a cross country road trip : part ii
we took seven days to drive over three thousand miles, across ten different states, visit four national parks and three national moments! we started in james's hometown in north alabama and drove west. this is the second half of our trip; you can check out the first half here.
Arches National Park, UT.
we arrived in moab, utah at the end of day four and spent the entirety of day five in Arches National Park! while it's a goal to visit to ALL the national parks, arches was definitely pretty high on my list, so we dedicated a full day to it and spent two nights in moab.
even though we had "all day", winter days are short, so we only did two hikes out to arches - delicate and landscape arch. other than that, we kept to scenic points where we could get to by driving and minimal walking. even then we got to see so many amazing things, and the park is so much more than arches!
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT.
we left moab on day six and drove to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we spent a couple hours. it was pretty snowy, which made any hiking precarious. because arches had some icy spots and bryce was even snowier, we bought some strap-on crampons at the visitor center, which was probably the smartest decision we made this trip.
the snow made the amphitheatre of hoodoos beautiful. it's impossible to take a bad picture here! truly awe-inspiring.
Antelope Slot Canyon, AZ.
after we left bryce canyon, we drove down to page, arizona for the night (pro tip: go have dinner at el tapatio - giant margaritas, huge portions! perfect after so many hours of driving and hiking). why page? so that we could go see antelope canyon. It's the wrong time of year for the famous canyon light beams that only appear in upper antelope canyon, so we booked a tour of lower antelope canyon.
the canyons are on navajo land and can only be visited on a tour. you wouldn't even know the canyons were there when you walk up to them as they are carved underground.
it is one of the most beautiful places i have ever been, and it can be very close and intimate. i would even say it was sensual in places - which is certainly a strange description for a geological formation.
the reality is, of course, that you're on a tour in close quarters with a bunch of other people taking selfies and being obnoxious. but! it is still absolutely breathtaking - it would just be even more so if you could be alone in that place.
Horseshoe Bend, AZ.
another attraction in page, only a five minute drive from antelope canyon, is horseshoe bend! it's just a spot in the colorado river that does a big 270 degree turn in on itself, which makes for a pretty picture. it's a lot bigger than you're expecting though, and you can go right up to the edge, which is actually quite terrifying.
Wupatki National Monument, AZ.
we did antelope canyon and horseshoe bend in the morning and started the drive down to phoenix shortly thereafter. on the way, right before you hit flagstaff, are two national monuments just off the highway, so we stopped to check them out as well. the first was Wupatki - where the ruins of several ancient pueblos still dot the landscape. they are much bigger and more complex than I was expecting.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, AZ.
the second monument was Sunset Crater Volcano. this park is tiny, and we basically drove straight through it as the weather was making a turn for the worse. definitely a bit surreal to see forest grown up on a lava field though.
Cartel Coffee; Phoenix, AZ.
the only agenda we had on the last day of our road trip was to get back to LA. So, we might have slept in a little bit (amazing!) and grabbed an excellent latte at Cartel Coffee in downtown phoenix before making our way home.
well, that's it! we made it home safe and sound. the trip was amazing, though jam packed and exhausting. i'm already trying to figure out what our next national park is going to be - i'm torn between flying up to jackson, wyoming to see Grand Teton and Yellowstone, or maybe staying a little closer to home, and go scuba diving in the Channel Islands. decisions, decisions.