Rainbow Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah
Rainbow Point at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

National Parks of Utah and Colorado: Itinerary and Master Guide [Work In Progress]

Editor’s note: This currently unfinished article is the launch of a new series of itinerary and master guide articles which will contain links to separate articles pertaining to a particular destination as part of an effort to better organize The Gate. They will also double as an impetus for the remainder of unwritten articles to be written. Each itinerary and master guide article is a work in progress and will be completed once all of the articles have been written and posted.


An Annual Park Pass from the National Park Service of the United States was purchased for $80.00 at Colorado National Monument before entering it; and it paid for itself on this trip alone, as the following national parks and monuments were all visited on this road trip in Utah, Colorado, and a bit of Arizona thrown in:

  • Colorado National Monument
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park

National Parks of Utah and Colorado: Itinerary and Master Guide

This trip was taken during the height of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic in December of 2020.

Day 1 — Drive to Moab

Parking debacle: The Inexcusable Reasons Why You Should Avoid Way.com for Airport Parking

Delta Air Lines
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

My First Pandemic Flight — With a Basic Economy Fare

Depart Atlanta at 8:05 in the morning on Delta Air Lines flight 1061 for Denver arriving at 9:17 in the morning.

Priority Pass lounges in Atlanta: Minute Suites on Concourse B and The Club at ATL Concourse F.

Sun in Utah: From 7:00 in the morning until almost 5:00 in the afternoon.

Hertz
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Hertz Denver International Airport

Pick up at 9:30 in the morning. Telephone 303-342-3800.

Economy car — Chevrolet Spark or similar or similar — unlimited miles $178.61.

Our location is off airport. Please jump in our Hertz Bus from Jeppesen Terminal — Level 5, Island 4, outside doors 505-513 (east side) and 504-512 (west side).

Drive to Moab. Between 6 hours and 7 hours and ten minutes to hotel.

Colorado National Monument — Rim Rock Drive. 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

Hampton Inn Moab
488 North Main Street or United States Highway 191
Moab, Utah 84532
Telephone 1-435-259-3030

Two queen beds non-smoking. $80.10 per night for two nights; $183.94 total.

Day 2 — Arches National Park — Moab, Utah 6 hours

Arches National Park — Park opens at 9:00 in the morning. 12 minute drive from Moab. United States Highway 191 north. Turn left at traffic light into Arches National Park.

  • Park Avenue Trail: 45 minutes
  • Balanced Rock Trail: 15 minutes
  • Double Arch Trail: 30 minutes
  • Windows Trail: 30 minutes to 45 minutes
  • Delicate Arch Trail: 1.5 hours to 2 hours — 3 miles round trip
  • Sand Dune Arch Trail: 15 minutes
  • Landscape Arch Devil’s Golden: 60 minutes
  • Various Roadside lookouts — road takes 32 minutes with no stops

Day 3 — Utah 10 hours

Canyonlands National Park — 40 minutes from Hampton Inn Moab to Island in the Sky Visitor Center. North on United States Highway 191 and left on Utah State Highway 313. 3.5 hours total. Open 24 hours.

  • Mesa Arch Trail: 15 minutes to 20 minutes
  • Murphy Point Trail: 45 minutes to 60 minutes
  • White Rim Trail: 30 minutes to 45 minutes
  • Grand View Point Trail: 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Roadside lookouts

Arches National Park — Park opens at 9:00 in the morning. 36 minute drive from Canyonlands National Park. Utah State Highway 313 to United States Highway 191 south. Turn left at traffic light into Arches National Park. 3 Hours total.

  • Sand Dune Arch Trail: 15 minutes. With Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch: 45 minutes.
  • Skyline Arch Trail: 15 minutes
  • Fiery Furnace Viewpoint: 10 minutes
  • Salt Valley Overlook: 10 minutes
  • Panarama Point: 10 minutes
  • Possible Windows Trail again if weather is different — 30 minutes
  • Possible Delicate Arch Upper and Lower Viewpoints — 30 minutes
  • Various Roadside lookouts — road takes 32 minutes with no stops
  • ENTRANCE SIGN!!!

Wilson Arch — 29 minutes from Moab on United States Highway 191 south. 5 minutes to 10 minutes.

Goosenecks State Park — One hour and 51 minutes from Wilson Arch; or one hour and 20 minutes from Natural Bridges National Monument. United States Highway 191 south to United States Highway 163 south. 15 minutes.

Monument Valley — 20 minutes from Goosenecks State Park. Forrest Gump viewpoint. United States Highway 163 south near Arizona.

Hampton Inn & Suites Page – Lake Powell
294 Sandhill Road
Page, Arizona 86040
Telephone 1-928-645-0075

Two queen beds non-smoking. $61.64 per night; $70.37 total.

Page — One hour and 56 minutes from Monument Valley. United States Highway 163 south to United States Highway 160 west to Arizona State Highway 98 west. Possible stop at Elephant Feet on United States Highway 160 past Arizona State Highway 98?

If there is time — 3.5 hours total:

Horseshoe Bend Overlook — 8 minutes from Page. United States Highway 89 south; then turn right. 30 minutes.

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook — 7 minutes from Horseshoe Bend Overlook. United States Highway 89 north. Left turn. 10 minutes.

The New Wave — 9 minutes from Glen Canyon Dam Overlook. United States Highway 89 north. Radio Tower Rock to the southeast. 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Wahweap Overlook — 7 minutes from The New Wave. United States Highway 89 north; then turn right. 5 minutes.

Toadstools Trail — 23 minutes from Wahweap Overlook. United States Highway 89 north; then turn right. 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Page — 30 minutes from Toadstools Trail. United States Highway 89 south.

Day 4 — Arizona and Zion National Park 10 hours — or 7 hours if red Canyon moves to the next day.

Pariah Ghost Town Site — 58 minutes from Page. United States Highway 89 north; then turn right. 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Leave hotel at 6:00 in the morning.

Zion National Park
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Zion National Park — One hour and 34 minutes from Paria. United States Highway 89 north to left on Utah State Highway 9. 6 hours in total. Opens at 8:00 in the morning.

  • Canyon Overlook Trail: 45 minutes to 60 minutes
  • Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint: 16 minutes from Canyon Overlook. 15 minutes.
  • Emerald Pools Trail — near Zion National Park Lodge: 3 minutes from Court of the Patriarchs. Lower and Middle Pools: 45 minutes to 60 minutes OR All 3 Pools: 60 minutes to 120 minutes.
  • Big Bend Viewpoint: 9 minutes from Emerald Pools.
  • Riverside Walk: 4 minutes from Big Bend Viewpoint. 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

Hampton Inn Cedar City
1145 S. Bentley Boulevard
Cedar City, Utah 84720
435-586-5000

One queen bed non-smoking. $74.14 per night; $82.86 total.

Day 5 — Bryce Canyon National Park 11 hours

Red Canyon Park — One hour and 19 minute drive from Hampton Inn Cedar City. Exit 95 on Interstate 15 north to Utah State Highway 20 east to United States Highway 89 south to United States Highway 89 north to Utah State Highway 12 east. No entry fee. One hour and 15 minutes total.

  • Photo Trail/Birdseye Trail: 30 minutes to 45 minutes. One of these: 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
  • Red Canyon Arch: 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Bryce Canyon National Park — 18 minute drive from Red Canyon National Park. Utah State Highway 12 east. 4 hours total. Open 24 hours.

  • Fairyland Point: 7 minutes from visitor center. 5 minutes.
  • Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Trails: 9 minutes from Fairyland Point. 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Rim trail connects start and end points. Wall Street side of Navajo Loop is closed.
  • Inspiration Point: 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
  • Bryce Point: 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
  • Parla View: 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
  • Swamp Canyon Overlook: 5 minutes.
  • Farview Point: 5 minutes.
  • Bryce Natural Bridge: 5 minutes.
  • Ponderosa/Black Birch Canyon: 5 minutes each.
  • Rainbow Point/Bristlecone Loop

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park — One hour and 28 minutes from Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah State Highway 12 east, then turn left. 60 minutes at the most.

Upper Calf Creek Falls — 35 minutes from Escalante Petrified Forest. Utah State Highway 12 east, then turn left. 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

Rodeway Inn Bryce Canyon
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

My First Stay at a Rodeway Inn Hotel Property — and The Verdict Is…

Rodeway Inn Bryce Canyon
3090 Utah State Highway 12
Panguitch, Utah 84759
435-676-8886

No breakfast included.

Two double beds. $40.49 for one night; $46.02 total.

DAY 6 — Capitol Reef National Park 5 hours

Homestead Overlook — 23 minutes from Upper Calf Creek Falls. Utah State Highway 12 east, then turn right. 5 minutes.

Larb Hollow Overlook — 17 minutes from Homestead Overlook. 5 minutes.

Capitol Reef National Park — 31 minute drive from Larb Hollow Overlook. Utah State Highway 12 east to right on Utah State Highway 24 east. Turn right. 3.5 hours total.

  • Goosenecks Trail/Panorama Point: 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
  • Capitol Gorge Trail: 36 minutes from Goosenecks. Utah State Highway 24 east and then turn right on Campground road; then continue on Scenic Drive and Capitol Gorge road. 60 minutes.
  • Petroglyphs: Turn back around and turn right on Utah State Highway 24 east and then turn left. 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
  • Hickman Bridge Trail: 4 minute drive from Petroglyphs. Utah State Highway 24 east and then turn left. 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

Goblin Valley State Park — One hour and 14 minute drive from Hickman Bridge Trail. Utah State Highway 24 east. Turn left. Carmel Canyon Trail: 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail — One hour and 22 minute drive from Goblin Valley State Park and 23 minutes from Moab. Utah State Highway 24 east to Interstate 70 east to United States Highway 191 south. 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Candlewood Suites Grand Junction NW
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

My First Stay at a Candlewood Suites Hotel Property — and The Verdict Is…

Candlewood Suites Grand Junction NW
654 Market Street
Grand Junction, Colorado 81506
970-255-8093

No breakfast included.

One queen bed. $71.87 for one night; $82.31 total.

Day 7 — Grand Junction, Colorado 11 hours

Denver International Airport — Four hours and 48 minutes from Grand Junction.

Day 8

Depart Denver at 12:45 in the morning on Delta flight 2100 for Atlanta arriving at 5:20 in the morning.

Final Boarding Call

This was my itinerary for the national parks of Utah and Colorado and will serve as the master guide for the articles pertaining to each national park, lodging, and other articles from this trip which are posted to The Gate.

As the itinerary and master guide series of articles is a new project which I have taken on for easier access to information, your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Other articles in the itinerary and master guide series at The Gate — but are still unfinished at the time this article was written — include:

Rainbow Point at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is the featured photograph. All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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