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Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

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Hendersonville, NC
posts: 584
Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

Hey folks,

My sister and I are planning a trip for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary next year, so we figured we'd send them to some of the places I fell in love with in southern Utah during my road trip last year. They've never been to this part of the country. Can only afford up to seven nights, and thinking this itinerary for them (note that they are big hikers, though they wouldn't do extreme hikes like Angel's Landing):

Day 1: Early morning flight to Vegas from North Carolina. Head from airport to Zion, stay Zion.

Day 2: Zion

Day 3: Spend morning doing east drive/Canyon Overlook in Zion, then head to Grand Canyon North Rim. Stay North Rim.

Day 4: North Rim

Day 5: North Rim to Bryce. Stay Bryce.

Day 6: Highway 12 to Escalante or Capitol Reef. Stay Torrey or Escalante.

Day 7: Either a second night in Torrey or second night in Escalante, or just one night Torrey and then head back down Highway 12 and stay Escalante on night 7 (realize it's back-tracking, but back-tracking on Highway 12 isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Day 8: Leave Torrey or Escalante and head back to Vegas for later flight.

I figure Escalante will have them a little closer to Vegas for the long drive on the final day, plus they could always do a day trip to Capitol Reef, but also see value in staying in Torrey to eat at Cafe Diablo and not drive back anywhere in the dark.

Thoughts on this?

Also, their anniversary is August but planning this trip from a Tuesday to Tuesday either in late September or first week October for the great weather and also golden aspens at North Rim/Bryce/Boulder Mountain, ect.

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
posts: 11,659
reviews: 232
1. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

You have a pretty good plan overall. You're definitely getting into cooler times in early October. North Rim usually closes around Oct. 15. But you should be fine and should get some color.

Your lengths of stay and overall flow is quite good. If they hike, two nights in either Escalante, Boulder or Torrey is good. If Hell's Backbone Grill is still open late September, staying at Boulder Mountain Lodge and having nice dining there is worth considering. But Torrey also fine.

The only other suggestion I might make is that given your overall flow, Salt Lake City may be a better gateway. Yes, Vegas is about two hours closer to Zion. But you'll spend a lot more than that backtracking to get back to Vegas. Just something to consider.

Have fun.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 1,623
reviews: 18
2. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

That's so kind of you and your sister. 50 years deserves it though!!! Congrats to them.

I was kind of thinking the same thing about flying into SLC but google mapped out the milage and overall it isn't much different. From Salt Lake it might distribute the times a little more evenly and they would be doing more driving at the beginning of the trip and less at the end. Vegas the reverse. Might come down to which airport and car rentals are cheaper.

The temps should be perfect hiking weather for the trip, cooler in the evenings, and Boulder Mountain will be starting it's fall colors. Most people blow right through Scenic Byway 12 but there is enough hiking to plan a two-week trip around the area. You're from waterfall country and there is unique desert waterfall at the end of a box canyon called Calf Creek Falls. It's three miles, one-way, with very minimal elevation gain.

Another fun hike close to Bryce is Willis Creek Slot Canyon. Here is a good link. backroadswest.com/trips/…

And close to Willis Creek is Grosvenor Arch, which is quite impressive. Not sure they will have the time, but checking out the Burr Trail switchbacks from Boulder is always a thrill too.

In Capitol Reef, Cahab Canyon and side spur for the Freemont River Overlook is a great hike. And Sunset Point, a half hour before dusk is a must, to see the colors of the cliff faces changing with each passing minute. Most people watch the sun in the West but the show is back towards the rock formations to the East. I've seen bighorn sheep in the middle of the Grand Wash close to dusk, if they are looking for wildlife. Another good restaurant in Torrey is the Rim Rock Inn.

Here's a great hiking guide for Zion. Click on any trail for detailed descriptions and great photos. Coming from a area with lots of water, I might skip Emerald Pools and the like unless it's just rained.


Edited: 2:22 pm, August 21, 2013
Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 55,207
reviews: 42
3. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

They can join us in Escalante first week of october!!

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 42,380
reviews: 144
4. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

Mtnwriter is joining us in Escalante, right?

Seriously, the plan looks good. I'd go with September and I'd advise you to book GCNP NR and Bryce Lodge ASAP. Get a cabin for them at both places if you can.

Edited: 8:58 pm, August 21, 2013
Hendersonville, NC
posts: 584
5. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

Thanks for the great replies. FYI, this will be for 2014.

Agreed that the airfare may break the tie as far as LV vs. SLC.

Shake: Calf Creek Falls hike was one of the top highlights of my six-week road trip across America last fall. Loved it. Thanks for all the other tips.

Cheers all.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 55,207
reviews: 42
6. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

I see, for next year indeed....

7. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

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8. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

I don't know if this reply is too late, but I would not eat at Cafe Diablo. The owner, Gary, sold it about a year ago and I had two terrible meals there as recently as Memorial Day weekend, 2013, and again in July. If they end up anywhere near Boulder, UT, they should not miss an opportunity to eat at Hell's Backbone Grill. Excellent. I never miss going there, and will make a side trip for dinner!

posts: 2
9. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

Oh, and the suggestions for Calf Creek - There is an upper and a lower. The Lower Calf Creek hike is the one everyone is referring to. It is 6.1 miles round trip and the fall is more spectacular. They may want to take a jacket. The fall at the end of the trail is a bit closed in. The water drops the temp about 15 degrees from that on the trail.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 55,207
reviews: 42
10. Re: Itinerary suggestions for parents' anniversary trip

TA reviews for Cafe Diablo are not that bad last year but I agree for Hells Backbone. Awesome! And yes, actually we made a sidetrip to it from Escalante.

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