Day 1: Arrive Phoenix (overnight in Phoenix)
Day 2: Drive to Grand Canyon then drive to Page (overnight in Page)
Day 3: Antelope canyon (Overnight in Page)
Day 4: Horse Shoe bend & Lake Powell and drive to Monument Valley (camp at Monument Valley)
Day 5: Hiking around Monument Valley drive to 'Forest Gump Point' and 'Mexican hat' then drive back to Phoenix to catch a night flight (10 PM)
Our trip started from Phoenix, Arizona. After a well rested night in Phoenix, the next day we headed to Grand Canyon. The journey took around 4 hours (not including the stop at world’s biggest Kokopeli we found popping on google map and decided to check out! :P). Contrast to a very bright and hot day in Phoenix the day before, our day at Grand Canyon was rather overcast. Gloomy and cloudy. No sun. We kept our fingers crossed and hoped that it would not rain when we get there.
I’ve only seen Grand Canyon in movies and pictures and of course it looks really beautiful. But I have never actually thought about how it would actually look like seeing it through my own eyes. As soon as I had the first glimpse of the canyon, I was blown away. Seeing it first hand was so surreal! It didn't even look real! The canyon is massive and seems like it doesn’t end! There’s no word to accurately describe the scene. You need to see it.
There are bus services within the park which you can take to get to different view points, points of interest, and hiking trails but we chose to walk. We walked from Mather’s point to Vercamp’s visitor centre and back. It rained a bit but it didn’t ruin our experience there at all. I don’t think anything can ruin this glorious landscape. Orange/brown canyons with Colorado river running through it. It even somehow looks so manmade!
Too bad we didn’t plan out the day too well otherwise we would have prepared hiking shoes and hike some trails. It would have added so much to grand canyon experience! At the end of the day we drove to the desert view watchtower where people gathered to watch the sunset. Then we exited the park heading toward Page.
Driving to Page in pitch black was nerve wrecking. But after a little over 2 hours of that we made it to this sleepy small town.
Page is a town best known for the picturesque canyons, the Antelope canyons. And that’s where we went the very next day. Sleepy town was not so sleepy after all. Probably because it was during Summer holidays, there were sooooooooo many people lining up for the tour (the only way to get into the canyon is with Navajo tour guide only). Luckily we had booked the tour in advance so we didn’t have to wait to see if there were available spots for us.
There were 10 people in our group. We started the tour walking into the desert then climbed down stairs through a crack in the ground and VOILA! we were in the canyon. It was such a cool place to be walking through! Full disclosure, the real color of the canyon is not super vivid orange like the ones you see on the internet or below. At the beginning of the tour, the guide even told IPhone users to use ‘vivid’ effect on the photos to saturate the colors. Nevertheless, it was really beautiful landscape. The erosion from wind and water created interesting and imaginative shapes. The tour was around 1.5 hours and at the end we somehow emerged from another crack in the desert.
The next day we visited the famous horse shoe bend. It was seriously hot. 45 degree Celsius hot! The sun was shining bright above our heads. One elder lady was having a hard time walking back to the parking. We saw her when we first went in and she was still there struggling (surrounded by her family) when we came out. In the end an ambulance was called. I hope she’s OK. Apart from the heat, the landscape of horse shoe bend is really beautiful. The contrast of orange rocks and the green water of Colorado river makes for cool spectacle.
Then we went kayaking in Lake Powell. We called up a kayak shop, drove to the shop, loaded the very big and very heavy kayak onto the roof rack of the car and went our way. The lake is really beautiful and the canyon in there is amazing!! It would be ideal to spend a whole day here.
We drove to the border of Utah and Arizona to spend a night camping at Monument Valley. I know Monument Valley from one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump. It was in the background of the scene where he decides that he wants to stop running across country and go home. Massive sandstone buttes look particularly majestic popping out from a vast dessert land of Navajo tribal park region. The best part is that we got to camp right next to it!
We set up the camp in the evening just at the right time to see the most beautiful sun set ever! The night was pretty rough as the storm headed directly our way. The wind not only shook the tent, it kept sweeping sand into it. The big rain drops were particularly loud against the tent cover. It was a sleepless night for me. I had maybe 3 hours of sleep max. But then we woke up to a divine deep serene. We looked out as the sun was rising, then the zipper of the nearby tent opened with a voice saying “It feels like I ate the whole desert!” Looking back to our own tent that is now filled with red sand, and feeling the particles on our faces, we laughed. “same!”
We hiked the wild cat trail to have a closer look of the buttes and it’s a really nice 6.4 km loop desert stroll. Then we drove and crossed the border to Utah to make a quick stop at the ‘Forrest Gump point’ to see the location from the movie before heading back to Phoenix. Of course it was filled with tourists! I somehow was silly enough to think that there will be no one there! But anyway, it was a cool spot to take photos for sure. I mean look at the landscape! IT’S BEAUTIFUL!
Despite the almost unbearable heat (our fault coming here in Summer) I really enjoyed my time spent in probably the driest areas of U.S.A. The landscape is everything! It was my first time in the desert and I never thought I’d say this but I love it! For those who are thinking about doing this trip, I would recommend to do it in September though.
Til next time Arizona.
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 9:52 AM