A Tour of the Southwest’s National Parks

Joshua Tree wasn’t the only park we decided to visit during our road trip, we also wanted to see a few in the Utah/Arizona region.  This post will be dedicated to the remainder of parks we visited in order starting with our most favorite.

1. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend- Page, AZ

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Our favorite by far was Arizona’s Antelope Canyon located on Navajo land.  Visitors can choose to tour Upper or Lower canyon and we went with Lower, which was $28 per person, but well worth it.  The tour took about an hour and our guide was a young, native girl who knew all the best spots for photos.  She also had a lot of fun stories about the canyon and showed us certain rocks that had special names from the way they were shaped, such as: Smiling Shark, Buffalo Head, and Woman whose Hair Blows in the Wind.

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Nearby the Canyon in the small town of Page is a location Fabian has been looking forward to shooting at for a long time, Horseshoe Bend.  He’s been looking at online photos of this place for months, but what you don’t see in them is the crowds of people around the bend trying to score the perfect shot.

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Both days we were in Page we went to Horseshoe at sunset, and he finally got what he had been waiting for.

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Also nearby is Lake Powell, which is a nice open area to hike around and when the weather is warm you can even go for a swim, but signs will warn you that there are no lifeguards on duty.

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2. Monument Valley- Kayenta, UT

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When at Monument Valley our hotel was on a Navajo reservation which was an experience in itself, complete with McDonalds, Burger King, Sonic, and a gas pump that chanted at us.  We found refuge in the only grocery store, which had the Native language on the walls.  There we found our dinner of bagged rotisserie chicken and avocados. But before any of that we drove into Utah for our view of the Valley.

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When we arrived the man at the toll booth told us we may not be able to drive through the valley due to the rain, but since we made it all the way there we took our chances… and good thing we did too.  We spent a little time in the overpriced gift shop full of dream catchers and sandstone carvings until the rain let up and there above among the monuments was the perfect rainbow, which Fabian saw just in time.

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My favorite part about Monument Valley was the fact that each butte and mesa had a name based on its shape and as we made our way through the park I read out the name of each one and together we could decide if it really looked like what it said it was supposed to.

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For example, this is West Mitten, one of the hand shaped buttes welcoming visitors into the park.

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Oh, and for even more fun you can buy a photo of yourself on a horse in the exact place that John Wayne‘s horse stood in the film “Stagecoach,” on top of John Ford Peak.

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And we couldn’t leave the place without getting a picture of some hogan for one of our most dedicated readers and biggest fans, my aunt Kassy.

3. Bryce Canyon- Bryce Canyon City, UT

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Next we were off to the coldest location we’d be visiting during our road trip, Bryce Canyon, and luckily we got there just after a fresh layer of snow had fallen.

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In the park, there are plenty of places to stop at different levels to view the canyon, and since we were there on Veteran’s Day we got free entry.

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The snow really completed the scenery for us and made the spires within look like a powdered funnel cake.

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4. Zion Canyon- Cedar City, UT

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At $30 Zion was the most expensive park we visited.  An important side note though: all passes for the NATIONAL parks are good for up to a week and if you buy up to $80 worth in one week you can turn in your receipts for an annual pass.

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Zion was also the most normal looking of the parks, making it the fourth on our list, but it was still popular and crowded.  Parking became difficult in some spots, but there is a shuttle that will take you around from the main entrance if any visitors would rather take that route.

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Away from all the crowds we were able to make some woodland friends which we followed around until we got the perfect picture.

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So that concludes our look of this area’s National Parks.  In our opinion if you’re in these parts definitely make the time for either Antelope Canyon or Monument Valley and if you have more time on your hands both Bryce and Zion are worth checking out too!

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5 thoughts on “A Tour of the Southwest’s National Parks

  1. Wow, some breathtaking photos here!! Didn’t know you had hit so many parks on your southwest trip…you’re seriously inspiring me to travel soon 🙂 Do you mind if I tweet with a pic or two, directing to your website?

    Liked by 1 person

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