Across Northern Arizona & Southern Utah

October 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Back in mid-August, I joined up with Kerrick James for one of his photo safaris in the Southwest United States.  His itinerary began in Las Vegas and ended up in Winslow, Arizona with many great locations along the way that week.   Our first stop was kayaking along the Colorado River just below Hoover Dam.  In my opinion, August is not exactly the best time to be outdoors in the Las Vegas area. That afternoon, it reached a high of 111 degrees in Las Vegas.  Thankfully, the water coming from the bottom of Lake Mead below Hoover Dam is quite chilly...a water temperature of about 55-60 degrees. Kayaking over the cool water made the extreme heat more tolerable.  The highlight of kayaking down the Colorado River here is a place called Emerald Cave.  If you come here at the right time of the day, you will quickly see why it is called Emerald Cave.  Kerrick was among the first to discover the place back in the mid 90s (when the section of the river was opened to the public) and the first to publish photographs of this cave.   He knew that the best time of the day would be about 2-3pm, when the angle of the sun would be just right for light to enter the cave and make the water appear as an emerald color.  

Later, it was on to Utah to a state park called Snow Canyon...located next to the town of St. George.  I had never seen a picture from Snow Canyon State Park, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  However, I was impressed with the scenery here.  Kerrick took us to small ridge overlooking the red rock country.   However, I thought the most unique feature to photograph was something known as "Moqui Marbles".  You can purchase a picture of these pebbles on my new "Abstract & Architecture" page.   

After that, it was to the Grand Canyon...where we camped out at the Toroweap Overlook.  I have wanted to go to Toroweap for a couple of years now.  However, it is not an easy place to get to.  It is at the end of a long dirt road...about 60 miles from the nearest paved road.   In dry conditions, much of the road is usually passable for most vehicles.  However, the last 2 or 3 miles, the unmaintained road becomes more bumpy and full of sharp of rocks. We came here in a guided 4 wheel drive from an outfitter in Kanab, Utah. If you ever want to come here by yourself, make sure your vehicle has high ground clearance, good tires and a spare.  Once you get here, it is among the best places to be to photograph and experience the Grand Canyon.  The campground was quiet and the scenery is top notch.  Here, you can high enough to get great view, but close enough to the bottom to get great views of Colorado Rivers.  Here, It is only about a mile from one rim of the canyon to the other and you are over 2,000 vertical feet straight above the river.  Taking these images was slightly you are literarily a few feet away from death by going over the edge.

Edge of the Grand CanyonEdge of the Grand Canyon

It was then on to the town of Page, Arizona.  There are many great places to photograph within a short drive of Page.  With this has come a boom in tourism, even international tourism.  Unfortunatly, some of these great places have now become overrun by tourists and do not offer the solitude that they once did.  But there still are some iconic scenes in the region. Below is a picture from Horseshoe Bend.  This is the Colorado River below Lake Powell and on it's way to the Grand Canyon.  

Horseshoe BendHorseshoe Bend

Slot Canyons are a big attraction to Page, Arizona.  The most famous being Antelope Canyon.  I have been to Antelope Canyon a couple of times and each time frustrated by the crowds that are piled into the narrow slot canyon.  Often, you have to wait for other tourists to go by before you can take your pictures.  One alternative, is a place called Secret Canyon.  While it is not as long as Antelope Canyon, it is nearly as scenic and sees a small fraction of visitors.  It is gated and on private property, so you will need to hire a guide from a jeep tour company to see this spectacular location.  

Slot Canyon CurvesSlot Canyon Curves

After Page, we went to Monument Valley, a Navajo Nation Tribal Park on the Utah-Arizona border.  One early morning, we had a Navajo guide drive us to the backside of the park where the unusual rock spires of the Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei are located.  We had some great clouds in the sky for sunrise that gave us a kaleidoscope of colors!   

Dawn at Monument ValleyDawn at Monument Valley

Sand Dunes at Monument ValleySand Dunes at Monument Valley

Another great location in Monument Valley that is harder to reach is called Hunt's Mesa.  Getting there requires a Navajo guide to drive you to the top of the mesa.  It is one of the roughest roads that I have ever been on....and in some places it is generous to call it a road.  We went up steep sandstone and over deep sand to reach Hunt's Mesa.  We camped here for a night to overlook Monument Valley for a different perspective of the great rock formations of this tribal park.  

Dawn At Hunts MesaDawn At Hunts Mesa


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