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Utah/Arizona Parks itinerary

Hello - i am planning a shortish trip with my dad and would love input.

Who: my hubby and I (61yo), and my dad, (87 with mobility issues. Poor balance and walks with a cane)
When: October 20-28, 2024

This trip is to fulfill a bucket list item for my dad, hence mostly an overview of each location. Locations and activities are by request of my dad. My hubby and I plan on returning another time to hike and explore more in depth. This trip will not have any hiking involved.

Day 1 - fly to Vegas, drive to Springdale, UT
Day 2 - Zion (shuttle tour, stopping at viewpoints) overnight, Hatch, UT
Day 3 - Drive scenic Hwy 12, stop at Bryce (visit points viewable from car, or very short walk), overnight Hanksville, UT
Day 4 - Arches by car, or explore Moab and take a sunset tour of Arches, overnight Moab, UT
Day 5 - Canyonlands Island in the Sky (top of Mesa), overnight Buff, UT
Day 6 - Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center, scenic loop, overnight Tuba City, UT
Day 7 - Sedona (my dad’s parents used to live there for many years), overnight Sedona, AZ
Day 8 - Jerome, AZ (a favorite of my dad’s), either drive the long drive back to Vegas and fly out the next day, or overnight in Kingman, AZ and drive Vegas the next morning for an afternooon flight

Posted by
493 posts

Very sweet. Hope you'll have beautiful weather late October. Can your dad handle a longer drive from Buff, UT then do the Monument Valley Tribal Park and scenic loop then drive to Sedona? I would not want to stay in Tuba City (actually in AZ not UT). I know it would make it a longer day for him, but 2 nights in Sedona would really be so much nicer.

Did you already book your tickets? I'd change the return trip to out of Phoenix; as it is so much closer than Vegas for departure.

Posted by
2908 posts

A suggestion for Day 8, after visiting Jerome, drive to Phoenix, fly home from there. If that isn’t an option flight price wise, spend the night in Kingman and fly home from LV.

Halfdozmon, we’re from Vancouver. 40 years ago we got fed up with the rain and cold and moved to Phoenix. And we still don’t like rain for longer than half a day. We still have great friends up there and my husband’s sister’s family lives in the hills close to Larch Mt.

Posted by
6670 posts

I agree about the flights -- Phoenix would be better than the long drive back to LV, if you can change that. The Rte 12 drive is extremely scenic and your route will take you to Torrey and through Capitol Reef National Park, a beautiful place to stop and see the rock art along the highway. It looks like a great trip, though you'll be driving most of the time.

Posted by
370 posts

KD - we did change Tuba City to 2 nights in Sedona, and I will look at a flight out of Flagstaff, great idea, thanks!

Posted by
370 posts

Horsewoofie - how fun! We are the opposite. We moved from So Cal 25 years ago and love the rains and seasons of the PacNW. Don’t miss the heat at all. Thanks for the great ideas!

Posted by
370 posts

Dick - we’re ok with the driving, as long as my dad enjoys the view. We’ll go back another time to take it at a much slower pace!

Posted by
3355 posts

Hi! I’m actually in Moab right now. We came from Vegas and did Zion, Bryce and Capital Reef. If you can, drive scenic hwy 12 east from Bryce to Torrey, Utah. The most stunning, diverse drive we have ever done! The Grand Staircase-Escalante is not to be missed!

Posted by
493 posts

halfdozmom, I mentioned Phoenix as a departure point; not Flagstaff. Flagstaff's a pretty small regional that would connect you most likely through Phoenix before getting you home. We tried to fly in to Flagstaff once via Phoenix and it was so rough, they couldn't land; turned us around back to Phoenix, and we had to rent a car to drive to Flagstaff. So I never suggest flying to Flagstaff! Just Phoenix!

Posted by
370 posts

KD - my bad! Meant Phoenix (Flagstaff was on my mind because we had thought of staying there)

Posted by
4174 posts

You're going to have a great trip.

Assuming that you fly into Las Vegas and take I-15 north, it won't really start to get interesting until you get to Mesquite and start the long climb up the hill to the cut across the corner of AZ on I-15 that runs along the Virgin River Canyon. From then on you'll see absolutely amazing scenery the whole rest of the way, whether you take Hwy 7 out of St. George or go farther north on I-15 to Hwy 9 to get to Springdale like Google Maps suggests.

Two things to think about, perhaps especially for your dad.

Just like in Europe, if there's a rest stop or gas station with a toilet, stop and use it! Voice of experience here, particularly on those small back roads.

Do not assume that it will be warm and dry in October. Much of the area you will be traveling will be at elevation, so check the locations you list above and the routes to them as well as the weather for the time you'll be on the road. For example, Hatch UT on Hwy 89 just a bit south of the intersection with Hwy 12 is at 6919 feet. Bring appropriate clothing and footwear for potentially cold and wet weather.

BTW, AZ will be on Pacific (Daylight) time for your whole trip and Utah will be on Mountain (Daylight) time. The time change isn't until November 3rd this year and AZ never changes its clocks.

Posted by
16091 posts

I'll try and keep it short 'cause I probably overloaded you on your LAST post about this trip! :O)

Day 3 - Drive scenic Hwy 12, stop at Bryce (visit points viewable from
car, or very short walk), overnight Hanksville, UT

LOL, I'm chuckling that you're staying in Hanksville (we have, for 3 nights some years ago). Heavy rain was an issue on that trip, and when we stopped into the Moab Visitor Center to ask about slot flooding/road conditions in that area, the guy at the counter said "Hanksville? You're staying in HANKSVILLE? I didn't know there was even a place TO stay in Hanksville!" Well, we had a perfectly lovely stay at Whispering Sands. So there. Dukes' Slickrock grill does a killer breakfast, and Stan's Burger Shack has good sammies and terrific shakes. Really nice folks in Hanksville.

Day 5 - Canyonlands Island in the Sky (top of Mesa), overnight Buff,
UT

I think you meant Bluff? We just got back from a 3-week trip to the Southwest that included 4 nights in a cabin in Bluff. Like Hanksville, it's a tiny town, and restaurants are few (but some may have extended their hours since April). The sit-down places all were closed a day or two every week, and sometimes those overlapped so options on those days were pretty slim. I can cheerfully recommend Canyon Smokehouse, and Cedar Shack Cafe had a decent pizza (we did take-out). Nice folks in Bluff too, and an interesting history.

Day 6 - Monument Valley Tribal Park Visitors Center, scenic loop,
overnight Tuba City, UT

Glad you scrapped Tuba City, and just ahead's up that the scenic loop is a very bumpy, very dusty drive...or was when we did it. I've not heard that it has improved. Be kind to your vehicle's shocks, keep a light foot on the gas, and windows UP.

Jerome is a hoot. Haven't been there in years, and I don't know if your dad remembers that parts of town with stairs and uneven surfaces will not be an easy walk but I'm sure he'll enjoy what he CAN do. I do read that parking can be a bit of a pain depending on how busy it is, and hope there are handicapped spaces for ya.

Posted by
370 posts

Kathy - found a great little place to stay in Hanksville, and it seemed like a good “halfway” point.

We are also staying in a cabin in Bluff.

My grandparents lived in Sedona for many years and we visited often. As a kid, I grew up hiking the red rocks around Sedona and had many visits to Jerome and Momunment Valley during that time. It will be fun to revisit, it’s been at least 30 years! Any alternate suggestions for seeing Monument Valley without driving the scenic loop? We will have a rental vehicle.

Posted by
16091 posts

We were at Bluff Gardens. You might be at that one or Willow Street?
We had a rental car when we did the scenic drive at Monument Valley too.

Posted by
883 posts

On day 4, my choice would be to drive Arches during the day. There is no place to purchase food in the park, so we packed lunch in a small, soft sided cooler. You can order delicious sandwiches the night before from Sweet Cravings, and they will have it ready for pick up early in the morning. https://www.cravemoab.com/. We did the same for our day in Canyonlands. You will need a timed entry ticket to Arches, so be sure to reserve that ahead of time. Sounds like a wonderful trip with your dad. Enjoy!

Posted by
16091 posts

You will need a timed entry ticket to Arches,

You don't need one if you decide to do a sunset drive and enter the park after 4:00.
I did some more digging on best stops for your dad's limitations and hope this article helps:
https://fullsuitcase.com/arches-scenic-drive/

If you do decide to explore the park later in the day/for sunset, skip Wolfe Ranch. As noted in the article, the parking lot also serves the Delicate Arch trailhead: a VERY popular hike for sunset so that lot can fill to capacity a few hours before the sun makes an exit.