West Southwest

Do a trip report here....go to another city and want to relate it to what KC is doing right or could do better? Give us a summary in here.
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grovester
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West Southwest

Postby grovester » Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:19 pm

Starting a leisurely road trip west and southwest. Durango, Moab, Page, vaguely Vegas, Sedona. Any must sees? I heard about a canyon?

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Re: West Southwest

Postby DaveKCMO » Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:28 pm

skip sedona.
the grand canyon is a must -- north rim, i assume?
vegas? meh, but if it's on your way.

where will you end up?

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Re: West Southwest

Postby grovester » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:43 pm

Both rims actually. Vegas details are nebulous, SO would probably like Fremont St. More about the areas around Vegas, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Lake Havasu. We're doing a big circle, coming back thru Amarillo and OKC.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby shinatoo » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:03 pm

mesa verda and zion always get a significant portion of my time.
Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

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Re: West Southwest

Postby WSPanic » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:18 am

If you're choosing which to spend more time at, I'd recommend the North Rim over the South Rim by far. From the North Rim, it's a pretty quick drive to Zion (maybe 3 hrs). If you're going that way, don't skip Zion. And, if you're into parks, Bryce is just another couple of hours. And the Zion > Bryce drive is amazing.

I've been to Pagosa Springs a few times. It's about an hour east of Durango. If you're into hot springs, they have some really nice options.

Taos is also a cool little Town. The Rio Grand Gorge Bridge is right outside of Taos and pretty cool if it's on your way. Santa Fe is a bigger version of Taos, but I like it quite a bit as well. I mention these, because they are better than staying in Albuquerque - I can't stand that place - would not recommend stopping there unless you have to.

Telluride is out that general direction. They have a pretty healthy music festival calendar in the summer. It's a cool place, but hard to get to. If you don't have a reason to be there, it's probably not the best use of your time.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby loftguy » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:39 am

grovester wrote:Starting a leisurely road trip west and southwest. Durango, Moab, Page, vaguely Vegas, Sedona. Any must sees? I heard about a canyon?


A suggestion for on your way. Near Alamosa, Colorado visit Great Sand Dunes National Park. It's a wow...

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Re: West Southwest

Postby bobbyhawks » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:54 am

loftguy wrote:
grovester wrote:Starting a leisurely road trip west and southwest. Durango, Moab, Page, vaguely Vegas, Sedona. Any must sees? I heard about a canyon?


A suggestion for on your way. Near Alamosa, Colorado visit Great Sand Dunes National Park. It's a wow...

Seconded. I also agree with Mesa Verde National Park and the cliff dwellings. If you have time, the Durango-Silverton train ride is pretty great for scenery as well, but I think it takes up a full day if you do a round trip.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby Roanoker » Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:11 am

Hi. I posted a bunch of pictures from our 2005 trip to the Southwest when I joined KCRag in 2006, but the site that hosted them stopped storing images. Anyway, I plan to update them, but it will take a while. You can see them at the new site here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/115393943@N05/collections/72157640444224893/

There is an album (folder) for each day and an explanation of where we were. I had just gotten my Nikon D70 and was amazed at its abilities. I still use it.

Anyway, I hope the information will be useful to you. No matter where you go, you will be pleased.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby taxi » Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:25 pm

I don't normally take tours like this, but the Hoover Dam tour is very cool.

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grovester
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Re: West Southwest

Postby grovester » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:07 am

Crap, I'm gonna have to quit my job to do this right. Thanks folks, that was exactly what I was looking for.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby Highlander » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:45 am

grovester wrote:Starting a leisurely road trip west and southwest. Durango, Moab, Page, vaguely Vegas, Sedona. Any must sees? I heard about a canyon?


Ambitious trip. Depending on the duration, I think you will have some difficult choices. The Durango area and the Colorado Plateau of Utah could keep you very busy easily for a couple of weeks.

I lived out in NW Texas for 8 years and frequented these areas. Others have mentioned some great places - here are a few of mine. I do not like crowds when I am out to enjoy nature and tend to let that bias where and when I go...

Great Sand Dunes. Great suggestion. Climb to the highest dune for solitude and view. It's usually about a 4 hour round trip. The dunes are even better when the stream is flowing at their base.

Durango area. US550 to Ouray is very scenic and one of the best alpine drives in the US. Side trip to box canyon and if you can make it (need some clearance in your vehicle) - Yankee Boy Basin outside of Ouray is spectacular (see photos at the end of the post). From Ouray take the Dallas divide road from Telluride (and it's an easy hop to Moab from there)

Mesa Verde National Park - Outside of Durango - could easily spend a few days here. But it's a bit out of the way if you take the route I just described. But I love the park and they have a great campground if you are into camping.

Hovenweep Nat. Monument is off the beaten track but its not often visited. Kind of cool but not as spectacular as Mesa Verde.

On way to Moab - slightly out of the way is natural Bridge national Monument. Cool place.

Moab. Again could easily spend two weeks here. I would recommend a driving tour of Canyonlands with very short hikes to the overlooks and spending some time in Arches with some long to moderate hikes. Delicate Arch is great as an early morning climb at dawn (best time is sunset for colors but you would be there with an army of people). There are some other fantastic hiking trails in the park - those emanating from Devils Garden Trailhead are my favorites. Deadhorse Point is a great overlook outside both parks. Not often visited.

Capitol Reef is worth the visit and it's on the way to Grand Canyon from Moab. It's not spectacular but it's worth the stop. The drive from Capitol Reef to the Bryce Canyon- Zion area through Escalante National Monument (through the town of Boulder) is spectacular.

Zion is my favorite park in the SW USA. More so than the Grand Canyon. It's Yosemite of the desert. Tends to get crowded but ultra spectacular. The hike to Angel's Landing in Zion is a must if you are fit but not recommended for the faint of heart.

Grand Canyon - I like the north rim. Its way less visited and its forested but doesn't have quite the sweeping views of the south rim. May be closed until June due to snow - its high. The south rim is great but its like rush hour traffic all summer.

Keep in mind that the SW US national parks have seen increased visitation over the last few years. Getting into Arches can be a major league pain in the ass - so I recommend being inside the the more popular parks well before 7 AM and just staying there all day (e.g., Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion). You can wait hours to in a line to get into Arches at peak times and there will be absolutely no parking at any trailhead later than 8 AM.

I've posted some SW Colorado photos here (off the beaten track but generally between Durango, Telluride and Ouray):
viewtopic.php?f=31&t=16575

And some Zion National Park Photos in this thread (mostly from a hike to Scout's overlook and onto Angel's Landing):
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=16700&p=432779&hilit=Angel%27s+Landing

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grovester
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Re: West Southwest

Postby grovester » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:56 pm

Thanks Highlander, I knew you'd be a font of information. FYI, Colorado Springs to Durango is a bit much for one day. Gunnison to Montrose is great, particularly Black Canyon. The drive over the mountains on 550 from Ouray to Durango is not for the faint of heart if it's SNOWING!!! and the temps plummet to 30. Butt clenching. Best day ever.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby Highlander » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:50 pm

grovester wrote: Butt clenching. Best day ever.


It always seems to work out that way....if you live (or at least don't wreck the car).

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Re: West Southwest

Postby grovester » Sun May 01, 2016 6:05 pm

Here's our final route. Really fantastic all the way around.

https://goo.gl/maps/sNUYnXzGvmp

Highlights would be 50 across Colorado from Gunnison to Montrose via Black Canyon, Colorado Scenic Byway from outside Moab to Fisher Tower, Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, Utah, Bluff to Zion, and the drop into Sedona from Flagstaff.

DaveKCMO was right, downtown Sedona is nothing special, but the area around it is spectacular. We stayed at the Sky Ranch Lodge by the Sedona Airport, great views and great drinks at the Airport bar and restaurant. http://www.skyranchlodge.com/

Took taxi's advice and did the Hoover thing, very cool.

We'll go back to Durango for a weekend. Great downtown full of bars, restaurants and retail the polar opposite of Sedona. Want to try the train to Silverton.

I'll post some pix once I get them sorted out.

Thanks again for all the advice, it was golden.

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Re: West Southwest

Postby grovester » Mon May 23, 2016 9:36 pm

Some pix
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The view from our place in Sedona

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Valley just before you drop into Sedona

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Blizzard at the Grand Canyon

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Zion

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Hoover Dam

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Colorado River Byway outside of Moab

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Arches

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Art deco bathrooms at Hoover Dam

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Black Canyon

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Mesa Verde

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Mesa Verde

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Black Canyon

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White knuckle time on the pass from Ourey to Durango


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