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Utah national parks

Utah national parks

Old Jun 5, 13, 2:54 pm
  #1  
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Utah national parks

I've read through some of the other threads, but have some specific questions.

We're thinking about heading out west in July or August. Thinking we'll fly DFW-GJT, I assume that's a good jumping off point?

I'd like to hit a few of the parks, but it's a little overwhelming looking at the map. Looks like Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon, and Zion are "fairly close" to each other. Someone also mentioned Black Canyon of Gunnison on the other side.

It would be more of photography trip, as I have a temporary medical condition that unfortunately precludes anything beyond a casual stroll. I think altitude may also be an issue and would like to stay lower, if possible (although I know that's relative there). With that said, which of these are reasonable to do in 4-6 days and don't focus so much on the strenuous hiking part? We don't mind driving 5-6 hours a day between parks or anything, as long as there is decent lodging around.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 4:15 pm
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I did Zion and Bryce on the same day, leaving for Zion from St. George and spending about four hours there, then driving to Bryce and only spending about two hours there before driving to Provo. I found myself wishing I could have spent more time at Bryce, but that's all I had time for. I saw some decent Best Westerns around Bryce so could have given myself a few extra hours there had I decided to camp there for the night instead of pressing on to Provo.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 4:27 pm
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Cedar Breaks is an underrated park, in my view. Easy to get to from Cedar City (the Hampton Inn there was plenty decent, although I've not been there in about 3 years), and there is minimal hiking needed to see the scenery. As I recall, we did a short walk around the rim, but it wasn't at all strenuous (but it isn't for those in wheelchairs either).

You can certainly see Arches from your car or with very little hiking--you won't be able to see Delicate Arch though or go too far away from your car to see any of the other arches.

There's not a whole lot to Grand Staircase---I recall there being a visitor center and not much else. Maybe that was Capitol Reef. In any event, after a while, they all sorta run together (as you can tell... )

I really liked Black Canyon of the Gunnison. No hiking needed, you can see pretty much everything from you car and from the visitor center. The color contrast between it and every other canyon you'll see in Utah is striking (one's a dark bluish/blackish stone, the others are mostly red). I don't know if I would go totally out of the way to see it though, and it is a bit of a drive to Montrose from Moab.

At the time of our trip (a few years ago), the Hampton Inn seemed like the best place in town in Moab, but it had only been opened for a few weeks (perhaps a month or two)---even still, you could see upkeep was going to be an issue for the place. Not sure how it is these days.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 4:56 pm
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Cedar breaks looks gorgeous - is that something we could do on the same day as Zion? I'm really not sure about the altitude though - I guess something I'd have to ask my doctor about.

So -

Day 1: fly into GJT around noon. Drive to Moab and spend the night
Day 2: Arches
Day 3: Drive southwest, looks like we can take the long way through Capitol Reef?
Day 4: Zion and Cedar Breaks
Day 5: Bryce Canyon, drive to GJT
Day 6: fly home

Sound reasonable? Wow, sounds exhausting, but that's what vacation's about, I guess.
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Old Jun 5, 13, 8:06 pm
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Flying directly into Moab is an option.
http://www.moabairport.com/scheduled.htm
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Old Jun 6, 13, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by lovely15 View Post
Cedar breaks looks gorgeous - is that something we could do on the same day as Zion?
I suppose that anything is possible, but it would be a long day. Cedar Breaks is a bit of a drive from Cedar City itself (not several hours long, but at least 30 minutes as I recall), and the park itself deserves at least an hour or two of your time.

Driving from Zion to Cedar Breaks is going to take you at least an hour and a half.

Once you factor in the time you spent at Zion (assuming that you do at least one small walk, I can see spending at least 4-5 hours there), the drive to Cedar Breaks, and even the shortest amount of time at that park, you are already talking about a full 8 hour day, with no rest or eating breaks. Seems like most of it would be a blur to me, but to each their own.

As an aside, from Moab, your general route should be back up to I-70, then SW on 24, down 12, and over to 89 and then either into Cedar City on 14 or southward into St. George via 9. Nice driving tour.
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Old Jun 6, 13, 3:11 pm
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You could also fly into Cedar City via SLC.

Altitude will be tough on some of them like Bryce Canyon. Zions is much lower.

Temperatures will be brutal this time of year - make sure you're able to carry plenty of water.
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Old Jun 8, 13, 11:43 am
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Thanks for the information, everyone. Unfortunately, it looks like the altitude will be a deal-breaker.

Next year....
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Old Jun 10, 13, 12:01 am
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Originally Posted by lovely15 View Post
Cedar breaks looks gorgeous - is that something we could do on the same day as Zion? I'm really not sure about the altitude though - I guess something I'd have to ask my doctor about.

So -

Day 1: fly into GJT around noon. Drive to Moab and spend the night
Day 2: Arches
Day 3: Drive southwest, looks like we can take the long way through Capitol Reef?
Day 4: Zion and Cedar Breaks
Day 5: Bryce Canyon, drive to GJT
Day 6: fly home

Sound reasonable? Wow, sounds exhausting, but that's what vacation's about, I guess.

This is difficult.....you will be doing a lot of driving. Here are drive times...

GJT to Moab 2 hrs
Moab to Capitol reef the north route about 2.5 hrs, south route about 5-6 hrs.
Capitol reef to cedar breaks....3 hrs
Cedar breaks to Zion 2 hrs
Zion to Bryce 2 hrs
Bryce to GJT 6 hrs.

The altitude won't be an issue at GJT ..it's about 6,000 feet..illness doesn't set in until you get to above 8,000 feet. Also you need a day or two to adjust.

Bryce and cedar breaks will be your highest points above 8500 feet.

If you choose to fly into GJT....

Day 1 drive to Moab
Day 2 Moab Canyonlands/Arches.
Day 3 Moab Canyonlands arches..AM..PM drive to monument valley

Remember with Moab in July /August it's summer with temps above 100 easily. You can only do hiking in the early morning or late evening.

Day 4 monument valley..drive to Cortez
Day 5 Mesa verde.....drive to ouray
Day 6 2 hrs to GJT then fly home.


If you want to do Bryce, Zion and Capitol reef...Look at SLC or LAS instead...

Day 1 fly in SLC drive to Torrey
Day 2 Capitol reef and drive UT 12 to Escalante or Bryce
Day 3 Bryce canyon through sunset..after dark drive Springdale or Kanab
Day 4 Zion....stay night at Springdale
Day 5. Kolb canyon and then cedar breaks ...then drive to SLC
Day 6 return home.
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Old Jun 15, 13, 9:49 pm
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I think it makes more sense to spend a couple of days in a couple of parks. For the best shots, particularly at Bryce, you want to be there at sunrise and sunset. There are several easy walking paths (paved) in Zion National Park.
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Old Jul 4, 13, 5:44 pm
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This was our trip in June when I was burning SWA and Marriott GCs in order to keep our cash outlay for the vacation low. If we'd had a bigger budget, I would have stayed closer to the parks proper, but since we didn't, Courtyard St. George it was.

Day 1- Fly to LAS, drive to St. George, Utah
Day 2- Zion NP
Day 3- Zion NP
Day 4 Bryce Canyon NP
Day 5- Drive from St. George, UT to Flagstaff, AZ, stop at Pipe Springs NM, Vermillion Cliffs NM along the way, decide seeing the north rim of the Grand Canyon would have added too much driving time that day, even through we went right past the turnoff for it. Evening at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
Day 6- South Rim, Grand Canyon, NP
Day 7- Flagstaff to Las Vegas, obligatory stop at Hoover Dam tourist trap
Day 8- somewhat early flight from LAS to home

All three of those parks had a good number of excellent photo options that required very little (quarter mile or less) walking and could even often be done from a car window. And yeah, if you're a serious photographer, you're probably going to want more than one day at Bryce.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 8:56 am
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Arches, canyonlands, and zion all have a LOT of features that are accessible by driving, and then a casual walk for the last 100-200 yards.
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