Antelope Canyon

Friends…I must tell you…this is one of the most amazing places I have been to….its incredible!!!

We had made our Antelope Canyon tour bookings online from India via Viator. The tour company that was assigned to us was Coexist West Coast tours. They did a good job of it.

The day finally arrived and with lot of excitement, we waited outside the hotel lobby for the pickup. Never expected this kind of freezing weather in Las Vegas and we were caught unawares with our woollens dropped off elsewhere. The bus pickup point was something like a small bus stop with a canopy on top. The warm air being pumped out from the canopy was definitely a blessing and we were pleasantly surprised and much comforted.

Finally a minivan arrived and we were a group of 12 tourists on the van to Antelope canyon. The driver had stocked up some soft drinks and nibbles and we were all allowed to help ourselves. The drive to Antelope canyon was along the desert fringed roads of Arizona

The Rocky desert fringed roads of Arizona   

                                

A roadside desert beauty in full bloom!!!

The first halt was at Lake Powell the second largest man made reservoir in the USA. Lake Powell is a man made reservoir on the River Colorado in Utah and Arizona. It was created by flooding the Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam which also led to the creation of Glen Canyon national Recreation area.

We walked up to the edge of Lake Powell and took some pictures.

Lake Powell

If you do not have time constraints, you can take a kayaking tour on Lake Powell and if you kayak for more than 2 miles….you will reach antelope canyon!!!!

After leaving Lake Powell, we were taken to a Subway joint and we could pick up a  breakfast of our choice. It  was really sumptuous and tasty.

 I had heard a lot of the beauty of Antelope canyon and so was eagerly awaiting our arrival there. Let me just brief you about the origins and history of this wonder on earth….

 Antelope canyon is a slot canyon carved out by the waters of the Colorado River. The flowing waters carrying sand along with it has carved out this magnificent canyon whose walls resemble fluid rock. Located close to the city of Page in Arizona, it is a photograper’s delight. Its towering walls with  wavelike lines and the varied hues of colour as the sunlight trickles in; makes it an awe inspiring giant sandstone sculpture. The sculptor of course is nature….

The natives of this place called Navajos now run this place which includes Lake Powell area called The Navajo Park Recreation area. The Navajo name for this place means “where the waters run between rocks”. This place was once home to herds of pronghorn antelopes  ……

 As we were nearing the canyon a real surprise awaited us. We could see melting snow by the road side and the guide informed us that it had snowed in the canyon the previous night and it was a very rare phenonmenon. So we were even more excited to see it!

Snow on the roadside….a rare occurrence in that season

We drove past the upper and lower antelope canyon and were taken to Canyon X as they call it. We were told that this is identical to Antelope canyon and minus the crowds…so we could spend more time and get some awesome pictures without the crowds. Antelope canyon is one of the most photographed places and so this is one of the important considerations while travelling here. There are even special photography tours offered here.

 The Canyon is very sacred to the Navajo people who are the original natives here and this canyon can only be explored under their guidance. One cannot do a tour in the canyon by oneself. A very helpful and friendly group of people…I must admit. One of the locals even offered me her jacket as it was unusually cold and we were caught unawares without proper winter wear.

One we arrived there; we were handed over to The Navajo guides who are now engaged in tourism as an occupation. Two of the Navajo guides took us by a van to the actual canyon which was about 2 km from where we were dropped off by the other guide.

Once we reached the canyon, the guide asked us to follow him and we were in a magical world of rock formations in various colours and designs. It was around noon and the sun was peeping in through the crevices and adding to the colour of this vibrant canyon We walked in between the crevices; some very narrow where we had to squeeze ourselves and at places stoop down to avoid hitting the ledges. No amount of description by me is going to equal the majestic views…..so let me just show you the pictures….

Just imagine yourself walking in between these beautifully coloured rocks….

The Entrance and one of the narrowest crevices inside

  See the different shades of colour        

                                    

The lines on the rock resemble strokes of a paint brush

The artist is none other than flowing water and sand    

                     

The final result looks like fluid rock!!!

Imagine a throne in this heavenly place!!!      

         

The blue sky seen in between the towering sandstone      

      

Lost in nature’s beauty   (note the jacket provided by the Navajo lady)

Feeling sad to leave this awesome place

It took us close to two hours to walk the distance of approximately 1.5 km . After we finished the tour we were driven back to the entrance and our original guide took charge .

We were quite tired and hungry and everyone started nibbling at the left overs of the breakfast and some other goodies provided by the tour company.

Our next destination was The Horseshoe Bend.... a horseshoe shaped turn of the Colorado river near Page in Arizona.

We were dropped off at the parking area and we had to walk around 2 km to the cliff from where you get a view of the river. The initial part of the climb is steep but it gradually settles to level ground and you reach a cliff side from where you can look down to this dramatic bend of the river. From the cliff we could see the dramatic sweep of the river around a sandstone escarpment. Kayaking on the river at horse shoe bend is another option for the more adventurous!!

The Horse shoe bend is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation area and a few miles away from the Grand Canyon National park.

The Horseshoe bend       

After the   trek back to the van, most of us were tired and once the drive started, we were all busy admiring the pictures that we had clicked….reliving those moments…

Must tell you all this too….some coincidence this is!!!…its exactly two years to the date….that we were at this amazing destination.

Next week I take you to yet another canyon….the land of HOODOS…

See you then….may have to look for me among the hoodos!!!!!. 

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the grand canyon

Hi friends,

With this episode we move on to the famous canyons in the USA. Needless to say, the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly the most popular and commonly visited canyon. There are other canyons which are more picturesque as you will discover in the forth coming episodes. We traveled to the canyons from Las Vegas….since there are day trips available from there.

One can visit various parts of the Grand Canyon like the north, south or west rim. The West Rim provides one with an opportunity to walk on a glass bridge called the Sky Walk. This Sky walk is 10 feet wide, and extends 70 feet over the rim to get a clearer view of the canyon floor. There are various options like helicopter ride to get an aerial view as well as visiting the Colorado river float where a boat ride on the river is available.All these are of course at additional cost.

Be that as it may…let’s start our journey to the Grand Canyon

Our trip to Grand Canyon was booked with Canyon Tours. It was a one day bus tour to the South rim of the Grand Canyon. We had made the online reservations from India itself. On arrival at Las Vegas, they needed a confirmation call to inform the room number of the hotel. Having completed all this, we were all set to go to the canyon. The cost of the tour was 75 dollars per person.

The pickup was from The Excalibur Hotel and we reached there around 6.15 am. There were lot of tourists waiting there for multiple pickups. After some eager waiting, our Gray line bus arrived and we boarded it. This bus took us to their office and we were separated into different groups depending on the part of the canyon chosen and additional activities opted for. We were provided with green wrist bands for easy identification!!

We got into our specific bus and our first halt was at Hoover Dam. Hoover dam is an arch gravity dam on the Colorado river on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona. This dam protects Southern California and Arizona from the disastrous floods in the Colorado besides providing power and irrigation to many areas along its path. It has also resulted in the formation of Lake Mead. It is located close to Boulder city, Nevada

Repeated years of drought have reduced the water level in the dam reservoir which is clearly seen along the reservoir walls.

Located between Nevada and Arizona following different time zones, this dam provided the opportunity to pass through the two time zones as we drove along.

The Hoover Dam and the winding roads leading to it

The Arch Bridge

The white line represents the original water level …..effect of drought

Clock showing Arizona time…there’s a similar one for Nevada            

The plaque showing the location in the two states

Lake Mead                                                                                                    

At Hoover Dam

From Hoover dam we boarded the bus and reached the visitor centre at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park by noon. Our guide asked us to look out for elk as we drove by but we were not so lucky to spot one.

The drive to the canyon

At the Visitor centre, we were provided with a sumptuous lunch which was part of the deal. We had a choice of dishes for the meal. Meanwhile, the tourists who had booked for a helicopter ride over the canyon had finished that and they joined us at the visitor centre. Needless to say, the helicopter ride over the canyon provides an ariel view of the wonder…..

The Park Entrance   and Visitor centre with the stone Elk …note the green wristband!

The driver who doubled up as a guide( something that is usual in these tours here compared to what happens in India) gave us an insight about the details of the Canyon.

The Canyon and the rim are located within the Grand Canyon National park in the Colorado Plateau and consist essentially of horizontally layered rocks predominantly reddish in colour. The Grand Canyon is actually carved out by the Colorado River and is about 450 km long, 29 km wide and more than 1800 metres deep. This canyon was formed about 5 to 6 million years ago and the river continues to carve deeper and deeper into the rocks.

We reached the first View Point….Mather point lookout

After a short walk , we reached the rim of the canyon and the sheer size and depth of the vast expanse that one beholds was truly amazing. The rim is protected with metallic grills and we stood at the tip of the rim and enjoyed the scenery. Took a lot of pictures and walked along the rim.

The first view as one walks up to Mather Point                             

The differently coloured horizontal layers of rock

Different views along the rim                                                

A short video of the canyon

On the Edge!!!                                                                   

The Colorado River(dry) at the bottom of the canyon

After spending half an hour at Mather point, we boarded the bus and were taken to The Bright Angel Lodge view point.

Here we walked through the Lodge which has a small cafeteria and toilets and came out at the other side which literally opens into the canyon. The view from here too was awe inspiring! At bright angel point, we saw some hiking trails and also the Grand Canyon Railway station. As we walked along the trails, there were some really isolated points where people were indulging in daredevil photography! Unlike at Mather point, people can really walk up to the edges of the canyon and there are no protective railings. This probably explains the dubious distinction that the canyon has….of swallowing people into itself!!!

The lonely tree at the edge

People risking their lives at unprotected edges of the canyon

Is your life worth wasting for a few likes on Facebook??                        

The Train at Grand Canyon Station

It was a bright and sunny October day and after the walk, we enjoyed some awesome icecream at the lodge.

Boarded the bus back to Vegas and were dropped back at the hotel at 9.30 pm after a short dinner break at a Mc donald’s joint on the way. After the sun goes down, it tends to get chill very quickly….typical of the desert climate.

As we drove up to Vegas, it was an amazing sight of the lit up city with its bright neon lights. A tiring but satisfying trip to the south rim of The Grand Canyon had come to an end!!

I hope I have succeeded in taking you all through a virtual trip of the Grand Canyon….would appreciate comments and feedback please….

See you all next week at The Antelope Canyon….a photographer’s delight….

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