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Old 03-12-2021, 12:53 PM   #1
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Grand Canyon and Utah from Indiana

We are planning a desert southwest trip from Indiana for this summer. We are limited on time, so trying to fit as much as we can into 2 weeks. I anticipate taking 4 days to get to Flagstaff, seeing sites out Route 66 and the Petrified Forest on the way. One day for the south rim of the Grand Canyon, then driving to the Hoover Dam and spending the night near Las Vegas. From there, we would like to visit sites in Utah -- Zion, Arches, Canyonland, then Mesa Verde. What are the best routes and campgrounds to spend nights? How should we split time between the parks? We have a 36 foot class A and will tow our van.
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Old 03-12-2021, 02:19 PM   #2
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A few questions... By 2-weeks, are you speaking of 16 days or 14 days? How many miles per day do you expect to drive? Do you normally drive that anticipated # of miles per day?
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Old 03-12-2021, 02:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rphcampers View Post
We are planning a desert southwest trip from Indiana for this summer. We are limited on time, so trying to fit as much as we can into 2 weeks. I anticipate taking 4 days to get to Flagstaff, seeing sites out Route 66 and the Petrified Forest on the way. One day for the south rim of the Grand Canyon, then driving to the Hoover Dam and spending the night near Las Vegas. From there, we would like to visit sites in Utah -- Zion, Arches, Canyonland, then Mesa Verde. What are the best routes and campgrounds to spend nights? How should we split time between the parks? We have a 36 foot class A and will tow our van.
Don't spend time on Rt 66... not much is left anymore. Petrified Forest can be a drive through.

One day at Grand Canyon? Stay in the park itself and at least 2 nights. I'd also recommend you walk down the Bright Angel Trail if only for 1/4 - 1/8 mi. You'll get an altogether perspective of the Canyon. Take in some ranger programs and the nightly campfire program. Take the free shuttle and get off at a reasonable distance for your walk along the Rim on a flat trail to return. Don't forget to explore the east end of the park at Desert View.

Hoover Dam/Las Vegas - not on this trip.

Page, AZ - take in Antelope Canyon tour - 1 night

Zion - 2-3 nights

Bryce - 2-3 nights and definitely take a hike below the Rim. It's like a fairy wonderland down there.

Take Hwy 12 to Capitol Reef NP - 2 nights. Inbetween Bryce & Capitol Reef is Kodachrome St. Park, Calf Creek Falls for a nice swim.

Capitol Reef then Hwy 24 to I-70 is Goblin Valley State Park- 1 night inbetween
I-70 east to Hwy 191 south for

Arches Nat'l Park, Canyonlands Nat'l Park - 3-4 nights, pre-arrange the ranger hike of Fiery Furnace (over 5yr.) Take an evening dinner/boat trip on the Colorado River with light show, take a guided 4x4 tour

191/491 south to Mesa Verde Nat'l Park - 2 nights and definitely take a ranger tour of the ruins.

As you can see, you will have to pick and choose what parks you want to do in 2-weeks time. You can't do them all.

Remember to scour each national park's web site for up-to-date COVID info, road info, things to do, camping, maps, etc.

Here is Grand Canyon's to get you started. Make sure you use the 'official' site... Google the park name and choose: nps.gov website. Also refer to the sites just before leaving for your trip for any last minute changes in the parks.

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

Have fun planning & today's the day to do it. It's going to be crowded at all those parks!
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Old 03-12-2021, 07:35 PM   #4
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first blush you are being waaaay to aggressive for a 2-week trip. the grand canyon OR the Utah parks is doable in 2-weeks but not both. whichever you pick reservations are a MUST HAVE.
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Old 03-12-2021, 08:11 PM   #5
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We did a similar trip last September. From Michigan our first night was Omaha, second night Denver then 3 nights in Gunnison, CO. After Gunnison we moved to St George, UT for 3 nights. We spent 3 days exploring Zion and the St. George area. Next we moved to Williams, AZ for 3 nights. This was home base to visit the Grand Canyon and areas of northern AZ. On the way home we made stops at the Petrified Forest, camped in NM, TX, and MO. In all we drove 4,400 miles in the RV and many more in the toad. We were out 16 days. If we did it again, we would slow down a little more.
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:26 AM   #6
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As noted above, you are planning to much to have a good time in just 2 weeks. You need to shorten the drive days if possible and do more sightseeing. You do not want to spend all of your time in transit.

Ken
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Old 03-15-2021, 05:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
Don't spend time on Rt 66... not much is left anymore. Petrified Forest can be a drive through.

One day at Grand Canyon? Stay in the park itself and at least 2 nights. I'd also recommend you walk down the Bright Angel Trail if only for 1/4 - 1/8 mi. You'll get an altogether perspective of the Canyon. Take in some ranger programs and the nightly campfire program. Take the free shuttle and get off at a reasonable distance for your walk along the Rim on a flat trail to return. Don't forget to explore the east end of the park at Desert View.

Hoover Dam/Las Vegas - not on this trip.

Page, AZ - take in Antelope Canyon tour - 1 night

Zion - 2-3 nights

Bryce - 2-3 nights and definitely take a hike below the Rim. It's like a fairy wonderland down there.

Take Hwy 12 to Capitol Reef NP - 2 nights. Inbetween Bryce & Capitol Reef is Kodachrome St. Park, Calf Creek Falls for a nice swim.

Capitol Reef then Hwy 24 to I-70 is Goblin Valley State Park- 1 night inbetween
I-70 east to Hwy 191 south for

Arches Nat'l Park, Canyonlands Nat'l Park - 3-4 nights, pre-arrange the ranger hike of Fiery Furnace (over 5yr.) Take an evening dinner/boat trip on the Colorado River with light show, take a guided 4x4 tour

191/491 south to Mesa Verde Nat'l Park - 2 nights and definitely take a ranger tour of the ruins.

As you can see, you will have to pick and choose what parks you want to do in 2-weeks time. You can't do them all.

Remember to scour each national park's web site for up-to-date COVID info, road info, things to do, camping, maps, etc.

Here is Grand Canyon's to get you started. Make sure you use the 'official' site... Google the park name and choose: nps.gov website. Also refer to the sites just before leaving for your trip for any last minute changes in the parks.

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

Have fun planning & today's the day to do it. It's going to be crowded at all those parks!
This is really good advice!
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Old 03-18-2021, 05:06 PM   #8
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Doing something similar this summer also leaving from Indiana. Our plans include:
Day 1: Indiana to Columbia, MO - leaving after work
Day 2: Columbia to Goodland, KS
Day 3: Goodland to Moab - staying at Canyonlands RV Park x 4 nights doing Arches and Canyonlands.
Day 7; Moab to Bryce via Capitol Reef NP - staying at Ruby's Inn/RV Park x 3 nights and going to Bryce NP and Escalante NM
Day 10: Bryce to South Rim Grand Canyon - staying at Trailer Village x 3 nights
Day 13: heading back home with a drive thru of Petrified Forest NP, stopping around Tucumcari NM
Day 14: Tucumcari to Joplin, MO
Day 15: Joplin back to Indiana

Yep - way too much in way too little time, but that's how we roll right now with wanting to see lots of different places and not much time to do it. We'll only do a hike or two or three at each place, plus some driving sight-seeing and a few special events (rodeo, ATV tour, etc). We just reviewed our itinerary this evening and all 4 of us pretty much in unison said "Let's leave tonight!" - the long days of driving and short stops don't really phase us.

Hope this helps encourage you that, while 3 months to do this would be great, you can do/see a lot in a couple of weeks if that's the only option you have!

Pete (also RPh)
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rphcampers View Post
We are planning a desert southwest trip from Indiana for this summer. We are limited on time, so trying to fit as much as we can into 2 weeks. I anticipate taking 4 days to get to Flagstaff, seeing sites out Route 66 and the Petrified Forest on the way. One day for the south rim of the Grand Canyon, then driving to the Hoover Dam and spending the night near Las Vegas. From there, we would like to visit sites in Utah -- Zion, Arches, Canyonland, then Mesa Verde. What are the best routes and campgrounds to spend nights? How should we split time between the parks? We have a 36 foot class A and will tow our van.


Mesa Verde just a few miles from Durango. Durango to silverton train, Ouray near Silverton.
Mesa verde donít miss, monument valley in area, miss Vegas. Take 89 down I 15
Flagstaff, south rim, east to 89 north to Zion, arches, Durango, ( Mesa verse) hmmm better idea.: Grand Canyon, circle around to Zion, Bryce, Arches (Moab) south to monument valley, east to Mesa verde, overnight couple nights Durango ( train?) head east from there.....
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Old 03-20-2021, 07:34 AM   #10
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Thank you, all! We did decide that we can take a few more days, but I know we won't be able to see everything in our time-frame. Someday we will be retired and be able to be on the road for months, but for now we have to work around the kids' schedules and our work. Luckily, I've been working remotely, so that gives a little more flexibility.

I've been to Vegas, but all of the other destinations are new, so I'm not sure what to expect! We did a similar trip several years ago to Yellowstone. The kids had more fun on that one than they did on our trips to Disney, so I'm hoping they are able to make similar memories this time.
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Old 03-20-2021, 07:46 AM   #11
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Thanks, Pete! My husband and I are both Purdue Pharmacy grads -- class of 2000. Although Matt can no longer can claim the RPh part -- he gave that up a few years ago.

My family of 4 is excited too! We have to work around gymnastics, Boy Scouts, and marching band, so finding time for vacation is difficult. My husband doesn't mind long days driving, but I tried to limit each day to about 8 hours, so we could take time for meals and visiting any attractions we found on the way.
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Old 03-23-2021, 05:46 AM   #12
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Also, in case you didn't know, National Parks have expanded the free admission program. Used to be just for 4th graders, but due to COVID, both 4th and 5th graders qualify this year. Print out a certificate from the NPS website and your entire family gets into all National Parks for free.

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Old 03-23-2021, 06:33 AM   #13
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At the moment, I believe Antelope Canyon (near Page) is closed due to Covid.
Anyone going to Zion should prepare themselves mentally for long traffic backups in Springdale just to reach the gate. Doing day trips to Zion from the Bryce area would be an alternative.
Traffic near Arches can be bad as well.
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