5 DAYS IN SOUTHERN UTAH (AND ARIZONA)
If you have ever wanted to experience a different planet, just go down to Southern Utah and you will have that experience.
About a month ago I just got back from a 5 day road trip down to Southern Utah and a bit of Arizona. I had always wanted to go down there and see all of the different National Parks and see why they were so hyped up. I figured beginning of September would be a great time of the year to go, due to the weather cooling down and less people since school was starting. So pro tip: if you are going to go down there, I would wait til September for those reasons.
DAY ONE: ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
To start the trip off, we drove down to Arches National Park to see the beauty of Delicate Arch and Double Arch along with whatever else it had to offer. When we arrived at Arches it was later than we had expected it to be when we got there, so we went straight to Delicate Arch. The hike there was pretty easy and didn't take long it all. As we turned the corner on the last stretch of the trail and saw the Arch, I was immediately in awe. For one, I didn't expect it to be packed with people (I'm sure it's worse during the summer,) and I didn't expect the Arch to be as big as it was. We sat around for about an hour as the harsh light slowly transformed into golden, magical light. It was an amazing sunset to say the least. Then we waited a while longer as the new light from the stars appeared. If you are planning on visiting Delicate Arch, I urge you to stay until the stars are out because it truly is something else. Because we were there in September, the Milky Way Galaxy was perfectly alined with the Arch, creating a even more dramatic landscape. After staying up there for over an hour taking photos, we decided to hike down which if you are wondering, really wasn't too bad to do in the dark. We then got into our car, made a bed and fell asleep with the stars bright in the sky through the windows.
DAY TWO: MONUMENT VALLEY
Day two started with waking up about an hour before sunrise. We hurried and packed up the car, and drove over to Double Arch on the other side of the park. I didn't quite get the sunrise I was hoping for, but it was still a beautiful morning of exploring and taking photographs.
Once we were done exploring Double Arch, we hit the road again to head to Monument Valley. As we got close, we finally came across the iconic road leading up to Monument Valley. At the time I was pretty disappointed with the lightning and the photos i got, but once I got them back into post, I was actually surprised at how good the photos turned out.
We arrived into Monument Valley just as a big thunder storm was arriving. Normally I would have been disappointed in that, but it created some dramatic lighting over the monoliths in the valley. Because there was no sunset and the weather got pretty bad, we packed it up pretty early and crawled into the back of the car for the remainder of the night.
DAY THREE: HORSESHOE BEND AND LAKE POWELL
Day three we woke up right before sunrise once again. All I can say is that is was one of the best sunrises I have ever seen. Due to the storm the night before, the clouds were unreal that morning. The sun rose breaking through the moody clouds creaking the best sun bursts I've seen. Unfortunately this lasted about 5 minutes, maybe even shorter and it was gone. But it was a reminder than the best things can come from the small moments.
Before we decided to head to our next destination, Ashlyn pulled out her sketch book to document the monoliths and the valley. It was definitely inspiring to watch her create her version of the landscape that was in front of us in a whole different medium than what I am used to using.
After about a two and a half hour drive, we arrived in Page, Arizona. We decided to go spend some time at Lake Powell until sunset. About an hour before sunset, we arrived at the trail ahead for Horseshoe Bend. I was very surprised to see how busy this spot was. It is definitely an Instagram spot!
While at Horseshoe, I didn't think there would be a sunset due to the fact that the clouds were very dark and thick. Thankfully we lucked out and got some color in the sky creating a beautiful view.
After sunset, we headed back to the car to find a spot to sleep. We finally decided to sleep in the back parking lot of a hotel and I ended up getting a great night's sleep.
DAY FOUR: ZION NATIONAL PARK
Day four started with our four hour drive to Zion National Park. The drive itself went by pretty quickly, but what really took forever was the events that occurred once we got to the park entrance.
When we rolled up to the entrance there was a short line of cars, due to the fact that the roads were being worked on, and would not be opened up for another three hours. Our only options were to stay there for three hours, or spend the same amount of time driving to the other side to the other entrance. So we ended up staying there for three hours and caught up on some photo editing and reading.
Three hours passed, and the park opened. When we entered into the canyon, I was immediately blown away by the landscape. All of the red rock, green plants and trees, crazy rock textures, it was incredible. I couldn't believe the size of the towering canyon walls all around us. I knew it would be big, but not that big.
We eventually arrived to the Visitors Center, and got on a shuttle to go explore. Our first stop was to the Narrows, on the other side of the Canyon. The Narrows was a super cool spot, though I think I would have enjoyed it more if there were less tourists.
Because we had already spent half the day driving, waiting, and then hiking, we decided to go find a spot for sunset. We settled on the famous spot the over looks the mountain known as The Watchman. By the time the sunset, there were photographers shoulder to shoulder shooting this magnificent landscape. We stayed out until the Milky Way lined up with the mountain to get some shots of that.
Day Five: Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon was the place I was most excited about. I wasn't prepared for how amazing it really would be though.
We drove for a little over an hour to reach Bryce Canyon. Driving in, you wouldn't think you had arrived due to the thick green forests around you. We then drove to one of the overlook parking lots, still thinking the same thing. But once we got out, walked up the path through the trees, it opened up to this other world like landscape. I have never seen anything like it before. I was truly astonished.
We then hiked down thorough the canyon for hours exploring these trails that were carved out through the hoodoos (rock formations through the park).
For sunset we drove the an overlook on the opposite side of the canyon to catch some beautiful color in the sky. After sunset, we stayed out until about 11:00 to capture more Milky Way photos.
We then packed up in our car, and slept in the parking lot of the overlook. It was a beautiful think to be able to look out the window and look up at a true sky full of stars.
For sunrise we got some amazing photos of sunbursts as the sun slowly rose above the canyon. We then hiked down into the canyon for more exploring to end our 5 day road trip in Southern Utah/Arizona.