moab headed south to Grand Canyon.

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tanglemoose

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
511
Taking new route this year... get to Moab and then head south and want to take about 2 week
KS and see lots, hike, look at rocks, etc. Where to camp... have dog, we like campgrounds with at least a pit toliet... hookups every so often good... suggestions... leaving cold country about October 10th.. no, I know, have zero reservations... I hate them... we never do well by them.. like to stay in off season... ideas, must sees, camping... dispersed, possibly small Rv park... thanks.
 

jackiemac

Site Team
Joined
Feb 22, 2016
Posts
6,264
Location
Scotland
Hey Donna and Mark,

Presume you mean South Rim?

You probably want to go down 191 then across 160. Having said that you could potentially go via Cortez but I am not sure about weather as we only travel in these areas during summer.

I will give you some suggestions tomorrow if that is OK....
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,543
Location
Colorado
Taking new route this year... get to Moab and then head south and want to take about 2 week
KS and see lots, hike, look at rocks, etc. Where to camp... have dog, we like campgrounds with at least a pit toliet... hookups every so often good... suggestions... leaving cold country about October 10th.. no, I know, have zero reservations... I hate them... we never do well by them.. like to stay in off season... ideas, must sees, camping... dispersed, possibly small Rv park... thanks.
Just south of Moab in general or some place specific? There’s Cortez and Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, lots of stuff around Flagstaff, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly. If it gets too cold, go further south in New Mexico or Arizona.
 

jackiemac

Site Team
Joined
Feb 22, 2016
Posts
6,264
Location
Scotland
Moab, UT

If you are going to Moab via Grand Junction then I suggest stopping off at Sego Canyon to see the Petroglyphs, they are quite close to the road so you don’t need to spend long there or walk too far. You can continue on up the canyon to the top of the hill and get some nice views if you have time. There is an old ghost town and cemetery but not much of it left.

I would also recommend the Green River Area and the San Rafael Swell. The Wedge (Little Grand Canyon) and lots of petroglyphs in this region that you can look for and are pet friendly.

Arches National Park – if you have not been you will want to do the drive and stop at all the viewpoints. If you are able, I recommend doing the guided tour into the Fiery Furnace. The hike out to Delicate Arch at sunset is a must, take a torch and be prepared for crowds. The Devils Garden out to the Dark Angel is a really great hike, but we did it back in 2010 so not sure of current condition. There are other good short trails too.

https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Canyonlands National Park

https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

There are several areas in the park. You can do a lot of viewing from just driving to all of the viewpoints. If you have a decent vehicle, I suggest getting onto the White Rim Trail even just for a small part. Check in at the Visitor Centre for current road conditions and to ensure the vehicle you have can do the trail. You should drive down Schaffer Canyon, do a little bit then turn around and head out onto Potash Road – there are some petroglyphs there too. If you are adventurous take a cheap tent and sleeping bags and book a campground or two.

Mesa Arch is good to see and very popular with photographers at sunrise due to the great shots down into the White Rim area.

Dead Horse Point State Park is really pretty too, check road conditions before you go as it is a long drive if you can’t get in!

Horseshoe Canyon – this is a tough walk in the heat but you are rewarded at the end with amazing Barrier Canyon Petroglyphs bigger than you are. There are a few other petroglyph sites on the way. You need to be well prepared with water and ready to walk through sand if you choose to do this. The trailhead is around 2.5 hours from Moab though.

You can find hiking info on the park website, there are lots of trails.

More petroglyphs up past the entrance to Arches on the right and try to see Newspaper Rock too, which is down in the Needles section of the park, note there are several other petroglyph sites in the Indian Creek area which we missed last time. You will find these with a search online.

If you like going off road, we did a nice drive from Moab in a loop via Onion Creek and up onto the La Sals where we found the dinosaur footprints site at Bull Canyon overlook. You need to ensure the water is not high as you drive through the creek a lot.

When you leave Moab and reach Monticello you have a choice, you can drive to Cortez or continue to Blanding.

Cortez / Dolores, CO

We stayed at McPhee Campground close to Dolores. It was a lovely spot and had great night skies. There are several camping options in that area and the town has a dump station should you require it.

The town of Dolores itself is small but quaint. It has a nice brewery and another restaurant which I have heard good things about recently. You can drive along this road to get to Telluride, but weather may prevent that. It is a nice drive though.

Just outside the town, and nowhere near its namesake, is the Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. If you are interested in the ancient Puebloans or Native Americans, this is a great place to visit.

Learn: Interpretive Centers: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Visitor Center | Bureau of Land Management

We didn’t spend much time in the town of Cortez itself. However, from this area you can take a trip to see Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde

This is a beautiful place. I suggest you go online and book your tour tickets if you know when you will be there as I suspect it is now very busy.

Cliff Dwelling Tour Tickets - Mesa Verde National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Cliff Palace is stunning and I think a must do. I was a bit nervous as I am not keen on ladders but I managed this as the ladder is on the way up and quite easy to navigate, other tourists are patient and I just took my time going up. Balcony house is a bit more strenuous and I did not do it, but my partner did and really liked it. We only had a day here so did these and had a drive around. There are other ruins in the area on the top of mesa.

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

This is relatively close to Cortez too and has several sites. If you go to the museum, you will get a feel for any you wish to see. Note that some of the ruins are a good hike away, but October might be a pleasant time to do these when it will not be too hot.

Hovenweep National Monument, UT

This monument a bit further out from Cortez but has a decent campground. Many of the ruins are a lot easier to get to with a few being on rough roads. We really liked it. Another great place for good night skies.

From there you could go to Blanding or Bluff.

Blanding, UT

We stay in a nice campground called Blue Mountain RV nice full hook ups.

Edge of Cedars Museum is another worthwhile stop. The Patio Diner do great burgers.

This town is close to Bears Ears National Monument) (loads of hikes there but quite long and this is a wilderness area and Natural Bridges National Monument (camping here too).

There are a few ruins not too far to hike, House on Fire is one of many in Mule Canyon. Butler Wash is another which we have not done yet.

Several petroglyph sites in this region, one fairly easy to find is the Wolfman Panel.

We did a nice drive out along Montezuma Canyon, lots of little petroglyphs and ruins along the cliff and a Kiva that you can enter.

Just over an hour away is a great drive called the Moki Dugway which leads to a Muley Point Overlook. Great scenery here and a nice drive. Valley of the Gods is close too and worth a visit. Don’t take that road if you have a long vehicle, truck is fine and we did see a motorhome but it had to remove its toad and I am sure it would have needed to use 2 lanes on the bends.

Bluff UT

Some people prefer this town which is also small. It has an old Fort and a nice restaurant at Twin Rocks. There is a huge petroglyph wall at Sand Island and others along from the campground I believe. Also one called the Kachina Panel which missed.

Continuing on from there if you take the 163 you will come to Goosenecks State Park which we have not camped at yet but I believe is a spectacular boondocking spot but costs you $10 or so. You could camp there to visit Monument Valley if you don’t camp in the valley itself.

Monument Valley

It is a few years since we were here but it is spectacular and very spiritual I thought. I think you need to buy a day pass to do a self drive tour and you can buy online before you go or at the visitor centre (used to be $20 and just after covid they were not available without a guide and more expensive). We did the self drive tour on our first visit which gives you lots of time to drive past several of the spectacular rocks and get photos in your own timeline. The road can be a bit iffy so check when you are there.

We did 2 tours with Gouldings Lodge on our second visit, one was the basic and one the full moon. Both of these were good. The basic one takes you into places that you cannot get to on the self guided tour, you get to see a Hogan and they get a guy on a horse to go out onto John Ford’s point so you get photos of the scene in a lot of the old John Ford movies.

There are a lot of people offering guided tours so check these out in the link and see what best suits your needs. Hopefully they won’t have closed again due to Covid.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Lots of people now try to get the photo out of Forest Gump so beware of traffic. It is a great photo to get though in the middle of the road.

This site gives lots of info on the surrounding area but it depends on how much time you have. There are endless things to see and do around here.

Monument Valley - Hotels, Tours and Navajo Tribal Park Information

After Monument Valley you could visit the Navajo National Monument just after Kayenta. If you want to see the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling you need to do a guided tour, or you can walk down a paved path to an overlook that gives you a view, if you have binoculars take them.

Now you could choose to head north to Page and see Horseshoe Bend but if you stop at Goosenecks then I am not sure I would bother. There is lots of things to do in that area – Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, North Rim and a lot of other spots. If this is where you are heading let me know and I will add more info for you.

When you reach Cameron you will turn off to head to the Canyon. The first spot you will reach is the Desert Watchtower which is good at sunset. The rest of the Canyon I am sure you will have found lots of info on. Seilerbird was there for several seasons and can provide lots of knowledge.

There is a road close to Tusayan airport called the Long Jim Loop which you can use to boondock.

Should you be heading to Flagstaff, I have a lot of recommendations for that area too, let me know.
 

Aaron5er

Active member
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Posts
26
Location
NE Georgia
In June of this year we did your route, just the opposite direction.
We were in Blanding 9-10 days and also stayed at the Blue Mountain Campground for a couple of days, nice park, then dry camping after checking out the area.
There is disperse ed free camping 6-8 miles north of Blanding. Turn off of hwy 191 like your going to Hells Canyon FS Campground (half price with a National Park Pass, no hookups) and keep going for 4-5 miles, pit toilet and thinking maybe a water faucet? but don't remember exactly. It's all National Forest past the campground, sites all over on both sides of the maintained road.

5-6 miles south on 191 is Recapture Reservoir, on the right just over the bridge, with free dispersed camping also.
Pit toilet was locked, no water.

One or two blocks north of Blue Mountain CG on the same side of 191 is Ruin Rd, which goes to the ancient housing ruins carved in the bank of the river.
A walkway to the right to get down to the edge and see the other side.
No signs advertising a tourist attraction.
I think I have the coordinates in my GPS.

I'll try to come back and add a few more things about the area.
 

jackiemac

Site Team
Joined
Feb 22, 2016
Posts
6,264
Location
Scotland
We keep missing some easy to see stuff. Need to ask the locals a bit more I think. Will put Ruin road on my list! Thanks Aaron 😊
 

tanglemoose

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
511
Moab, UT

If you are going to Moab via Grand Junction then I suggest stopping off at Sego Canyon to see the Petroglyphs, they are quite close to the road so you don’t need to spend long there or walk too far. You can continue on up the canyon to the top of the hill and get some nice views if you have time. There is an old ghost town and cemetery but not much of it left.

I would also recommend the Green River Area and the San Rafael Swell. The Wedge (Little Grand Canyon) and lots of petroglyphs in this region that you can look for and are pet friendly.

Arches National Park – if you have not been you will want to do the drive and stop at all the viewpoints. If you are able, I recommend doing the guided tour into the Fiery Furnace. The hike out to Delicate Arch at sunset is a must, take a torch and be prepared for crowds. The Devils Garden out to the Dark Angel is a really great hike, but we did it back in 2010 so not sure of current condition. There are other good short trails too.

https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Canyonlands National Park

https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/placestogo.htm

There are several areas in the park. You can do a lot of viewing from just driving to all of the viewpoints. If you have a decent vehicle, I suggest getting onto the White Rim Trail even just for a small part. Check in at the Visitor Centre for current road conditions and to ensure the vehicle you have can do the trail. You should drive down Schaffer Canyon, do a little bit then turn around and head out onto Potash Road – there are some petroglyphs there too. If you are adventurous take a cheap tent and sleeping bags and book a campground or two.

Mesa Arch is good to see and very popular with photographers at sunrise due to the great shots down into the White Rim area.

Dead Horse Point State Park is really pretty too, check road conditions before you go as it is a long drive if you can’t get in!

Horseshoe Canyon – this is a tough walk in the heat but you are rewarded at the end with amazing Barrier Canyon Petroglyphs bigger than you are. There are a few other petroglyph sites on the way. You need to be well prepared with water and ready to walk through sand if you choose to do this. The trailhead is around 2.5 hours from Moab though.

You can find hiking info on the park website, there are lots of trails.

More petroglyphs up past the entrance to Arches on the right and try to see Newspaper Rock too, which is down in the Needles section of the park, note there are several other petroglyph sites in the Indian Creek area which we missed last time. You will find these with a search online.

If you like going off road, we did a nice drive from Moab in a loop via Onion Creek and up onto the La Sals where we found the dinosaur footprints site at Bull Canyon overlook. You need to ensure the water is not high as you drive through the creek a lot.

When you leave Moab and reach Monticello you have a choice, you can drive to Cortez or continue to Blanding.

Cortez / Dolores, CO

We stayed at McPhee Campground close to Dolores. It was a lovely spot and had great night skies. There are several camping options in that area and the town has a dump station should you require it.

The town of Dolores itself is small but quaint. It has a nice brewery and another restaurant which I have heard good things about recently. You can drive along this road to get to Telluride, but weather may prevent that. It is a nice drive though.

Just outside the town, and nowhere near its namesake, is the Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. If you are interested in the ancient Puebloans or Native Americans, this is a great place to visit.

Learn: Interpretive Centers: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Visitor Center | Bureau of Land Management

We didn’t spend much time in the town of Cortez itself. However, from this area you can take a trip to see Mesa Verde.

Mesa Verde

This is a beautiful place. I suggest you go online and book your tour tickets if you know when you will be there as I suspect it is now very busy.

Cliff Dwelling Tour Tickets - Mesa Verde National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Cliff Palace is stunning and I think a must do. I was a bit nervous as I am not keen on ladders but I managed this as the ladder is on the way up and quite easy to navigate, other tourists are patient and I just took my time going up. Balcony house is a bit more strenuous and I did not do it, but my partner did and really liked it. We only had a day here so did these and had a drive around. There are other ruins in the area on the top of mesa.

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

This is relatively close to Cortez too and has several sites. If you go to the museum, you will get a feel for any you wish to see. Note that some of the ruins are a good hike away, but October might be a pleasant time to do these when it will not be too hot.

Hovenweep National Monument, UT

This monument a bit further out from Cortez but has a decent campground. Many of the ruins are a lot easier to get to with a few being on rough roads. We really liked it. Another great place for good night skies.

From there you could go to Blanding or Bluff.

Blanding, UT

We stay in a nice campground called Blue Mountain RV nice full hook ups.

Edge of Cedars Museum is another worthwhile stop. The Patio Diner do great burgers.

This town is close to Bears Ears National Monument) (loads of hikes there but quite long and this is a wilderness area and Natural Bridges National Monument (camping here too).

There are a few ruins not too far to hike, House on Fire is one of many in Mule Canyon. Butler Wash is another which we have not done yet.

Several petroglyph sites in this region, one fairly easy to find is the Wolfman Panel.

We did a nice drive out along Montezuma Canyon, lots of little petroglyphs and ruins along the cliff and a Kiva that you can enter.

Just over an hour away is a great drive called the Moki Dugway which leads to a Muley Point Overlook. Great scenery here and a nice drive. Valley of the Gods is close too and worth a visit. Don’t take that road if you have a long vehicle, truck is fine and we did see a motorhome but it had to remove its toad and I am sure it would have needed to use 2 lanes on the bends.

Bluff UT

Some people prefer this town which is also small. It has an old Fort and a nice restaurant at Twin Rocks. There is a huge petroglyph wall at Sand Island and others along from the campground I believe. Also one called the Kachina Panel which missed.

Continuing on from there if you take the 163 you will come to Goosenecks State Park which we have not camped at yet but I believe is a spectacular boondocking spot but costs you $10 or so. You could camp there to visit Monument Valley if you don’t camp in the valley itself.

Monument Valley

It is a few years since we were here but it is spectacular and very spiritual I thought. I think you need to buy a day pass to do a self drive tour and you can buy online before you go or at the visitor centre (used to be $20 and just after covid they were not available without a guide and more expensive). We did the self drive tour on our first visit which gives you lots of time to drive past several of the spectacular rocks and get photos in your own timeline. The road can be a bit iffy so check when you are there.

We did 2 tours with Gouldings Lodge on our second visit, one was the basic and one the full moon. Both of these were good. The basic one takes you into places that you cannot get to on the self guided tour, you get to see a Hogan and they get a guy on a horse to go out onto John Ford’s point so you get photos of the scene in a lot of the old John Ford movies.

There are a lot of people offering guided tours so check these out in the link and see what best suits your needs. Hopefully they won’t have closed again due to Covid.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Lots of people now try to get the photo out of Forest Gump so beware of traffic. It is a great photo to get though in the middle of the road.

This site gives lots of info on the surrounding area but it depends on how much time you have. There are endless things to see and do around here.

Monument Valley - Hotels, Tours and Navajo Tribal Park Information

After Monument Valley you could visit the Navajo National Monument just after Kayenta. If you want to see the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling you need to do a guided tour, or you can walk down a paved path to an overlook that gives you a view, if you have binoculars take them.

Now you could choose to head north to Page and see Horseshoe Bend but if you stop at Goosenecks then I am not sure I would bother. There is lots of things to do in that area – Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, North Rim and a lot of other spots. If this is where you are heading let me know and I will add more info for you.

When you reach Cameron you will turn off to head to the Canyon. The first spot you will reach is the Desert Watchtower which is good at sunset. The rest of the Canyon I am sure you will have found lots of info on. Seilerbird was there for several seasons and can provide lots of knowledge.

There is a road close to Tusayan airport called the Long Jim Loop which you can use to boondock.

Should you be heading to Flagstaff, I have a lot of recommendations for that area too, let me know.
Wow... thanks.... we are planning on spending over 3 weeks, south of Moab to Arizona area.. never been, hope to find places to do some serious hiking, get out with dog, etc... hubby loves anything to do with old ruins, rocks, petroglyph, etc... so want to hit it all... we did visit Moab once and stayed at Dead Horse point. Now we want to do south area. Saw alert on Arches NP about filling up by 7 am... ugh.. not what I want to do... too many humans...

Do want to go to Grand canyon.. but worried about October.. November weather on south rim.. and want to go to petroglyph log NP by Wisdom...not sure of current name..
 

tanglemoose

Well-known member
Joined
May 14, 2013
Posts
511
Hey Donna and Mark,

Presume you mean South Rim?

You probably want to go down 191 then across 160. Having said that you could potentially go via Cortez but I am not sure about weather as we only travel in these areas during summer.

I will give you some suggestions tomorrow if that is OK....
Coming from Laramie, wy
Hey Donna and Mark,

Presume you mean South Rim?

You probably want to go down 191 then across 160. Having said that you could potentially go via Cortez but I am not sure about weather as we only travel in these areas during summer.

I will give you some suggestions tomorrow if that is OK....
Yes south rim after exploring Monument Valley, thinking campgrounds South of Park, like 10 X might be closed in October?
 

Aaron5er

Active member
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Posts
26
Location
NE Georgia
We keep missing some easy to see stuff. Need to ask the locals a bit more I think. Will put Ruin road on my list! Thanks Aaron 😊

You're very welcome.
The very nice lady at the Blanding information center told us about the local ruins and highlighted it on the street map for us. A picture of the dwelling ruins. 25952.jpeg
Valley of the Gods southwest of Blanding is so beautiful and certainly worth seeing. Dispersed camping on the south side. No facilities that I know of.
Many hiking areas in the valley.

The Trail of The Ancients drive down the side of the mountain is breathtaking!
We came down the road into the Valley of the Gods from hwy 95, but Jackie had posted that it was closed west of Blanding due to bridge repairs.

Goosenecks State Park is a must see also! Towed a 40' 5er into the park for a visit but didn't camp there.
Vault toilets, fire rings and shaded picnic tables.

Hope this helps and safe travels...
 

Wendy

Site Team
Joined
May 14, 2005
Posts
12,543
Location
Colorado
Wow... thanks.... we are planning on spending over 3 weeks, south of Moab to Arizona area.. never been, hope to find places to do some serious hiking, get out with dog, etc... hubby loves anything to do with old ruins, rocks, petroglyph, etc... so want to hit it all... we did visit Moab once and stayed at Dead Horse point. Now we want to do south area. Saw alert on Arches NP about filling up by 7 am... ugh.. not what I want to do... too many humans...

Do want to go to Grand canyon.. but worried about October.. November weather on south rim.. and want to go to petroglyph log NP by Wisdom...not sure of current name..
South Rim Grand Canyon is delightful in fall, October-early November. Nippy at night but the park is much less crowded than summer.
 
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