Hey Everyone! I hope that you are doing well this week. Well I just got back from a trip out west to visit 6 national Parks and 3 State Parks . I went on this adventure with a Photo Nut friend Robert. We took 6 months to plan this trip and the planning worked we didn’t really have any hiccups with the trip. I did most of the big logistical stuff and he handled a lot of the smaller details. We really worked well as a team photographing and exploring the region that we were traveling in. This trip we traveled over 1600 miles , 5 states. The trip wasn’t that expensive if you consider that we were traveling from the east coast and had to get rental car and hotels along the way. The five states that we were in was Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Here is a day by day overview and thoughts. Double ArchArches National Park Utah
Day 1- Travel Day. I usually travel by car or truck and rarely fly anymore. This trip we would be flying to Las Vegas and renting a car for our road trip. Flying used to be easy but has become more complicated since 9-11. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checks make me nervous . Not because I’m doing something wrong but because your in a line with lots of other people trying to get through like you and you don’t want to be “That Guy” that slows up SpiresCanyonlands National Park Utah everything because he didn’t prepare. My wingman Robert has extensive traveling experience and I relied on his guidance to help me not be so nervous. We got to the airport parked our vehicle and headed into the Airport to check bags and get through security. It used to be easy you just went to the counter but now they have these electronic kiosk that you get your luggage tag and print boarding passes from then you go to the desk. I fumbled through this and we got our bags check. Then through security which wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Then the wait for the aircraft. We flew out of RDU to Dallas/Fort Worth for a connecting flight which I relied on my wingman to get me around in the little Skyport Delicate ArchArches National Park Utah transportation rail to get us to the correct terminal. We flew into Las Vegas between 930 and 1000 at night had to get our bags and get a bus to the car rental where we picked up our ride a Kia Forte for the week. While we were flying my wingman (who was getting our first hotel room) was checking on the hotel and had a perplexed look on his face he had reserved for the right date but the wrong month so we didn’t have a room. He did some quick Smart phone work and got us a room at the Treasure Island Casino in town. It really was good luck it was a better room and cheaper than the Motel 6 we had planned to stay in. It was right down town so we got to see all the lights of the city at night . We settled in at about 1 in the morning and we were getting up and leaving at 5. We got a few hours sleep got a great Mesa ArchCanyonlands National Park Utah breakfast in the casino and headed out of Las Vegas.
Day 2. We traveled out of Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park still in Nevada. We had researched the park like we had all of the parks and knew where to go and what shots we wanted. The famous road shot with the mountain and the 7 wonders trail. It took us a little bit to find the road shot but we got it and went to the wonders trail and went to the first spot the Fire Wave section. We took a lot of photo’s here and decided not even to do the rest of the trail because we were so in awe that we knew that we couldn’t finish before dark. So we backed out and looked for a better spot to do the road shot and Road to the TempleGoblin Valley State Park Utah while looking we came up on some big horned sheep that were grazing along the road. We got our shots of course. We did find the shot we wanted and went to the visitor center so I could buy a Fridge Magnet for my wife and I could get stickers from the park. We did this at every attraction. Next stop was our motel which was at Bryce Canyon for the next two days. It was a good long drive to get there. We got checked in and decided to go to Bryce before dinner as it was only 6 miles from our hotel room. Wow! The Fire BushValley of Fire State Park Nevada. view of the Canyon was awesome. We spent an hour or so there then went back to the hotel Restaurant to eat. This day it was my birthday and I officially turned into a senior at 60. We stopped at a senior center along the way to get a quick pic. Then the surprise brownie and ice cream. At least no one sang! LOL
Day 3. Zion Day. This was a big day on our itinerary as my wingman was really looking forward to hiking Angels Landing. One of the scariest and dangerous hikes in the US. Our first obstacle was to get there and get a parking place as parking is a premium in this park. When we left it was 24 degrees outside but warmed to the low 60‘S for the hike. In this park you have to take a shuttle to get to places when we got to the visitor The CanyonCanyonlands National Park Utah center parking we found a place to park and when we walked up to the shuttle a shuttle arrived. Almost like it was waiting for us. We arrived at the Grotto our destination for the hike after an interesting talk from our shuttle driver. We started our hike checked in with the ranger. This is a permitted hike so we had to get a permit in a lottery. We started up to angels landing, many switch backs and I had to stop many times to catch my breath. We finally got to Scouts landing 2 miles uphill. This is where the Angeles landing hike begins a 1/2 mile straight up on a tiny sliver of land with only a chain to keep your Moon ScapeValley of Fire State Park , Nevada balance. I decided not to do that part of the hike but my wingman was ready to go so I checked in with another ranger walked over and touched the chain and wished Robert good luck. I waited about 2 hours and he finally made it down. I know he was tired and it kicked his but but was proud of him for making it. We made it down the mountain with no problems. Downhill is a lot easier than uphill. We had planned another hike but we were both beat and decided to head back to Bryce and Recovery.
Day 4. Bryce Canyon Day. We got up early and headed to the restaurant and had a great breakfast then Dead Horse PointDead Horse Point State Park Utah headed to Bryce which was only 6 miles away. We had planned a hike down in the canyon (not really a canyon its an amphitheater for geological geeks) for a hike . It was great we had the whole place to ourselves at the start. Hardly no one there. There were switchbacks that took us down into the canyon and switchbacks that brought us out . It was like another world in the canyon like Star Trek meets the Flinstones. We headed out to Capital Reef national park which is famous for homemade pies. After a couple of hours we made it there but the pie house was closed. So no Pies for us. We went to the visitor center and enjoyed our ride around the park. Next stop Goblin Valley state park Utah. This was a cool park Zion "Scout Trail"Zion National Park Utah from another world in the middle of nowhere. We spent an hour or so there and then it was off to Moab where we would stay 3 days in the Mecca of Outdoors in Utah. We had a big Mexican dinner which was Awesome then back to the hotel.
Day 5. Canyon Lands National Park, Mesa Arch. One of the most iconic Arches ever Photographed. We arrived at Mesa Arch as the first photographers , (the ones that want sunrise shot) were leaving and the families had not shown up yet . The perfect time to get some shots without anyone in front. The shot of the Arch is nice but the canyon that is below is awesome! We spent a couple of hours there and then in the afternoon we had some laundry scheduled to do. We drove back to Moab found a laundry mat Bryce CanyonBryce Canyon National Park Utah and washed our clothes. We then went to a cafe and had a hearty meal. The rest of the day was ours to rest and recovery after the last couple of days.
Day 6. Arches National Park. Arches is only 6 miles from our hotel. So we had a big breakfast and headed out. This is another place where you need a permit just to get into the park. I had acquired passes and permits months ago. Our first stop was Delicate Arch. It’s about a mile and a half hike to the arch and much harder than I had anticipated. We made it there and there was only a few folks there and we had a Wooden IndianTaos New Mexico cell signal so I took some cell phone shots and sent them to different people while there. Pretty cool. We hiked back and explored the rest of the park at Double Arch and Balanced Rock. We then headed into Moab for lunch. We ate at an food court that was supplied by food trucks. Pretty good and cheaper. We then headed out to look at Dinosaur foot prints not far from Moab. Robert was really excited about this and we had a good time looking at the imprints. We then headed back to an easy afternoon.
Day 7. Cortez Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park. Our first stop out of town was Dead Horse Point state park in Utah. We went there and it was like the Grand Canyon without all of the people. It was pretty awesome. We went to Cortez Wood SnakeArches National Park Utah Colorado where we had Lunch and then went to Mesa Verde. We went to the visitors center and got some info from the Ranger and headed up the mountain. We got to see the cliff dwellings from a distance. The next walk through of the dwellings wasn’t until the next day. We had a nice hotel here and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Day 8. Taos New Mexico. First stop after Cortez was a trip to the Four Corners Monument. It was about 45 min. Out of the way but we both wanted to see it. The monument is run by the Navajo tribal association and when Sandia Peak TramAlbuquerque New Mexico we got there at 7:45 they were closed but were scheduled to open at 8 so we waited and when we got in we got our shots and left headed to Taos. Taos is a very artsy town with all of the buildings made in the Adobe fashion and very cool. I would like to go back and photograph some more! We spent the afternoon eating and photographing the town. There are forest fires nearby and the helicopter crews for the firefighters were staying at our hotel also. We smelled smoke a couple of times.
Day 9. Albuquerque Day. After breakfast first stop was Santa Fe. We walked around the town for an hour or so had some coffee and headed to Albuquerque. This being our last day we wanted to squeeze as much as we could into the day so we had a tram ride scheduled for Sandia Peak. We went from 6500 feet to Church BackSan Fransisco De Asis Mission Taos New Mexico 10300 feet in 13 min. Took some photos from the top and then headed down. We got some good video while going down (less people) . Then we headed to Kirkland AFB where I had been stationed before. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been back and it has changed completely . I didn’t recognized anything but it was nice. We then headed to the rental place to return the car and off to the Airport where we checked bags and made it through security again. We didn’t get home until 3 in the morning the next day which was Mothers Day.
I had a great time and my head is still spinning from all of the traveling and photography. Can’t wait till the next trip! Until next week Get out and Shoot!