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Old 05-01-2013, 08:26 PM   #11
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

Sound like a great trip planned. The southwest is such a fun place to explore. Here are some other possibilities:

NM:
El Morro: small but fun historical way-point nestled in a box canyon. Have had the small campground all to ourselves a couple times.
El Malpais: arches and lava tubes to explore, although looks like the lava tubes might be closed due to bat fungus? Some fun mountain biking too.
Chaco: awesome place. Spent a week there doing every possible hike on the NPS map.
Bandelier: I 2nd this recommendation, although it looks like the main attraction, Alcove House, is closed. Lots of hiking though.
Aztec Ruins: very small park but a reconstructed Great Kiva that is impressive.

AZ:
Canyon De Chelly: "living" park, as in some of the generations of native americans that have lived there still live there, farming the land, or giving tours to the rest of us. Awesome, magical, alive place, but can also be a little sketchy.
Petrified Forest: worth the trip just to read the letters that the rangers compile from people returning "borrowed" pieces of petrified wood.
Sunset Crater and Wupatki: both on the same loop road. Hike through a lava field and and cones from an eruption 900 years ago then check out ancient pueblos.
Walnut Canyon: cliff dwellings but on a much more intimate level than other places I've experienced. I think this is my favorite of all the places like this because the canyon is so unique, and they allow you to walk through some of the dwellings, that it is easy to get a sense of what life might have been like.
Monument Valley: a bit touristy but instantly recognizable landscapes from cartoons to movies.

UT:
Natural Bridges: small park but the 3 bridges are great. The bridge loop hike may be a little long for kids at 8.6 miles, but one of the top 10 hikes I've done. There are "hidden" ancient dwellings and other things to find back there that the NPS doesn't put on a map do have ammo-can-stored info and sign-ins when you find them. Nice campground too.
Cedar Breaks: like a mini-Bryce but at 10,000 ft. Should be open by the time you're traveling. This is the park that William Least-Heat-Moon was trying to get to when he got to the closed road and had to wait out the snow storm in the van. Nice campground too.
Snow Canyon: unexpectedly nice canyon right outside St George with lots of family friendly hiking opportunities. Spent a couple days here a few weeks ago. Nice campground, with showers too.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:38 PM   #12
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

Meteor Crater is worth an hour or so too.

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Old 05-01-2013, 09:33 PM   #13
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

We did a similar trip in the opposite direction last year.

You're trip looks great and we had a very similar itinerary in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton, but we wish we would have spend another day in Grand Teton. Even at the expense of another day in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is great and requires some time, but we feel like we shorted Grand Teton.

Even with 4 days in Yellowstone you really need to focus on what you want to see because you could spend weeks there and not see it all.

I would also add that the drive from Grand Teton to Yellowstone is deceptively long depending on where you are camping in Yellowstone.

FWIW, Curtis Canyon Campground is between Jackson and Grand Teton adjacent to the National Elk Refuge and has cheap and excellent camping spots. It was one of the best spots we stayed on our trip from California to Virginia.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:46 AM   #14
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

Thanks for the hint on Curtis Canyon near Jackson! Adding it to the "The List."

I agree, many underestimate the driving in Yellowstone. I've been there 3-4 times, mainly to do photograpy on solo trips. Last time I went I flew into SLC, rented a car, and put 1500 miles on it in four days driving up to, around, and back from Yellowstone.

I'm thinking in YNP we might spend the first night at Grant, so it's closer to the Tetons, and then move up into one of the more northern campgrounds, either Canyon or Tower. I really prefer the smaller NPS first-come campsites like Slough Creek and Pebble Creek, which is where I usually stay, but they aren't reservable.

Looking more like I'll be able to get the full four weeks, so hopefully we'll be able to do less driving and more seeing!

Thanks again to everyone who is helping. Great advice!
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:09 AM   #15
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
I've been to both Chaco and Bandelier, but it's been a while. Would you choose one over the other? Which allows you to more closely experience the ruins? It seems like Chaco has some nice opportunities for biking, which we like (more so than hiking, although that's good, too). From what I saw online, neither takes reservations for camping, but their websites suggest that they rarely are full.
As I'm sure you know, they are totally different experiences. You might enjoy this link and DVD about Chaco:http://www.solsticeproject.org/films.html. Bandelier remains special and more approachable but it suffered greatly in the last round of fires, though they are an interesting thing to see in themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW
Thanks Rionapo, and I hear ya about the driving. But, I think there is enough time in there for what we want to do. . . . We're working on the assumption that we will revisit certain areas with shorter fly-out and drive trips in the future (e.g., Arizona, Colorado, etc.). . . . I know for those of you who live out there it may seem to be sacrilege to only devote a short time to each of these amazing areas, but we have to pick and choose some, unfortunately.
Very well said and totally appropriate. We're heading back to the upper Midwest this Fall, facing a similar but smaller journey, and we'll have to keep on trucking ourselves. As the old saying goes, "A lick and a promise."
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:54 AM   #16
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Re: Advice request: planning roadtrip Philly to SW and Rocki

Well, we're off in less than two weeks now! Thanks to suggestions here and from others, I've amended our schedule a bit. We taking four weeks for sure, so that has opened up some time. Any additional thoughts on the working schedule below are most welcome. We view the schedule as really just a framework, though, allowing for spontaneity and diversions when we see something interesting. We're only really locked into Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.

Day
1 Fri 6/14 Drive Ohio; Hotel vic Zanesville 420 7
2 Sat 6/15 Drive Oklahoma; Hotel or poss CG Twin Brdgs SP, OK 781 12
3 Sun 6/16 Drive Sante Fe, NM; Hotel 726 11
4 Mon 6/17 Santa Fe Sante Fe, NM; Hotel 0 0 Tour Santa Fe, possibly Bandelier
5 Tue 6/18 Drive/Chaco Culture Nat'l Monument Chaco Canyon, NM; camp in Chaco (walk-up) 185 4
6 Wed 6/19 Chaco Canyon/drive to eastern Ariz Ariz; camp TBD 281 6
7 Thurs 6/20 Petrified Forest en route to Flagstaff Flagstaff; Hotel Visit Sedona if time allows
8 Fri 6/21 Drive to Grand Canyon in AM Grand Canyon; Camp Mather CG rsvd 78 1.5 Summer Solstice
9 Sat 6/22 Grand Canyon Grand Canyon; Camp Mather CG rsvd 0 0
10 Sun 6/23 Grand Canyon/drive toward Bryce in PM En route to Bryce; Camp @GC Desert View (walk up) or NFS TBD
11 Mon 6/24 To Bryce Bryce; Camp TBD 281 5.5
12 Tue 6/25 Bryce To Zion; Camp TBD 85 2 Maybe camp Cedar Breaks NM?
13 Wed 6/26 Zion Salt Lake City, UT; Hotel 310 4.5
14 Thurs 6/27 Drive Jackson, WY; Camp or Hotel 280 5 Curtis Canyon CG near Jackson?
15 Fri 6/28 Tetons YNP Camp @Grant CG rsvd
16 Sat 6/29 Yellowstone YNP; Old Faithful Inn rsvd 500 Est miles total driving while in YNP
17 Sun 6/30 YNP YNP; Camp Canyon CG rsvd
18 Mon 7/1 YNP YNP; Roosevelt Lodge rsvd Roosevelt cookout reserved
19 Tue 7/2 YNP YNP in AM; night TBD NFS sites outside NE entrance near Cooke City
20 Wed 7/3 YNP/drive out of park to >> Deer Lodge; Hotel TBD 325 7
21 Thurs 7/4 Deer Lodge or Ennis Deer Lodge; Hotel TBD July 4th/rodeo/etc.
22 Fri 7/5 To Glacier NP Glacier/camp TBD 207 4
23 Sat 7/6 Glacier Glacier/camp TBD
24 Sun 7/7 Glacier GNP; Many Glacier Lodge rsvd 150 Miles while in park est
25 Mon 7/8 Drive south/Greycliff Prairie Dog SP Red Lodge, MT/camp? 432 7.5 1-2 hrs at Prairie Dog park
26 Tue 7/9 Beartooth Hwy/Cody WY/Sheridan Sheridan area; hotel or NFS CG TBD 262 7 Stop in Cody (lunch?)
27 Wed 7/10 Deadwood/Rushmore/to Badlands Badlands; Camp Sage Crk CG Badlands (walk-up/free) 304 5.5
28 Thurs 7/11 Badlands/drive east 767 12 visit Minuteman Missile Site, SD; miles noted over 2 days
29 Fri 7/12 Drive Freeport, IL visit friends
30 Sat 7/13 Drive Niagra Falls, ON 640 10
31 Sun 7/14 Drive home Home! 415 7
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