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Help with Southwest itinerary

Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
30 posts
Help with Southwest itinerary

We have a tentative itinerary for our mid Sept. trip to CO/Utah. Would you please comment on feasibility or folly of it. D1: Arrive Denver by noon and drive to Montrose and spend the night.D2: See Black Canyon of Gunneson, drive to Telluride then Mesa Verde, spend night at Far View Lodge. D3: See more of Mesa Verde, drive to Canyon de Chully, maybe a sunset or am tour, spend night at Thunderbird Lodge. D4: drive to Monument Valley, sightsee and spend night in Mexican Hat at San Juan Inn. D5,6: Capital Reef area staying at Cowboy Homestead Cabins and Austins Chuckwagon. D7,8,9 staying in Moab to visit Arches and Canyonlands. D10: sightsee and spend night somewhere near Denver for next day flight home. We would like to insert visits to Valley of the Gods, Goblin Valley, Gooseneck, Little Wild Horse Canyon and Dead Horse Point when and if time allows. We are content with just driving the "scenic loops" at the NP and short hikes less then 2-3 hours not necessarily at every stop. We realize most people enjoy spending more time at a few location but we would rather sample a little of everything since we probably won't be able to come back. Thanks for any advise or feedback you can offer.

19 replies to this topic
Eagle, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,680 posts
1. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Lot of driving. Denver to Montrose is 5 1/2 hours no traffic or stops after your flight. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to get out of DIA and get a car. Montrose to Mesa Verde is 4-41/2 to far view Add a few hour to tour and get to and from Black Canyon. It takes a full day to see MV well. To see the ruins you need to book on ranger guided tours and it takes time getting up and down from the 2 separate mesas to see the best ruins. Canyon de Chelly is 3 1/2 hours. You need to get guided tours here also. Monument Valley is also best seen with Navajo guides rather than just a drive through. 3 days in Moab is good. Not sure how you could add anything more into what you have. I would probably remove a thing or 2, but that's up to you.

Edited: 03 August 2018, 00:33
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,808 posts
41 reviews
2. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Good points from 618keith.

JMO, there’s no point going to Mesa Verde if you don’t do at least one of the cliff dwelling tours. You should have two nights at Far View Lodge to accommodate getting tour tickets and just the logistics of getting around the park.

I don’t see how you can add anything else except Dead Horse Point which is easily added with a visit to Canyonlands. A stop at Little Wild Horse is probably outside your hiking parameters. You can probably do a look see of Goblin Valley on the day you transition to Moab from Torrey..

I guess there’s a reason you are staying in two different places for your Capitol Reef visit. I know where the Cowboy Cabins are. There’s little there except the cabins and the scenery. Unless you are traveling with.a cooler, you need to go into Torrey for dinner and breakfast. If your age falls in the senior category, you can ask for a discount at Austin’s. They don’t advertise the rate. But if you call and talk to Michelle, the manager, she will probably offer it. We pay $109 there plus tax for a room in the lodge section at Austin’s every single time we stay there which is a couple of times a year.

Eagle, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,680 posts
3. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

I would also add on your drive to and from Denver, there is a fair amount of construction going on that may or may not slow you up on your drive. Paving in summit county, Paving in Vail area, rock work in Glenwood Canyon, bridge work in Wolcott, may be others west of glenwood but I haven't gone that way recently. From my experience recently those can not slow you up at all to hold you up 15 to 30 minutes depending on the day. After Labor day they frequently get more aggressive with lane closure etc..as they are pushing to finish work in the mountains before winter hits.

utah
Level Contributor
3,411 posts
42 reviews
4. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Little Wildhorse Canyon can be done as a 2-3 hour hike. Overall, it's an easy hike except for a couple hundred yards at the end of the dirt road there is a bit of rock scrambling. With that said, it's far enough out off the way of the rest of your itinerary I'm not sure how you'd fit it in.

For Mesa Verde it probably only makes sense to go into the park once. You have to drive an hour or more from the park entrance to get to the sites of interest. Unfortunately, that makes it very difficult to do as a 1/2 day as you have planned now.

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,351 posts
250 reviews
5. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Good advice already. This is not a realistic itinerary. Day 1 is too long. Mesa Verde needs 2 nights. If you’re going to Monument Valley, stay at the View or Goulding’s.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
30 posts
6. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

We could skip Montrose/Black Canyon, stay in Grand Junction, then next morning head straight to Mesa Verde. We're staying in two different places at Capitol because I couldn't get two nights at Cowboy Cabins but maybe I could at Austin's, (thanks for the senior tip) I would definitely rather stay put. Driving time I just took from google search which I guess is based on perfect conditions and not reality, I'll plan on adding drive time to everything. Lodging availability is pretty tight so I'm not sure I can juggle the middle too much or risk sleeping "under the stars". First and last night stays are flexible. Thank you all for your input, if anyone sees any other areas to be tweaked, please share your ideas. If you all live in the Southwest, I'm extremely jealous. We've been lucky enough to travel to many countries and most states and the Southwest is my favorite.

,

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,808 posts
41 reviews
7. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

I would opt for two nights at Austin's over two nights at Cowboy Cabins...more services, dining options, etc. If you like hamburgers, dinner one night should be from the Capitol Burger Food Truck that will be in the parking lot next to the Austin's General Store.

Another option in Torrey are the cabins at Torrey Trading post which are across the street from Austin's. A cabin with two double beds is $50 a night. On a recent family trip to Torrey, my son stayed in one of the cabins and we had the owner show us all of their units. The cabins were spotless with WiFi and a good television. The bathroom is in a separate building. It is a private bath and not communal. My son said that arrangement wasn't really an issue. At $50, it's a great value.

Edited: 03 August 2018, 19:24
Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
11,652 posts
1 review
8. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Im altering your itinerary I pasted below....

D1: Arrive Denver by noon and drive to Gunnison, night there

D2: See Black Canyon of Gunneson, drive 550 to Durango then to mesa verde, spend night at Far View Lodge.

D3: Sneed to book tickets for tours either at balcony house or cliff palace. Do a morning hike. leave around 2pm for CdC. for sunset go to spider rock along southern flank.

D4:am do a floor of canyon tour. pm to drive to Monument Valley, sightsee and spend night in Mexican Hat at San Juan Inn.

D5: am to Capital Reef area, Pm Capitol Reef

D6: to goblin and LWHC then to moab

D7,8 staying in Moab to visit Arches and Canyonlands.

day 9 a/early PM Moab, drive to aspen or glenwood springs

D10 am maroon bells, pm independence pass then 285 back to denver

utah
Level Contributor
3,411 posts
42 reviews
9. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Regarding the Mesa Verde rework, another option would be to keep Black Canyon, and a night at Mesa Verde, then skip Canyon de Chully and go straight to Monument Valley.

Of course, it's your choice, but personally that's what I would do for the following reasons: a) I haven't done Black Canyon but my daughter did it it recently and raved about it - I'd probably pick Black Canyon for it's uniqueness, b) You save a few hours driving on a trip with a lot of driving, c) Canyon de Chully is arguably a bit redundant with Mesa Verde. If you had a full day at Mesa Verde it would give you sufficient time to see several Pueblo ruin sites as well as read and learn about them at the indoor locations at Mesa Verde.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
30 posts
10. Re: Help with Southwest itinerary

Brian, it sounds like a good idea to skip Canyon de Chelly and opt for another night in the Monument Valley area if we can find lodging. I like keeping Black Canyon if you don't think that its too long of a first day. Barring any delays we should be out of the airport by 1:15 Dan, we were originally heading to Durango from Montrose but I'm embarrassed to say I was trying to avoid the "Million Dollar Highway" because of my dislike of heights and my husbands fearless driving...that was code for crazy. I'm also ok with just two nights in Moab since thats our most expensive lodging, over $230/night at a Super 8.

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