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Thread: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

  1. #1

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    Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Although highly subjective I would appreciate some input.

    I will be in Utah in early May 2015 and have 12 days to apportion between Arches, Canyonlands (Island and Needles) and Capitol Reef.

    Never having been to any of these parks they all seem fantastic as are their descriptions in "Photographing the Southwest".

    I plan to do day hikes but no backpacking, and will have a 4x4. So far, I plan three days in each.

    Is there one that is worth more time than the others, given my time constraint?

    If I can squeeze in a couple more days which of these parks deserves the extra time?

    Any advice from those who have visited would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Tim Sandstrom
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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    canyonlands is huge, close to arches, mostly looking down
    arches is smaller, more people, lots of 'nooks' and crannies to explore.
    Capital Reef has some really cool slot canyons, it's at least a travel day away from the other two
    All three could provide a lot of work, maybe arches though...

  3. #3
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    for the "right" light in all those places.....about 20 years .
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 71:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  4. #4

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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Have you ever visited the Moab area in Winter Kirk?

  5. #5

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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Thanks dasBlute.

    Would you say Capitol Reef is worth three days, for the Cathedral valley loop? Are there some interesting day hikes to photogenic locations?

  6. #6

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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    If you base yourself in the Moab area, you can visit arches and island in the sky easily. 5 minutes to arches, 30-40 minutes to islands in the sky. Each is spectacular in their own right but offer vastly different scenery. Arches is quite small as far as np's go but there is no end to the photo ops if you are willing to hike a bit. Islands in the sky is full of the monumental grand scenics and has little traffic compared to arches, but you can also hike into some interesting canyons for more intimate scenes. I couldn't pick a favorite between the two. If I were you I would take a day and scout both and decide how to to divide your time depending on the type of photos you are seeking. There are also a lot of spots up hwy 128 from Moab that are just as interesting photographically as well you could explore. I never really found the needles district as interesting, but in all fairness I haven't explored it nearly as much as arches or the maze or islands in the sky.

    Capitol Reef is pretty cool as well and if you make it into cathedral valley you'll probably have the place to yourself. It doesn't look like much from the hwy, but once you get out and explore the back roads it is incredible. Keep an eye out for weather, if it's rained recently you might not get into the backcountry because of flash floods that make the washes you have to cross unpassable. It is remote and a tow truck would cost a fortune

    I would give Capitol reef a few days depending on weather and then the rest of your time around the Moab area to split between arches and canyonlands. Who knows, maybe one of the spots will strike your fancy and you'll stay put for your entire stay and make a return trip to visit the rest...

    If you are camping, it'll be difficult to find a spot at arches unless you are at the visitor center at the crack of dawn and get in line and hope there's spots available. There are numerous campgrounds upriver on blm land to camp. You'll be visiting in prime mountain biking season for the Moab area and camping can sometimes be difficult to find a spot but you'll probably be ok. If you need any questions answered before your trip, let me know I live about 85 miles from the Moab area and am quite familiar with the surrounding area.
    Erik

  7. #7
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Marshall View Post
    Have you ever visited the Moab area in Winter Kirk?
    Yeah but its been a very long time.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 71:
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  8. #8

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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Thanks Eric,

    That is very helpful!

  9. #9
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    If you have time left over, Comb Ridge (in the Natural Bridges Nat'l Monument area), above the access roads, is a lonely hiking area w/ spectacular ruins hidden in gigantic alcoves. Great for day hikes. If you’re good w/ a compass and topo map, it’s full of unexpected surprises. Even if you don’t come across the ruins when hiking up, the view along the spine of the ridge is, well, spine tingling. And a nice view for lunch.

    Of the many excellent books about the area, I love these two the most – enjoyable, informative reading before you go, and while you’re there:

    1) Anasazi: Ancient People of the Rock
    --By Donald Pike
    Photos by David Muench
    Excellent overview of the area’s natural & Anasazi cultural history – w/ stunning photography, of course. Pike’s writing is graceful like Muench’s best photos.

    2) In Search of the Old Ones
    --By David Roberts
    Adventurous first-hand account about exploring Anasazi Country w/ greater emphasis on the White Man’s treatment of the area since the Wetherill brothers’ 19th-C discovery of many of the monuments.

    -----
    (Okay, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire is my ultimate favorite – especially in view of your visit to Arches NP – but I'm going to believe that you've already read it, like a lot of the high desert SW landscape-wandering people here.)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anasazi 1.jpg   Anasazi 2.jpg  

  10. #10

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    Re: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef How much time?

    Thank-you Heroique, I will look into your suggestion. I am aware of Abbey's book, but have not read it. I will now! Thanks.

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