Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Southwest / Canyonlands Photos

We just returned Sunday from a dream tour of the Southwest US, with hundreds of wonderful photos and memories, and plans to return again soon. My only regret is that we took only the one week the kids had for Spring Break, so it was aggressive to cover the 1500 miles and numerous National Parks and Monuments which we knew we couldn't miss. Most of these were ones my husband and I had visited 13 years ago, when I was first pregnant, and we had our final fling - a 3 week driving trip from Vancouver BC, camping in our tent (many places without running water) and staying in modest motels. This time, with the kids, we stayed in Holiday Inns and Best Westerns, which was good, since it was still quite chilly and even snowy in some of the locations.

This is a collage of many of the beautiful locations we visited:
We flew into Las Vegas, staying two nights at the gorgeous Venetian, catching their haunting and powerful Phantom of the Opera show - I highly recommend it.  I haven't downloaded the photos from the small camera yet, but we also visited the Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden (with tigers, lions, panthers, etc) and Dolphin Habitat, and spent a lot of time gazing at the amazing painted ceilings at The Venetian.  We didn't end up riding one of the gondolas through the canals, since we were not persistent enough to insist on reservations (we only phoned the hotel in advance, and also asked at the registration desk, but we should have also checked with the Concierge, who should have been able to help us with that).  They had a beautiful outdoor pool with fountain and hot tubs, but it was still quite chilly, and miles away from our room (even though we could see it out our window), so we didn't make it.  Another time.

From there, we visited the Hoover Dam and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon was still in snow.
It's hard to believe that this huge canyon could be carved out by a small river.  Looks more like the result of an earthquake, splitting such a huge crack in the earth.

The next day we were in Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and took a Jeep tour with a Navajo guide, Bobby, who grew up in the canyon, and still lives there today.  The Canyon is quite amazing.  Not as wide as the Grand Canyon, but the sheer vertical walls are breathtaking, with their red rock, the streaks of minerals down the sides, and the remains of Anasazi dwellings tucked into the sides of the cliff.  Not to mention the many petroglyphs and pictographs of the Anasazi, Hopi and Navajo peoples.

Having seen the Anasazi cliff dwellings from below, the next day we were in Mesa Verde in Colorado, where we were able to tour inside one of the many cliff dwellings there, even climbing down a wooden ladder into an underground kiva (round religious / social meeting room).  We visited the Spruce Tree House, which was easy to access, and the only dwelling open so early in the year.  The Cliff Palace, which we viewed from the cliff above, was even larger.

Note the multi-story dwellings in the photo on the top left.  I found that fascinating.  And these people were definitely small, to fit into such small spaces.
From Mesa Verde, we drove to Arches National Park in Utah, arriving in the late afternoon, with a few hours before the sunset.  It is an amazing place, with natural arches and rock formations, which can be accessed quite easily on foot.  Note my husband and 2 kids in the photo on the top left, and bottom - those are fun photos.
Of course, the most recognizable arch in the park, is the Delicate Arch:

The next morning, we spent more time in Arches NP, and then headed to my favourite from the previous trip, the Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.  Being a State Park, this one doesn't seem to get enough recognition.  We could find very little mention of it anywhere in the tourism information, including the internet, but it is a must-see for anyone in the area (near Hanksville, UT), especially anyone with kids.  This park is a wonderland of little goblins and mushrooms and other weird little shapes which can be climbed on and between, and our kids spent most of the visit playing hide-and-seek with their daddy (see the 3 in the bottom photo), while I pursued them with the camera.  The middle photo I will name "Ostracized" - poor little goblin!
The following day, we visited Bryce Canyon in Utah.  It was snowing in the morning, and we started out on a hike into the canyon, but it was too slippery and dangerous.  So we visited some of the viewpoints, but the visibility was limited.  We let the kids take a break from the sightseeing, and enjoy the indoor pool before dinner.  We visited Bryce Canyon again the next morning, before we drove back to Las Vegas, and were able to get some wonderful views into the snowy canyon.  Sadly, the road to some of the further viewpoints was still closed.  So we'll need to go back again, to see those, and to be able to hike down into the canyon between those hoodoos and other rock formations.
Once I emerge from the unpacking and laundry (we arrived late Sunday night, and went to work Monday morning), I hope to transfer the photos from the other camera, and may post a few more photos and comments.


flowercents said...

Great photos! I have never been to any of those place but would love to go one day.

HolleyGarden said...

Beautiful! I've been to some of these places, but not all. I would love to go back.

Tim said...

It's odd seeing snow in what is thought of as desert. My only desire to visit Vegas would be for trips such as the one you did, seeing the canyons and the scenery. Now I know specifically which places to visit.

Jen said...

Great pictures of great places! Although I've not been to Utah, it's on the list. The Grand Canyon is always awesome.

Gael said...

Thanks for including me in your list for these beautiful photos & your trip. I've been to Mesa Verdes & I loved it! It's all so beautiful & I'm so glad you took the time & went away to such a gorgeous area!


Mike Whittemore said...

Great photos! I'll be heading out west this summer for a summer internship. Can't wait to see places like this!!

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