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Road trip advice

Ann Arbor, MI
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Road trip advice

I also posted this message in the road trips forum, but I want to post here in Utah as well since much of our trip is in Utah.

I have a tentative plan for our road trip next July. First, here's a link to the first thread I started about temperatures, just to keep them together.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k5738928…

We are reasonably fit parents with a 14 year old daughter. In situations without high heat and elevation we'd be doing moderate hikes, but we will be sticking to easy, short hikes and skipping some lower elevation areas that we would ordinarily want to visit (like Zion NP) because of the heat . I have identified the big activities we want to do except for a horseback riding trip. I'm not sure where we can do a ride where we aren't just baking out in the open sun (a few years ago we did a ride in North Dakota that crossed river that was MAJOR fun--is there anything like this in the southwest?). I haven't figured out hikes and scenic drives. I also haven't identified good bird/wildlife viewing opportunities. If I'm not lucky enough to see a California Condor at the South Rim, I'll be needing other likely spots on the trip.

In working on the itinerary, I let being in Bryce Canyon for a full moon hike (held the day before, of, and after a full moon) dictate a lot of the timing. Because of that, our trip is 3 days shorter than our maximum time. I don't like losing 3 days of vacation, but am not sure how to work it differently. Has anyone done the full moon hike? I am imagining that it is a really cool experience, but maybe I'm making more of it than it really is?

So, as you can see, there's a lot of uncertainty and missing information in the itinerary, but I wanted to throw it out here to the experts to ask for suggestions. The only things that can't budge are being in the Grand Canyon on 7/12-13 and 4 nights at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Everything else is pretty flexible, based on what I learn from all of you.

Thanks in advance for your help!

The plan so far:

7/12 Grand Canyon NP, 2 nights (photography, wedding, bike ride)

7/14 Page, AZ 2 nights, (raft/kayak tour, ??)

7/16 Durango 4 nights (Monument Vally on way to Durango, train/zipline tour, Mesa Verde, ??)

7/20 Canyonlands NP 2 nights (sunrise amphitheater, Arches NP)

7/22 Torrey, UT 1 night (??)

7/23 Bryce Canyon NP 2 nights, (full moon hike, Zion)

7/25 Best Friends Animal Sanctuary 4 nights (volunteer, guided slot canyon tour)

7/29 Las Vegas 1 night (Cirque du Soleil show)

Park City, Utah
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for Utah, Winter Sports
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1. Re: Road trip advice

A few general thoughts. Your basic timeframes are fine with about the right time at each stop. Two nights at Bryce is probably a lot but you'll fill you don't really need to add another so go with it. I haven't done the ranger hike but have done a few full moons there and it's a great experience - really brightens the ampitheater. Only downside is it wipes out the stars.

Yes, it may (or may not) be hot. But desert heat is manageable by adjusting your activity load and drinking lots of water. I wouldn't apply an elevation theory with Zion and head just because it's lower. Moab is only a few hundred feet higher but you'll be more exposed in Moab where everything is wide open desert rock and sand versus Zion that's more of a sheltered canyon with much more vegetation.

Have fun.

Encinitas...
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2. Re: Road trip advice

I would not leave out Zion because of heat. Sure it can get pretty warm,but several of the places you are going can get pretty hot too. At Zion, you have the benefit of a river running thru the park and lots of shade trees in the canyon. Big mistake to pass it up.

Since you are staying in Kanab for four days,you should at least do the drive to Zion Ponderosa and do the easy way into Observation Point via the east Mesa Trail for a birds eye view of Zion that is awesome.

There is a ranch just outside Zion near Virgin where you can ride horses in and near the Virgin River.There is also the horse ride into the canyon at Bryce.

www.canyonrides.com

As for birds, condors are pretty common at the south rim,look for rangers with the radio antennas.They are tracking the birds. Condors also like to hang out in the bridge at Navajo Bridge and Zion, but I have yet to see one at Zion.At Navajo, look under the bridge at the steel structure. Near Boulder there is a lake behind the Boulder Mountain Lodge that had lots of birds when I stayed there. The balcony overlooked the lake.

For other wildlfe, if you want to see lots of bighorn sheep try Hemenway Park in Boulder City near Hoover Dam.Also along the drive in from the east at Zion you can see bighorn. I usually see them between the east entrance and the first tunnel,in groups.

Kipling. SK
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3. Re: Road trip advice

Torrey 1 night??-You were talking about LWH slot on your way to Torrey. Goblin Valley would be right there, so take a short visit If you have time after LWH/Goblin, visit Capitol Reef/Fruita/Scenic drive down to Capitol Gorge.

Torrey-Bryce, too many possibilities to mention. Look through the scenic byway 12 sites. I think this place is kind of interesting, not too far down Hole in the Rock Road.

naturalbornhikers.com/trails/devilsgardengs.…

it would probably be pretty hot in the summer though .Calf Creek Falls on SR12 is also a forum favorite.Then there is the paved chunk of Burr trail. You could visit the petrified hike in Escalante SP, or the pipes in Kodachrome SP.

At Bryce, I will second the morning horse/mule ride.Should be easy to fit in with two nights there.

There are a few hikes along SR9 inside the East entrance of Zion. They are not the well known popular hikes. Some of them are shaded, and some take you near or over clear creek.Might be something to do if your schedule at best friends isn't too demanding.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Road trip advice

Looks to me like that other three nights would fit in just fine for visiting Zions after Bryce. There are several things you can do at Zions in the summer heat, like hike the narrows, and tube the Virgin river. You could try canyoneering as well, you'll be having so much fun you won't notice the heat. And it isn't always really hot. Most of the time it is very bearable. We noticed about 20 degrees different from St George to Zion last time we spent time there in the summer.

Definitely take that night in Torrey. Plenty to do on the way and the following day between Goblin Valley and Little wild Horse and hwy 12 you will want the time.

Can't think where you would ride a horse in the shade. But I don't look for those kinds of things.

Ann Arbor, MI
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5. Re: Road trip advice

Tumbleweed--thanks for the encouragement about dealing with the heat. We are very leery of it, having spent time at Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and many visits to S CA inland, all in the summer. Then there was camping in a covered wagon at the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead in South Dakota in the 100 degree weather...I kept an eye on the car keys because I was sure my husband was plotting to leave us behind and head to the closest air conditioning!

dez--thanks for all the condor spotting sites. I remember reading about them in the 80s when there were 22 captive birds left and thinking how sad it was to never have the chance to see one soar over a canyon, like they're meant to be. Hah--never say never! The horseback ride at Zion that crosses the Virgin River is just the ticket for us! It'll be fun and my rump (but not my daughter) will be happy it is only an hour!

Widmark--you hit the place that I'm most unhappy with our itinerary--the one night in Torrey. The original plan was 2 nights there, but I'm trying to get over to Bryce in time for the third of their three full moon hikes. I've debated taking one day away from Durango to give us two in Torrey, but I'm thinking we'll be happy exploring Durango and its surrounds so it is a tough call.

As you saw on my slot canyon Q, I got vetoed by my husband on LWH, but there's still so much to do in that area.

Kbecjeans--brilliant suggestion for tubing the Virgin River! Right up our alley (we Michiganians love water sports of all kinds!). It's on the list! I didn't think I'd be packing water shoes for the southwest.

We won't ignore Zion afterall!

Edited: 11 October 2012, 11:18
Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Road trip advice

I haven't done it but plenty of people have posted that the full moon hikes are popular at Bryce and fill up quickly in the morning. Since you are planning your trip around it you'll probably need to be there the night before. Is that what you were planning?

Oh, and ps. My daughter and I slept in the covered wagons at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead this year. I too was worried about the heat since everywhere else we had gone was experiencing record breaking highs. Thankfully the temps dropped that night. It was such a fun thing to do. We loved our little wagon.

Edited: 11 October 2012, 14:46
Encinitas...
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for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
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7. Re: Road trip advice

The horse ride I referred to is outside the park. The ride inside Zion is ok, but if you want a horse ride inside a park, do the one at Bryce.

Here is a link to the other ride at a place called Jacobs Ranch.

www.ziontrailrides.com

If you want to get in on the ranger led full moon hikes at Bryce, you need to get there early in the morning (like 7:30-8?)Spaces fill up really fast and limited in numbers.

Edited: 11 October 2012, 16:54
Ann Arbor, MI
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8. Re: Road trip advice

Thanks for the tip about getting to Bryce early to sign up for the full moon hike. That helps me plan that portion of the trip better.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Road trip advice

Take the Utah Scenic route 162 from Monument Valley to Hwy 160 east to Durango. I think that route is quicker. It will take you at least 3 hours to drive it.

Ann Arbor, MI
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10. Re: Road trip advice

Thanks for that route tip Peach. I've got it added to my file.

Kbecjeans--isn't the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead fun? We went there about 6 months after we'd finished reading the books and daughter was 8. We stayed 3 nights and by the time we left our little dog was answering to Jack instead of his real name. Daughter dressed in a pinafore and bonnet the whole time, lived the books, got to know the owners so she could come to their stable and help out in the morning/evening, and just loved it. Husband on the other hand swears it was the longest 3 days of vacation he's ever experienced. He was not a happy Pa.