Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. Default Dividing up time spent at Utah National Parks -- suggestions?

    Hello, I am going on a two-week road trip at the end of September. I will be leaving from Seattle, and spending 3.5 days in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I am then spending 3.5 days in Salt Lake City.

    The next leg of my trip involves the Utah National Parks (plus Great Basin National Park, and Crater Lake National Park is also thrown in there because I'm heading to Bend). I am wondering what would be the best way to divide up my time.

    I will be ready to leave Salt Lake City at sunrise or earlier on the morning of a Thursday. I want to be in Bend, Oregon by ~9pm on the following Monday. So I'm looking at roughly four full days to make this trip. I will be doing 30 hours of driving to get from park to park (plus however long I take to mosey around the parks themselves). I have experience making long drives.

    This is what I want to see -- I'm hoping I can squeeze all of these in!

    • Arches National Park
    • Canyonlands National Park
    • Capitol Reef National Park
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Zion National Park
    • Great Basin National Park
    • Crater Lake National Park

    Here is a link to the (proposed) map of my trip (Brighton & Anasazi State Park are on there because of a couple of scenic byways I wanted to take -- these detours only add about two hours to my trip. Winnemucca is there simply as a place to spend the night.)

    I'm still actively researching the parks, but am struggling regarding how to divide up my time and what would be the best places to spend the night.

    My very tentative idea (and any times listed are quite flexible -- just a very rough guideline):

    Thurs -- Leave Salt Lake City at 7am. Arrive at Arches National Park at ~1pm. Spend ~4 hours at Arches. Drive to Canyonlands. Spend ~3 hours / until it gets dark at Canyonlands. Spend the night at Canyonlands. Or should I switch and go to Canyonlands first, and spend the night at Arches?

    Fri -- Leave Canyonlands at 7am. Drive to Capitol Reef & arrive there at ~11am. Spend 2-3 hours there. Leave at 2pm. Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park. Arrive at ~5pm. Explore til dark and spend the night at Bryce Canyon.

    Sat -- Continue exploring Bryce Canyon. Leave at ~11am. (Roughly 5-6 daylight hours spent at Bryce). Drive to Zion National Park. Arrive at ~1pm. Explore til dark and spend the night at Zion.

    Sun -- Leave Zion, drive to Great Basin National Park. Arrive there ~11am? Most guidelines suggest spending half a day there. Leave at ~6pm? Drive to Winnemucca, arrive by ~11pm, spend the night.

    Mon -- Sleep in, Finish driving to Crater Lake National Park. Arrive there anytime as long as it is still daylight. Spend 2 hours there. Leave for Bend and arrive at Bend at 8 or 9pm.

    Any critiques or suggestions in general would be much appreciated!

    Also, is there anything worth seeing along my route in Nevada? It looks pretty desolate on the map. I really like historical stuff and was hoping to be able to see some sort of Mormon Pioneer and/or Oregon-Trail-ish stuff somewhere, but I haven't found anything like that so far.

    Thanks in advance for any tips!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looks OK on paper.

    Hi Andrea, welcome back !

    Is there a reason you want/need to spend 3.5 days in SLC and then the next 5 days rushing from place to place. A trip like this rarely works out when timed by the hour and I think you are going to find it tough and exhausting to try and achieve what you already have. For example on day 1, you would do well to arrive at Arches by 1pm. Four hours is the minmum you would really want to spend there having driven all that way and then it will take you an hour and a half to drive to Grandview point in Canyonlands where you will have only about 30 mins to spare before sunset.

    Zion to Winnemucca is at least a 9 hour drive, so just 2 or 3 hours at Great Basin is going to fill your day without chance for other attractions. Remember you need to eat ! ;-)

    If possible I would add at least another day for this part of your trip just to stop exhaustion creeping in and be able to stop and 'smell the roses' along the way and a day and a half would be better/recommended. What you have looks doable on paper, but the reality is you have so little time left to divide for these wonderful places you will visit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    My thoughts are very similar to Dave's. You're trying to squeeze every possible minute out of every day, and in the process you've got a trip where everything would have to go completely perfectly for things to work - and anyone whose been on the road knows there will always be unexpected things that take up time. Just things like stopping to eat, gas stops, and traffic (including getting into, and driving through the various parks) will all take up time that you don't really have accounted for. Even if you avoid any other delays, this is the kind of plan that is going to have you more focused on the clock than the scenic views, because you'll need that kind of precision to stay on schedule.

    The other thing is that I think you have actually made a miscalculation on the amount of daylight that is actually available. Sunset at the end of September is going to be just after 7pm.

    So for example, if you arrive in Moab right at 1pm, and if you spend exactly 4 hours at Arches, you wouldn't be leaving there until 5. Factoring about an hour drive just to get into Islands in the Sky, that would leave you with 1 hour of daylight at Canyonlands, not 3. You also need time to set up your camp (and keep in mind, Canyonlands is a small first-come, first-served campground with only about 10 spaces, it is very possible that if you don't arrive until the very end of the day, the campground would be full) so that also takes away from your available exploration time.

    Similar problems exist throughout the rest of your plan, but I'd have to agree with Dave that taking a day or two away from SLC would make the rest of this trip a lot more enjoyable.

  4. Default

    Okay, thank you! You guys have talked me into it. I will spend an extra day on this leg of the trip. I will still plan to leave SLC at the same time, Thursday morning, but I will arrive in Bend a day later on Tuesday night.

    I could also leave SLC on Wednesday night and drive to Arches in the dark. How scenic is that drive? Would I be missing much, do you think?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I think it would be a whole lot better if you could leave SLC before the evening rush and get into Moab just after dusk. If not, I personally would consider driving for a couple of hours or so out of SLC, which would put you in Price UT and would at least give you an extra couple of hours at Arches/Canyonlands, but also give you a good nights rest.

  6. Default

    Thank you! Okay, I've done a bit more planning, and I actually think it will work better if I reverse my trip. I was originally planning to do: Seattle >> Yellowstone >> Salt Lake >> Utah National Parks >> Crater Lake/Bend >> Home to Seattle

    But these are my new plans: link to map I will be arriving at Great Basin National Park (location E) late Friday afternoon and I want to be in Salt Lake City by late Wednesday night. Here's a map showing just this leg of the trip.

    I really want to see the Grand Canyon too -- even if it is just for a bit -- and so I shoved that in there too.

    So my list of places to hit between Friday afternoon and Wednesday night is:
    • Great Basin National Park
    • Zion National Park
    • Grand Canyon National Park (north rim)
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Capitol Reef National Park
    • Canyonlands National Park
    • Arches National Park

    I'll already be at Great Basin on Friday afternoon, and then I'll have five full days (Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues/Wed) before I leave late Wednesday afternoon for Salt Lake City.

    I already know I am not going to be giving the Grand Canyon the time it deserves -- but I am planning an AZ/NM trip for 2015 so I will be back.

    I'm thinking (tentatively)

    Friday afternoon plus full day Saturday at Great Basin & Zion
    Sunday -- Grand Canyon & Bryce Canyon
    Monday -- more Bryce Canyon and drive east
    Tuesday -- Capitol Reef and Arches or Canyonlands (wherever I end up deciding to go first)
    Wednesday -- more Arches & Canyonlands -- and leave for Salt Lake City

    Does that look better/more realistic?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    One thing you need to be aware of - US-89 is closed between the Alt-89 junction and Page for the next 2 years. This is going to make it difficult to get from the North Rim to Page, if that was in your plans.

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

    Default Better.

    It certainly looks better and although you are still going to be busy, it could be possible. At the end of the day if you linger one place longer than expected and miss out on another it's a lot better option than having to check your watch every 5 minutes instead of enjoying where you are. If you arrive in time to explore the Great basin and stay in the area Friday night [Baker perhaps] and get an early start next day you should have a nice amount of time to stroll along the Virgin river in Zion and visit other areas like Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools..

    Putting the North rim into the equation makes the next day quite busy, but you could get to Bryce before nightfall and have some time the next morning to visit the viewpoints there. With a brief visit to Capital Reef you could get as far as Hanksville the following day if you left Bryce around Midday. That would put you a couple of hours away from the Canyonlands/Arches area and give you maximum time there, although if you wanted to stay in Bryce longer you could stop in Torrey.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia


    Is there any way you can get another couple of days for your trip. The places you want to go to are magnificent. The highway out through Green River is quite scenic and Arches is a full day. I was in Arches early in day and left late afternoon due to bad weather. Next day after being at Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point, we returned to Arches and still didnt get to see everything. Bryce Canyon is magnificent as well. Ive been there twice and there is more i want to do there. Whatever you decide to do, you are in for a great time. Take your time and soak it up.

  10. #10


    All those places are beautiful. I'd have to say if it was me I would spend more time in Zion and walk the narrows, even if you can just do part of the narrows you should do it. Id also try getting some more time at Arches, that places is beautiful and some of the hikes have amazing views. Canyonlands and Bryce are also beautiful, you'll love the hoodoos. If I had to say what was my least favorite area Id say Capital Reef. LIke some of the previous posts say take your time and soak as much up as you can. Out of all the places I have been in the U.S. the southern Utah National parks might be my favorite places. Very under rated area in my opinion. You will have fun! Good luck.


Similar Threads

  1. Utah's 5 Southern National Parks (& Utah in general)
    By tennisNJ in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 01-04-2013, 10:47 AM
  2. Utah National Parks
    By Jim72150 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 10-11-2012, 09:26 AM
  3. Utah National Parks
    By mrhind in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 06-10-2008, 10:09 AM
  4. Utah National Parks
    By Lisa&Jethro in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 01-17-2008, 05:30 AM
  5. Vegas to the National Parks in Utah
    By jw133 in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-30-2006, 11:57 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name