Hikes, Tents, and 1,100 miles

Utah, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation
Open Post

The last few travels I had were mainly to get out, take pictures for a couple of days, not much hiking, then come home. There was no real sense of adventure or exploring. We picked a spot, took pictures, and that’s it! We changed that up a bit this year.

On our last trip out to northern Arizona, Al and I stayed put in the city of Page and explored Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.  As beautiful as Antelope Canyon is, once you’re inside and touring the area, its such a tourist attraction that you’re physically fighting hundreds of other tourists with their own guides trying to navigate the narrow spaces with you. Still a beautiful place to visit and I would recommend everyone visiting at least once.

This time around we made our trip a little different.  We mapped out places we really would like to see, planned a route, hiking locations, and camping sites. The plan was originally to stop by and see ‘the wave’ in arizona, which didn’t pan out.  So our planned route became Zion > Bryce Canyon > Arches > Monument Valley > Page, AZ > Vegas

First stop, Zion.

As soon as I got off the plane in St. George, Utah, we changed and headed toward Angel’s Landing, possibly the most spectacular view from the top of any national park. 5 miles round trip, 1,400 feet of elevation, and roughly 4 1/2 hours of total hiking later, I crossed Angel’s Landing off my bucket list. After grabbing a burger and some beers to replenish, we packed up and headed out of Zion.

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Second Stop, Bryce

Driving 2 hours north out Zion we started searching for campsites to spend the night.  As we drove into Bryce we noticed lightning and thunderstorms in the distance… and no vacancies on any nearby campsite.  So, hotel room it was. After an early shower and a quick breakfast we headed into Bryce.

I never realized how small Bryce really was compared to Big Bend or even Zion. Standing on an overlook looking down into the canyon, you can see the whole park.  And before the son got any higher in the sky we took as many pictures as we could and headed toward Arches.

 

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Third stop, Arches

This was the longest leg of our drive, almost 5 hours in total.  The closer we got to the park the more storm clouds we noticed.  Once we settled into a campsite we quickly looked to see where we could get the best sunset pictures around the park on our map. After a bit of research we quickly realized it wasn’t going to happen due to the clouds and gave up on the idea of sunset pictures at Arches.

The next morning we headed toward Delicate Arch.  Mild hike, lots of tourists, but well worth the view at the end.  There was even a line waiting to take pictures under the arch because of the sheer amount of visitors.  So we naturally stood in line and had our picture taken.

We planned on staying around the area for another day, but after a night of soaking rain and cloudy morning we decided to get back on the road and head toward Monument Valley in hopes of better weather.

 

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Fourth stop, Monument Valley

I’ve always seen this location in movies, posters, and ads, and its been on my list of places to visit since I can remember.  This place is facing east so sunrise pictures are always the money shot… thats unless you traveled with us.  As you see below, the shot from inside my tent is as the sun is rising… and there’s no sun. Oh, and we got rained on the whole night.  Ang my waterproof hiking shoes soaked from inside out!

 

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Our last stop was a familiar spot, Page. It also turned out to be the most interesting part of the trip.

As we rolled into Page looking for a camping spot, we soon found out all campsites were inside the city… and none were available. With Page being such a tourist town, we searched alternative sites like HomeAway and airbnb.  We ended up finding a native american Hogan to on airbnb which had an amazing backstory.

The land we stayed on had been own by the same family for 14 generations! The Hogan we stayed in is where the owner of the land grew up with her grandmother and 10 other siblings and cousins.  Mind you, barely held cots, 4 adults, and our stuff.  I put the 360º interactive photo of the inside at the bottom of the post for you to see yourself!

The stove in the middle of the room was the original one the owner’s grandmother used. The ‘shower’ was more or less a bucket and wash cloths, the floors were dirt, and there was no light inside the hogan.  But I can say without a doubt it was the most interesting night of our trip.

Being in Page there were only a handful of things we could do.  We *had* to visit Horseshoe Bend, and we had to do a slot canyon.  Knowing the crowds and the wait at Antelope canyon, we chose to go to a small canyon Al and I went to on our last trip, Waterhole canyon.  The descend is a bit steep, the hike is decent (4 miles), and there is virtually no one on the hike but you.  Its truly amazing.  We spent a good portion of the day hiking and taking pictures and in the afternoon, right before sunset, we went to Horseshoe Bend to take sunset pictures.

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Ran across a picture from the last day of our hiking trip. This is inside of the traditional native American Hogan we stayed in – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

 

Overall, our trip was tiring, amazing, and one I can tell stories about for years to come.  We’re already planning for our next trip, so until then, I hope you enjoyed the pictures from this trip.

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posted in: Travel