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  1. Default Last minute questions before western parks trip

    We're leaving in a couple days and reviewing our plans has brought up a few last minute questions -- I thought I posted the one about Zion a couple days ago, but I can't find it, so I guess I didn't. If that portion's a repeat, I apologize.

    1. We're going to enter Zion NP through the main entrance (via Springdale). I understand we cannot drive our car into the park. Is it better to park in the town or the visitor's center inside the park? Are the shuttles efficient?

    When we leave, my computer program says we should drive through the park and leave via the East Entrance. I know, of course, that this is impossible. Do we have any option other than backtracking all the way to the town of Hurricane?

    2. Since we're going to Zion and it has such a varied geography, is it worthwhile to ALSO see Antelope Canyon a few days later? Of course, the obvious question is, "What's the trade off?" That is, if we skip Antelope Canyon, what do we gain? The answer is just more time to relax that evening.

    3. Since we're going to Zion, is it worthwhile to ALSO see Arches National Park a few days later? In this case, the trade off would be getting to Denver earlier and being able to see The Rouge play at Red Rocks -- yes, we have teenagers, and this would be a great surprise for them.

    4. I'm particularly excited about seeing Mesa Verde National Park. Would it be worthwhile to do BOTH the Balcony House tour AND the Cliff Palace tours, or would that be repetative?

    5. One of the things the kids picked for the trip is a water park. We plan to stop at either Raging Waters or Seven Peaks, both in Utah. Any hints on finding discount coupons on the road? I ask because around here it's very easy to find discount tickets for Emerald Pointe, so I assume all water parks offer mid-week discounts.

    6. What's the weather like this year in the west? We're having a particularly rainy late spring/early summer here in the Carolinas. Since we've had a serious drought for the last two years, we're very happy about this, but it does mean we're inundated (more than usual) with mosquitos.

    THANKS for any help you can provide!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    1 and 2: You are misinformed - the only road in the park that's closed to private vehicles in the summer is the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and they have shuttle buses for that. Highway 9 is open through the park and out the east entrance. However, parking inside the park is limited.

  3. Default

    Just got home from the area.

    Zion is open to cars for the opening area (Visitor's Center, Human Museum & the Campgrounds), and Highway 9 (which is the trip through the east part of the park) which includes the Mile long tunnel built in 1930 which makes that possible. As a note, if you have an RV or trailer, there will be an added fee to pass through the tunnel. What is closed is the road up through the heart of the canyon, which included the area of the lodge.

    The parking lot fills quickly in the summer (usually by 10 am), so parking in Springdale is a decent idea. Zion's shuttle system is outstanding, as they run every 6-8 minutes for most of the day.

    As for Antelope and Arches, my vote is do them if you want, as they definitely have enough to recommend them on their own merits to not feel like it was a repeat performance.

  4. Default

    Okay, upon looking at the map again, I see exactly what y'all mean. I looked it over briefly and assumed that it was all one road -- now I know better, and that's certainly more convenient than being forced to backtrack to Hurricane (wonder how that town got its name; it couldn't possibly have been the victim of a hurricane?).

    No, we're not driving an RV -- just a plain old rental car. No worries about the tunnel, but thanks for the heads-up.

    We're keeping Arches and Antelope. The "not a repeat performance" was what I wanted to know.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Yeah, it's a state highway

    Being a state highway, the Feds (National Park Service) can't close it, even if they wanted to...


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

    Default Bryce ?

    I would see as many of the parks as you can without knocking yourselves out, they are so diverse and each and everyone is special in it's own right ! As you exit Zion up the Mount carmel highway it is spectacular as you drive across chekaboard mesa etc. Is Bryce canyon on your itinerary? It's another spectacular place with fascinating rock formations and views. If you are on route you will drive through Red rock state park where you can park by the side of the road and wander around the formations by the road side, it's a great 30 min break just to stretch the legs.

  7. #7

    Default hope to help!

    hello, my boyfriend and i did a similar trip last summer.
    1. the shuttle system is wonderful and you'll be able to get around easily. we brought our car into the park and parked it at the campsite. it can be tough to find parking at the visitors center...

    2. YES! definitely try to make it to Antelope slot will not be disappointed! it is unlike anything i've ever seen :)

    3. arches is also spectacular. however, we were there around this time last year and it get brutally hot during the day. we found ourselves getting up before sunrise to do hikes. *TIP if you go to arches, check out canyonlands too! mesa arch is an unforgettable sunrise...but you don't have to do everything in one trip and your kids will probably love the concert (i hear red rocks is really nice)

    4. we did both balcony house and cliff palace. what was unique to balcony house is that you are able to go inside some of the structure (and climb a big, scary ladder - if you're afraid of heights, like me). but, i'm glad we did both. *TIP just be sure to get your tickets early, we wanted to do more, but other tours were sold out...also, check out spruce tree house. it's right behind the museum and you can go down inside a kiva...very cool

    6. weather is hot. temps in arches and zion reach 100 degrees so try to get your hiking done early! oh, and definitely do the narrows hike in zion. i'm sure you've heard of it, but it can't be missed and it's refreshing :)

    although we went in the summer last year and it was a little hotter than we anticipated, i had the time of my life! i am so excited for you and your family bc you're headed to some of the most beautiful places in the world...have fun!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default great info

    Welcome to the RTA Forum, Las!

    Its always nice when we get a new member passing along helpful information, and your tips are quite good. We appreciated it!

  9. Default

    Great tips! Thanks!

    Today I bought a new camera, paid all the bills, double-checked our travel arrangements. We have suitcases laid out, and we're off in a couple days -- we can't wait!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Get to know your new camera

    Make sure you're comfortable with at least the basic operations and behaviors of your camera before you go. This is more critical the more complex your camera is.

    I took my first digital camera (SLR) on a vacation without getting fully up to speed. Got some nice shots, but in retrospect if I'd taken the time to learn the camera better they would have been much nicer.

    If you haven't already, take some pictures in different conditions and have prints made (wherever you have prints made, if you do prints).

    If the kids are old enough for this activity, and you have the time, one way to get them some water time is to wade part of the Narrows of the Virgin River at the head of Zion Canyon.

    See this string for more info on that option:

    You're going to some of my favorite places. Have a great trip!

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