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Old 05-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #1
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Time to see Arches & Canyonland NPs

We will be traveling across UT and are thinking about a quick visit to the Moab area to drive through Arches and Canyonland NPs before heading down to Mesa Verde NP. Unfortunately we can't do much more than drive through the parks with stops at some of the outlooks. These old bodies no longer do hikes or off roading! Just wondering how long the actual drives would take? Is it possible to drive through both parks in the same day. We would be in the area mid September so hopefully it wouldn't be too crowded. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-02-2021, 02:07 PM   #2
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Both parks have a lot of scenic areas that must be stopped at. The views are more than a few minutes worth of wonder. If you are just interested in the drive through both parks are doable in one day. However, you will miss a great experience by not stopping and taking it all in. JMHO.
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Old 05-02-2021, 04:21 PM   #3
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Do not miss Dead Horse State Park. You go right by it on the way to Canyonland. We do not hike either. We do go to the visitor centers and watch the movie.

We did Arches and drive along the river one day and Canyonland and Dead Horse the next.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Lakehouse 2 View Post
Is it possible to drive through both parks in the same day.
To answer your direct question, yes, you can drive both parks in a day. Canyonlands is much easier than Arches. If you could be at Arches early morning - 7 or 8am that would be best before the crowds arrive and yes, in Sept. there will be crowds. Parking is limited at the pull-outs, especially if you'll be attempting to drive it with the RV.

You didn't mention your schedule. Where would you be staying the previous night? If you can get a reservation, consider staying in Arches for a head start. The sites are great!

From Moab I assume you'll head south on 191 to 491 to Cortez, CO & Mesa Verde. It's an easy drive.

Note that there is another section of Canyonlands south of Moab called the Needles section and it's completely different in looks from the northern Canyonlands - Island in the Sky at Moab.

I always say that it's better to only spend a few hours at a national park rather than none at all. If that's all the time you have then that's what you do.

Have a good trip!

Read up on the parks before going to see what all is there and to plan your stay. Their websites have lots of good information including 'Things To Do' and 'Maps.

https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

.... and here's Mesa Verde's:

https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:05 PM   #5
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I wanna go too.
Next year we’re going to Utah, sick of the crowds.
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Old 05-03-2021, 05:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakehouse 2 View Post
We will be traveling across UT and are thinking about a quick visit to the Moab area to drive through Arches and Canyonland NPs before heading down to Mesa Verde NP.

As Twogyosies says - Sure, better to spend an hour than miss it completely, both can be done in a day, Just timing will be Critical - Time of day and sun Location should also be factors especially if taking Pictures - I always recommend RT 128 as it is a Great Drive, and is Beautiful from the Coach, following the Colorado River.

Unfortunately we can't do much more than drive through the parks with stops at some of the outlooks.

As you are headed to Mesa Verde - Guessing it is a drive through also - as the hikes there are also long and some require some dexterity. IMHO, the route from Moab to Mesa Verde might be more fun if it included a drive through Colorado - As, depending on the year you may experience the Aspen on the way - You know they turn Golden in late September, and if you have ever seen it you will never forget or regret it. Put Telluride or Ouray in as waypoints in your GPS, that should get you into the Mountains and the Color of the Aspens - then Rico to Cortez to get to Mesa Verde, just what might be a great Option.


These old bodies no longer do hikes or off roading!

That being the Case the Drive to each location can be as critical as the destination itself, JMHO.

Just wondering how long the actual drives would take?

I would guess you would enjoy the entire day dedicated to the parks and Rt 128 as they are pretty special - we have driven by them in the Heat of the Summer and it took all of a day for us - just Soooo much to see and enjoy to not spend some time.

Is it possible to drive through both parks in the same day.

Yes.

We would be in the area mid September so hopefully it wouldn't be too crowded.

Sorry but really not much chance for no Crowds - Just Too Popular an area.

Any information would be appreciated.

Short answer "Do It" you will not regret it, if the Aspen have Turned, usually by mid to late September they have or are changing every day - elevation is key - then the drive through Colorado will be a special added Bonus that you will never regret.

Thanks in advance.
Hope this Helps, all of these areas will require YOU to do a little Research - you need to know where to go and how to get to the places that YOU will enjoy, Utah and Colorado are Both Target Rich Areas, so it might be wise to set aside a little more time even if it is just a drive through - just Sooooo much to See and Never Enough TIME!

Best of Luck,
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:58 PM   #7
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When you do it be sure to get the GyPSy Guide app for your smartphone. It is worth the few dollars and without it all you going to do is drive and look and drive and look and not get the full experience. At least with the app you will learn what you are looking at, some history, and sights that might be better than others.
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:14 PM   #8
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I've got some bad news...

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Originally Posted by 2cyber71 View Post
I wanna go too.
Next year weíre going to Utah, sick of the crowds.
Good luck with that.

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Old 05-03-2021, 10:38 PM   #9
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It would be so sad to rush through Utah -- kind of like gobbling down a filet mignon. We have been to Utah several times, for a total of two months or so, and can't wait to go back.

In case you are wondering, Arches looks like this:


Click For Full-Size Image.

And Utah has gotten much more crowded this year, for obvious reasons. It is still great.
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Old 05-06-2021, 07:26 PM   #10
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I was there last year and agree that you can drive through both in a single day. But what do you mean by drive through? With stops, without stops?? There are many great views that are practically right along the road but they do require you to stop and walk a few dozen feet. This one took some hiking

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Old 05-07-2021, 07:53 AM   #11
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Do not miss Dead Horse State Park. You go right by it on the way to Canyonland. We do not hike either. We do go to the visitor centers and watch the movie.

We did Arches and drive along the river one day and Canyonland and Dead Horse the next.
I agree 100%.
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Old 05-07-2021, 09:05 AM   #12
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As some have said just do it. You may not get the "full experience" but some is much better than none.

Agree, get to Arches as early as you can. The road in Arches is about 20 miles long so a 40 mile out and back. Park Avenue worth the stop, certainly the Windows area several arches with short trails, While it sounds like you wont be hiking to Delicate Arch there is a road you can take to a view point of it a bit in the distance. Devils Garden at the end of the road is great but without hiking you will see little except the scenery from the road. The Fiery Furnace- drive right by no need to stop great hike but it takes hiking for that one and very little to see from the parking area pretty much all the other viewpoints would be a go.

Canyonlands Island In The Sky while about 30 miles from the highway the drive to it is great. There are fewer stops up there. Someone mentioned Dead Horse Point, do it. You will drive right past it just before you get to Canyonlands entrance. It will be a 30 minute detour a few mile drive, a few minute flat walk and then however long you want to gawk at the scenery it is one of the best viewpoints in the world. I personally find that sunrise or sunset is best as it will bring out more color but September it shouldn't be bad regardless of time, again later in day is my personal preference.

When you are heading to Mesa Verde it is about 130 miles from Moab. Depending on your schedule and as previously mentioned by another poster if you have the time swing into Canyonlands NP Needles District. It is also about 30 miles off the highway so 60-70 miles round trip. Island in the Sky is up on top, Needles is down in the Canyonlands, entirely different. Well worth the time but just doing the view points will take a few hours from the time you leave the highway until you get back on it.

There is also Canyon Rims Recreation Area just before you get to the turnoff for the Needles District . There are only a few view points up there and they are a ways out round trip probably 75-80 miles. you would be looking down into the canyon again but a different view than you will find at Island in the Sky

Whichever poster was talking about fewer crowds not gonna happen. Except for January and February the place is packed and a downright shame. I have been going there since the mid 60's and up until the mountain biking craze in the mid to late 90s it wasn't bad. Yes it got busier over that time but pretty decent crowd wise you could hike all day and not see anyone and since the mountain bikers (no offense to them they just discovered it as well) and the other general increased visitation now you cant hardly find an area to be alone and enjoy it as one would like. Still worth seeing though.
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Old 05-20-2021, 01:20 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies. Lots of helpful information for sure. Safe travels.
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