Help us out recommendations for Nevada and Utah?
Replies: 25 - Last Post: Aug 5, 2012 2:26 AM Last Post By: jamesbrady
Jul 16, 2012 1:32 PM
A provisional route map for you to follow along to: http://goo.gl/maps/vQzG
We're leaving from Glen Ellen, CA, and were aiming for Salt Lake City 5 days later - the reason we want to get to Utah is we hear the Canyonlands park is pretty stunning.
We're planning on going through Yosemite on the way, which I love, and would like to avoid Las Vegas if possible.
The sort of things we're looking for are:
- nice camping spots
- jaw-dropping scenery
- flora and fauna
Advice on the following would be great:
- which parts of the Canyonlands / Utah national parks should we prioritise?
- the drive through Nevada looks quite... monotonous. Should we just power through it, or are there highlights I don't know about?
Jul 16, 2012 1:36 PM
I think you should skip it, but you might have reason to go. Do you?
When is this trip?
Jul 16, 2012 2:15 PM
2I would want to see Goblin Valley State Park. I have no idea if you are near there on that map.
Jul 16, 2012 2:45 PM
3Repeat a big question:
When is this trip?
How long is your total trip? I don't understand if you're allowing 5 days just to get to Utah, and then see the Canyonlands, etc. OR if that's your total amount of time for travel and sightseeing. Obviously, it makes a BIG difference.
The questions I can at least sort-of answer:
The drive through Nevada on 375 is indeed fairly monotonous. The more northern route on Hwy. 50 is somewhat more interesting, but I'd still power through it unless you have more time than it seems like you do.
"Canyonlands" is one particular national park just west of Moab, while "the canyonlands" is a non-specific generic term that encompasses most of southern Utah. Exactly what you end up prioritizing in Utah is of marginal importance at this point. Any of the big marquee-name national parks will more than keep you busy with fabulous scenery and adventures. The Zion and Bryce area is closer to you, as is the lesser-known but equally fabulous Escalante National Monument. But if you're hung up on Canyonlands, that's fine, just don't skip Arches while you're there. Within Canyonlands NP, the Maze district is the most remote and mostly requires a 4x4 for access, Island in the Sky has the big sweeping views, and Needles District has the best easily accessible hiking.
Jul 16, 2012 2:47 PM
4Youll be passing several hot springs in Nevada, near Caliente and in Ash Springs, as well as the very rustic hot springs "resort" in Benton (on the nev/cal border. There is also supposedly some indian rock art around Ash Springs.
You also pass right by Area 51, the "secret" military base where they store all the aliens and fly all the ufo's. The nexus for all this is the town of Rachael, home to the little Ale'inn store/restaurant. Stop in for postcards and photo ops, and hopefully meet someone who was abducted and probed! Or if you really want to get into the whole mystique, you can look into visiting the nearby back gate into Area 51, the mountain pass where supposedly you can best spot the ufo's at night, or visit the "mailbox", which apperantly has some sordid history for the ufo hunters
Jul 16, 2012 3:10 PM
How primitive are you prepared to be? Canyonlands is not a "developed" National Park. Even potable water will be a problem for you. You don't say when you are traveling or what would constitute a "nice" camping spot.
I can't open your route map. If you are generally following I-80, Yosemite will be a significant side trip but doable in 5 days.
Once you cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains into Nevada that will depend on your interpretation of "nice." You will be in a desert.
Besides Yosemite and whatever pass you take over the Sierras, there is Lake Tahoe, The Great Salt Flats, Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City. Nevada gets monotonous unless you like hog-backed desert mountains. If you take I-15 south from Salt Lake City to UT-24, you can see Capitol Reef. UT-24 will then take you back to I-70 passing Gobblin Valley on the way. Then take US-191 south to Arches National Park, Canyonlands and Moab.
It's a desert. Everything that stings, sticks, or bites will be there.
What are you driving? If it is an ordinary car, you're going to be limited. Dead Horse Point and Island in the Sky are about it if all you have is a standard car. There are virtually no "services" on either road as far as I know. I have not been to Dead Horse Point. I believe Dead Horse Point is a state park. You should do more of your own research on Canyonlands. It is a good place to "go missing" and no place for tourists to go blithely off the pavement -- what there is of it -- unless they know what they are doing. If you go there in summer, it will be hotter than hell.
Do not give Arches National Park the short shrift. It is virtually next door to Canyonlands and it is much more accessible. The rock arches are "jaw dropping" too. Canyonlands offers more in the way of panoramic views of desert wilderness.
Have a great time.
Jul 16, 2012 4:03 PM
6There is a hot springs in the Markleeville area. You will see volcanic rock formations alongside Highway #395 for a while. Fantastic panorama of the eastern Sierra Nevada range, especially near Lee Vining and Bishop. Probably still snow-capped peaks. If I recall correctly, there is an established campground just east of Lee Vining (I was there too early in Spring, so it was closed). I am not sure if Highway #6 crosses over the White Mountain range -- I have not been on that route eastward. I did drive on Highway #6/Interstate-15 north from Interstate-70 through Utah to Idaho Falls in May 2009 -- the road and terrain is beautiful. I did not stop for any of the national parks.
If you are returning to Glenn Ellen, I recommend that you take Interstate-80 west from Salt Lake City.
Jul 16, 2012 9:33 PM
7The Needles District of Canyonlands NP is accessible by paved road and has a really nice campground. It doesn't have the sweeping views that you get from Island in the Sky, but it has much more interesting trails to hike among the rock formations. Island in the Sky is pretty much entirely about the views. You won't find potable water, flush toilets or nearby supplies at any of the campgrounds in Canyonlands, but otherwise you can have a pretty typical National Park experience at ISky (as the locals call it) or Needles.
I agree with not skipping Arches, it is fabulous and easily accessible.
As for great campsites outside of the National Parks and formal campgrounds... Utah has about a million of them, but I won't make an exhaustive list not knowing where you're headed and what your plans are exactly. You can always drop me a PM with specifics.
Enjoy your trip!
Edited by: FlagStuff
Jul 16, 2012 11:25 PM
8Thanks for all the replies everyone! This is great stuff.
A few answers to your follow-up questions:
- the reason we were headed to SLC was to leave our rental car there and fly back to San Francisco (where our flight home is from): no particular reason to go for SLC over other major cities there, but it seemed the most convenient
- the trip is in early/mid-September
- we have to be back in SF five days after we leave Glen Ellen, to get our flight home
The type of car we'd be driving was a factor I hadn't really considered. To keep things simple, I might go for a fairly standard car, and just go to the spots you all mention that are accessible on paved roads.
We're happy taking our own water with us and camping in places without facilities - by "nice camping spots" I suppose I meant camping spots in interesting or beautiful places, rather than those with good amenities!
Jul 17, 2012 4:00 AM
9If you only have five days in total, then you are not going to make Canyonlands NP, or Salt Lake City. In any case, there are several national parks in southern Utah ("canyon country") that are superior in my view.
I have attached a mud-map that shows:
Day 1 - GlenEllen > Yosemite NP
Day 2 - Yosemite NP > Las Vegas
Day 3 - Las Vegas > Grand Canyon (North Rim)
Day 4 - Grand Canyon > Bryce Canyon NP
Day 5 - Bryce Canyon > Las Vegas (via Zion NP and Valley of Fire SP)
On Day 5 fly from Las Vegas back to San Francisco. If your flight out of SFO is actually that day, then your last day into Las Vegas becomes very problematic. Even so - it is a very speedy trip over five days, but at least it doesn't attempt Canyonlands NP or SLC. Have fun - even though it doesn't avoid Las Vegas.
Mud-Map of suggested route.
Jul 17, 2012 5:07 AM
Jul 17, 2012 5:21 AM
If you are inside a National Park or other land administered by the National Park Service, you need a permit or a designated campground no matter how desolate and "unimproved" the park may seem. Rules vary outside the park service areas. You can't pitch a tent anywhere the fancy strikes you. Do a search on "wild camping" and "BLM land."
Jul 17, 2012 5:34 AM
12If you stick to your planned route, once you get to Highway 93 in mid-Nevada, you'll start to hit some mountains. A bit before that, there will be some gift shops, etc. with UFO themes, though you can't get into the actual Area 51 area (there are security folks with guns there). The town of Caliente has a picturesque old train station. A bit byond that is scenic Cathedral Gorge State Park http://www.google.com/search?q=cathedral+gorge+state+park&hl=en&rlz=1T4GGLL_enBR354BR354&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=_VwFUJa5Hoeq2gXn0pHSBQ&ved=0CG4QsAQ&biw=1600&bih=722, and just off your route is the historic town of Pioche; an Old West mining town, still alive, known for its many gun fights (in the 1800s). http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/nv/pioche.html Once into Utah you could take a side trip to the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre
If, as suggested, you take Highwy 50 across Nevada, stop at the small historic town of Alamo, and the much larger historic town of Ely, where you can take rides on historic trains. http://www.nnry.com/
Jul 17, 2012 8:33 AM
13I always say, "simplify". Your itinerary sounds pretty rushed. You're going to be spending a lot of time in the car. You might consider dropping Yosemite as it's not particularly on the way.
With five days, consider:
Day 1: Glen Ellen - Yosemite
Day 2: Yosemite
Day 3: Drive to Las Vegas (I know you don't want to go there, but location-wise, it makes sense)
Day 4: Drive to Zion National Park - Visit Park
Day 5: Drive to Brice National Park, Visit Park, continue to SLC.
Both Moab and the south rim of the Grand Canyon are somewhat out of the way if you have limited time to get to Salt Lake City. Another consideration is to return to Las Vegas and fly out from there.
Jul 17, 2012 9:23 AM
14Five days TOTAL? You don't have time for visiting Yosemite, or driving across Nevada - not if you want to do anything worthwhile in Utah. I'd do one of the following:
-fly to Vegas, rent a car, do the standard national Parks loop out of Vegas: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon (north or South rim, your choice)
-fly to SLC, rent a car, drive to Moab, stay in Moab or nearby the whole time, explore Arches and Canyonlands, return.
You'll lose most of a day each way just going out and coming back, so you really only have three days to actually do things in Utah. Keep your goals modest in terms of traveling, and your plans simple. If you want to find wild, remote campsites, that's fine, but keep in mind that on a trip this short, simply finding, making, and breaking camp will start to eat up a noticable amount of your very limited time.
Edited by: FlagStuff
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