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Old 07-13-2020, 08:51 AM   #1
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Indiana to Grand Canyon June '21

Hi all,
This group has been so very helpful in giving guidance and input on our two previous "big trips" over the last couple of years, and I'm excited to get input on our next adventure from you all as well!

Background: myself, DW, DD 14 and DD 11. Plus Mackey the amazing Cockapoo (who may or may not come on this trip w/us). Towing a 28 ft TT with a 2011 Ford F250 diesel. Recent "big" trips included Indiana to Yellowstone via Badlands and Black Hills in 2018 as well as a return trip to the Black Hills in 2019. On both of those trips, we pretty easily handled 500 mile days and will plan on doing the same to get to/from the western destinations.

What we enjoy: seeing beautiful nature and wildlife, short to medium family-type hikes (nothing crazy), local attractions (steam locomotive rides, canoing, dune buggy trips, etc), fun/memorable places to eat, a little bit of history thrown in.

The plan: head back out west next summer (yes, I'm a planner. . .it's half the fun IMHO) to see several national parks. On the "must see" list is Grand Canyon. Pretty much everything else is up for discussion/debate.

PLEASE NOTE: we have numerous time restrictions and can't possibly take the 5 months to travel from Indy to GC and back that some will suggest is required (and which, if in a different phase of life, we'd also find extremely satisfying and enjoyable). For us, right now, vacations are more about the destination(s) and less about the journey.

Specifics: we would leave Indiana early to mid-June and head toward the GC for somewhere between 14 and 16 days. Our tentative travel plan is:
Day 1: leave after work and get west of St. Louis
Day 2: keep heading west through Missouri and most of Kansas
Day 3: finish the hard westward push and arrive at Rocky Mtn National Park
Day 4: full day at/around RMNP
Day 5: drive to somewhere around Arches/Bryce Canyon and set up a basecamp for driving to/exploring those NPs and surrounding area
Day 6: explore the ANP/BCNP area
Day 7: explore the ANP/BCNP area
Day 8: drive to Grand Canyon
Day 9: explore GC/area
Day 10: explore GC/area
Day 11: drive to Petrified Forest NP. . .maybe. . .heard mixed reviews on this
Day 12: drive to 4 Corners - again I've heard mixed reviews, but it would potentially be a very memorable event for the DDs
Day 13/14: Head home

My questions:
1. Where are we spending too much time vs not enough (again, given our constraints and likes/dislikes outlined above)?
2. Help me fill in the "explore the area" days - what are the must see locations for each general area?
3. If we had a couple of additional days to add onto our trip, where should we spend them?
4. Is the "basecamp" approach feasible (see Days 5-7 above), or would we be better served moving to a new CG?
4. When we went to YSNP, we took a second spare TT tire and two 5-gallon cans of extra diesel. Would you recommend similar for this trip or is that overkill? We also packed a bunch of winter clothes for YSNP (and were very glad we had them!!) - any advice on packing for the weather in these areas in June?

Thanks in advance!!

Pete
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Old 07-13-2020, 09:27 AM   #2
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In general you are doing too much in too little time. You need to spend more time at fewer parks



Day 4: full day at/around RMNP
May still be snowed in in early June at least the Trail Ridge Road may be closed. One day is not enough for anything but a drive thru.



Day 5: drive to somewhere around Arches/Bryce Canyon and set up a basecamp for driving to/exploring those NPs and surrounding area
---These parks are way too far apart for your plan to work. Do one or the other. Arches may be hotter than Hades by early JUne. Plan on visiting as early in the day as possible, carry lots of water. Park is packed with visitors and they have closed the gate on occasion when too many people want to enter. Again one day is only enough for a drive thru and maybe a short hike.



Day 6: explore the ANP/BCNP area
Day 7: explore the ANP/BCNP area
---Bryce should have cooler weather and is less crowded. One day is absolutely too short a time for this park. They have many short and very scenic hikes. Stay at Ruby's just outside the gate.


Day 8: drive to Grand Canyon
Day 9: explore GC/area
Day 10: explore GC/area
--Which Rim? North Rim is cooler and much less crowded, lots of short hikes. South Rim is hot and very crowded. Two days minimal to visit either one.


Day 11: drive to Petrified Forest NP. . .maybe. . .heard mixed reviews on this
--PFNM is interesting basically a drive thru with short walks. Probably 4 hours is enough time here. Barringer meteor crater is in that area and the kids will like it, a couple of hours max.



Day 12: drive to 4 Corners - again I've heard mixed reviews, but it would potentially be a very memorable event for the DDs.
--Tourist trap basically a parking lot with a monument inside a fence. Your navigation plans odd for this one, go south for PFNM then turn around and head north for 4 corners?
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Old 07-13-2020, 09:41 AM   #3
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I'd recommend staying in Williams and take the train up to the South Rim of the GC. There's a train robbery. They let you take your bikes on the train if you have them. Hanging around the South Rim is also pretty cool. As mentioned, the North Rim might be cooler (maybe 3-4 degrees) but at 80 F to 90 F typical of June, you're not going to notice anyway. It's also likely to be less crowded, but the history of the South Rim is worth the visit. Not to mention the views are spectacular. Plus the walking paths aren't always crowded.

If you're thinking about hiking down into the canyon note in June it's not that much fun as it's another 10 F hotter as you head down, plus there's restrictions on how far you can go down on a day trip. People plan a year in advance for more then a day trip down into the canyon and do it on the shoulder seasons because it's too hot down there for hiking with a backpack from June to Sept.

Most people recommend, and I'm one of them, that you just plan on visiting 2 of your interests. And travel lazily. No rushing, no 12 hour days behind the wheel. Stop at interesting looking roadside attractions. Rushing to see all you can see on one trip kind of ruins it for some or all.
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Old 07-13-2020, 02:37 PM   #4
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I understand how difficult it is to travel from the Midwest to the West with a 2-week or so time constraint. We've done it often with the kids. When you're younger it's doable. Seeing just a little bit is better than not seeing it at all.

- One day at Rocky is definitely not enough, especially after your long drive. At least try for two. Eliminate one day from Grand Canyon and add it here. If weather conditions are perfect when leaving Rocky you could take Trail Ridge Rd over to Grand Lake area/ Hwy 34 to get to I-70. It's a biggie though so you might want to drive it while there and touring to get a feel for it. We've done it.. and many have ... but you'll have to judge for yourself how you feel about it towing the trailer. It would be a nice shortcut to get to I-70 avoiding a lot of Denver area traffic.

- From Rocky Mtn. and when you eventually get on I-70 to Moab, get off at exit 204, I believe... which is Hwy 128. Drive it the short distance to 191 at Moab. It's a pretty drive along the Colorado River.

You can't do Arches and Bryce from the same basecamp. Too far apart. Two full days and you'll be able to do Arches and Canyonlands Nat'l Park. Camping at Dead Horse State Park is extremely nice at Canyonlands and an easy drive in the truck super early in the morning to drive to Arches to spend the day before crowds and heat. Camping in Arches itself is great but no hookups. If possible, pre-reserve for a awesome doable ranger-led hike for daughter's age in Arches at Fiery Furnace. It is so much fun and a little cooler because of some shade. If full moon, a hike to Delicate Arch is beautiful and many will be doing it so you won't be alone. Take a gentle evening boat tour on the Colorado River right in Moab is a nice side attraction and fun. Plan hiking in the mornings before the heat arrives. Vehicle tour in the afternoons in AC.

- Take I-70 west to Green River and UT24 taking you to Torrey and Capitol Reef Nat'l Park for a drive-through. You won't have time to stay.
Then continue on Hwy 12 to Bryce. It's a gorgeous drive through Escalante Nat'l Park. Ruby's RV at the park gate is a good place to stay for hookups or else in the park I believe they're redoing the campsites this year. Either will give you access to the free park shuttle to get to viewpoints and beginning of some trails. Bryce hiking is lots of fun within the hoodoos. It's like a fairyland. One we like is going DOWN Wall Street and making a loop exiting toward the north. You might not like going UP Wall Street (hard climb) so plan on a loop. You could possibly do day tour to Zion Nat'l Park via Hwy 12 to 89 south to Mt. Carmel & picking up Hwy 9 into the park. This would basically be for a looksee.

Leaving Bryce take 12/89 south to Kanab, UT. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is here & if you could arrange a tour and because you're pet lovers... you would absolutely love this no-kill facility. They have animals of all kinds and the place is set in a beautiful red rock canyon.

This would be perfect to work in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (instead of the much busier South Rim). Stay right in the park - they're redoing the sites right now. A 2-night stay would give you time to do some trails in the park and also to drive to Kanab for the tour, if you wanted.

Then continue on 89 to leave the area and you would be driving along Lake Powell Nat'l Rec Area at Page. Or... from Jacob Lake/North Rim take 89A to bypass Lake Powell.

Take 89 into Flagstaff and I-40 for your return.

Skip 4 Corners and do Petrified Forest instead. The logistics of getting to 4 Corners wouldn't be easy to work in with your other stops and it's just not impressive... lots of nothing.

I-40 east to Holbrook then 180 and a little south to the Petrified Forest park road. There's a Crystal Rock Shop at this intersection. Take the park road to see the Petrified Forest and you'll end at I-40 again heading east.

Don't bring winter coats. Instead, dress in layers so you can add or delete. Layers and a fleece jacket should be enough. Maybe a hat & gloves for mornings/evenings at Rocky Mtn.

Google weather history for a couple years back to get an idea. Once you're in the mountains anything goes so you really can't rely on it but you'll get an idea of what could happen. Rocky Mtn. & Bryce will be your coolest spots but Bryce will be much warmer and sunnier and by 9am or earlier it will be perfect for hiking.

One thing you could consider is skipping Rocky Mtn. NP if you have plans to head West another year. You could do that big park along with much more just in Colorado. Southwest Colorado is gorgeous - Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Pagosa Springs, Gunnison, etc.

Then for this trip just concentrate on the southern Utah national parks and Grand Canyon. Then you'd have more days to work with for each park.

RE: carrying diesel fuel. I wouldn't. You'll be doing a lot of interstate driving with plenty of stations and once off interstates any small town has diesel. Trucks are popular in the West! Just get in the habit of filling at 1/2 when you know you'll be having a long stretch of nothing.

Have fun planning. I absolutely love doing it!
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Old 07-14-2020, 05:13 AM   #5
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Thank you all for this great feedback. Really appreciate it!

I'm intrigued by the idea of doing RMNP and other Colorado sites in a separate trip in the future. It'll be painful driving so close and not seeing it, but may be the right call.

Couple of follow-up questions:
1. Is it worth the time/miles to see both the north and south rims of the GC?
2. At the south rim - love the idea of the train ride from Williams. Would it be wise to set up camp in Williams as our south rim "base" or just drive there for the day/train ride?
3. Boat tour in Moab - any recommendations on a tour company?

Thanks again and look for a refined itinerary soon.

Pete
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Old 07-14-2020, 08:50 AM   #6
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it's a lot of driving to see both the north rim and the south rim.

pass on four corners. if you make another trip to colorado including durango you can include four corners, and mesa verde, then.

find a campground around winslow and see the meteor crater. some people said it only takes 2 hours but we easily spent 4 hours taking the hike out on the rim. plan another 4 hours to drive through petrified forest.

a boat tour on lake powell is nice but it costs a few $'s. we like wahweap rv park there.

be careful on planning entry into bryce canyon. the bryce - mt carmel tunnel has severe height, length, and width restrictions. if you plan on using it make sure you will fit. and be prepared to wait for 1/2 hour or more as they routinely stop traffic in one direction to allow oversize traffic to traverse in the other direction.

you have two options at the south rim. you can stay in the park at trailer village or you can stay in williams and either take the train into the park or drive yourself into the park. it is about an hour drive from williams to the south rim.

stay at ruby's rv park just outside of bryce or kodachrome state park as an alternative.

will you be taking i-70 west through colorado into utah and i-40 east from grand canyon?

plan on it being hot almost everywhere.
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:25 AM   #7
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The recommended route from the South Rim to the North Rim for a RV is 5 hours. There is a short cut but the last time I checked it wasn't suitable for an RV. And checking the google map today shows a "!" on that route. Road work?

Is it worth visiting both rims? Sure. But there's more to do on the South Rim and many think it has the better vistas and better walking paths. You are taking your pictures from the south so the sun is at your back too.

Recommend you stay at Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. Within walking distance of where you see an introductory wild west show, than board the train, also an easy walk into downtown Williams. Plenty of nice restaurants, shops, and fancy bars for the adults. The park is newer with very nice facilities if you need to use them. Not the least expensive in the area but it's sure handy. But it's a Passport American 50% off discount park if you have the PPA card.

The train ride is fun too, I bought the expensive ticket and for us there was food and adult beverages on the trip up at 11 and and again on the return trip at 3. And the train robbery on that leg. One thing I'm considering doing next visit is taking the train up to the canyon, staying at that historic hotel overnight, and then train back to the RV park. Kind of thing you need to make reservations months, or at least weeks in advance for though.

After you spend the day up at the canyon, you'll know if you want to extend your stay and visit the canyon again in your tow vehicle. There are RV campgrounds right at the south rim that are booked months in advance so you might consider making reservations early. Take the RR up, wander the rim, train back to Williams, spend a day there exploring, tow the trailer up to the rim for another day. Hook up and tow around to the North Rim for more exploring. Could be all very interesting, or very boring, depending on your thoughts about big cracks in the ground. I find the canyon endlessly fascinating but personally 3 days is all I would schedule for the south rim. And another 2 for the north. And a travel day in the middle for the 5 hour trip between the rims. So nearly a week.

The south rim has all the facilities, parking lots, shuttles, big RV park and curio shops you would expect for a tourist area established over 100 years ago. But none of that interferes with the spectacular view.

Someone else will have to fill you in about the boat tour in Moab.
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Old 07-14-2020, 02:09 PM   #8
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Moab Tour - Canyonland by Night or Day is a good company - they offer many types of tours - calm boat, jet boats, spinning boats (not recommend if prone to motion sickness... I know - we did one in Hells Canyon & they didn't tell us they would be doing that. It was horrible). The evening dinner/cruise is very nice with music and a light show on the canyon walls. They also have ZipLine, horses and 4x4 trips.

bigchick in his post mentioned the Mt. Carmel Tunnel with restrictions. However, it's at Zion; not Bryce, and you would have no problem driving through. We did with our 40' motorhome and tour buses do. The issue is you have to drive down the center so they close one lane for you and others that are going. There's an added cost of $10, I believe. That's for big rigs. I don't know if they have to close the lane for smaller RVs. It would be on the website. However, if you were doing this as a day trip from Bryce you'd be in your truck so no issue.

There is a very short tunnel on Hwy 12 west of the Bryce entrance but any size RV, tour bus or semi truck will fit.

Meteor Crater is basically a big hole in the ground. If you had your choice timewise, I think Petrified Forest Nat'l Park is better but just my opinion.

Do both North & South Rims? No, not for your trip... you don't have the time. We've done both Rims many times... including hiking down the Bright Angel Trail to catch the raft for a 8 day trip on the river. The South Rim is very crowded with typical tourist things; if taking the train, don't count on it to be a scenic ride. The draw are the cowboys. You'll only have a short time at the Canyon. Trailer Village in the park itself is the place to stay for full hookups and you can walk to the Canyon. The shuttle bus stops here. Mather campground is pretty but no hookups. Desert View campground is very nice but no hookups. Many people don't go to the Desert View area on the east end of the park road but there's some nice things to do there and you can see the river below. This is also the entrance to take off Hwy 89 if going directly into the park.

The North Rim is more laid back. It has a Lodge with a nice restaurant; cabins & a campground. There's a gorgeous short trail that takes off from the Lodge along the Rim. There are viewpoints to drive to and other trails. We've gotten beautiful photos. For your short timeframe this would be perfect as long as you'll be in the area.

Every national park has a great nps website with things to do, hiking, maps, special alerts and road information. Be sure to check them out. Here is both South & North Rim information on Grand Canyon:

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

I hope you're saving your money for this trip!!!
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Old 07-19-2020, 11:14 AM   #9
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The east gate on Hwy 64 is closed. The only entrance to GCNP is from William's on Hwy 64
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Old 07-19-2020, 12:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rmarling View Post
The east gate on Hwy 64 is closed. The only entrance to GCNP is from William's on Hwy 64
That's for this year with the virus. It, most likely, will be open next year as that's when the OP is planning. Hopefully, the virus will have settled down by then!

Hwy 64 off 89 is an excellent way to enter the park if you're already on 89. Then you don't have to make the big circle to enter the park from Flagstaff or Williams areas.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:14 PM   #11
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Sorry didn't see the date fir 2021
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