Pros: A lot less crowded, easier to find campsites (particularly midweek).
Cons: Less services and activities available (ranger-led hikes, campfire programs, cave tours, etc.), possibly cold temperatures at high elevations.
Has anyone taken a trip in September? If so, what was your experience? I think on the whole it will be great due to smaller crowds and more comfortable temperatures, but I bemoan the fact that certain activities (such as "Wild Cave Tour" at Wind Cave National Park) close after Labor Day.
September is the best time of year for low crowds and nice weather. The only downfall is the fact that the waterfalls have usually dried up by then. Thats OK, Yosemite offers so much more. If the cables are still up, the Half Dome hike is unbelievable. It is tough (4500+ vertical feet total), long (16 miles round trip) and at times scary (2000+ foot drop offs) but worth each and every incredible step. If you don't get sensory overload from this one, you never will. Leave before sunrise to make it to the top with the best morning light and bail out immediately at the first sign of storms - it's a huge lightning rod!
Other favorites are Zion, Arches and Canyonlands in Utah. There is great canyon hiking near Goblin Valley state park in central Utah. If you are in that area, make the side trip to Monument Valley Navajo Nation Park. The facilities are a bit cheesy but the scenery is amazing.
A bit further north, Yellowstone and Grand Teton offer the widest variety of oddities per square mile that I know of!
[This message has been edited by chris (edited 05-27-2000).]
Utah is great; I've been to Arches a couple times (great mountain biking near there) and I think in September I'll actually have a chance of getting a campsite. The past two times I was out at Arches, the national park campground was full. There's a number of "unimproved" BLM (or state park?) campsites along the Colorado River not far from Arches, which worked well. I remember the moon was so bright it cast shadows.
I'm also tempted to head up to Yellowstone and then up into Glacier National Park. I'll probably have to pick between going north or going west to Utah, etc. I might not decide until I'm out there! That's the way I like it - figure it out as I go.
Does anyone know what Utah temperatures (for example, at Arches) are likely to be in September? I was out there in May a couple years ago and daytime temperatures weren't too bad - in the 80's. Is September really hot? I'm guessing it will cool down at night.
Has anyone gone bike/camping (i.e., toss a tent on the back of the bike and set up camp next to the bike trail?) I had thought about doing this the last time I was in the Moab area but didn't see how to "equip" my bike with both camping gear and hydration gear (namely, water!) There's not a lot of space.
And while I'm changing subjects every two seconds, if I were to go backcountry camping in Utah, do I need to worry about getting eaten by a mountain lion? (Hey, you worry about these things when you're camping alone in the middle of nowhere. :-)
I am a member of an Arizona Outdoor travel club and found your message while I was looking up some information on taking a drive up to the Navajo Nation and checking out Antelope (Slot) Canyon, Monument Valley, and/or Canyon de Chelly.
If any are on your route, love to ear from you - if you have not yet left. tfdowling
If you are stating north and visiting the NPs in Utah - have a great trip. I was in the St George area in May and temperatures were in the low 90s but rather nice with low humidity. We are starting to cool down now, which translated means that not every day hits 100 and it cools down at night. You should expect 70 - 90 degree weather - Perfect!