob trail for North and South Rims. It is a major hike but one you'll never forget! I have done it with my 10 year old twice!

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fortfun » Mon May 14, 2018 2:56 pm

knightrider wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:52 pm
I did not like the Grand Canyon. Too many tourists that ruined the whole atmosphere of being one with nature. There are tons of other scenic parks in Utah/Arizona that are much better. Arches National Park was much better IME..
The North Rim is not too crowded and really spectacular! Less than 1% of the visitors hike to the bottom. That's where you can have the place to yourself!

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by fishmonger » Mon May 14, 2018 3:26 pm

Doom&Gloom wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:02 pm
fishmonger wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 11:13 am
Not sure where you'd be travelling from, but Acadia Natl Park is great that time of year. Cooler temps for sure, but the foliage should be at or just beyond peak
We were there mid-late October last year. Loved it, but the town of Bar Harbor begins "shutting down" in late October when the cruise ships stop coming for the year. (Just in case that might impact OP's consideration.)
OP's timeframe is first week in October, perfect time. Also realized after my initial post that he's on the East Coast, so even better

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by AlmstRtrd » Mon May 14, 2018 4:08 pm

Agree with others that a couple extra days on the ground would be great. Here's what my daughter and I did in March of 2017:

Day 1 - Flew NYC to Phoenix & stayed in Flagstaff (Sedona would be better) for two nights.
Day 2 - Did a long day hike in Sedona
Day 3 - Drove all the way to Bryce and did a wonderful three-hour hike down in the canyon. Drove to Zion in the evening and stayed in Springdale for two nights.
Day 4 - Angels Landing Hike in Zion. We missed out on being able to also hike up the river as the water level was too high, but that shouldn't be an issue in October as the water is mostly from snow melt.
Day 5 - Drove to the Grand Canyon south rim and stayed there (just outside of the park) for two nights.
Day 6 - Down Bright Angel trail, across the connector trail, then up South Kaibab Trail. As others have posted, it's tough to score lodging at Phantom Ranch unless you book WAY in advance, but we enjoyed the challenge of doing the whole thing in one day.
Day 7 - Flew back from Phoenix to NYC

All accommodation was in hotels.

The distances out west are vast but much of the scenery is stunning. You have to not mind driving to do the above. This is a lot to cram into five days but all four of the spots mentioned were terrific. We were there during college spring break so lots of people were on the trails, but I actually liked the comaraderie.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Carefreeap » Mon May 14, 2018 4:45 pm

CULater wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:57 pm
Rim to rim hike is a major hike. I didn't get the sense you're thinking about that. Plus you have to reserve the Phantom Ranch months in advance, and also have campsite reservations 3-4 months in advance. Plus you'll have to backpack all your camping gear if you plan to overnight anywhere but the Phantom Ranch. Crowds in Oct aren't as bad since school has started. Weather should be good, if cool on the rim (GC is at 7000 ft. altitude). I've hiked the Canyon several times. Hate the Bright Angel trail from the South Rim because everyone is hiking down it. Tell you the truth, one time I just hiked along the South Rim from the main village area to the Hermit's Rest. Several hour hike and you're right on the rim. Hardly anybody on it after you get away from the village area. Flat, you just need your water bottle and a snack. The road is closed to cars to Hermit's Rest but shuttle busses run on it so you can catch a shuttle either to or back from Hermit's rest. Unless you're into backpacking and climbing a mile up and out of the GC I wouldn't mess with that one.
You can do a cheater's Rim to Rim like I did in 2009. I suddenly got the bright idea to do a Rim to Rim before we relocated from the Phoenix area the weekend of Memorial Day. First step was scoring lodging at the Phantom Ranch dorm. Got a last minute cancelation. Then I scored two nights at the North Rim Lodge because I wasn't sure I could get a backcountry permit to camp at Cottonwood Camp. Scored another reservation at the Miwok Lodge.
Ultimately I drove to the South Rim and caught the shuttle to the North Rim. Spent the night at the GC North Rim Lodge. Backcountry permit office opens at 8. I got my permit, walked back to the lodge, canceled the second night at the North Rim, gathered my gear, walked back to the TH and made it to Cottonwood CG. (BTW that was three miles back and forth between lodge and backcountry office/TH since the shuttle from the hotel drops people off at 5am and 6am). There's also a CG near the office and food at the lodge. I was ultra light with my gear, Big Agnes tent, a throw (no sleeping bag) and had cereal with dehydrated milk for dinner. Potable water at CG. No need for stove or water purification. I only carried a day pack with my little tent attached to it.

Hiked to Phantom Ranch the next day and spent two days there. I did some day hiking on my "rest" day on a side trail. No one on the trail and I encountered a family of desert Big Horn sheep. So cute!

Hiked the Kaibab Trail (vs) Bright Angel and made it out in record time. Took the shuttle back to Bright Angel Lodge (where car was parked). Cancelled the Miwok reservation and drove home. I felt fabulous! :D

That wasn't that hard of a hike. I'm a good hiker but I had sprained my ankle a month or so before the hike and couldn't train. My trail miles were something like 13, 5, (5 on rest day) and 8 out.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by JMacDonald » Mon May 14, 2018 4:59 pm

The period that you want to go to the Grand Canyon, Zion, or Bryce are very popular. You will be lucky to get reservations at this late date. I alway make my reservations to these National Parks a year in advance if I know I am going there. Zion NP might be your best bet as Springdale is right next to Zion and there are plenty of hotels in Springdale. Check TripAdvisor to see what hotels are available: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g610 ... otels.html

There are plenty of good hikes in Zion especially the Narrows. Check at the Visitor Canter to see if it is safe to hike in the Narrows (possible flash flood). Also Bryce Canyon NP is only about 75 miles so one can do a day trip there.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by johan_s » Mon May 14, 2018 5:10 pm

Grand Canyon is spectacular, but Death Valley is the geologists paradise.

I’ll just preface by saying my wife also has a masters in Geology. And we’re both park rangers that have worked here. So, I might have a sense of where you’re coming from. ;)

It can still be warm, but tolerable, probably up to the mid 90s for highs, 60s for lows for that time of year. You can rent a 4WD out of Vegas. You can stay in the higher end Furnace Creek Inn right in the Valley for the accommodations, but then go out and hike all day in naked rock. If you haven’t been, Death Valley ranges from 290 feet below sea level, up to over 11,000 feet, so if it is too hot, you just move up in elevation, out of the valley. There are many amazing hikes of all different lengths and difficulty levels. And it’s only two hours from Vegas, so you can always get your fine dining fixes and hotel stays on either end, which I highly encourage. The contrast of the stark wilderness of Death Valley and Vegas is about as extreme as you can get. And there are numerous threads about where to eat in Vegas. And as a bonus, the eastern Sierra (Lone Pine, Bishop) is only a 2.5 hour drive away, if you needed a break to see the most dramatic wall of granite in the lower 48.

My 2 cents.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by radiowave » Mon May 14, 2018 5:34 pm

knightrider wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:52 pm
I did not like the Grand Canyon. Too many tourists that ruined the whole atmosphere of being one with nature. There are tons of other scenic parks in Utah/Arizona that are much better. Arches National Park was much better IME..
+1 if you are coming from the east coast, you can connect twice a day in Denver (United) direct to Moab. Plenty to see and do, Canyonlands NP in addition to Arches, jeeping expeditions, plenty of hiking, golfing, etc. October will be glorious there. Airport is relatively close to town and you can rent a car. Grand Canyon north rim, Zion and Bryce are not near commercial airports so once you get to UT you'll have to drive a bit to get there.

Another option is to fly into Denver (DEN) and rent a car, travel to Estes Park abt 1 - 1.5 hr drive, hike in Rocky Mountain NP plenty to see and do in town, fall should be if full color about that time. Anticipate some high altitude snow.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by InMyDreams » Mon May 14, 2018 7:45 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:01 pm
If there's any way to extend your travel dates, I would suggest that you consider a rafting trip down the Colorado River.
+1. See the Canyon from the bottom up. No motor boats on the river in October. Upper half or lower half of the Canyon make for shorter trips (hike out or hike down, respectively).

https://azraft.com/classic-trips/

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by InMyDreams » Mon May 14, 2018 7:57 pm

Four corners and the southwest are great to visit in October. Unfortunately, the world has figured that out, so you'll be sharing the space with lots of other peeps. Several National Parks and Monuments, state parks - can't go wrong. Visit splendid scenery and also see ancient ruins.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta runs from first weekend in October thru the second
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albuquerq ... oon_Fiesta

Could be a great launch or finish to a trip. No need to do more than a day - weekends are Mass Ascensions so you can watch hundreds of balloons take off in one morning. Don't miss the pre-dawn flight briefing given to the pilots. Chaco Canyon is nearby. Santa Fe. Valle Grande. Jemez. El Moro National Monument.

Utah/Colorado/AZ - Zion (Kolob Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Snow Canyon nearby), Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands (Dead Horse Point nearby); Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Hovenweep, Mesa Verde (brrr, it could be cold). Durango, Farmington, museum in Dolores.

So much to see and do, so little time! In fact, to maximize the "doing" and minimize the driving, pick a location and do day trips from it. Moab for Arches/Canyonlands/Dead Horse/Goblin Valley/Manti LaSal; Bluff for Monument Valley/Dolores/ancient ruins (lots of trails)/Canyon de Chelly; Albquerque for the things already named. Or just float the Canyon - a hiking trip will give you plenty of activity.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by CULater » Mon May 14, 2018 10:29 pm

One thing to consider on the Rim to Rim hike is the distance and driving time for the shuttle from one Rim to the other. It's about 250 miles and takes over 5 hours, so that's a day of your time either at the beginning or the end of the hike. Real hikers can do the hike in a day, but the rest of us humans really need three days, staying two nights. So, four days commitment for that one.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by pennywise » Tue May 15, 2018 6:20 am

nimo956 wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 12:52 pm
You can look into doing the Zion-Bryce-Grand Canyon North Rim triangle. I think that access to the North Rim starts to close around mid-late Oct.
I went with a friend to Zion and Bryce in early October a few years ago (she was also celebrating a milestone birthday). It was a great trip! The weather was perfect, still sunny and warm-ish, but not unpleasantly so. Crowds weren't bad. We hiked the Virgin narrows, did a guided tour through slot canyons, and rode horses through Bryce canyon. I'd highly recommend it.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Alf 101 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:55 am

An interesting question is how much do you want to drive? With an answer from the OP, the board could really help with options. The American Southwest is a fantastic area, with options beyond what you could fit in one trip.

Years ago, living in the west, my parents visited me and we did a big circle of Zion, Bryce, and Arches. For my dad, I think what he enjoyed the most was just driving. It's pretty country, and just cruising through it, off the Interstate, was pleasurable.

It's something to consider. You're coming from the east, and having driven there, I miss the vistas and wide open spaces.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by livesoft » Tue May 15, 2018 8:05 am

CULater wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:29 pm
One thing to consider on the Rim to Rim hike is the distance and driving time for the shuttle from one Rim to the other. It's about 250 miles and takes over 5 hours, so that's a day of your time either at the beginning or the end of the hike. Real hikers can do the hike in a day, but the rest of us humans really need three days, staying two nights. So, four days commitment for that one.
Rim to rim to rim in 2 days with daylight for dinner at the end:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1HUOWZZUPU
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue May 15, 2018 8:59 am

If you are coming from the east coast and plan to do some serious hiking, you might want to think about the effects of elevation on your performance. I watch a lot of football games at Northern Arizona University at 7000 feet elevation and you would be surprised by how much the higher elevation affect the athletes in football. By the middle of the 3rd quarter, you will see a lot of visiting players struggling to get their breath.

We live at 3000 feet and we make it a policy that we do not attempt a strenuous like for the first 24-36 hours.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Tue May 15, 2018 9:07 am

Alf 101 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 7:55 am
An interesting question is how much do you want to drive? With an answer from the OP, the board could really help with options. The American Southwest is a fantastic area, with options beyond what you could fit in one trip.

Years ago, living in the west, my parents visited me and we did a big circle of Zion, Bryce, and Arches. For my dad, I think what he enjoyed the most was just driving. It's pretty country, and just cruising through it, off the Interstate, was pleasurable.

It's something to consider. You're coming from the east, and having driven there, I miss the vistas and wide open spaces.
I certainly don't mind driving, but I think we're strong enough hikers/backpackers that we'd prefer to go somewhere and really "do" it rather than make several more superficial stops. But I also understand that places like Zion are pretty good for dipping into. Everyone's ideas are wonderful and greatly appreciated.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by CULater » Tue May 15, 2018 9:22 am

The Rim-to-Rim is a great hike, but another option is to hike down and spend 2-3 nights camping at Bright Angel or staying at the Phantom Ranch and doing day hikes from there. All kinds of opportunities. You could either do that from the North Rim or the South Rim. The advantage of the North Rim is avoiding the crowds. Can hike down to Cottonwood and stay there. If you're hardy, you can make it all the way to Bright Angel in one day and stay there. If you hike down from the South Rim, the Kaibab trail is less crowded and much more scenic than the Bright Angel trail and you can make it to the Bright Angel campsite or Phantom Ranch easily. Kaibab is steeper and harder to hike back up than the Bright Angel trail and the BAT exits right at the village where you probably want to have a room reservation and your car is parked. If you stay at Bright Angel camp be sure to reserve your dinners at Phantom Ranch mess hall ahead of time too. Great food and saves having to cook Ramen over your tiny burner.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Carefreeap » Tue May 15, 2018 3:48 pm

CULater wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:29 pm
One thing to consider on the Rim to Rim hike is the distance and driving time for the shuttle from one Rim to the other. It's about 250 miles and takes over 5 hours, so that's a day of your time either at the beginning or the end of the hike. Real hikers can do the hike in a day, but the rest of us humans really need three days, staying two nights. So, four days commitment for that one.
Lol, and the truly crazy RUN a Rim to Rim to Rim (about 50 miles) over a day+. They came through cottonwood camp at 3:00am with their headlamps on.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by Carefreeap » Tue May 15, 2018 3:56 pm

johan_s wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 5:10 pm
Grand Canyon is spectacular, but Death Valley is the geologists paradise.

I’ll just preface by saying my wife also has a masters in Geology. And we’re both park rangers that have worked here. So, I might have a sense of where you’re coming from. ;)

It can still be warm, but tolerable, probably up to the mid 90s for highs, 60s for lows for that time of year. You can rent a 4WD out of Vegas. You can stay in the higher end Furnace Creek Inn right in the Valley for the accommodations, but then go out and hike all day in naked rock. If you haven’t been, Death Valley ranges from 290 feet below sea level, up to over 11,000 feet, so if it is too hot, you just move up in elevation, out of the valley. There are many amazing hikes of all different lengths and difficulty levels. And it’s only two hours from Vegas, so you can always get your fine dining fixes and hotel stays on either end, which I highly encourage. The contrast of the stark wilderness of Death Valley and Vegas is about as extreme as you can get. And there are numerous threads about where to eat in Vegas. And as a bonus, the eastern Sierra (Lone Pine, Bishop) is only a 2.5 hour drive away, if you needed a break to see the most dramatic wall of granite in the lower 48.

My 2 cents.
If the OP can't get reservations for the Grand Canyon I agree that Death Valley is a great back up plan. I watched one of the most beautiful reflected sunsets traveling over the Panamints. And having a cocktail on the patio of the Furnace Creek Inn is one of life's great pleasures. :beer

By "the most dramatic wall of granite in the lower 48 are you talking about Whitney or just that southern edge of the Sierras? I hike the JMT two years ago and agree the Eastern Sierra is one of the more unappreciated areas. Heck the OP can just do a short trip over the Kearsarge Pass and over to Rea Lakes to get a taste of the Sierra experience.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by InMyDreams » Tue May 15, 2018 4:52 pm

The Narrows in Zion would take up one of your days
http://blog.wildlandtrekking.com/zion-narrows/

Someone mentioned altitude, which is less of a problem in Zion (well, in the Canyon, that is). But you know about flash floods in washes and arroyos, right? Don't enter 'em if it's raining - both where you are and near where you are.

Lots of other things to do in Zion, including going up on the plateau, going to Kolob, going to Snow Canyon outside of St Geo. Fly into Las Vegas, stop at Valley of Fire on your way to Zion. Wow. That's a complete trip.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue May 15, 2018 10:50 pm

InMyDreams wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 4:52 pm
The Narrows in Zion would take up one of your days
http://blog.wildlandtrekking.com/zion-narrows/

Someone mentioned altitude, which is less of a problem in Zion (well, in the Canyon, that is). But you know about flash floods in washes and arroyos, right? Don't enter 'em if it's raining - both where you are and near where you are.

Lots of other things to do in Zion, including going up on the plateau, going to Kolob, going to Snow Canyon outside of St Geo. Fly into Las Vegas, stop at Valley of Fire on your way to Zion. Wow. That's a complete trip.

That is correct. Zion is generally a pretty straightforward hike. There are more easy and moderate hikes in Zion than in most parks.

Bryce Canyon is a whole different animal. On my trip in April, I had a Chinese tourist literally collapse during a ranger talk. It was a matter of dehydration and elevation. The one problem with Bryce is that you are hiking down during the first part of most of the hikes. It is easy for people to hike down past the point where they can hike back out.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by CULater » Tue May 15, 2018 11:11 pm

Funniest thing that ever happened was when we were hiking out from Bright Angel camp up to the South Rim. We stopped to admire the Colorado River and while we were standing there a Ranger walked up and we began chatting. He told us that his beat is to hike down and back up daily to patrol the Bright Angel trail and campground. Once, right where we were standing, he came upon three Japanese guys standing there wearing suits and ties, holding their attache cases, and looking lost and bewildered. Turns out, like many day tourists, they had headed down the Bright Angel from the Rim and just kept going until they got all the way down to the Colorado. When they got there, it dawned on them that they would have to hike back up and they were freaking. Can't say how often that happens. As it turns out, walking downhill is a whole bunch easier than walking uphill.
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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by JaneyLH » Tue May 15, 2018 11:49 pm

I would vote Yosemite, Yosemite, Yosemite. Mid-October is beautiful there.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Wed May 16, 2018 10:20 am

JaneyLH wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 11:49 pm
I would vote Yosemite, Yosemite, Yosemite. Mid-October is beautiful there.
I was there a year ago in July and it was just about the most incredible thing I've seen. I imagine I'd prefer October for the weather.

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by dm200 » Wed May 16, 2018 4:00 pm

TSR wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 10:20 am
JaneyLH wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 11:49 pm
I would vote Yosemite, Yosemite, Yosemite. Mid-October is beautiful there.
I was there a year ago in July and it was just about the most incredible thing I've seen. I imagine I'd prefer October for the weather.
Yes -- again. Been there in October (twice)

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Re: Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed May 16, 2018 4:09 pm

Acadia National Park in Maine is gorgeous in October and while not empty - it is far less crowded than it is in the summer.
Also - Mount Desert Island (where the park primarily sits) is considered one of the most fascinating geologic features on the eastern seaboard. Lots of rocks for your wife to enjoy :) - but also beautiful foliage in the fall.

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Re: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:31 am

UPDATED to add that our request for back-country permits was denied! Their suggestion in the email was that we try to apply next year in the earliest window possible, which happens to be the window in which we applied this time. Sigh. I'm aware of the possibility of same-day permits, but I'm not sure that we're willing to fly out there just to risk it. Guess I'll be cycling through everyone's other ideas!

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Re: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by heyyou » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:23 pm

Look into buying a national park pass, but the entrance fee is good for a week if you don't go to any other parks. As a retiree, I'm not familiar with the annual ones now. If the Park lodging doesn't have what you want, there is also significant lodging immediately outside of GC, in Tusayan.

You could do extensive day hikes partway into the Canyon and return without needing a camping permit. You could go down the south Kaibab Trail (steeper than the return trail), across the Tonto Trail to the Bright Angel Trail, then up to the village as a long day hike, 14 miles. The shuttle bus runs back to the South Kaibab trailhead, but there is also an early morning hikers' bus, just to the South Kaibab trailhead from the Bright Angel trailhead vicinity. I'm not suggesting hiking Rim to River, round trip, in one day due to your lack of acclimation, not your hiking ability.

If you have time, drive north on the state highway towards the Page, AZ vicinity after exiting from the east park entrance. The highway eventually parallels the first half of the 50+ miles of the Vermilion Cliffs to Lee's Ferry, past the turnoff to Page and Glen Canyon Dam. From the highway, just across the Colorado River bridge, take the Lees Ferry side road that ends where the through Canyon boat trips launch into the river. It's the same river that you were almost a mile above, at the South Rim earlier that day. Your park pass applies at Lee's Ferry too.

From that end-of-paved-road parking lot, walk the Spencer Trail 2 miles up the broken face of the cliffs to the very top. An appropriate remark there is what Dorothy said to her dog in The Wizard of Oz, "Toto, I think we are not in Kansas anymore."
Link to Spencer Trail photos and info:
http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizon ... trail.html
HikeArizona.com has extensive info on all hiking trails in Arizona.

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Re: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by TSR » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:03 pm

heyyou wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:23 pm
Look into buying a national park pass, but the entrance fee is good for a week if you don't go to any other parks. As a retiree, I'm not familiar with the annual ones now. If the Park lodging doesn't have what you want, there is also significant lodging immediately outside of GC, in Tusayan.

You could do extensive day hikes partway into the Canyon and return without needing a camping permit. You could go down the south Kaibab Trail (steeper than the return trail), across the Tonto Trail to the Bright Angel Trail, then up to the village as a long day hike, 14 miles. The shuttle bus runs back to the South Kaibab trailhead, but there is also an early morning hikers' bus, just to the South Kaibab trailhead from the Bright Angel trailhead vicinity. I'm not suggesting hiking Rim to River, round trip, in one day due to your lack of acclimation, not your hiking ability.

If you have time, drive north on the state highway towards the Page, AZ vicinity after exiting from the east park entrance. The highway eventually parallels the first half of the 50+ miles of the Vermilion Cliffs to Lee's Ferry, past the turnoff to Page and Glen Canyon Dam. From the highway, just across the Colorado River bridge, take the Lees Ferry side road that ends where the through Canyon boat trips launch into the river. It's the same river that you were almost a mile above, at the South Rim earlier that day. Your park pass applies at Lee's Ferry too.

From that end-of-paved-road parking lot, walk the Spencer Trail 2 miles up the broken face of the cliffs to the very top. An appropriate remark there is what Dorothy said to her dog in The Wizard of Oz, "Toto, I think we are not in Kansas anymore."
Link to Spencer Trail photos and info:
http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizon ... trail.html
HikeArizona.com has extensive info on all hiking trails in Arizona.
Great thoughts -- thank you!

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Re: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by livesoft » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:44 pm

TSR wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:31 am
UPDATED to add that our request for back-country permits was denied! Their suggestion in the email was that we try to apply next year in the earliest window possible, which happens to be the window in which we applied this time. Sigh. I'm aware of the possibility of same-day permits, but I'm not sure that we're willing to fly out there just to risk it. Guess I'll be cycling through everyone's other ideas!
Thanks for the update. There was a thread about rafting trips. I saw that several outfitters still had slots open, so that might be something to check out ... especially since there may have been any cancellations by others.
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Re: [Update] Grand Canyon or other Nat'l Park in October?

Post by heyyou » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:29 pm

Very near Page, is Antelope Canyon where those slot canyon pictures are taken (search that name for photos). Your photos will not have the perfect light that the pro photographers patiently waited for. The two trips are booked at offices in the commercial part of the town, but the location is just before the giant power plant. The short trip next to the pavement is as good as the longer one where you have to ride in the back of an army truck to get across the quarter mile of soft sand. Slot canyons could be described as walking inside of a rock formation, but since it is only sandstone, it may not be of much interest to geologists.

A few miles from Page into Utah, the BLM had a small visitor's center for the two new national monuments. They were formed to protect the dinosaur remains that were being found in them, as many as a new species per month! One of the early interpretive volunteers there was Merle, a retired college professor. By the end of his excellent presentation, we felt that we wanted to go back to school to be paleontologists. On our next visit there, the attendant just stood behind the counter, ready to sell us T-shirts, no presentation, just the same diorama.

There is a book Roadside Geology of Arizona and there are those highly colored geologic maps of the Grand Canyon which might suit you. No memory of where I bought one thirty years ago, and haven't seen it in a decade. Among some hiking groups and in Flagstaff, the GC is often referred to as "the Canyon" but maybe not when dealing with tourists.

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