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  1. Default Feedback Needed for Four Corners Road Trip, Please

    Hi,

    I'm at the beginning stages of planning a road trip for next fall and I'm hoping to get some feedback on my itinerary.

    Some Details:
    4 women (30s and 40s), first long distance road trip, novice (but eager) hikers, moderate to high fitness level, love culture + wine + scenic beauty.

    Tentative Dates: Sept 20 - Oct 3

    DAY 1: Arrive Denver
    DAY 2: Drive Independence Pass, pit-stop in Aspen, Grand Junction
    DAY 3: Grand Junction
    DAY 4: Moab, Canyonlands, Arches
    DAYS 5-6: Bryce (departure late afternoon of day 6)
    DAYS 7-8: Zion (departure late afternoon of day 8)
    DAYS 9-10: Grand Canyon
    DAY 11: Petrified National Forrest , Albuquerque
    DAY 12: ABQ Balloon Fiesta

    That's what I've got so far. My specific questions are:

    --What are your thoughts on the length of time I've scheduled for the parks?
    --Are there any must sees that I'm missing? I wanted to add Black Canyon and Mesa Verde, but couldn't find a place to fit them.
    --If I needed to make the trip shorter, what would you recommend dropping/spending less time at?
    --What's the weather really like during late September/early October? We're from Miami, so winter is about 59 degrees.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Welcome!

    I don't see the need to spend a day in Grand Junction - if you spend the night there just head for Moab in the morning, it's only about a 2 hour drive. Take UT-128 into Moab instead of US-191.

    Moab to Bryce via UT-24/UT-12 (HIGHLY recommended) is about 6 hours if I remember correctly.

    It's about 1.5 to 2 hours from Bryce to Zion.

    Zion to the Grand Canyon South Rim is about 5 to 6 hours.

    You need to be prepared for temperatures below freezing at night due to the altitude.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    I'd agree that you don't really need to spend a day in Grand Junction. Its a nice enough town, with some things like the Colorado National Monument that could be worth some time, but with your limited time and the things you want to see, I'd skip it.

    I would recommend spending another day in Moab. I think trying to do both Canyonlands and Arches in one day would mean that you are shortchanging them a bit.

    If you wanted to do Black Canyon and Mesa Verde, you could skip Grand Junction altogether, and instead go from Aspen to Black Canyon, and then down to Mesa Verde via the Million Dollar highway/Durango. From there, you'd just swing back north to Moab. It would, however, probably require you to trip a day or two off Bryce/Zion/Grand Canyon.

    Another option would be to skip Petrified Forest and go from Grand Canyon to Mesa Verde (hitting Monument Valley along the way), and then head down to Albuquerque from there.

  4. Default

    Thank you for responding!

    The reason I planned a day for Grand Junction is because I read they have a wine country. Unfortunately, we'd be getting there a few days after the state's big wine festival, but I wanted to take the day to tour vineyards and do some tastings for the wine lovers in the group. Most of the tours I've seen so far take about half a day, but we might forgo the tour and drive ourselves if someone volunteers to DD. Maybe we could leave that night in order to get an early start in Moab? If you had to choose between Canyonlands and Arches, which would it be?

    Skipping the Petrified Forrest for Black Canyon/Mesa sounds like it might work.

    Thanks for all the input!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    I would not drive from GJ to Moab after dark - you will miss the scenery! UT-128 is a very scenic drive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,066

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jhem211 View Post
    Skipping the Petrified Forrest for Black Canyon/Mesa sounds like it might work.
    Just to be clear, if you skipped Petrified and instead went to Mesa Verde, you still wouldn't have time to go back up to Black Canyon without making a major change to the time you spend elsewhere.

    Between Arches and Canyonlands, personally, I liked Canyonlands-Island in the Sky better, but more people tend to go to Arches. With 1 day, you could do a quick tour of both, but I think you could even just up it to a day and a half without changing your plans. Spend day 1 in Arches, then spend the next morning at Canyonlands before driving to Bryce in the Afternoon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default You gotta try some mead!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jhem211 View Post
    I planned a day for Grand Junction is because I read they have a wine country.
    The wines grown there aren't very dry, but if you like sweeter wine -- there are some fun places right along Business Route 70 (just east of the bridge). One of my must-stops whenever I'm there is the mead honey winery. St. Catherine's is just off I-70 at exit 42 and about two miles beyond that is the mead winery.

    As you make your way west, Ray's Tavern in Green River, Utah has really, really good burgers. It looks a little rough -- but it really is a stand-out place. And I forgot to look if you're heading much farther west on I-70, but it's one of my favorite Interstate Highways in the country.

    If you had to choose between Canyonlands and Arches, which would it be?
    Nearly an impossible choice, but in terms of time, you can see more from the paved road in Arches.

    Mark

  8. Default

    UT-128 is a very scenic drive
    Definitely don't want to miss the scenery, so I won't do the drive to Moab at night.

    The wines grown there aren't very dry, but if you like sweeter wine
    Love sweeter wine, so that will be great.

    Spend day 1 in Arches, then spend the next morning at Canyonlands before driving to Bryce in the Afternoon.
    That sounds like a great plan. As does skipping Petrified for Mesa/Monument Valley.

    I've been told I'm trying to do too much in too short a time because the drives seem very long in that part of the country... what are your opinions on that?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    spend the next morning at Canyonlands before driving to Bryce in the Afternoon.
    That would get you in well after dark if you take Scenic 12. You are still looking at over 4 hours taking I-70 and US-89.

    I'd find a way to take a whole day, and spend some time at Capitol Reef on the way.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-03-2011 at 11:03 PM. Reason: added link to RTA article about such a route

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    That would get you in well after dark if you take Scenic 12. You are still looking at over 4 hours taking I-70 and US-89.
    In late September, there is daylight until at least 7:30pm. I'm not quite sure how, if you left at noon on a 6-7 hour drive via UT-12, that you would then arrive "well after dark."

    If you got going at say 8am, you could about 4 hours exploring Canyonlands - Island in the Sky (3 hours in the park, once you factor the 30 minute drive each way from US-191), and then spend all afternoon making the drive. It would be a full day, but an enjoyable one that wouldn't be overly taxing, and it is certainly doable without driving late into the night.

    That's not to say giving yourself all day for the trip, and making a stop at Capital Reef is a bad idea, but when time is limited, there will always be things that have to be left on the table.

    I've been told I'm trying to do too much in too short a time because the drives seem very long in that part of the country... what are your opinions on that?
    I think you've got a plan that looks pretty balanced. You've got a few stretches where you will be on the road for most of the day, but I don't see any sections place where you are trying to do anything that's unattainable or unreasonable.

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