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« on: April 05, 2016, 09:51:06 am »

We are planning a quick trip (a few weeks) to Vegas and then on to Utah before the heat gets to be too much.  We've been to the Vegas area a number of times, but never to Utah.  Our main focus will be the obvious outdoor activities in the Zion and Bryce national parks, and will be back at some other time to check out Moab, etc. 

Aside from the hiking, biking and natural beauty are there any sights, stops, bars, restaurants, shops that you've found interesting around Zion or Bryce?  Also, has anyone done any fishing there? We plan on staying at Zion River Resort.

    - Mike
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 10:38:03 am »

Youve probably already read our notes for these parks on our blog but maybe these comments will trigger thoughts from other people that have been there.

Zion We ate at Caf Oscars in Springdale which is the town that butts up to main entrance of Zion. It was a good Mexican/American mix and we would recommend it. We camped in the park itself and spent most of our time hiking so this was our only activity outside the park. We camped in Hurricane for a bit, down the road from Zion, while we took care of vehicle maintenance and such in St. George but cant recommend any of the places we ate there. Im sure they have better restaurants we just werent lucky enough to hit them. St. George is the nearest city with all the stores, malls, strip malls, service centers, etc. We also drove through the Zion Tunnel with the Subaru. We saw RVs going through the tunnel but they have to stop all traffic both ways then send them through. We opted to forego that. There are lots of interesting rock formations on the other side of the tunnel but not always a lot of places to pull over. We wanted to hike up to the top of the tunnel but the parking lot was packed both times we passed it.

Bryce We stayed in the park most of the time then stayed a few days at the Bryce Pines Resort on Rte 12. We ate at the Bryce Pines Restaurant on Rte 12 and it had good home style food with ample portions and reasonable prices. We also ate in the town of Bryce itself at Rubys Inn which is a decent buffet but also the main tourist stop where all the tour buses go so timing is everything. They have a general store, gift shop, etc. attached to the Inn. There is a general store in Bryce National Park itself where you can get soup, chili, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. Everything out there is a long drive so this was the place we hit when we were in Bryce. You can spend a full day just checking out the visitor center and then driving to all the overlooks at Bryce but YOU HAVE TO hike the hoodoos. The view from down in the canyon, surrounded by the stone people is AWESOME! They also have horseback rides down into the canyon and back if you dont want to hike it but I definitely recommend you hike.

Are you trying to hit both parks from the one campground? If so, that is some hefty driving.
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2016, 07:58:16 am »

Thanks, Holly!  Great info.

We do plan on staying up near Bryce as well, but haven't decided yet whether to pick a place closer to Panguich Lake or to Kodachrome State Park.  Both are close enough to the Bryce entrance I think.

    - Mike
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2016, 01:55:21 pm »

You are taking on my most favorite places.  I cannot comment in-detail for my reply would turn into a book.  I will try to keep it to the point.

I know you said "aside from hiking" but I can't help myself......for the hiker.

Zion
- Hike up to observation point, a full day hike with views no better elsewhere in the park
- If hot, hike the narrows.  This is a hike in the river
- Take full advantage of the buses inside the park
- We camped on the west side near that town and like it for the convenience and atmosphere, especially camping next to the river.

Bryce
- It's not a huge park.  BE SURE to hike the loop trail inside the canyon.  If you don't hike down inside it, you've missed the best the park offers.  We camped in the park by the park entrance.  Nothing special, but very convenient.

Cedar Breaks
- We just looked from above.  Very pretty.

Canyonlands
- A DO NOT MISS, rent a jeep for a day from Frabees in Moab at the far end of town.  Do NOT rent from anyone else because Farabees have new Wranglers at about the same rate as everyone else who rent old Wranglers who require you return the vehicle clean and then they inspect it and test drive it.  Not so with Farabees.  They all give you a decent map to take the following trail.  Drive into Canyonlands entering through Potash, then Dead Horse Point, at the end you exit out the miners trail, see Musselman Arch and views are unbelievable throughout.  Don't chicken out....walk across Musselman arch.  DO NOT miss the turn-out going down to the Colorado river.  It has "extreme" yet safe jeeping in one spot which the rented Wrangler handles well.  You will absolutely love it.  No worries about gassing up the Wrangler.  Start out the day with a full tank and return with a half tank.
If you have time on your return trip after getting up from the miners road, be sure to drive through that other canyon, It has the word  "RED" in the name if I remember right.  It has it's own "Don't Miss" features.

Arches
- We camped outside of Moab in a BLM campground along highway 128 across from the trail head to Morning Glory Arch.  The campground is called Grandstaff.  It is a great base camp to visit Moab, Arches, & Canyonlands.
- A small park.  My favorite of all places anywhere in the USA.  I just love the park so I will advise to take every trail.
- If limited in time, then visit the Windows section and take the one extended hike to Delicate Arch.  There are many arches with short 1/4 mile or less walks, very easy for non-hikers.
- If you are a decent hiker, most definitely hike the entire loop trial to Black Angel and see so many beautiful Arches all day long.  Landscape Arch is on that trail.  It is the longest span arch in the world.  You can hike to Landscape & back the same way to cut the hike short.
- The drive to the Tower Arch trail head vibrates the vehicle badly.  A motor home can easily drive it but the vibration makes you crazy.  I love that Arch with a moderate hike to it.  Keep in mind that I love every arch.
Every arch you see, get into it to experience it's majesty.
- We did hike to Morning Glory Arch, the 3rd largest.  We underestimated the length of that hike and did not bring enough water.

Where you are visiting, bring more water on your hikes than you think you will need.  Even in spring time, you'll need more than expected.  If you brought too much, you can always water a desert plant with some of it.

South, southwest Utah is my most favorite all time region to travel to.  If you have even more time and a 4x4, there are the Escalante Hoodos and Narrows, the road to the dock to Rainbow Bridge, I could keep on going here, but will stop now.  You got me wanting to go back again.  It's been too long.
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2016, 09:10:57 am »

Nice....thanks Ron!  Got me thinking of the autumn return trip to catch Canyonlands and Arches!

   -  Mike
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2016, 10:03:31 am »

Nice....thanks Ron!  Got me thinking of the autumn return trip to catch Canyonlands and Arches!

   -  Mike

Yes, you will not regret it.  They are two of my most favorite.....Jeeping in Canyonlands and the entire "Arches" experience.  The fall is a good time to see them.
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2016, 01:31:54 pm »

Mike,

If you are returning to Arches in the fall check into the "Fiery Furnace Tour".  This is a Ranger led tour that you book on recreation.gov.  They call it difficult but we did not find it difficult at all.  If you have the Senior National Park pass it is only $8.  Your go into parts of the park that are not opened for public hiking.  Excellent tour but you must book ahead of time. Aside from our hike to the water falls of the Grand Canyon, this is our second favorite.
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2016, 04:06:43 pm »

Mike,

If you are returning to Arches in the fall check into the "Fiery Furnace Tour".  This is a Ranger led tour that you book on recreation.gov.  They call it difficult but we did not find it difficult at all.  If you have the Senior National Park pass it is only $8.  Your go into parts of the park that are not opened for public hiking.  Excellent tour but you must book ahead of time. Aside from our hike to the water falls of the Grand Canyon, this is our second favorite.
I agree with Barry-Sue.  The ranger-led hike through the Firey Furnace is awesome.  The reason why it is otherwise closed is because people had died getting lost inside it, others falling.  The ranger knows his/her way and does everything safe.

Nothing in Arches is disappointing except when the campground is full.  I didn't recommend the camp ground only because it is deep into the park, not as good of a base camp for Canyonlands, but great when visiting Arches alone.  If you love RV camping with hookups, there are plenty inside Moab.  We liked the Grandstaff BLM campground to save big on campground fees.  It might also be called Negro Bill camp ground because it is adjacent to the Negro Bill Canyon Trail head to Morning Glory Arch.  Not quite certain of the name.  It is adjacent to the road so you do hear cars & trucks go by, but the view is awesome.  The night river cruise is also a sight to see because they light up the canyon with the boat and also a truck on the road equipped with flood lights.
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 08:34:29 am »

We had planned on doing some of the ranger-guided tours, so it's good to know y'all recommend them as well.  We aren't the most avid hikers and would have a difficult time keeping up with lots of you, so we will pick and choose our hikes carefully.

I have a free pass similar to the senior pass....it's a disabled veteran access pass for parks run by:

Bureau of Land Management http://www.blm.gov
Bureau of Reclamation http://www.usbr.gov
Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov
USDA Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov
US Corps of Engineers http://www.usace.army.mil

I guess there aren't many avid fishermen (fisherpersons?) here.  Utah has some great trout fishing and I plan on using a guide/instructor to finally take the opportunity to learn fly fishing.
 
  - Mike
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2016, 06:01:13 pm »

We rented a Jeep from Frabees in Death Valley and were very happy with it. A top company.
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 02:05:30 pm »

Mike,
Visit Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah whenever you get a chance.  We spent a few days there four summers ago and loved the small park and the little town just outside.
The May 2016 issue of Motor Home magazine has a nice article on the park.
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 08:32:06 pm »

Thanks!  I'll do some digging and find out more about it.  We don't subscribe to Motorhome Mag and their May '16 issue isn't available online yet.

   - Mike
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 11:59:26 pm »

Ah yes, Capital Reef and the historical Mormon town of Fruita inside it.  Some of my "Adventure Anywhere" photos were taken inside and close to Capital Reef.  Like Bruce & Sharon said, it is a drive-thru park.  On the west end is a famous sunset viewing area.  The setting sun lights up the rock formations.  It draws a crowd.  My wife and I enjoy our visits there, been there twice to-date.  When in the area again, we plan to return.  The drive to and from the park has it's own beauty.

Ron
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2016, 06:13:08 am »

We have several postings on Capitol Reef on our blog (see below). Just search "Capitol Reef"

This is a first come, first served park and you have to get there early. Sites were filled by 10 when we were there. They do have overflow on BLM land that the rangers can direct you to. There are no hook ups in the park but they have nice bathhouses, generator hours to recharge batteries and convenient water fill and dump station area. We rolled in for a night or two and stayed the maximum allowed. It is an awesome oasis in a sea of gorgeous rocks. If you hit the right time, the apples are ripe in the orchards and you are welcome to go in and eat your fill or pick a bunch, weight and pay at the honor box and head home to your RV just a few steps away. Many of the sites were shaded and we were there when it was cool so we were fine tucked into the beautiful campsite without AC.

If you have to have hook ups, there was at least one full service campground in town right near the very nice visitor center (free wifi at the visitor center and cell signal). Just keep in mind it is a longish drive from town to the park if you are planning any early morning hiking.

This is the one park you really need to load the supplies for. The little town is nice but VERY small and since we hit at the end of tourist season, we were met with VERY empty shelves (not too many grocery shelves to start with - townies make a once or twice a month drive to hit the bigger cities 250 miles away to stock up, do doctor and dental visits, car repairs, etc.)

Some don't miss items: Fremont Petroglyphs, a drive down Capitol Gorge and short walk to see the Pioneer Register, Panorama Point, and pie at the Fruita store. If you can pull off a hike to experience the view from above, do it.

As a side, some of the parks out there sell water bottle slings and I recommend you snag a few. We didn't go anywhere without water. We took more on hikes but we wore those water bottle slings even on car trips. I felt like all the water was sucked out of my body out there and we were there in the cooler season. You have to keep rehydrating or it hits you with headaches, muscle aches, nausea and overall tiredness. 

So, as Bruce and Sharon said, put Capitol Reef on your list. It is one of the places we plan to return to.

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