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Author Topic: Advice for Southwest Trip  (Read 4060 times)
Khurram
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« on: February 19, 2011, 01:54:48 AM »
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I'm going to be making another trip to the Southwest as part of a business trip to Denver. I'll be there at the start of April and wanted to get some advice on the best places to hit at this time of the year.

I've been to Arches, Monument Valley, Page Area, Sedona, Coyote Buttes, Bryce and the Grand Staircase Escalante area many times before and have tended to hit a lot of places for 2-3 days each and then move on.  While Arches and Monument Valley were what first attracted me to the the southwest, I really love the area around Page the most.  This time, I'm considering just picking 2-3 places rather then trying to hit everything I'm already planning on spending 5 days there in the hopes of lucking out on getting a lottery day pass for the Wave and shooting more around the Page area.

I've hit the southwest at late May and in numerous times in September and October.  I wanted to get some advice on what would be the best places to hit during the remainder of my 7-8 days  of my two week trip at the start of April.  What would be the best options duringthe first 2 weeks of April, in terms of light, wildflowers, etc Huh

-For Arches NP, is the start of April to early for wildflowers, cacti in Arches (i.e. around courthouse area) Huh  At this time of the year, will there still be snow in the La Sals mountains to make them a better background Huh  I've always wanted to shoot Arches after a rainfall to get some reflections.  Is this a good time to get that change in weather Huh
-Is this a good time of the year to get good beams in Upper/Lower Antelope canyons Huh
-I've never really spent much time in Zion - mainly due to the fact that the my trip there ended up being in 102 degree weather and it was pain having to take the shuttle bus system because of the driving restrictions.  Is this a good time to do the Narrows/subway hikes Huh  Most photos I've seen are from the Fall.
-Is this a good time light wise for Monument Valley (mainly interested in sand dunes and Hunts Mesa) Huh  Last time i was in Monument Valley and had booked a trip to Hunt's Mesa, my guide Tom Phillips ended up cancelling, since the two other individuals who were supposed to go cancelled.

I'm going to be driving to and from Denver. Are there other places on the way that would be good options Huh  Is this going to be too early in the year to consider Maroon Bells Huh

Any advice would be much appreciated!!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 01:58:05 AM by Khurram » Logged

Lonnie Utah
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2011, 10:01:07 PM »
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The first two weeks of April will be a bit to early for most of the flowers in Arches.

Don't over look the cedar mesa area.
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mshea
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011, 10:30:22 PM »
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Each time I've been to Coyote Buttes, the people who run the lottery explain that with each successive day you participate in the lottery, you're placed higher on the list. So by the third day, your chances of landing a spot are pretty good. I was just plain lucky. With 65 people there, I bagged one of the ten spots on my first try. Actually, I enjoy the South Buttes about as much as the North Buttes. Sure, the Wave—both of them, actually—is interesting and photogenic, but for my money, way overhyped. Wire Pass Narrows is also fascinating (same parking lot as North Coyote Buttes). Lots of HDR possibilities there.

Merrill
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Khurram
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2011, 12:28:14 PM »
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The first two weeks of April will be a bit to early for most of the flowers in Arches.

Don't over look the cedar mesa area.

Thanks for letting me about the timing for the wildflowers and the suggestion of Cedar Mesa!
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Khurram
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2011, 12:30:26 PM »
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Each time I've been to Coyote Buttes, the people who run the lottery explain that with each successive day you participate in the lottery, you're placed higher on the list. So by the third day, your chances of landing a spot are pretty good. I was just plain lucky. With 65 people there, I bagged one of the ten spots on my first try. Actually, I enjoy the South Buttes about as much as the North Buttes. Sure, the Wave—both of them, actually—is interesting and photogenic, but for my money, way overhyped. Wire Pass Narrows is also fascinating (same parking lot as North Coyote Buttes). Lots of HDR possibilities there.

Merrill

Hi Merrill,
Iv'e never been to South Coyote Buttes, so if I don't get a pass that maybe an option.  Last time i was in Page i went three days in a row but wasn't able to get a pass.  On one of the days there were 140 people in the lottery!

I have made three trips there before, but booked early enough to get the passes online.
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jdemott
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2011, 04:56:08 PM »
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In answer to a couple of your specific questions:
1.  A few years ago I was at Arches in early May and there was still plenty of snow on the La Sals, so I would think April would be a good bet, but of course it all depends....
2.  In Zion, any of the hikes through narrow canyons with streams, such as the Narrows, are best done when stream flows are low, water temperatures are warm, and there is low potential for flash floods.  Ideally that means in the autumn after the potential for summer thunderstorms has passed (not to mention the summer hoards of visitors).  But there are lots of great things to see in Zion when it is cool and not crowded, so you would have no trouble filling your days during an extended stay--just get out and walk.

If you're looking for a place to stay for several days, rather than moving about, Moab is a great location.  In addition to Arches, there are lots of great locations in Canyonlands to explore, particularly if you rent a 4WD and get off the main roads.  In addition to the usual scenic landscapes there is lots of Native American rock art to be seen.  And Moab has lots of good choices for food and lodging.
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John DeMott
Lonnie Utah
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2011, 11:03:37 AM »
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I just reread the OP again now.  If you are coming from Denver to Ut, you are going to have to cross the rockies.  In april there will still be a good chance that you could run into snow over the highest passes.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that it could be significant snow.  You might be ok, but you also might get stuck on I-70.

Coming into moab from denver, take the alternative route on UT128 thru the ghost town of Cisco and through Castle Valley.  It brings you in along the Colorado River and is very scenic.  Much more so than the desert along the freeway.  

There will be pleanty of snow of the La Sals at that time of year.  They are 12,000' tall and will keep their snow until June or later.  

Zion will most likely be too cold to do the narrows or the subway without the proper equipment.  Check with the local outfitters in Springdale, some of them might rent dry suits and other equipment that could get you into these areas.  Remember, the subway needs a permit, the narrows (up from the temple of sinawava) do not.  

Good luck.
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mshea
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2011, 06:58:38 PM »
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Both times I've been to the Coyote Buttes (early to mid May), I had no trouble getting a pass to the South Buttes for the next day. I was told they rarely run out of passes. People just don't seem to be as interested in the South Buttes. But don't even think about driving into the S. Buttes area unless you've got 4WD; you won't stand a chance.

Merrill
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Khurram
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2011, 10:21:09 PM »
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In answer to a couple of your specific questions:
1.  A few years ago I was at Arches in early May and there was still plenty of snow on the La Sals, so I would think April would be a good bet, but of course it all depends....
2.  In Zion, any of the hikes through narrow canyons with streams, such as the Narrows, are best done when stream flows are low, water temperatures are warm, and there is low potential for flash floods.  Ideally that means in the autumn after the potential for summer thunderstorms has passed (not to mention the summer hoards of visitors).  But there are lots of great things to see in Zion when it is cool and not crowded, so you would have no trouble filling your days during an extended stay--just get out and walk.

If you're looking for a place to stay for several days, rather than moving about, Moab is a great location.  In addition to Arches, there are lots of great locations in Canyonlands to explore, particularly if you rent a 4WD and get off the main roads.  In addition to the usual scenic landscapes there is lots of Native American rock art to be seen.  And Moab has lots of good choices for food and lodging.
John,
I appreciate your feedback - I think, I'll drop Zion from this trip and try to come back in the fall - I really need to try and go there in the Fall sometime anyways.  Good to her that there will be plenty of snow in the La Sal Mountains at this time - last time i was there, they were pretty bare.
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Khurram
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2011, 10:25:05 PM »
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I just reread the OP again now.  If you are coming from Denver to Ut, you are going to have to cross the rockies.  In april there will still be a good chance that you could run into snow over the highest passes.  It is not beyond the realm of possibility that it could be significant snow.  You might be ok, but you also might get stuck on I-70.

Coming into moab from denver, take the alternative route on UT128 thru the ghost town of Cisco and through Castle Valley.  It brings you in along the Colorado River and is very scenic.  Much more so than the desert along the freeway.  

There will be pleanty of snow of the La Sals at that time of year.  They are 12,000' tall and will keep their snow until June or later.  

Zion will most likely be too cold to do the narrows or the subway without the proper equipment.  Check with the local outfitters in Springdale, some of them might rent dry suits and other equipment that could get you into these areas.  Remember, the subway needs a permit, the narrows (up from the temple of sinawava) do not.  

Good luck.
Lonnie,
thanks for the head's up regarding possible snow on the I70!  Thanks for the suggestion of taking the UT128 highway.

I think i'll drop Zion - I'd probably want to come back for a fall trip anyways, so probably better to hit some of the other spots with better conditions this time of the year.
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Khurram
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2011, 10:27:54 PM »
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Both times I've been to the Coyote Buttes (early to mid May), I had no trouble getting a pass to the South Buttes for the next day. I was told they rarely run out of passes. People just don't seem to be as interested in the South Buttes. But don't even think about driving into the S. Buttes area unless you've got 4WD; you won't stand a chance.

Merrill
Merril,

Aren't the entrances to South and North Coyote Buttes at the same wire pass trailhead?  I had always thought you goto the same trailhead, but turn-off in different directions.  From my previous trips to the wave, there was another trailhead that only required a day pass - not sure if that was for south coyote buttes.  In the past I've driven to the trailhead for N Coyote Buttes in a regular passenger car.
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mshea
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 06:59:38 PM »
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The parking lot on House Rock Road is only for Wire Pass (for which you need a day pass) and North Buttes. There are two different access roads to the South Buttes further down House Rock Road.

Merrill
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bretedge
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2011, 08:12:09 AM »
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I live in Moab and hopefully the information I'm about to share is relevant and helpful.

1) Snow in the La Sals - Yes, there will be plenty.  Snow usually lingers on the summits into May and even June some years.

2) Wildflowers - Early April is probably too early for most of the wildflowers.  You specifically mention cactus flowers, which typically bloom later than other wildflowers.  I've seen healthy prickly pear blooms in June.

3) Weather is a bit unpredictable in April.  If you want to be virtually guaranteed of potholes filled with rainwater, come in July or August when the monsoons are present.  The last two years have been weird though, in that we got the late afternoon cloud action but very little actual rain.

4) Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point SP and the BLM land around Moab are just as interesting as anything you'll find in Arches.  I highly recommend that you do some exploring to find some really unique photo opps.

Let me know if I can answer other questions about the Moab area for you.  Always glad to help out.
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