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  1. #1

    Default Utah National Parks


    I am planning a car camping trip to see the National Parks in Utah on my way to my son's home in Los Angeles. I am thinking about visiting Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion. I am retired and time is not a problem. How much time should I devote to each park? also any advice on car camping on public land would be appreciated. I am thinking of staying at BLM campsites and would welcome advice. I will be there early October.


    Jim O
    Last edited by Jim72150; 09-04-2012 at 06:37 AM. Reason: forgot something

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    When it comes to time to visit the national parks, I'd generally follow the rule that more is better. You could visit those places with as little as a half day each, but you could also spend a month at each and still not see everything. If you're just planning to see what's available from the roads and main overlooks, without doing any significant hiking, I'd start with a day for each park, with the note that Canyonlands is actually made up of 3 parts and you'll need more time to visit both Needles and Island in the Sky (the 3rd section, the Maze, is very remote and only reachable by 4 wheel drive).

    While you are in the area, you might also consider stops at Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges, and Monument Valley if you've got the time.

    Car camping at BLM campgrounds isn't much different than camping at any other campground. The one thing that can be unusual with campgrounds around here is that many of them do not have water available, so you have to bring it with you. The visitors center in Moab has a nice map with all the camping options in that area, including a couple dozen BLM campgrounds. Of course, the National Parks also offer camping, although those campgrounds can fill quickly. The campground at Canyonlands/Island in the Sky is one of my all-time favorites, and often doesn't fill, but it is rustic with no water. You can also look at State Parks in the area - Dead Horse Point is a popular one with excellent views of the Canyonlands.

  3. #3


    Thanks Michael, you have been very helpful.

    Will the sights I will see at the additional National Parks that you mentioned be much different than I will experience at Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion. Could you rank you favorites?

    Thanks so much.
    Last edited by Jim72150; 09-05-2012 at 08:05 AM. Reason: Spelling error

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default All offer something unique imo.

    I can't speak for Michael, but I have visited many of these National parks and although you could draw comparisions, each and every one has been an individual experience for me and it would be all but impossible for me to put them in order of preference.

    I would consider paying that bit extra and stay in the National parks, if that's where you are planning on focusing your time. It can be quite a drive in and out of some of the parks [Arches and Canyonlands in particular] which takes up time and money in gas. Devils Garden campground is in a wonderful location in Arches NP and there are some good hiking trails that start from there. The Watchman campground at Zion is also nice and only a short walk to the shuttle buses that go into the main canyon area, so you can leave the car where it is and enjoy just 'being there'.

  5. #5


    Thanks Dave!

    There are no reservations available for my times there, and the BLM sites are my second choice for sleeping away from the City lights. I will try Canyonlands which is on a first come basis. Dave, you are from England?. You know a lot about this area . Thanks so much!
    Last edited by Jim72150; 09-05-2012 at 10:46 AM. Reason: Spelling error

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default I get around.

    I presume you are around Arches at the weekend then ? Otherwise you are unlucky, as there seems to be quite a few tent sites available at Devils Garden campground. Capitol Reef is certainly worth a stop between the Moab area and Bryce canyon, as you can take Utah scenic By-way 12 through Escalante.

    Dave, you are from England?. You know a lot about this area .
    Yeah, but I get around ! ;-) I have been fortunate enough to visit these parts using RV's and you will have a wonderful time ! Where are you starting out from ? Some great places all around, including through Colorado, or on the way to LA, you have the likes of the Grand canyon, Death Valley and so on.


  7. #7


    Dave, my trip begins in Columbus Ohio. I will be traveling through Kansas City and Denver, and then down to the Moab
    Last edited by Jim72150; 09-06-2012 at 05:10 AM. Reason: Spelling

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Colorado/National parks.

    If time isn't so much an issue then you could consider heading towards Estes Park, north of Denver, where nearby is Rocky Mountain NP. The Morraine park campground is great for exploring the Bear Lake area of the park, that has great views and plenty of easy walks to strenous hikes to choose from. It's possible the Trail Ridge road may be open when you travel and it's a wonderful drive across the mountains on the highest continuous paved road in America ! For a short detour off I70 you could take US 6 over the continental divide at Loveland Pass to Dillon Res, again this would be weather dependent. Before you head into Utah you could take a small detour again and visit the Colorado National Monument near Fruita, the rim drive through the tunnels is pretty cool ! There is the James M Robb Colorado River State park campground nearby too.

    Theres a whole lot more, but these are a few options not too far from I70 if you had a day or two to spare along the way. If you end up visiting more than the 4 parks you originally listed [or plan to visit more in the next 12 months] it would make financial sense to purchase the annual parks pass for $80. This can be purchased on line, or from the first park entry station you visit and is great value when you consider that many major parks are $20-$25 each to enter.

    Oh, one more thing. When you head to Moab take US6 to UT128 through Castle Valley, it's scenic as you follow the river down and costs little to no time compared to taking US191 as the mapping programs recommend.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You say that you are retired - if you are 62 or older you can buy a lifetime parks pass for $10.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    You say that you are retired - if you are 62 or older you can buy a lifetime parks pass for $10.
    Does that apply to vistors to your beautiful country? Be back there next year sometime. Think i payed $74 or $84 last time which i still thought was pretty good. We certainly got our money's worth.

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