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  1. Default CSprings to Utah Mighty 5 in February

    Fiancee and I have decided to do an 11 day trip in a camper van this coming February. Long story short we're flying into Denver and back out of Vegas with a stop in between to get married in Colorado Springs. I'm a photographer & she's never been out west so I'm trying to give her the "grand exposure" experience to as much of the landscape as possible in the time we have. It's going to be a bit tight but we're going to make it work.

    The only stretch I'm unsure about is the first day, from Colorado Springs to Moab. Planning to leave early 6am or so and take the south route through Gunnison & Grand Junction, then down SR 128 into Moab in time to do a sunset hike at Arches. I figure it'll take us 10 hours or so with the occasional roadside stop for some photos. For the most part though I don't plan to make any extended stops along this leg as I want to maximize the time we have at the parks. I just don't know if there's anything can't miss between CSprings and Moab that warrants spending a few hours?

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,399

    Default Congratulations !

    Hello, congratulations and welcome !

    It's going to be a bit 'fresh' in the Rockies that time of year so make sure you have good sleeping bags and extra blankets ! Also note that camper vans are quite rare and an RV is more the 'normal' but they can work out more expensive than a car and Motels which might be cosier at that time of year. There are always plenty of options between destinations, especially in Colorado and Utah, but going via Gunnison the drive itself is pretty great as you make your way over Monarch pass and through Currecanti Nat rec area. Two stops that could be made are at Black canyon and the Colorado National monument but with shorter daylight areas and possible weather disruption, it's worth reconsidering this leg and breaking the journey up with an overnight stop, or certainly have it as a back up option in case of a storm. Don't forgert sunset is likely to be around 6pm.

  3. Default

    Hey Dave, thanks for the welcome and details!

    We're specifically looking to go the adventure route and eschew more formal accommodations for this one, hence the campervan (we reserved an upper tier option with heating and will have all appropriate cold-weather gear). That's going to afford us (me) more opportunities to overnight closer to the things we most want to see and do some astro/sunrise photography.

    I'm really hoping to make it to Arches the same day we leave CSprings, just wanted to make sure we weren't going to be zooming past something that we definitely shouldn't miss. The general itinerary will look like:

    1 - CSprings (sunrise) to Arches (sunset)
    2 - Canyonlands (sunrise) to Goblin Valley/Little Wild Horse/Capitol Reef (sunset)
    3 - Capitol Reef (sunrise) to Bryce (day/sunset)
    4 - Bryce (sunrise) to Horshoe Bend/Navajo Bridge/GC North Rim (sunset)
    5 - GC North Rim (sunrise) to Zion (sunset)
    6 - Zion (sunrise to sunset)
    7 - Zion to Vegas

    If we had slightly more time I'd focus more on lingering/hiking but since we don't we've decided to make this more of a cover as much distance as we can, see as much variety as possible and focus on scenic drives + shorter hikes.

    We've got a couple of days at the end of the trip in Vegas that we've backloaded as disposable in the event we get hung up somewhere along the way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,781

    Default

    The North Rim is closed in February.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,260

    Default

    GLC is correct, North Rim won't open until May.

    The other thing that crosses my mind -- camper vans and RV's aren't really well-insulated for a trip of this type. Also, you may find that a lot of the campgrounds are closed in February, and if any are open, they will not have water. If you are in a rental rig with a water hookup, they may tell you that it's been winterized and if you use the system, you'll pay for it to be re-winterized ($$). So when you are chatting with the rental company, ASK about that.

    My husband and I used to have an RV. The only place we used it between November and March was out on the desert. Even there, it snowed on us once in APRIL, on Easter Sunday morning as a matter of fact!


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,399

    Default

    If you didn't want to drop Zion from your itinerary you would head to Zion from Bryce and then head through Page AZ for the South rim.

  7. Default

    Wow thanks for the intel on the North Rim. I was under the impression that it was just the facilities that were unavailable during the winter, didn't realize that access was actually closed to vehicles.

    So seems like in that case we'd shakeup the route and do something like:

    4 - Bryce (sunrise) to Zion (sunset)
    5 - Zion (sunrise) to (sunset)
    6 - Zion (sunrise) to Horshoe Bend/Navajo Bridge/GC South Rim (sunset)
    7 - GC South Rim to Vegas

    The other thing that crosses my mind -- camper vans and RV's aren't really well-insulated for a trip of this type. Also, you may find that a lot of the campgrounds are closed in February, and if any are open, they will not have water. If you are in a rental rig with a water hookup, they may tell you that it's been winterized and if you use the system, you'll pay for it to be re-winterized ($$). So when you are chatting with the rental company, ASK about that.
    I've already plotted out 2-3 RV parks and campgrounds per each of our planned overnight destinations that are confirmed to be open in February, as well as alternates along the way. I've got that all sync'd up across devices on custom maps also marked with BLM camping locations so I'm feeling pretty good about having a place to stay with hot showers as necessary. I've also earmarked numerous hotel options in the event we have a wet day.

    The water tank situation and insulation/heating is already sorted out!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,593

    Default

    Keep in mind, a "wet day" is probably going to be a snow day, which will almost certainly keep you from keeping to this pretty optimistic pace, where you've got plans from sunrise to sunset pretty much every day.

    Even if the roads are passable, a big, rear-wheel drive, campervan is one of the most challenging vehicles to drive in slick conditions.

    Your first day seems the most problematic in that regard. You are right that Colorado Springs to Moab via Gunnison is probably about 10 hours, in good conditions. However, the odds of seeing at least some snow that will slow you down is quite high as you cross the Rockies. Then keep in mind, its about 45 minutes from Moab to drive back into Arches. All told, you could very easily be looking at more like 12 hours - which wouldn't be too much of a problem, except that you've only got about 10 hours of daylight in February. Even in a best case, you're going to get to Arches just barely in enough time to see the sunset, which means you basically don't have any time to see the park, since you hope to be moved onto Canyonlands by dawn the next day.

    You might be able to pull everything off that you've listed, if things go close to perfect, however, Considering the challenges and likelihood of delays while traveling in Winter, personally, I'd be scaling things back so you can actually see the places you're trying to drive between.

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