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Old 08-10-2012, 11:22 AM   #1
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Southern Utah Trip

We are in the finishing up our plans for a trip around southern Utah. We will shove off in late September and plan to visit the National parks in southern Utah, Mesa Verde, four corners, and Monument Valley. Any advise that would make this trip go smoothly for us would be greatly appreciated. We are thinking about starting at Arches and working out way around clockwise.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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We did that trip last fall. There is a real nice RV park (good people run it) about 5 miles (as I recall) east of the entrance to Mesa Verde. We used that as our base camp to tour the park, 4 Corners and Monument Valley.
We are planning a similar trip in late September. Heading to Zion and Bryce Canyon then south to Phoenix and back north thru Cortez and Durango.
If you go to Durango to ride the Narrow Gage Train to Silverton (highly recommend) there is another very nice RV park just north of Durango on Hwy 550. It's called the Alpen Rose.
If you don't want to ride the train. I would recommend taking the drive to Silverton and then go over the million dollar Hiway to Ouray then north and west to Telluride. Leaving Telluride go southwest over Lizard Head Pass to Delores, then back to Durango or Cortez.
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Old 08-10-2012, 03:43 PM   #3
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We've done that many times, what a great cruise. Late Sept. is when the aspens start coming to gold and red. Have that cooling system and brakes checked-out before you leave.
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Old 08-10-2012, 04:07 PM   #4
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i used to live in Utah and we return there once or twice a year. Gosh-- there is so much to see!

Plan A would be just to restrict your trip to the areas you've indicated. Plan B might be to focus on what you enjoy most, such as ancient ruins, amazing canyons, or film history. A lot depends upon how active you are. If you enjoy getting out and hiking or cycling, that could be one kind of trip, and you might want several days in the same place. If you are not so physically mobile and are restricted pretty much to the roads, you can "do" the parks much more quickly. Then do you want hook-ups? A lot of National Park campgrounds are boondocking-only.

Although the time period you mention is technically the off-season, when we've been out that way then, there were a surprising number of people (retirees, perhaps) who also wanted to enjoy the glorious, not-so-hot fall weather of southern Utah.

More more specific advice would be:

Check out the Park Service web site (the nps.gov sites, not the commercial ".com" sites) for each park you want to visit. Check on their autumn closure dates for specific facilities. I recall Mesa Verde ending some of their ruin tours fairly early in the fall. (They don't let you into the major ruins unchaperoned.)

The Watchman campground in Zion does take reservations and has electrical hook-ups. You can go on-line and see how booked-up the place is for your travel dates. Check also the RV restrictions for the Zion tunnel if you will drive between HY 89/Mt. Carmel Junction and Zion Canyon/Springdale.

Arches also takes reservations for their campground. It is extremely popular. I highly recommend that you also visit nearby Deadhorse Point State Park for the view. It has a small campground that takes reservations. The BLM has several nice campgrounds in the area, one near Deadhorse Point called Horsethief CG, and one just south of Moab (sorry I forget the name, it's sombody's "lake" due to a small reservoir) that are first-come, first serve. There is a fair bit of overflow camping along the Colorado River and above town in the sand hills but I don't know how much of it I would take an Airstream into. Moab has a good visitor center in the heart of town, where you can get a lot of camping advice. (We also like Zax pizza buffet!)

Moab is quite the tourist Mecca, so you might just google the town to see whether any major events are going on in town when you're there. They might be fun to attend, but would jam up the camping sites.

There are several good RV parks in and around town, as well.

October snow storms are not uncommon at high elevations and you can count on frost at night. Bryce Canyon is also up very high. You might plan your trip to do the more northerly high country first. I believe the Bryce Canyon campground stays open all year, but if you want hook-ups, Ruby's Inn nearby has a nice RV park.

If you travel I-70 between Salina and Green River, UT, it is something like 105 miles with no services, no fooling, but beautiful country. We generally try to avoid SLC-Provo traffic if possible.

Have a wonderful journey!
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woosch View Post
We are in the finishing up our plans for a trip around southern Utah. We will shove off in late September and plan to visit the National parks in southern Utah, Mesa Verde, four corners, and Monument Valley. Any advise that would make this trip go smoothly for us would be greatly appreciated. We are thinking about starting at Arches and working out way around clockwise.
Cheers,
I did the trip two years ago.

Here are a few photos for you. There are four pages. Double click on the first and use the "Next Page" or "Slideshow" found in the upper right corner.

utah_arizona2010 Photo Gallery by Murrey Walker at pbase.com
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:29 PM   #6
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Wow! Thanks for all the helpful information! My Wife and I just looked at Murrey's pictures and we are ready to leave now. Im thinking after ready Lens info that we may do it the other way around. Starting with Zion/Bryce and going counterclockwise. Lisa wanted to go to Durango but i didn't think we would have enough time.
Thank you all for taking the time to help make our trip the best it can be!
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:05 PM   #7
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Hi, we just spent about 10 days in Utah starting from St George, Bryce Canyon and went through Route 12 to Capitol Reef NP and on to route 24 to end at Arches National Park and Canyonlands. If you can, I would highly recommended those 2 scenic byways (12 and 24). The views are breathtaking and they take you through the best of southern utah. The road is easily doable if you take your time. We wrote daily blog posts and posted daily vlogs on youtube of our adventure through there. have fun!

Dan
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Old 08-16-2012, 06:58 PM   #8
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Dan- Great Blog! Thanks for the sadvise. We will see if we can sqeeze a few more things in.
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Old 10-13-2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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hello everyone, Just got back from our trip. What an amazing part of our country. You all helped us very much with your suggestions and it couldn.t have been a better trip. Thanks for taking the time to contribute.
Happy trails
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Old 10-14-2012, 12:12 AM   #10
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Glad you had a good time and got home safely! Where did you end up visiting? I'd love to hear about your trip!
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:48 AM   #11
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Dan- Our only goal starting out were the five National Parks in Utah and the one in southwest Colorado. We did get to them all. Have to say Zion was my favorite and my Wife LOVED Mesa Verde. The only one we were kind of ho hum about was Capital Reef. I think you really need to be into geology to fully appreciate it. Red Canyon on hwy 12 was spectacular! I'm wondering if Disney modeled the Thunder Mountain RR after it. We did take hwy 12 at your recommendation and I liked it but my Wife wasn't too happy at one point. I've waited a long time to do this trip and exceeded all of my expectations.
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Old 10-14-2012, 11:52 AM   #12
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How great that your trip worked out well, Woosch. Was the stretch of HY 12 your wife didn't like the Hell's Backbone area between Boulder and Escalante, where there are drop-offs on both sides and no shoulders along the highway at that point? A bit tough on people afraid of heights, but the slickrock country it traverses is spectacular.
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Old 10-14-2012, 04:47 PM   #13
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Len N Jean- That's the spot!
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Old 10-14-2012, 06:58 PM   #14
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I wish we were following you .... We did that trip two summers ago, wonderful. If you get to Zion, 5 Star Rating, be certain to hike some on the trails...two of the best trails are accessable....

Happy Trails
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