AZ + UT
Day 0: Lees Ferry
It took around 3.5 hours to drive from Phoenix to Glen Canyon. As you drive towards the Grand Canyons little brother, Glen, you just see these table-top mountain. It definitely woke me from my nap to see the spectacular red slashes through the rock formations. (We decided to stay 45 minutes from Page, AZ. Page is where Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and all that are.)
Lees Ferry Campground was a mere 300 yards away from the Colorado River. It’s the only place where people can drive up to in over 700 miles of the Colorado River. The river is blue and green and very cold. It’s also super fast and swift and I’d definitely be afraid if I fell in.
We set up for the night and made some dinner. The evening was sooo warm and I don’t think any of us have seen such a dark and beautiful night sky. The moon was set and because of the huge canyon walls, it was so pitch black dark that the stars illuminated the entire sky.
For Sally (Cham’s sister)’s first time camping, she got super lucky with the cleanliness of the toilets. And people don’t usually talk about this, but it totally makes a difference! It was awesome how clean and well kept everything was. (Thanks, NPS!)
Day 1: Page, AZ
Come morning, we enjoyed some breakfast and started to pack up for our venture into the canyon. We started driving through the canyon and this vastness opened up in the canyons below. It was sooo surreal.
Our first visit of the day was Horseshoe Bend! Now, I’d seen plenty of photos of this place and it looks pretty amazing, but I didn’t think it would look THIS grand. The river just curves 180 degrees in this perfect U. We walked the short walk to the very edge of the canyon, which is about a 1,000 foot drop off. Cham wasn’t very thrilled about me being so close to the edge. This was about as close as he would get to the edge to take a photo.
Next up was Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. This place I had also seen so many photos of. It’s even one of the default background images for Windows machines. But damn, is it even more crazy in real life. For the Upper, you go through this crack in the wall and basically look up at this formation that is made of rock, wind and sand. Those three elements create something like this:
I mean it’s pretty damn magical. One of the things they don’t tell you is that it’s basically Disneyland in that place. The tour guides main focus is to tell you how to take the photos. I wanted some history, some science, even anything about the Navajo land that we had to be escorted onto. (The Antelope Canyons live on this Navajo land and isn’t considered part of the National Park, so you have to pay a different fee to enter. But thankfully, because you visit both on the same day, you only have to pay the fee once.)
As we went to Lower Antelope Canyon, the less popular little brother, instead of walking into a crack, you walk down 5 flights of stairs down into the canyon.
Earlier in the day, we came to sign up for a time slot for Lower Antelope Canyon but they were closed. There was rainfall two nights before and because the Lower Canyons live underground, it easily gets flooded in there. There are times when there are flash floods and the water comes in at every direction, hitting all the walls and creating waterfalls all around you. But they were able to clean it up and get the water out mid-morning. As we walked through, it wasn’t as crowded and definitely wasn’t as Disneyland-esque, but would’ve probably loved some story telling. All in all, it was really beautiful and really glad we got to see it. Finally, Sally can check it off her list!
We wanted to figure out a place to see the sunset, so as we were leaving the Lower Antelope Canyons, we grabbed a map that had vista points. We decided to drive to one that has the Glen Canyon Dam, which holds the 2nd largest man-made lake in the US, Lake Powell. The curve in the river with the tall, red canyons against this huge dam was pretty larger than life.
We then stopped at another vista point where you can see the entire canyon from floor to all the plateaus. It was unbelievably windy but absolutely breathtaking.
We looked at our map again and was contemplating where we should camp tonight and because we kept driving north, we were about 15 min away from Lone Rock Campground in Utah. Lone Rock is this beach that, obviously enough, has a lone rock smack right in the middle of it.
This view was unbeatable and we couldn’t have chosen a better place to camp for our last night. We weren’t in a canyon this time and was in this huge open space with a dome-ish view of the night sky. It was absolutely stunning. Since the wind died down, we stayed up playing some card games outside under the stars. There was no wind to even blow our cards away! It does get pretty cold at night, so we eventually came into the tent. Mind you again, the bathrooms and everything were JUST as clean as the first place!
Day 2: Toadstools
The first signs of sun started to come out and it was only 6am, but hey, when the sun’s up, you’re up. Sally and I watched the sun come up in our camping chairs and nestled inside our sleeping bags since it was still pretty chilly.
Our first thought of the day was to drive all the way out to Monument Valley which is 2+ hours west of where we were and we would only have to drive the same route back to go home, so we nixed that idea. We wanted to go to the Wave, but the lottery for that is just 100% impossible. So we nixed that one too. We looked at our map and saw that the Grand Staircase Escalante.
We stopped by the Visitor Center and we asked the guy where we should go before we head back to Phoenix. He asked us what kind of car we have. A lot of the roads out here are for all wheel drive, but since we had a Corolla, he recommended the Toadstools.
We drive the 15 min north and alas, we’re there! Everything’s so close around here, it’s pretty easy. (Also something else to note, all of these site-seeing places are a mere hop, skip and jump from your car. At most, a 12 min walk through sand, but there was no strenuous hiking involved this weekend.) We arrived to the toadstools and it looks like you’ve been brought back to the stone age.
After seeing those awesome natural wonders, we got into the car and started the drive home. I got a little sad… Our spontaneous trip was coming to an end. We hung over the edge of cliffs and camped directly on the beach… I guess there wasn’t anything else that we could’ve ended this perfect trip with…
Originally published on 4/12/16 at lizlizwanders.weebly.com.