The Wild West Part Two – Utah & Beyond

After leaving Vegas, our road trip adventure truly began.  Our first stop – Bryce Canyon, Utah.  When we were planning our road trip our goal was to cram, but not over cram, which left us with a tough decision.  Zion National Park or Bryce?  With all the research, photo images we consulted, and TripAdvisor reviews, we basically threw a dart at a map to determine which park to visit.

Hopping in our Prius we began the 4+ hour drive, and what a drive that was.  After spending all my time on the East Coast, seeing the desert, red rocks and various plateau formations as well as snow capped mountains was absolutely stunning. I’m not one for spending time in the car, but empty long highways filled with incredible scenery made the drive fly by.

Arriving in Bryce in the early afternoon we met with the tourism office to determine the best route through the canyon based on the time we had.  We had one shot at Bryce and we had to take it.  Light snow flurries were falling as we entered and walked through the canyon, navigating switchbacks with relative ease.  (Keep in my mind of petrified of heights, so parts of the walk I found to be narrow and uncomfortable to navigate as people passed on the path, but overall, if you’re a big wimp like me, you’ll survive.)  The Navajo Loop trail was perfect for the time we had and gave us the ability to appreciate the wonder of the canyon from so many different angles.

bryceThe canyon was like nothing I ever witnessed.  The bright and varying colors looked like someone had just poured thick, delicious cake batter into a mold and watched it set in various columns and plateaus.  The oranges were vibrant, especially against the backdrop of the pine trees, and the pinks and purples littered throughout looked beautiful against the falling snow.  Doing some research, I learned that these formations are called Hoodoos, and in Bryce the formation dates back 40-60 million years ago. Walking through these formations I was reminded by how small we are in a big world.  After spending a few hours in the Canyon it was time to check-in to our hotel and eat.

We spent the night in Tropic, Utah at the Stone Canyon Inn, and I would highly recommend it!  Tropic was an incredibly small town – I don’t even recall if there was a traffic light or not, but there was a restaurant and a general store which helped us stock up on additional snacks, waters, and beverages for the next leg of our trip.

After a great night’s sleep we were off to Arizona.  I don’t even think we needed to gas up our Prius yet!

In Arizona we had a lot planned.  Fortunately I’m married to a geography whiz and amateur cartographer, who assured me it was possible to see Horse Shoe Bend and Antelope Canyon en route to Flagstaff, AZ.  The Grand Canyon was our big ticket item, but by no means were we going to sacrifice other natural wonders along the way.

Horse Shoe Bend scared the living daylights out of me.  While it is incredibly beautiful, I was too scared to get close to the edge to view the Colorado River in horse shoe form.  See photo below. horseshoeMy husband on the other hand, army crawled to the edge to get the shot.  Horse Shoe Bend has no railings, no words of caution, just the edge of stony cliff to view the river below.  While so many others were brazen, I was not and hung back.  I know I preach about adventure, push yourself, try something new, and I did.  I pushed myself to get as close as possible, which was very much outside my comfort zone.  Click here to see a 360 panorama of Horse Shoe Bend in its entirety.  After spending about 45 minutes there (watching people cheat death), my husband and I headed out toward our next site – breathtaking Antelope Canyon.

Stay tuned!  I plan on devoting an entire post to Antelope Canyon because it is so downright beautiful.

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