Utah, Arizona or California??? Base town???
Replies: 18 - Last Post: Aug 27, 2012 1:05 PM Last Post By: bzookaj
Aug 23, 2012 10:26 AM
I am thinking of flying to the states for a family vacation (kids ages: almost 2 and 4 years old). We enjoy natural scenery. We are not into shopping or amusement parks. The area around Moab really interests me. I have always wanted to see the canyons, arches etc. and this type of scenery is what I am looking for. We are from Vancouver Island, Canada, so I want to see some secenery that I can't see at home. I have also been told that Sedona would be a great base town, although from the research I have done I don't know that is has a lot to offer, like the Moab area. I am also interested in Joshua tree national park. My question is, can someone recommend a base town that has a lot to offer within 100km. I plan to fly and then rent a car, but I really would like to settle in one particular place, maybe two, over the course of one week. I would love a small or quaint town with character and some accomodation options such as a ranch, or cabins but not a big hotel chain; dining options that are unique... I worry that Moab would be too much of a city for me. We will be mostly driving to parks and doing very short walks, just enjoying the great outdoors the best we can with two little ones. Also love to swim.. not sure if it is warm enough as we will be travelling in late Sept, early Oct.
I would love suggestions for towns that might meet our needs.
Aug 23, 2012 10:54 AM
xMoab is small. In fact, here is a look. Yep, that's pretty much it.
xSedona is a good base, as it's surrounded by very scenic country. But if you're worried about xMoab being "too much city," well, xSedona has more than twice the population.
You could try Escalante. It's right in between Capitol Reef and Bryce, and on the doorstep of Grand Staircase-Escalante.
If you want it, you can probably find it within a reasonable drive of here. And it's a very small town.
Aug 23, 2012 10:55 AM
2Late September/early October will still be hot during the day in the canyonlands, so be careful withte young'uns.
My vote would go for southern Utah and the redrock canyonland parks there. Joshua Tree is allright, but full of rock jocks swarming over every open piece of rock leaving smears of chaulk like slug trails on a brick patio.
Aug 23, 2012 1:25 PM
3Welcome to Thorn Tree.
100 Km is NOTHING where you want to go. The town nearest Moab that is anything more than a wide spot in the road and a gas station is Grand Junction Colorado. It is 180 Km away.
Joshua Tree National Park is 1034 Km to the southwest on the other side of Las Vegas, NV
The town closest to Joshua Tree is Twenty Nine Palms, CA. The only other things around that area are Ft. Irwin, a big army desert warfare training base and the Twenty Nine Palms Marine version of Ft. Irwin.
From Joshua Tree National Park to Sedona is another 580 Km.
From Sedona back to Moab is only 567 Km. That comes to 2200 Km and we have not yet discussed where you will begin your tour. That will be Las Vegas. It is the busiest (therefore cheapest) airport destination in the region. It is as close as you are going to get to the three destinations you mention, and it has the cheapest rental cars (usually.) If you plan to spend a few days in each of the three locations you mention, that means three motels/B&Bs/hostels (if you can find them).
There are three or four "Guest Ranches" north and east of Moab along UT-128. I only know about them because I have driven past them on occasion. I know nothing else about them but they look inviting.
I will also suggest more research on where you are going. It is a Wilderness the likes of which you are unfamiliar. Be sure you make adequate provision for keeping your children safe, warm/cool enough, and hydrated.
I would also note that the triangle formed by Moab, Twenty Nine Palms, an Sedona covers Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, The Virgin River Gorge, Fishlake National Forest, Capitol Reef National Park, Escalante National Monument, Natural Bridges National Park, Monument Valley, Canyon De Chelly National Monument, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Monument, Barringer Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon National Monument, and Sunset Crater among many other parks. There is plenty to do in the area.
Have a great time.
Aug 23, 2012 2:12 PM
4Stay here in Moab. http://www.red-rocklodge.com Conveniently located close to the wonderful Moab Brewery. Nice atmosphere, food and beer. http://www.themoabbrewery.com From here visit Arches, Dead Horse, Canyonlands, and Gobblin Valley. The little ones will thoroughly enjoy Gobblin Valley. Then from Moab go to Farmington NM and visit the Bisti Badlands, from there to Canyon De Chelly. Spemd the night in Gallup, then head west on I-40 to Flagstaff and then see the GrandCanyon. ALL different from Canada terrains.
Aug 23, 2012 2:40 PM
5Be sure to go to the fabulous Antelope Canyon and Coyote Buttes. Google them on images and you'll see why.
Aug 23, 2012 7:52 PM
Aug 23, 2012 7:56 PM
7I would also agree that if you must stay in one "base camp" location then Moab is the obvious choice.
Mammoth Lakes, CA is another option - very nice at that time of year and lots of great hikes nearby. Very different scenery from Utah though!
Joshua Tree is definitely not worth a week. Its fame exceeds its quality, thanks to the U2 album.
Aug 24, 2012 12:11 PM
Aug 24, 2012 5:41 PM
9With just one week, you could consider Flagstaff (to cover Sedona / Red Rock Country and the Grand Canyon) and Hurricane in southern Utah, to cover Zion NP and Bryce Canyon NP. If you flew to Las Vegas, then your base distance would be a minimum of 1100km - still quite a lot. I would not include Arches NP or Joshua Tree NP in such a short trip.
The downside is that Flagstaff is a city, rather than a very small place. Williams Arizona is another nearby small town, and with a range of motel accommodation. Hurricane is a sleepy Mormon town - quite pleasant (so long as you didn't have to live there forever).
Aug 25, 2012 12:03 AM
10Sedona and Moab are both bustling tourist towns, although Moab is a little smaller and will quieting down more than Sedona in September. Neither one is especially "quaint", although Sedona has a more irritating personality (Moab is all about pre-packaged "extreme adventure" tours, Sedona is more about golf resorts and overpriced new-age-themed ticky-tacky). Sedona gets a lot of hate on this board, some of it deserved. Moab gets more good notices, mostly due to the undeniable wonders of the nearby National Parks - there's nothing special about the town itself. I've been to both many times, and am happy to return to either. You won't find staggering monuments to natural beauty on the scale of Canyonlands or Arches in the countryside around Sedona...but that said, it is still quite beautiful, and Sedona certainly has the edge in terms of scenic kid-friendly walks within a quick jaunt of town. In either place you can stay a typical tourist hotel in town, or find a more secluded retreat (Sedona probably has the edge on secluded, but pricey, retreats, despite the prevalence of mass tourism in the town itself).
I really like ian's idea of a "two town" trip, with one base for Sedona and Grand Canyon, and another for Zion/Bryce, although I'd pick Kanab for the Utah segment (it's more convenient than Hurricane for Bryce).
Flagstaff is a nice town, but it might be too big for your tastes. It's larger than Sedona or Moab (probably larger than both put together), but as city I find it more pleasant than either.
FYI, tiny towns with only ranches and cabins don't usually have very interesting dining options. You might be happiest with a cabin in Oak Creek Canyon, between Sedona and Flagstaff. You can go to town for dinner, but be in a forested setting withing easy driving distance of Grand Canyon and tons of pleasant walks - and this is the nicest place for swimming in September. Just an idea, certainly there are many other options.
Aug 25, 2012 12:17 AM
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