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Author Topic: Planning trip to utah, Colorado, and the Grand Canyon  (Read 2359 times)
mciai2000
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« on: September 13, 2011, 09:40:05 am »

Good day All:

My DW asked that I post the above.  We are in the very early stages of planning next summers trip. We are traveling east to west from Pa to Colorado, Utah and the Grand Canyon.  Do you all have any ideas, thoughts or must see locations along the way? 

Thanks.

David
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 11:59:15 am »

That is one of my favorite destination areas with most time spent in southern Utah.  But I do NOT recommend going during the summer as it is way too hot.  95 degrees is considered a cool day.  105-110 is most common, but as they say....it's a dry heat.  I don't care to feel like a muffin in an oven, browning on the top just before I hit flash-point.  April/May or Sept/Oct is ideal for cooler temps and also benefitial while the kids are still in school.  Families with school children fill up the national park system, campgrounds included.  Foreign tourists take over the region when I recommend to go which confirms when the best time is to go.  It is great to see and talk with them.  They get so excited and want to pick our brain.  There are fewer tourists than families, so there is some relief with crouds.  The only down-side is that the days are shorter which I really don't mind.  It forces us to rest more by calling it a day sooner.  We relax more then watching movies and games of Scrabble after dark.

How much time did you set aside for this trip?  Three weeks is pushing a very hard schedule.  I recommend four weeks, but even more is better yet.  I could write a 100 page planner, but won't.
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 04:19:55 pm »

With the exception of the CO portion, I wd/hv to agree w/Ron on the temperature & crowd challenge of going to this area in the mid summer.  Definitely stay away from Grand Canyon south rim & most of southern Utah to avoid the heat.  Only 1 RV park inside GC south rim & another just outside the park (near the small community of Tusayan) so you can imagine the challenge getting a good reservation.  We were @ Zion in early June last yr & baked even though we had a site right on the river - did nothing but sit in the rig A/C in the afternoons.  Morning & evenings were fine.  You might want to consider the GC north rim; a bit cooler (~1K higher elev) & more out of the way from the madding crowd!  2 CGs I know of just outside the park & another inside;  Jacob Lk CG has no hookups but is right across the street from the Jacob Lake store where, even if you don't stop to camp, drop in & check out the indian weaving - you'll be stunned; you can also get a great thick milkshake here.  Delotte GC CG has hookups as does the CG inside the park.  If you do go from Colorado to Utah you may want to try & time your stops for places & higher elevations.  We did this while going from Mt Shasta, CA across to Ely, NV this summer - Bob Scott CG @ Bob Scott pass (~6K elev) never looked finer!  We also made the almost mistake of stopping in Blythe on our way to Oxnard, CA in August - if it wasn't for the A/C, we wd/hv shriveled up and blown away!  I know you will make a go of it & enjoy yourselves come what may....
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2011, 04:49:21 pm »

We did Zion in September 2010.  Fantastic time camping in the park.  The shuttle system worked great at this time of year.  Might not be as good with larger crowds.  Dry heat or not hot is hot but worth the effort.  We will be doing this area again soon.

Check out the thermometer.

Barry
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2011, 07:08:02 pm »

Although I complained about the afternoon heat at Zion in June; I definitely agree w/Barry on the efficiency of the free shuttle system, both in-town & in the park.  I also found that the entrance staff did not arrive until 8:00a yet there were park shuttles as early as 5:45a (mostly for us Angel's Landing hikers & hotel staff - I presume); so no entry fee if you are that early.
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2011, 08:31:12 pm »

David,

   If you plan to stay at the National Parks book early.  They fill up fast.  We did not plan our trip last September until August of the same year.  Thus last minute booking.  We were fortunate to find  "A" site in Zion due to someone cancelling out.  If you have the Senior Access Pass it is half off the published rates.  Also most NP tours are also half off.  We stayed at Devil's Tower for $6.00 (rustic-no hopokuips).  Had a blast.  That one was not crowded (about 1/2 full). 

   Go to Arches in Moab, Utah.  We did the fiery furnace tour (a 3 hour guided hiking tour with a park ranger).  Really a whole lot of fun and not as hard as they describe.  Half off that as well with the Senior Pass. 

    We stayed at Flying J's on the way and back from Michigan.  At other times we used Passport America Parks (just joined last September) and had great campgrounds for less than $15.00 a night.  The DW looks up all the campgrounds on rv park reviews ahead of time so we know which parks to choose and which to avoid.  Joining Passprt America saved us almost $200 in camping fees. 

     If you want more info feel free to send me an email.

Barry
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mciai2000
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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2011, 09:51:08 pm »

Well... , with the kids off and the dw off in the summer, that is the obvious choice for us.  I guess we will just have to tough it out.  We are planning to go to the north rim as I have not been there yet.  I did the South rim years ago.  Like you, not impressed with the crowds. 

Thanks for the tips.

DJM
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2011, 06:09:35 pm »

I totally agree with all the helpful comments from all members especially ron's.- ( Its a dry heat though) but you can still fry an egg on your vehicle.  The North Rim was much less crowded than south Rim an I Think more pleasant.  May I suggest Depending on your Toad if towing- you could try off roading. I had a book several years ago that rated all off road trails and I did 7 or 8 trails with a stock jeep grand cherokee in Moab Ut. Brings lots of water and prepare for the adventure - You will have a blast and be stunned with the scenery. I heartedly agree on the need for reservation in all the nat. parks.  Sure takes the spontanety out of it.
You will have a great time. 
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2011, 11:28:24 pm »

If you do just one Jeeping experience, "The One" to do is to rent a 4x4 Jeep Wrangler from Farabee's on the south side of Moab, UT for the day.  Take the trail starting at Potash through Canyonlands National Park down to the Colorado River and then up the mining road called Shafer Trail.  What an experience that is.  If you have a little extra daylight, once up from the canyon, leave the park and take the return trip back to Moab through Long canyon.  Farabee's has the entire day's ride all mapped out for you so it's perfectly clear where to go.  You can't get lost.

A novice can do it, but your nerves might get tested once in a while.  If you dare, walk across Musselman Arch too.  It's one of the really nice highlights.  You also drive on the mid shelf through Dead Horse Point.  It's a real adventure and extremely scenic.

Search on Google for Shafer Trail, Musselman Arch, and Long Canyon.  I recall it's under 100 mile round trip but it will take all day.  You'll burn up only 1/2 tank of gas so don't worry one bit over running out of gas.  Jeep rental will cost around $130.  It is great for the beginner, yet still awesome for the experienced.
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2011, 08:15:52 am »

Being of less delicate nature, while in Moab, don't forget to visit Eddie McStiff's (everybody's favorite wet spot in the desert)  Cheers.
Dead Horse Point is kinda neat too.
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2011, 04:38:17 pm »

One thing we really enjoyed in Moab is the Canyonlands by Night and Day river boat trip.  It takes a couple of hours at night and usually has a BBQ type meal preceding it.  You ride down the river after dark and a light truck follows you on the shore spotlighting the rock walls on the sides of the river.  It's really a very nice experience.  By the way, the little brown birds that keep diving after bugs on the water in the spotlights are actually bats, so don't go if bats freak you out.

Jerry
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2011, 05:27:35 pm »

Our campsite shown here.......
We would see the canyon light up at night from the river tours.
But the tours didn't get close to our site as we were upstream a little too far to get the full lighting effect.
At night, the tiny little river nats went right through our window screens.  Where are those bats when you need them?
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 07:52:11 am »

My wife and I did seven weeks out west 2 summers ago.  See as much as you can.  Our favorites were,, Train ride in Durango Colorado, Yellowstone( need at least 4-5 days), As many parks as you can see in Utah but don't miss Bryce Canyon.  It was hot but if you have a toad stay at central area and use toad to get around.  It is a must trip. Enjoy
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mciai2000
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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2011, 09:06:16 pm »

Syd:

We did Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, Thermopolis this summer.  So Colorado, Utah in 2012. Is Pike's I Peak worth the stop? I did the Durango and Silverton year ago.  Mighty long trip as I recall. Still so?  We are thinking of going through Colorado first and then to Utah.

@ Ron:  I know you advised against summer travel, but if you had to go any ideas?

@ Tom:Have you made this trip.  You usually have lots of great travel ideas?

Have any of you taken the Helicopter trips into the Grand Canyon.  Is this silly?

We are going to lake Powell. Any one been here?

Thanks.

DJM

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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2011, 12:31:14 pm »

David,
We have made a couple of trips to Colorado and one trip to Utah and Arizona in the past. I would suggest that you pick one or the other, not both for a three week trip.  If I wanted to see some of the parks in Utah, I would drive through Colorado on I70. You will get to see the Eisenhower tunnel and Glenwood Canyon from the highway.  That is about all you will have time to see.
   We found that when we got to Arches National Park the road into the park was too steep for me in my 28 class A motorhome. At the time I was not used to mountain driving. What I would do today is either tow my Jeep or rent one in Moab, Utah. The KOA we stayed at rented them but I am sure others do also.  There are so many parks that it is hard to pick just a few but the ones that seem to be the most popular are, Arches, Bryce, Zion and Canyonlands.  We did not see many of the parks in Utah on our trip as we wanted to go to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. On the way south, we stopped at the Four Corners for about half an hour. Kind of neat to stand in four states at one time. We did have to take the picture of me standing in two states leaning over and kissing my wife while she stood in two other states, corny, huh.  Mostly there where Indians selling stuff like T-shirts, art work, rugs and beads etc.  There is a small canyon there also. We saw several arches just off the road from Moab to Four Corners.
   We went on down to the Grand Canyon, went in at the east entrance, stopped at several parking lots to look into the canyon. I had a lot of problems finding a place to park the motorhome and the few I did find were on hills. I was not comfortable leaving the motorhome on such a steep incline, so my wife went to the canyon and took some pictures for me to see later.  We went to the canyon village and had to park across the street, fight the traffic to walk across to the canyon and visitors center. Some people really like the canyon and others think it is just a big hole in the ground. I am of the later group. Maybe if spent a whole day or two watching the rocks change color as the sun moves across the sky it would be better. After leaving the canyon we went south toward Williams and spent the night at a campground called Black Barts. Black Barts is a restaurant where the wait help (collage kids) also sings and performs. We enjoyed the evening there.  http://www.blackbartssteakhouse.com/rv.html. The next day we drove forever to get to Tombstone and the OK Coral. The long drive made us appreciate what it took for the early folks riding horses and wagons to get to Tombstone.  It was a very hot and dry day in May that we spend there.  We missed to gun fight and the Coral is really small. I had to wonder how anyone could miss a shooting a man when they are that close. I dont think the drive was worth the town. 
   I am a tree person that likes the green in the landscape. The southwest is not my cup of tea. That being said, someday we may go back to see some more of it. The picture Ron posted looks kind of interesting, so maybe there is more to it than we saw that I might like. That is the really great thing about this country, there is something for everyone to see and do.
Tom
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