Traveling American Southwest, Part I

three gossips

I have this image of Three Gossips taken in color at the sunset, but I added  gradient and changed color balance to make it look like a distant memory, because I will share some almost forgotten, and for most of you, unknown memories… in my next blog, Part II 🙂 But first, let’s go back to the story about our Southwest travels.

We have made two trips to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, in 2007 and 2008. Our first trip included:  Arches National Park, Four Corners, Little Colorado River Gorge, Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon, St George, Cove Fort – a round trip  we had made in five days.

There is no photograph that could adequately depict the stunning beauty of Arches National Park. You come there in awe, and you leave in awe. If you are short of time and cannot stay longer than one day,  I would suggest something like that:

Morning – Devil’s Garden Trail and Landscape Arch ( 2 hours) and probably another 2-3 hours if you want to walk to the end of the trail ( we didn’t);  Double Arch ( 30 min); The  Windows ( 1 hour). It is just how long it takes to walk. You will need more time – driving, taking photographs, sitting and admiring the scenery.

Afternoon – Delicate Arch ( at least 3 hours; parking is limited!); Balanced Rock before the sun goes down ( 30 min). Check the map to calculate how long it takes to drive from place to place.

Check out the links to the long and short trails, but regardless of the distance you have to take a lot of water with you.

There are 2000 arches in Arches Nation Park. Well, perhaps 1999, since the Wall Arch collapsed in August 2008.

The best photographs of Delicate Arch come out in the afternoon. We went there first thing in the morning. It made sense because we had no idea how long it takes to hike, and we really wanted to stay there a little longer. Photography wasn’t our priority.

In the first photograph, Delicate Arch is just around the corner. The weather is changing to overcast, and the arch looks differently every half and hour. Sitting there and staring at the arch was one of my favorite activities in the Park. If you have been there you know what I am talking about.

arches

May 24-25 2007 145res

arches

This is the Landscape Arch, or what is left of it after the first slab of sandstone fell off in 1991. Still, it is the longest natural arch in the world with the span of 290 feet.

Arches

It is the Devil’s Garden trail, the most spectacular of all the trails in the park. The weather was changing, and by the time we reached the Landscape Arch, it was raining and we turned back.

Arches

These formations are called “fins”. I mentioned them in my previous blog.

Arches

The rain stopped and we actually visited more arches than expected. We took beautiful photographs of the Balanced Rock half an hour before the sunset, and the Three Gossips a minute before the sun went down.

This is the Window Arch. For the scale, see a tiny human sitting in the left corner.

arches

The following day we started our unhurried trip to the Grand Canyon, a ” hole in Arizona”. It is hard to put the Grand Canyon in words and pictures, and yes, “not all holes are created equal” 🙂 I was standing there speechless and almost breathless.

South Rim, Colorado River. Here we spent a day, hiking around and down in the canyon.

Grand Canyon

North Rim, the following day. There, we took a short  but breathtaking  Bright Angel Point trail.

GC

We walk along the narrow ‘peninsula’, surrounded with the stone ‘waves’. At the end of the trail, The Bright Angel Point, most of people just stand and stare across the vast expanse. It is difficult to believe that this  is all real. I think you will love reading this very informative and very poetic article about the area down there.

angel fault

Reading displayed information I had to smile. What is the Bright Angel Fault?  As I learned, faults are fractures in the Earth crust that occur under the pressure – compression, extension or side-by-side movement. The Bright Angel Fault is such a fracture that stretches almost straight across the Grand Canyon from the South to the North through the Bright Angel Canyon, which was formed through erosion along the fault.  Yes, the view that we see at the view point is not technically the Grand Canyon, but a side canyon,  the jagged border ridge of the Bright Angel Canyon!

The Bright Angel Fault is still active and has produced small earthquakes that visitors sometimes feel. The fault is visible as  a 186 foot displacement: you can see it in the image of the distant South Rim, where the left side of the horizon line is visibly higher than the right one (sorry it is heavily zoomed and taken with a 3 mp camera)

angel fault

I have read a lot about the side canyons, and I still have more questions than answers. I know that I will never hike the Grand Canyon and see everything by myself. I can only pray that the people who go there in the future are considerate and respectful to the Nature.

Little Colorado River Gorge, and Marble Canyon and Navajo Bridge are worth to mention not only because they are located on the way to Grand Canyon National Park and to stop there seems like a natural thing to do. These places are beautiful.  Cross both  – New and Historical Navajo bridges, and enjoy the emerald color of Colorado river if you travel early in summer. Little Colorado river is a bright  blue color, but later when the rains start, they both become chocolate milk  brown, and as the saying goes ‘ too thick to drink, too thin to plow’. Marble Canyon and  the Grand Canyon join where the Little Colorado River enters the Colorado River.

In the image below, a view from the Old Navajo bridge.

colorado river

On the way back, we had a stop in St. George, UT,  and visited their Pioneer Park.  We climbed up the Dixie Rock for the downtown panorama, and I can tell you that the place is certainly worth to stop by.

Our last stop was the Cove Fort, with their curious exposition of the 19th century artifacts, workshops and the Big Barn. Lots of history, with no admission fee ( the place belongs to the LDS Church).  We even learned how to play the long forgotten game! 🙂

cove fort

There is a wonderful book  – Travelers’ Tales, American Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah… A great read when you feel nostalgic.

The other trip was also a five days long trip : Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, Utah State Route 261 and Moki Dugway, Natural Bridges National Monument,  Utah State Route 95 across the end of Glen Canyon, and a long drive through the breathtaking canyon country up to Salt Lake Valley.

As I said, we travel with no hurry. We stop to admire buttes and mesas; we  even climb them sometimes. We buy Native American jewelry made from  seeds,  beads and semiprecious stones; we watch the wildlife and marvel at the flowers bravely standing out against the barren rocks. One cannot plan discoveries and surprises.

desert

desert

On our way to Page, AZ we turned into the side road to check out a  unique place, a part of Zion National Park – Pink Sand Dunes.

Pink sand Dunes

It was fun to run down the dunes, and it is where I lost my wide angle lens…

We stayed in Page three nights exploring the area. Horseshoe Bend was one of the places on our list. I failed to take a good picture, but my daughter had a good fun taking pictures of me wriggling on my belly towards the rim with my camera holding hand outstretched, and with the mortified face. Due to the embarrassing nature, these pictures may not be published.

horseshoe

We went there again after dark. The full moon lit up the waters of Colorado River; wildlife enjoyed the coolness of the night, and we enjoyed watching the cottontails happily run around. I didn’t get any braver, and this sorry picture is the best  I have got.

Horseshoe bend

Another place on our list was  Antelope Slot Canyon. Probably many of you have heard about the tragedy that happened there in August 1997. We went to the safer and easier of the slots, the Upper Antelope Canyon ( the Upper and the Lower slots are a few miles apart) . All the land around Page, including Antelope Canyon,  belongs to the Navajo Nation. It is a family business, and we got a handsome young man for a guide, a University student who was on holidays at that time, and not only gave us photography tips, but also played the flute for us.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth, where the light is everything. The corkscrew walls polished by flash floods change their color every second as the light bounces between the twisted columns. In the image below – Slot entrance.

slot canyon

Images taken inside the canyon, available light.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

In my next blog, I will cover the rest of our Lake Powell trip, and reveal my first (and last) celebrity crush from the 1960s 🙂

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

90 comments

  1. A truly awe-inspiring post, Inese. Your photos are stunning and you have given such interesting detail in your write up. All the physical structures are amazing and on such a vast scale. This area is very close to the top of our ‘to visit’ list, so thank you for the introductory journey. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you will visit Southwest and see everything by yourself. Planning and research are essential, but leave some room for surprises 🙂

      Like

  2. Whenever I see photos of Arches NP and Antelope Canyon I am always amazed. Such stunning locations, hope I get to go there sometime. Travelling without hurry is the best btw:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this post…took me back to the feel of this great place. A great series of photos, and You have quote too that says it all “You come there in awe, and you leave in awe.” Wish I would have visited Antelope Canyon when I was there…surreal place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I wish I have visited the Lower Antelope! Then there is The Wave – you can google the place. They only sell a certain amount of the passes each day – 10 or 15. I think one has to dedicate their whole life to explore this area.

      Like

        1. Your photographs of the land are outstanding. I hope you go there again soon.
          We went to Arizona in May, and Colorado river was green when the weather was dry 🙂 Even after the rain the river regained its green color soon enough.

          Like

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! You are so lucky living close to the Parks! I know it was my first and last trip. These old photographs are all the memories I have. Thank you again!

      Like

  4. Oh how I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Inese. It is fascinating to see the shift of nature here in its many forms. I had no idea that Arches had 2,000 arches! I liked seeing the horizon’s shift in the Bright Angel Fault…and your photos are absolutely awesome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I would love to go again with a better camera than the one I had 8 years ago, but it seems impossible.
      I love to read everything about the Southwest – from fiction to geological articles. It is the place where I left my heart 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These are great photographs. What a dramatic landscape. I remember the fins from your other post. For some reason, they remind me this time of the spines running down the back of a dinosaur, perhaps a stegosaurus or something. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by! We traveled to AZ a good few years ago, and it was certainly my first and last trip to the area. I don’t see any other chance to travel that big anymore. I would love to go again, of course, with a more advanced camera 🙂 The life is too short.

      Like

    1. Indah, don’t be sorry, it happened 8 years ago, and I even don’t remember which lens it was :). I just remember it was a wide one because I missed it badly when I was struggling to capture the Horseshoe bend 🙂 Antelope Canyon is stunning indeed, but the other one, where those people were killed by the flash flood, is much more spectacular. It is where all the photographers usually go. When you plan your trip one day, go for the Lower Antelope. We were not physically fit for it.
      I am sure some things changed since I was there, but the stunning beauty of the land is still the same.
      Thank you again!

      Like

  6. Thank you Inese for this gorgeous post. You know how badly I want to get back to live in the southwest again. Lately I’ve been one of the top few candidates for three different jobs in Arizona. Yesterday I got rejections for all 3 — and never even got an interview. (Thanks a lot Uncle Sam for another corrupt system.) So it seems I will only be there via the magic of your photos. Mega hugs. 🙂

    Like

    1. Oh I don’t know if I want to ‘like’ this comment… Don’t give up easy. Jobs are going and coming again. Don’t feel discouraged, and keep an eye on the offers.
      I love desert with all my heart. It is where I would live myself, the rest of my life. Hugs!!!

      Like

    1. Thank you! I hope you travel there one day. It is not that impossible – here on wordpress you can meet friends who live nearby and give you a ride. You see how much we covered in only five days. These two trips together might be done in a week.

      Like

  7. This is the third time I am leaving a message. I do not know what is going on with wordpress today but 2 of them disappeared into thin air. Wow! Your photos do not do justice to the beauty you have brought to us. These photos are awesome and I must thank you for taking me on the tour with you. To be there and feel the actual energy would have been awesome. The arches reminded me of a big camera lens that you can view the landscape in. No harm in imagining. Be well and thank you again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow beautiful photos of your trip. I do know that pictures do not do justice to the scenery you have brought to us. To be there in person and feel the energy of the moment would be awesome. The arches remind me of a big camera lenses looking out onto the landscape. One can imagine. No harm in doing that lol. Be well and thank you for taking me on the tour as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow beautiful photos. Thank you for taking me on the tour although photographs do not do justice as real life is something to behold as you feel the energy of the moment which photos do not capture. The arches reminded me of a big camera lens looking out on the scenery. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Teagan, there are millions of perfect photographs, neatly photoshopped and taken with fine cameras. These are so old, but then – they are precious to us, and hope they encourage someone to pack their bags and head southwest 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.