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Old 05-03-2016, 06:20 PM   #1
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10 Days in Southern Utah, Summer 2017

Since I am a regular here, I figured I'd start on this forum.

I am planning a trip in 2017 which includes 10 days in Southern Utah. I'd like to hear any suggestions you may have, we are an active family of 6 who hike, backpack, mountain bike, etc. We are looking for the best of the best sites, some I know are off the beaten path such as the Burr Trail. We have a 4wd TV.

We are planning on the obvious, Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, etc. Curious if there are any not so well know gems.

We will mostly be day hiking due to heat, backpacking will be done later in Colorado.

Thanks for any help.


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Old 05-03-2016, 07:41 PM   #2
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Ted your upcoming trip sounds great.

Bold Adventure, a regular here, has a lot of experience in Utah. Boondocking while full timing with his family. His photos are beautiful and if he doesn't pop in here it might be worth a msg to him.

There is another couple, not that regular here but on their blog. They blog under "The more we Explore". They live in Utah and just did a great 3 day trip in Canyonlands.


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Old 05-06-2016, 11:16 PM   #3
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Southern Utah has gotten extremely popular in the last few years, so if you plan to stay in the National Parks, for the parks that take reservations (Zion, Arches) we would suggest getting your reservations in really early. Then plan on crowds around the major tourist attractions. Zion Canyon access will be by shuttle bus only. The major short hikes from the canyon floor will be busy, as well.

More off the "front country" in Zion would be the beautiful drive up the Kolob Terrace road to Lava Point, and perhaps trying the Northgate Peaks, upper West Rim, or Hop Valley hiking trails. Ditto for the Kolob Canyons section, which is accessible from I-15, closer to Cedar City. There is a really nice half- or short-day hike outside of the park but with great views into it from the Eagle Crags area Coalpits Wash is quite a long route that starts outside the park, as well, and seems to ditch some of the crowds.

The main thing is that Zion can get hotter than blazes in summer, so a good rule is to start hiking at the crack of dawn, so that you can finish up before the temp. gets into the 90- to 100F range-- or higher. Just bring tons of water. Some people dislike hats, but we wouldn't hike in the desert without them.

Bryce is up high: 7-9000 feet, so it is much cooler. Camping in the park is first-come, first serve. We've preferred to make a reservation at the nearby Ruby's Inn RV park. Many hiking trails along and under the rim.

Canyonlands is a really large park: divided into different pieces. Some of the RV routes are pretty advanced, and best undertaken after consultation with local rangers or outfitters-- and probably with a short wheel base vehicle like a jeep. This is not terrain for anyone with a fear of heights! The Shafer trail is more truck- and long-SUV friendly. There is a beautiful hike from the Needles Outpost into the Needles section of Canyonlands.

We've done the section of the Burr Trail along the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef NP. Highly recommended, with some beautiful and little-visited hikes. If you can get into the Fruita Campground (start early!) it is a nice place to stay, but there are two RV parks in Torrey, UT, as well. Again, check first on local road conditions because it doesn't take much of a flash flood to wash out sections of these roads.

Other less-visited gems on our list would be Natural Bridges NM, and the San Rafael Swell. We especially like the northern section with its Wedge Overlook (of the "Little Grand Canyon") and Buckhorn Draw. You might also enjoy staying in the Shooting Star Airstream park in Escalante.

We can talk about packing in another post, if you like. The gas stations in the back-of-beyond are non-existent, so we generally travel with an extra gas can plus a big jerry can of water. You may not have cell phone service in the remote areas. (Verizon is the best, but even it has dead zones.) But the privilege of being in a beautiful remote area is a lot of its attraction for us.
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:34 AM   #4
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If anyone or all in the family like "rescue" animals a stop at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, UT is worth the trip and if you decide early enough you can make reservations at their two site full hook up campground and stay on the grounds. If you go, make sure you take the tour.

In our opinion Arches is the best and if you go, a trip up or down, we do both, on RT 28 is well worth the time.

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Old 05-07-2016, 06:58 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. The Burr Trail is on the list. I figure we will spend time in Moab so I don't know how much off-roading we will do prior. There is just so much to do and see, we go from UT to CO, a month total including the drive from MA.
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Old 05-07-2016, 07:22 AM   #6
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Goosenecks SP is pretty nice.
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Old 05-07-2016, 07:43 AM   #7
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North Campground in Bryce has a loop that is reservable. Its more suited for RVs. You have to reserve as soon as your 6 month reservation window opens up as the sites go fast due to all the foreign visitor rental RVs.

Watchman Campground in Zion has two loops with electricity and is reservable. We spent one day each to hike The Narrows, then Observation Point and then Angels Landing.

I went in early June. I got a break in the hot weather on this trip and the temperatures at Zion were a little below average in the mid 80s then started to warm up as I traveled to Bryce which was moderated by the 8000ft altitude. Day time temps there were in the low 80s. For a nice quiet low traveled hike in Bryce, try the Fairyland Loop trial.

It was a wonderful trip. The crowds were manageble. Weekends got a little busier.

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Old 05-07-2016, 07:56 AM   #8
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There's lots of boondocking near Zion and Bryce. Also Red Canyon west of Bryce is a very nice CG, even has pay showers.
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:02 AM   #9
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While in the Moab area don't forget the Dead Horse SP. I think the views from the observation points are nicer than those at Canyonlands. Just my opinion here. There are lots of Jeep trails that are truck suitable without being tooo challenging. Gives a whole new dimension to the scenery. DO IT.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:24 AM   #10
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10 days ??????????????

I think that you are already trying to see too much.

The good new is that your travel days will be wonderful

I don't know that I would call The Burr Trail…" off the beaten path "I might call it one of the best car camping spots …ever
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Old 05-07-2016, 11:01 AM   #11
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As frequent campers in the excellent UT State Park system, we'd recommend Dead Horse State Park outside Moab for the Arches/Canyonland NPs and Kodachrome Basin State Park as a 'base camp' for Zion/Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef NPs. A plus with Kodachrome is that it is also close to Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Anasazi and Goblin Valley State Parks, all of which are VERY interesting. There are a lot of 4-wheeling, hiking, mtn biking opportunities at these parks. Kodachrome is a beautiful venue and should not be missed.

Whatever you decide, welcome to UT! The State Park system has a 6-month reservation window, and the parks 'reserve up' fairly early in the season.
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Old 05-07-2016, 01:48 PM   #12
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Wonderful place, if you like rocks..and who doesn't? Lots of good suggestions on campgrounds here, a couple of things I might mention in addition are;
1. The road from Torrey to Canyonville, Utah Highway 12,has to be one of the most scenic in the country
2. When visiting Bryce, drive clear to the end of the main road, then sightsee on your way back down, otherwise you'll be stopping at all the ooh and aah spots and lose track of time.
3. Canyonville is a great jumping off place for Kodachrome and Bryce. If you visit Kodachrome, the Grovevenor Arch is another treat on an unimproved road from the park, which is a state park.
4. In Kanab, get acquainted with the fact that it is second only to Hollywood for a movie location. The town is speckled with mini-monuments to some of the stars who have been there for movies or TV shows.
5. Kanab is not far from the animal sanctuary others mentioned.
6. Just south of Kanab, into AZ a ways, is Pipe Spring National Monument which is close to the highway on the Kaibab Indian Reservation. This is a great piece of Western American History here that few know about. It was one of the highlights of our trip last fall.
7. Just south of Pipe Spring are the towns of Colorado City and Hilldale, the former being in AZ and latter on the Utah side of the boarder. 12 souls lost their lives there last September due to flash floods. Another 6 were lost in Zion the same day from the same storms. So, when in the desert southwest always be aware of the weather conditions. A rainstorm 30 miles to the north 3 hours ago might cause a flash flood where you are and you've been enjoying sunshine all day. These are treacherous and can't be underestimated or predicted.
8. Not knowing your route to and from Moab, the Colorado National Monument south of Fruita, CO (where there is a great state campground on the Colorado River) is the Colorado National Monument. Great photo ops and hiking there too. Use
9. If traveling a southern route, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is not that far. Also, Monument Valley is in Southern Utah, on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Gouldings Campground is the only venue there.
10 In Western Colorado there are a number of truly great state campgrounds, a couple around Grand Junction (see Fruita above) and Ridgway State Park south of Montrose.
You will have a full plate when you get there, have fun, this will not be your last trip to the desert southwest.
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:42 PM   #13
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It all depends upon what you are interested in......

To start off, I might suggest the wealth of information at these sites, which I have used to plan my trips to Utah and other areas:

Spend some time reading through these forums
I have vacationed Southern Utah at least 8 different summers, spending 2-4 weeks at a time in SouthernUT. There is so much to see you might want to narrow down what you want to do and don't try to see too much or too many places.
Are you interested in national parks, getting off the beaten path far from tourists, visiting Indian ruins, seeing rock art, peakbagging, hot springs, fourwheeling, etc.
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:47 PM   #14
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If in the Moab area, we recommend the "Negro Bill Canyon" trail / hike. There's history in the name , and the hike is maybe 4 hours r/t depending on your pace, lots of creek crossings as well.

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