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Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

Destination Expert
for Indianapolis
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Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

Hey everyone. I am currently planning a trip to visit the greater Las Vegas area. Here is my background: This trip will be me and my wife. We are not die hard gamblers, but do wish to see Vegas, but also want to take advantage of the surrounding area as well. Right now, we may only have eight (maybe nine) days for our trip. I am hoping my wife can get a few more days off, unpaid if possible. While I like to hike, my wife isn't a die hard outdoors type, but we both really like seeing new places and grand sights and such.

In the early planning for this trip, I discovered that S. Utah is home to many national parks, with the GC close by as well. I have already discovered some info on this forum and have ordered travel guides from the respective states. I plan on ordering information from all the national parks, and hitting up AAA as well.

So far, my plan is to fly into Vegas early, rent a car, and head out to S. Utah first. My initial plan would be to stay in the area of Moab, UT. This would allow us a central location to visit both Arches, Canyon Lands, and Capitol Reef NPs. Next would be to stay somewhere in S. Utah as a point to branch out to see Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. The end of our trip would be going back to Vegas, and hopefully seeing things like the Hoover Dam, Little A'Le'Inn, Nellis AFB (if the have tours), Death Valley NP, Red Rock Canyon, etc..

I know there will be a lot of driving. Been there, done that, it is the only way due to our limited time window. We are both fine with that, I am totally fine with driving hours if need be. We are both younger, and as long as we get our three meals a day, we can easily do 14 hour days, even if many of those hours are in a car.

My main questions are:

What parks/sights are must see? What parks/sights should we skip because they really ain't all that?

What are the good cities/towns to stay in? We are your basic Holiday Inn, Ramada, Red Roof Inn types. We don't need a pool or hot tube, just a decent, safe place to stay.

What are the driving distances like? Does Utah have slower speed limits? Interstates/highways curve a lot?

Best time of year to go? I hate the heat, big time. I would rather go when things are on the cool side. Wife really doesn't care, she would rather go when there are fewer people, and I also like that as well. However, we still would like to go when things are happening, places are open for business, etc.. I saw that Bryce has a night program and I really like that. We have even thought about making our trip during one of the meteor shower events.

I am going to post this in a few forums, so if you reply one place, no need to reply back. Thanks in advance for any tips you can provide.

Arches National Park
Geologic Formations, Mountains, National Parks, Hiking Trails
The Narrows
National Parks, Hiking Trails
Observation Point
National Parks, Lookouts
Canyonlands National Park
Canyons, Mountains, National Parks
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
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1. Re: Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

You are already well on the road to planning a great trip. The one thing I want to say right now is that because the distances between things out here are great you really can't stay in a central place to see them. It will be a lot of packing up and moving on, but that is really the best way to go.

So drive to Moab on almost all interstates (I-15 to I-70 ) And stay there to enjoy Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point statepark. Lots of places in Moab to chose from, Stay at least 3 days if possible

Then move on to Capitol Reef seeing Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Slot canyon along the way. Stay in Torrey 2 nights would be best.

Then head down scenic hwy 12 http://scenicbyway12.com/ which goes through the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Spend a day to do this.

Stay near Bryce, either in the park or in the gateway town of Bryce Canyon City (Ruby's Inn, Best Western Grand). You could stay 1 or 2 nights here.

Then to Grand Canyon North Rim. North Rim is only open after May 15 and until the snow flies in the fall. You need to book accommodations here early as there is only one lodge. Sure you could stay elsewhere and drive in but then it is hard to see the sunrise and sunsets which are wonderful. So maybe plan the rest of the trip around when you can get in there. 2 nights at least foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm…

Then on to Zions staying either in the park or in Springdale, a cute little gateway town. Plan 2-3 days here depending on how many hikes you decide on.

The summer months will be busy and hot so avoid those if you can. April and May are nice everywhere except of course the North Rim. So September might work best as far as staying away from the worst heat and having things still open and available and long days to see things.

If you do all that then heading over to sites in Nevada,,,,I didn't leave any time for those. Keep researching and decide what appeals most to you. There is lots to do and see besides the National parks. Especially in Utah some of the state parks are just as wonderful just smaller. In Southern UTah it is all about the landscape, the red rock, lots to learn about and see.

Destination Expert
for Indianapolis
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2. Re: Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

Thanks for the quick reply. While I am a hiker, I don't hike. Living in a city w/o major parks around sucks, but such is life. As such, we won't be doing any hardcore hiking at all. This doesn't mean we want to drive in, take some photos, and drive out. As far as sunrises and sunsets, don't really interest us for the most part. Seeing one or two in some awe inspiring areas is plenty for us. I wouldn't mind just driving to the north rim, spending a few hours, and driving back. Thanks for the tips. I am seriously considering flying into Vegas, renting the car and driving to Moab. Staying there a couple days, then driving to an area to see Bryce and Zion, then onto Vegas. Might not get to see everything, and will likely miss a lot, but we can always go back later.

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3. Re: Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

I agree with Kb's route, but your comment about driving down to the North rim for a "look" tells me to advise you to skip the GC entirely for now. In return, you'll get more quality time in Utah. With Moab, Capital Reef, Bryce and Zion, you will have many varied views. If you like the high desert rock experience, you'll enjoy Sedona and the Grand Canyon for another trip.

Otherwise, you'll know by the time you are reaching Bryce, that a diversion to the North Rim before Zion works for you. I would travel in the spring or fall to avoid the summer crowds. Enjoy a wonderful trip.

Sedona, AZ
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4. Re: Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

Kbecjeans has given you an excellent and minimal itinerary. Her plan does not allow or require any significant hiking. It is the bare amount of time that you will need to cover the ground and see the sights in these major destinations. Trying to do it it any faster will just be a waste of your time. Because time is what you need to spend at the parks and sights along the way. You simply cannot see Arches in less than a day. The same applies for the other parks too.

And it does sound like you should skip the Grand Canyon. If you don't want to spend any time there, it's simply not worth all the time it takes to get there. It's not a place where you go and stand at one place and see it and leave. but you won't understand that until you actually experience it. But suffice to say that if Arches or Canyonlands or Bryce and Zion all require a minimum of a day each, the GC is bigger than them all and demands time, if nothing else.

5. Re: Questions about Utah National Parks and Vegas

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