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  1. Default May - capital reef, Bryce, zion, Grand Canyon

    We have a trip planned for May 3-24th to visit capital reef, Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon. We will be camping most of the nights on our trip and have 4 young kiddos. We are experienced campers and camp often with our family, but looking for some suggestions on logistics and tips on things to do. Our main goal is to have downtime with the family for three weeks, so we want to have enough days/nights at a location to not feel rushed.


    A couple questions:

    - how many nights would you recommend in each park? Was thinking we would spend the longest time in Grand Canyon and maybe 2-4 nights at the others. Any suggestions? Would you stretch out the nights at the parks differently or have other suggestions on places to go.

    Here is what we were thinking, but would appreciate suggestions:
    May 3 - travel
    May 4 - stay in green river state park
    May 5 - 8- capital reef
    May 8 - 11- Bryce
    May 11 - 14- Zion
    May 14 - 21 - Grand Canyon
    May 21 - travel to Albuquerque
    May 21-23 - stay in a hotel in Albuquerque
    May 23-24- travel home to Kansas City

    - tips on good sites at all the parks for tent camping...that is a little more secluded, but not hiking in?

    - what is the weather like this time of year? From our research it seems to be fairly nice.

    - any good tips for fun things to do in the parks, short hikes with kids, etc?

    - good hotel to stay at in Albuquerque with a pool?

    Thanks in advance!

    Shawna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default Time for a couple more. [?]

    Hello and welcome back to RTA !

    Have you considered Arches NP on the way to Capitol Reef ? Canyonlands is also nearby. I certainly think you could spare a night from Capitol Reef, Bryce and one or two from the Grand canyon to incorporate them in your trip, but there is absolutely nothing wrong in spending more time in the parks chosen if that's what suits your style of travel.

    As for campgrounds and park info, you really are better off looking through the National parks website [nps.gov] for info on each one. If there is a specific question we can help you with then we will only be too pleased to answer. The campgrounds are usually in wonderful surroundings and although popular still have a nice relaxed feel to them. In May it might not be to busy but I would personally book in advance to make sure you secure a site, especially with young children. When in the parks the Rangers are only to pleased to tell you about their favourite spots in the park and advise on the best hikes to suit your family. The Kiddos can also join the Junior Ranger program if they are in that age group and gain their Junior Ranger badges, it's fun and educational.

    The weather is totally unpredictable, but May can be a nice month. You should still pack some layered clothing as nights at Bryce can still get quite chilly due to the elevation.

    One last thing, you might want to purchase the NP annual pass for $80 as it would be around the same cost as paying for the ones you are visiting [check entry fees to be sure] and if you visit any others this trip, or in the next year, it won't cost you a dime.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Where are you planning to stay on the first night? My suggestion would be to find a motel, as there aren't a whole lot of camping places for tents near I-70 in western Kansas or eastern Colorado. There USED to be a state park called Bonny Lake in CO, but I understand the lake has been drained and the park closed. Burlington or Limon, CO would be great for the first day (440 or 510 miles). Burlington has Chaparral Inn, which is fairly inexpensive and has a few rooms that are "adjoining", if they won't let you park all 4 kids in the same room with you. There is also a barbecue grill and a GREAT pool outside, assuming they have it open by early May.

    In Albuquerque, one place that the kids might enjoy is Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, and it's only a couple of dollars for parking. There are opportunities to hike along the river, there's a nice (and cool) visitor center as well. Petroglyph National Monument would also be pretty interesting to most kids. (They don't charge for entrance, don't take the $80 pass, but they only charge $1 for parking at Boca Canyon Parking Area.) There are also plenty of hiking trails in the Cibola National Forest -- Sandia District.

    I hope you're leaving the full 2 days to drive home? Meade State Park in KS might be a nice stop overnight, complete with a campground. (It's just south of Meade KS, which is on US-54 (if you use US-54 from Tucumcari up to I-35). Otherwise, Liberal has a lot of choices for motels.


    Donna

  4. Default

    Thanks Dave!

    We have been to arches and canyonlands already. They are both great parks and we had a great time and in Moab. However, we probably won't be going there this time around.

    I will check out the np website some more. Just looking for specific site #'s or campgrounds that are good for tents. Sometimes it is so hard to tell what would be a good site on their website. Good idea to try and reserve ahead of time.

  5. Default

    Thanks Donna!

    Those are all great suggestions. Our normal stop is in Burlington, but we haven't found a hotel that we really like...as far as a decent price sense we really are just staying there to get back on the road the next morning. We will look into Chaparrel Inn.

    All those places around Alburquerque sound great!

    We have learned that we can't really spend more than 6 hours in the car... 7 max...with the kids and all arrive still sane. :) We will be taking a couple days to get back home and have a cushion of an extra day should we need it.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,546

    Default

    We've been staying at Chaparral every time we go through Burlington, since 1993. We've tried some of the others and won't go back to any of them. It's a little dated, but it's always clean and it's AAA rated. Arby's and Pizza Hut are right across the street, and I believe Denny's just moved in next door. There's a fancier place down the street -- tried it once (because it had been our wedding anniversary) and we weren't impressed.

    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default

    For Zion NP the 'Watchman' campground is in a good location near the park entrance and close to the lovely town of Springdale which also has a small petting zoo for the Kids and at the Grand canyon, Mather campground is just a wooded walk away from the village and rim walks. Both are close to the free shuttle bus services. Bryce canyon has a campground [although I can't remember the name] but a good alternative is Rubys Inn just outside the entrance to the park. Again it is close to the shuttle bus service and next door to shops and services with a small lake and Bryce old town nearby.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    Default

    Bryce has two campgrounds, North and Sunset. Both evidently have tent sites available, $15 night. Sunset is evidently undergoing some construction of restroom facilities, so perhaps North would be a better choice.


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Bryce camping.

    Not sure how well the campgrounds in Bryce are managed. When I was there last summer (it was busy), I was told to just go in and look for an unattended site, and take that. In the end I chose not to stay in Bryce, choosing Kodakchrome instead (but that would not suit you).

    Lifey

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