We are planning a grand tour of the southern Utah and northern Arizona parks this fall (either late Sept or early Oct). Any recommendations on things to see, places to stay, good food, etc? We haven't decided if we want to bring all of the camping gear with us or stay in motels. Photographing interesting natural or historic features will be the focus of the trip. DH's leg should be healed enough for easy to moderate hikes by then.
Must see places in S Utah / N Arizona?
I'd recommend Bryce Canyon in Utah... absolutely gorgeous.
Check all of the national parks web sites. Many of them close some of their campgrounds the first of October. I stayed in Zion the last week of September before they closed some of the campgrounds and it was heavenly. Only three people in the campground! The North Rim of the Grand canyon does close in October.
I would recomend a loop trip from Vegas through Zion, Bryce, North Rim-Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Navajo Reservation Flagsaff, South Rim- Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and back home to Carson City.
The whole area has been a pleasant experience throughout my life. Last week of September and the first week of October should have the Cottonwoods in a blaze of yellow/orange glory.
Have a wonderful time!
I like Bryce and Zion too - moreso than the Grand Canyon. The grand canyon is so big you can't take it in.
Flagstaff is a college town (where one of my brothers went to school). It has some fun places for beer, coffee and o.k. food. Maybe even some music. It is kind of a cultural mecca for the area, believe it or not! In our experience, the motels are not great and especially don't stay in the motel 6. We did once and there was such a big open crack on the door frame that we nearly froze to death, the wind was whistling through and we ended up sticking a bath towel in it so we could sleep! But, it is a good travel stop town and we've been there many times. The surrounding area is beautiful.
I don't know a specific must see place, Katlian, but just chiming in to say the one road trip I took thru S Utah, in the 70s, was so stunningly beautiful I have no words........ we happened upon an archeological site that was just in process of being worked with, somehow no one was there, we were able to explore around a bit, there were just some signs sort of asking people to be respectful and not take stuff, it was not at all "improved" but I remember well how powerful the experience was........ tho not much detail about it, it was just some really ancient Am Indian village site....... truly had just been found.....
There was nothing there that was not beautiful to me.
Enjoy and take pictures. ;-)
Mesa Verde National Park is in SW Colorado but well worth the trip -- there are several beautiful sites and most have short walking tours. Near Flagstaff are Wupatki and Walnut Canyon Indian ruins. I especially like Walnut Canyon. I love Zion, it is beautiful beyond belief. I was disappointed in Bryce, though, because when I went all parking lots were crammed with huge motorhomes, more lined up to get in, too, and there was NO place to park at any of the viewing sites. I just turned around and left, wasting the entrance fee I had paid for me and my dog. How far into Arizona are you going? Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "Shay") is wonderful and you will find many "photo ops". South of Flagstaff on I-17 is one of the most beatiful cliff dwellings extant, called Montezuma's Castle, and it is right off the highway so very easy to get to. Probably one of the most photographed sites in Arizona, too. When I was a child you could still go up there, via scary tall green ladders, but they stopped letting people do that in about 1950 or so. My family went up then, with my Dad carrying my baby brother. It is still worth going to, though, and when you gaze up to the top the sky looks deep purple. Have fun!
Thanks for the tips everyone! I think we will make a big loop but I'm not sure just how far south we will go. Hopefully there will be fewer people when we go since school wll be in session. I checked the park websites and most places we want to go are open year-round with some offering fewer services after oct 1. It seems like there is just so much to see and not enough time. I think we will skip the really remote stuff like the Maze section of Canyonlands since it will take so long to get there and back to the rest of the park. I have to remember that we can't see it all on this trip but we can always come back.
Whenever we take a trip there is always more than I can see on one vacation. Death Valley was like that for us. I got tired of driving so much there so we mostly concentrated on a small area. I think our next camping trip is going to be in Utah. So, I'll be especially interested to see your pictures and hear about the trip. Mesa Verde is really worth seeing, by the way.
Katlian, if you are going to Mesa Verde National Park, we (and our little RV Park) are about 20 minutes away from it... we'd love to get to meet you!
I don't know if this is in southern Utah and it is probably not a "must-see" either, LOL! but I thought it was worth sharing:
It IS in Utah.......
Interesting guy, Kyla. I wonder if he is living on National Park or National Forest or BLM land. Probably one of those. We had a guy doing the same thing in Los Alamos canyon and he even had a job at the local music store. He lived there for years on Department of Energy land until the guards saw the smoke from his iron stove coming out one winter day. Then he was busted and very sad. He loved his cave life.
I still see him around. He has been forced to live in a house now and seems to have a job, though I don't know where -- the music store where he worked has gone out of business.
I can see how this life style could be appealing.
A great place to see in Arizona is Canyon De Chelly ( pronounced Canyon Du shay for unknown reasons). It is cliff dwellings that are so beautiful and remote that one wonders if they aren't just painted in the cliff. It is in the middle of the Navajo Reservation and might be a little tough for you to get to, but it is well worth seeing. Of course, the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde are also wonderful. And if you just creep over into New Mexico you can go to Chaco Canyon which is also fascinating. Ruins are us in the Southwest!