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First time traveling alone, no idea where to go/what to do

Old 10-10-20, 12:01 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
For eye candy, nothing beats the colors of Zion, but for unusual, check out burbling mud pots of Yellowstone... not to mention the geysers.

The cold season will soon shorten this trip though.
Yellowstone is definitely my top choice for extending the trip. Rental cars and flights have already skyrocketed since booking last week, but hopefully that's a weekend thing. I'm going to be keeping an eye on prices for sure.

Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
you don't list where you are flying out of to head back home...and perhaps you're keeping it open...but let's assume you're flying out of las vegas back home.

i don't recall seeing a post where you mentioned bringing/renting a bike or not so i'll assume you are and aren't.

zion np is approx 2 hrs away from las vegas. highest recommendation as it is arguably, my favorite np. relatively compact and muscular. great bang for the buck.
pack the hiking boots. most people hit the main canyon/unit but the kolob canyon section/unit just off the 15 fwy nw of the main canyon/unit is awesome as well
and sees a fraction of the main canyon visitation. main canyon has a splendid, relatively easy 6 miles one way, great pavement road to cycle. otherwise, zion is tough/more
extreme to cycle...mtb, gravel or road. zion is more of a hiker's park.

death valley np (furnace creek which is the main, populated area) is approx a 2 hr drive from las vegas. death valley functions as either a hiker or biker park. dvnp's m.o. is
that it is the largest national park in the lower 48. it. is. huge. if you cycle it, definitely recommend the drag from furnace creek to badwater and back (roughly a flattish 38 miles)
which has a must ride/stop artist's palette as a side trip (add 7 miles and 2,000 ft of tough el gain but a great road/side trip) and the short, 7 mile round trip from furnace creek up to zabriskie point
and back. if you're hiking, golden canyon (eventually connects to zabriskie point if you go far enough), artist's palette and ubehebe crater hike are all awesome. extra credit bonus hike/walk...
just across the road/ca hwy 190 from the artist's palette turnoff is a nondescript sand dune/hill with varying colorations. it is called ventifact ridge. if you're remotely into geology,
it's a dorkfest. many of the (mostly volcanic) rocks on the ridge have been scoured by the wind and are incredibly pitted/shaped on a small scale..triangle rocks for example.
stopping at badwater is also very cool. a big salt flat and the lowest place in the western hemisphere. if you go, take off your shoes and walk barefoot across the salt flat as far as you want once you leave the boardwalk.
you might elicit a few stares but trust me, it's very primal, connecting and easy. pity those that didn't/haven't done it.

grand canyon np (north rim) is close 1.5 hrs drive from zion np but the north rim usually closes mid-october because it's at just under 8,000 ft. south rim (most visited) is open all year round but is a real
expedition as a day trip from zion/las vegas area. if you ever get a chance to hit the north rim when it's open-take it. love love the north rim for cycling/hiking.

vermillion cliffs area is sweet but is a definite hiker's area along with needing permits for some of it. driving past it is impressive but there is a definite lack of info/accessibility. if you go, know what you're doing
and your honest limitations.

grand canyon-parashant national monument and grand staircase national monument...4wd recommended. utah hwy 12 passing from bryce canyon np is a northeasterly way to capital reef np is
a quintessential western highway. if you have time...do it.

bryce canyon np is about 1.25 hrs drive from zion but in december, it should be pretty shut down. much of the park is above 7,500 feet so snow will close it to cars/bikes. cross country skis?

mojave national preserve is about 1.5 hrs drive south from las vegas and has lots of open space and is very...western. lean and mean. cycling is good but few roads. hiking is decent but spaced far apart.

closer to las vegas, you've got red rock canyon (red rocks) state park which is, like a 12 min drive west from dtown. great hiking and cycling-wise, there is the 30 mile loop.
valley of fire state park is about a 30 min drive north of dtown on the 15 fwy. both highly recommended for cycling/hiking as well.

canyonlands np is fantastic but pretty far away from las vegas. not an issue if you're enroute to denver to fly back home but otherwise...it (and arches np and moab) is a destination in its' own right.

word of advice if driving through the death valley/vegas/zion area...never let your gas tank get below less than half full. distances are vast and services/provisions are frequently equally so.
gives you a chance to stretch-right?

word of advice if cycling in the death valley/vegas zion area...constantly stay topped up. distances are vast and services/provisions are frequently equally so.
gives you a chance to stretch-right?

thinking it's going to be a lean rain/snow year this winter in the west so you may have good success navigating, whether it be by bike, auto or on foot.
Thank you for all the details! No bike on this trip. I'll be flying out of Vegas back to Chicago, unless I end up extending the trip. I'm going to watch prices and if a deal comes up, maybe snag tickets to Sacremento or Bozeman.
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Old 10-11-20, 01:47 PM
  #77  
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We waited a year to go on a houseboat trip on Lake Powell and it was amazing. Both the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon were worth the trip, if you're a Midwesterner like me who'd never been to those places you're going to love it.
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Old 10-11-20, 02:32 PM
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Old 10-11-20, 04:49 PM
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Since there's a pandemic still out there I'd probably go somewhere not too crowded with people especially not with tourists.
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Old 10-11-20, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
We waited a year to go on a houseboat trip on Lake Powell and it was amazing. Both the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon were worth the trip, if you're a Midwesterner like me who'd never been to those places you're going to love it.
I've never been to any sort of desert climate, I'm really looking forward to it.
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Old 10-21-20, 09:14 PM
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Id go back and watch the birth of Christ.
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Old 10-22-20, 12:58 AM
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from las vegas, i'd say your first outdoors priority should be zion. incomparable. long day trip but so worth it. death valley np would be my second day trip but that's likely close to another
5 hours in the car on top of the 5 hours to/from/navigating zion. that's a lotta driving. not saying it's not worth it because it is. the las vegas nearby red rock/valley of fire tandem would involve maybe two hours of
driving total with tons of opportunities to flee the cage and scramble, hike, walk, take pics, etc and is a good red rock country primer.

personally having tasted most of it...i'd fly in and out of las vegas and look to hit a hotel/airbnb in the st. george/rockdale/hurricane/springville area (st. george is a good sized-town) nearish zion np for a few nights and just hit zion.
less time driving and more time soaking up the vibes and visions. zion is compact and muscular and has enough trails, scenery and charms to warrant exclusively focusing on it.
staying at the np lodging in zion canyon is nice if it's available. lucked out a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely. i know the desire and tendency for many is to see a little of everything
but the distances in the west are vast so it comes down to whether you'd rather be in a car all day to see a few different places vs truly experiencing a place.
all the places mentioned are worthy of slowing down and savoring tho. there's also a certain little pinball/upright video game museum in las vegas near unlv that may or may not pique your interest.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 10-22-20 at 01:03 AM.
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Old 10-26-20, 09:01 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by ilikebikes View Post
Id go back and watch the birth of Christ.
Actually watch the birth?

And regarding "time traveling alone," frankly, I'd take a partner... just to help keep things in perspective... especially the first time.
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Old 10-27-20, 03:07 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga View Post
from las vegas, i'd say your first outdoors priority should be zion. incomparable. long day trip but so worth it. death valley np would be my second day trip but that's likely close to another
5 hours in the car on top of the 5 hours to/from/navigating zion. that's a lotta driving. not saying it's not worth it because it is. the las vegas nearby red rock/valley of fire tandem would involve maybe two hours of
driving total with tons of opportunities to flee the cage and scramble, hike, walk, take pics, etc and is a good red rock country primer.

personally having tasted most of it...i'd fly in and out of las vegas and look to hit a hotel/airbnb in the st. george/rockdale/hurricane/springville area (st. george is a good sized-town) nearish zion np for a few nights and just hit zion.
less time driving and more time soaking up the vibes and visions. zion is compact and muscular and has enough trails, scenery and charms to warrant exclusively focusing on it.
staying at the np lodging in zion canyon is nice if it's available. lucked out a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely. i know the desire and tendency for many is to see a little of everything
but the distances in the west are vast so it comes down to whether you'd rather be in a car all day to see a few different places vs truly experiencing a place.
all the places mentioned are worthy of slowing down and savoring tho. there's also a certain little pinball/upright video game museum in las vegas near unlv that may or may not pique your interest.
Just saw this, thanks! I am flying into vegas, staying in St. George. I just realized I actually will be able to rent a bike at Zion in the off season, so I may do that along with a dry suit so I can do the narroedws.
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