Feb 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm #1285511
Well it looks like I'm heading out to the southwest for 2-3 weeks this May. I'll either be flying into Vegas and renting a car or driving from the east coast. This will be my first time in the region and I'm putting together a rough list of the places I want to see. I know I want to spend at least 4 days at both Zion and the Grand Canyon. I've just now started to look into possible hikes and I purchased the Nat Geo maps earlier today. It's a little overwhelming trying to narrow down possible hikes. I've read about the Zion Traverse and it looks appealing. It seems like a good way to see a good deal of the park. I'm open to any suggestions on how to get the most out of my time at either park. Has anyone had success with walk up permits with either location, or is this something I should finalize ahead of time? Thanks in advance for any advice.Feb 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm #1837750
I'd highly recommend the Zion Traverse. A friend and I did the hike in November, were able to get walk up permits, and saw a grand total of 1 person the entire hike. I would think that May is going to be a little busier so you might want to reserve your spots ahead of time. We weren't able to reserve ours because their online reservation system was acting up.
There are also a few companies that will shuttle you back to the west side (kolob canyon) from the east side and vice versa for a reasonable price.Feb 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm #1837785
@reacttocontactFeb 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm #1837805
@aaronuflLocale: OregonFeb 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm #1837807
@brendansLocale: Fruita CO
more ideas from another recent thread:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=59332&skip_to_post=506952Feb 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm #1837812
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
I had really, really good luck with Grand Canyon walk-in permits over Spring Break. We got two separate trips–two nights and one night–in the Corridor and Hermit areas. That being said, we drove through the night to beat the crowds. Still, with their waitlist system, I bet you could get something decent if you have the time to wait. Check out the info on their website.Feb 11, 2012 at 8:32 am #1837912
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
A couple of random thoughts.
Imo, Zion is much more accessible than the Grand Canyon and you'll have lots of great hiking choices with 4 days. Don't discount dayhikes there either. Some of the best hikes in the park are dayhikes. If you have any experience with ropes/canyoneering, consider Keyhole or Subway. (Subway requires a permit.) There are only certain canyon routes and campsites that require permits in Zion and, in general, some walk-up permits are set aside for all of them.
Joe Braun's Zion hiking site is one of the best for dayhikes and canyoneering routes:
Grand Canyon is quite different. May permits are generally in high-demand and I'm going to guess that very few are available at this point. The only walk-up permits they set aside are for corridor campgrounds. Many of the other use areas allow only 1 or 2 permits per night total (that's 1 or 2 groups, not headcount.) Also, because of the distances and effort involved, you need to be able to string together a couple of use areas; not easy this late in the game.
Bob Ribokas' website will give you comprehensive info about GC backcountry hiking, including permit stuff and routes. Paired with Zion, the North Rim hikes will be closest BUT be aware that many of the trailheads are remote and require driving on dirt forest service roads, something to consider if you're renting a car. (I rent at least a midsize SUV for this.) Also, I'm not sure if the National Geographic map for the GC includes all of the North Rim trailheads.
http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/bc/gc_trail.htmFeb 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm #1838046
Thanks guys for all of the good info. It looks like the earliest I can make reservation for Zion is early march. I'll definitely reserve my campsites for the traverse and give myself 2-3 extra days to explore the park and possibly hike the narrows (if its passable by the end of may). It looks like I will have a full 3 weeks to explore so I've put together a rough plan: after flying into Vegas (May 1st), possibly start off by heading to the South Rim. Is there free, dispersed camping in the national forest south of the park? Or pI guess I could possibly do a rim to rim, camping somewhere on the north rim. From my understanding, the North Rim won't be open until May 15th, so I wouldn't run into any red tape over there. I could possibly get a shuttle back to the south rim (probably expensive) Or just hike back to the south rim, taking a different trail on the way back up. From there I was thinking of making a big loop and heading to Chaco Culture, Great Sand Dunes, Durango/Mesa Verde, Bryce Canyon, Escalante, Capitol Reef, and then ending the trip at Zion. I think this would be roughly 2000 miles of driving, it eems like a lot but not too bad over a period of 3 weeks. So many possibilities in the region, are there any places I'm leaving off? suggestions?Feb 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm #1838202
Nice itinerary. I've hit several of those.
For Zion you already know about the Narrows. We had no problem in May. Remember that you can hike up it and turn around if you don't get a permit. Make sure you make it up to the top of Angels Landing. It won't take that long as a side trip. Observation point looks down on Angels landing. Cool view. Weeping rock was neat. It's very short so take a few minutes to see it. The watchman was an ok hike. I thought the emerald pools were dull.
I like the north rim of the grand canyon better if it is doable.
If you see the great sand dunes hike the high dune. Start early as it heats up. Plus dawn on the dunes is nice. I can't recall the mountain overlooking the dunes, but you should do it. It has a birds eye view over the entire park.
Mesa verde was better than I thought. If you want to tour the nicer ruins like the cliff palace, get your tickets ASAP when you get to the park. If you want pics get to the cliff palace overlook before the tours start or there will be people in all your shots.
For me bryce was neat but mainly scenic overlooks. Didn't do the under the rim trail.
Consider swinging by monument valley.Feb 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm #1838450
Thanks for the heads up, I think I might just swing by the south rim for the day and camp for free in the national forest that night. It would make a nice mid way point between Las Vegas and Chaco. I've decided against even trying to hike any of the corrider trails. I'm considering spending some time at the north rim towards the end of my trip also. decisions..decisions..
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