Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and then a boat tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Dinosaur National Monument, and Arches….Each one brought a smile to my face and heavy breathing!  I can’t lie…it was hot and tiring, but wow!  Each one…beautiful!  I’m so happy that I took my Westward Trip.  Westward starting from Texas.

The pictures of Grand Canyon simply can’t do it justice.  It’s hard to capture the depth of space and the muted colors that were carved in the canyon by the Colorado River.  Truly, I didn’t expect to spend many hours there, but the call of the South rim canyon kept me spellbound.

A view of the Colorado River

I started by riding the shuttle bus into the park, transferred to the blue shuttle to see the village and ended by riding the red route.  While on the (red) Hermit Road, I got on and off the shuttle bus for a while, but with it being so crowded, I decided to walk the rim.  I enjoyed nature while walking four miles of the rim.  I stopped and sat and gazed at God’s magnificent creation and took some goofy selfies.  Sometimes, I passed people doing the same.  Often I felt like I was on this trek alone, although this was one of the busiest parks I visited.

Simply Wow!
Walking the south rim
Walking the south rim
Desert View

After the Grand Canyon, I was off to Page, Arizona, to see Horseshoe Bend, and view the picturesque sight of the curve of the Colorado River.

That’s the Colorado River. Those tiny dots near the shore are boats floating the river.

It was a 3/4 mile hike to this beautiful sight.  Although I did go early, it was still very hot.  Before the hike, a ranger sits at the trailhead making sure the hikers are carrying at least one bottle of water per person.  The trail is mostly red sand, which is covering the rock, but it’s out in the sun without shade.  I was wilting from the heat.  The hikers looked like an ant trail because there were so many people walking the trail to catch the view.



I had a reservation at 1:00 to do a boat trip on Upper Antelope Canyon on Powell Lake.  It felt much better to be on the water.  Our captain was a Navajo young man who obviously loved his job.  He did a great job explaining the canyon as we floated on it.



On the way out of Page, I stopped to see the Glen Canyon Dam.  It was an impressive structure.  It’s the dam that uses the Colorado River to form Lake Powell which was named after John Wesley Powell who first explored the Grand Canyon River by boat.  It was quite a story.  I heard it on travel radio while driving to the Grand Canyon.

Glen Canyon Bridge



My next stop was on my tour was Monument Valley.  Think westerns and John Wayne.

John Ford’s Point

It’s on Navajo Nation Reservation, so it’s not covered by the National Park System Pass, but it definitely was worth the $20 to get in.  It’s possible to take a Navajo jeep tour, but in the back of an open truck or jeep didn’t seem appealing in the hot dry climate.  I drove myself.



Instead of riding into the sunset on horses, a string of cars navigated the dirt roads.  It’s a seventeen mile scenic drive through it. Screen shot 2018-07-20 at 11.59.36 AM

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My next National Park…Zion.  It’s a park known for its hiking trails of Angel Falls and the Narrows.  I did neither.  I settled myself with walking smaller hikes to a river and a small waterfall.  Walking around the lodge was relaxing.  I did meet some sweet people while waiting for the shuttle bus.

Zion Lodge….I loved the large tree.



The road out of Zion was breathtaking.  I enjoyed it as much as the park.  Driving the tunnel and the switchbacks….made me smile and squeal.

The tunnel



My next and last stop…Bryce Canyon, but before I got there I drove through Red Canyon.  It had these beautiful sculptured rock and the road had been built through the rocks forming beautiful tunnels.

So Striking!
Red Canyon

My favorite National Park is Bryce Canyon.  I arrived around 2:00 not sure what to expect.  Zion and Bryce are only about 70 miles apart, but they look very different.

Bryce Canyon is full of these lovely rock formations called hoodoos.  They’re spires of rocks that causes the imagination to see all types of shapes.  I spent the afternoon walking and naming the rocks.  It was better than looking at clouds and seeing forms.

Hoodoos that make up part of the amphitheater.

I started at Sunrise Point, not intending to hike down into the canyon.  I had just left Zion, and I didn’t really feel like hiking.  However, after gazing out at all those hoodoos, I simply found my feet moving forward.

At Sunrise Point…and windy!

The elevation is around 9,000 feet, so in order to hike…it’s downward.  At first, my goal was to see the rock that looks like a person.  It was further than I thought.



There were plenty of people on the trail.  As we passed, words of encouragement were often exchanged because going down, gravity helps, but coming up….takes lots of deep breathing and willpower of feet moving.

Queen’s Garden

I started down the trail without water since I didn’t think I’d be hiking very long.  While passing the Queen’s Garden, I ran into this mom with two grown sons.  One was from New York City and the other son was from Los Angles.  She lived in Ohio.  She graciously gave me a bottle of water.  We chatted a bit and then parted.  I was very thankful for that water.



I walked on naming the rocks.  I’m sure some that I named have names already.  I started at Sunrise Point, walked through the Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop, and came up at Sunset Point.  In all, it was just over three miles.



Honestly, coming up was harder than I anticipated.  I sounded like a freight train as I filled and emptied my lungs.

When I neared the top, I heard, “There’s that lady.”  At the top, I found the mom and her two sons.  This time her husband was with them.  Their words of greeting made me smile.  They took my picture for me!

Happy and pooped!

I’ve had a great time so far on this dirt, rock, and tree tour.  Part one ends with Bryce Canyon.  My next part starts at Yellowstone.  It’s been fun traveling and I hope you join me for part two…..

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