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Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Tampa, Florida
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Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Hi, my husband and I plan to fly into Vegas late May, June or July and rent a car to see the sights in southern Utah. We will have a minimum of a week and may be able to add a couple days. We would like to throw a few nights of camping in there for fun and to save $. Some must dos for us are photography, hiking, canyoneering and whitewater rafting. Some may dos are stargazing, mountain biking, and mule rides. We are late 20s, early 30s, but pretty inexperienced at all of the above. We would like to stay in Vegas for 2 nights then hit at least Zion, Bryce and Moab. If we could work it in we would like to stop at north rim of GC, but would be willing to skip if other sites are better. So my questions for you experts:

Where should we camp for a night or two?

We don't want to spend everyday driving hours, so what would be the best way to spend our time at the parks?

What are the must see spots in between Zion and Moab?

Where should we whitewater raft?

any other itinerary suggestions that would be helpful?

Thanks so much in advance, I know all these questions have been answered before, but I can't seem to find much about camping.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

On the right hand side of this page is listed "Top Questions". There is one for an 8 day trip that you might find of interest.

You will also find some good info in the trip reports which is one of the top questions on the forum.

There are great places to camp all along the way. It is how I usually spend my time. Zion has two campgrounds, but they can be hot in the summer. One of the nicest camps is Bryce's North Campground. Red Canyon a forest campground not far from Bryce would also be good. Moab like Zions is hot in the summer and might not be ideal camping place. But Dead Horse Point state park, and Canyonlands are up a little higher which might help.

Trying to see that much in 8 days can be hard, because Moab is a long drive, but if you don't spend any time stopping at all the interesting places along the way it can be done.

2 days Zion

1 day bryce

1 day Torrey

3 days moab (westwater canyon all day rafting will give you some whitewater)

1 day to get back

Tampa, Florida
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2. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Kbec- Thank you for directing me to additional info, it has been very helpful!

utah
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3. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

kbec's suggestions are very good. It sounds like what you are after fits Moab especially well.

I would try to do May or early June if you can, you will be much more comfortable temperature-wise. I'll put a plug in for camping in Moab - as long as you won't be there late June or July. The advantages of camping in Moab are that the sand is super soft there which makes for nice camping especially if you camp outside of the city and the prices for hotels are probably the highest in Moab so camping may save you the most money - the Inca Inn is a decent choice if you want an inexpensive motel in Moab. Also, this is probably the area that best fits your interests so you could easily camp 3+ nights in the same place without the hassle of setting up and taking down camp only for a single night.

If you decide you want to try mountain biking you have a number of options. As beginners you could do stuff near Vegas, St. George or Moab. A good place to test the waters for mountain biking is utahmountainbiking.com/trails/bar-M-loop.htm. The nice thing about doing the M loop is that if you want to try something more challenging than riding on a dirt road there are other trails connected to this one that will give you more variety. If you would rather try something in Vegas or St George let me know and I can give you more info for those. In Moab Poison Spider Bikes is the only shop I've had experience with; they are great - they can rent bikes as well as give you detailed info on which trails would be good - they suggested a fantastic relatively easy 5 mile loop near Mill canyon that we love taking our kids on, but I wouldn't recommend it if you don't have any offroad experience mountain biking.

I've seen people recommend the mule ride at Bryce on this forum a lot - I haven't tried it myself but others speak highly of it.

If you are doing 2 nights in Vegas and plan to hit Zion, Bryce & Moab I would definitely try to "add a couple days". I also wouldn't plan to try to do anything else. With what you list as your interests you could be very happy in Moab for an entire week.

If you want to do true canyoneering look into the Subway & Narrows hikes near Zion. Both of these would be full-day fantastic experiences but you may not have enough lead time to be able to get reservations for these as they limit the number of people and they are popular.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

If you want to stay 2 nights in Las Vegas, 2 nights in Zion, visit Bryce and north rim I'd skip Moab in the short timeframe you have and add Page for Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon etc etc.

Tampa, Florida
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5. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

This is all great advice, but now I have even more questions :)

Kbec - Thanks for the rec for camping in Bryce, it appears quite shaded, so we will definitely camp there at least one night. Torrey seems to be mentioned often, what exactly is there? Any particular reason you suggest a day there?

One more - In the "top questions" box are there only three questions, or am I missing some way to access the others?

bc1 - We may add a couple days, I would hate to cut Moab out. Where exactly do you rec for camping in Moab? Thanks for mentioning the Narrows and Subway, they both look amazing and as soon as we finalize our dates I will def look into reservations for one of them!

Tet - We may be able to add a couple days. I hadn't even thought of Page...I guess we need to do more research! I am thinking it may be worth skipping the GC, so we can include Moab. Is that crazy to miss the GC?

Thanks everyone, this is the most complicated trip I have planned in terms of stops so all info is much appreciated, as I am a bit overwhelmed!

Edited: 16 March 2011, 23:48
utah
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6. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

If you can camp inside Arches that is probably ideal - I'm not sure if you can still get reservations.

This link could be helpful for finding a campground:

www.discovermoab.com/campgrounds_blm.htm. If you can live with the first come first serve nature of the BLM campgrounds this is your best way to get a really great site at a really great price.

I recommend not camping at any of the commercial campsites inside Moab. You typically get a little square box with gravel. We stayed at one of these for a quick trip last year and the owners of the campground we were basically at war with the campground next door that shared a fence.

There are also a couple of campgrounds right by the slickrock trail that looked very nice. (Not to be confused with the slickrock campground in Moab.)

The KOA on the south side of Moab isn't amazing but it's pretty nice - it's still the little squares to camp in but the spots are much better than the in city ones. It's also on the wrong end of Moab so you have to drive extra to everything.

Does anyone else have more specific recommendations of where to camp in Moab?

I also noticed that no one gave you a specific answer of what to do in the parks. Here's some:

Zion is pretty simple. You get on the the shuttle and get off at whatever stops look the most interesting to you. Most of the stops are hikes. The don't miss hike in Zion is Angel's Landing - if you aren't scared of heights. My second favorite hike in Zion is Canyon Overlook which you drive to instead of going on the shuttle. The map you get when you enter Zion gives a great description of all the hikes - many of them are very nice and some of them are very short.

In Arches the don't miss hikes are Delicate Arch & Fiery Furnace. Fiery Furnace is ranger guided and requires advanced reservations on the Arches website. I also really like the Devil's Garden hike - the full loop with offshoots is about 6 miles. Even if you don't do the whole loop, hiking at least to Landscape Arch is something you won't want to miss. All of these are in the same section of Arches - Devil's Garden is at the end and you pass everything else on the way. You can head down another direction and see the Windows & Turret arch which are also impressive and have a short hike - 1 mile if you do the full loop, 1/4 mile if you just go up to the Windows. Otherwise the rest of the stops are along the way and pretty quick walks or just viewpoints.

Also, near Moab there is Canyonlands. It's also very nice, but you probably won't have time to get there on this trip. You tend to do more driving per stop than in Arches. Dead Horse Point is the biggest attraction here.

In Moab I did a half day rafting tour and wasn't very impressed. I understand the full day tours are much better. If you look at other posts in this forum you can find lots of info on rafting options in Moab.

Bryce is a good place to hang out and stargaze. There is a scenic drive and you can either hike around the rim of the canyon or down into it. The main hike down in takes a couple hours and I recommend it - or you can ride mules down in. Navigating the hike(s) at Bryce is very simple. You just get out of your car and look at the signs with the maps - it's very well marked and easy to follow.

If you decide to do the Grand Canyon, from the little I know about it, the North Rim is not the way to go - the South or East rim is better and more accessible. If you decide to skip it there is a whole other awesome Arizona trip you could do sometime with Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, etc.

There are a lot of fun things to see in Vegas as well. Some of my favorites are the Gardens & Dolphins at the Mirage, Ceasars Palace (a big shopping mall, but with lots of cool things to see in the mall like an aquarium and statues coming to life), and the fountains at the Bellagio.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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7. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Jamie, The reason for a stop at Torrey is two fold.

First from Bryce to Torrey you will drive hwy 12. It is an All American Scenic Byway of which there are not even 50 in the country. And there are enough detours off the road that even though driving it will only take 3 hrs or so you can spend a day doing it. (or more if you decide to do more than just drive).

Second Torrey is the gateway town to Capitol Reef National Park. -Never heard of it?, you wouldn't be alone. It is certainly a great park, I enjoy it every time I go. Maybe because it is a little less visited. But you could spend a day there. And btw one of the nicest campgrounds around is in that park at Fruita.

On the Top questions, click on the one that says 8 day trip and then click on the link included. It will take you to a forum thread where there is some good infor provided.

Tampa, Florida
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8. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Again, thanks to everyone for all the info! We are starting to really get all the details of our trip worked out. We have added two more nights for a total of 10 nights. The plan thus far is to arrive in Vegas in the AM on May 31st and pick up a car and head straight to Zion (Desert Pearl). Do you think we will miss the Memorial Day crowd by coming a day after? The rest of the stops will be Bryce(camp), Torrey/Capitol Reef(maybe camp), and Moab (Sleep Inn if my aunt gets us friends/family discount). We plan to return to Vegas on June 8th and stay for two nights at MGM Grand. This leaves 8 nights for the parks. Any suggestions on how to allocate nights? We were thinking to spend most of them in Zion and Moab. We will be camping in Bryce and maybe even Capitol Reef. Is it recommended to break up the trip over the drive there and back or just to drive straight from Moab to Vegas after using up all of our nights?

I really hate to skip the GC, but all the other parks seem more our style for some reason. Is this a mistake...should we cut a stop out to add the north rim of the GC?

I just want to make sure I am understanding correctly....for hikes such as Angels Landing and Narrows, is it typical to head off on your own or pay for a guided tour? In other words are there any hikes we should not do on our own (of the popular ones)?

Thanks again!

Edited: 20 March 2011, 21:43
Sedona, AZ
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9. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

You don't need a guide for those two hikes. But for the Narrows you do need proper water equipment.

Tampa, Florida
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10. Re: Vegas/ Southern Utah 1 week trip

Will do Redrox, thank you!

Edited: 20 March 2011, 21:57