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GroveDiesel

National/State Parks Worth Seeing

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Tough to top Yosemite!  It's on such a grand scale...truly amazing!

When we went we hit it just right with a full moon. Think Ansel Adams.

WoW!

Yellowstone was also great.  Such variety!  Going on a snowmobile ride through Yellowstone is on my bucket list!

We are truly blessed to have so many national parks!  Would like to visit them all.

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14 hours ago, wikkidpissah said:

Take more time in western Utah. Stone rings are the most anticlimactic experience in tourism. i HAD to see Arches and the one in Cabo and both times i was, " Well, that's what that is, just like the pictures" and instantly realized the pictures were better. Plus Moab was disgustingly packed with mountain bikers in an era when mountain biking was rare. I can only imagine what crossfit bozos have infested the place by now. I'd rather be rid of mountain bikers than white supremacists.

It depends on if you’re going to hike at all IMO. The arches and rock formations are awesome if you hike even just a bit.

I echo the sentiment of not trying to do Canyonlands and Arches on the same day. It’s too much and the drive between them is actually somewhat time consuming.

With what you’re planning, I would probably lean towards going in March. Way less people. Some areas in Bryce and Arches may be closed due to snow, but it sounds like you’re just trying to hit the highlights, so that shouldn’t affect you as much.

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1 hour ago, Klimtology said:

Tough to top Yosemite!  It's on such a grand scale...truly amazing!

When we went we hit it just right with a full moon. Think Ansel Adams.

WoW!

Yellowstone was also great.  Such variety!  Going on a snowmobile ride through Yellowstone is on my bucket list!

We are truly blessed to have so many national parks!  Would like to visit them all.

I'm going to West Yellowstone in mid-February. My friend's son (a guy my age) is a professional photographer (has shot stuff like X-Games for ESPN) and is a terrific snowmobile guide.

I'm a novice so I'm okay just staying on "paths" and watching the better guys do their thing. 

We want two years ago but hopefully the weather is better this year. Didn't see ad much last time as I'd hoped.

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Need some advice - due to the coronavirus the wifey cancelled our Spring Break trip to Tokyo and instead we're going to pivot and head out west to Yosemite in April.  Flying in and out of SanFran, want to hit Yosemite/King's Canyon/Sequoia (maybe Pinnacles).  I've got 7 days to play with.

1 - What sort of time allocation do you recommend between those parks?

2 - Where would you stay?  One place and make day trips?  Split it up into two or three hotels?

3 - What are the "must-do" hikes?  Family of 5 with 3 kids under 10.  I'm sure I'll be carrying the 5 year old a bit.

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On 1/17/2020 at 7:25 PM, 3 hour lunch said:

Bumping this thread as we are planning for a potential trip either this summer or spring break 2021. A couple of questions and skeleton itinerary.

March or June a better time to visit?

OK to do Arches and Canyonlands in one day?

1 day at Zion enough to see some highlights? My girls are 13 & 12 so not going to all day hike or anything.

 

Day 1- fly to Vegas 

2- drive to Grand Canyon, stay in park 

3- GC

4- drive to Zion, stay in park

5- Zion

6- drive to and do Bryce

7- drive to Moab, stay in town

8- Canyonlands/Arches

9- drive to Vegas

10- fly home

We probably could do an 11th day in there somewhere but that’s probably it. Thoughts?

As others have said, seems aggressive to me but you'll figure it out as you go. Somewhere a few pages back I posted about my trip to Sedona & the Grand Canyon. Ton of stuff to do in that area but if you are on the North Rim, none of it's applicable because you're 3hrs away from the South Rim where I was. Keep us up to date on the trip. I really want to do Yellowstone but to do it right, almost have to plan a year out.

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5 hours ago, ThreeThousand said:

Need some advice - due to the coronavirus the wifey cancelled our Spring Break trip to Tokyo and instead we're going to pivot and head out west to Yosemite in April.  Flying in and out of SanFran, want to hit Yosemite/King's Canyon/Sequoia (maybe Pinnacles).  I've got 7 days to play with.

1 - What sort of time allocation do you recommend between those parks?

2 - Where would you stay?  One place and make day trips?  Split it up into two or three hotels?

3 - What are the "must-do" hikes?  Family of 5 with 3 kids under 10.  I'm sure I'll be carrying the 5 year old a bit.

That is a lot to cover in 7 days. I would probably do at least 3 days in Yosemite, factor in a day to travel to another park and spend the remainder there.

My family is planning on Pinnacles in April, but I’ve never been. Kings Canyon and Sequoia are beautiful. 

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Lived out west, worked at a ski resort in Colorado and up in Alaska in my younger days and have seen many NPs.  Took a 7,200 mile road trip last summer to see many places I'd visited and was disappointed with the over crowding and traffic.  I took a nephew who had  never  been out of Ohio to show him the west and could not believe the over crowding/traffic in the big touristy NPs.

I would really love to share but will never divulge my personal favorite places in the back country but will say the only way to experience a NP is to get away from the crowds.  Go back country and try to minimize time spent in the heavily traffic touristy spots.  Do your homework before you go and make reservations.  Some state parks have a six month waiting list for camping.  The touristy NPs have even longer waiting lists if you want to stay in a lodge and some lodges are pricey.  Back country permits used to be free.

Try destination NPs like Denali up in Alaska or a place many have never heard of like Craters of the Moon in Idaho.  

Oh, and tip if you plan to visit multiple NPs in a year's time is to get the All American pass (formerly called the Eagle Parks pass) that allows you access to all NPs and some state parks for one fee (I think its $85) which is a bargain if you plan on visiting more than three NPs in a year.

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5 hours ago, Bracie Smathers said:

.

 or a place many have never heard of like Craters of the Moon in Idaho.  

 

This place is never crowded.  Good hiking.  Amazing sights...

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20 hours ago, Getzlaf15 said:

This place is never crowded.  Good hiking.  Amazing sights...

For those who have never heard of Craters of the Moon, short intro with link to rest of article explaining the area which is part of the Yellowstone hot spot showing ancient lava flows. 

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

Quote

 

The Craters of the Moon occupy the Snake River Plain, the eastern half of which looks like a swath blasted through the mountains of Idaho by a series of chained calderas due to the activity of the Yellowstone hot spot over the last 15 Ma.

This one includes some 1,600 km2 of basalt lava flows, scoria cones, shield volcanoes, spatter cones and rift eruptions. There are over 60 separate lava flows erupted in eight periods between 15 Ka and 2 Ka. The most recent eruption was about 2,000 years ago. Each eruptive episode emits between 4 – 5 km3 of material for an estimated total of 30 km3 over the last 15 Ka. There are 25 cinder cones, mostly along a 45 km long rift system called the Great Rift volcanic zone...

 

Its massive at over 750,000 acres, which is approximately the size of Rhode Island and the lava flows can be seen from space.

How it got its name.  " In 1969, a group of astronauts visited Craters of the Moon and studied the unusual and harsh environment. This research helped them become the second group to walk on the actual moon."

Some pics from around the web of Craters of the Moon.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Per Devil's Tower (Bear Lodge) and Rushmoore/Crazy Horse.

Tip to avoid all crowds at Devil's Tower (Bear Lodge) is to go early.  We were the second people in the park last summer and had the entire park to ourselves.  I'd been before so had a direct comparison and it was one of the best experiences in a NP that I've ever had.  

The time to visit Rushmoore/Crazy Horse is October 14, Native American Day.  I stumbled into Crazy Horse on that day back in 2004 and they had free entry to the park, free Buffalo stew, and a free bus tour to the base of the monument and planned a big TNT explosion as they are still using dynamite to carve the monument.  

Rushmoore was not crowded in October and it was easy to navigate.  Both are easy drives from each other.

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On 1/17/2020 at 6:25 PM, 3 hour lunch said:

Bumping this thread as we are planning for a potential trip either this summer or spring break 2021. A couple of questions and skeleton itinerary.

March or June a better time to visit?

OK to do Arches and Canyonlands in one day?

1 day at Zion enough to see some highlights? My girls are 13 & 12 so not going to all day hike or anything.

 

Day 1- fly to Vegas 

2- drive to Grand Canyon, stay in park 

3- GC

4- drive to Zion, stay in park

5- Zion

6- drive to and do Bryce

7- drive to Moab, stay in town

8- Canyonlands/Arches

9- drive to Vegas

10- fly home

We probably could do an 11th day in there somewhere but that’s probably it. Thoughts?

 

 

 

Based on feedback and more research- only one night at GC North Rim, 3 nights in Moab. Have booked Zion Lodge and Bryce Canyon Lodge for next June. GC North Rim and Springhill Suites Moab not available for reservations yet. Early thoughts-

GC- short Angel Point hike, dinner at lodge.

 
Zion- rent equipment and at least do a mile of the Narrows, also do the Canyon Overlook Trail. Maybe find a place at night to look at the stars?

Bryce- Queens Garden/Navajo 3 mile loop hike, hopefully Bristlecone (1 mi) as well.

Arches- Delicate Arch and Double Arch hikes. Park Avenue viewpoint. Not sure if we’ll have time or my kids will have the desire to go to Fiery Furnace or north of that. Gonna be hot as heck I’d imagine.

Canyonlands- prepares to go this one alone if the family is “parked out”. Probably stick to island in the sky- Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Shafer Canyon Overlook etc.

 

Any other must-dos? Cool restaurants? I realize this is a lot already! Ordered some free park guides online as well.

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24 minutes ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Based on feedback and more research- only one night at GC North Rim, 3 nights in Moab. Have booked Zion Lodge and Bryce Canyon Lodge for next June. GC North Rim and Springhill Suites Moab not available for reservations yet. Early thoughts-

GC- short Angel Point hike, dinner at lodge.

 
Zion- rent equipment and at least do a mile of the Narrows, also do the Canyon Overlook Trail. Maybe find a place at night to look at the stars?

Bryce- Queens Garden/Navajo 3 mile loop hike, hopefully Bristlecone (1 mi) as well.

Arches- Delicate Arch and Double Arch hikes. Park Avenue viewpoint. Not sure if we’ll have time or my kids will have the desire to go to Fiery Furnace or north of that. Gonna be hot as heck I’d imagine.

Canyonlands- prepares to go this one alone if the family is “parked out”. Probably stick to island in the sky- Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Shafer Canyon Overlook etc.

 

Any other must-dos? Cool restaurants? I realize this is a lot already! Ordered some free park guides online as well.

Your 2nd day at the GC I would take either Kaibab or Bright Angel down into the Canyon a mile or two.  A little effort will get you away from 90% of the crowds.

2nd day at Zion I'd do Angel's Landing.  Also if you have some time I'd head over to the Kolob Canyons area of the park.  It's virtually deserted and Kolob Canyons viewpoint is great.

At Arches Delicate is a 2-3 hour hike, so about half a day.  It is very exposed so if it's a hot day bring plenty of water.  The Double Arch area has 2-3 easy hikes from basically the same parking lot, it's a nice easy way to see a good number of Arches.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ThreeThousand said:

Your 2nd day at the GC I would take either Kaibab or Bright Angel down into the Canyon a mile or two.  A little effort will get you away from 90% of the crowds.

2nd day at Zion I'd do Angel's Landing.  Also if you have some time I'd head over to the Kolob Canyons area of the park.  It's virtually deserted and Kolob Canyons viewpoint is great.

At Arches Delicate is a 2-3 hour hike, so about half a day.  It is very exposed so if it's a hot day bring plenty of water.  The Double Arch area has 2-3 easy hikes from basically the same parking lot, it's a nice easy way to see a good number of Arches.

Angels Landing may be a bit of a stretch for them. Not a hike I would take lightly. Tremendous views, but not for the faint of heart and it is truly dangerous. One or two people fall and die every year on that trail.

The Emerald Pools hike is a great hike there and grabbing a photo at sunset at the Bridge is highly recommended. Also make time to hangout on the front lawn in front of the lodge at least one evening. It’s an extremely relaxing spot and there are a bunch of mule deer and other animals that hang out on the lawn under the tree there.

Bryce is great for overlooks. Making the drive to the end of the park hitting the different overlooks is highly recommended. Some of them require a short walk to get to the overlook points but are well worth it. There are also some nice little picnic areas at pull offs that are awesome places to pull off and eat dinner at. Feels like you have the park to yourself. And the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Trail is a ton of fun. Good call on that one. If you can, see if they’re able to get you a cabin as close to the rim as possible. Our was about the closest one possible and it was awesome to make the 150-200 foot walk to the rim to see the sunrise and sunsets. 

At Arches when you’re at Double Arch, it you’re up to it, I highly recommend the primitive trail behind Windows which is adjacent to Double Arch. You’ll need to make sure to do it early in the morning with plenty of water because there is virtually no shade and it is HOT back there. It’s also easy to lose the trail here and there, but you’ll feel like you have the park to yourself and it feels like a real desert adventure. Sand arch is another awesome little trail with lots of shade and colors. Plus it’s kind of fun to hike in the red sand and pour out all the sand from your shoes at the end. The hike back to Landscape Arch is also a great one with several small easy spurs to a few other arches. A quick stop at Balanced Rock is also a must do IMO.

For all 3 of those parks, my biggest tip is to force yourselves to get up super early. You not only avoid the tremendous heat, you avoid the crowds. I can’t tell you how many times we had trails to ourselves because we got up before or at dawn to hit the parks. You can easily head back for naps when the heat is the worst and the parks are packed and then head back at like 6 or 7pm to hit a few more things when it’s cooler and everyone else is eating. Our very first day in any of the parks we were up at like 4:45am to go hike in Devil’s Garden to Landscape Arch so that we could see the sunrise at Landscape Arch. We were the first car in the huge parking lot there and saw a grand total of maybe 5 people in the first 1.5 hours we were there. By the time we hike out after about 2.5-3 hours total, then entire parking lot was completely filled.

I’d also say that you’ll probably be able to do more than you think so have in mind some other hikes you may have interest in. My family is fairly limited physically so I planned with that in mind was still felt I was pretty aggressive and prepared to cut back. We actually managed to do more than I had planned at most parks. 

My last tip, good apps are worth the money IMO. The AllTrails app is great for finding trails based on recommendations and then downloading the maps to work with your GPS to help keep you on the trails and give you an idea how much further you have. The Gypsy guide apps for both Bryce and Arches I found to be worth their cost. They work with your GPS as you drive and give you all sorts of info, history, and recommendations as you drive. Definitely saw some things or learned something that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Plus it makes the drives a bit more interesting. 
 

ETA: Here are some of my favorite pics from Arches, Bryce, and Zion (pics all mixed up though). (After posting realized I also snuck in a photo from Capitol Reef as well)

And I know this is almost sacrilegious, but I think my preference of those parks is Bryce>Arches>Zion. Part of that is simply that you can see so many different awesome things at Bryce and Arches in smaller amounts of time with lesser effort while Zion offers some incredible payoffs but with very large amounts of time and effort.

Edited by GroveDiesel
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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, GroveDiesel said:

Angels Landing may be a bit of a stretch for them. Not a hike I would take lightly. Tremendous views, but not for the faint of heart and it is truly dangerous. One or two people fall and die every year on that trail.

The Emerald Pools hike is a great hike there and grabbing a photo at sunset at the Bridge is highly recommended. Also make time to hangout on the front lawn in front of the lodge at least one evening. It’s an extremely relaxing spot and there are a bunch of mule deer and other animals that hang out on the lawn under the tree there.

Bryce is great for overlooks. Making the drive to the end of the park hitting the different overlooks is highly recommended. Some of them require a short walk to get to the overlook points but are well worth it. There are also some nice little picnic areas at pull offs that are awesome places to pull off and eat dinner at. Feels like you have the park to yourself. And the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Trail is a ton of fun. Good call on that one. If you can, see if they’re able to get you a cabin as close to the rim as possible. Our was about the closest one possible and it was awesome to make the 150-200 foot walk to the rim to see the sunrise and sunsets. 

At Arches when you’re at Double Arch, it you’re up to it, I highly recommend the primitive trail behind Windows which is adjacent to Double Arch. You’ll need to make sure to do it early in the morning with plenty of water because there is virtually no shade and it is HOT back there. It’s also easy to lose the trail here and there, but you’ll feel like you have the park to yourself and it feels like a real desert adventure. Sand arch is another awesome little trail with lots of shade and colors. Plus it’s kind of fun to hike in the red sand and pour out all the sand from your shoes at the end. The hike back to Landscape Arch is also a great one with several small easy spurs to a few other arches. A quick stop at Balanced Rock is also a must do IMO.

For all 3 of those parks, my biggest tip is to force yourselves to get up super early. You not only avoid the tremendous heat, you avoid the crowds. I can’t tell you how many times we had trails to ourselves because we got up before or at dawn to hit the parks. You can easily head back for naps when the heat is the worst and the parks are packed and then head back at like 6 or 7pm to hit a few more things when it’s cooler and everyone else is eating. Our very first day in any of the parks we were up at like 4:45am to go hike in Devil’s Garden to Landscape Arch so that we could see the sunrise at Landscape Arch. We were the first car in the huge parking lot there and saw a grand total of maybe 5 people in the first 1.5 hours we were there. By the time we hike out after about 2.5-3 hours total, then entire parking lot was completely filled.

I’d also say that you’ll probably be able to do more than you think so have in mind some other hikes you may have interest in. My family is fairly limited physically so I planned with that in mind was still felt I was pretty aggressive and prepared to cut back. We actually managed to do more than I had planned at most parks. 

My last tip, good apps are worth the money IMO. The AllTrails app is great for finding trails based on recommendations and then downloading the maps to work with your GPS to help keep you on the trails and give you an idea how much further you have. The Gypsy guide apps for both Bryce and Arches I found to be worth their cost. They work with your GPS as you drive and give you all sorts of info, history, and recommendations as you drive. Definitely saw some things or learned something that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Plus it makes the drives a bit more interesting. 

Thanks Grove and ThreeThousand! I did see the Emerald Pools one and we will probably do as it is right across from the lodge. Just to the first pool or press on to the others? Angels Landing looks amazing, as does Observation Point, but I think we have to pass with the kids along. Didn’t realize Landscape Arch was quite that long, will probably hit that first and then everything else on the way back towards the enterance. Gonna try to get everyone up early, especially Arches because we just have the one day there.....

Edited by 3 hour lunch

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Thanks Grove and ThreeThousand! I did see the Emerald Pools one and we will probably do as it is right across from the lodge. Just to the first pool or press on to the others? Angels Landing looks amazing, as does Observation Point, but I think we have to pass with the kids along. Didn’t realize Landscape Arch was quite that long, will probably hit that first and then everything else on the way back towards the enterance. Gonna try to get everyone up early, especially Arches because we just have the one day there.....

You can definitely do Arches in a day. And yeah, start early and start at Landscape and hit the quick spurs to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches since it is so far away and work your way back towards the entrance. Probably skip the hike behind the Windows but I still think the quick jaunt at Sand Dune Arch is worth it. Balanced Rock is basically a stop and 50 yard walk. Same with Fiery Furnace overlook and a whole bunch of pull offs including the one for Wall Street.

For the Emerald Pools, I’ve heard it’s worth it, though the hike to the 2nd and 3rd pools is a lot more difficult. Unfortunately the trail had had a rock slide before our trip and the trail was closed after the first pool.

Edited by GroveDiesel

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Posted (edited)

I live in Utah and have spent copious time in all of these parks.  @GroveDiesel covered things pretty well.  The only things I would add...

1) I would try your best to do more than a mile of the Narrows if you can coax the family into it.  The scenery only gets better the further you go in and at about mile 2 (where Orderville Canyon splits off) is where the REALLY REALLY amazing stuff starts.

2) With one day in Arches and a family that are not big hikers I think Landscape + Windows backside + Delicate Arch might be too much for them.  Delicate Arch doesn't look like much on paper (1.5mi, 500 ft elevation gain) but it is very exposed to the heat and a grind.  You definitely don't want everyone to be too tired to do that one because it is a must see.  I would do that area first personally (it is not far from Windows/Double Arch area) and then see if the family still has enough in the tank for Landscape Arch.  Don't get me wrong Landscape Arch is very cool, but if something on this trip is worth pushing your family beyond the amount of hiking they want to do it's the Narrows, not Landscape Arch.

3) Emerald Pools 2nd and 3rd pool are cool.  3rd involves a giant waterfall.  It is not going to be as cool as the hikes we mentioned above and it is a bit of a grind up to the 3rd pool.  See how the family feels when they get to pool #1.  It's not a must-see but if they're still feeling up to more it is surely worth doing.

4) I wouldn't try and do Arches and Canyonlands on the same day.  You really want to give Arches a full day.  It looks like you have a whole day for driving from Bryce to Moab, so I would do Canyonlands that evening.  Canyonlands is nice in the evening and the highlights are a relatively quick trip, with mostly overlooks (0.3mi to Mesa Arch your longest walk).  4 hour drive + quick Islands in the Sky tour is easily doable in a day, especially if you just do the main drag up to Grand View Point.

5) Definitely recommend star gazing if you can swing it and are there around a new moon.  I am a photographer and these are some of my favorite night photography locations in the world.  You don't have to go far out of town to get some truly epic dark skies.  Canyonlands is Bortles class 1 or 2 but my favorite is actually Zion which isn't quite as dark, but is still super dark and also gets some nice faint reflections from Springdale that illuminate the canyon walls slightly as a nice foreground view amongst the stars.

Edited by FreeBaGeL
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14 hours ago, FreeBaGeL said:

I live in Utah and have spent copious time in all of these parks.  @GroveDiesel covered things pretty well.  The only things I would add...

1) I would try your best to do more than a mile of the Narrows if you can coax the family into it.  The scenery only gets better the further you go in and at about mile 2 (where Orderville Canyon splits off) is where the REALLY REALLY amazing stuff starts.

2) With one day in Arches and a family that are not big hikers I think Landscape + Windows backside + Delicate Arch might be too much for them.  Delicate Arch doesn't look like much on paper (1.5mi, 500 ft elevation gain) but it is very exposed to the heat and a grind.  You definitely don't want everyone to be too tired to do that one because it is a must see.  I would do that area first personally (it is not far from Windows/Double Arch area) and then see if the family still has enough in the tank for Landscape Arch.  Don't get me wrong Landscape Arch is very cool, but if something on this trip is worth pushing your family beyond the amount of hiking they want to do it's the Narrows, not Landscape Arch.

3) Emerald Pools 2nd and 3rd pool are cool.  3rd involves a giant waterfall.  It is not going to be as cool as the hikes we mentioned above and it is a bit of a grind up to the 3rd pool.  See how the family feels when they get to pool #1.  It's not a must-see but if they're still feeling up to more it is surely worth doing.

4) I wouldn't try and do Arches and Canyonlands on the same day.  You really want to give Arches a full day.  It looks like you have a whole day for driving from Bryce to Moab, so I would do Canyonlands that evening.  Canyonlands is nice in the evening and the highlights are a relatively quick trip, with mostly overlooks (0.3mi to Mesa Arch your longest walk).  4 hour drive + quick Islands in the Sky tour is easily doable in a day, especially if you just do the main drag up to Grand View Point.

5) Definitely recommend star gazing if you can swing it and are there around a new moon.  I am a photographer and these are some of my favorite night photography locations in the world.  You don't have to go far out of town to get some truly epic dark skies.  Canyonlands is Bortles class 1 or 2 but my favorite is actually Zion which isn't quite as dark, but is still super dark and also gets some nice faint reflections from Springdale that illuminate the canyon walls slightly as a nice foreground view amongst the stars.

Thanks Bagel!

- Where is stargazing in Zion? Anywhere specific?

- I didn’t initially have Landscape arch on my list, figured with Delicate/Double we might not make it to that northern part of the park? Which is better out of Landscape/Windows? OK to skip northern part?

- I will try to push the family a little deeper into Narrows but heard it can be difficult? 

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6 minutes ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Thanks Bagel!

- Where is stargazing in Zion? Anywhere specific?

- I didn’t initially have Landscape arch on my list, figured with Delicate/Double we might not make it to that northern part of the park? Which is better out of Landscape/Windows? OK to skip northern part?

- I will try to push the family a little deeper into Narrows but heard it can be difficult? 

The Narrows can be challenging depending on water temp/flow.  My youngest (he was 10 at the time) got chilled about a half mile in and pulled out and dried off with my wife, but my oldest (13 at the time) and I headed deeper.  I would recommend using a hiking pole or two along with decent water shoes.  If you don't have that stuff, you can rent equipment there (we rented a good walking stick and sturdy water shoes for my daughter and it made it much easier for her).  But of the places I've seen in Zion (been there 4 times), my favorite part is deeper in the Narrows.  The crowds thin out and the canyon walls are just amazing.

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1 hour ago, The Kansas Comet said:

The Narrows can be challenging depending on water temp/flow.  My youngest (he was 10 at the time) got chilled about a half mile in and pulled out and dried off with my wife, but my oldest (13 at the time) and I headed deeper.  I would recommend using a hiking pole or two along with decent water shoes.  If you don't have that stuff, you can rent equipment there (we rented a good walking stick and sturdy water shoes for my daughter and it made it much easier for her).  But of the places I've seen in Zion (been there 4 times), my favorite part is deeper in the Narrows.  The crowds thin out and the canyon walls are just amazing.

Yeah definitely renting shoes and poles for all of us. Will see how far we can make it. Neither of my daughters seem to be good candidates for hours in there but we’ll see!

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On 6/19/2020 at 3:32 PM, 3 hour lunch said:

Have booked Zion Lodge and Bryce Canyon Lodge for next June.

We stayed in both lodges in Sept 2015. Once the day visitors leave you have the whole place to yourself.

We were unfortunate that we did not get to go in the water at the narrows due to a flash flood that actually took a few peoples lives the day before we arrived.  Zion has a great beer garden to relax after a day of hiking. Zion's onsite restaurant was great for dinner and there were a ton of deer gathering right out front in the huge grassy front area. There were even bucks squaring off and butting heads!

At Bryce there is a pizza place that we walked to from our room that was great. Then we went to a ranger led stargazing expo, they set up about 5 telescopes and you line up to get a view. It was spectacular, vivid milky way and moon shots. Also when we arrived around 10:00am at the main entrance visitor center they had a telescope set up where you could see the sun! Don't worry about frying your corneas, they had special filters and it was amazing- you could see the gases rising off the sun!

We also did a balloon ride in Moab that took off near the Arches entrance and then sailed over Canyonlands. It was spectacular, we even had a sideways crash landing dragging across cactus and boulders!

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FWIW, I think a 12 and 13 can make it to the top of the canyon before the real treacherous part of Angels Landing.  That wouldn’t take that long.  I do think hiking to the top of Zion is close to a must so you can take the whole thing in visually.  

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15 hours ago, Sammy3469 said:

FWIW, I think a 12 and 13 can make it to the top of the canyon before the real treacherous part of Angels Landing.  That wouldn’t take that long.  I do think hiking to the top of Zion is close to a must so you can take the whole thing in visually.  

My 5 year old made it to the top of Scout's Lookout before the chains.

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Flying to Vegas August 31.  Rent car, drive into Utah, do Zion Sep 1,2,3.
Had out of country plans derailed by CV in April and May. And also wanted to go somewhere Aug-Sep. 
Not looking good for 2021 at this point either.

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Michigan lakes 👍

Mackinac Island 👍

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 👍

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1 hour ago, dgreen said:

Michigan lakes 👍

Mackinac Island 👍

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 👍

Shhhhhhh

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Just grabbed a room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge for Tuesday night only.  We will be driving in early morn from the Tioga Pass Entrance.  Happy that it will be in the middle of the week and after Labor Day but have no idea what to do, yet.  None.  Just want to see/do as much as we can with two full days in the heart of it. 

Got a cabin 2 1/2 hours north (Pinecrest Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest) for the remainder of the week and would like to double-back down to Yosemite for 3 or 4 more days after that.  With the campgrounds all closed, I've been resigned to going through Airbnb for options close to the Park.  Any other suggestions?  I also tried that Airstream rental site (Autocamp) to no avail.

Any ideas for a plan of attack on those first two days?  Hiking will be a top priority.  We've never been to Yosemite!

Edited by Rodrigo Duterte

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31 minutes ago, Rodrigo Duterte said:

Just grabbed a room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge for Tuesday night only.  We will be driving in early morn from the Tioga Pass Entrance.  Happy that it will be in the middle of the week and after Labor Day but have no idea what to do, yet.  None.  Just want to see/do as much as we can with two full days in the heart of it. 

Got a cabin 2 1/2 hours north (Pinecrest Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest) for the remainder of the week and would like to double-back down to Yosemite for 3 or 4 more days after that.  With the campgrounds all closed, I've been resigned to going through Airbnb for options close to the Park.  Any other suggestions?  I also tried that Airstream rental site (Autocamp) to no avail.

Any ideas for a plan of attack on those first two days?  Hiking will be a top priority.  We've never been to Yosemite!

Since you'll be entering and going by Tuolumne Meadows, I would recommend checking it out, depending on how much time you want to take to get to the valley (it takes a while from the Tioga Pass Entrance). My favorite day hike from Yosemite Valley is the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls.  The water flow is pretty low right now, but it's still great.  On your drive out, you might consider stopping by Crane Flat and seeing the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoias up there.  It's usually less crowded.    As far as going into Yosemite when you are outside the park, you will need a Day Use Reservation.  I don't know much about the Pinecrest Lake area, but as you are entering via the 120, I would highly recommend a day hike in 20 Lakes Basin.  It's just east of the eastern entrance to the park off the 120 and it is really spectacular (you might save this for another day if you can't get a day use reservation).  You park at the Saddlebag Lake trailhead to get there.  Have a great time.

 

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13 hours ago, The Kansas Comet said:

Since you'll be entering and going by Tuolumne Meadows, I would recommend checking it out, depending on how much time you want to take to get to the valley (it takes a while from the Tioga Pass Entrance). My favorite day hike from Yosemite Valley is the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls.  The water flow is pretty low right now, but it's still great.  On your drive out, you might consider stopping by Crane Flat and seeing the Tuolumne Grove of Sequoias up there.  It's usually less crowded.    As far as going into Yosemite when you are outside the park, you will need a Day Use Reservation.  I don't know much about the Pinecrest Lake area, but as you are entering via the 120, I would highly recommend a day hike in 20 Lakes Basin.  It's just east of the eastern entrance to the park off the 120 and it is really spectacular (you might save this for another day if you can't get a day use reservation).  You park at the Saddlebag Lake trailhead to get there.  Have a great time.

 

Wow, thanks for all that.  Looks like the one night of lodging gives us a pass for the week so that's good.

Can you tell me more about 20 Lakes Basin?  We would have to hit that on the way to Yosemite on Wednesday and I'd rather take advantage of in-the-park stuff since we have the pass and will only be there for a short time.  Do you mean hitting 20 Lakes on the way back from Pinecrest?  I ask because you are highly recommending it and thus I'd really like to fit it in.  Thanks.

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If you have access to the park for the entire week, then by all means take advantage of it as access is harder to come by right now.  Since you'll be in the Valley, you'll probably want to take time to see the parts of the park off Tioga Road, such as Tuolumne Meadows and its surroundings as you enter from the east.  I really like the Glen Aulin trail in the Tuolumne Meadows area.  That part of the park usually has cooler temperatures than down in the Valley.  Heading further west on Tioga Road, there's a short hike to Lukens Lake that is nice as well. 

20 Lakes Basin is this really great basin formed by a ring of mountains on the north end of Saddlebag Lake.  It's beautiful and very uncrowded.  It's probably an 8 mile hike all the way around the loop of the basin, though you can shorten that by taking a water taxi across Saddlebag Lake (I don't know what the cost of it is).  The hiking is on a bit of loose shale in many spots, which is why the water taxi is a nice option to have.  I've been there twice and it's great.  The road to Saddlebag Lake is off the 120 probably about 10 minutes before you get to the Tioga entrance to Yosemite.  It is quite a ways from the Valley, but it is a lovely spot to get away from the crowds if you feel the need to do so.  The area is so great that you can't really go wrong, so no worries if you can't make it to 20 Lakes this time. 

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7 hours ago, The Kansas Comet said:

If you have access to the park for the entire week, then by all means take advantage of it as access is harder to come by right now.  Since you'll be in the Valley, you'll probably want to take time to see the parts of the park off Tioga Road, such as Tuolumne Meadows and its surroundings as you enter from the east.  I really like the Glen Aulin trail in the Tuolumne Meadows area.  That part of the park usually has cooler temperatures than down in the Valley.  Heading further west on Tioga Road, there's a short hike to Lukens Lake that is nice as well. 

20 Lakes Basin is this really great basin formed by a ring of mountains on the north end of Saddlebag Lake.  It's beautiful and very uncrowded.  It's probably an 8 mile hike all the way around the loop of the basin, though you can shorten that by taking a water taxi across Saddlebag Lake (I don't know what the cost of it is).  The hiking is on a bit of loose shale in many spots, which is why the water taxi is a nice option to have.  I've been there twice and it's great.  The road to Saddlebag Lake is off the 120 probably about 10 minutes before you get to the Tioga entrance to Yosemite.  It is quite a ways from the Valley, but it is a lovely spot to get away from the crowds if you feel the need to do so.  The area is so great that you can't really go wrong, so no worries if you can't make it to 20 Lakes this time. 

I was still sold on your 20 Lakes suggestion and ending up finding a cool nearby spot to stay.  It's out there -- no phone or cel coverage -- so I emailed them @ Tioga Pass Resort to book, but come to find they took a hit from that brutal 17/18' winter and are still rebuilding from it.  At that point I looked to see if there were any cancellations at Yosemite Valley Lodge and boom, got lucky.  So I booked a 2nd straight night there.  

That means we'll have 3 full days in Yosemite.  Gonna go with your Tuolumne Meadows suggestion on the way to the valley that first morning.  Anything more specific to add?  We have time for anything else before or after check-in at the Lodge?  Plan on hitting that Mist Trail to Nevada Fall you suggested on our 2nd day.  No plans for the third day (Thurs.), just know I want to be on the road north (2 1/2 hours to Pinecrest) by about 3.  Suggestions?

Finally, since our park pass will still be good, I'd like to go back in on Monday morning, from one of the west entrances.  See the sites and/or hike, then stay the night somewhere near Fish Camp that night.  Any ideas on what to do in that part of the park?  The lady would dig a horseback ride but the one I looked up isn't doing any on those days (9/14 - 9/15).

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We’re cancelling our Disney trip that was planned for the first week of November and I’m trying to find a national park to go visit. The difficulty is finding a state that isn’t on the NJ quarantine list where weather won’t be a huge issue. It’s been tough finding anything that seems appealing that would work. I’m going insane not getting out and taking my family for an adventure, but I’m starting to think the logistics just don’t work.

Any thoughts from anyone on any of these parks in early November?

Mt Rainier, Olympic, Saguaro, Grand Canyon?

I feel most confident that Washington and Nevada will stay off the quarantine list, less so about Arizona. But it seems as if Mt Rainier and Olympic may be pretty rainy weather potentially with a lot of Mt Rainier closed by that point.

Any thoughts from anyone?

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3 hours ago, GroveDiesel said:

We’re cancelling our Disney trip that was planned for the first week of November and I’m trying to find a national park to go visit. The difficulty is finding a state that isn’t on the NJ quarantine list where weather won’t be a huge issue. It’s been tough finding anything that seems appealing that would work. I’m going insane not getting out and taking my family for an adventure, but I’m starting to think the logistics just don’t work.

Any thoughts from anyone on any of these parks in early November?

Mt Rainier, Olympic, Saguaro, Grand Canyon?

I feel most confident that Washington and Nevada will stay off the quarantine list, less so about Arizona. But it seems as if Mt Rainier and Olympic may be pretty rainy weather potentially with a lot of Mt Rainier closed by that point.

Any thoughts from anyone?

If Arizona works, that would be what I’d do. Or maybe New Mexico. Or both. 

I am assuming Washington weather wouldn’t be good at that time of year. 

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Had to cancel the trip to both Yosemite and Pinecrest Lake (Stanislaus National Forest).  We ended up staying in smoky Mammoth Lakes for 5 days instead, trying to make the most of it.  During the drive up from SoCal the Creek Fire began smoking out towns (Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine) one by one, following us.  It was apocalyptic looking.  Went from sunny skies to red, grey, then dark.  You could not tell what time it was, sun could not be seen, at all.   So when we got through all the smoke emptying out onto the eastern Sierras, we pulled over for a bite in Bishop.

After only one hour, the smoke was all over there, too.  Crazy.  Hard to describe seeing the sheer enormity of smoke from a fire on the other side of the Sierra Nevadas.  And what it was doing to these towns so far away, all the way down in the flats.

Next day we drove to the only east entrance of Yosemite and luckily it was far enough north to still be open.  We were headed to Tuolumne Meadows before again being overcome by smoke.  Drove back to the entrance and were fortunate to get a nice hike in there.  That would be our only window and was the extent of seeing Yosemite.  The remaining days in Mammoth started with smoke and ended with it so bad in the afternoons you could see it in the grocery store.  Same pattern every day so we finally pulled the rip cord and left.

The Creek Fire isn't supposed to be out for another month.  Hard to believe.

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7 hours ago, GroveDiesel said:

We’re cancelling our Disney trip that was planned for the first week of November and I’m trying to find a national park to go visit. The difficulty is finding a state that isn’t on the NJ quarantine list where weather won’t be a huge issue. It’s been tough finding anything that seems appealing that would work. I’m going insane not getting out and taking my family for an adventure, but I’m starting to think the logistics just don’t work.

Any thoughts from anyone on any of these parks in early November?

Mt Rainier, Olympic, Saguaro, Grand Canyon?

I feel most confident that Washington and Nevada will stay off the quarantine list, less so about Arizona. But it seems as if Mt Rainier and Olympic may be pretty rainy weather potentially with a lot of Mt Rainier closed by that point.

Any thoughts from anyone?

Cross WA off your list. November is brutal out here, just so wet and dark

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Thanks guys. Yeah, I think I have the most interest in Rainier and Olympic but seems like it wouldn’t be worth it.

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13 hours ago, Rodrigo Duterte said:

Had to cancel the trip to both Yosemite and Pinecrest Lake (Stanislaus National Forest).  We ended up staying in smoky Mammoth Lakes for 5 days instead, trying to make the most of it.  During the drive up from SoCal the Creek Fire began smoking out towns (Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine) one by one, following us.  It was apocalyptic looking.  Went from sunny skies to red, grey, then dark.  You could not tell what time it was, sun could not be seen, at all.   So when we got through all the smoke emptying out onto the eastern Sierras, we pulled over for a bite in Bishop.

After only one hour, the smoke was all over there, too.  Crazy.  Hard to describe seeing the sheer enormity of smoke from a fire on the other side of the Sierra Nevadas.  And what it was doing to these towns so far away, all the way down in the flats.

Next day we drove to the only east entrance of Yosemite and luckily it was far enough north to still be open.  We were headed to Tuolumne Meadows before again being overcome by smoke.  Drove back to the entrance and were fortunate to get a nice hike in there.  That would be our only window and was the extent of seeing Yosemite.  The remaining days in Mammoth started with smoke and ended with it so bad in the afternoons you could see it in the grocery store.  Same pattern every day so we finally pulled the rip cord and left.

The Creek Fire isn't supposed to be out for another month.  Hard to believe.

Sorry to hear that.  Hope you can get back there once these fires are extinguished.  

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On 9/19/2020 at 6:59 PM, GroveDiesel said:

We’re cancelling our Disney trip that was planned for the first week of November and I’m trying to find a national park to go visit. The difficulty is finding a state that isn’t on the NJ quarantine list where weather won’t be a huge issue. It’s been tough finding anything that seems appealing that would work. I’m going insane not getting out and taking my family for an adventure, but I’m starting to think the logistics just don’t work.

Any thoughts from anyone on any of these parks in early November?

Mt Rainier, Olympic, Saguaro, Grand Canyon?

I feel most confident that Washington and Nevada will stay off the quarantine list, less so about Arizona. But it seems as if Mt Rainier and Olympic may be pretty rainy weather potentially with a lot of Mt Rainier closed by that point.

Any thoughts from anyone?

Went to the Grand Canyon last year in September (posted in here https://forums.footballguys.com/forum/topic/761414-nationalstate-parks-worth-seeing/?do=findComment&comment=22162614). Obviously weather will be a lot different as September is about the sweet spot for weather there. The only thing I'd do different is go when there is no moon to see the Milky Way.

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Took the family to Yellowstone this summer.  We camped at Madison, which was easily the most pristine, cleanest campground I've ever seen.  Perfect spot to camp as it's close to the geysers.  One thing I noticed immediately is that the people who work here are absolutely the A-Team.  Guessing it's a very sought after place to be a ranger.  Everybody - and I mean EVERYBODY - was knowledgeable, polite, patient and very eager to answer any questions.  

We didn't encounter too much in the way of traffic, so we were able to see a ton of stuff in our short time there.  We hiked about a half-mile up to an overlook to watch Old Faithful erupt, that was worth it.  Just an amazing spectacle.  But the highlight for me was hiking above Grand Prismatic.  What an incredible sight to behold.  It's like a tye-died patch of earth.  So majestic.  

A few of the hikes were closed, as was the swim area at Fire Canyon, but that didn't really slow us down.  We saw the bison and Lower Falls and exited out the north to see Mammoth Hot Springs.  Then we made the LONG drive to Glacier, which was fabulous.  

Yellowstone - I WILL be back.  You too, Glacier.  Both of those make me proud to be an American.

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3 hours ago, General Malaise said:

Took the family to Yellowstone this summer.  We camped at Madison, which was easily the most pristine, cleanest campground I've ever seen.  Perfect spot to camp as it's close to the geysers.  One thing I noticed immediately is that the people who work here are absolutely the A-Team.  Guessing it's a very sought after place to be a ranger.  Everybody - and I mean EVERYBODY - was knowledgeable, polite, patient and very eager to answer any questions.  

We didn't encounter too much in the way of traffic, so we were able to see a ton of stuff in our short time there.  We hiked about a half-mile up to an overlook to watch Old Faithful erupt, that was worth it.  Just an amazing spectacle.  But the highlight for me was hiking above Grand Prismatic.  What an incredible sight to behold.  It's like a tye-died patch of earth.  So majestic.  

A few of the hikes were closed, as was the swim area at Fire Canyon, but that didn't really slow us down.  We saw the bison and Lower Falls and exited out the north to see Mammoth Hot Springs.  Then we made the LONG drive to Glacier, which was fabulous.  

Yellowstone - I WILL be back.  You too, Glacier.  Both of those make me proud to be an American.

If I thought I could even remotely afford it, I’d absolutely retire to the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area and become one of those dudes that gets up early several times a week with my spotting scope to go watch the bears and wolves in the Lamar Valley to the point where I’d be able to ID each one and let tourists have a peak through my scope and educate them. That area is a slice of Heaven and I would gladly spend years and years hiking and exploring it.

ETA: glad you loved it. Super jealous you did Glacier as well. That’s one’s definitely high on my bucket list. Hope your kid’s loved the trip too.

Edited by GroveDiesel
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Yeah, Glacier is incredible.  We saw bears!  For a guy that grew up in a city to see bears out in the wild?  Man.....we live in a gorgeous country.  We should all go out and explore it.  Not just fly over it, traverse it.  Soak it in.  

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Heading into Shenandoah National Park today. Staying at a cottage on a farm near the park. Works great for a social distant vacation.

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2 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

Heading into Shenandoah National Park today. Staying at a cottage on a farm near the park. Works great for a social distant vacation.

That was actually my first choice for national park trip in November but unfortunately NC and Tenn are both in the NJ quarantine list. Sounds like an awesome time, enjoy and let us all know which areas you saw and recommendations!

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1 minute ago, GroveDiesel said:

That was actually my first choice for national park trip in November but unfortunately NC and Tenn are both in the NJ quarantine list. Sounds like an awesome time, enjoy and let us all know which areas you saw and recommendations!

Shenandoah is VA. Maybe thinking of the Smoky Mountains?

Im not sure if VA on the quarantine list there.

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In Wisconsin, our state parks are completely booked on the weekends and much of the weekdays at the good ones into winter.  Its one of those Covid ripple effect things that perhaps not everyone saw coming.  My neighbor works in sporting goods sales, and told me yesterday several of his clients are doing 2x last year's sales or more - hunting, fishing, kayaks, guns, tents, bikes - they can't keep any of this stuff on the shelves.

 

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9 hours ago, General Malaise said:

Yeah, Glacier is incredible.  We saw bears!  For a guy that grew up in a city to see bears out in the wild?  Man.....we live in a gorgeous country.  We should all go out and explore it.  Not just fly over it, traverse it.  Soak it in.  

I agree. We live in an amazing country with some incredible things to see. And being out in that type of nature and finding the areas of tranquility change and recharge the soul.

GM: If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend a trip to the Southwest, specifically Utah and/or the Grand Canyon area. Places like Arches, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon make you feel like you’re on a completely different planet while Zion seems like a piece of paradise plopped down in the middle of the desert.

It also gives new perspective a bit on how other people in the country live. Driving through remote parts of Utah and Wyoming last year really got me thinking about how much different life must be for those folks living so remote from even the smallest towns.

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13 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

Shenandoah is VA. Maybe thinking of the Smoky Mountains?

Im not sure if VA on the quarantine list there.

Doh. You‘re right. Was looking at both of them as possibilities and got them mixed up in my head. But yeah, Virginia on the list as well. Stupid NJ. Just about everything on the east coast is on the list. Of course with 30 states in the list, there aren’t a ton NOT on the list.

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5 minutes ago, CletiusMaximus said:

In Wisconsin, our state parks are completely booked on the weekends and much of the weekdays at the good ones into winter.  Its one of those Covid ripple effect things that perhaps not everyone saw coming.  My neighbor works in sporting goods sales, and told me yesterday several of his clients are doing 2x last year's sales or more - hunting, fishing, kayaks, guns, tents, bikes - they can't keep any of this stuff on the shelves.

 

Yup, anything home related or outdoors related has gotten really difficult to find. Want a fire pit for your back yard? Good luck with that. Want a bike or tent? Should have bought one 4 months ago for delivery now. Looking to purchase an RV? Prepare to pay a 50% premium right now. Some businesses are going under while others are raking it in right now.

Going to be interesting to see what next summer and fall look like for travel. I would say that if you think you may have plans to travel for either of those times next year, better make your reservations as early as possible. Once things are “back to normal”, folks are going to go even more crazy traveling and things are going to book up and be packed.

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Ok, I give up. I guess I’m just not going anywhere for awhile. NJ added 5 more states including just about every state that seemed realistic to travel to in November. I think I would be fine Covid-wise planning for something in California, but you know, that “the entire state is on fire” thing.

Quote

 Nearly a half-dozen states were added to the list of places people visiting or returning to New Jersey are asked to quarantine for 14 days because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Tuesday.

Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming are now considered COVID-19 hotspots.

:sadbanana:

My only hope may be a last minute planned trip to someplace that comes off the quarantine list. Stupid NJ trying to keep people safe.

Edited by GroveDiesel

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3 hours ago, GroveDiesel said:

I agree. We live in an amazing country with some incredible things to see. And being out in that type of nature and finding the areas of tranquility change and recharge the soul.

GM: If you haven’t been there before, I highly recommend a trip to the Southwest, specifically Utah and/or the Grand Canyon area. Places like Arches, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon make you feel like you’re on a completely different planet while Zion seems like a piece of paradise plopped down in the middle of the desert.

It also gives new perspective a bit on how other people in the country live. Driving through remote parts of Utah and Wyoming last year really got me thinking about how much different life must be for those folks living so remote from even the smallest towns.

I've been to the Grand Canyon twice.  Once just to observe - it was freezing!  Didn't really get to do much other than gawk at it.  Then, I was fortunate enough to partake in a 3 day rafting trip through the Canyon and THAT was the trip of a lifetime.  

I plan on hitting Utah soon.  We bought the Annual Pass and want to use it as much as possible before it expires.  Also got a new mini-van that drives like a dream, so I'm ready at a moment's notice to point the van south and punch the gas.  

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