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Trip List by LPWilliams

Las Vegas to Zion, Bryce and other SUtah Natl Parks + Monument Valley-May 2011

7 Jun 2011  You MUST go to Canyonlands National Park !
5.0 of 5 stars based on 11 votes

Start/Stop Las Vegas, Hire Car tour of southern Utah National Parks, stopping at Monument Valley Az, with Canyonlands/Arches as furthest NE destination.

Please check-out my associated attraction/accommodation reviews and photos/videos !

  • 1. Las Vegas, South Utah National Parks & Monument Valley - May 2011

    Welcome to my first TA Trip List - I hope it proves useful to you.

    You can access my other Trip Lists by clicking my TA 'name' link which is located just above the title of this Trip List.

  • 2. Tour Details + Map
    http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e80/lpwilliams/USA%202011/

    The tour was made during the whole of May 2011.

    The link above takes you to the start-point of my online 'USA 2011' media album which has a selection of annotated maps and a photo of my rental car (so you can see the vehicle I 'got away with' driving tricky roads !).

    Firstly, there is a map of southern Utah/N Arizona to which I've added a representation of my route to. Green-outbound (+ lengthy excursions into Canyonlands), red-return to Las Vegas.

    Then there are 4 map 'snapshots' of the route where each item (after Las Vegas) I cover in the following sections is highlighted and annotated with the section number.

    YOU CAN ZOOM-IN THE PHOTOS BY CLICKING ON IT and even download them if you wish !

    This Trip List details in date-visited order, in their own numbered section, each venue/accommodation with outline details and the relevant Trip Advisor/Internet links to either my TA review or other online resources - they can be seen by clicking the link just below the title of that section.

    Here's where I went :

    Las Vegas
    I-15 drive to/from Las Vegas and Zion NP area
    Zion NP
    Kolob Canyons (visit rained-off, I went again at the end of my trip...)
    La Verkin Overlook
    Kolob Terrace Road
    Red Canyon
    Bryce Canyon NP
    Calf Creek Falls
    Burr Trail
    Capitol Reef NP
    Glen Canyon NRA
    Natural Bridges NM
    Muley Point Overlook
    Moki Dugway
    Monument Valley
    Goosenecks SP
    Canyonlands NP - Needles
    Canyonlands NP - Island in the Sky
    Arches NP
    Black Dragon Canyon
    Kolob Canyons

    In Las Vegas public transport was used then, just before checking-out a hire car was picked up from McCarran for the remainder of the month to get to southern Utah National Parks, stopping at Monument Valley, with Canyonlands/Arches as the furthest NE destinations.

    The total mileage driven was around 2200 miles.

    PLEASE REMEMBER that comments I make about 'impassable' roads etc are flavoured by me driving a Compact hire-car at the time ! Ground clearance was minimal and it was a 2WD, so even fairly innocuous looking sand 'roads' were potentially 'impassable' due to a lack of grip or hidden bumps, even before rain or potential rain were taken into account....

    Conversely, when driving on main highways your route planning is very easy and readily offers you the chance to make reliable route timings since there is usually little, or no, traffic, hold-ups etc...

    You MUST go to Canyonlands National Park !

    To get a feeling for how busy/popular each NP is, take a peek at the official recent visitor number statistics at the Utah Office of Tourism website via the 'Research planning' tab then the 'Visitor Statistics' link.

    You will be staggered with the totals and how (unfairly) disjointed/distributed they are !

    The weather in May was mostly excellent, with 90deg+ temps in LV and moving north to Zion, but from then on the chance of thunderstorms, but still warm, until the dry/sunny and again very hot (but freezing nights !) around Bryce and Capitol Reef. The Monument Valley area was again sunny/warm, but thunderstorms returned again around the Canyonlands/Arches region to interrupt the otherwise beautiful/warm weather; in the absence of storms, most of Utah had blue skies with puffy clouds (which are a great ingredient for panoramic photos) and decent daylight remained until very late.

    We all take different things on holiday, but over and above the obvious items the essential 'additions' I took were :

    1. Wi-fi capable netbook. Most accommodation provides free Internet access and, if nothing else, it gives you the flexibility to investigate things more whilst in the USA as well as source info/access sites for any changes you might make.
    2. Kettle (120v !). Most accommodation 'only' provides a coffee-maker, which is useless for tea or filling a thermos of hot water !
    3. USA-capable mobile phone. A lot of Utah is relatively desolate and if you need to make 'emergency' contact it could prove invaluable, although coverage can be patchy in the more remote areas.
    4. Satnav (with USA maps !). Less useful on the long drives but (as is always the case) a lifesaver for those final few miles when you're trying to find your destination !
    5, Lead to connect your MP3 player to the car stereo.
    6. Compass.
    7. Pair of binoculars.
    8. Both a folding raincoat AND a sunhat. For those torrential, surprise, thunderstorms and blazing sunny conditions...
    9. Some spare luggage space/weight allowance for all the memorabilia you'll buy !

    Whilst you may not take the following with you, but buy them in the USA, my other 'essentials' were (remember I was there for a month, out-and-about most days - plus most NPs don't have dining facilities anyway, so cold lunches/picnics were the order of the day AND some evenings were late-finishers so also self-catered):

    1. A couple of coolblocks.
    2. Coolbag with hard-plastic liner (to supplement coolblocks with ice).
    3. Decent cutlery, hard-plastic plates and cup.
    4. Tin opener.
    5. Plastic salad bowl.
    6. Microwave-compatible dish+lid.
    7. Cigarette-lighter compatible USB/charger for use in the hire-car for any electronic devices you might have.
    8. Lipsalves, foot powder and sun-lotion.
    9. Day-rucksack.
    10. Rucksack-sized coolbag and water bottle insulator (your hiking provisions need to be kept cool !).
    11. Lens/camera cleaner and brushes + similar stuff for your sunglasses (it gets very dusty out there !).
    12. Utah road map (hire-car company or attraction visitor centres should have a decent one).

    The last 2 domestic points I'll make are :

    1. Remember that the time changes by 1hr as you move between the states of Nevada/Arizona and Utah !
    2. The rate of GST is quite different between these neighbouring states. At the time of writing Nevada was about 7% BUT no GST on groceries, whereas Utah GST is about 5% BUT they charge GST of about 3% on groceries - BUT do check as things can change and accommodation taxes vary as well of course....

    ---

    PLEASE NOTE that my reviews might mention photos/videos I planned to post, but as that's a separate process they might never actually be present as TA have a habit of omitting media submissions. Where relevant I've therefore added a related 'Viewable media' with a link to the associated online album where the photos/videos WILL be as I have control over them !

    With TA, photos appear with the review but videos don't, so it's often easier to locate any video I refer to via my TA profile instead of 'scrolling' through all the photos/videos on the webpage in question.


    Unfortunately, whilst I shoot video in HD, when posted to TA they go through a special 'make fuzzy, pixelate and remove clarity' filter so they don't look as good as they could BUT, oddly, they do appear much better when viewed via my TA profile video list rather than the video player accessed from review webpages...


    If you wish to know any info on the venues/attractions I cover in this Trip list please message me. Also, if you spot any glaring errors, nonsense or potential improvements please feel free to let me know !

  • 3. Desert Rose Resort
    Desert Rose Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $118

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    On arrival in USA, $14 taxi.

    "A Comfortable and Clean Hotel, with Great Breakfast, VERY Well Located for the Vegas 'Strip' and Local Access - GREAT Value."

    Used public transport whilst in LV (see below) then picked-up hire car from McCarran (bus trip from near the hotel) then drove to hotel to pick-up luggage and check-out.

    For transit to McCarran the 'Westcliff Airport Express' bus stops nearby, very handy to pickup the hire car from the airport just before leaving Las Vegas ! See 'Las Vegas RTC' section below.

  • 4. Las Vegas RTC
    http://www.rtcsnv.com/transit/fare_passes.cfm

    For further information access the RTC website via the link directly above this text.

    Get the multi-day pass for unlimited use of strip and local public transport.

    Buy the ticket from machines located at stops.

    So you're not as clueless as everyone else around, ensure you have the map showing the route/stops for the 2 x Strip buses :

    'Strip & Downtown Express'
    and,
    'The Deuce - Las Vegas Boulevard'

    It pays to know where you are and what stop is what as, despite the buses having an electronic sign showing which stop is the next enroute, on several occasions I found them to be reflecting a journey in the opposite direction so were completely useless !

  • 5. The Strip
    The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

    Get the Las Vegas RTC multi-day pass for unlimited use of strip and local public transport, strip buses run 24hrs ! All the info you could need is on the 'Las Vegas RTC' website, see section above.

    Visit the upper-floor canal at the Venetian.

    At night, stand at Sahara Ave to see/hear people propelled up the Stratosphere 'Big Shot' - better still, try it yourself ! See below and my video of the 'victims'.

  • 6. Stratosphere Tower
    Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada

    I didn't on this visit, but some 10 years ago I went on the 'Big Shot' and the roller-coaster - they were both exhilarating experiences, best done at night !

    I've added a video showing some 'Big Shot victims' as viewed from ground-level, at night, when standing at Sahara Ave.

    It is silent but if you go there yourself you can hear people screaming as they are propelled upwards !

  • 7. Fremont Street Experience
    Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, Nevada

    Visit at night and watch people zip-wire along the covered shopping area !

    Alternatively, watch my 3 videos posted on the TA page (link above) showing people doing it - which includes some failing !

  • 8. I-15 Journey from Las Vegas towards the Zion NP area
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_15_in_Arizona

    **********

    BE PREPARED FOR SPECTACULAR VIEWS !

    Look at a printed road map of the I-15 heading NE from Las Vegas, NV to St George UT (the route you'll want to take to get to Zion NP) and most likely it will not highlight several VERY significant factors.

    You will think you're in for a mundane, lengthy, trog through the desert to reach your destination - wrong !

    Firstly, the interstate actually goes into Arizona for about 30 miles.

    Secondly, that section in Az involves a significant increase in altitude.

    Thirdly, that section is FAR more 'bendy' than depicted on the map.

    This is because the I-15 on that section takes a quite spectacular route, with high cliffs either side, through the Virgin River Gorge.

    As you approach the mountain range from the south you assume the interstate is going to route to the left and skirt around it, wrong - it cuts straight into the range.

    Driving from the north you are in for a lengthy 4-wheeled switchback ride as you wind/descend - fantastic.

    Have your eyes and camera ready - the driver enjoys the drive, the passenger enjoys the view and takes the photos, or ideally video.....

    Use an Internet map to get a better idea of what you're in for and/or use the above Internet link for more info.

  • 9. Rodeway Inn Hurricane
    Rodeway Inn Hurricane, Hurricane, Utah
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $81

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived from Vegas.

    "A Comfortable and Well-Furnished Motel Which Can Readily be Used as a Base for Visiting Zion NP - VERY Good Value."

  • 10. US National Park Service
    http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

    Get info on all NP's before you get there.

    Buy the 'Interagency Annual Pass' at your first destination.

  • 11. Zion National Park
    Zion's Main Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "Enjoyable Trails and Magnificent Views BUT Nowadays MUCH, MUCH Busier."

    NOTE that nearby Kolob Canyons (separate section section below and TA page/review for that) is part of Zion. Unless you have an 'Interagency Annual Pass' you need to visit it within the Zion ticket 7-day period otherwise you'll have to pay another entrance fee !

    *** Also see my reviews/videos etc for selected individual trails which follow below.

  • 12. Visitor Information for Zion Canyon
    http://www.nps.gov/zion/parknews/newspaper.htm

    The link above takes you to the NPS Zion Canyon NP webpages, specifically the page where all the useful maps/guides are available.

    The other section of most use is via the 'Plan Your Visit' section - note how most webpages open up the left-hand menu with more options.

  • 13. La Verkin Overlook
    http://www.takemytrip.com/07zion/07_09a.htm

    Great views.

    Easy to access, signposted off the highway between Hurricane and Zion NP.

    See WWW above link.

  • 14. Kolob Terrace Road
    Kolob Terrace Road, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Worthwhile Zion NP Driving 'Excursion' With Fantastic Views BUT There Can Be Problems."

    Threre's also access to more trails.

    Easy to get to off the highway between Hurricane and Zion NP, but poorly signposted. It's near the big, ugly gift shop in Virgin.

    Keep to the paved roads unless you're in a 4WD !

    In poor weather, don't bother as you'll be in the clouds soon enough due to the increasing altitude.

  • 15. Weather Conditions Visitor Informatin in the Kolob Terrace Road Area
    http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/kolob-terrace-road-conditions-no...

    The link above takes you to the rather well-hidden NPS webpage for the all-important weather conditions in the Kolob Terrace Road area.

  • 16. Kolob Canyons
    Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Small Area Offering VERY Wide-Close-Up Canyon Vistas".

    Part of Zion, so unless you have an 'Interagency Annual Pass' you need to visit it within the Zion ticket 7-day period otherwise you'll have to pay another entrance fee !

    Having a Pass also means you can instead visit it on your return to the SW if passing by on the I-15 (as I did), saving an excursion trip from Zion.

  • 17. Watchman Trail, Zion NP
    Watchman Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "An Easily-Accessed BUT Quiet, Slightly Strenuous and Enjoyable Trail With Great Views of the Canyon Southern End."

  • 18. Court of the Patriarchs, Zion NP
    Court of the Patriarchs, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A VERY Short Walk to Distant, But Still Impressive Views."

  • 19. Sand Bench Trail, Zion NP
    Sand Bench Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Quiet, Easily-Accessed and Easy Trail With Excellent Close-Up Views of the Patriarchs Amphitheatre."

  • 20. Kayenta Trail
    Kayenta Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Pleasant, Potentially Quiet, Short and Not Too Strenuous, Trail With Very Rewarding Canyon-River Views."

  • 21. Emerald Pools and Trails, Zion NP
    Emerald Pools, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "Three Interlinked Canyon Wall Trails and Pools Which Can Be Moderately Strenuous, Wet and VERY Busy."

    An interesting quote from the NPS 'FAQ' webpage for Zion NP (as at Jun 12) :

    Q. How many people have fallen off Angels Landing?
    A. We don't have exact numbers, possibly about 5. More people have died at Emerald Pools (7) than Angels Landing.

  • 22. Temple of Sinawava, Zion NP
    Temple of Sinawava Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "Dramatic Skyward Views at the End of the Main Canyon."

  • 23. Riverside Walk, Zion NP
    Riverside Walk, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Pleasant Stroll By The River in a Slowly Narrowing Canyon."

  • 24. Canyon Overlook Trail
    Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos, further information AND, perhaps more importantly, my satellite view parking 'map' accessed from the following section....

    Trail and overlook accessed when leaving Zion Canyon to the East.

    "Easy Trail with Spectacular Overlook Views BUT Poorly Signposted with VERY Limited Parking !"

  • 25. Map of Canyon Overlook trailhead Parking Areas
    http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e80/lpwilliams/USA%202011/Zion%20NP/

    The Internet link above is to my dedicated media album where I've posted the satellite-view map showing the available parking areas for the Canyon Overlook trailhead which I mentioned in my TA review but couldn't get added to the review.

  • 26. Red Canyon
    Red Canyon, Panguitch, Utah

    The 'Website' Internet link and my TA review can be accessed using the link above, to get to the new TA item page (which I got added) to get more introductory information and my photos/videos.

    "Even From The Highway There Are Some Impressive Views and 'Experiences !"

    To maximise your day time in Bryce, if time permits after arrival at your overnight accommodation check-in but then continue towards Bryce to drive the Highway 12 'Red Canyon' scenic byway approach which has some lovely views, is best viewed at sunset and 2 x arch tunnels.

    Better still, visit the 'Red Canyon Visitor Center' on the LHS just before the scenic byway starts for maps etc, then continue to Bryce and get the Visitor Centre part out of the way (useful as the shuttle parking is located elsewhere in case you buy things) AND WHILST THERE ALSO book yourself on the free 9am coach tour for the following day as well !

    Further info is in the section below.

    For info on the Bryce coach tour see my section on Bryce Canyon NP a little further on below....

  • 27. Additional Visitor Information for Red Canyon
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/dixie/recreation/outdoorlearning/recare...

    The Internet link above takes you to the USDA Forest Service website for the Dixie National Forest 'Red Canyon Visitor Center' I mentioned in the previous section.

  • 28. Hatch Station
    Hatch Station, Hatch, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    On arrival from Zion NP enroute to Bryce Canyon NP the next day.

    "Comfortable Motel but Vulnerable to Traffic Noise and the Staff Were Often Vacant."

  • 29. Bryce Canyon
    Bryce Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    A gem of a NP which I found to be MUCH more enjoyable on my 2nd visit - justifiably popular (especially as it is nearest to the phenomenally busy Zion NP), so it can get busy, but as the region is quite large it is possible to get a bit of isolation.

    Easy access to viewpoints - park your car and use the shuttle !

    *** Better still, take advantage of the FREE half-day coach tour !!!

    I also think the Visitor Centre shop is better stocked than the Zion equivalent and the prices were usually slightly less for the same things that both had for sale....

  • 30. Visitor Information for Bryce Canyon
    http://www.nps.gov/brca/parknews/newspaper.htm

    The link above takes you to the NPS Bryce Canyon NP webpages, specifically the page where the main and very useful map/guide ('The Hoodoo') is available.

    I deal with the shuttle/tour bus in the following section...

    The other section of most use is via the 'Plan Your Visit' section - note how most webpages open up the left-hand menu with more options.

    *** The excellent trail information Bryce supplies is supplemented here. Select the 'Things To Do' link THEN the 'Hiking' link to reveal the different grades of trails, which when any is selected not only lists the trails but gives access to individual trail descriptions and maps !

  • 31. Shuttle and Tour Bus Information for Bryce Canyon
    http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/shuttle.htm

    The link above takes you to the NPS Bryce Canyon NP Shuttle/Tour Bus webpage.

    Aside from the general shuttle information, what you really need to also peruse is the so-called 'Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour' information which I have recommended.

    I do urge you to consider this free tour for the reasons I gave BUT firstly recommend you check the facts/availability (by a quick phone call ?) and in case anything has changed.

    Use the 'Contact Us' link towards the bottom-left to get the number etc.

  • 32. Navajo and Queen's Garden Trails 'Loop', Bryce Canyon NP
    Navajo/Queens Garden Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "An Excellent, Not Too Strenuous, Trail 'Combo' Offering a Great Range of Different Views - Navajo-Queens Garden Loop."

  • 33. Prospector Inn
    Prospector Inn, Escalante, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrival from Bryce Canyon, destination Capitol Reef NP the next day.

    "Mammoth-Sized Motel with Good, But Slightly Pricey, Rooms and Peaceful Setting."

  • 34. Escalante Interagency Visitor Center
    http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/grand_staircase-escalante/Recreation/vi...

    Whilst it has a massive floorspace and attendant staff, there is actually not too much going on inside - although you can get maps & local/Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument info before your day's journey and actual weather/road conditions for :

    1. Hell's Backbone.
    2. Hole-in-the-Rock Road.
    3. Burr Trail (more on this later).

    as they are often impassable.

    If nothing else, my enquiry did at least confirm my suspicion that attempting to go to the first 2 on that list of intended trips was too fraught with danger (eg dodgy roads, remote locations) and, despite being very tempting venues, sadly had to be missed/avoided as trying to drive them was likely to give me a hiding for nothing !

    If reqd, get info on Calf Creek Falls and the trail to get there (more on this below).

  • 35. Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area
    Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area, Escalante, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    A pleasant, level, trail and view to fill the morning before proceeding to Capitol Reef NP, ideally via the magnificent Burr Trail (see below) !

    Just off the highway is a signposted small parking area at the trail start, with some facilities and resident warden - small parking fee, but free with NP Pass.

  • 36. Official Visitor Information for the Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area
    http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/res/Education_in_BLM/Learning_Landscapes/F...

    This is the official webpage for this attraction :

    'BLM - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument'

    It should be your first port of call for correct information, but the official website 'utah.com' (link below) should also be of use as it is more detailed.

    Both refer you to the 'Escalante Interagency Visitor Center' for the latest information and camping booking details for example.

    I covered that VC specifically, with the Internet link, a few sections before as it's the first place you go past from Bryce Canyon NP.

  • 37. Utah State Visitor Information for the Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area
    http://www.utah.com/hike/calf_creek.htm

    This is the Utah State webpage for this attraction.

    It can be used to supplement the official management information on the official website detailed above.

    Both refer you to the 'Escalante Interagency Visitor Center' for the latest information and camping booking details for example.

    I covered that VC specifically, with the Internet link, a few sections before as it's the first place you go past from Bryce Canyon NP.

  • 38. Burr Trail
    Burr Trail, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    ******************

    THIS IS A MUST DO !!!!!

    Why drive north to Torrey/Capitol Reef NP on Highway 12 when you can instead skirt the NP via the magnificent Burr Trail ?

    Had I not stopped just before Boulder for a cup of coffee, which is where the signposted turnoff is, and re-read my tour book I would have missed this extremely memorable journey !

    Look on a map and you'll see the journey doesn't add much distance BUT it will take you a LOT longer to drive due to the terrain and photo stops - allow 5hrs.

    Also, remember once you leave Boulder there is no civilisation AT ALL until you get back onto the paved section just south of Notom before reaching Highway 24 to the east of Capitol Reef NP.

    Had I known beforehand I would have made use of the comprehensive information/map provided on the US National Park Service website about the trail. The webpage is entitled 'Driving the Burr Trail' but I couldn't see a way of navigating to the page, which is part of the 'Glen Canyon National Recreation Area' section. It appears the only way to get to the page is by searching the page title ie 'Driving the Burr Trail'.

  • 39. Official Visitor Information for the Burr Trail
    http://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/driving-the-burr-trail.htm

    This is the official NPS webpage for this attraction.

    It has a detailed area map (the link is below the title text), useful tips, driving advice BUT most importantly a fantastically detailed mile-by-mile narrative of the route.

  • 40. Capitol Reef
    Capitol Reef, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A VERY Enjoyable Scenic Drive, Interesting Trails and Impressive Views - Outside AND In !"

    If going from the Burr Trail (see above review/info) to Torrey for overnight before visiting the NP the next day, as I was, you get a 'bonus' pass of the best bits of Capitol Reef NP.

    When on Highway 24 there is usually a generously-sized stop-off parking area somewhere near to a view worth looking at for longer/photographing. In fact, it's worth driving along the highway in both directions at least once to ensure you 'catch' everything, as the views are often dependent on you going in the right direction to see them !

  • 41. Red Sands Hotel
    Red Sands Hotel, Torrey, Utah
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $95

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived from Bryce Canyon via Burr Trail.

    "Smart, Clean Hotel Which is Ideally Located For Capitol Reef NP, but with a Few Niggles."

  • 42. Capitol Reef
    Capitol Reef, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A VERY Enjoyable Scenic Drive, Interesting Trails and Impressive Views - Outside AND In !"

    After my short visit the afternoon before, I spent a full day here after my night stop in Torrey.

    If you visited this NP in isolation you would be quite impressed; however, as you are likely to have arrived from seeing the spectacular sights in Zion/Bryce Canyon NPs everything here is somewhat underwhelming UNLESS you got there via the Burr Trail (see above review/info) as that offers views of CR you cannot see from the northern part of the NP.

    **** Inside the NP there are some pleasant picnic areas, close-up views of some colourful/long rock formations/ridges and some hikes which are for the most part flat and quite easy to access. The only snag can be that nearby parking spaces can be at a premium....

    Although I did tour the scenic drive and a couple of hikes in the NP itself, CR is (in my opinion) unusual in that most of the impressive views are away from the scenic drive itself - either side of Highway 24 (as mentioned earlier).

    I then spent a further night in Torrey before driving past the NP on Highway 24 again, heading east to continue my (now rescheduled) journey.

  • 43. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
    Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, United States

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Short Incursion Into This Massive Area Makes for a Great Drive and Provides Some Fantastic Views."

    This was yet another 'bonus' scenic drive/view I wasn't expecting on what was expected to be a largely mundane and lengthy drive !

    Although my guide book did cover my planned journey from Capitol Reef NP towards Natural Bridges NM/Muley Point/Monument Valley, but it provided an uninspiring description which implied the drive was nothing more than a 'means to and end' - wrong !

    Right from the off there are some magnificent views (mostly to the north) as you climb out of the CR area then when level head east on highway 24 towards Hanksville.

    However, the real surprise came once I presumed I was on the 'boring' section heading south on highway 95.

    A real treat !

  • 44. Natural Bridges National Monument
    Natural Bridges National Monument, Blanding, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "Hugely UNDER-Visited NM With Some Impressive Views of Several MASSIVE Rock 'Bridges' from Enjoyable Trails and a Pleasant Scenic Drive."

    Natural Bridges NM may not be that large but it does make for a pleasant daytime stop enroute to Muley Point/Monument Valley and beyond. It was relatively quiet when I went there and the views on the scenic drive belie the more impressive panoramas you can see by taking the numerous short, easily negotiated, overlook trails for each 'bridge' dotted along the circular route, accessed from adjacent/roomy parking areas.

    The rock arches are so massive here you can often not realise you're looking at one, but with you eyes and camera set to 'wide' you can catch every detail and appreciate the unique shapes and rock formations.

    Having visited, make sure you depart leaving sufficient time to get to your overnight destination VIA driving to/stopping-off at Muley Point/Moki Dugway to properly experience some truly magnificent panoramas and switchback descent !

  • 45. Muley Point Overlook
    Muley Point Overlook, Mexican Hat, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "wow, Wow, WOW - A Must Visit Viewpoint !!!"

    ******************

    THIS IS A MUST SEE !!!!!

    My guidebook stated these were among the most stupendous views in the world - I agree !

    Standard photos really cannot do the experience justice, such is the atmosphere, depth, width and distance of the view but a well-shot video does get close.

    This is one of the few places to have a 'wow-factor' when the view reveals itself and once there I thought my trip had reached the pinnacle of enjoyment here - UNTIL I
    GOT TO CANYONLANDS !

  • 46. Moki Dugway
    Moki Dugway, Utah, United States

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "An Exhilarating Drive Down a Perfectly Drivable Switchback Unpaved Road Plus Tremendous Views."

    ******************

    THIS IS ANOTHER MUST SEE/DO !!!!!

    As mentioned above, it is so close to Muley Point you get a fantastic 2-for-the-price-of-1.

    Moki Dugway is situated at a precipice as Highway 261 descends towards Arizona and onwards to Monument Valley.

    The drive down is scenic and exhilarating, but not quite as good as the switchback descent on the Burr Trail at Burr Canyon.

  • 47. San Juan Inn
    San Juan Inn, Mexican Hat, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived late after long drive/day from Capitol Reef NP, Natural Bridges NM, Muley Point and Moki Dugway.

    "Clean & Tidy BUT Priced Being Ideally Located For Monument Valley etc - Expensive and Comparatively VERY Poor Value."

  • 48. Monument Valley
    Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "Spectacular Vistas and Close-Up Views of Dramatic Sandstone Buttes and Cliffs."

    I have been to Monument Valley before, but it was a long time ago and as I was going to be so close by virtue of going to Muley Point/Moki Dugway I changed my plans the day before, left Capitol Reef NP a day early, booked nearby accommodation and visited it for the day.

    Funnily enough, not much has changed !

    The views are still spectacular and personally I was more satisfied by staying outside the entrance-fee area so my lingering stops were at my own pace and much, much more peaceful. I know you don't see everything that way, but you see quite enough to make it a worthwhile visit.

  • 49. Panorama Photos - Monument Valley
    http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e80/lpwilliams/USA%202011/Monument%2...

    The Internet link above is to my dedicated media album where there are the panorama photos for Monument Valley which failed to get uploaded with my TA review.

  • 50. Goosenecks State Park
    Goosenecks State Park, Blanding, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "Very Impressive Views Down and Across a Massive River Canyon."

    After visiting Monument Valley, now headed north for my motel in Monticello it seemed stupid to at least not take a quick peek at Goosenecks State Park.

    The turn-off is situated just off the southern end of highway 261, leading from Muley Point/Moki Dugway, a mile from the junction with highway 163 - so it is hardly difficult to get to !

    Once there you are rewarded to a wide/deep vista overlooking the dramatic canyon created by the resident San Juan River; you see this area from a bit further away when at Muley Point....

  • 51. Panorama Photos - Goosenecks SP
    http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e80/lpwilliams/USA%202011/Goosenecks...

    The Internet link above is to my dedicated media album where there is the panorama photo for Goosenecks SP which failed to get uploaded with my TA review.

  • 52. Canyonlands Motor Inn
    Canyonlands Motor Inn, Monticello, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived after visiting Monument Valley/Goosenecks State Park.

    "Small, Conveniently-Located Motel with Large/Well-Equipped But Slightly Dated Rooms - Good Value."

  • 53. Canyonlands National Park
    Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    The above link takes you to the TA page for the general info for Canyonlands and lists the separate attractions it has in the database - HOWEVER, do note that some of CL attractions are incorrectly listed on the 'Moab' webpage instead !

    My guide book had earlier prompted me to visit 'Muley Point' (see my review) to see 'among the most stupendous views in the world' and I wasn't disappointed.

    So, armed with that my memory of that recent/fabulous experience and considering that I had already done repeat visits to my then all-time favourite Utah locations of Zion and Bryce Canyon NP's, as my book also stated that Canyonlands was 'the largest and most magnificent NP in Utah' I was slightly dubious but obviously excited.

    My, oh my was the wait worth it !

    Visiting the Canyonlands NP 'complex' was essentially the last segment of my month-long tour of the Utah/Arizona natural attractions last year and I spent longer here than anywhere, even BEFORE I extended my stay ! Everything about the places in this NP totally captivated me. Partly because I was well-into my holiday, I was careful about hiking distances - so I spent far more time at the 'casual viewing' friendly 'Island in the Sky' region, as I think the 'Needles' region is more focussed on lengthy trails to see the best of what is on offer....

    To my surprise, this NP is the least well-visited of all those in Utah - but why is that ? I can only surmise that it is a combination of reasons, being because it is in a remote region of the state, access is a minimum of 20-odd miles from the main highway and that it so close to the nearby, extremely-easily accessed, 'Arches' NP - so it loses potential patronage from those who go there instead as they've a limited amount of time to spend in the region.

    Between 2 and 3 times as many people visit Arches NP as visit Canyonlands, but that is their loss - it means those who can devote time to go to Canyonlands will not only have unbelievable experiences, but they will be in relative seclusion.

    Risking that the hype surrounding Canyonlands was valid, I had booked accommodation in Monticello and Moab to cover a lengthy stay for the best part of a week - oh, and to visit Arches NP as well....

    Having stayed in Monticello, I travelled north and first went to the 'Needles' district for one day (not long enough !), then continued north to Moab to use it as a base for the remainder of my visit to the 'Island in the Sky' district, and also pop-in to Arches.

    I can safely say that the views you can get to experience in Canyonlands surpass any other natural creations I have seen before. I have travelled quite a bit of the planet and seen many memorable things; we obviously all have different tastes, but the experiences I had whilst touring Canyonlands continually astounded me, improving on the sensations I felt when first viewing such places as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Bryce in the USA (oh, to the shock of many I'm sure I AM including the Grand Canyon in that list by the way !) or further afield to places such as the Galapagos Islands, Amazon rainforest, the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa or the best of what good old 'Blighty' has to offer. Don't forget I'm talking about natural attractions, so there are lots of other magnificent places I've been to but they were man-made....

    The label 'Canyonlands' is remarkably bland and almost sounds a bit 'cheesy' - but with hindsight it is perfectly-suited and uncomplicated; you do indeed enter another 'land', dominated by a multitude of huge, beautiful canyons. You can forget about the Grand Canyon as far as I'm concerned (I have been there by the way, and did find it inspiring but also a bit 'samey' !) - that is 'just' one large collation of slits in the earth with a fairly contrast-free vista beyond, whereas in Canyonlands you have canyons, deep river gorges, buttes, mountain ranges and various other features all resplendent with differing colours and hues, spread out over 'layered' panoramas which can often stretch out far away into the distance.

    The 'Needles' district places you in a vast plateau surrounded by a multitude of canyon ridges (or 'fingers') rising high above you, embellished with a range of differing rock formations and cliffs.

    The aptly-named 'Island in the sky' region is indeed situated on a massive 'finger' of land, which juts out atop the vast area of canyon cliffs, plateau and river gorges. This means all the, spectacular, long-distance vistas are either at eye-level or drop dramatically in front of you to rise again further out, comprising a series of multi-layered/coloured features.

    Even though I was touring in 'compact' 2WD low-clearance hire car I easily managed to see a lot of what is on offer. That is because whilst the area as a whole is vast and largely devoid of 'normal' road access, the 2 main regions have paved road access and a collection of paved scenic roads in their central portions, which not only connect to various trailhead parking areas but also a large number of 'overlooks' which also have their own parking areas. Canyonlands offers activities for the entire range of visitor-types and should not be missed.....

    Please also read my aforementioned dedicated reviews for the 'Needles' and 'Island in the Sky' regions that I visited....

  • 54. Canyonland National Park
    Canyonland National Park, Moab, Utah

    The above link takes you to the TA 'Moab' webpage where 'Canyonland' (sic) is listed as an attraction for the town...

  • 55. The Needles, Canyonlands National Park
    The Needles, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    The 2 areas I visited (the other regions are not easily accessible) are remarkably different, with the 'Needles' district placing you in a vast plateau surrounded by a multitude of canyon ridges (or 'fingers') rising high above you, embellished with a range of differing rock formations and cliffs.

    The drive/descent to the plateau start takes long enough, but then I found myself stopping so often on the remainder of the drive to the central section I was risking leaving myself having to turn around as soon as I got there in order to be able to drive back out and onto Moab by the end of the day !

  • 56. Elephant Hill
    Elephant Hill, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "Quite easy to access with a beautiful, very colourful panorama."

  • 57. Big Spring Canyon Overlook
    Big Spring Canyon Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "A VERY Wide and Deep Panorama of Interestingly-Shaped Rock Formations."

  • 58. Inca Inn
    Inca Inn, Moab, Utah
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $99

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived after visiting 'Needles' area of Canyonlands NP.

    "Comfortable and Well-Furnished Motel Ideally Located for Visiting Canyonlands and Arches NP - Expensive and Comparatively Poor Value, Like Everywhere in Moab."

  • 59. Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park
    Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    Earlier, just above, I have already introduced and eulogised about Canyonlands NP, then covered/reviewed the 'Needles' district.

    My appetite whetted by that all too-short day in the 'Needles' district, now settled in (busy) Moab I set about 'attacking' the 'Island in the Sky' region......

    By virtue of an initial climb into the region, you are indeed situated on a massive 'finger' of land which juts out atop the massive area of canyon cliffs, plateau and river gorges. This means all the long-distance vistas are either at eye-level or drop dramatically in front of you to rise again further out, comprising a series of multi-layered/coloured features.

    It's difficult to describe properly - go there and get the experience properly for yourself please !

    Having discovered that my planned day-visit to Cedar Breaks on my return trip was a no go due to a snowbound scenic drive, all these factors (plus the forecast for sunny skies) prompted me to extend my stay until the end of Saturday and stop somewhere enroute to Cedar City, instead of driving all the way there. What a fortunate result that was. My early arrival back in Canyonlands on Saturday allowed me to get a new 'set' of photos/videos for the all the overlook views; this time in near-silence (as nobody else was there yet) and with lovely blue/slightly cloudy skies.

    To my astonishment, the visitor-count never actually increased very much throughout the day; there was barely 10% the number of people around compared to in the week - weird but wonderful ! Finally, I should say that my early Saturday start included an experience which really emphasised the beauty of the area. A small group of people arrived at an overlook where I already was for what was clearly their first view of the area, then proceeded to have a short ceremony whereupon someone's ashes were thrown over the edge from an urn. I can't think of a better place to finally rest.....

  • 60. Green River Overlook
    Green River Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review for further info, photos/videos accessed using the link above.

    "An UNBEATABLE, Quite Awe-Inspiring View, with Easy-Access SUPERB !"

    THE viewpoint to visit in CL.

  • 61. Grand View Point Overlook
    Grand View Point Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Fantastic Close-Up Canyon View, with Easy-Access GREAT !"

    An unusual overlook in this region because it is south-west looking, BUT that is just the first plus point....

  • 62. Whale Rock
    Whale Rock, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Challenging Ascent of a Slickrock Mound Rewarded With Great Views."

  • 63. Upheaval Dome
    Upheaval Dome, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Fairly Pleasant Trail Offering Very Good, But Rather Bland, Views of the 'UD' Area."

  • 64. Mesa Arch
    Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Short Hike For Superb Views From A Beautiful Arch, Dramatically Situated on a Deep Canyon Edge."

  • 65. Aztec Butte Trail
    Aztec Butte Trail, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "An Enjoyable, Easy, Trail Offering Very Good Northerly Views."

  • 66. Panorama Photos- Canyonlands NP
    http://s37.photobucket.com/albums/e80/lpwilliams/USA%202011/Canyonland...

    The Internet link above is to my dedicated media album where there are the panorama photos for Canyonlands NP which failed to get uploaded with my TA review.

  • 67. Arches National Park
    Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    Arches NP is extremely easy to get to, with the entrance/visitor centre right next to highway 191 little more than 2 miles north of Moab.

    This means that, like how Zion NP has been affected with a resulting increase at Bryce Canyon, that it is VERY popular - but, in my opinion, without any great justification.

    Roughly 2-3 times as many people visit Arches than Canyonlands, baffling ! Look at the TA reviews and you'll see Arches is rated #1 with 50+ reviews whereas Canyonlands is rated a lowly #6 with reviews in single figures - that tells a story in itself....

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed a worthwhile if slightly unpleasant day touring the area (due to how many people were there), saw some interesting sights and took a few photos - but if you do a tour of the Utah NPs anything like I did you will soon realise that there is nothing here that is extraordinary or particularly memorable. It appears I am in some kind of minority, but at least I'm accompanied by those TA review-writers and the author of my 'Rough Guide - Southwest USA' travel guide who's opening remarks about Arches are "Arches NP seems to have become the NP for people who aren't quite sure whether they like NPs".

    Arches NP is as far as I'm concerned 'Canyonlands Lite' (since the scenery and rock formations are, to my eye, more akin to the 'Needles' region of Canyonlands), albeit that as well as the benefit of ease of access it potentially 'saves' you driving that extra distance to go there instead. However, overall it is doesn't compare in size or variation so it is more of a 'taster' than being a complete substitute.

    Even during the week it was something of a nightmare finding places to park at the various trailheads/viewpoints - despite them being larger than normal due to the correctly anticipated larger visitor-count ! After checking the statistics I see that it is roughly as well visited as Bryce Canyon, yet I felt less 'constricted' there than whilst touring Arches....

  • 68. Super 8 Motel Green River
    Super 8 Motel Green River, Green River, Utah
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $76

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived late after final day in the 'Island in the Sky' area of Canyonlands NP.

    "Very Smart, Well-Furnished/Equipped and Quiet Motel but Expensive, Like Most Accommodation in Green River !"

  • 69. Black Dragon Canyon
    http://www.utah.com/hike/black_dragon.htm

    Re-scanning my Rough Guide I was pleasantly surprised that there was somewhere on my planned long interstate drive to Cedar City to break the monotony of the journey, and that it was right by the I-70 accessed by an adjacent gate ! NOTE you can only get to it travelling East-West, it is inaccessible from the other direction !

    Sadly, whilst Black Dragon Canyon was indeed easy to access, now that I was into week 4 of my tour and flagging somewhat (partly due to a noisy staff-member interrupting my sleep the night before at the Super 8 motel, Green River - thanks a lot) I couldn't get that excited about the initial views I saw there, and only managed to walk around a bit before I lost interest//gave up and returned to the hire car to pound the interstate once again. I took no photos...

    Do also note that the various information sources for the Black Dragon Canyon vary in the accuracy about how to access it (including that at the above link which is otherwise accurate !). The gate IS right by the I70, so you have to be a bit sharp to ensure a correct and safe turnoff, BUT it is after mile-marker 147 and NOT 145. At least if you use the wrong info you are going in the right direction to still get to the right place 2 miles further on !

    Considering how well-populated the dirt parking area the other side of the gate was, I'm sure there must be something worthy of viewing in the area, but what I saw was not in the same league to the previous Utah NP experiences so this diversion was shorter than planned. I also recommend that if in a low-clearance/2WD vehicle you drive no further than the parking area, otherwise your trip could end in tears very nearly like it did for me !

    Having said that, there are a couple of turnoffs a bit further west along the I-70 which offer opportunities for some quite pleasant canyon overlooks...

  • 70. Cedar Breaks National Monument
    Cedar Breaks National Monument, Cedar City, Utah

    Planned excursion from Cedar City but the weather had not improved so the scenic drive was still closed due to snow.

    Luckily, I knew this several days beforehand (yet another reason for having Internet access at your hotel !) so extended my stay at the simply fantastic Canyonlands NP and reduced my reservation at the Knight's Inn Hotel, Cedar City to just an overnight stop - arriving at the end of a long day driving along the I-70 and I-15 from Green River.

  • 71. Abbey Inn, Cedar City
    Abbey Inn, Cedar City, Utah
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $103

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived after long Interstate drive from Green River.

    "A Comparatively Plush Hotel with Good Breakfast - Pretty Good Value."

  • 72. Kolob Canyons
    Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal, photos/videos and further information.

    "A Small Area Offering VERY Wide-Close-Up Canyon Vistas".

    A pleasant, but short scenic drive ascends past an impressive view into a massive/long canyon gorge, ending with a large parking/picnic on the edge of a high cliffside on the opposite side of the valley to the tall/wide Kolob cliff-face (there are also lay-bys on the way along/up).

    You are too close to capture the whole panorama properly, so buying a poster of that view is really the only option....

    Part of Zion, so unless you have an 'Interagency Annual Pass' you need to visit it within the Zion ticket 7-day period otherwise you'll have to pay another entrance fee !
    Having a Pass also means you can instead visit it on your return to the SW if passing by on the I-15 (as I did), saving an excursion trip from Zion.

  • 73. I-15 Journey from Zion NP area to Las Vegas
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_15_in_Arizona

    **********

    BE PREPARED FOR SPECTACULAR VIEWS !

    Look at a printed road map of the I-15 heading NE from Las Vegas, NV to St George UT (the route you'll want to take to get to Zion NP) and most likely it will not highlight several VERY significant factors.

    You will think you're in for a mundane, lengthy, trog through the desert to reach your destination - wrong !

    Firstly, the interstate actually goes into Arizona for about 30 miles.

    Secondly, that section in Az involves a significant decrease in altitude.

    Thirdly, that section is FAR more 'bendy' than depicted on the map.

    This is because the I-15 on that section takes a quite spectacular route, with high cliffs either side, through the Virgin River Gorge.

    As you approach the mountain range from the north you don't really get any visual 'warnings' that the interstate is just about to descend sharply and cut straight into the range.

    Driving from the north you are in for a lengthy 4-wheeled switchback ride as you wind/descend - fantastic.

    Have your eyes and camera ready - the driver enjoys the drive, the passenger enjoys the view and takes the photos, or ideally video.....

    Use an Internet map to get a better idea of what you're in for and/or use the above Internet link for more info.

  • 74. Falcon Ridge Hotel
    Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, Mesquite, Nevada
    Show Prices
    Avg price: $99

    See my TA review accessed via the link directly above this text for my full appraisal and further information.

    Arrived from direction of Cedar City after a day in Kolob Canyons NP.

    "A Large, Clean, Quiet and Comfortable Hotel, with 'Proper' Breakfast, Handily Located Near the I-15 - GREAT Value."

  • 75. United Kingdom
    United Kingdom, Europe

    Good old 'Blighty'.

    Well worth a visit - especially London.