LAWLESS IN THE SOUTHWEST
I'm finally writing about all of our adventures to the southwest this past autumn. What an incredible trip! I have always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, and I an surely say that it did not disappoint. We also stopped at the Hoover Dam, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and ended with Zion (which was surprisingly my favorite!)
Day 1: Hoover Dam
Kicking it off with the Hoover Dam, we flew into Vegas, and hit the road en route to the Dam. Quite honestly, I didn't know much about it, and really didn't know what to expect. But, with Mike being an engineer, this was like heaven on earth to him. We walked around for a couple hours, as the tours were still closed. There are definitely some amazing views and it was a great first stop!
Day 1-3: The Grand Canyon
"This is what we came for" was bumping in my head as we rolled up in our rental car.
Photos really can do the place justice. It feels as though the Grand Canyon just goes on forever. We stayed at the Mather Campground and got our tent and everything set up. Once we ate some soup and sandwiches for dinner, we drove over to the Bright Angel trailhead and caught our first sunset of the trip. This was honestly one of the craziest views I have ever seen. The colors, the contrast of the shadows, the vastness of the canyon were just incredible. It truly is something everyone should see at least once in their lives.
After we got back to our campsite, we went to bed early and were up at the crack of dawn preparing for our hiking adventure. We decided to do the Bright Angel trail and see how far we could get by midday, and then turn around once we felt like we needed to. We had bought Camelbak's for this trip, and they were the best things we have gotten in a while. The trail has a bunch of water stops, but for other trails, it was great having 5.5 L between the two of us. We always are prepared with snacks (obviously), and typically pack protein bars like Questbars or Pure Protein bars, trail mix, apples or oranges, jerky, and Oreos. We have done so much hiking that we are pretty good at estimating our time and know how much we can handle. With it being a reverse hike, hiking down then back up, this was all new to us, and so we cautioned on going too far. We initially thought we would stop at the 4.5 mile mark at the Gardens, but then we heard about the views at Plateau Point 1.7 miles from there. We decided that we felt good enough to do the hike and ventured on. If you can get that far, it is totally worth it to the see Colorado River. By the time we got back, it was 3pm. It took us 3 hours to hike down, and 3 hours to hike up the 12.4 miles.
Once we got back, we set off to Hopi Point for yet another sunset. And again, it does not disappoint. We actually woke up and went over to Mather Point for a sunrise, too.
We took my Jetboil, yet another amazing birthday present that Mike got me, and while wrapped in my blanket scarf and mittens, we watched the sunrise.
From there we decided on the Skeleton Point hike. We just did a 6 mile hike that day and headed on over to the Visitor Center afterwards to get ice cream and souvenirs. Mike has always gotten beer glasses wherever he goes, and it inspired me to start to get coffee mugs whenever I go to a really cool place, too.
Day 3: Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend
The next morning we woke up and set off to Antelope Canyon, where we had booked our tour through Dixie's. Our tour guide was absolutely amazing and took my camera so many times to take some of the coolest photos of Mike and I. The Canyon fills with light and the sand casts these illuminating sparkles across the canyon. The tour is only an hour and well worth the 30 minutes to get in. You have to book your tour in advance, which is nice that you can plan around that. From there, Horsebend is only a few miles away, so we hit that up, as well. It's a fun little walk over to a horseshoe shaped canyon. Parking is a little crazy, so be prepared for that.
Day 3-5: Zion
Our last stop was Zion. We drove through the West side and came in through the park to get to our campsite at Zion Campground, located in Springdale. Driving through we could only help but think how similar the canyon was to Yosemite. Mike called it "Desert Yosemite", which is pretty spot on. What I love so much about Zion is that you are actually in the canyon, You can feel the vastness of the canyon, and its so much less touristy. I found the Grand Canyon to be beautiful, but it was so built up and there were so many villages, it was sometimes hard to believe that you were out in "nature" if you weren't camping (which luckily we were). We wanted to go on this trip to really get away, and really be able to focus on our goals, and near future plans. We only would head over to the village to get service for 5 or 10 minutes to check in on our businesses, post to social media, and to send a couple emails regarding projects. Other than that, it was cell phone free.
Our first morning at Zion, we decided to to the longest trail to get to see a bunch of the scenery and things at once. So, we did the Observation Trail that overlooks the river and Angels Landing. I seriously felt like we were in the Land Before Time or something! We ended up doing the hike in 3 hours, and it was only 1pm. By that point my ankle, (which I sprained several times growing up planing sports and in college when running) was pretty shot. As much as we wanted to do the Angel's Landing trail, I knew I wouldn't enjoy the hike if I was in pain. So, we went for a little stroll to the Emerald pools and then set off to the town to find ice cream (obviously again). We stopped to pick up our glass and mugs and finished off our trip with some amazing memories.
We drove back to the Vegas airport the next day and hung out at the Amex Lounge. Seriously guys, the best credit card we have is the Amex one. There are so many travel benefits that we get between TSA precheck, $15 Uber credits each month, access to lounges all over the country (which have free food AND drinks!, and so many more. All in all this trip was one for the books. We are most definitely wanting to go back and explore some more!