Monday, December 05, 2011

Hiking and Sightseeing 2

OK, here's my revised itinerary.  This includes a drastically reduced stay at Colorado National Monument, including eliminating most of the more serious backcountry hikes, but adds a nearly full exploration of the hiking potential of Arches National Park and Natual Bridges National Monument.  It also presents a more even mix of staying in el cheapo hotels along the way and camping, plus eating fast food on the way vs. cooking myself or packing in lunches when possible.  Part of my "sales strategy" for this trip is that it'll be cheap, after all.

Day 1: Drive from Metro Detroit area to Lexington, NE (15 hours).  Let my oldest son get in some practice on the freeway while I'm at it, although he should be (barely) officially licensed and good to go by then.

Day 2: Drive from Lexington to Scott's Bluff National Monument (about four hours) then stick around for about three hours there stretching our legs, and seeing the visitor's center briefly and what hiking there is to do.  The hiking isn't much... there's a mile and a half hike to the top of the bluff (and then a mile and a half back--but you can take a shuttle.  I'm thinking shuttle up and hike down makes sense).  Hit the road again and drive the remaining seven and a half hours to Grand Junction, CO, probably arriving a bit late.

Day 3: Sleep in, go to church in the morning, then go to the monument, sign in for a campsite and set up tent.  Do the Rimrock drive, plus four ½ hour hikes that have trailheads either at the visitor's center, the campground, or along the road, including the Window Rock Trail, the Canyon Rim Trail, the Alcove Nature Trail, and Otto's Trail.

Day 4: Sleep in a bit, and spend the entire day doing slightly more ambitious hikes, including the Coke Ovens Trail, the Devil's Kitchen Trail and the Liberty Cap Trail.

Day 5: Get up early, take down tent and drive two and a half hours across the state line to Arches National Park.  Again, go register for camping (reservations to have been made in advance); I'll spend two nights in this campground, cooking on the camp stove and eating pre-packed lunches.  There are a number of very short hikes (about half an hour or so) that are off the main drive at Arches; the plan is to do all of them (if possible) this first day, although there should be enough time in the later two days to catch one or two if they get missed.  These include Balanced Rock, Broken Arch, Courthouse Wash Rock Art Panel, the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Double Arch, Sand Dune Arch and Skyline Arch.

Day 6: Some of the moderate length hikes within Arches, including the Park Avenue hike, Landscape Arch, The Windows Hike, Tower Arch, and Delicate Arch (the real hike, not the Viewpoint hike, which we'll do the day before.)

Day 7: Pack up the tent nice and early, and do two longer hikes, the Devil's Garden Primitive Loop, and Double O Arch.  Also, the guided Fiery Furnace hike, which can only be done with a ranger, I believe.  Spend the night in a hotel in Moab, taking showers and maybe picking up some fast food.

Day 8: Morning drive to Natural Bridges National Monument--three hours away--get campsite, and then spend the afternoon hiking all the (relatively short) trails.  Relaxed evening by the campsite, and early bedtime.

Days 9 and 10: Long drive home, stopping halfway in Omaha or Lincoln or somewhere 'round there.  It still makes for two fourteen hour days, though.

Curiously, three of the four parks are smack in the heart of "red rock country" and therefore will be offering, in many ways, very similar scenery to enjoy.  In particular, I wonder if Natural Bridges will feel somewhat underwhelming after three days at Arches.  Ah, well.  If it is, well it is.  It's not even a full day, really, and that's kind of the last, more relaxing stab at doing something fun before the grueling drive back home, so it'll be whatever it'll be, I suppose.


Joshua said...

Aargh! I called Colorado National Monument, and they told me that the estimated times for the hikes was only one way not round trip! That means I'll have to dramatically redo my plan, and probably cut out a lot of the hikes. Now I'm second guessing if I really want to try the "new and improved" four park plan or just try and stay in the monument after all. Sigh.

Joshua said...

I did redo the plan, although I never reposted it. Colorado National Monument got completely dropped from the schedule; I instead spent a day exploring Goblin Valley State park and Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon; two slot canyons that are just past the state park.

I also needed to make some time for the Fisher Towers hike (just outside Arches) and I decided to skip Natural Bridges and instead see Monument Valley. If I can squeeze an extra day out of the trip, it'd be easier, plus we can see Goosenecks State Park, Valley of the Gods and the Moki Dugway if we do that.