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  1. Default West National Parks trip thoughts?

    Hey everyone, first post here.

    My girlfriend and I are trying to plan a road trip out west to visit some of the national parks. We made a rough draft itinerary, and I was just looking for some input as to how feasible this would be. Neither of us have been out west so we're not really sure how to approach it.

    Here's the basic itinerary that we put together.

    Day 1: Fly into Las Vegas and spend the night
    Day 2: Drive to and visit the Grand Canyon
    Day 3: Grand Canyon all day
    Day 4: Drive to and visit Zion National Park
    Day 5. Spend day in Zion, drive to Bryce Canyon in the evening
    Day 6: Bryce Canyon
    Day 7: Drive to Arches in the AM , spend day there
    Day 8: Drive to and visit the Rocky Mountains
    Day 9: Rocky Mountains/ Denver
    Day 10: Fly home from Denver

    My hunch is that this all might be a little ambitious for a 10 day trip. We would like to try and see as much as we can while we're out there, but also would like to take enough time to enjoy each place and relax a bit. This seems like it would be a lot of ground to cover, and my concern is that it would get tiring with all the hiking and driving. Any input or different park recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I don't think your trip outline looks out of line. You might be getting a bit rushed on last couple of days, but nothing that couldn't be managed.

    Having said that 2 things that could be a concern:

    1 - You placed this in the spring section, when do you anticipate this trip taking place? Spring can come rather late to high elevation areas. If by Rocky Mountains you mean Rocky Mountain National Park, that's one area in particular that sees winter closures until nearly summer. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon could also still be closed, although the south rim is open year round.

    2 - Have you looked at the cost of doing a one way car rental from Vegas to Denver? That could be quite expensive, and it might be a lot cheaper to doop a loop starting and ending in Vegas. If you did that, you might do something like Vegas - Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Arches - Capitol Reef - Bryce - Zion - Vegas, leaving Colorado for another trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    What you might want to do to get between Bryce and Arches is take UT-12, it's a fantastic scenic drive. You may want to leave Bryce no later than 2pm and plan on a night in Torrey. The next day take a quick spin through Capitol Reef and head to Arches via UT-24, I-70, and US-191.

    Bryce can be seen in 4 hours if you don't want to hike, just drive down to the end and hit all the lookouts on the way back, they will all be on that side of the road.

    If you follow Michael's suggestion, just reverse my suggestion between Arches and Bryce.

    With all those parks, buy an $80 annual pass at the first park, it will pay for itself.

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

    Default A vote for the loop trip.

    When taking into consideration one way drop off fees on your car rental, possibly cheaper flights in and out of Vegas and the time of year you are travelling, I would agree that creating a loop trip may be your best bet. It would also be more relaxed by removing a visit to RMNP as you really haven't got a lot of time to visit Arches as it is with a 5 hour driving day on arrival and a 7-8 hour journey to RMNP (Estes park). If the Trail ridge road is still closed when you travel, Estes/Morraine is the area you need to be in. As above, UT12 and Capital Reef is a great drive with wonderful scenery and you may even be able to manage a quick visit to Grandview Point in Canyonlands NP and you would get to drive through Monument valley in a loop trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I'll second that!

    The loop outlined by Michael and voted up by Dave, is the best way to get the most out of the west, in your timeframe., as well as the cheapest. So much to see on just that loop, you will probably remember it as a sampler, and long to go back at the earliest opportunity. The drives, as well as the national parks are stunning - like nothing else on earth.


  6. Default

    Yup! Skip RMNP and focus on quality over quantity.

    Spend a day in Bryce and hike Sunset Point to Sunrise Point, or visa versa.

    If the river is low and there are no flash flood warnings, spend a full day in Zion and hike the NARROWS trail. It will be the highlight of your trip.

    For very unusual rock formations, consider Goblin Valley State Park. You've seen it if you watched Galaxy Quest!

  7. Default

    Thanks everyone for the input! Yes we were planning on doing this in the spring time (April or May), so very much appreciate the input on areas that may be closed. The suggested loop sounds awesome, and I agree that when we visit the Rocky Mountains someday I'd like to be able to spend ample time there.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-07-2017 at 01:27 AM. Reason: Remove quote of original post.

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


    If you have any questions with regards to the loop then let us know and we can help 'fine tune' the trip so you get the best from it.

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