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Old 04-14-2016, 08:32 AM   #1
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Southwest Tour Planning

I know much has been posted on this topic, which will require a bit of study. My wife and I are planning a trip to the southwest this fall with the intention of hitting Death Valley in the last half of October before we scoot back to Ohio ahead of the wintery stuff. Our jumping-off point will be Fort Collins CO after visiting my son. We're basically planning two full days (arrival date, two days to explore, then depart the next day) at each of the following locations before moving on:

Arches Devils Garden
Back to Moab for a night
Canyonlands Eye in the Sky
Back to Moab for a night
Canyonlands Needles
Moab again?
Capital Reef National Park
Grand Staircase / Escalante National Monument
Bryce Canyon
Zion
Maybe Las Vegas are for a night or two
Death Valley
Head home through Santa Fe area

A couple of comments: we've been to the Grand Canyon so we're willing to pass on that one. All the Moab nights are to replenish our supplies, take showers, etc. It seems that a lot of the places in that area have limited water and dump facilities.

There are obviously many more places and much to do at each of the ones listed. Overall, are we missing any "must-see" areas, especially for photography? Short hikes are good, but we're not up to all-day events. Anything that you would drop from the list in favor of another spot?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
Parker
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:04 AM   #2
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Parker, it looks like a fun list. Be aware that October has become a really popular month for all those National Parks and the campgrounds tend to fill up. We are shocked at the crowds at Bryce and especially at Zion. At Bryce, several times there were 3 tour bus loads of French, Japanese and Chinese tourists packed into the viewpoints. The Zion campground is pretty packed in and the big rigs around us seemed to be running their generators constantly. Capital Reef was much less crowed and offers a lot of really nice hikes short or long hikes. But even there we scored the last campsite when we rolled in at about 2PM. At Arches we camped outside the park, so I don't know about its campground, but it is a really fun place to hike in and the views change all during the day as the sun angle changes.

Almost everywhere we talked with Rangers who were great and helpful about how to find quieter trails and areas. One was especially helpful at Zion as he told us to take an unmarked river trail and also sent us to the Lava Point that has a quiet primitive campground and trails that look down into the canyon. We didn't camp there, but wish we had.
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Old 04-14-2016, 09:34 AM   #3
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In the Canyonlands area, (Islands in the Sky) at least a visit (you can also camp there) to Dead Horse Point State Park is well worth it. Another state park I enjoy visiting (and camping at) is Kodachrome Basin near Bryce. I have some photos of the areas at my State & National Parks pages.
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Old 04-14-2016, 10:30 AM   #4
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Hard to beat any of these suggestions. Out there, it's a really-really big country. What the water did to the rocks over the centuries here it did differently there. It boils down to how much time you got, are willing to spend driving. And, we got our Escape so when there's no room at the rv-spot (or the motel), we still got a roof for the night. Gotta love it.
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Old 04-14-2016, 04:16 PM   #5
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We stayed at the first 6 on your list last fall, had no problems getting water either at the campground (for Bryce we stayed in Kodachrome) or the visitor centers. Just have to have a way of hauling it, we used a 6 gallon jug, and a way to get it into the tank. Most of the national park campgrounds were full early in the day.

Being fairly careful with water usage we used between 6 and 7 gallons when we used the Escapes shower, about 3 if we didn't.
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
We stayed at the first 6 on your list last fall, had no problems getting water either at the campground (for Bryce we stayed in Kodachrome) or the visitor centers. Just have to have a way of hauling it, we used a 6 gallon jug, and a way to get it into the tank. Most of the national park campgrounds were full early in the day.

Being fairly careful with water usage we used between 6 and 7 gallons when we used the Escapes shower, about 3 if we didn't.
If you camp at Dead Horse Point State Park, you will need to bring your own water. No source to fill a trailer - they do have a fountain to fill jugs but all their water is trucked in from Moab so they ask you to bring your own. Their sites have electricity.

Kodachrome Basin has some full hookup sites.
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:48 PM   #7
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Wow, this is great feedback. I'm just now checking back in here, as I've been de-winterizing the Escape and doing a bunch of landscape work prior to us hopefully heading off for a few days at Cades Cove in the Smokies. So we've picked up some must-see spots and campground recommendations. Perfect. Thanks.
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Old 04-14-2016, 05:53 PM   #8
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Oh, and Jon, we'll certainly visit your site. Carol, as you may remember from the Niagara outing a couple of years ago, is big into photography. I need to find a hobby to occupy myself while she's taking pictures. I just never quite made the digital transition. I've threatened to pack along an 8x10 view camera, looking for that one perfect shot each day.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:23 PM   #9
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Everything in the areas you've listed are an awesome experience. Moab is one of our favorite destinations and not only are there some good commercial rv parks there is tons of BLM camping in the area.

While in Moab don't miss breakfast at the ol Jailhouse Cafe restaurant in downtown.
http://www.moabsunnews.com/news/arti...a4bcf6878.html
Also, there are some great 1/2 day very gentle raft trips that leave downtown Moab that are quite scenic and enjoyable.
http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/rafting/

We really enjoyed this campground that's part of the Quality Inn right outside the main gate to Zion NP. Zion National Park Campground €” Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort €” 479 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale, UT, 84767 €” (435) 772-3237

This rv park looked good at Bryce if the park is full, but we only ate at the attached Ruby's Inn and didn't stay at the campground.
Home - Bryce Canyon Campgrounds It was right outside the park gate as well.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:27 PM   #10
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We stayed at Ruby'sRV park just outside Bryce, as we assumed the park campground would be full by the time we got there in the afternoon (given our experiences at other National Parks in the area). Then we drove into the park only that there were sites open. Ruby's was well maintained, clean and we weren't packed in next to land whales. They gave us a nice little corner site with no neighbors too close.
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