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Old 08-10-2007, 01:42 PM   #1
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We are from Texas and will be in Santa Fe, NM. My original plan was to go from there to Mesa Verde NP, then through Monument Valley and on to Virgin, Utah on Hwy. 9. I have just been informed that you can't...or shouldn't go in to Zion from the east. We will be towing our large 5th wheels. Have any of you ever done this? How hard of a drive is it, and what about an escort to get you through the tunnel?

I really want to see Monument Valley, but now we are thinking of just heading out west on I 40 to Las Vegas, which we had planned on doing anyway, and then looping back to Virgin, Utah coming in from the west.

Any suggestions from you experienced ones will be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Boomer
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:42 PM   #2
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We are from Texas and will be in Santa Fe, NM. My original plan was to go from there to Mesa Verde NP, then through Monument Valley and on to Virgin, Utah on Hwy. 9. I have just been informed that you can't...or shouldn't go in to Zion from the east. We will be towing our large 5th wheels. Have any of you ever done this? How hard of a drive is it, and what about an escort to get you through the tunnel?

I really want to see Monument Valley, but now we are thinking of just heading out west on I 40 to Las Vegas, which we had planned on doing anyway, and then looping back to Virgin, Utah coming in from the west.

Any suggestions from you experienced ones will be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Boomer
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Old 08-10-2007, 06:53 PM   #3
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I NEED help! Please let me know what your expert thoughts are! Boomer
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:10 AM   #4
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carl1949, you CAN go through Zion on Route 9 with an RV, but you will have to pay the park entry fee (good for re-entry for 7 days) and pay an "escort" fee of $15 to go through the 1.1 mile-long Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel if you are over 7' 10" wide and/or over 11' 4" high. However, you must be less than 13' 1" high. Check out this link. They call it an escort fee, but they really just stop opposing traffic so you can drive down the middle of the tunnel where it is taller. The fee is good for 2 trips within 7 days. In addition to the tunnel, there are also a few switch-backs and tight turns along the way; but we saw several large, diesel motor homes and a couple of 5th wheels that had gone through or that were waiting to go through when we were there this July.

We chose not to go through the park with our RV and stayed in Glendale, UT because we also wanted to see Bryce, Cedar Breaks, and Escalante Grand Staircase. Glendale is kind of in the middle of all of these parks.

We were traveling from west to east instead of east to west as you will be doing; but we came up I-15, across UT Rt. 59/AZ Rt. 389, and through Kanab. After seeing the area parks, we continued east through Page and through Monument Valley with a stop along the way at the North Rim.

The only other alternative is the northern route up I-15 and across I-70. This is quite far out of the way. The southern route is a little out of the way, but very scenic.

If you're trying to make time, I would recommend the direct route through the park as long as you are comfortable in being able to control your RV and keep it in the center of the tunnel and maneuver the turns. If possible, hit the tunnel as early as possible in the morning to avoid traffic delays. If you are uncomfortable with the tunnel or the turns or if you are staying in the area anyway and you're not in a big hurry, then I recommend the southern route.
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Old 08-11-2007, 04:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for your reply! That was VERY informative and helpful.

Where did you stay in Glendale?
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Old 08-11-2007, 04:55 AM   #6
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One more issue is length.

No vehicles over 40' are allowed in Zion National Park and that includes the eastern approach to the Mount Carmel tunnel. Fortunately, the border town of Springdale is not within the park boundary but you must approach it from the west to get there.

We approached from the east with our 40' Allegro Bus in '06. Once we entered the park we had to unhook the Jeep from the coach and Leann had to follow behind while I drove the Bus through to Springdale, where we camped. Another RVer had a 35' coach with a car on a tow dolly. He had to unload the car from the dolly and then (because the dolly and RV were still over 40') the car had to tow the empty tow dolly.

Now that we have a 42' Allegro Bus that route is no longer available for us. That's too bad because it was fun going through the 1.1 mile long Mt. Carmel tunnel. It's curved at the top so the ranger just said "Go right down the middle like you own it. Don't approach the sides".

Next time we'd take US-89 north from Mt. Carmel Junction and head west over hwy 14, passing Cedar Breaks on the way to Cedar City and then Hurricane. That'll hook you around Zion from the north and still let you see Monument Valley.

Kanab is also a good choice. You could stay at the Kanab RV Corral, which is an excellent park, and day trip it to Zion via the tunnel and leave the 5er behind. It's also a great base camp for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is whole different world compared to the south rim.
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:53 AM   #7
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What is great about this area of the county is that each route has it own set of scenic features to enjoy. From Page or Kanab you could go to Fredonia and take 389 thru Colorado City and Hurricane, then East to Virgin. We enjoy the Alt 89 route (more trees) and sometimes take a day and go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you do go that way, Pipe Springs National Monument is worth an hour or two of your time. In October the Dutch Oven demos will still be going, so maybe you could be there at lunch time. The north route to Mt Carmel is all pink cliffs and flatland. Very nice and if you like tourist traps, the location sets for many old westerns are too be seen. Stop at the Visitor's Center in Kanab for a nice summary of local features. Also on 89 between Kanab and Page is the Grand Staircase National Monument Visitor's Center. Most people do not know that this area contains the richest deposit of dinosaur fossils, yet discover, in the world. If that has interest to you, this stop is a must.

You will have no trouble with the tunnel and switch backs as long as you stay alert to the road. Zion is quite spectacular, but have both pilot and co-pilot watch the road. See the sights from the car later. Most problems are from cutting the corners too close and hitting the rocks. Everyone drives slow in this part of the park so traffic is not a concern.

You said that you were going to Virgin, so assume you will be staying at Zion River Resort. One of the best parks in the US! They did suffer some damage from the flash floods here in Utah two weeks ago and they would have called you if there were any problems with your reservation. But suggest you check with them anyway.

You are in for a treat of a lifetime!!!!
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