USA Trip 2017-Part one.

Nevada, Utah and Arizona

This was a trip Ken and I took just after we sold our business and moved to our current house. We had visited the USA back in 1997 with our youngest daughter. This trip exhausted our budget and with a retail business it would be another 10 years before we could afford our next trip. We decided this time to spend more time in the midwest while encompassing the eclipse of the sun in Casper Wyoming.

There are a lot of places we visited which are not listed on this map as google would not allow me. I am sure you get the picture. It was a big trip and for the purpose of this blog I will only give the highlights and I will do it over a series of blogs. I have to say at this point, our accommodation was varied, mainly 3 or 4 star motels. Rooms were always clean and staff pleasant on all occasions. Some were beautiful laid out and others standard. Food was plentiful and of reasonably good standard. Car travel around the West and Midwest of USA is easy. Roads are all fantastic. So we begin our journey.

We flew into Los Angeles and moved quickly onto Las Vegas where we stayed at New York New York Hotel. We had been to Las Vegas before so it had lost the wow factor that you experience on your first visit. It is however worth the trip as the hotels are unique, opulent, entertaining and nothing like you will see elsewhere. Our main aim in Las Vegas this time was to see the Hoover Dam and the outskirts of Las Vegas. We were not disappointed, We did a tour of the power station and then walked over the bridge.The whole experience was very informative and interesting. Photos do it little justice. We then travelled through some absolutely stunning countryside via Moapa Valley, Red Canyon and Dixie National Forest to reach Bryce Canyon. Again this was somewhere we had briefly visited before. At the time it was snowing and was stunning to see the red rock against the white snow. We were really looking forward to seeing it without snow coverage. We were ecstatic as it is a breathtaking place in any season. We spent many hours walking above and down into the vast array of red pinnacles jutting up from the earth with the green of the trees giving a stark contrast. We highly recommend a visit to Bryce Canyon. Proceeded on through Kaibab National Forest,a serene drive with a corridor of continuous rows of dark green pine trees to our next stop the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Having previously visited Grand Canyon and all its enormity we were intrigued as to what this aspect would offer. No disappointment here. The first views from Bright Angel point right through to Point Imperial, the highest point of the Grand Canyon were all spectacular with all of the walks being easy and rewarding.

From there we made our way to Page via the Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Highway, Marble Canyon. On this drive even though the cliffs are distant it is stunning to see the depth of colour changing before your eyes with the sun and clouds creating a beautiful serene drive through the valley. At Marble Canyon we stopped at the historical Navajo Bridge. This bridge was opened in 1929 and at that time it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world. Progress saw the need for a second bridge with the first then becoming a foot bridge. The purpose and construction is well documented in the local museum. The view of the stunning jade blue of the free flowing Colorado river below is worth the walk across the bridge. Near to our destination we made a stop at Horseshoe Bend Overlook. A small sandy hill starts the flat rock hardened trail to the edge of the cliff face. There were no guard rails or safety barriers around the rim which proved a little scary in places. The drop down is 1000 feet and there have been several deaths reported. I do understand from Google that there is a fenced viewing area now. It is a picturesque place and worth the effort. We are now on the last leg of this part of the trip. We stayed at Page for a couple of nights, there is many places surrounding and it is quite an established vacation town. Our first visit was to check out the town and Lake Powell itself. The Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado river is 220m high and was built from 1956-1966 by US Bureau of Reclamation. Lake Powell is considered one of the largest man made reservoirs in the U.S.Its impact on the Grand Canyon and other ecological changes has been much debated over the years. That afternoon we had Antelope Canyon was on the agenda. It is a protected by the Navajo Parks and recreation and only authorised tours can be arranged. Navajo Indians are the tour guides. Tour begins on an open air 4 wheel drive tour truck for a bumpy 20 minute journey to the canyon.The guide then walks the party through the slot canyons pointing out favourable photography spots and giving a running commentary on how the canyons developed. The light streaming in through small crevices in the ceiling creates a magical atmosphere. Once through the 800 metres of spectacularly formed walls of varying contours swirling in and out and around, you finally emerge to the outside surrounds with a picturesque resting spot.I understand in todays tours a further walk is given around the canyon to the exit. We however returned to walk back through this wonderful natural phenomena. Last but by no means least for this part of the journey was a visit to a lesser know area at Big Water visitor centre about 20 minutes north of Page. The centre is one of 4 in the Grand Staircase Escalante national monument. This particular centre focus’ on the early geologic and paleontological discoveries within the area.It was well presented, knowledgeable staff and good exhibitions. Interesting as it was what we were looking for was directions to see the Toadstool Hodoos trailhead. With directions in hand we headed off to see what we could find. The trail which could be easily missed starts a short drive further along Highway 89. It is a flat walk following a small river-let winding in and out. Eventually we get to the Hoodoos. Quite a surprising scene opens up before us. The Hoodoos are formed by Dakato Sandstone boulders sitting on Entrada sandstone pedestals. Over millions of years the softer Entrada sandstone is eroded away leaving a boulder sitting on top resembling a mushroom. Each one is unique in its form. The area surrounding has varying colours, primarily large white cavernous rocks dotted with red toadstools. It is an absolute secret gem not to be missed. Best visited early morning or late afternoon to avoid visitors and the heat. You will see these formations in other area’s of Utah but this particular trail has a good concentration of them and felt isolated and untouched when we visited.

Every place we have visited so far has been spectacular in its own special way. I hope you enjoy the gallery of photos below.Most of these were taken by Ken as he is able to catch the beauty much better than I can.

This is where I will take a pause until the next blog as the next destination was Monument Valley and then Mesa Verde which were both highlights of this trip.

Please feel free to ask any questions or make comments. Feedback is always good. Thank you for reading.