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seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Eastern Connecticut
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seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

We have visited some of the sights that comprise the Grand Circle (Moab area, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Durango, Ouray, flight over Monument Valley, south rim GC, Sedona) and fell in love with the scenery of the southwest. We would like to see some more of the Grand Circle but am not sure how many destinations to include, how much time to spend at each and when to go. We are fortunate to be pretty flexible in scheduling. The only restriction is that we must use an airline voucher for airfare before July 1, 2011.

We are leaning toward mid to late May or early June using Las Vegas for fly-in and out. We could probably devote 10 - 14 days. We aren't fond of crowds (who is?) and like short to moderate hikes (up to about 4-5 hrs round trip) and enjoy photography and hate really hot weather. Zion, Bryce, Antelope are must sees. Probably would like to include a boating excursion on Lake Powell and a visit to the north rim GC. Probably would like to avoid Mem Day weekend.

We are just beginning our research so we don't know a lot about the area. Any suggestions are welcome.

Sedona, AZ
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1. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

GCNP North Rim opens on May 15th. call now and see what dates are available. You should have options, but eliminating Memorial Day weekend and traveling before July 1st is going to pare it down a lot.

IMO 2-3 nights is a good amount of time at each of the destinations you list. Add to Zion and Page and subtract from Bryce if you need to adjust.

Ohio, USA
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for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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2. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Start your research by looking at the trip reports in the Utah forum (sticky at the top of the UT forum).

LV is a great gateway to the parks in southwest UT and northern AZ. With 10-14 days, you can have time for Zion, Bryce Canyon, Torrey/Capitol Reef, and Page.

As for time at each park, figure 2-3 days at Zion, 1-2 at BC, 1-2 for Torrey/CE, 1-2 for north rim and 2-3 for Page. Plus remember to add in time for travelled between each point.

May-June is a great time to visit, but there will a lot of other folks with the same idea, so get on the lodging reservations soon, particularly at the north rim.

Eastern Connecticut
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3. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Thanks for the advice so far. I've looked into north rim lodging and have started to read some of the trip reports.

Are there "must see" places along this part of the Grand Circle that require a high clearance 4WD or permits/lottery ?

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Good advice so far. You can enjoy a full trip without ever getting off the beaten path and see alot. If you have th inclination to go down dirt roads or backpack then yes there will be lots more to see. A couple just off the top of my head arel Toroweap in the Grand Canyon.....down a 60 milr dirt road.

The Wave in the Paria canyon area...permit required and limited numbers also down a dirt road and an unmarked trail.

The top to bottom Narrows...needs a permit

Cathedral valley in capitol reef ...a 60 mile dirt road

Many of the hikes in escalante or capitol reef are accesses via dirt roads

You dont have to do any of those for a great visit though.

Eastern Connecticut
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5. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

I'm starting to get a feel for the area as I read more and more here on TA. I have a tentative itinerary from Vegas as far as Lake Powell so far and a couple questions come to mind:

The Canyons Adventure boat trip sounds appealing - in mid May should we book the am or pm tour considering temps on the water and lighting in the canyons for photography ?

Same question for the float trip to Lee's Ferry

I guess Marble Canyon is now just a section of the Grand Canyon south of Lee's Ferry. Are there any recommended hikes in this area or is it usually seen from the river?

Thanks!

Sedona, AZ
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6. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

You are basically correct about Marble Canyon. It is somewhat blended with the Vermillion Cliffs region near Lees Ferry and Navajo Bridge.

Best hikes nearby would be from Hwy 89 up north of Page near Big Water Utah. Most require some kind of direction or permit from BLM

blm.gov/az/…coyote_buttes.html

In mid May I would choose the afternoon float trip in Glen canyon

www.raftthecanyon.com

Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Theres this one: nps.gov/glca/…cathedralwashhike.htm

I haven't done it, but it sounds good.

or look at the ones listed under Lee's Ferry here:

www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/day-hikes.htm

I've read descriptions of the Spencer trail that say there are some nice views.

Don't know how far you'd have to go up Paria for it to be a worthwhile hike.

Salt Lake City
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8. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Before renting a vehicle, look into whether or not driving off-road voids the rental agreement. I can't tell from your posts if you are considering doing that or if you are concerned about the quality of roads so that you avoid off-road travel. Just be aware that going anywhere off-road in any rental vehicle may not be an option.

Eastern Connecticut
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9. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

Thank you for the tips and links. The area is filled with such beauty it's hard to choose. We are going to give the lottery for the Wave a try but does that mean we need a high clearance 4WD to get there if we are lucky enough to win?

We will definitely check the rental contract but it has been our experience that most of the time specific gravel roads are listed that are off limits but those that are well maintained are ok, sometimes even for regular passenger cars (at least that was the case in CO, AK and HI and probably in UT cuz we drove on good gravel roads in Moab a few years back) This topic seems to stir a lot of controversy on TA which is not what I wish to do by my comments - just wondering if we need to be prepared with the right vehicle if we win.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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10. Re: seeking itinerary help for "partial Grand Circle"

You'll have to check with your own rental but the last time I rented our contract stated no "unpaved or not regularly maintained road". I found that rather ambiguous...does that mean if it is a dirt road but maintained it is okay? Does that mean if it is paved, but not maintained I should stay off?

The 8 mile dirt road to the trailhead for the Wave and Wirepass is maintained when funds allow or every year, I'm not sure how often. We drove it in our all wheel drive suburu forester and I was glad we didn't try to do it with our regular passenger car. I suppose we could have, we just would have had to go slower and thus take longer. But as it is a dirt road it is subject to weather conditions which could make it impossible to navigate.

I don't think we mean rental car agreement information to be controversial, just that it is helpful to have all your facts. There are several regulars TA contributors who do in fact take their rental cars onto dirt roads. They do so knowing that should anything go wrong they are completely liable for damages. There is no stated penalty that I am aware of should the rental agency find out otherwise.

Personally, if I were lucky enough to get a permit to hike the Wave I would risk taking my rental down the road. But I'd make sure I had a rental that was tough enough to handle it.

Edited: 16 October 2010, 22:54