Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Oregon Must Do/Must See

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D2

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My husband and I are planning a trip to Texas, Arizona, NM, Nevada, Utah and hopefully Oregon.  We will probably leave in February.  The start of our journey will be from Titusville, FL.  The basic planning has been around the National Parks.  Are there any less publicized must do/must see's to check out while in the areas of the National Parks?  We plan to stay a week+ around the parks and looking for other things to do.  We enjoy nature and history more than theme parks.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.  We are also interested in RV parks that are "must stay" or "must stay away".

 

Ron

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I am told Big Bend area in Texas is interesting, and there are several neat places in NM and NV.  However the Southern Utah Northern AZ  area has more scenic places and things to see than anywhere else.  Plan for most your time in the Southern Utah area, Bryce Canyon,  North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zions Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Moab, Kanab areas.  Warning you will not be able to see it all in one trip and it may be addicting so you will be returning.
 

Carl L

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New Mexico has Carlsbad Caverns and Santa Fe for musts.  If you are romantic about the wild west check out Ft. Union's ruins near Santa Fe.  For sure you want to do the Four Corners country and Monument Valley -- there is an excellent RV park at Gouldings there.  North of the Corners in Utah is Moab and the country around Arches and Canyonlands NPs.  South is Flagstaff, Will-ams and the Grand Canyon.  Canyon de Chelly is a hidden gem in the Navajo Rez.  Meteor Crater is worth a look in just 35 miles east of Flagstaff. 

If you are doing Nevada there are a number of Eastern California places that are wonderful.  Up until April, Death Valley is a good combination with Vegas.  After April, it rapidly becomes an annex of Hell.    Further north is the Eastern Sierra Nevada along US395 from Lone Pine in the south to Reno in the north.  A good summer location because of altitude, the drive is by the peaks and volcanos of the Sierra Nevada Front Fault.  Mammoth Lakes and Bishop have good parks.  Yosemite is accessible from the area as is Devils Postpile and great mountain trout fishing.  The town of Bridgeport is a lovely little old western town set in mountain meadow country.  Nearby is the Bodie Ghost Town State Historical Park  -- the real McCoy.    In Oregon I can recommend whole heartedly the Ashland Shakespeare Festival and the nearby Peter Britt Music Festival in Jacksonville, OR.    In Northern California we have Redwood NP, and Lassen Volcanic NP -- the later having as an attraction the irresistable Bumpass Hell.

Google any one of these names for a sampling of the scenes.
 

Frank B

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Carl:

Thanks for that excellent list!  We are planning a visit through some of that area next October, and also prefer the natural attractions.  Your suggestions have gone in a file that I keep here locally.

Frank.
 

Lorna

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Frank in Oregon Crater Lake is also a must and Mt Hood.  Along the Columbia River is great sightseeing.  There is a magazine in Oregon that has write-ups about the scenic byways too.
 

Jim Dick

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Hi D2,

There is so much to do out west it's hard to put into a message. :) Where are you in Titusville? We are at The Great Outdoors. Perhaps we could meet before you leave and discuss some of the things we have done. Might even show you some photos. :)
 
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D2

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Thanks, all, for the great suggestions. 

I now realize my guestion can be intrepreted as being pretty broad but I was hoping folks who had been to a specific NP and knew of interesting not well publicized things to see outside that park would give us other adventures we might otherwise miss.

Jim-We are at TGO at 426 OC.  Would love to take you up on your offer of sharing your travel experiences out west.  I drove by your place yesterday and it looked like you were gone.  Are you back in the park?

We'll call you.

 

Jim Dick

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Hi Darlene,

Yesterday we were across the street because we had our driveway repainted. Moved back over in the afternoon. Would love to share our experiences with you.
 

rhmahoney

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"Monument Valley -- there is an excellent RV park at Gouldings there." I like the no hook up CG next to the visitor center- great views.

western NM- VLA radio telescope on hywy 60
SE AZ- Bisbee, tombstone, hoodoos of Chiracahua nat mon
AZ Kitt peak observatory
NE AZ- painted desert, petrified forest,
Oak Creek canyon & Sedona off I-17
OR- best coastline in the west
 

Carl L

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I now realize my guestion can be intrepreted as being pretty broad but I was hoping folks who had been to a specific NP and knew of interesting not well publicized things to see outside that park would give us other adventures we might otherwise miss.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a memory of a lifetime.  Book a jeep trip if you do not have a 4WD vehicle at your disposal.  (If you do, you will have to book a Navajo guide at the park HQ).    The trip will take you up the Canyon's river, in the foot deep river to the headwaters past Navajo rancherias and Anazazi cliff dwellings in a large vertically walled canyon.

Capitol Reef NP has a backcountry drive that is utterly spectacular and uncrowded -- the 60 mile Cathedral Valley Loop.  4WD is optional for the trip but high clearance is not.  Because some river fording is needed, ask the rangers about conditions before.  Capitol Reef in general is a gem of a park -- set in Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid country -- the Mormon ranchers there number families that helped the Wild Bunch to hide from the RR authorities.

The Eastern Sierra run on US 395 is spectacular throughout its length:  alpine peaks, volcanoes, lava flows, conifer forests, quaint old western towns, great fishing, hot springs, Mono Lake, Mt Whitney (14,492), Bristlecone NM and the oldest living things on earth.  Not a national park, but you will not care, it is a national treasure.

 

Wendy

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Keep in mind that while all the places listed are awesome, most are also very, very cold in February. Crater Lake will still have snow higher than the RV (they use their second story windows as doors until April). Grand Canyon is cold and gets snow into March (we were the only ones walking the rim in a snowstorm last February). Death Valley is great in February, especially if it's a good wildflower year. But experiencing these parks in the off season, is also a very special experience. How many people see Grand Canyon in the snow with no one else in sight? Same goes for Bryce and Zion with snow on the red rocks and very few visitors. Just don't come wearing shorts and sandals (well, unless you're name's Terry).

It's beautiful country you're planning on visiting. Enjoy.

Wendy and Mike (retired National Park Service ranger)
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Wendy,

We were at the south rim of the Grand Canyon one April and ran into a blizzard while heading down into Oak Creek Canyon. Luckily for Pat, who doesn't really like heights, we couldn't see the bottom of the canyon until we got there. :)

We also did Bryce Canyon one year on the way to Moab and it was cold and snowy. This was in early April as well. I guess my point is you never know what you might find in the spring. ;)
 

JohnSandyWhite

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:) National Parks and Forests we visited on our Tour of the USA in no particular order or preference. Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree Park, Saguaro Tree Park, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, El Malpais, Death Valley, Waltnut Canyon Park,  Frazier Park, Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki Monuments. Hope you enjoy your Tour as much as we did.  ;)
 

TexasH

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Check out Davis Mountains State Park (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/davis_mountains/) in west Texas.  Only a few minutes from Fort Davis National Historic Site(a superb restoration of a frontier fort), a short drive from McDonald Observatory, and great scenery all around.  They have full hookups and roomy sites.  Also, it's only a few hours north of Big Bend NP, another great place.  We visited both last year and will return!
 

normeller

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AVOID THE CAMPGROUND AT GRAND CANYON PARK--OTHERS IN AREA HAVE TO BE CLEANER AND BETTER EQUIPED
 

Terry A. Brewer

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Wendy

>> Just don't come wearing shorts and sandals (well, unless you're name's Terry).<<

You might enjoy his pic taken 2/02 near Aguereberry Point in Death Valley on a day trip with Russ Mahoney.<G>
 

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Frank B

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Carl:

>Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a memory of a lifetime. ....<

We visited Bryce Canyon etc. a few years ago, but I didn't know about the other attractions in the area.  That post of yours went in my 'list of things to do' this fall as well.  We're hoping to take three weeks in October to visit some of these areas.  The truck we use to pull our small 5th is 4wd, and I've got good all-terrain rubber on it.

Thanks again for those tips.

Frank.
 

Carl L

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Frank B said:
Carl:

>Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a memory of a lifetime. ....<

We visited Bryce Canyon etc. a few years ago, but I didn't know about the other attractions in the area.? That post of yours went in my 'list of things to do' this fall as well.? We're hoping to take three weeks in October to visit some of these areas.? The truck we use to pull our small 5th is 4wd, and I've got good all-terrain rubber on it.

Thanks again for those tips.

Frank.

Oh good.  You will enjoy Canyon de Chelly.  Our guide was the college age daughter of the Navajo Asst. Park Director for Ethnology.  She had relatives up and down the canyon.  I have a feeling her services were reserved for eldery matushka couples.  ;D  Any event be sure then to add Capitol Reef to your trip.  Our trip on the 65mi. Cathedral Valley loop wound up in the middle of a cattle round up by those Mormon ranchers.  They use dogs for their roundups btw.  The chuck wagon was a 19' Terry TT pulled by a F150 driven by a pair of wimmen.  Real family ranching.  Great trip.  Watch that river crosssing tho.

 

Mike in Texas

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This is a bit late, but the Hill Country (Austin to San Antonio and  100 miles west of those cities) has lots to offer. I live in New Braunfels, between Austin and San Antonio. There's the Alamo, missions, and River Walk in San Antonio; the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers for white water canoing, rafting, tubing and fishing, and Gruene Hall (where George Strait got his start and the Travolta movie "Michael" was filmed) in New Braunfels; Luckenbach (of Willie Nelson fame); the State Capitol, Bob Bullock History Museum, University of Texas, LBJ Presidential Library, and Hippie Hollow (only "legal" nude beach in Texas) on Lake Travis; the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall; the Admiral Nimitz Museum of the War in the Pacific in Fredericksburg. There are many clear lakes and streams, nice State Parks, and many beautiful caves.
 

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