Our Golden Circlet

This trip was loosely based on the Grand Circle, a tour of national parks that includes Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon. We didn’t have the time to do all of those the way we would want to, so we skipped the last four. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon and we’ll try to hit the others on a future trip. I dubbed this trip Our Golden Circlet because it’s not quite grand and not quite the circle. Since we planned a lot of hiking on this trip, we kept track of how many miles we walked each day. We didn’t keep track of driving miles. 

Food and Beverage $50 per day

Average per person per day. We sourced most breakfasts and lunches from the grocery store and ate dinner out.

Lodging $90-$156 per night

Panguitch (for Bryce Canyon National Park) was our least expensive and Springdale (for Zion National Park) was our most expensive.

Transportation $715

Our rental car was $345; the rest was gas. Driving from park to park was entertaining in itself. We didn't track mileage, but the point-to-point route is 1,056 miles.

Entertainment $80 per person

We bought an annual national parks pass. We visited enough parks for it to make sense (and we were also able to use it in Puerto Rico the following spring). There were also fees for Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley which are on tribal lands.

Days 1-3: Zion National Park

Planned Activities

  • Angel’s Landing hike
  • The Narrows hike
  • Canyon Overlook hike
  • Emerald Pools hike

Actual Activities

  • Angel’s Landing hike
  • The Narrows hike
  • Canyon Overlook hike
  • Emerald Pools hike

The Plan: Zion was all about hiking in the park. We bought dry bags and other gear to do The Narrows hike in the river.

The Reality: We did everything we planned but most of our hikes were abbreviated by weather. Even if we didn’t get rained on, rain in the area caused dangerous flash flooding.  

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Fly from home

Then drive from Las Vegas, 167 miles

Stay at Zion Canyon B&B

Homey and beautiful with delicious breakfasts

Get around by driving

We rented from Budget in Las Vegas

Days 4-5: Bryce Canyon National Park

Planned Activities

  • Queen’s Garden and Navajo Trail loop hike
  • Rim Trail hike

Actual Activities

  • Queen’s Garden hike
  • Scenic drive
  • Red Canyon hike

The Plan: Bryce Canyon was also going to be about the hiking.

The Reality: Again the weather influenced our activities. We drove the rim rather than hiking because it rained that day, and the threat of rain had us not try the longer loop with the Navajo Trail. Red Canyon was a surprising bonus. It looked interesting driving by so we stopped. 

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Drive from Zion National Park

84 miles

Stay at Grandma's Cottages

Cosy and comfy, with great hosts

Get around by driving

We rented from Budget in Las Vegas

Days 6-10: Moab (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks)

Planned Activities

  • Delicate Arch hike
  • Grand View Point hike
  • Upheaval Dome hike
  • The Needles
  • Devil’s Garden hike
  • Windows hike

Actual Activities

  • Devil’s Garden hike
  • Mesa Arch hike
  • Upheaval Dome hike
  • Grand View Point hike
  • Slickrock hike
  • Delicate Arch hike
  • The Windows hike

The Plan: Lots of hiking, with one longer or two shorter hikes planned per day. We’d have liked to visit a couple of nearby state parks but couldn’t fit them in. 

The Reality: This was a good example of our half-day planning technique working. We’d planned different activities for each morning or afternoon and while we didn’t do things on the dates we’d planned, the days fit together well. 

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Drive from Bryce Canyon National Park

263 miles, by way of Capitol Reef National Park

Stay at Silver Sage Inn

Clean, functional, and affordable

Get around by driving

We rented from Budget in Las Vegas

Days 11-12: Page

Planned Activities

  • Antelope Canyon
  • Lake Powell

Actual Activities

  • Antelope Canyon
  • Lake Powell
  • Horseshoe Bend

The Plan: Page was a late add when I recalled seeing amazing photos of Antelope Canyon online. And Lake Powell was a nice extra. 

The Reality: We also managed to fit in Horseshoe Bend which is nearby. 

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Drive from Moab

269 miles, by way of Monument Valley

Stay at Suites on 10th

Beautiful apartment in an odd but convenient location

Get around by driving

We rented from Budget in Las Vegas

Days 13-15: Las Vegas

Planned Activities

  • Walking the strip
  • Hanging out by the pool
  • Sampling the restaurants

Actual Activities

  • Walking the strip
  • Hanging out by the pool
  • Sampling the restaurants

The Plan: Each of us had been to Vegas before, Steve in 1976 and me much more recently. We thought we ought to go at least once, and knew a long weekend would be all we needed. It’s also pretty cheap to fly to, so we used that as the jumping-off point for our tour. 

The Reality: It went a lot like we expected, although it was so hot while we were there — over 100° — that we did a lot of walking inside the air-conditioned casinos when we needed to cool off.

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Drive from Page

273 miles

Stay at The Mirage

Nice pool, good location

Get around by walking

We dropped off the rental car when we arrived back in Las Vegas because we didn't need while we were in town.

Resources

  • Key resources for this trip were the websites for the various national parks.
  • We may have used a guidebook but I can’t recall which one. I know I didn’t buy one!