This is possibly the very first time I am not blogging about food, as I would like you to enjoy this pictorial post as much as I do. My recent trip to US had me falling in love with this beautiful country once again. My first trip to US last year offered me a glimpse of the highlights in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Our journey continued further east to Utah desert where mother nature puts on a magnificent and colourful display.
Unfortunately, as the U.S. government shut down recently, all 401 of national parks closed their gates. This post has become rather bittersweet and I hope there will be a solution soon to avert such devastating outcome.
We picked up our car from Las Vegas for the road trip. The Chevrolet Camaro sure was a beauty but its outlook can be deceitful as it turned out to be totally impractical for our trip. If you really think driving down the Vegas strip with two huge luggages at the back seat is cool, then be my guest as it comes with a excruciatingly tiny car boot that possibly can only fit a chihuahua.
And the most frustrating part, whenever the temperature dropped below 10 degrees every morning, the car would disabled the roof top mechanism and wont let us winding it down. So we ended up having to shove the two luggages through the gap between the front seat and the door to get them inside.
Apart from that, it sure looked good on the road and zoomed like a black panther.
The first part of our road trip before joining the Mother Road was to visit a few national parks in Utah. We worked out a perfect route that will cover off Bryce Canyon national park, Arches national park and the Monument Valley. It can easily take days for the trip to really admire the true beauty of Utah’s desert, but we pushed it down to two days to complete our course as we still had a long road ahead of us.
As soon as we crossed the border into the state of Utah, the scenery changed dramatically…
The landscape was now a vibrant shades of orange hue, incredible rock formations and was so surreal that I felt like I was in a wild wild west hollywood film set.
Driving through a natural arch worth a jumping shot! After 4 hours of driving, we finally hit our first stop – Bryce Canyon national park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is actually not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheatres, made up of thousands of vertical geological structures called hoodoos. It looked just like a colosseum constructed with orange, red and white columns.
The sheer size of the amphitheatres were simply breathtaking. It was as wide and far as eye could see with a drop of 8,000 to 9,000 feet down below. I simply couldn’t help myself but…
…jumped in joy!
From Bryce Canyon to Arches national park is another 4 hours drive, we pushed on and drove as far as possible and put up the night in the nearby town called Moab, but leaving the sightseeing till next morning.
Arches National Park
To catch the best light over the famous Delicate Arch, we hiked up to the vantage point from the southern end before the sun peeking through the horizon and the whole desert was bathed in golden sunlight.
For those who would like to get up close and personal with the Delicate Arch and watch the sunrise, then you will have to wake up a little earlier and go for a more strenuous hike at the northern end. For me, the arch best admired from afar.
The Arches national park gained its name for its natural sandstone arches, over 2000 of them sprawl out all over the park. Apart from the impressive arches, there are also other notable unique features that make this park a must visit.
The balanced rock is one of the most popular features in the park. The big rock on top is the size of three school buses is sitting on a column, with the total height of 128 feet. There are also other impressive rock formations including The Thee Gossips, Tower of Babel, and The Organ sandstone tower.
Then, there are more arches…
Can you spot the photographer?
From the Double O arch offers a grand view of the skyline arch.
And you might remember the double arch from the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Then there is also the landscape arch, which can be reached with some hiking deeper into the park. Too bad we were on tight schedule and didn’t see it.
We continued with our driving and this time we were heading south to Monument Valley.
The extraordinary landscapes made the drive less painful and went past just as fast. I particularly liked the Mexican Hat Rock just outside of the monument valley park, one of the rock formations that was inspired and featured in the Pixar film, Cars.
And then you hit Route 163, a long and straight 21km road that offers the first glimpse of Monument Valley.
Jumping and posing shots are mandatory.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park has to be the most impressive and also my favourite among the three we have visited. Navajo meaning valley of the rocks, is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft above the valley floor.
Monument valley is a large area within Navajo Tribal Park, a Najavo Nation equivalent to a national park. First thing you will notice is the facilities in the park are a little different to the other national parks. To tour around the park, best to have four wheel drive as you will have to drive along the unpaved gravel road, which gets insanely bumpy. But it was well worth it as we cruised past the awe inspiring sandstone formations one after another.
The Three Sisters of monument valley.
I am king of the world! (Actually I was freaking out!)
One last jump, yippee!
The national parks in Utah are truly like no others. You couldn’t help but feel so significantly tiny surrounded by all these majestic sandstone rock formations. None of my photos really do any of these national parks justice, you simply have to be there to really admire the true beauty of nature.
[… to be continued]