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Bryce and Zion National Park Trip Planning

Discussion in 'US - Western States Timesharing' started by mpumilia, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Great thread, just noticed it.

    We have never been to Utah before (except to change planes) but circumstances lead us to making two trips this year.

    In July, we are driving up to Park City for a week at Marriott Mountainside. I want to mountain bike the area. On the drive up, I’d like to ride a mountain bike trail called Thunder Mountain. It’s just outside Panguitch, about 40 min west of Bryce Canyon NP. We booked two nights in this little log cabin, about a 7 minute drive from the trailhead.

    [​IMG]

    I know it will be summer and hot, but the elevation is fairly high and I would like to ride close to dawn anyway. The cabin is on this property: https://www.brycecanyoncabins.com/

    After our week in Park City, we’ll stay two nights at the Lodge at Bryce Canyon. Unfortunately weekend days, but that’s just how the trip worked out. We’ll leave Park City fairly early and hopefully arrive Bryce Canyon around 11am on a Friday.

    My thought is to drive out to Rainbow Point, hike Bristlecone Trail, then stop off at all the overlooks on the way back to the lodge. Check in to the Lodge, grab an early dinner in the dining room and then maybe a short hike below the Canyon rim if we’re up to it, or a ranger program, or just chill if we’re tired.

    Sat am, I have an 8am, three hour horseback ride booked down into the canyon floor and then back by 11. We’re planning on watching sunrise on the rim prior to the horseback trip, with a picnic breakfast. Lunch at the dining room after the horse trip and then I’d love to hike some more- ideally Fairyland Trail. But that’s 7.5 miles, might have to settle for something shorter and more crowded.

    Sun, we need to hit the road early, so we won’t have time for much of anything besides packing the car.

    I think I have a pretty good handle on this trip, but comments and suggestions are welcome.

    The other trip is to St George and Zion, I’ll write a separate post on that one.
     
    mpumilia and DaveNW like this.
  2. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    St George/Zion Trip and Questions

    Mon Sept 17- Wed Sept 19 I will be attending a continuing education conference in St George. The conference runs 8-1 each day, the rest of the days are free.

    We’ve decided to devote Fri Sept 14 through Sun Sept 23 to this trip.

    The mountain biking is fabulous in St George and Hurricane, so I want to bring a bike and ride some. If it’s hot, I’ll ride near dawn and then head to my conference afterward (I can be a little late one day if necessary).

    Fri Sept 14 and Sun Sept 23 will be travel days, but I’m not sure how to organize the rest of our time.

    The conference is at this resort in St George: https://www.redmountainresort.com/

    I can for sure get the conference dates from Sunday Sept 16, checking out Wed Sept 19.

    My thought is:
    Fri Sept 14: drive LA to Hurricane
    Fri Sept 14 and Sat Sept 15: Hurricane, get in 1 or 2 Mtn bike rides
    Sun Sept 16- Wed Sept 19: Red Mountain Resort in St George. A few short mtb rides, enjoy the resort
    Wed Sept 19-Sun Sept 23: Zion. We were thinking of free hotel nights in Springdale at a Marriott Town Suites but that Cable Mountain Lodge is tempting. We’d have 2-3 full days to explore Zion. I am actually exploring the possibility of a day trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, me & a mtb guide. Seems a little crazy but the logistics of a separate North Rim mtb trip at a later date are tricky- the drive to the trailhead from the North Rim NP is over an hour each way for me to get dropped off if we went on a later trip, that’s four hours of driving for husband to drop me off and pick me up, unless we camp on the trail. So a long day trip from St George area is not totally crazy.

    Questions:
    1. Staying in Hurricane is appealing, because if we stay in St George, husband has more driving- a round trip drive to drop me off and then pick me up at the trailheads. Doable and he never seems to mind, but it would be nicer for him if I just got up early and rode right from the condo or hotel, then came back for a late breakfast or lunch and we enjoyed the day from there. Suggestions for Hurricane lodging, or should we just plan on St George?
    2. Is it worth looking for a cancellation for the lodge inside Zion? Or just stay outside the park because we’re confined to the shuttle anyway?
    3. Any tips on good Zion hikes or activities? I have something of a fear of heights, anything with rappelling is out.
    4. If I can’t organize the North Rim trip, we’ll just spend the extra day in Zion, or maybe head down to Vegas to visit my aunt. Or should we consider something else?

    Thanks.
     
    mpumilia likes this.
  3. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Random reply: If you're planning a trip to the North Rim in September, make sure it's still going to be open. I camped there a few years ago in a motorhome, and they closed the park the day we left due to snowfall, which was September 15th. It IS doable in one day/overnight from St. George, and you'd have plenty of time to hike or bike around. Sunrise from the North Rim is absolutely remarkable.

    Staying in Hurricane vs. St. George: Stay in St. George. It's only a few miles from SG to Hurricane, and there is MUCH more to do in SG. Hurricane is more residential than anything else, and doesn't have much to offer a bored tourist. SG has plenty to offer.

    Cancellation inside the Lodge at Zion: Sure, if you can get it, but to be honest, the Lodge isn't that great. Cool building, but nothing like Grand Canyon or Yellowstone Lodges. In Springdale there are a number of perfectly nice 3-star motels that would be fine to stay in, and a shuttle that drives every few minutes to the park entrance.

    If the North Rim doesn't work out, look at Snow Canyon outside of St. George. Check this website: https://www.hikestgeorge.com/snow-canyon-state-park-hikes/

    There are a thousand reasons why St. George and the red rock country of Southern Utah is my favorite place to visit on the planet, right after Hawaii. I think after you've seen it, you'll agree.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  4. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Thanks Dave.

    The resort the conference is being held at in St George is an expensive all-inclusive place but the conference rate is non-AI so I will see if they will let me check in Fri Sept 14 at the conference rate. If not, I can get two free nights at the Hyatt Place in St George, probably will be good enough.

    Then we can decide if we want to splurge on the fancy place in Springdale vs the free nights at the Marriott TownePlace. Since it’s a work trip, the conference hotel nights are covered by my employer. Tempting to string together a bunch of free nights for an El Cheapo fabulous trip. But wow on that Cable Mountain Resort. Might be worth a splurge.

    The mountain bike guide who I have been in touch with wants to “talk” before scheduling the North Rim day trip. I’m sure he wants to have a conversation about how the trip would be subject to weather and he’d probably want me to commit to riding elsewhere with him that day is weather dictates. Fair enough.

    The trail I’m talking about is not in the North Rim NP. It’s in a state forest just outside the park. It’s called the Rainbow Rim Trail. You’re not allowed to Mtn bike in NPs but this trail snakes along in forest along the north rim west of the park and pops out right on the rim several times. Supposed to be incredible. I’d love to do it.

    But a direct quote from a Mtn bike friend: Do not discount the quality of the riding around St George, it’s incredible.
     
  5. Karen G

    Karen G Moderator

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    There are still performances going on at the Tuacahn outdoor amphitheater near St. George in September if that interests you. Here's some info:
    Tuacahn
     
  6. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Valid points, certainly. And you can't argue with free accommodations. Keep in mind, it is only about a 45 minute drive from St. George to the entrance to Zion NP. So as nice as Cable Mountain is, all you'll really be saving is that 45 minutes. Weigh the cost of staying at Cable Mountain vs. that easy 45 minute drive. Food for thought.

    Definitely check out that link I posted to Snow Canyon. You may decide the North Rim will keep for another time.

    And for the foodies reading this, arguably the best breakfast in St. George is at the Bear Paw Cafe. Family style dining, and a great atmosphere. https://www.yelp.com/biz/bear-paw-cafe-saint-george

    Dave
     
  7. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    The conference is right at the base of Snow Canyon, so I was planning on riding up into there one day.

    I was looking at drive times from St George to the various Hurricane trailheads- 30 min. So now I’m back to looking for accommodation up that way. There are some camping yurts on Gooseberry Mesa and a few adobe type rentals out that way as well. Might work better rather than asking husband to drive 1 hour RT to drop me off and 1 hr RT to pick me up...
     
  8. DaveNW

    DaveNW TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    I don't know where the Hurricane trailheads would be. The town itself is next to I-15, but runs a fair distance west and (mostly) east from there. If the trails are in the hills east of town, then staying there may be easier than staying in St. George. I'm sure you'll work it out. The whole area is great, and seeing any part of it is better than not seeing any of it. :)

    Dave
     
  9. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Yes, the trails in the Hurricane area are mostly east of town.
    Thanks Dave,

    I talked to a mtb-ing friend who has ridden there. He said he stayed in St George too but he didn't need a ride to the trails.

    The trails are east of Hurricane.

    I've put in a request to stay at the fancy conference hotel at the conference rate starting a couple of days before the conference starts (check in Fri instead of Sun). If I get the hotel at that discounted rate, I'll just stay there I think, Fri til Wed and then move to Zion Wed through Sun. We'll see...

    Appreciate the input.
     
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  10. chemteach

    chemteach TUG Member

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    If you are not planning on doing much in the way of hiking, but want to see beauty in Southern Utah, I would suggest driving Scenic route 12 north about 2 hours toward Capitol Reef. I am actually on a trip right now with students visiting Bryce, Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Very different from your plan - but something you may want to consider. I had never been to Capitol Reef before. The drive along route 12 is crazy beautiful - at one point you are driving along with drop-offs on both sides, and red rocks surrounding you 360 degrees. If you stay in / near Bryce, Zion is about 1 1/2 hours south, and Capitol Reef is about 2 hours north of you. The 2 hour drive to Capitol reef is just stunning.

    The week has been filled with absolute beauty and drastic weather differences. Students were having snowball fights in one part of Bryce. I had only ever been to Bryce in the summer. It was fantastic with the snow. The drive to Capitol Reef involved temperatures ranging from 38 to 65 degrees. We drove through snow capped mountain areas back down to the red rocks of Utah with snow capped mountains in the distance. Neither park was too crowded. I'm thinking late March/early April may be my favorite time to visit the area.

    You will have a great time! Enjoy! Bryce and Zion are fantastic.
     
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  11. VacationForever

    VacationForever Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    What is the highest elevation of your drive?
     
  12. chemteach

    chemteach TUG Member

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    The highest point was 9700 feet. We drove back from Capitol Reef to Zion today - stopping at Willis Creek Narrows about 20 miles east of Bryce Canyon. The drive was fantastic again. Took 2 hours to get to Willis Creek Narrows - a great Slot canyon - easy to walk through if you don't mind your feet getting a little wet - but you need a car that can drive on a dirt road. It's located in Escalante Grand Staircase. Then it was about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Springdale. Scenic route 12 is pretty spectacular.
     
  13. CO skier

    CO skier TUG Member

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    If you have never traveled to the Grand Canyon, then your plan is a good one. If you have seen the Grand Canyon in person, then I would suggest skipping the North Rim and focusing on Bryce and Zion NPs.

    Biking is not allowed on most of these NP trails. Skip the mountain biking (you can see all of it from a car) and focus on hikes. Based on your mtb experience, you would have no problem with Angels Landing in Zion (40 years experience hiking in the Western US and this is by far the best hike, imo). The up river hike from River Walk is the second best hike in the Western US, and definitely one of the best in the world.

    Mountain biking in the Zion, Bryce Canyon area instead of spending that time hiking in those National Parks would by like biking the streets around the Lourve instead of getting inside.
     
  14. heathpack

    heathpack Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    My spouse has bad knees. The only way I can go epic on trails is to ride.

    I’ve been to the south rim of the Grand Canyon but never the north. I’m aware that you can’t ride in NPs, which is part of the appeal of the Rainbow Rim trail in the adjacent (Kaibab maybe?) national forest. The trail pops out onto the north rim several times.

    There is a possibility I can organize a trip to the North Rim next year in association with a continuing education conference I’ll be attending, it will depend upon the date and location of a bike race I want to do that may preclude the North Rim side trip.

    BUT it is a PIA for my husband to drive support for me to ride the Rainbow Rim trail from North Rim NP. The trailhead is an hour drive from North Rim NP (where we’d stay) down a long dirt road, then I’d ride the trail solo with I’m sure no cell reception and then after he drove back to the main road after dropping me off at the trailhead he’d have to drive another long out and back down a dirt road to pick me up. I’m sure he’d do it but I can’t imagine it would be a very fun day for him and it would for sure increase the risk for me, riding solo out there. Riding with a guide makes a lot of sense for this particular trail, and St George (having lots of guides) is one of the logistically easier places to organize this trip from.

    Mountain biking is a game changer for us when we travel to places like this. I can head out early and get my epic on for a few hours and then we can spend the afternoon doing whatever. Versus me wanting to do more than his knees can take, him trying to be accommodating and then us both sitting around not doing much of anything.

    And besides: mountain biking is way more fun than hiking.
     

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