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gradygal
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« on: March 29, 2013, 03:05:31 pm »

Hi all,
I know that many of you have made the trip to the National Parks in the west so, if you would be so kind, I would like to pick your brains about what to see, what is a complete waste of time and other assorted trivia---I have completed our routes> I know that August/September time will be hot but we have lived in FL for 16 years now so we are used to the summer heat. Anyway, Here goes:

I10 to Fort Pickens in Pensacola for 7 days-got reservations
Natchez MS
Vicksburg MS (Civil War Battlefield)
On to Amarillo TX with one night stopover outside of Dallas
On to Colorado Springs to visit relatives: Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Gardens of the Gods, Air Force Academy, Olympic Training Center
On to Mesa Verde National Park
Arches National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Down to Phoenix to visit daughter
Down to Tucson to Karcher Caverns State Park
The I10 back to Florida

We figure 2-3 monthes. I'm concerned about getting bored with "red rocks"--but we'll see.

So>>>>>>>>Comments please!

Thanks
Judi
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 08:57:33 pm »

Hi Judi,

The only comment I have is about the area of Arches.

 ThumbsUp Arches is one of my favorite National Parks.  ThumbsUp

While there, you are only a few miles from Canyonlands.  Plan a full day there renting a Jeep Wrangler (early morning to late night) from Farabees in Moab, enter the canyon thru Potash, see Musselman Arch (I dare you to walk across it) drive down to the Colorado River (don't chicken out), then up the switchback mining road.  Once out of the canyon, tour the rim road and get to Pucker Pass and drive through it too.

Do NOT take your own vehicle because it will have permenent rattles and squeeks after that excursion.  Farabees has a map of exactly what I am talking about.  Call them for prices on renting a Wrangler and about the Jeep trail I mentioned.  Do NOT rent from any of the other Jeep rental outfits around because they rent old tired Jeeps.  Farabees rents brand new Wranglers and in the end the price is the same.  Unlike the others, you can return Farabees Jeeps dirty and after hours.  Given you will be there in summer, you might consider an enclosed Jeep with a/c.  Arches, Canyonlands, and Moab are about 5 minutes away from eachother.

That one Adventure Anywhere pic of our PC with little red car parked next to it in the canyon with Irene sitting in a lawn chair, the canyon wall across the water is Arches, but we were camping in a BLM campground across the street from the trailhead to the 3rd largest arch (maybe called a natural bridge) in the USA called Morning Glory.  That hike requires lots of drinking water though relatively flat.  We ran short of water and suffered in September.  The BLM campground was 5-10 minutes outside of Moab but in another direction of Arches & Canyonlands.

If you can swing your visit to the area in middle of September, you will enjoy the experience so much better due to lack of heat.  That also allows for a top-down experience with the Wrangler.

If you come back from your vacation and post that you did not rent a Farabees Jeep Wrangler and go down into Canyonlands, I will be so very disappointed.  People of all ages and back grounds drive that trail so don't ever think you are too old or inexperienced for it.  Anyone who is only a little daring can do it safely.  Aside from the adventure, the scenery is some of the best jaw dropping in the entire region.  Unlike most canyons, that one is best seen from inside on the middle plateau.

It is a full day adventure, but you won't burn but a 1/2 tank of gas, so don't worry about that at all.

Adding:
About your time in Arches, it's a small park, but much to enjoy.  If pressed hard for time, you MUST hike through The entire Windows section, hike to Delicate Arch, and also the loop trail with Dark Angel.  You don't have to hike all the way to Dark Angel but take that loop trail.  The three hikes I mentioned covers the cream of the crop.  But if you have the time, don't pass up the others including the Firey Furnace ranger guided hike as Sue mentioned below.  One afternoon we drove our tow vehicle down the rough road along with a moderate hike to tower arch.  We really enjoyed that.

As I mentioned earlier, we enjoyed camping in the area in a BLM on the Colorado River, but there are a number of RV parks close by in Moab, minutes from Arches.  Camping in Arches is ideal to me, but is in high demand.  Given our flexible trip schedule, making reservations 9 months in advance doesn't work for us.
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 08:48:22 am »

George and Judi,

Colorado - we did the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Air Force Academy - enjoyed both very much.
                Mesa Verde is one of our favorite National Parks - make sure you take the ranger guided tour (1/2 off with your America the Beautiful Pass) - very interesting to be in the "ruins"
                 An hour away from Mesa Verde is the "FOUR CORNERS".  Some folks say it is a tourist trap but we went anyway and spent three hours there talking to the local vendors.  Some very interesting arrow heads being made.  We bought one and had the maker sign it for us (very cool).  Keep it displayed in our foyer at home.

Utah - Arches National Park - another of our favorites.  Sign up for the Firey Furnace Tour - again 1/2 off with your pass but do it early online because it does fill up fast.  Make sure you take the Ranger guided tour the private ones are 10 to 15 times as much.  We paid $7.50 for it and others who took the private tour were paying $100 plus.  It is a 3 hour tour that takes you into the Firey Furnace part of the park.  Wear good shoes and take water.  The ranger is very informative and gets you to climb into to some very neat spaces.  Very educational as well.  Not difficult knowing you both are in great shape!!!!

Get to Zion National Park and try to camp in the NP campground - very, very fun.  Many nice hikes throughout the park.

Grand Canyon is also one of our favorites.  We actually did a three day hike to the water falls.  Stayed on the Supai reservations.  Probably the best and most adventurous trip we ever did.

On our way out West one of the campground host talked us into joining Passport America.  We did and were not sorry at all.  Many nice Passport Parks out West and the most we ever paid was $15 dollars a night.  If you want more info I'll send you a private email.  We did not reserve any campgounds except for the NP ones.  Others we just found as we were driving or did some rustic camping.  Many BLM camps in the area.

Sue
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 01:56:27 pm »

I live in Colorado and my first visit to many of these parks and places was as a child in the early 50's in one of the first tent trailers ever made. I fell in love with the west as well as camping/RVing! I am not tired of red rocks nor our beautiful Rocky Mountains! Been to Utah and Arizona too many times to count.

Mesa Verde -- Do at least one tour of the less visited ruins. It requires a reservation and a bus ride.
Utah -- Spend some time at Lake Powell and tour the Glencanyon Dam. At LP they have high speed boat tours to Rainbow Bridge and it is worth the money....at least for me it is.

Arizona -- the caverns are great. They alternately close them, but tour all that are open. Reserve on the internet because the tours fill up fast. Worth the investment. Catlina State Park, about 30 miles north of Tucson, is beautiful and higher so a little cooler. Painted desert and petrified forest should also be on your agenda. As others have warned you, it will be HOT, HOT, HOT!

Suggestion -- If you can spare more time, swing north at Albequerque up I-25, hit Santa Fe and Taos, NM, Denver, Rocky Mountain NP, Dinosaur NP, and then when you get to Utah and Arizona, it will be September and maybe a little cooler.
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2013, 09:41:58 am »

We did a similar trip for 3 months last August 25th.  We went to Branson and to North Dakota and onto Yellowstone for a week before everything closes up end of Sept., Jackson Hole, Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, whoa what a campsite that was right on the water.  Then to Mt. Ranier WA, did the Oregon Coast (favorite part of the trip) and then started working our way back west through the rockies, Colorado Springs and late in October where winter and snow started already.  Fires were in Rocky Mountain park and we couldn't do that. 

My point was, it was so hot we started a month late and ran out of time to do all we had planned at the end of the trip due to weather.  We were more north than you plan to be it sounds.  Those parks were another trip we did with a rental car once and you are in for a treat.  Mesa Verde was my favorite.  I couldn't believe they actually let us climb around inside the dwellings. 

Have a blast!
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 11:24:06 am »

We are really looking forward to the trip. We leave Punta Gorda on July 20 and head to Ft. Pickens National Seashore for a week--NO HURRICANES PLEASE. Then we plan on Fountainebleau State Park in Louisiana. Then to Natchez for a couple of nights. Then on our way to Colorado Springs to visit family.

I am really looking forward to Mesa Verde National Park. We plan to be in that area for a 5 days. We are staying at McPhee Reservoir in Delores Co (water/electric) during that time.

Once in Moab, we are staying at Portal RV Resort--It's expensive but they have a pool so after a hot day, we can relax by the pool. It's a Class A resort but they let B's and C's in 2 monthes of the year as long as they are no older than 5 years. Ta, Ta!!!!!!!!!

I think our plans may change and after the Grand Canyon we may head back farther North. We are staying at Mather Campground in GC. The daughter made reservationa at GC over Labor Day weekend, so there is really no need to go to Phoenix (and the 120 degree heat)

I know we will have a blast!!! We always do.

If anyone has any further suggestions, please give them to me. We have never been out that way and although I have researched, I may have missed something really cool to do.

Judi
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2013, 03:14:41 pm »

While there in Moab, you are only a few miles from Canyonlands.  Plan a full day there renting a Jeep Wrangler (early morning to late night) from Farabees in Moab, enter the canyon thru Potash, see Musselman Arch (I dare you to walk across it) drive down to the Colorado River (don't chicken out), then up the switchback mining road.  Once out of the canyon, tour the rim road and get to Pucker Pass and drive through it too.

Do NOT take your own tow vehicle because it will have permenent rattles and squeeks after that excursion.  Farabees has a map of exactly what I am talking about.  Call them for prices on renting a Wrangler and about the Jeep trail I mentioned.  Do NOT rent from any of the other Jeep rental outfits around because they rent old tired Jeeps.  Farabees rents brand new Wranglers and in the end the price is the same.  Unlike the others, you can return Farabees Jeeps dirty and after hours.  Given you will be there in summer, you might consider an enclosed Jeep with a/c.  Arches, Canyonlands, and Moab are about 5 minutes away from eachother.
Don't Forget gradygal.
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2013, 04:38:46 pm »

We are really looking forward to the trip. We leave Punta Gorda on July 20 and head to Ft. Pickens National Seashore for a week--NO HURRICANES PLEASE. Then we plan on Fountainebleau State Park in Louisiana. Then to Natchez for a couple of nights. Then on our way to Colorado Springs to visit family.

I am really looking forward to Mesa Verde National Park. We plan to be in that area for a 5 days. We are staying at McPhee Reservoir in Delores Co (water/electric) during that time.

Once in Moab, we are staying at Portal RV Resort--It's expensive but they have a pool so after a hot day, we can relax by the pool. It's a Class A resort but they let B's and C's in 2 monthes of the year as long as they are no older than 5 years. Ta, Ta!!!!!!!!!

I think our plans may change and after the Grand Canyon we may head back farther North. We are staying at Mather Campground in GC. The daughter made reservationa at GC over Labor Day weekend, so there is really no need to go to Phoenix (and the 120 degree heat)

I know we will have a blast!!! We always do.

If anyone has any further suggestions, please give them to me. We have never been out that way and although I have researched, I may have missed something really cool to do.

Judi



We stayed at Fountainbleau and it was a great place.  There's an eagle nest there near the lake.  The drive to N.O. was pretty far each day with a hefty bridge toll.  Enjoy!
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