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  1. Default March roadtrip Vegas to National Parks in Utah

    I'm planning a spring break roadtrip through the national parks of southern Utah that starts and ends in Las Vegas. Will fly to and out of Vegas.

    The parks I'm interested in visiting are Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches.

    Here is the rough itinerary:
    Day 1: Fly to Vegas. Spend the night in Vegas.
    Day 2: Vegas all the way to Moab (get to the farthest destination first), Arches National Park
    Day 3: Arches to Canyonlands
    Day 4: Canyonlands to Capitol Reef
    Day 5: Capitol Reef to Bryce
    Day 6: Bryce to Zion. Spend the night in St. George
    Day 7: St. George to Vegas. Fly out (or maybe stay in Vegas for one more night)

    My questions:
    1. Is this schedule quite tight? Is there enough time to explore these parks? I don't intend to see everything. I do, however, like to visit famous vistas and major sites and do a bit of hiking (less than an hour each day).
    2. Would the roads in these parks be closed due to snow? Is March too early?
    3. Am I missing any significant landmark or points along the way? Is the Four Corners area too far to get to on this trip?

    Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Utah's Parks in a Week

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your itinerary is fairly ambitious, but if all you want to do is to have a quick visit to each park, hit the Visitor Center to get some info on the best short hikes, and then do a couple of miles in a given park - then this is quite doable. Each of the parks on your list actually lends itself to that sort of visit. Yes, you can do more in each of them, but you shouldn't feel rushed or as though you're short-changing yourself.

    I would plan on spending a couple of nights in Moab and doing both Arches and Canyonlands (Island in the Sky district) from there. Arches is open year round. The Island in the Sky Visitor Center is scheduled to re-open on March 4th. Leaving from a Moab base also makes sense for getting to Capitol Reef since one of the few roads between Canyonlands and Capitol Reef requires that you head back up to I-70 west to UT-24 and on into the park. The park and visitors center are open year round, but the Ripple Rock Nature Center doesn't open until Memorial Day. Both Bryce Canyon and Zion are also open year round but will have reduced services. For example, the main road in Bryce may occasionally by temporarily closed for snow removal, and in Zion the Nature Center will be closed and Shuttle Busses will not be operating. This is actually to your advantage as it means that you can drive your own auto into Zion Canyon, not possible in the summer, and you will generally have the parks much more to yourself than during the warmer summer months.

    I think you have enough in hand without trying to add the Four Corners area. I think that once you get into the parks, you'll find that you want to spend much more than a few hours. The hikes won't seem nearly as long since there will be great scenery around each new bend, and there's nothing that says you have to hike at anything more than an ambling pace. If you do end up with a spare day or two at the end of the trip, then Cedar Breaks National Monument and St. George UT are two places worth spending some time.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The road into Cedar Breaks won't be open in March. You would have to ski or snowshoe in.

    If you really sharpen your pencil and check travel times very carefully, I think you might be able to do the following "loop" in a week:

    LV-Zion-Bryce-Capitol Reef-Moab-Monument Valley-LV

    This would eliminate any backtracking. However, you would essentially constantly be on the move.

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

    Default National park annual pass.

    Yes, your schedule is quite tight and you will have to keep on the go to get the best out of it, but that's not so difficult in such a beautiful part of the world !

    Personally speaking I think the later in March you go the better, or into April if that's an option.

    Four Corners would be a bit too much imo. If you don't mind an early start from Vegas and a long day on the road you could head direct to Moab via Monument Valley by first heading south and east along I40 to Flagstaff. If you were to do this then try and stay south of the airport, or if you land early enough and it's not an International flight head straight out of Vegas, to Kingman perhaps. Your itinerary suggests you might have another night available, if so you could visit the South rim of the Grand canyon.

    You will use most of day 3 looking around Arches NP but should have time to head to Grandview point and walk to the edge of the Mesa in Canyonlands during the following morning and then head to Capitol Reef. On the way to Grandview point you have 2 nice stops that don't use up a lot of time, Shafer Trail viewpoint and Mesa Arch with a lovely view of the Washer woman rock through the arch. You will find lodgings in Torrey near Capitol Reef or there is the Best Western Capitol Reef Inn slightly nearer. We enjoyed our stay there but it's a little pricey.

    Bryce can be a quick visit [half day] as the best of the views can be seen from the overlooks and there is an easy rim walk near Sunrise/Sunset point and to Bryce Ampitheatre. The quickest way is to drive to the furthest viewpoint first and then stop on the way back up the canyon, this wil put all the viewpoints on your side of the road. Make sure you pack layered warm clothing as it can be bitterly cold at this elevation.

    I would not spend the night in St George if possible. Zion is a wonderful park with many great hikes and you will want to maximise your time here. The wonderful town of Springdale is right by the entrance and will give you the chance to stay in the park until sunset and possibly re-visit in the morning dpending on your flight home.

    With the number of parks you are visiting it will be worth getting a National parks annual pass for $80. It'll probably be cheaper than individual fees and will be valid for any future trips within a year of the purchase.

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