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  1. Default Southwest Utah in May - Routes

    I'm planning a short road trip in southwest Utah mid-May. Basically, i'll be starting out at Phoenix, driving to Monument Valley & on to Bryce Canyon & Zion, before heading to Las Vegas. As my time is limited, i'd really appreciate any advice you might have, especially on the drive from MV to Bryce. My suggested itinerary is below, any advice on if my driving times are about right would be a real help too!...

    15th May - Arrive Phoenix at 10am, drive to MV (6 hrs?) Overnight in Bryce.
    16th May - Depart MV approx 1pm, drive to Bryce (5 hrs via Page / 7.5 hrs via Mexican Hat/Hanksville/Escalante?) Overnight in Bryce
    17th May - Day in Bryce, overnight in Bryce
    18th May - Drive to Zion (2 hrs?) Overnight in Zion
    19th May - Drive to Las Vegas (3 hrs?)

    I've been told the route MV to Bryce that goes via Mexican Hat / Goosenecks / Hanksville / Capitol Reef / Escalante is a far more scenic drive than via Page - would you tend to agree that it's worth the extra drive time to go that route? Would it be better to stay overnight en route to Bryce rather than trying to do the whole trip in one day? If so any particular recommended areas for this? I'm worried about not having enough time in Bryce...
    Also - we're thinking of hiring a convertable for this trip - do you think that would be suitable for all the roads (including the 17mile loop around MV)?

    Also, people have suggested the Grand Canyon, but i've visited there in the past

    Any advice at all i'd really appreciate!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's All Good

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I don't think you can really make a bad choice on routing for this trip. The area you'll be driving through is spectacular no matter which route you take, so I'll just offer my take on it. If you're arriving by plane in Phoenix at 10:00 AM, then I don't think that you can make it to Monument Valley before sunset. It will take a couple of hours or so to retrieve your bags, get the rental car, clear the Phoenix metro area and have lunch. Then you're looking at another 6 hours or so to make it to Kayenta or Medicine Hat. So what I'd suggest is that you just take it easy that first day, take the drive up Oak Creek Canyon on AZ-89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, and plan on stopping for the night in Kayenta which has a few accomodation choices. If you're early, once you've gotten a room you can make a quick drive up to Monument Valley at sunset and retrace your steps to Kayenta. Then, either way. start off dark and early the next morning and enjoy Monument Valley at sunrise.

    Now, while the drive from Medicine Hat through Page and the Grand Staircase is very scenic, with great vistas, I think that you'll have seen quite a lot of that sort of thing already with your drive so far, so for something a little bit different, I'd suggest that you use some state routes through several scenic areas to Bryce. You'd start out on UT-261 north from Medicine Hat to Natural Bridges National Monument, then head norhtwest on UT-95 to Hanksville, UT-24 west through Capitol Reef National Park, and finally UT-12 south and west to Bryce Canyon. From there, US-89 south and UT-14 past Cedar Breaks National Monument will bring you to I-15 south to Zion and Las Vegas. While you may not have time to visit and hike in every park along the way, you'll at least have a great drive and multiple opportunities for spending the time you do have well.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Note that if you take UT-261, you have to go up the Moki Dugway. I would recommend Buck's routing - the scenery is just spectacular. Inquire in Mexican Hat about the conditions on the Dugway before you go up it - if it's not good, you can go via Blanding instead. If it's dry and it's been graded anytime recently, it's no problem in a standard car, just take it REAL slow because it can be like a washboard. The view from up top is breathtaking.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the advice - can you give me an estimate of how long that routing would take from MV via Mexican Hat / Hanksville etc to Bryce Canyon? (Not including stops & then i can add that on myself...)
    I had a look at the MokiDugway - looks TERRIFYING! Is it as scary as it looks? If i couldn't use that route due to weather (or fear!), how much longer would it take going via Blanding?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Mexican Hat to Bryce is 300 miles by that routing - I'd plan on 8 hours. Going via Blanding adds 40 miles - that's less than an hour, you can do 65 along most of that routing.

    The Dugway is a lot less scary going up than going down. It's really not that bad - it's wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass and most of the hairpins are actually somewhat paved. There is a berm at the edge, the road doesn't just go off the cliff. If you search, there are quite a few YouTube videos that people have made with dash cameras going down the Dugway - including one by a guy on a motorcycle and another guy in a semi truck!

    EDIT: Here's 3 pics I took when I went down this February. Google Earth has fairly decent detail, it's around 37-16-30N 109-56-18W.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by glc; 04-19-2009 at 01:02 PM.

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

    Default Wonderful journey

    The Moki isn't to bad and we came down it in a 30ft RV so other than bad weather you will be fine if you take your time. [and you don't have a nervous disposition ;-)]

    It is indeed an incredible journey and you will want to spend time soaking it up so expect it to be a long day. Goosenecks is a short detour, very quiet and has great views but you won't need to spend a lot of time there. As glc said the view from the top of the Moki is rewarding so it's worth stopping in the pullout at the top and admiring it and pondering "how did we get up here" as it looks almost like a straight drop to the bottom.
    Hanksville has the Hollow Mountain gas station [where the shop is carved into the rock] and the old rock shop. Capitol reef is next and if you don't have time to drive through the park a stop by the apple orchards and a walk on the green is pleasant.
    If you get to Bryce the same day I would recommend staying one night and head to Zion later in the afternoon and have your two nights in Zion [Springdale]. Both are fantastic places but Bryce is quicker to see as it's mainly done from viewpoints close to the road and Zion has a lot more walking trials, such as the riverside walk, Weeping rock and Emerald pools. To see the views from Bryce, drive to the far end of the canyon first and then stop on the way back out. Every pull off will be on your side of the road and you won't have to keep pulling across traffic.
    Allow extra time for the relatively short journey between Bryce and Zion as it's worth making a couple of stops on the way at Red rock and Checkaboard Mesa.

    Have fun !

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