If your idea of an ideal vacation involves fun and adventure in equal proportions, then the following may apply to you. When we packed Nevada and Arizona into a single trip, the outcome was the single biggest exhilarating trip of the year so far. There is no doubt that Vegas would unanimously be voted as the single greatest party and fun destination in the world. If you haven’t read about our journey to Vegas, please do read the entire story here.
After 2 fun filled days in Vegas, we proceeded on our tour of Canyons in Arizona. We narrowed down on three places of interest – Glen, Antelope and Grand Canyon
Glen Canyon National Park
This being the closest from Las Vegas at a distance of about 5 hours by road, was our first stop in the 2 day trip. We started from Vegas at about 11 AM in the morning and travelled along the scenic desert roads of Nevada and Arizona before reaching the Glen Canyon National Park. The roads are mostly deserted with strong gusts blowing all through the stretch of road.
The roads are mostly empty despite small towns that pop up occasionally. There are several marked spots where you can park your vehicle and take pictures. After what was a long drive of about 5 hours, we neared the Glen Canyon National Park.
Travel Tip : Unlike what we were used to in the Midwest, there were no rest areas in this stretch of road. The roads are mostly flanked by barren deserts. Plan in advance to take the exits if you would like to take a break or stop for food. Stock your cars with sufficient food and water before starting the trip.
We had planned our stay by Lake Powell in the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. As we neared the Glen Canyon National Park, we were clearly impressed by the choice of place for stay. Lake Powell reflected off its blue hues against a bright blue sky and it was accentuated by the mountains that rose to the sides of the lakes.
Numerous boats and small yachts gleamed in the bright day and boy, what a view it was! We checked in to our rooms and quickly changed to head over the Glen Canyon before sunset.
Horse Shoe Bend is a short walk from the designated parking lot through the desert. A comfortable shoes is highly recommended to walk through the sands. It is also advisable to wear a sunglass at all times because the sand storms are frequent and it can be quite bothersome if you are not shielding your eyes from the sand. You could also choose to wear a cap or cover yourself to protect your body from the pricking of the desert sand when it gets blown by the winds.
Once you reach the Horse Shoe Bend, you will be amazed by the sheer structure of the entire canyon. Deep down in the valley, surrounded by the river and carved in the exact shape of a horse shoe, this natural wonder will have you marvel at the sheer beauty and size of it.
There are no barricades anywhere along the length of the horse shoe bend viewing area. Exercise caution while looking down because there is nothing preventing a free fall and sure death.
Travel Tip : Go during sunrise or sunset for optimal photographic opportunities. However, the canyon can get excessively crowded during this time. Early birds get the best spots to set their tripod and camera to wait for the right light to shoot.
We spent the entire evening until sunset. The winds are strong here and you need to be careful if you are standing near the edges. There would also be a lot of people moving around, so watch your footing to avoid fatal accidents. Lighter objects, if set on ground, can be blown away by the winds. So do not leave any light weight objects like camera bags and other stuff on the ground while you are clicking pictures.
2. Antelope Canyon
After what was a memorable evening at Glen Canyon and a relaxing sleep after a long days travel, we woke up the next day morning to cover the next two destinations of our travel – the Antelope Canyon and South Rim of Grand Canyon.
The Antelope Canyon was the best and most beautiful among the three canyons we visited during these two days. Antelope Canyon offers tremendous photographic opportunities due to the vivid colors and shapes carved into it over the years by floods and winds.
Travel Tip : Antelope Canyon tours are strictly guided tours. It is recommended to make your reservations in advance if you intend to visit Antelope Canyon.
We chose to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon tour. This involved descending down a flight of stairs and walking through the colorfully lit canyons underground. It takes about an hour to walk to the exit and is easy to do. The Navajo guides take great pains to explain in detail about the formations and the history of the canyons. They are very informative and helpful and ensure that everyone in the group was comfortable with the pace of covering the canyons.
3. The Grand Canyons
We completed Antelope Canyon by about noon and quickly proceeded by the long desert roads to our third and final destination in our tour of the Canyons of Arizona – The Grand Canyons. The journey was again for a couple of hours through deserted highways flanked by barren desert lands on either sides. Occasionally a scenic spot or overlook marked on the road can be used to escape the boredom of the long drive. The gusts are really strong on these roads and the cars drift in the cross winds.
By no means, we expected this to be anything less than jaw dropping. As you enter the Grand Canyon National Park, you would soon realize that it is no surprise that this has made it to the list of Natural Wonders of the World. The sheer size and breadth of these canyons as they extend across much of Arizona and Nevada is worth the long drives through the desert to get here.
Travel Tip : It can get pretty cold and windy on the South Rim. It is advisable to carry necessary heat gear if you intend to stay towards the evening because that is when the winds become cold.
There is a small cafe and bike shop next to the visitor center. The place normally has a lot of people visiting over the year. There are multiple view points along the length of the canyons. While some are barricaded a few others open right into the canyons. As always, exercise caution while visiting the unguarded sections of the overlook. There are multiple trekking trails available and the complete map and details will be provided in the visitor center.
We chose to visit the South Rim of the canyons because it is supposed to be offer the best views, and we were not disappointed.
An Interesting Detour – Historic Route 66
While returning from the Grand Canyon to Vegas to hop on our return flight, we stopped by a town for dinner. It was only later we realized we were in Seligman on the Historic Route 66 . This town is the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the much famed Cars animation film by Disney. We were at the Roadkill Cafe, Seligman and we were probably the last customers they had for dinner. They happily accommodated us and provided us with a lot of details on why and how the little town that survived is a part of history now.
For those interested in reading more about the significance of this town, click here. This accidental detour to Seligman was a great ending to one of our most epic trips through North America. Because it was already past 9 we could not venture around in the town, but clearly, this place itself has quite a bit to visit which we were not aware of earlier. We would highly recommend finding a place here to stay to explore this fabulous place for anyone who is interested in making a similar trip.
Passes and Permits
An annual national park permit that costs about $80 will grant you access to the park without added costs. We had taken this pass because it granted us entry into Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. It is valid across all National Parks in the USA.So if you are a travel junkie who does multiple trips in a year, it is worth it to buy one of these every year to avoid entry costs in different parks.
As mentioned earlier, we stayed overnight at the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. in Glen Canyon National Park. The rooms are average but the view of the resort makes up for most of it. You can look up for options for stay in and around Page, Arizona and find more options – but apparently Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas is the only one which is situated right off the lake with stunning views of the gleaming blue waters dotted with white yachts.
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