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National Parks Trip Question

Columbus, Ohio
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National Parks Trip Question

So three friends of mine and I will be flying into Salt Lake City in a few weeks and driving to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We have two very different but also very exciting choices for after we leave Yellowstone.

The first is to travel southwest to Carson City, NV while stopping in Twin Falls, ID and other places along the way. Then, go to Lake Tahoe to visit Emerald Bay and the area they shot Godfather 2. After, we would go to Yosemite and make out way back to Salt Lake also stopping in places along the way.

The Second choice is to drive back down from Yellowstone to Southern Utah to visit Moab, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Page, AZ, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The overall driving time for the first choice is about 36 hours and the second choice is 29 hours. Obviously there is a ton of great things to see and do along the way of each place but I thought a seasoned or an experienced traveller to these places would have great insight into this toss up dilemma. I appreciate any info very much.

Thank you,

Hershel

Mount Washburn
Mountains, National Parks
Gibbon Falls
Geologic Formations, National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Waterfalls
Spery, Iowa
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1. Re: National Parks Trip Question

Try posting this on the road trip forum for a multi- state trip. Happy Planning!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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2. Re: National Parks Trip Question

How long do you have for this trip? Camping or staying in lodging? Most camping and lodging inside national parks requires reservations, many times months in advance.

Moose, Wyoming
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for Wyoming, Jackson, Jackson Hole
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3. Re: National Parks Trip Question

I'd vote for trip 2. The 5 national parks in southern Utah are not to be missed. And Monument Valley is spectacular.

Edited: 10 June 2013, 17:11
North Carolina
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4. Re: National Parks Trip Question

Hi Hershal,

I have done your second choice in 2006. we however did it in a circle from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, then Moab (visiting Arches National Park and the Canyonlands), we also stopped by Goblin Sate park I believe was the name and did a walk into a slot canyon on the way to the Escalante Mountains, then stopped by Bryce Canyon, the Pink Sand Dunes, then to Zion, then back to Vegas to fly home. We did not go to Page as in your plan so I can not comment there.

I thoroughly enjoyed traveling through Utah. Actually this was actually the first major trip I encountered visiting the national parks out west and I fell in love, hence the reason I later ended up in Yellowstone and the Tetons and now I keep coming back to YNP and GTNP instead of venturing on to other places. :)

Anyway, It is a very doable and enjoyable circle. The driving is very easy. The small town of Moab made a nice base to explore Arches National Park and the Canyonlands. The area there is absolutely fascinating. You absolutely must try to see Monument Valley and stop at Gooseneck state Park and Deadhorse State Parks (two different views along the Colorado River). We spent 3 nights in Moab at a B&B http://www.moabdreaminn.com/ which was awesome. Don't miss stopping by Copper Ridge in Moab where you drive out a gravel road and view dinosaur foot prints absolutely stunning to me. Moab has other small hotel/motel places and is just a little place but with everything you need.

We stayed in a very small motel just outside of Bryce Canyon, again it was beautiful here. My boyfriend says Bryce Canyon is his favorite place he has ever been to. The side trip we took down to the Sand Dunes was exciting to me as I had never seen sand dunes like that before, but I would skip it if you are pressed for time. We stayed at a little place before we got to Zion that rented small cabins out and they had a fence where they water bison and the bison actually came up to the edge of their property. This was my first sighting of bison back then. The place had a small restaurant where we ate dinner and bison was on the menu. http://www.zmr.com/ Zion was a beautiful place as well, but needless to say by the time we arrived here we were totally exhausted and it was in the later days of August and it was HOT and toward the end of 10 day travel. We tried doing some hiking, but were disappointed after we hiked to a "waterfall" and it was just a trickle in the last days of August....hahahaha. We did do the hike back along and into the river here. It was gorgeous. Take shoes you can get wet, the bottom is very rocky. We couldn't help but fold under the exhaustion, the heat, and perhaps maybe now looking back a bit of elevation sickness from being dehydrated I guess. we most likely weren't drinking enough water. We decided we had seen enough and said we would come back to Zion at a later date and "finish" the area. Hmm, still haven't made it back yet.

This was an amazing trip. We never grew tired of seeing all of the different rock formations and the difference in the colors as the sun passes over the land. It truly is an amazing wonder. There are some wildlife to be seen in these areas, we saw some bighorn sheep along the mountains, my boyfriend can spot one from great distances. He was a mountain climber in Spain and used to watching out for animals, etc. against the rocks. We also saw proghorn around Bryce.

It was warm in August, but like Yellowstone in the Grand Canyon area it was very cool at night and early morning due to elevation. Sunscreen and water are your friends. I have not done the other travel circle, but if you are interested in Utah area, do not hesitate todo this circle. I would very much love to travel to the area again. I have been back to the Grand Canyon and Sedona twice, but not to the other parts of Utah. Just an FYI....Arches takes an entire day! We hiked to Delicate arch 2 times in one day...once in the mid morning hours, then we hiked it again at sunset. You absolutely have to hike to hike it at sunset. Do list your question in the Grand Canyon/Utah forum. An expert in that forum helped me to plan my trip. I had wanted to include Yellowstone back then, but he convinced me I was trying to do too much, so we just did the the circle I stated above. They will lead you in the right direction. I will see if I can give you the links to those posts. Sorry so long, but just wanted to help.

North Carolina
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5. Re: National Parks Trip Question

my question to the Grand Canyon forum in 2006, not sure if it takes you there or not

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143028-i157-k6095…

Anyway, Tet14 will not steer you wrong, gave great advice

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: National Parks Trip Question

Posted on the road trip forum. But in a short answer do not see you doing it all in 15 days. The west is expansive and you may have to decide what is your top priority. You may be able to do YNP and GTNP along with some of the Utah parks but I don't see you seeing all parks in Utah.

Columbus, Ohio
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7. Re: National Parks Trip Question

What about the other option in terms of time to go to Yosemite instead of Utah parks

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: National Parks Trip Question

You will need to plan two days of driving to and from SLC/YNP to get to Yosemite. That will eat up 4 days of your 15 days right there. You will probably not find lodging anywhere close to Yosemite NP at this late date. You could stay in Oakhurst, CA. PacificNWFamily is a DE for Yosemite NP and if you post on that forum I am sure you will get some great advice.

Columbus, Ohio
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9. Re: National Parks Trip Question

we're actually planning on camping at yosemite so if we arrive very early in the mornings campgrounds will most likely be available.

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: National Parks Trip Question

We don't camp but here is the link to camping in Yosemite- some can be reserved in advance and these are first come first served-

www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/nrcamping.htm

Post on that forum- the DE's are great!!