We arrived in the Monument Valley area at night time, only perceiving dark shapes in the horizon. We picked the closest campground in Gouldings in order to catch Monument Valley at sunrise. Waking up at 6 was really hard. As we drove out of Gouldings, Steph suddenly screamed and pulled at the side of the road by a trailer that read “Breakfast Burritos”. Of course! Honestly, it was probably the BEST breakfast of the trip: a HUGE burrito of thick tortilla filled with a potato omelet, two eggs and bacon. Plus spicy sauce for the crazy ones (=Steph.)
We then arrived at the visitor centre of Monument Valley and accepted the fee of $20 to drive through the monuments. After all, we weren’t going to be here everyday! We took the dirt road that loops around the famous rock formations immersing ourselves in the Western feeling of the park. Driving through the orange colours of the desert under a warm sun completely immersed us in the Western environment. But something was missing. As soon as we spotted horses by the side of the road, we knew what it was. If we were going to play our own John Wayne movie, we had to gallop through the valley! We therefore agreed to go on a little horse riding tour with one of the locals. It was so much fun to move through the valley on horses and even though it had been a while since we’d done it, Steph and I picked it up quickly! Plus, he got the white horse named Mustang, it helped a lot. He would gallop in front and yell “Yihaaaa!” Our guide was also very nice, though his thing was to gallop sideways and lose his hat every time – we would find out later why.
As we got back to the ranch, he and his friend asked if we could give them a ride as we had to go to the visitor centre to the ATM to be able to pay them for the ride. We explained that we only had 2 seats in front as it was a bed behind. But they were done with their day of work as it was veterans day and they were going to have to leave anyway. So they both got in the front next to Steph (picture two big guys on the passenger’s seat) while I sat on the bed at the back. Now this was a pretty insane couple of minutes to the visitor centre, and when we realized both were completely drunk! They would ask: “So where are you from?” and a minute later ask it again. I was at the back and they kept on moving, I was wondering what the hell they were doing. In all honesty I was a little worried! As we stepped out of the car at the visitor centre, Steph told me they were trying to “discreetly” pass each other a huge bottle of beer. Riiiiight. After Steph had to drive to Gouldings and back to an ATM since both of the ones at the Visitor Centre were out of service (wtf?), he payed them while they attempted to negotiate between themselves who would get what percentage. After a good laugh about it, we went back down the dirt road to take some touristy pictures of the three famous monuments before heading out.
Monument Valley was definitely one of the top stops on our trip, both for the amazing views as for the crazy experience. And to finish it beautifully, as we drove on the scenic road with the skyline of the rock formations at the back, we stopped to longboard down the empty and incredible road. PERFECT!
We drove to Grand Canyon at night time in order to be ready to visit early in the morning. The road was completely empty except for deers… So in an unlit road at night, we were carefully scrutinizing the road to check for animals crossing the way. Even in the dark, the canyon revealed itself by the side of the road, thanks to a strong moonlight. As we reached the first viewpoint, we stepped out and almost flew away with the crazy wind! Still, Steph braved the elements to find the tripod and take a night shot of the canyon under the stars.
We found a great campground in the forest and allowed ourselves to have a well deserved good night’s sleep with no alarm clock! In the morning, after struggling to make breakfast with such wind – picture glasses and bread spreads flying away – we passed by a deer on our way out. We might get used to this! We then chose the bus loop we’d go for. Yes, we were surprised to learn that we couldn’t simply drive or walk wherever we wanted. We had to park and then take the free shuttle towards different viewpoints. A bit of a disappointment to learn that after November 28th all roads would open and people wouldn’t need to take the bus. So close! We did the red loop, the Hermit’s Rest route. We stopped a the first viewpoint and walked towards the next few while contemplating the depth and size of the canyon, fighting the wind and getting some fun shots! The entire loop made it clearer and clearer just how gigantic and imposing the famous Grand Canyon is.
Lake Powell is close to our previous stops and we went for a drive there close to the city of Page. Wanting to get off the beaten path, we decided to venture North to find more remote spots, following the park’s map. We ended up driving there for a couple of hours, taking the wrong road more than once!
We finally found ourselves on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. We must have driven for 3 or 4 hours without seeing even one car – not the kind of place you want to have a car breakdown in! We felt as though we were Mad Max in no man’s land between rocks, desert, sand. After hours of wondering where the hell we would end up, we got to the end of the road. According to Google Maps,we were in the water already. And this is when we realized that thanks to the drought, there was no more lake there… There are many spots at the north of the lake but not many points of access on land (only through very few and very rough roads.) The best way to explore it is by boat.
By the time we got back to the city of Page it was night time and we had to continue going. Clearly it was a bit of a fail because we didn’t even get photos while it was day time.. guess you’ll have to stay tuned for the video!
Oddly enough, we hadn’t even planned on making a stop there. But after hearing a bunch of people mention Horseshoe Bend that morning at Antelope Canyon, we thought we ought to go take a look! And thank god we did!
The best word to describe it? IMPRESSIVE! We walked for a mile to discover the gigantic rock in the middle of the canyon surrounded by a halo of turquoise water. All the more impressive was just the steepness of the cliffs we stood on. Nature once again reminded us how little we are and capturing the scene from such heights and posing so close to the edge was a little stressful… But absolutely thrilling!
After a night spent in Page, we drove bright and early to Antelope Canyon, ready for a day full of adventures! We arrived at the Upper Canyon only to find out that it cost $8 for the park entrance but then we had to pay another $40 per person for a guided tour. Our faces clearly read “WTF?!” as the woman in the booth told us that. It turned out you can’t go to Antelope Canyon without going with a guide, end of story. So much for travelling cheaply…
Hoping to find better prices, we headed to the Lower Canyon and opted for Ken’s tour – $28 per person (including park entry) – hoping it was really worth it.
Fortunately, it was more than worth it and is officially one of the coolest things we’ve done on our trip! What is really amazing is that the surface is completely flat and you can’t see anything until you spot steep ladders going underground. We went down in a small group to find ourselves 5 meters deep into the canyon. Unlike other canyons, this one is a tunnel of perfect waves of sand offering an incredible display of red, brown and beige colours, with beams of light passing through at times. It is created by water and then moulded into a smooth and dizzying zigzag of curves and narrow passages by the force of the wind. It honestly made us feel as if we’d entered another dimension.
As we visited the canyon, we got to chat with our super friendly guide and learn more about it and why it is only accessible via guided tours. It turns out the entire canyon is maintained by the people who organize the tours: they set up the ladders, clean up the water when it floods and add sand to create the path for people to walk on at the bottom. Otherwise there would only be a breach (faille check) and you would be walking with a foot on each side.
After yet another night on a Walmart parking lot (hey, it’s free!) we made it to Zion National Park on a Saturday morning. It was probably not the best idea to do it on a weekend, but something had to fall on a weekend at some point.
Based on friends’s advice we decided to take the Angel’s Landing hike to the summit of the canyon. Classified as a strenuous hike guys! It was really cool, with lots of steep and narrow ways up top, bringing quite the aerial experience! There were chains to hold on to and steep cliffs right by us. It was quite exhausting and painfully reminded us that we’re not on the best diet for exercise… But reaching a breathtaking 360 view at the top made it absolutely worth it! I even managed to hurt myself, “falling like a baby goat trying to walk for the first time” according to Steph.
All in all, we had no idea why to expect and were offered a truly scenic 4 hour hike that was absolutely amazing and truly deserved its name: Angel’s Landing. If you’re in the area, this is where you want to go. Except if you’re afraid of heights, we did see some people crawling on the floor at the beginning – don’t think it they made it too far!