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Old 09-15-2021, 03:43 PM   #1
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S. Florida to UT, NV National Parks

We are planning a trip out to the UT, NV area for next year, plan is to head out of S. Florida early June and return 4/5 weeks later.
We want to do Arches, CanyonLand, Grand Canyon, Bruce, Zyon, do a few days in Las Vegas, etc.
I would like some places to stop on the drive over, that would make the 36h drive more enjoyable for the family.
Would really appreciate some suggestions from you all. Also any additional places to visit around UT, NV? My daughter wants to visit Sequoia National Park, but I don't know if that is too far out.
I am planning for 4 weeks, but basically lose one on the drive there and back, so 3 weeks to visit these places and do some hiking.
What do you guys think, am I trying to do too much in such short time? I may be able to get another week out.
Any help, it be great.
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Old 09-15-2021, 04:03 PM   #2
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It is definitely doable. We are from Florida and this past April we did Petrified Forest NP, Grand Canyon NP, Zion NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Mesa Verde NP, and Durango CO as well as some other places in 28 days. It was a bit of a whirlwind but we had a great time.
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:26 PM   #3
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Ok there are a couple different ways to do this trip. You can head out via I10. Road can be problematic through LA and east Texas.
We have done the I40 route. Much preferred. You can plan your stops based on miles per day. You can stop at Graceland if you want. I40 follows the old Route66. Many museums and kitschy stuff along the way. The Malpais in New Mexico. Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert and South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Mojave Desert just east of Vegas. Then on to Arches. (Just left there!) You can hit Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore on the way back. Drop down to I70 for the return.
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:56 PM   #4
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D20/Paul, thank you, I like your input, compiling a list of places to visit.
I like the idea of going west on I40. From FL I can get to Montgomery then catch I22 on Birmingham to Memphis and I40 west, avoiding Atlanta.
But you think I can get to Yellowstone and Rushmore, in the time frame? BTW, all the other places you mention are great.
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Old 09-15-2021, 06:14 PM   #5
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I'd definitely eliminate Sequoia NP. . too far out of your way. Same for Yellowstone... much too far.

If you take I-10 out stop at Kartchner Caverns State Park in AZ - excellent tours (we gave them). It's a living cave so lots of dripping water sounds & the lighting on the formations are awesome!

Tucson's Desert Museum will give you a good introductory on the desert and animals. Top class!

Depending on your route you could work in Sedona, AZ which is close to Grand Canyon. Some nice national historic sites nearby. We stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ to avoid the congestion of Sedona which is a short drive. Hiking in Sedona is excellent.

You could add Capitol Reef Nat'l Park.

Also, Monument Valley, AZ enroute to Moab/Arches.

Mesa Verde Nat'l Park is amazing. Could do a day trip up to Telluride.

Then take Hwy 160 to Durango, CO & take the scenic train up to Silverton - plan to do the bus return otherwise it's a very long day.

Take 160 east from Durango to Pagosa Springs, CO for extremely nice soaks in the hot springs. They are immaculate concrete pools of varying temps overlooking the river and small town. Pack a small cool and enjoy a few hours relaxing.

You could then take 84 south to Santa Fe - a neat smallish city to tour and then I-40 to return to Florida.

It will be whirlwind tour in your allotted time but I always say it's better to see a small portion of these stops rather than not ever seeing them at all.

Get some paper maps and highlight all potential stops to create your most efficient route. Add or eliminate as necessary.

Each national park has a terrific nps.gov web site giving you campground information, things to do, road information, special alerts, etc. Here is Grand Canyon's:

https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
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Old 09-15-2021, 07:01 PM   #6
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You guy are pointing out great places. Very good advice about using a paper map, I have been trying to do this with google maps and RVParky but is hard to see the big picture.
I don't mind rushing a bit, but not so much that we miss the essence of the places we visit.
One though we had was to stay on I10, stop by New Orleans, then San Antonio and visit the Alamo, we could then get 40 back home or the other way, go out on 40 and return on 10, yeah paper map will help.

Great advice so far, thank you.
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Old 09-16-2021, 08:56 AM   #7
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i hope you make the trip!

you realize that there will be a lot of driving. saying you sill only lose one week to get there and back seems a bit optimistic. i would really consider omitting las vegas, sequoia, and yellowstone. just to far!
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Old 09-16-2021, 07:38 PM   #8
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Yeah this trip is about 6700 miles, good thing I don't mind driving, problem is the amount of time it will take to travel these miles.

We have already removed Las Vegas from the itinerary, the wife would like to hit Yellowstone, but that will be an additional driving day and I am thinking a minimum of 4 days in the park to explore. Sequoia is definitely out for this trip, it looks close on a map, but the road is not a strait line to it.

With the 4 weeks we have, we may be better off staying south and not venturing north to Yellowstone on this trip, still playing with the idea of heading north but is losing steam.

I am looking forward for additional recommendations of places to visit around UT, NM, AZ area.
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Old 09-16-2021, 08:27 PM   #9
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If you are harvest host members, stop at "junk yard on 66 brewery" off of 40 for the night. Its somewhere in NM. Great beer...great ribs... great place for the night. And if u are staying at a zion np campground, do ur research and practice on how to get a spot. I think all the spots get booked within 88 seconds of becoming available at -I forget- 8 or 9am.
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Old 09-17-2021, 07:15 AM   #10
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Thank you, good tip on Zion. I am not sure if it makes sense to stay in Zion or somewhere outside and drive in every day. What do you guys think?
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Old 09-17-2021, 07:38 AM   #11
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I'd take I-10 and hit Kartchner then north to monument valley. From there to Moab. Portal camp ground is the best place to stay there but there are lots of BLM CGs although they fill up fast. From there to Frutia Cg at Capitol Reef. Then Brice and Zion. Cedar Breaks is in that same area and is beautiful and less crowded. You'll find a lot of company so you need as many reservations as possible. Our travel MO is fewer miles and more time at each destination. I'd spend all my time in Utah and skip some of the windshield time. From Brice south to the North Rim then loop to the east and hit the South Rim. South to Tucson. Lots to see between and recommend Catalina State Park in Tucson if you can get a reservation. Then I-10 home. Easy to spend a month in Utah.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:00 PM   #12
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Thank you, good tip on Zion. I am not sure if it makes sense to stay in Zion or somewhere outside and drive in every day. What do you guys think?
We always feel it's best to stay in the park itself for the best overall experience. Otherwise you're wasting time driving back and forth and most likely you'll only do the drive into the park one time. Being in the park it's easy to do something on a whim... no plan. Go out for a walk, enjoy the sunset from your own private spot, go birding, enjoy the informative ranger programs, get an early start on the trail or the shuttle bus and more importantly, you don't have to look for a parking spot. That also goes for trying to see multiple national parks from one base camp. You'll probably only go into the park one time for a few hours if you have hours to drive back and forth. The parks deserve more time.
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Old 09-18-2021, 01:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
We always feel it's best to stay in the park itself for the best overall experience. Otherwise you're wasting time driving back and forth and most likely you'll only do the drive into the park one time. Being in the park it's easy to do something on a whim... no plan. Go out for a walk, enjoy the sunset from your own private spot, go birding, enjoy the informative ranger programs, get an early start on the trail or the shuttle bus and more importantly, you don't have to look for a parking spot. That also goes for trying to see multiple national parks from one base camp. You'll probably only go into the park one time for a few hours if you have hours to drive back and forth. The parks deserve more time.
Thank you, very good tip.
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Old 09-19-2021, 09:27 AM   #14
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We've done your trip many times. Our launching/landing point is FL's Space Coast area. By now you've read about the grand scope of your trip. Perhaps you have even realized how long the trek is between FL and your closet point of interest.

I'd focus on getting straight to the most southern part of your trip as it will already be really hot when you get there in June; I think that might be the Grand Canyon (Williams, AZ) unless you want to bother with a longer rig ride to the NP campground itself. Then just work north. I wouldn't focus on what is between FL and the West - I think you'll want to save your days for Utah.

In the interest of time I'd suggest I-10 to Lafayette, LA; I-49 to Shreveport; I-20 to Dallas: US287 to Amarillo and then I40 to the Grand Canyon.

Kill an extra day in Amarillo. Get a good steak at Big Tex and maybe see someone dare to eat about 6 pounds of meat in an hour (we've watched and never seen anyone do it). You can visit Palo Duro Canyon while there too - it's get the kids legs stretching.

I wouldn't bother with Las Vegas for a minute. We were there this summer in late May & early June and it was hot (104 degrees) and crowded. I'm not sure what draws you there but if your children are underage there is nothing for them to do other than sightsee in the city. But if you do go, absolutely visit Red Rock Canyon.

instead of NV or CA thoughts I would direct you to Page, AZ after the G Canyon; lots to do there - slot canyons, dam tour, CO river float....

Then stay in Mt Carmel, UT and run over to Zion for a day to take in the sights from the main drive - renting an e-bike is the best way to do this with a picnic lunch (it's going to be HOT). I'd tell you to skip that for another time but if you heart is set on it just get up real early. Otherwise go to Virgin, UT via Kanab (NOT on UT9 in an RV!!!). Virgin is close enough to enjoy Zion without the crowds of Springdale or the Zion campground.

Next up is Bryce - Ruby's Inn is the place to stay. RESERVE NOW! You can catch the park shuttle from there. Go all the way down into the canyon to get away from the crowds and enjoy the serenity; it's an all day affair to hike from one end to the other. We like the Sunset to Bryce Point Peekaboo trail. A lot of this depends on your children's ages; it could be a long and maybe strenuous hike out of the canyon.

Now this gets interesting... depending on what time you have left (by now using a tight schedule you are half way into a 4 week trip - any your stress level may show it) you can go straight to Moab via UT 12 (you should read about that road and seek your comfort level with driving your RV - it's doable but some find it stressful and bypass it). We love it, and for some less crowded sights stay in Escalante and Torrey to see the NPs there. Well - at least the crowds aren't anything like in Moab.

Once you finally get to Moab be prepared for some real heat. But the hikes can be short and there is a lot of driving so you have the car's AC as a refuge. Portal RV is a nice park with a pool.

You trip home is likely straight down to I40 and back to FL however you decide.
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