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Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

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posts: 26
reviews: 2
Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

My wife and I (late 50's) need your help and advice planning this segment of our driving trip.

We wish we had more time, realizing we will be limited to select short hikes and will spend much time in our car. We love beautiful views and experiencing serene spectacular sunsets and sunrises.

Please advise in which order we should visit Arches, Canyonland, and Dead Horse for our trip consisting of a half day arriving from Bryce , full day in Moab, and a half day before driving to Monument. We do not want to backtrack and wish to make the best use of our time.

We plan on leaving the Lodge at Bryce after sunrise and a quick breakfast on Sept 13(Friday) and drive on Scenic Byway 12 to Moab. We have reservations in a cabin overlooking the river at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab for 2 nights. About what time should we expect to arrive in Moab?

We hope to include in our half day Friday, full day Saturday and half day Sunday:

1) Arches NP- Driving tour which I understand is 2-3 hours .

If possible short hikes to Windows(1 hr),Devil's Garden( 100 yards for photo), and Double Arch(0.2 mile) and hike to and arrive at Delicate Arch(1.5-3 miles) for sunset.

2)Dead Horse SP-Drive to Panorama Point

3)Canyonland NP-Drive to Island in the Sky 3 lookout points and maybe Mesa Arch

We need to arrive in Monument by 4:00 PM. How long is that drive?

Since this is our first trip to this area we sincerely appreciate your help and any advice. Thank you!


Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Winter Sports
posts: 11,610
reviews: 231
1. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

You'll find lots of things to see and do en route via 12 to Moab. A notable stop for a hike would be Little Wild Horse Canyon next to Goblin Valley if that's of interest and you want to take the time.

Your cabin at Red Cliffs is about 20 minutes east of Moab along the Colorado River. Take a leisurely day driving over then spend sunset on the river on arrival night. Saturday, plan on about an hour to get into Canyonlands/Dead Horse Point. Pretty aggressive day to do both but you can give it a try. I would hit Canyonlands/Dead Horse in the morning and Arches in afternoon so you're there for Delicate Arch hike at sunset. On your departure day, maybe hit Fisher Towers which is not far from Red Cliffs. If that's too much, save some of Arches for Sunday morning.

All of this does make for a challenging meal plan for Saturday, especially staying out at Red Cliffs. Sunset is around 7:18 pm. Not sure if you'll be able to get down and eat dinner out at Red Cliffs, but you'll still find some places open in town. Suggest being at trailhead around 5 p.m. to maximize your experience with the hike (45-60 minutes) and hanging out with everyone (it will be busy) at the arch.

Figure three hours down to MV with a few stops.

Have fun.

posts: 26
reviews: 2
2. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

TumbleweedandCactus, we appreciate the valuable information and advice.

Thank you very much!!!!!!

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 42,329
reviews: 144
3. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Your drive from Bryce to Moab day is something that I have always taken two days to do. UT12 is a road that just makes you want to stop and look. Do so often. Have your breakfast at Kiva Koffeehouse just north of Escalante. The drive through Capitol Reef will offer those moments too. After CRNP it's a short detour to Goblin Valley SP and I highly recommend it. Nearby Little WildHorse is a great slot canyon walk, but you won't have time for that.

Anticipating an arrival time in Moab is tough since it will be determined by whether you blow by all the beauty of 12 and 24 to get there or not. If there's still plenty of daylight as you approach Moab, take the right turn and drive up to Dead Horse Point SP. This will give you some of the best views that you'll find anywhere around Moab. It will also give you a gauge on how long it will take to get back up to Canyonlands Islands in the Sky.

Then head back down and up 128 to Red Cliffs. You've chosen an excellent place to stay. Too bad you won't have time to relax and unwind there. As noted, it's about a 20 minute drive to town and the gateway to all of the activities you have on your list. The good news is that the 20 minute drive is one of the most scenic drives of them all and should keep you relaxed.

If you intend to wake up early on Saturday and go somewhere for sunrise, you need to be up really early. Two top choices IMO for sunrise would be Windows at Arches or Mesa Arch at Canyonlands. Both will be almost an hour from your cabin and both will involve a hike of about 10-20 minutes to the optimal view points. Expect a crowd of photographers at Mesa Arch, many of who will get there an hour before you do, just to claim the prime spot for their tripods. Don't even think about sharing their claimed stake. Windows has much more room and you can wander and scramble to get lots more photos.

Breakfast after sunrise is going to be 30-60 minutes away back in town, unless you bring your own. After an early rise, I'd take the time to go into Moab and enjoy a nice meal. Jailhouse is one of our favorite places.

Use the rest of your day to check places off your list. Once you've worn yourselves out, head back to Red Cliffs and do what is meant to be done there. Relax, open a bottle of wine and have a seat by the river as the sunlight wanes and lights up the red canyon walls.

The drive to MV on Saturday will take about 3-4 hours without stops. Build in another hour or two to detour via Moki Dugway and make a stop at Goosenecks SP. don't fear arriving at Monument Valley before your appointed hour. Having extra time there should be a goal.


Edit: I see from your PMs that Delicate Arch at sunset is a priority. Given all the other rushing around that you have in mind, I would frown on that at the end of your long day. JMO

Edited: 3:29 pm, August 24, 2013
Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,302
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4. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Great advice from T&C and RR, as always. Yep, you have a lot on your plate from the time you leave Bryce Canyon until you arrive at Monument Valley. Too bad you don't have another night or two for this leg of the trip, but you can still see a lot and have a wonderful time.

I'm of the "less is more" camp and seriously advise against trying to over plan and cramming in "everything" when there is such a limited time. That will require some potentially tough choices, but if you stay flexible as you make the drive you will see some wonderful sights and have an outstanding trip.

Enjoy the journey from Bryce to Moab. As mentioned, scenic route 12 is amazing and there are many places to stop and stare. Did any one mention Capitol Reef National Park? You will be driving right through it. Goblin Valley was also mentioned, and that makes a nice detour. I have not done Little Wild Horse slot canyon, but it is on my list; however, it might be a bit time consuming for you on this trip. You can easily take all day just getting to Moab. If you do have some time left, perhaps you can squeeze in Dead Horse Point and/or a quick peek into Canyonlands as you come into Moab, but I think you'll probably be getting in late and will not have enough time.

On you one full day, I would just concentrate on Arches. I think the Windows Section is a great place for sunrise, particularly the view of Turret Arch through the North Window:


BTW, one of those little dots in the North Window is RedRox!

So the Windows at Sunrise, maybe head over to Park Avenue after that, then take the drive up to the Devil's Garden, stopping and enjoying the sights along the way. Bring a picnic lunch so that you don't have to leave the park. Pace yourself so that you are ready for the hike up the slick rock to Delicate Arch for sunset.

Departure day, I like T&C's idea of the Fisher Towers and RR's thoughts on places to see on the drive down to MV. You could also throw in a detour to the Needles District of Canyonlands and Newspaper Rock.

Hmmm, what happened to Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Dead Horse Point? With the limited time that you have, those might get dropped from the list. They are wonderful places so see and explore, but I think that Arches is just so unique that I would definitely put the bulk of the time in Arches. But that is just my opinion.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 1,598
reviews: 18
5. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Say you leave Bryce by 9:00, I think the earliest you could get to Red Cliffs would be about 3:30-4:00. That is stopping for gas and a food breaks. Grab a lunch for the road in Torrey. You will not want to blow through the area. Enjoy the drive, take your time and stop for photos wherever catches your eye... on the Hogs Back, Boulder Mountain, Capitol Reef Fruita Orchards, The Castle, the petroglyph wall panels, factory buttes, etc. Stop at the Capitol Reef Visitors Center.

It's really hard to say how long the drive would take because of all the variables with stopping. it's not a straight drive through, there are a million places that will catch your attention and get you to pull over and you should. There is nothing worse than being on vacation and feeling the anxiety of being in a rush. That is what work is for. Just enjoy what you can and realize you can't see it all in 10 days.

I don't see you having time for Little Wild Horse Canyon either. Fuel up and maybe eat again in Green River and then go straight to Canyonlands or Dead Horse Point before you arrive into Moab, and watch the sunset there. I suppose you could choose between LWHC and watching the sunset in Canyonlands or DHP. You could always watch the sunset closer to your lodging, by Fisher Towers.

The drive to Monument Valley will take at least 3 hours. 90 minutes additional, if you include the Goosenecks and Moki Dugway.

I would really try to visit Canyonlands and DHP on the way into Moab, so you aren't backtracking as much. And I don't know that you will have time for both. Check out my post about Arches National Park. There is an article on CNNs travel section right now that has many great photos and ideas for where to go inside the park.

posts: 26
reviews: 2
6. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab


Thanks for your helpful suggestions.

We appreciate your advice and wish we had more time.

What do you think of this plan to see as much beautiful country as possible, including short memorable select hikes, and special sunrises and sunsets?

Day 1:Sunrise at Bryce Canyon Lodge ,then drive east on UT12 including Capitol Reef NP and Goblin Valley SP on our way to Moab then to Red Cliffs Lodge to sip wine by the river, relax, and watch the sunset before dinner at Lodge.

Day2) AM:Drive to Jailhouse for breakfast, then to CanyonlandNP and/or Dead Horse SP for a scenic drive( which would you suggest for beautiful vistas?).Quick sack lunch is beautiful spot.

Day2)PM:Arches NP: start with Windows hike which I think is 0.7 miles, then only go about 100-200 yards on Devil's Garden for a couple of photos.Plan to be at Delicate Arch trailhead at 5PM for hike and sunset. supper in Moab

I read that Double Arch is scenic and only a 0.2 miles hike. Is that correct? Will I be able to include it this afternoon?

Day 3)Breakfast at Red Cliffs Lodge, then drive to MV where we have scheduled a sunset tour with Navajo Spirit Tours

Day4) Sunrise at The View at MV, then breakfast and drive to Paige,AZ

Thank you very much for your guidance.

posts: 26
reviews: 2
7. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

OhioHick and Shake801,

Thanks for the great advice!

I know we can't do it all but want to make sure we are on the right track.

The journey is more important than the destination.

We realize how blessed we are to be able to travel on this special trip and witness God's miraculous creation.

We really appreciate your words of wisdom!

Thank you!!!!


Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 1,598
reviews: 18
8. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Yeah I might just use that entire day between Bryce and Moab stopping and taking in the area. Checking out Capitol Reef for a while. Don't rush through.

Have dinner in Green River and then arrive at Dead Horse Point or Canyonlands 1-2 hours before sunset. I really wouldn't want to backtrack this way. You won't have time for DHP, Canyonlands, and Arches in the same day. Here is a good guide timewise for Canyonlands' Island in the Sky District. I really think you should drop either DHP or Canyonlands. Pick between the two and hit it on your way into town.


Day Two after breakfast, maybe a leisurely drive down Potash Road before spending the bulk of your day and time in Arches. Pack a lunch as noted, so you don't need to leave the park. Save energy for Delicate Arch hike for sunset.

The Double Arch trailhead is right next to The Windows area. And yes it is .2 miles. Definitely do it.

Day 3 you could fill in any gaps that you missed before heading to MV by noon or so.

Edited: 5:25 pm, August 24, 2013
Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
posts: 42,329
reviews: 144
9. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Your new plan is reasonable and more realistic. Stay flexible.

I'm not a fan of sunset tours, especially at Monument Valley. The best place to be for sunset is right there at the View Hotel. Hopefully you're staying there, in which case your room balcony is ideal. Otherwise the patio outside the dining room is the place to be.

A back country tour at MV will take about 3 hours. If you can't do it on the afternoon you arrive and be back at the View by sunset, then I'd do it the next morning.

posts: 26
reviews: 2
10. Re: Highlights & Help for two half days and 1 full day in Moab

Shake801 and RedRox,

Thanks again for your help. Good Advice .We will remember to stay flexible.

We plan to pace ourselves on Day 2 in preparation for sunset at Delicate Arch and will do Windows, Double Arch and short segment of Devil's Garden if time permits.

If we don't get to drive to Canyonlands Island in the Sky and to Dead Horse Point, would you drive through one of these on the morning of Day3 before driving to MV or go to Gooseneck SP instead?

Which is the best scenic drive since we will not have time to hike at either?

Thanks again for all your help!