We left NH on October 5th for 18 days in Utah & Colorado visiting various National Parks. we travelled 4796 Miles. Diesel prices were between $2.97 (Walmart in Indiana) and $3.59 in some of the out of the way areas of Colorado. We paid mostly around $3.15. Mileage for the trip (by the trucks computer) was 12.5 MPG, with lots of Mtn passes and HEAVY winds in Colorada, Kansas, & Nebraska on the way home. Our 125 Watts of solar panels kept the batteries up pretty well in spite of the fact that we used the furnace every morning and quite a few evenings before bed, and our grandchildren love to turn all the lights on. It was a great trip and I've got lots of Pics but due to my dial-up speed will have to dole them out a bit at a time. So here goes.
We left NH for southern Utah on Friday of Columbus Day weekend at 1:00PM and drove to just west of Buffalo via I-90. Saturday, up at 4:00AM we drove all day in 90 degree heat (I think it was 90, that's what the truck computer said, we kept the windows up and the AC on), over x00 miles to Iowa City, Iowa. Temps were still in the upper 80s when we crashed at Walmart. We dutifully went in and received permission from customer service. I'm not sure that's necessary but it lets Walmart know that there are responsible people staying there who won't trash their parking lot.
Arising leisurely at 6:00AM on Sunday we hit I-80, determined to get past Denver on Day 2. By Lincoln Nebraska ,we were suffering from I-fatigue so peeled off onto an alternate route that would ultimately take us close to Denver. What a joy. All of a sudden instead of heading to our vacation we were in it. The road was good, shorter than the Interstate and we could maintain55- 60 MPH for most of the trip with slowdowns every now and then as we passed through towns. The real bonus however was getting to see some of the beautiful farms in Nebraska and Colorado, including some fields of Sunflowers still in bloom. We reached Denver on I-76 (Mile 2000 exactly) at about 6:00 PM and drove through the Eisenhower tunnel (11013 Ft.) in the dark..A little tense. Coming down the western side on I-70, west of Frisco, we found Officers Gulch, a trailhead parking lot and camped for the night at 9800 feet.
The entire western part of the trip was above 7000 feet and many of our campsites were above 8000 fett with a couple at 9600 feet. The reefer, one of my concerns with the altitude, ran fine. We did too. It's much easier to deal with the altitude when you drive to it in a couple of days as opposed to flying to it in a couple of hours. Woke up Monday morning to 19 degrees with snow flurries. Monday saw us across Vail pass 10,660 ft and through Western Colorado and half of Utah to Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah. We left I-70 just west of Green River, Utah and headed south on Utah 24. Utah 24 is a great road with lots of stuff like this.
Red Rock Monolith
Utah 24 took us through Capitol Reef, were we checked out the CG for later in the trip, to Utah 12 which is one of Utah's premier secenic highways through Escalante National Monument and down into the red rock country of the Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon. Bryce Canyon is unusual in that you arrive in a lovely pine forest (Pinyon Pines & Utah Junipers with occasional Lodgepole Pines) that is above the canyon and don't see the good stuff until you are well into the park and out of your car. Note the trail running down into the canyon.
We camped at the Sunset CG (Seasonal, in the park, but still open - $5 with the Golden Age Pass). Tuesday the 9th Cheryl & I hiked the canyon before our daughters and grandchildren arrived to meet us.
At Bryce Canyon you always have to remember that your hike will end with a climb back up to 8000-9000 feet.
The range of colors, especially in the morning and the afternoon, is fantastic.
And the size of the Canyon is awesome, note the trail running through the center of the picture near the top, and this is just one small canyon in the park. Pictures just don't do it justice.
We stayed at Bryce for 5 days hiking and just kicking back in the CG. Bryce Canyon is one of the main stops for many foreign visitors to the US and you hear many different languages spoken in the visitor center and on the trails. On Saturday the 13th we headed back up Route 12 for Capitol Reef. MORE TO FOLLOW.
When is the best time to go? spring of fall ?
I (2-10-05) bought a 2002 F350 CC SWD PSD and a new 2003 Citation 10'8. Rancho 9000X, Superhitch, Wave 3 & Toyo M55's or Toyo 19.5's. I have been a tent camper all my life. I wanted more comfort while camping and doing my Crater Lake Ski Patrol duties.
When is the best time to go? spring of fall ?
I'd guess that at 9000 feet most of the warmer months would be OK. It was a little chillier (30-40 at night, 60-70 during the day) than we expected as we have seen it in the 80's at this time of year. They do get sub-freezing temps and snow in the winter. Thunderstorms can be a problem in the mid summer.
The parks is open all year and one of the CGs is open all year. If the time you've got is the time you've got...Go. You'll love it.