Nora and I had been talking about a trip out west for a couple years now and we finally made it happen. We’ve both grown up and lived in the eastern coast of the US for the majority of our lives. I’ve been out west a couple times in my life, but I’ve never done a traveling trip. I call it a traveling trip because we did not have concrete plans of places to stay each night. The focus of our trip was to visit the state of Utah. For those who don’t know much about the state, the one thing people think of are the Mormons when the state of Utah is mentioned. This was certainly not our focus for the trip and played no role in our vacation.
Our primary interest for this area was to visit the large collection of national (13) and state (~50) parks. We also were there to explore the vast scenic beauty that surrounds you all over the place.
Las Vegas, Nevada
We started off our trip by flying from Massachusetts to the Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent the first two nights in the bright and busy city by touring around and finding our first celebrity stop at the home of the History Channel’s show called Pawn Stars. We also booked a Cirque du Soleil production called Mystere. This was by far one of the better productions I’ve seen in a long time. Before we left to begin the major part of our trip, we took a ride out to Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas. After spending several hours there, we made the decision to leave our comfort zone of Vegas and head to one of the oldest national parks, the Grand Canyon national park.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Our destination was the south rim of the grand canyon. This is one of the more popular destination when visiting this the national park. One of the main attractions of the park is the view and then second is learning how it formed. Some take on the crazy venture of traversing the canyon down into the depths of hell, but we stayed on top along the rim and appropriated its beauty from above. We stayed right on the rim for a single night at the Bright Horizons lodging. We waited until night-fall and then ventured out to view the amazingly-dark night sky. Light pollution is at a minimum in this area which makes for some nice star gazing. We ended our stay with a picnic dinner sitting on the edge of the canyon watching sunset. There really are no words to describe it, you need to visit it to see for yourself.
Monument Valley, Utah
Our next stop was the scenic Monument Vally located in the Southeastern corner of Utah. Our stop was at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. We spent most of our day there taking a 3+ hour off-road tour for an up close and personal view of the monuments. The tour was amazing and even in the 100+F degree temperatures, the tour was fun. We even broke down about 3 miles from our return destination. Even though it took longer than expected, I still had a smile on my face.
After we finished our tour, we headed out to our next stop at the Goosenecks State Park just outside of a small town called Mexican Hat, Utah. This was an interesting visit because in the background to our scenic view, we could see that a major storm was brewing. Lightening was striking the rocks and mountains out in the distance. Behind us we could see swirls of water and sand being pulled into the sky. We decided to head out and head north to our next destination. The road we took, brought us to a set of twisty switchbacks into the mountain. As we climbed our way to the top, we watched what would be my first witness of a huge sandstorm forming from the location we just left. This was a scary and amazing sight to witness, but probably not the best driving location had it worked its way over to us. Once we made it to the top and continued on our way, we left the storm behind us. The lightening show all around us was fun to watch as the sun began to set.
More to come…