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Grand Canyon, Moab, Bryce in December--suggestions?

Grand Canyon, Moab, Bryce in December--suggestions?

Old Oct 19, 15, 9:05 pm
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Grand Canyon, Moab, Bryce in December--suggestions?

We're planning a trip in December--it's based on a MR for me, which is why it's happening at that time of year--in which we'll fly into LAS, rent a car and drive to the South Rim (2 nights, the second in Cameron), then Moab (4 nights), then Bryce (2 nights), before returning to LAS to fly out. The idea is to hike as much as possible...weather permitting!

I have some questions for the experts here:

#1: In between the GC and Moab, we're thinking to drive via Page. The original thought was to hit Antelope Canyon; then we heard about the Wave and wanted to go there instead; then we learned about the permit system and realized that we missed the deadline already. The thought of paying quite a bit for what is basically one hour on the ground at Antelope Canyon--plus a substantial detour between the GC and Moab--may not be that appealing, though. Can anyone suggest an alternative stop, on the more direct route between Cameron and Moab?

#2: Suggestions for breakfast/dinner in Moab and Bryce? (We'll be staying in Best Westerns in both towns.)

#3: Any other tips, perhaps regarding weather for driving and hiking? We're both OK with hiking in the snow and cold, but how might weather affect our drives?

Last edited by travelmad478; Oct 20, 15 at 5:24 pm
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Old Oct 19, 15, 11:49 pm
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Elevations in Bryce Canyon range between 6,500 to 8,000'. I would plan on a strong chance of road closures due to snow in December.
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Old Oct 20, 15, 12:21 pm
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On your plan a few issues.....

remember in December you have shorter days. You are going to need to break up your drives.

I would instead do 2nd night instead of Cameron--move it to Page.

Antelope Canyon is worth the tour costs.

In order to do the wave--they give out 10 lottery tickets every day for the next day. The tickets are done in Kanab. IIRC correctly the BLM office is closed on weekends so on Friday you could get tickets for Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

doing a drive with stops in Page and Monument Valley is too much to do in December.

Also understand at higher elevations it can be cold and snowy. I have been to these places in December and saw snow.

With Bryce, the main amphitheater will usually remain open after snow removal. Beyond the amphitheater area they could close the park roads.

The other issue will be Moab to Bryce. too much for a short daylight. better option is after sunset in Moab have dinner then drive to Hanksville or Torrey. Just be aletr to deer or pronghorn on/along the roads at dark.

for Food---Bryce is pretty limited. Rubys In n has a restaurant. food is ok. There are 1-2 other places that serve dinner nearby but im not sure if they are open in winter. From there you have farther distances by going to Tropic or Panguitch. Moab has many more options but I am unsure what will be open in winter....some of the places close for winter.

for 8 nights.....

day 1 fly into Vegas...drive to South Rim.
day 2 day at South Rim..after sunset drive to Page
day 3 AM Antelope Canyon, PM to Monument Valley. night in this area
day 4 Monument Valley..PM to Moab
day 5 Canyonlands
day 6 Arches
day 7 AM Arches, PM to Torrey
day 8 AM UT 12, PM Bryce
day 9 sunrise Bryce, drive to Vegas
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Old Oct 20, 15, 3:45 pm
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Thanks very much for your detailed response!

Originally Posted by djp98374
remember in December you have shorter days. You are going to need to break up your drives.

I would instead do 2nd night instead of Cameron--move it to Page.
That is a possibility, but I think we are going to be quite tired that night. Our plan is to hike as far down the GC as possible and back in one day, maybe all the way down. (Yes, we are both quite fit people so this is not necessarily an insane plan!) The drive from GC Village to Page is 2.5 hours as per Google Maps, vs 1 hour 15 minutes to Cameron. My thinking was that I'd rather go to bed earlier and get up early to drive to Page, vs. driving more the night before.

Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
Antelope Canyon is worth the tour costs.
Good to know, thank you.

Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
In order to do the wave--they give out 10 lottery tickets every day for the next day. The tickets are done in Kanab. IIRC correctly the BLM office is closed on weekends so on Friday you could get tickets for Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
That settles it. We are getting into LAS on Friday, and our only day to visit the Wave (or Antelope Canyon) would be the following Monday. So not possible to do the Wave.

Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
doing a drive with stops in Page and Monument Valley is too much to do in December.
We were not planning to do Monument Vallley in any case. So I'm fine with the fact that it's too much to do

Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
Also understand at higher elevations it can be cold and snowy. I have been to these places in December and saw snow.
That is in our thinking as far as clothing, plans to be flexible on driving and hiking in the parks, etc.

Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
The other issue will be Moab to Bryce. too much for a short daylight.
As per Google Maps, this drive is less than 4.5 hours. Why would you say that it is too much?
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Old Oct 20, 15, 5:01 pm
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The John Wesley Powell Museum in Page is well worth an hour.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 10:04 am
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
As per Google Maps, this drive is less than 4.5 hours. Why would you say that it is too much?

The most logical way to go (not by google maps) is to go to hanksville to Torrey to Escalante to Bryce. This takes you on scenic UT 12.

rough drive time is about 5+ hrs but this isn't including stops to take pictures and see stuff. along this route you have:

1. Goblin Valley State Park
2. Little wildhorse Canyon (part of Canyonlands)
3. Capitol Reef National Park
4. Escalante National Monument
5. Kodacrhome state Park
6. Bryce Canyon National Park

--there are a few other state parks I think Calf Creek Falls is a separate designated area.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 2:34 pm
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OK, thanks for that explanation. We'll play it by ear as to whether we want to go the fast way or the scenic way--depends on weather, what we feel like doing when we get up in the morning, etc.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 2:34 pm
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Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
The most logical way to go (not by google maps) is to go to hanksville to Torrey to Escalante to Bryce. This takes you on scenic UT 12.


Utah Highway 12 is one that I have driven three times now. If I could pick only one place to go for a return driving trip of all the places I've been, it would be a strong contender.

Excellent article here on Highway 12:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/04/tr...pagewanted=all

There's a superb (really) restaurant in Boulder, Hell's Backbone Grill. One of the best restaurant breakfasts I've had.
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Old Oct 21, 15, 2:57 pm
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Originally Posted by cblaisd View Post


Utah Highway 12 is one that I have driven three times now. If I could pick only one place to go for a return driving trip of all the places I've been, it would be a strong contender.

Excellent article here on Highway 12:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/04/tr...pagewanted=all

There's a superb (really) restaurant in Boulder, Hell's Backbone Grill. One of the best restaurant breakfasts I've had.
Wow! Thanks very much for the link. I will put this into the plan, weather permitting.
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Old Nov 3, 15, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
Our plan is to hike as far down the GC as possible and back in one day, maybe all the way down. (Yes, we are both quite fit people so this is not necessarily an insane plan!)
You probably already know this: there can be quite a lot of ice and snow at the upper parts of the trails making them quite slippery. Plan accordingly and bring crampons or similar devices.

Do you already know what trail you want to hike down?
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Old Nov 3, 15, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by Flip42 View Post
You probably already know this: there can be quite a lot of ice and snow at the upper parts of the trails making them quite slippery. Plan accordingly and bring crampons or similar devices.

Do you already know what trail you want to hike down?
Thanks, we have YakTrax and will definitely be asking at the park office for guidance on what trail will be best/safest. Mr. travelmad478 is researching the options ahead of time for all of the parks we're visiting.
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Old Dec 16, 18, 7:30 pm
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Looking to do Bryce and Arches this December with four little ones. As such we’ll be sticking to the paved, easy trails. Any other warnings nags/ insights we should know about before we go?
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Old Dec 16, 18, 10:46 pm
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Reading through this thread again and recalling the trip we made three years ago, I would second the recommendation to take UT-12 between Arches and Bryce—this was indeed a gorgeous drive. We took the whole day for it, stopping for some brief hiking along the way at both Capitol Reef and Escalante-Grand Staircase, plus a lot of photo op stops. Sadly, the Hell’s Backbone Grill was closed the day we went through (it might have more opening hours these days).

When we visited Bryce, it snowed about 4 inches on the first full day (we got there in the early evening and stayed two nights). We hiked that day but not for very long because the snow made it perilous. The snow-covered canyons/hoodoos on the second day were spectacular, but we couldn’t really do much beyond looking at them from the top of the canyon because much of the park was closed. Be aware also that the tiny town you stay in for Bryce is basically a ghost town in the winter. I believe we had a choice of two restaurants, total, neither of which were anything to write home about. Moab is also a little sleepy in December, but there were many more places there that stayed open year-round.
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Old Dec 19, 18, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by Blind and Green View Post
Looking to do Bryce and Arches this December with four little ones. As such we’ll be sticking to the paved, easy trails. Any other warnings nags/ insights we should know about before we go?
Prepare for AMS due to high altitude in Bryce. I didn't realize and we spent 2 nights up there, I lost appetite, feeling fatigue and a severe headache that pain killer didn't work. We did the UT 12 and visited the Mighty 5 (they are so close together so it won't take long to see them all). When we were there during Christmas there was a lot of ice on the paths and I slipped twice at the same place and got a big bruise as a souvenir that was on my bump for 6 months!
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Old Dec 27, 18, 12:47 pm
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At Arches / Moab go to the Moab Diner for the green chile.
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