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Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

Washington, D.C.
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Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?


Family of four (2 ad, 20 yo, 16 yo) active family. We have about 8 days once in Utah. We are starting from Colorado so will start at Arches (Moab). Like hiking, boys like mountain biking and rafting. Like interesting things to do with ranger led hikes or things like cool sunset hikes/tours/etc.

I currently have allocated

-- 2 1/2 - 3 days in Moab

-- 2 days (incl drive) in Bryce

-- 3 days Zion

Is this the correct slotting of time for each location? I figured the Bryce/Zion could have some overlap if needed. Wanted family to be able to mountain bike Moab.

Thoughts? Also some good hikes (we can muster 5- 12 miles / day), well respected outfitters and cool things to do (I saw on previous post about a sunset jeep tour that sounded interesting) would be helpful.



Ohio, USA
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1. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

Welcome to the forum, lv vacations.

Your general plan looks pretty good. Good split of time between the three locations.

The only downside that I see to your plan is that there is a lot of ground between Moab and Bryce Canyon and plenty of great things to see and do along that stretch (Goblin Valley, Little Wild Horse slot canyon, Capitol Reef, scenic route 12, Calf Creek Falls...it is long list). Ideally, you could add a day and stay a night in Torrey; otherwise, perhaps take a night from Bryce Canyon and use that night for Torrey.

I can't help with the biking but there are great day hikes in the area, many in Arches. Delicate Arch is a classic for sunset. the Ranger-led hike through the Fiery Furnace is a fun group activity as well. Another favorite is the Devil's Garden, making the loop using the primitive trail. There is also white water rafting in the area.

Park City, Utah
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2. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

As OhioHick noted, pretty good plan. Given the ages and interests, I would do three nights absolute minimum in Moab as you'll find more attractions there than any of your other stops. Hit Little Wild Horse Canyon between Moab and Bryce, doing an overnight in Torrey. Then do one night Bryce, two nights Zion. That should still be within your timeframe. I wouldn't cut any of them less than that.

In Moab take the family on a canyoneering expedition to Ephedra's Grotto with Cliffs and Canyons. Do a sunset hummer tour on Hell's Revenge. Do the hikes OhioHick noted. Classic Moab mountain bike is Slickrock Trail, assuming they have some mountain bike experience. Another fun and very easy ride is Kane Creek Road out towards Hurrah Pass, although ATV traffic on the road now is pretty bad. There's also a nice bike trail going along the highway up to and past entrance to Arches.

Definitely do the stop for Little Wild Horse Canyon - very easily accessible slot canyon. Allow 3-4 hours minimum. Will be one of the hits of the trip. Drive from Torrey to Bryce is fantastic. If you feel the need for a hike, Calf Creek Falls is nice but will take about 4-5 hours. You can absorb Bryce in short time. Sunrise is very important. Lots of hiking options in Zion but for sure think about doing the Narrows.

What time of year?

Have fun.

Tacoma, Washington
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3. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

What is the bigger picture of your trip? What else is on your itinerary. Where are you going after Zion?

Moab you want 3 full days..possibly 4-5 because of the biking opportunities there.

You need 1 day for Bryce

You need 2 days for Zion.

Day 0 arrive in Moab at night

Day 1-4 Moab

Day 5 drive to Bryce....be at Bryce for sunset.

Day 6 Bryce for day, evening to Zion

Day 7-8 Zion.

Washington, D.C.
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4. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

My son is at CC finishing up a summer semester. We have done a lot in Colorado so booking it towards Utah which we have never done any of the places mentioned. Plan is to head straight from Csprings to Moab to start and then fly home from Vegas.

I like the ideas mentioned of taking the drive to Bryce and breaking it up. Thanks, I'll look into that.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

<<Like hiking, boys like mountain biking and rafting. Like interesting things to do with ranger led hikes or things like cool sunset hikes/tours/etc.>.

You are coming to the right place then. All those things available in Moab etc.

Best ranger led hike will be the Fiery Furnace in Arches. Book it online now at Recreation.gov if you know your dates (or as soon as they open up the dates about 4 months ahead).

Three options for rafting in Moab, all on the Colorado- 1) the Fisher Tower or Moab Daily section. This can be a half day or full day trip. 2) the Westwater section. This is a full day trip and has higher rated rapids. 3) Cataract Canyon. The biggest rapids in the area, but usually done as a 3-4 day trip as there is a lot of flat water before you get to them. We have seen some 1 or 2 day options.

I know Moab Adventure Center combines a river trip with a hummer adventure.

www.discovermoab.com has all the outfitters and lots of other great info.

If you want a great one day 11 mile hike Chesler Park loop in the Needles section of Canyonlands would be great. But it would be a very full day since it is a little bit further drive from Moab just to get to the trailhead.

Give yourselves at least one full day in Arches, 1/2 day for Canyonlands in the Sky and Dead Horse Point state Park, and then at least one other day for rafting, biking, jeeping etc. So 3 full days for Moab.

2 Days to travel to Bryce (stopping in Torrey for Little Wild Horse and goblin valley and Capitol Reef on the first day and hwy 12 with Calf Creek Falls on the second)

And overnight at Bryce - hike the Navajo to Queen's garden loop. Add in the Peekaboo section making it a figure 8 if you have time and energy

That only gives you 2 days for Zion. You'll want 2 full days. 1 day for the Narrows. 1 day for Angel's Landing, Kayenta trail and Emerald Pools.

Washington, D.C.
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6. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

Awesome information from all of you. Will defintely adjust the timing a bit and hit Torrey. I will need to get on the reservations for some key items also so thanks for that heads up also.


Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

If they want to mountain bike and raft, Moab is the place to spend a lot of time. You could really spend the entire trip there and not run out of things to do. Here is a guide for mountain biking trails in the area.


As mentioned, Westwater Canyon would be a great day trip on the Colorado River. Not as long as Cataract Canyon and has rapids as opposed to the float trip from Fisher Towers that would likely bore teenagers. National Geographic named Westwater Canyon 'the best short river trip in the West'. That will take one full day.

Agreed with the timeframe of three nights in Moab, one in Torrey, one for Bryce and two for Zion.

As mentioned, hit up Little Wild Horse Canyon on route to Torrey. In Capitol Reef there is a nice waterfall near the East entrance that would be fun fun to play in for a while. They have closed it due to people cliff jumping off of the falls into the pools below, but hopefully common sense has prevailed and it is an open area again. Cohab Canyon with the Freemont River overlook is a nice short hike. Rim Rock Inn has a great dinner in Torrey.

From Torrey to Bryce, hike Calf Creek Falls. It's a 125-foot waterfall in the middle of the desert. There are several places to jump in the creek, as the trail parallels the water corridor, so it's fairly flat and easy.

At Bryce, the Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop is called the World's Best Three Mile Hike, by the national parks service. Don't miss the sunrise either.

At Zion, hike The Narrows and Angels Landing.

Edited: 21 April 2014, 18:32
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8. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

Following Ivvacations.. We are planning a trip to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce and Zion in October .. so much fun research to do. So far we have: Fly into Las Vegas, rent our car, travel to South Rim, with reservations at lodge on the rim to celebrate our bdays for 2 nights. Leave Sunday to Moab, then this is where we are trying to time our visit.. from 11-14 days.. Moab for Arches and Canyon land and then take the scenic route 12 that has been mentioned here to Bryce and Zion ending back in Las Vegas to see Red Rock Canyon and to the strip for a day.. I am just beginning the plan.. I hope the beginning of October is a wonderful time for travel in Utah! We will be traveling over a full moon period which I would love to see in the wilderness expansive sky.

I am appreciated the many posts.. if you don't mind I will tag along as well :) - I will start one stop at a time.. Moab is up for me.. Thank you all!

9. Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion -- Advice on Timing?

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