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Canyon Parks in the Colorado River

by Iván Castelló Serrano from Spain

This is a summary with a selection of my favourite pics of my phototrip in March 2015 around the Canyon National Parks. Despite the Gran Canyon is the most famous one, this area surrounding the Colorado River, and touching 3 states, is plenty of stunning places. You can do it by yourself or book a travel guide to take you through them. I recommend you the second one (distances are long) to be fresh enough to enjoy the scenarios and take good pictures. The trip was booked in Las Vegas through Bundu . It was a 2-days trip with hotel and tickets included (food and drinks are by your own). Like almost all our tours, this is a small group trip. The vehicle used generally had between nine and 14 seats. The guide was skilled in the geology, customs, traditions, history and people of the areas through which you travel.

grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 1  –  Las Vegas to Hoover Dam  –  33 mi / 53.1 km  –  About 45 minutes
We left Las Vegas taking the route to the Grand Canyon takes us past both Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. A bridge has been built over the Colorado River, and this road bypasses Hoover Dam. Because of this, some tours that go out to the Grand Canyon may no longer stop there for a photo opportunity.
Day 1  –  Hoover Dam to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon  –  244 mi / 392.6 km  –  About 3.5 hours
Leaving Hoover Dam we traveled through the desert, before arriving in the small Arizona town of Kingman, where we picked up the freeway towards the Grand Canyon. At Williams, Arizona, we headed north for about 50 miles (80 kilometres), towards the South Rim.
Day 1  –  Grand Canyon  –  139 mi / 223.65 km  –  2.5 to 2.75 hours
The Grand Canyon National Park will leave you breathless even if you are ready for its impact. The way the river has carved and modelated the area bringing out the mixture of colors of the different layers is just incredible. You can book several activities in advance or hire them at the visitor center.
Two meals were included that day, and we were stopping to pick up the first one, a sack lunch, before entering the Grand Canyon at the south entrance. The first major stop is Mather Point, and after enjoying the views there, we stopped at Yavapai Point. We then explored a part of the Grand Canyon that most people do not get to see. This was the Desert View Drive which leads to the Desert View Watchtower and the east entrance to the Grand Canyon.
There will be many photo opportunities along the road. You will see that the views are spectacular, with one of the highlights being the Watchtower itself, a unique building designed by the legendary architect, Mary Colter, using rocks brought up from the bottom of the Canyon. The inside of the tower is full of artwork by Hopi (Indian) artists.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 1  –  Monument Valley tour  –  About 2.25 hours
Up next is a tour of Monument Valley, conducted by a Navajo guide, in an off road vehicle. Visitors love to see the buttes, mesas and other sandstone formations that are so prevalent in the Monument Valley area. Monument Valley is actually not really a valley at all, but a relatively flat plain surrounded by red cliffs, with the buttes, as well as the remnants of ancient volcanoes, towering from the earth.

For fans of old western movies, Monument Valley is the epicenter of the west, with many great cowboys and Indians films having been shot in the area. The familiar rock shapes can be seen from many miles away, with the really great scenery to be seen on the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which straddles the Utah/Arizona border.
Amongst the sites that your tour may take in are movie locations, 1000 foot monoliths, rug weaving, and, of course, the famous monuments are visited.

grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 1  –  Monument Valley to Page  –  132 mi / 212.39 km  –  About 2 1/4 hours
We left Monument Valley, going through the small settlement of Kayenta, before heading west over the Navajo Reservation, to Page. On our way out of Monument Valley we stopped to pick up a meal for the road. This is included in the tour price, as is the breakfast at your motel the morning of the day after spending the night in Page.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano

Day 2  –  Horseshoe Bend  –  About an hour
First up today was an optional hike to Horseshoe Bend. Even if it is not part of any National Park ticket, I recommend you a stop in the Horseshoe Bend. The horseshoe bend is a great detour while visiting the antelope valley. There’s a short hike down from the reset stop but the view is spectacular! Be careful when standing near the edge to take pictures as there are no fences around.

Please note that in the winter months it may sometimes not be possible to visit Horseshoe Bend, because of the lack of daylight. There is no problem outside the winter.

Day 2  –  Antelope Canyon tour  –  About 1 1/2 hours
You will be touring Antelope Canyon, in a specially converted off road vehicle, led by a Navajo guide. This stunning place is coloring and shaping the walls while sunbathed. It is not so long but I recommend to flavour every moment looking and paying attention to everything inside the tight pathway. We skipped the queue thanks to our guide who booked the tickets in advance. If not, you must go to the ticket office and wait for a while because it is the biggest attraction there. Anyway, there is a tour every hour.

grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 2  –  Page to Bryce Canyon  –  154 mi / 247.79 km  –  About three hours
Leaving Page we drove over the Glen Canyon Dam Wall. A short distance up the road is a little known trail which leads to spectacular views over Lake Powell. If Time permitting,you can drive up there to take a very brief look at the spectacular golden canyons partially submerged under the blue waters of Lake Powell.
The road to the small town of Kanab leads past Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Kanab itself has been the setting for many western movies. From Kanab we travelled along a picturesque Utah back road, through some tiny towns, before arriving at Bryce Canyon.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 2  –  Bryce Canyon  –  About 2.5 hours
The amazing Bryce Canyon is something I cannot explain. Even if you look at the picture you will have just a small piece of the cake. The way the floor is being modified to give you this panoramic slopes with repeated patterns of colored sticks is just breathless. I went in spring and some animals were hidden (the snow was not melt down yet) but I guess you could better appreciate the wild life with warmer weather.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 2  –  Bryce Canyon through Zion  –  88 mi / 141.59 km  –  About 2 3/4 hours
You cannot appreciate in pictures because no one has been selected, but another park I visited was the Zion National Park. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.
We took a particularly scenic Utah back road, following first the Sevier River and then the Virgin River, towards Zion National Park. Zion’s story is one of rock and water, with plenty of both to be seen. The relatively soft and porous Navajo Sandstone is often layered over impregnable Kayenta Shale, and the interaction of this rock with the water has created myriad amazing shapes and patterns.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
Day 2  –  Zion to St. George  –  41 mi / 65.97 km  –  About 45 minutes
From Zion we took our way to Interstate 15 and the main road back to Vegas, which goes through St. George.
Day 2  –  St. George to Las Vegas  –  123 mi / 197.91 km  –  About two hours
Leaving St. George, we traveled down the picturesque Virgin River Gorge. We will pass through Mesquite, a casino town on the Arizona Nevada border, before driving across the desert and back to the bright lights of Las Vegas.
grand-canyon
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano
You have the option of extending your stay at certain locations during the tour. I did not because I had no more time but it could be interesting to extend your stay at  Bryce Canyon or Zion Canyon by adding an extra cost.
If you want read and see more by Iván Castelló Serrano visit ivancastello.com
Grand Canyon by Iván Castelló Serrano

Do you like this post about Grand Canyon?

You can read also “10 Tips for a successful Grand Canyon winter adventure” and “Grand Canyon West, a magic scape from Vegas

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