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Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013

San Francisco
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Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013


My husband and I are planning to do the Shorter Grand Circle ( without Moab area ) tour at the end of December. We decided to skip Moab area as there is a lot to do in that area and we didn't want to give just 2 days - hopefully we will visit that area again for longer time and will enjoy better. We have done some basic planning as below, any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated. **Please note that we will be visiting during last two weeks of December**

day 1 Fly to Vegas Early, drive about 4.5 hrs to Grand Canyons south rim (night in GC)

day 2 Spend whole day in Grand Canyon (night in GC)

day 3 Drive about 3.5 hrs. to Page - go to Lake Powell, Horseshoe Band (night in Page)

day 4 Go to Antelope Canyon, The Wave? (night in Page)

day 5 Drive about 3 hrs. to Monument Valley and do tour (night in MV).

day 6 Optional early morning Wildcat hike, and then about 5 hrs. drive to Torrey via

Gooseneck park, Mulie point, Moki Dugway, Natural Bridges, Capitol Reef national park. (night in Torrey).

QUESTION: is this possible in 1 day or should we do Capitol reef next day?

day 7 2.5 hrs. drive on scenic byway 12 to Bryce, spend afternoon/even time in Bryce (night in Bryce).

day 8 3 hrs. drive to Zion (night in Zion).

day 9 whole day in Zion (night in Zion).

day 10 2.5 hrs. drive to Vegas

So is doable? Are there any red flags that we should be worrying about? Are we spending too little or too much time in one place and should we make some changes? Do we need any special permits for anything? Any other "Gotchas" or tourist traps we should be aware about? Anything we are missing out on this route that we should add? Any must have experiences/ hotels/ restaurants on this route?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions!

Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013

Greetings San Francisco. Welcome to the desert. Sounds like a fun trip.

You'll have about 10 hours of daylight in December, so days will be fairly short. Day 6 would most likely exclude Capitol Reef if you did the Wildcat hike, Goosenecks, and Natural Bridges. You just wouldn't have time to see much in Capitol Reef, other than a drive through. I might combine days 3 and 4, but that would be a rush too and would automatically exclude any chance for a Wave permit. You could probably squeeze the Wildcat Trail into day 5.

Capitol Reef actually has a lot of great day hikes and places to visit. Might be a perfect time to view wildlife like bighorn sheep as well, as the park has few visitors in winter. I would want to spend a day there. I would also want to throw in a hike on scenic byway 12 called Calf Creek Falls. It's a unique 125-foot waterfall in the middle of the desert. If you could add another day to the trip for Torrey/Capitol Reef, then things would be pretty good overall. Otherwise you might risk speeding up an area to squeeze everything into the itinerary.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013

5 hours between Monument Valley and Torrey is short and impossible if you want to visit those places on the way let alone Capitol Reef. Muley Point road is dirt. Good dirtroad but not to drive when wet. Just a drive through in Natural Bridges NM with stops already takes one hour. Much longer with the hikes down to the bridges. Also stop at Hite Overlook on the way to Capitol Reef. Rd to The wave (if you can get a permit) can be bumpy and only suitable for high clearance cars. 2.5 hours between Torrey and Bryce is far too short. You'll se why. This drive gets you over 9600' at Boulder Mountain first. Horseshoe bend is best visited in the morning (10-12)


Kipling. SK
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3. Re: Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013

If you are visiting the National Parks, monuments, and state attractions, there is no 'gotchas' involved. For some, the tours involved in seeing the natural wonders on Navajo lands can be seen as a tourist trap type of outrageous cost. To others, it is money well spent.

As you likely know, there is a permit required for the wave. In the national parks, there are permits required to access the 'backcountry', of which you are likely not going to(or have the time for)anyways.

If you plan on doing the tour in Monument Valley, scratch the wildcat hike from your list. Capitol Reef can be 'car toured 'in a relatively short amount of time. but still if you want to fit in all the points in the park, you are looking at about three hours(excluding any kind of hiking) So you see why everyone here is suggesting to pick your priorities, and do what you can in a day. In Capitol Reef, there are many nice park features along SR 24 and near the Visitor Center in the Fruita District. A quick stop at the VC I also recommend. There is a nice topographical map that illustrates what natural feature Capitol Reef is striving to preserve. The scenic drive at CR I would consider optional.

On day seven, www.scenicbyway12.com and Bryce are must sees. There are several nice overlooks along SR 12 that are worthy of a stop, so count on more time than the two and a half hours you are budgeted. At Bryce, book a room at the Best Western Grand, which is where i always stay. It is the newest lodging in the area.

At Zion, the Desert Pearl is the forum favorite accomodation. You can also try cable mountain, driftwood, majestic, or cliffrose. There are many good restaurants to choose from. www.zionpark.com

4. Re: Itinerary review for the Grand Circle tour in December 2013

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