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Visiting National Parks in AZ and UT: where to stay?

Discussion in 'US - Western States Timesharing' started by LisaH, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    We plan to do a quick road trip to UT and AZ, visiting Antelope Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and maybe also Arches and Canyonland. We have all visited Grand Canyon at least once so maybe a quick stop but not high on our priority list. Where should we plan to stay? Is Worldmark St George a good base for Zion, Bryce and Antelope Canyon? We are not limited to timeshare but Worldmark, if possible, would be a great consideration logistically. The timeframe is about a week. Thanks!
     
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  2. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    St. George is closest to Zion, roughly 45 minutes away. So the Worldmark would work for that area, unless you wanted to stay closer to the Park. Springdale, Utah, is right outside the west entrance to Zion, and has a number of nice motels. If you want to catch the sunrise in Zion Canyon, I'd suggest staying in Springdale.

    Bryce is about two hours northeast from St. George, and a sunrise there is absolutely worthwhile. There aren't many options for overnighters, so my suggestion would be staying at Bryce Canyon Lodge, (inside the Park), or at Ruby's Inn (outside the Park.) Even if you don't stay inside the Park, having breakfast at the Bryce Canyon Lodge is a pleasant thing to do.

    Antelope Canyon is near Page, by Lake Powell, and it's clear across the state from St. George, heading east. You'd want to stay in that area to do Antelope Canyon - the drive to get there from St. George takes roughly 3 hours. Find something in Page for overnight before your Antelope Canyon visit.

    Arches and Canyonlands are closest to Moab, Utah, many hours away from St. George - roughly 350 miles away. There are no timeshares there. They are parks well worth the trouble to visit, but they need to be a trip unto themselves. Trying to see five Parks (including Antelope Canyon) in a week's time is just not going to work, if you intend to get out of that car and actually see something. ;)

    There are many other things to do around there than just these five locations. If you have the time and inclination, you can easily fill a week or two in the area. Have fun!

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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  3. taffy19

    taffy19 TUG Member

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    You will be very busy visiting all these beautiful places. I can't recommend any timeshares because we have never stayed at any of them. Are you just driving through?
     
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  4. Sandy VDH

    Sandy VDH TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    We did this very thing. Stay in Moab (I think best western 2 nights), Stay in Page (Mariott 1 night), Stay in Bryce Canyon (Best Western in Park 2 nights), stayed at Worldmark in St George (3 nights). We did a week in Yellowstone first, then did this.

    Flew into Bozeman, MT and then out of Las Vegas, NV (after a 2 night stay there too).
     
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  5. MuranoJo

    MuranoJo TUG Member

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    JMHO, but, wow, that's packing in a lot for just one week. Seems to me it would be a drive-through, with little time to explore each park.
     
  6. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input. Exactly what I was looking for :)
    Found this on the web and I think we will try to replicate minus Grand Canyon and maybe another park (which one?).
     
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  7. mpumilia

    mpumilia Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I am hoping to do something similar one day adding in Mesa Verde and Durango. But I want to go with a tour group and leave the driving and logistics to them.
     
  8. klpca

    klpca TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    We did Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef over 5 days this fall. I wish that we could have stayed longer - maybe 7-8 days. We had previously been to Zion. Driving in Utah is easy, but places are far apart (about 2 - 3 hours each). St. George would work, but Springdale is exponentially better. At Bryce we stayed at the Lodge. The rooms were basic and had no views, but the lodge itself was nice. It is a quick walk to the edge of the canyon and the trailheads. We stayed in Torrey, Ut. to access Capitol Reef. The lodging in Torrey was meh - I can't even remember where we stayed, but I couldn't recommend the place anyway. I would have preferred being closer to the center of the park but we would have had to camp and this trip wasn't a camping trip.

    Here's a video of Zion that I stumbled across a few weeks ago. You'll love it.
     
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  9. vikingsholm

    vikingsholm Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We stayed in St. George for quick access to Zion. The Worldmark is nice, and there are also the Villas at South Gate timeshares, which seem to deposit a decent sized inventory on Trading Places exchange site.

    From there, we also like to go to Bryce for 2 days, with one overnight. The Grand Staircase Inn in Cannondale is 10-15 miles from Bryce, and rooms are under $100 (we paid $59 off season), with a small store below them. Rooms are basic, but ours was large and clean. There is an excellent fancy restaurant at a small resort a few miles north of Cannondale called the Stone Hearth Grille. It is in a very nice place on a hill with a view of the surrounding area, seems out of place in this remote area but is highly worthwhile to round out the experience. The last few miles to get there were on a graded gravel road.

    It's an easy sidetrip to Kodachrome State Park south of Cannondale 15 minutes or so, all on paved road. Beyond that, you can venture into Grand Staircase Escalante national monument. We took the Cockscomb Road as far as Grosvernor Arch, which was pretty impressive. It's all gravel road though, not always smooth, and not good in wet weather. It was bone dry for us.

    Have been to all 5 national parks in Utah. Zion and Bryce are probably my favorites, but it's hard to choose. Zion has some good outlying portions accessed from different roads such as Kolob and a few others on the way to the main entrance from St. George, which are good drives/hiking areas as well. We did quicker breeze throughs at Arches and Canyonlands with a one night stay in a Moab motel in between. You can see quite a bit just on the driving routes in these 2 parks. Antelope Canyon in Arizona is also great, a don't miss, guided trip required. Capitol Reef is the sleeper. Incredible rock formations are visible from the main roads, but it is more remote. If you don't have time, that's probably the one you'd have to miss.

    If you can do a week in St. George, you can get a reasonably good experience at Zion and Bryce, and with another 4-5 days have time for short side trips to Antelope and Moab with its nearby parks, staying at motels there. I recommend a hike down among the hoodoos in Bryce too, really adds to the experience of just seeing them from the road. Queen's Garden loop is a good one if you only have time for one.

    If you stay in St. George, the nearby Snow Canyon park has a lot of beautiful red and white sandstone rock formations and a long open canyon too, makes for a nice day trip. No shortage of scenic wonders in this entire area.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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  10. JudyH

    JudyH TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I have been there several times, camping and other. I agree this itinerary will work for you. Try for spring or fall. Much more enjoyable.
     
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  11. Karen G

    Karen G Moderator

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    We've done almost the exact itinerary referenced in that website, and it was glorious! I recommend just staying in motels along the way for the best use of your time.
     
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  12. Sandy VDH

    Sandy VDH TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    There was a reason, I had my 85 year old father with me, so hiking was limited.
     
  13. sue1947

    sue1947 TUG Member

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    The recommended itinerary included Goblin Valley and skipped Capitol Reef. Reverse that. Goblin Valley is ok for a quick stop but Cap Reef and any of the other National Parks is 100% better.
    The lodging for Cap Reef is limited but used to be easy to get but that has changed. We had to book a year in advance for our trip in mid October. I've stayed at Austin's Chuckwagon motel and enjoyed it. They have small cabins and regular motel rooms plus a bakery/grocery store/deli with a 3 BR apartment upstairs. If you can get that, it's a great option with a full kitchen. The cabins have a full size refrigerator and microwave and enough counter space to do minimal cooking. It's a small town and most of the motels/lodging are older but clean and decent.
    The drive between Bryce and Torrey along US 12 is a must drive and you need to allow plenty of time for stops. The hike to Calf Ck Falls is a nice one if you have time.
    Of all the places, if you can only get lodging in the park at one spot, make it Bryce. Being able to walk to the rim for sunset/sunrise is a real plus. The lodging isn't anything to write home about but location, location, location. And don't even think of just doing a drive along the rim. You must get out and hike down below the rim. There are a variety of loops and short to long options. If you can't get into the lodge, Ruby's is fine, but you'll be there with all the tour buses. Another option about a half hour away is to book one of the small cabins at Kodachrome Basin state Park. The cabins were redone maybe 10 years ago and have a micro/refrigerator and a picnic table on the front porch with a barbecue out front. You can walk out the door and around the parks for a great sunset stroll.

    There is so much to see in the areas mentioned plus more that aren't as well known. If all you have is a week, I suggest choosing either west or east UT and focus on those areas. Come back for the others on a later trip. In eastern UT, Arches and Canyonlands get all the attention but there's more to see. Canyonlands Needle section is completely different and worth even a short hike in to see it. South of Moab on the way to Monument Valley is Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments and the Valley of the Gods closer to Monument Valley. Then Navajo NM before getting to Page.

    Sue
     
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  14. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    You'll be driving past Capitol Reef National Park, and it deserves a stop. Drive-through, at minimum, hike a bit if you can. Some amazing rock formations. If you need to stay over, Torrey is closest. Motels are average, at best, but the beds are clean. It's all about location.

    Between Zion and Bryce, if you take the right road, you can stop at Kolob Canyon. Very underrated portion of Zion, but worth the visit, on the way to Bryce. Also, don't forget to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets in these places whenever you can. Sunrise at Bryce is breathtaking. Sunset at Arches is amazing, especially if there is a full moon.

    If you do happen to stay in St. George, have breakfast at the Bear Paw Cafe. It's a must-do if you like a great breakfast, and it'll give you a great start to your day. :thumbup: http://www.bearpawcafe.com

    I've driven the bulk of your itinerary a few times, and it never gets old. In fact, next month we're doing it again, with a two-week driving trip starting from flying into Denver, driving west on I-70 to loop over and around into extreme northeast Utah (Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal, UT - the best place you've never heard of), down through Moab to Arches and Canyonlands, then jog over to Mesa Verde NP in Colorado, then back down through Monument Valley, and on to Sedona. Down from there to Tucson, and flying back to Seattle from Phoenix. Should be a lot of great scenery along the way - again. ;)

    Dave
     
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  15. Sandy VDH

    Sandy VDH TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Kolob is also an easy trip from St George, if you use that as a base. I would highly recommend this area too.
     
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  16. saabman

    saabman Guest

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    If you plan on visiting all these parks buy a pass. It'll save you some coin.

    Did you say when you're coming? Just know that Utah has done a very good job of promoting itself and now NPs like Arches and Zion are very crowded from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Zion had 4.3 million visitors last year, double from 2008, and most people stay in the valley. In July you might queue for 2 hours to board a shuttle. To make matters worse the entrance at Springdale only has 2 lanes to get in. Once the parking lots inside the park are full you'll need to find a place outside the entrance and shuttle in. My point is come early! I was there 3rd week of March this year and the Emerald Pools trails were packed --note it was a Saturday-- and the lower pool -- the most iconic pool -- was closed. As mentioned by Sandy, Kolob is good too and will have fewer crowds.

    If you decide to stay in Springdale know there are plenty of nice hotels there but you must book early if coming during high season. And eat at Oscars, the best Mexican restaurant in town.

    re: Arches -- my best advice is to get there before 7 AM and you 'll get in free and avoid what can be extremely hot temps by mid day. Drive all the way to Devils Garden, hike a bit, and make sure you have water, then make your way back. The drive in the morning is gorgeous.

    Too bad you don't have 2 weeks like DaveNW. But enjoy.
     
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  17. MuranoJo

    MuranoJo TUG Member

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    Just responding to the OP and thread participants in general, but my thoughts are we literally fly by these beautiful parks, with itineraries to squeeze in as much as possible via a rushed road trip. It's better than never seeing the parks, but it's not really 'experiencing' the parks.

    IMO, the best experiences we've had have been where we planted ourselves in an area for a good several days and done some exploring, whether hiking or driving.

    And, yes, I do understand mobility issues and time issues--I've been there myself.
     
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  18. mpumilia

    mpumilia Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I totally agree with this. Our best vacations were the same, whether for National Parks or non- National Park places. Especially if you only have a week... We are doing this for our week long June trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Maybe because we are so used to time sharing, but even when we go elsewhere we tend to settle in a bit and allow some time to breathe. After all, it is a vacation. That said, sometimes in the interest of time and the big picture of your life- especially if you feel you might not get back to an area- you might feel you have to squeeze in a bit more. But that is best if you have 2 weeks or more in my opinion.
     
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  19. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Agreed. I think part of the issue is where these Parks are located. In this area, only Zion is what I'd consider "drivably close" to a major airport (Las Vegas.) The other Parks are on the way to somewhere else, and in the case of Arches and Canyonlands, the Parks are practically across the highway from each other. How can you see one without seeing the other? It takes effort to get there, and unless that is THE destination planned for that trip, there is the propensity to say, "Ooh, as long as I'm there, I'll go to this second place. But wait! This third place is down the road. And then we can see..." It's easy to add more and more into the mix, until the entire trip is all about miles spent in the car, trying to get from Place A to Place B. I'm guilty of it myself, trying to maximize the time/location thing. Not that it's a bad thing...

    In 2009 I exchanged into Villas at Southgate in St. George for a week. We stayed the first two nights and last two nights of our week in the condo, seeing Zion and the surrounding area. The three middle nights were spent one-each at Bryce Canyon NP, at Capitol Reef NP, and the North Rim of Grand Canyon NP. We put 1500 miles on the rental car that week, starting and ending in Las Vegas. It was a remarkable vacation, (the Fall color in the Aspen trees along Utah's Scenic Highway 12 was unforgettable.) But we needed to come home to get some rest.

    Dave

    Aspens.jpg
     
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  20. vikingsholm

    vikingsholm Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Yes, if you can fit in 12 days to 2 weeks for this trip, do it. It is a remarkable and varied area, with a lot of terrain to cover.
     
  21. vikingsholm

    vikingsholm Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Edit: The town I called Cannondale in this post above is actually Cannonville.
     
  22. Sandy VDH

    Sandy VDH TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    For an 85 year old, my Dad was reasonably mobile. He acted more like a 65 year old than an 85 year old. But we did mostly the easy/moderate walk style hikes. We did a lot of the Geyser Basins in Yellowstone. We got up and did Mesa Arch at Sunrise in Canyonlands, we did the walk to Delicate Arch in Arches. We drove to see Navajo National Monument, we hiked out to Horseshoe Bend in Paige. We did the Walk along the Virgin River in Zion. But the hardest walk for my Dad was the rim walk at Bryce Canyon, you really don't realize how high you are there, you are over 10,000 ft, and he was thinking he was getting out of shape as he was out of breath, I had to tell me that I was out of breath too.

    We did not hike every easy or moderate walk, but we did at least one in each park and spend time getting to see the vistas.

    I will treasure that vacation forever, exactly one year after that trip, my Dad had a sudden and brief illness and passed away within 12 days. During that year he talked to everyone he know about what a great trip he had. So to me that make that trip and those memories priceless to me.
     
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  23. VegasBella

    VegasBella TUG Member

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    If you're open to staying at a nontimeshare you might want to check out Kanab, Utah. http://kanab.utah.gov/
    "Kanab is centrally located right in the middle of TEN of America's greatest scenic wonders - making it the perfect base-camp for exploring, hiking, boating, photography or back country adventure!"

    If you stay or just visit St George I recommend Even Steven's Sandwiches.
    http://evenstevens.com/
     
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  24. LisaH

    LisaH TUG Lifetime Member

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    Thanks everyone! I know I can count on tuggers for best travel info. We have decided to postpone the trip until fall so we won't rush to do it in less than a week. I will revisit this thread when we plan in more details.
    Sandy, I know how you feel. I have been traveling with mom to Shanghai and Taiwan the past two weeks. In Taiwan, we hired a driver and he took us everywhere up and down the island. Mom tried to walk as much as she could (and she did very well I might add). For some hike, I did it with my friend or the guide while she waited in the car. Mom is 84 and in very good health, but I'm not sure how many more trips I could go on with her. I treasure whatever time we spend together now.
     
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  25. uop1497

    uop1497 Guest

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    Thanks for sharing useful information.
     

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