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Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Bristol, United...
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Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Hi,

My husband and I are planning a trip to the US next May/June. We are happy to be away for up to a month including transatlantic travel. I am trying to put together an itinerary which allows as to see as much as possible but without too many long days in the car just getting from one place to the next. I have spent some time reading the helpful advice posted here and so far my thoughts are as follows:

13th May - fly London to Phoenix and stay overnight

14th May drive to Sedona - stay 2 nights

16th May - to Grand Canyon south rim - stay 2 nights

18th May - to Page - stay 2 nights

20th May - to Zion NP - stay 3 nights

23rd May - to Bryce for 1 night (is this enough?)

24th May - to Torrey for 2 nights (via scenic Hw 12 if possible; not sure if I saw somewhere that it is not always open??))

26th May - to Moab for 3 nights

29th May drive up to Flaming Gorge - stay 2 nights

31st May - to Jackson / GTNP for 3 nights

3rd June - to Yellowstone NP for 4 nights

7th June to Salt Lake City for 2 nights (or would it be better to stopover somewhere on the way?)

9th June fly home with connection somewhere....

Does this seem a reasonable route and have we allowed enough time?

Is the route via Flaming Gorge more interesting than going via Park City? And which is the best route to get there? (My husband generally prefers to potter along smaller roads stopping to look at the view rather than taking the quickest route or more major roads).

Should we stay one night instead of 2 at GC? And/or 2 instead of 1 at Bryce? (This is already 28 nights away so I don't really want to increase it any more but our dates aren't fixed as yet).

Any advice / tips would be appreciated!

Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Greetings JH,

I think you're overall plan looks very good. You could tweak a couple of things here and there but nothing really major. Should be an amazing holiday. You should have no problem with Scenic Byway 12 in May. Definitely take it and make a stop to hike Calf Creek Falls.

1 or 2 nights in Bryce vs. Grand Canyon.... Bryce is a fairly small park that can be seen quickly. If you have time to hike the Navajo Trail and Queens Garden Loop, do a ranger led astronomy tour, and see the hoodoos in the morning light, that would give you a great taste of the park. I think you could experience a lot with one night. But...

Same with the Grand Canyon. I personally would rather do 2 nights in Bryce vs the Grand Canyon. If I had three days then I would rather do the Grand Canyon because it would give me more time for really diving in and exploring below the rim. I wouldn't do 2 nights at the GC unless I had it set up to hike to the bottom for an overnight stay. With extra time at Bryce, it will allow more time to explore Scenic Byway 12 without taking away from Capitol Reef. In fact, that's a good idea. Use the extra night in Escalante. I also wouldn't do 2 nights in Page unless you plan on boating at Lake Powell, a Colorado River float trip or obtaining a Wave permit.

Regarding routes to Yellowstone. I haven't been via Flaming Gorge so can't well comment. The area is worth exploring though. Dinosaur National Monument is right there with the fabulous quarry. And Flaming Gorge itself is worth a stop. You'll probably encounter a lot of wildlife via this route too. I always see elk, moose and antelope when I'm in this area. You could also do a float trip beneath the Flaming Gorge dam and see some one of the best fly fishing rivers anywhere. The water is crystal clear and easy to self guide. If you had more time, the Yampa, the last free-flowing tributary of the Colorado River system, would be running at high spring levels and would be a blast. http://www.nps.gov/dino/index.htm

Might also want to consider one more night in Yellowstone at the expense of the Tetons. It's much bigger and with more ground to cover. Early June is supposed to be one of the best times to see animals in the park, with all of the baby animals getting their first taste of the surroundings. Book the accommodations now as they fill up months beforehand.

Salt Lake is a good place to end the trip. Tons of hiking, biking, and outdoor activities. Good restaurants and bars. Museums and shopping. Historical destinations like Temple Square. Main Street Park City is 40 minutes away and the Utah Olympic Park is closer. Festivals in early June like Living Traditions and the Utah Arts Festival to check back for specific dates. You would have plenty to keep you busy for 2 days in SLC.

Happy planning. Might also consider posting on the road trips forum for some other thoughts and ideas.

Bristol, United...
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2. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Thank you very much for the quick response!

Park City, Utah
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3. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Really good overall plan. One night is good in Bryce. FYI, route 12 is always open - not sure where you heard it was closed. It's a major route in that region.

The Flaming Gorge route is fine. As noted, do look at adding in Dinosaur National Monument. Personally, though, I think you would gain more from two days in Park City than two in Flaming Gorge. If you do the Park City stayover, skip I-80 up to Evanston and take the Mirror Lake Highway up to Evanston - fantastic drive through the heart of the High Uintah range.

Have fun.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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4. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

There are certainly so many ways you could do this. Your plan is viable. It depends on what you want to do in the Bryce area whether you need 2 nights. You can do the park itself in one night, but just one day for Hwy 12 means all you do is drive it, when there are options for other off the main road places to visit. You have WIllis Creek, Grosvenor Arch, Kodachrome Basin, Hole in the rock and Devil's Garden, Calf Creek, Burr trail......You see the problem. So you could use two nights in Bryce as a base to do Willis Creek/Grosvenor Arch on one of the days.

You need at least 2 nights for Grand Canyon just to really start to get a sense of it, a day in the main village area, a day for Hermits Rest and half a day for the east rim.

Moab to Flaming Gorge to Jackson is lots of high desert/plains. Also a great drive past the lake and up past the Wind RIvers in Wy. If you want to go to Flaming Gorge I'd be more likely to head to Manilla and Fort Bridger then up 189 rather than to Rock Springs and north on 191... Prettier lake views that way.

Uden, The...
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5. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Congrats, you have done your homework well! From Moab take 128 to I70, into Colorado and take Douglas Pass rd 139 and to Vernal (Dinosaur Quarry). Flaming Gorge is gorgeous whatever route you take, Vernal has plenty of lodging. Another gem more or less on the way is Colorado NM.

Bristol, United...
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6. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Thanks to you all for advice and comments. I still have a bit more homework to do!

Ohio, USA
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7. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Great looking plan. I agree, you have done your homework. Nicely done. Sure there are trades that could be made (take a day from here and add it there), but overall, I think this is a nice plan. One night at Bryce Canyon is often enough time; it does give you one sunset, a starry night sky and one sunrise, which are highlights. However, if you want to try the mule ride into the main amphitheater, two nights in the park would be better.

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

And yes, you can drive between Yellowstone and Salt Lke City in one day (5-6 ours).

PA
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9. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Sounds like a great trip! Having just been to Yellowstone & Grand Tetons this past June, I would echo Shake's comment & say you could take a night from the Tetons & add to Yellowstone as YNP is huge! But you could easily enjoy Jackson & the Tetons for 3 days! Are you planning on a lot of hiking? That impacts time spent in parks.

Remember WARM clothing (jackets, sweatshirts) as the northern parks may be chilly. We were there the LAST week of June & some mornings were in 30s - low 40s! Then highs a couple days were in mid-80s.

Have fun!

Edited: 16 November 2013, 12:18
Bristol, United...
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10. Re: Itinerary advice please - Phoenix to Yellowstone

Thanks - I definitely plan to take some warm clothes as I feel the cold!.

I have increased our stay in YS to 5 nights (3 at Canyon and 2 at Old Faithful Inn) but also left 3 for Jackson and the Tetons as I'd like to do some of the hikes that have been mentioned on TA and also possibly a rafting trip on the Snake river. However I am having difficulty in deciding where it would be best to be based. There is availability at Jackson Lake Lodge but I'm not clear whether being based at Jackson, Teton Village or Moose would be more convenient for getting to Phelps and Jenny Lakes and the companies running the raft trips. Any suggestions for area or specific accommodation? (We like comfy beds but everything else can be pretty basic although a fridge would be useful - everywhere seems so expensive!).

Thanks Tet and OhioHick for comments above.