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Last week of March?

10 posts
Last week of March?

Is the last week of March a reasonable time to visit the Grand Circle area? We would be looking at the week of March 24, 2019. Probably flying into Las Vegas or Salt Lake City March 23.

We haven't starting to prioritize sites to visit because we need to know if this is a good option. But, places to visit may include Arches, Zion, Bryce, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We would not be camping. Is there anything we miss out on by going this early in the spring? What are the benefits of going at this time? Our other options would be late July/early August.

5 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,776 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Last week of March?

Spring is a good time to visit the area. The parks won't be as crowded as summer and the daytime temps will be pleasant. With just a week, you won't have time to go to Arches/Canyonlands. You won't miss out on anything going in March except the huge crowds and heat of the summer.

Day 1: Fly in to Las Vegas. Overnight

Day 2: Las Vegas to South Rim Grand Canyon

Day 3: South Rim top Page AZ (Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend)

Day 4: Page to Bryce

Day 5: Bryce AM Zion PM

Day 6: Zion

Day 7: Zion to Las Vegas

If you fly in to SLC, you can do this loop:

Day 1: Arrive SLC,. Overnight

Day 2: SLC to Torrey, Utah (Capitol Reef)

Day 3: Torrey to Bryce

Day 4: Bryce to Zion

Day 5: Zion

Day 6: Zion AM. Return to SLC PM

Day 7 Fly home

OR this route:

Day 1: Arrive SLC

Day 2: Drive to Moab

Day 3: Arches or Canyonlands

Day 4: Arches or Canyonlands

Day 5: Moab to Capitol Reef

Day 6: Capitol Reef

Day 7: Capitol Reef to SLC for late flight home.:

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
67,345 posts
250 reviews
2. Re: Last week of March?

You’ll need more than a week to visit all of those places. Can you drive the mileage? Probably yes, but that’s all you’ll do. You won’t have time at the destinations. Decide your priorities it’s a huge region.

Southwest and Grand Circle Trip Planning

Everyone wants to visit the parks in the western USA. It's something that every family can and should do at some time. These vacations can be life changing and bonding experiences. Or they can be nightmares.

Most travelers equate being in the parks and outdoor environments with hiking. It's important to understand that hiking is not a requirement for enjoying the wilderness. Time is. This cannot be understated. One cannot begin to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of the national parks unless and until they spend time there. It can be as simple as sitting at a single view point for hours, or as elaborate as day long hikes or extended back country camping trips. But arriving at a view point, snapping a picture, and driving on (a la Clark Griswold) is simply not going to do it. At the very least, most of the national parks in the southwest need a day or longer, just to self tour the many attractions and view points therein. Sunset and sunrise are generally the most peaceful and stunning times of day in the sun's rapidly changing light. So overnight stays at, or as close as possible, will enhance a visit to any park.

Logistically, it takes about a half day or longer to travel between most of the parks in the 4 corners states. Often, the scenic drives are enticing enough to warrant additional stops and detours along the way. Regardless, it takes at least two nights at any park or destination to have just one full day there. Many trip planners fail to understand this.

Driving at night in the high desert region is strongly discouraged. Roads are desolate. Ambient lighting is non existent meaning highways are very dark. Wildlife of all sorts and sizes populate the roads from dusk until dawn. Even domestic farm animals like cattle and sheep wander on the pavement.

When trip planners are also expressing a specific desire to include hiking as a regular activity at the parks, and asking for advice on which trails to focus on, they need to realize that they will probably need multiple days and nights at the stop in order to do the hiking or whatever other activities, beyond quick snapshots, they have in mind.

Everyone wants to 'see as much as they can'. What they fail to realize is that by adding more places and activities to a list, without increasing available time, they wind up seeing less and reducing the quality of their vacation time. It's far better to plan more time at fewer parks and destinations, than to rush around and do little more than touch all the bases.

Everyone wants to stay 'off the beaten path' and avoid the places that are 'touristy'. The path that's well worn is that way because it includes the best places already. If you're planning to tour the parks, you are by definition, a tourist. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you insist on avoiding the most popular sites and activities, you'll be planning a second tier, inferior, vacation. Do the top tier first, then come back to explore more in depth.

So when planning your family vacation in the 4 corners region keep a few points in mind.

0. Less is more. Fewer parks and destinations will mean more quality time at the places you choose. Odds are, if you do a proper vacation at just one or two places, you'll return again to focus on different parks in the future.

0. Advance planning and reservations will save you time and money. Park lodges book up as much as a year in advance. The most sought after accommodations go to those who plan and commit the earliest.

0. Traveling by RV is slower and usually more costly than using a car and traditional hotels and lodging. Even campsites book months in advance.

0. Information found on the Internet is helpful, but needs to be verified. Add 30% to most map app drive time estimates. Use park websites along with traveler review and forum sites like TripAdvisor. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last. But there is much you can learn from folks who have been there and done that.

10 posts
3. Re: Last week of March?

We know that we will need to prioritize and that we will not be able to see everything. I've read the sticky at the beginning of the forum and our family will research various things in deciding which parks/site to prioritize and where to fly into and out of.

Before we do all that, I'm wondering if there is any other feedback on the last week of March. Is there anything we need to keep in mind when planning for that time of year? Anything besides the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that is closed at that time of year?

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Salt Lake City, Lake Powell
Level Contributor
20,776 posts
41 reviews
4. Re: Last week of March?

The last week of March can possibly have cold weather at Bryce and the Grand Canyon as it is very early Spring there. The only other issue would be if the week you are traveling is Spring Break for some school district nationwide. That will have an impact on the crowds in the parks.

Eagle, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,664 posts
5. Re: Last week of March?

March is generally nice. You will want layers for outdoor activities as sometimes it can be cool in the mornings and again when the sun goes down. But the days generally are very pleasant. Crowds are less than summer, but spring break weeks still can be busy enough, so make reservations as soon as you know to get the best locations. Especially, if Easter is in March that is Jeep week in Moab.

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