Phoenix, Pagosa Spgs, canyon country, Utah nat'l parks--advice?
Hi there roadtrippers,
I'm planning a 14 day trip that begins and ends in Phoenix (end of August through early September) and after searching through and reading what's on the boards, would love some more of your practical advice.
The only limits are the usual time and money (we're hoping for 2 people at about $100 a day, not including park fees since we'll have a pass) and a 1-2 day stop near Pagosa Springs, Colorado that needs to happen September 2nd or 3rd. My last roadtrip in the southwest (including many of the sites listed below) was over 7 years ago; I hope to showcase the beauty for my fiance (his first time in the area) while attempting to slow down my usual frenetic roadtrip pace (which doesn't mesh with his more low-key travel style). We're bringing camping gear and would love thoughts on campsites, hostels, or quirky hotels/motels in the area (in addition to itinerary guidance!).
My initial thought is to head north from Phoenix (we arrive before 11 AM on 8/29), landing in Flagstaff or someplace (perhaps Sedona) on our way to the Grand Canyon South Rim. We've nabbed reservations at a hostel in Flagstaff for our first and second nights just in case; the plan would be to stay at or nearer to the Grand Canyon the next night (giving ourself one sunset and one early morning for hiking). Then we've got a few days to make our way to Pagosa Springs (over an 8 hour drive from GC) for our 9/2 or 9/3 visit.
Here's where you guys come in: given the list below of spots/events we'd love to see and the somewhat counter-intuitive route through Pagosa we need to take, what would you leave out? We're prizing experience over coverage (seeing less sites for more quality), but will likely stop at the surrounding smaller sites as time/energy permits. Here are the simplified biggies on our list:
Grand Canyon, S Rim
Painted Desert/Petrified Forest
Canyon de Chelly
*Navajo Nation Fair 9/3-9/9 off of Hwy 264 on AZ/NM border (we'd like to stop at least one afternoon).
Utah (I know these are HUGE and amazing parks, but I've never to been to any of them--what would be do-able to include?):
Pagosa Springs 9/2 or 9/3 (visiting friends in the San Juan Mtns)
Possibly an afternoon off-roading the Imogene Pass from Telluride to Ourey (or vis versa) with an overnight stay at a hot springs near Ourey (this was one of the most amazing parts of my last roadtrip).
Sorry to post such a long message--BIG THANKS to all who respond!
Last edited by seymour_adventure; 08-24-2007 at 09:06 AM.
Slow Down and Relax
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
You seem to know already that trying to do everything on your wish list would end up being nothing more than a mad dash from site to site, with no real time to appreciate the wonders you'll be traveling through. To do it all would require driving around 2000 miles. Doable in 2 weeks, but you would be on sensory overload. So, given that you seriously want to include the Grand Canyon (at least!) and have to be in Pagosa Springs, what I'd suggest is that you concentrate on seeing northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and southwestern Colorado. There is certainly enough there to keep you interested and amused. Besides the obvious main attractions, consider spending some time at some of these spots near the Grand Canyon. Then after the Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly, stop also at Mesa Verde on your way to Pagosa Springs and afterwards continue east through Wolf Creek Pass, to Monte Vista. Head up US-285 and CO-114 to start your return leg by coming west through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then south on US-550, the Million Dollar Highway back to Durango. This will give you another shot at Mesa Verde if you didn't have time for it earlier. Then a short run northeast on CO-41 and UT-262/UT-163 to Bluff, UT will put you in good shape to come down through Monument Valley and ready for your final stop at the Navajo Nation Fair before heading back to Phoenix and your flight home. As you can see, that's already a very full itinerary. Adding more things, I think, would only detract from the experience you're trying to share with your fiancée.
Thanks for the help!
Thanks for the great suggestions and the links!
My brother and I just left Utah and we hit quite a few of the parks in southern Utah. We also spent an afternoon at Canyon De Chelley and it was pretty cool, there are native americans who live at the bottom of the canyon and we saw them working with their horses which was awesome. I think Zion is only about 3 hours from the north rim of the Canyon, so you could consider going to the North instead of the south rim and then head up to Zion from there. Bryce is then only about 1 1/2 hours from Zion, so you could get quite a bit in. If you have any interest in hiking, I would recommend hiking the narrows which my brother and I did. You can do it as a day hike which took us about 7 hours and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. The canyon walls are as high as 2,000 feet and at times the canyon walls are only about 20-30 feet apart. About 80% of the hike is through the Virgin river and I can't say enough about how cool it was. Let me know if you have any specific questions about the area.