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Need help with itinerary in September

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
217 posts
13 reviews
Need help with itinerary in September

Dear Friends on TRIPADVISOR, would you please help pointing out as many flaws as possible in this itinerary? I particularly need your help in the routes. I tried to break up the drive so that I don’t have to drive more than 3 hour in one go. Please feel free to replace the point of attractions with something else as you see practical.

I had been to Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce before, therefore I am avoiding these three NP in this trip.

No, I haven’t booked a car (or SUV?), nor have I make any accommodation reservations. I know that time is tight. I guess we just have to live with whatever type of accommodation at a more expensive rate.

The number of days is flexible although I would like to cut short rather than expanding this itinerary.

D1: 04/09/18

4 hours - drive from SLC International Airport to Moab (I-15 S, US-6 E and US-191 S). Accommodation at Moab

D2: 05/09/18

10 mins drive to Arches National Park. Full day in Arches. Accommodation at Moab.

D3: 06/09/18

45 mins drive to Dead Horse Point State Park (US-191 N, UT-313 W), then about half-an-hour drive to Island In the Sky.

Pack lunch (as there’s nothing to eat nearby?).

Another half-hour drive to Grand View Point and then Mesa Arch.

About 2 hours drive from Mesa Arch back to Moab. Accommodation at Moab.

D4: 07/09/18

1.5h drive from Moab to Needles (US-191 S, UT-211W).

1.5h drive from Needles to Monticello (UT-211E). Accommodation at Monticello.

D5: 08/09/18

1.5h drive from Monticello to Mexican Hat. Lunch break at Mexican Hat.

2.5h drive from Mexican Hat to Page of Arizona (US-163, US-160W, AZ-98W, Coppermine Road, S Lake Powell Blvd, S Navajo Drive). Accommodation at Page.

D6: 08/09/18

Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

Do I have time to kayak at Glen Canyon?

Accommodation at Page

D7: 09/09/18

Morning tour of Antelope Canyon (North)

2h drive from Antelope Canyon to Marble Canyon (AZ-98W, US-89S, US-89A N)

Drive from Marble Canyon to Paria Canyon

1h drive Paria Canyon back to Page. Accommodation at Page.

D8: 10/09/18

Grand Staircase Escalante National Park. Accommodation at Page.

D9: 11/09/18

1.5h drive from Page to Kanab (S Navajo Drive, S Lake Powell Blvd, S Lake Powell Blvd, US-89, S 100 E). Lunch break at Kanab.

1.5h drive from Kanab to Bryce Canyon (S 100 E, US-89 N, N 300W, UT-12E, UT-63S).

Accommodation at Bryce or Hatch.

D10: 12/09/18

Grand Staircase-Escalante. Accommodation at Bryce or Hatch.

D11: 13/09/18

2.5h drive from Bryce to Torrey (UT-63 N, UT-12 E, UT-24 W). This is a scenic drive, correct? Accommodation at Torrey

D12: 14/09/18

1.5h drive from Torrey to Goblin Valley State Park (UT-24 E).

30 min drive from Goblin Valley State Park to Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon.

2h drive from Little Wild Horse back to Torrey (Goblin Valley Road, Temple Mt Road, UT-24 W)/

Accommodation at Torrey

D13: 15/09/18

Full day in Capitol Reef National Park. Accommodation at Torrey.

D14: 16/09/18

2.5h drive from Torrey to Spanish Fork (UT-24W to US-50W, I-15 N to UT-156S)

Accommodation at Spanish Fork.

D15: 17/09/18

1h drive from Spanish Fork to Salt Lake City International Airport. Fly home.

12 replies to this topic
Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,354 posts
250 reviews
1. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

15 days is reasonable, though your plan is not so much. Don’t leave home until you have confirmed Reservations for every night of your itinerary. It’s not about the cost of accommodations. It’s about finding them. You don’t want to be driving for hours in darkness at the end of a day between No Vacancy signs.

You’re missing Monument Valley. Grand Staircase/Escalante is not accessible from Page. You need to add 30-50% to all of your drive time estimates. In some cases, much more.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,842 posts
41 reviews
2. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Here are my observations.

Grand Staircase is not a national park. It's a vast, remote region that mostly inaccessible by passenger car. There's a visitor center at Big Water, Utah, west of Page. You'll see some of GS on the drive from Page to Kanab and along highway 12 between Bryce and Torrey. You do not need to plan two days to see it. You don't even need a day.

I think you have too much time in Page. If you want to shorten up this trip that's one place you can do it.

Since you've been to Bryce and it's unlikely that you'll find hotel rooms there at this late date, I suggest that you stay overnight in Escalante. This puts you in a good position to enjoy the drive on Highway 12 between Escalante and Torrey.

Here's what I suggest for an itinerary.

Sept 4: SLC to Moab Overnight Moab

Sept 5: Arches ***There is no food for sale in either Arches or Canyonlands (both sections)

Sept 6: Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Sept 7: Needles to Monument Valley. 3 hour drive. Overnight Monument Valley

Sept 8: Do guided tour of Monument Valley in AM. Drive to Page. 2.5 hour drive Evening boat tour on Lake Powell or late afternoon guided kayak tour on Lake Powell. Overnight

Sept 9: AM tour of Antelope Canyon. Drive to Marble Canyon etc. in afternoon. Overnight Page

Sept 10: Page to Escalante Utah. 3.5 hour drive. Maybe do a brief stop at Bryce. Overnight Escalante

Sept 11: Escalante to Torrey, Utah. This drive can take most of the day. You can do the 6 mile round trip hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls, stop at the viewpoints on Highway 12 and drive the paved portion of the Burr Trail from Boulder, Utah. Overnight Torrey

Sept 12: Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley. Overnight Torrey

Sept 13: Capitol Reef NP.

Sept 14: More Capitol Reef

Sept 15: Torrey to Salt Lake City. Drive the Fish Lake Highway and Mount Nebo Scenic Byway. You may get some early fall color on these drive. Fish Lake Highway is highway 25. Mount Nebo Scenic Byway is a 35 mile drive between Nephi Utah and Payson Utah. Even without doing these scenic drives, it's just a 3.5 hour, very easy drive to Salt Lake City.

I see no reason to stay overnight in very uninteresting, suburban Spanish Fork. In fact, I suggest that you actually go to Park City, Utah for the night before your flight. It's just a 40 minute drive to SLC airport from Park City. Park City is a ski resort town in the mountains. You may even want to spend a couple of nights there.

The issue you are going to have with this trip is getting hotel reservations at all these destinations. You are very late in getting this trip organized. Don't get on the plane without having hotel reservations in place and your reservation for the Antelope Canyon tour made.

Your routing fine. You just need to add about 30% more time to allow for basic stops (food/fuel/restroom) and travel delays on the two lane highways you will be driving. Also, plan on completing all your driving between destinations before sunset.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
217 posts
13 reviews
3. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Connie and RedRox, thank you for your valuable advice. I will adjust my itinerary and yes, will check accommodations first. The fall back plan is to postpone this trip to next year.

Once again,thank you.

Level Contributor
3,419 posts
42 reviews
4. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

I think you will be OK to get accommodations in those places, even last minute.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,842 posts
41 reviews
5. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Brian, the OP is traveling next month. Except maybe Moab and Page where there are a lot of hotel rooms, I think there will be a problem showing up at destinations where hotels aren't plentiful...Torrey, Utah being one of them. But I suppose it also depends on what the OP's final itinerary plan is.

That said, @Single_Traveler, I still think it would be a good idea to get reservations in place before you travel. Otherwise, figuring where you are going to sleep each night will be the first order of business every day. For me personally, I would rather travel knowing that I have a confirmed place to sleep in a hotel and at the price of my choosing. I can go about my activities and plan for each day knowing that I'll have a decent place to sleep that night.

Level Contributor
3,419 posts
42 reviews
6. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Connie - I'm not suggesting waiting until traveling to get accommodations - I'm saying right now is last minute but with intended locations like Moab, Kanab, Page, Hatch, and Spanish Fork there should be availability and the trip should be doable. Thanks for the call out to help me clarify that I don't mean to wait to book until arrival.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
217 posts
13 reviews
7. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Dear Utah Experts, I just cannot thank you enough. I am following Connie's suggestions and have confirmed all accommodations. Now I need your help again to fine-tune my plan. This is my first road trip being the driver. Would you please have a look at my plan and chip in as many suggestions as possible, please?

Day 1: Drive from SLC to Moab. Overnight at Moab.

Day 2: Arches

Day 3: Dead Horse Point, Island in The Sky, Grand View Point Overlook, Mesa Arch  how long do you think I should stay in each of these places? I am just not sure whether one day is enough.

Day 4: Leave Moab. Drive to Needles and then Monument Valley. Overnight at Monument Valley  when I search Google Map, it comes up with different routes for Needles District Visitor Center, Needles Overlook Road, Needles Outpost & Campground and Canyonlands National Park Needles District. I suppose I should choose the last one, being “Canyonlands National Park Needles”, is that correct?

 The same question for Monument Valley. When you say overnight at Monument Valley, are you referring to Oljato-Monument Valley?

Day 5: Guided tour of Monument Valley in the morning. Drive to Page after lunch. Overnight at Page.

Day 6: Morning guided tour to Antelope Canyon. Lunch. Drive to Marble Canyon, Paria Canyon then Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. Overnight at Page.

Day 7: Leave Page. Drive to Bryce. Lunch. Drive to Escalante. Overnight at Escalante.

Day 8: Drive from Escalante to Torrey. Enroute to Boulder and stop at Lowe Calf Creek Falls Trail for a hike. Lunch at Boulder. Continue driving into Torrey.

Day 9: Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley  how long should I stay in each of these two places?

Day 10 and Day 11: Capitol Reef  Would you please recommend activities or point of attractions for these two days?

Day 12: drive to and stay overnight at Utah Olympic Park and/or Park City.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
217 posts
13 reviews
8. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Also, should I buy the Annual Pass to the National Parks? Does GPS work for my routes? Should I get a standard car or SUV?

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,842 posts
41 reviews
9. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Great, first hurdle cleared you have hotel accommodations.

To answer your questions.

Day 3: You'll know how long to stay at the points of interest in Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point when you are there. On our first visit to the Island in the Sky district and Dead Horse Point earlier this year, my husband and I took in all we wanted to see in about 4 hours. However, some how we missed Mesa Arch. This was driving to most of the viewpoints and overlooks in Canyonlands and stopping at Dead Horse point. Our trip was in February though and we more or less had the park to ourselves. I'm reasonably certain that a full day will be plenty of time.

Day 4: We have never been to the Needles district. Hopefully someone will be along to answer your question about the proper turn. When I say Monument Valley, I mean Monument Valley, the Native American Tribal Park. There are two options for lodging at Monument Valley. The first choice is The View. The second choice is Gouldings Lodge.

Day 5: I think that your Day 6 is a bit busy. I would suggest that you book a boat tour of Lake Powell for this evening. Either that or book a late afternoon tour of Antelope Canyon.

Day 6: You are just going to have to gauge your time when you go to Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry. It's an hour drive to there from Page. Paria Canyon is in a wilderness area. Ask locally before you head there.

Day 9: Get a very early start to Lower Calf Creek Falls. It's a 6 mile round trip hike with absolutely no shade Be sure you have plenty of water, sun screen and sun protection.

Day 10: Again, you'll know how long to stay at these places when your there. Little Wild Horse Canyon is a hike in a slot canyon.. Goblin Valley is a state park. You can do a look/see there or spend some time among the rock formations. You'll use most of your day.

Day 11: Stop at the visitor center and talk to a ranger about hikes, etc. We have done the hike to Hickman Bridge Grand Wash to the Narrows from the highway 24 trailhead, the hike to Cassidy Arch, part of Capitol Gorge, and part of Grand Wash from the scenic drive trailhead. There are other hikes and points of interest. Also, spend some time on the official website for the park. There's information there about planning a trip.

Day 12: There are no accommodations at the Olympic Park. Book a hotel in Park City. Something in the Kimball Junction area will be close to the Olympic Park. But staying at a hotel close to Main Street Park City may be more interesting. it's a about a 20 minute drive from the Olympic Park to Main Street.

Yes, buy an annual pass. You will pay a separate entry fee for Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon.

Rent a car that you are comfortable driving. All the roads you are traveling are well maintained, paved roads. You don't need 4WD, If you find yourself on an unpaved, dirt or gravel road, you are going in the wrong direction. Turn around.

Do not rely on GPS when traveling in this region. Unless you are precise in entering coordinates, GPS can lead you astray with potentially disasterous consequences. Obtain a good printed road map/maps of Utah and Arizona before you leave. Find these destinations. The routing should become obvious. In most cases, there's just one way to get from point A to point B to point C, etc. Bring the map with you.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
217 posts
13 reviews
10. Re: Need help with itinerary in September

Words cannot express how much I appreciate the Forum Experts, Connie in particular, for your time and advice. I would not be able to travel anywhere without getting your guidance first. THANK YOU ALL, SO VERY MUCH.

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