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Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

Rochester
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Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

Many thanks to all of you who provide data here – you are a wealth of information. One of the major resources in planning my trip was reading trip reports, so I am returning the favor in the hope that it will help someone else. I traveled the grand circle from Las Vegas solo for 15 days starting September 10th. I am not a big hiker – more of a stroller. Hotel info at the end.

Rochester
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1. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

On the Road to Adventure!

I left Las Vegas about 1pm. Valley of Fire made a good stop on the way to Zion my first day. It’s not too big and a nice introduction to the wonders to come. I don’t feel the need to explore every nook and cranny, but I spent a couple of hours there and arrived at Springdale about seven.

I absolutely loved Zion. I’m from the east coast so the rocks and canyons are so different from what I’m used to. I spent two full days exploring Zion. I checked out all the shuttle stops and I did a number of the easy hikes – the River Walk, Weeping Rock, Kayenta and Lower Emerald trails. I even did the Watchman trail as a “walk with a ranger”. As I left for Bryce I viewed the sunrise behind the history museum. I stopped at many of the pull offs for pictures as I was leaving the park – I discovered a big horn sheep looking directly at me. I set out on the canyon overlook trail on my way out of the park but only made it halfway. I decided there was no way I should be on the trail when it was two feet wide, uneven and a major drop down the cliff. I made it back down the trail along two other hikers who were returning from the end.

*Tip – Utilize the ranger programs in the parks or at least get their advice on trails, they are a wealth of information.

*Tip – Know your comfort level when hiking. Many people will say hikes like Angel’s Landing are “must dos”, but if they are beyond your skill or comfort level don’t feel you have to try them. There are enough other ways to enjoy the parks.

I took a short walk at Red Canyon on my way to Bryce where I spent two nights. I drove the length of Bryce on my first afternoon, stopping at many of the overlooks. The sun appeared and I was able to get a lot of good pictures. I walked the trails at Rainbow Point even though the clouds were getting dark. It did start to rain as I was on the Bristlecone Trail so I decided to leave the amphitheater for the next day after my mule ride. I’ve never ridden anything but I booked the half day ride to see the more of the canyon. I most certainly felt it for the next few days! I also ended up feeling a bit dizzy and clammy towards the end of the ride. It was a combination of not eating properly, the altitude and the fact that my mule insisted on walking on the very edge of the cliff path. The cowboy in charge of our group gave me some electrolytes and led my mule the last mile. After a good lunch at the lodge I went back to my hotel and recuperated for the afternoon – not too hard since it was raining and 47 degrees. I went back to the park later when some blue appeared in the sky, but as soon as I got to an overlook the sky opened up again. I ended up spending a few hours there next morning when the weather was better.

*Tip – Take care of yourself. Make sure you eat right and get enough rest so you can enjoy the parks.

Rochester
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2. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

I think I have permanent “Hat Hair”. I don’t normally wear a hat but after a few days mine seemed welded to my head, protecting me from both the rain and the sun.

I spent the next day driving Route 12 after a few hours at Bryce. I wasn’t expecting much of the Grand Staircase, but kept having to pull over to marvel at the different rock formations and colors. I felt the hogs back was anticlimactic. After reading about it here I was expecting something scary, but I hardly noticed it. I had considered a stop at Calf Creek Falls but it was closed due to road repair. I did drive the Burr Trail for quite a ways. There was a very short slot canyon at one of the stops. Since I was alone I was a bit cautious of exploring where there were no people around.

I had two nights in Torrey for Capitol Reef. It was nice, but not on the level with the other parks. I did the scenic drive, walked down the Grand Wash, saw the petroglyphs and stopped for pie a Gifford House. I stopped at Goblin Valley on my way to Moab. It’s fun to explore between the little figures – this is great for families but there is a limited amount of running around a single person can do. Little Wild Horse canyon was closed as there was a possibility of flash floods.

On to Moab for four nights and one of my main reasons for taking this trip. I had visited Arches over twenty years ago and was so impressed that I needed to return to Utah and explore more. I made several visits to Arches over the next few days and also visited Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands. The weather improved here – it was in the 80s for the rest of the trip.

In Arches I hiked to many of the arches including the Windows, Double Arch, Landscape Arch and the Delicate Arch upper viewpoint. I did not go on any of the “primitive” trails. I checked out the video of the Fiery Furnace hike online before I went and decided against it. I debated the actual Delicate Arch hike and started out late morning thinking I could always turn around if it got too difficult. I fell into conversation with a couple on the rock trail going up and before I knew it I made it up. I’m glad I did this hike, but very glad I wasn’t trying to go back down hill when it was getting dark.

I hit Dead Horse Point late in the day as it’s said to be great at sunset. I didn’t realize that it’s a fee for each time you visit – no going back the next day on the same fee. The sunset was nice, but I felt rushed. I spent a morning in Canyonlands. Mesa Arch was still great an hour after sunrise and I visited the Grandview and Green river overlooks. I also made it up to the first viewpoint at Upheaval Dome. This was enough for me.

I had a long list of possibilities for the route from Moab to Monument Valley. I ended up stopping only at Newspaper Rock and Goosenecks State Park. This got me into Monument Valley much earlier than I had anticipated. I was able to get on a back country tour that afternoon instead of waiting for the next morning. It was good to see the areas up close and I was very glad that I was not driving my rental car on that road.

On to Page the next morning. I hit Horseshoe Bend (I didn’t get too close to the edge – some people are crazy) and drove myself to Antelope Canyon and booked the next tour there. It was totally packed in the canyon but it was totally awe inspiring and our guide showed us how to get the best pictures. This was a definite highlight for me. The next day I did the smooth water rafting down the Colorado. It was very peaceful to float along. Later I visited the dam and the Wahweap Overlook. On my last day I did a day trip to the North Rim. I know this isn’t ideal, but it was my only time available. I was fascinated by the Vermillion Cliffs along the way. They kept changing as they got closer. After a stop at Jacob’s Inn for cookies (thanks to tripadvisor info!) I made it to the North Rim where I visited the lodge, hiked the Bright Angel rim trail and drove down to Cape Royal to take some of the walks there. It was a long day but worth it to me.

My last day was driving back to Las Vegas. I decided to detour back up 89 to go through Zion one more time. I wanted to stay longer.

Rochester
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3. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

My personal most memorable: Zion and Arches tie for best parks – both are breathtaking and I would return in a heartbeat. I also really enjoyed Antelope Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs.

Hotels & Some Restaurants:

Springdale

Best Western Zion Park Inn – Normal Best Western, good Jacuzzi, a little further out than I expected, but no problem. I used the shuttle system and didn’t touch the car for two days.

Flying Monkey Café – Good pizza

Spotted Dog – good $7.50 breakfast buffet (I learned about that here)

Bryce

Bryce Canyon Pines – Basic, but OK, good hot tub (especially after the mule ride)

Bryce Canyon Pines – Food is decent but not great. My fruit pie was rather sweet.

Torrey

Austin’s Chuckwagon – I don’t know why everyone raves about this place. It was perfectly adequate, but nothing outstanding. You certainly don’t need to be in the “center” of town.

Café Diablo – I ate there based on the recommendations here. I’m not into Mexican food so I had the steak. It was quite good and dessert was excellent.

Moab

Sleep Inn – I had some concerns as it is at the south end of town, but unless you are staying at one of the hotels in the center you will be driving anyway. Normal motel, small breakfast area, good pool, hot tub inside in a rather stuffy room.

Pasta Jay’s – ate outside, excellent

Zax – very crowded, good

Moab Brewery – good

Eddie McStiffs – Good food

Monument Valley

The View – My splurge and well worth it. Sunset & sunrise are amazing.

The View – Good food and not overly expensive.

Page

Holiday Inn Express – Normal motel, pool was cold

Dam Bar & Grille – Good meal

Bonkers – OK

Michigan
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4. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

I love your trip! We did part of it a few years ago (Page/Grand Canyon) and your descriptions brought back many fond memories. Next summer we are doing Bryce/Capital Reed/Moab so your thoughts and descriptions will come in most useful. Thanks for sharing!

Roosevelt, Utah
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5. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

Great trip report and great reviews. I'm pleased your trip went so well! I hope you can return soon~

*Pixie*

Ohio, USA
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for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
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6. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

Very nice TR, IRHS. The tips will be particularly useful to future travelers.

Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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7. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

"Café Diablo – I ate there based on the recommendations here. I’m not into Mexican food so I had the steak. It was quite good and dessert was excellent."

Cafe Diablo doesn't have any Mexican food...

(I suppose they do have Quesedillas at lunch but they aren't really Mexican, had one today actually)

Edited: 23 October 2011, 01:21
Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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8. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

OK, just looked at the menu again and there are things with Mexican names, but they really are not done Mexican style

http://www.cafediablo.com/diablo%20menu.pdf

Uden, The...
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9. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

Excellent tripreport and very useful to future visitors and I can assure you, there's a lot more to explore in this area.

Naples, Florida
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10. Re: Who knew that rocks came in so many colors?

thanks for the TR. I am planning a similar trip in the spring and it might be solo so I really appreciated the info. I am saving this post .

Would you do the mule ride again? I'm a little uneasy with heights so wondering.