Day 10: Monday - Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon
We got up and had breakky before packing up the penthouse and hitting the road. Today we had planned to head to Monument Valley. We weren't too sure what this was going to include but we had saved a bit of time by only taking one night in Grand Teton so we were able to be flexible. We got to the valley around lunchtime and stopped at a little pull in site for some pictures and a cheeky sandwich or two.
We didn't hang here for long, but as this wasn't a planned stop we felt like we had seen everything we needed, so we hit the road again.
2 hours later we arrived at the eastern entrance to the south rim of the park. By this stage it was getting a little late in the afternoon and we were a tad nervous about missing out on a campsite, but sure enough we snagged one of the last spots in the "Desert View" campsite.
We had gained an hour crossing into Arizona, so we made the most of theslightly increased daylight and headed the lookout close to our campground. As the name suggests, the Grand Canyon is absolutely massive. Around 450 km long, 29 km across at the widest point and nearly 2 km deep at the deepest, the sheer size is beyond words. Hence, we'll just let some pictures do the talking and highly suggest you go there.
That night we learnt about a young Australian guy who had been killed only 2 days before in a horrific accident when he was struck by lightening whilst hiking near the canyon rim. Needless to say when we got hammered by a huge lightening storm all that night we didn't sleep too well.
We woke up to cloudy skies but thankfully in one piece after a pretty scary night. That morning we headed into the main south rim village and got a couple of coffees and had some muesli and yogurt for breakkie. Gotta love having a fridge in your van!
That day we got some pretty mixed weather, beautiful blue one minute and thunderstorms the next. That combined with Bec still being a little fragile after being sick a few days before meant we didn't venture down into the canyon but did several beautiful and easier walks around the rim. I would have loved to do a huge 2 day trek down into the canyon and camp at the bottom, but we will have to leave that one on the bucket list for another time when we're prepared a little differently. We still had an awesome day at the top, and got some great snaps to show it. Back to the campsite for an early dinner and a few bevvies before hitting the road again.
The next day we got up and hit the road. After a couple of hours we arrived at Horseshoe Bend, which is an amazing little canyon carved out by a bend in the Colorado River located between Canyonlands and theGrand Canyon national parks on the river's course. We hung out here for an hour or so, and then headed into the neighboring town Page to find a place to sleep for the night.
We found a nice little caravan park, booked a spot and then jumped back into the van and headed down to Lake Powell. That afternoon we had a swim in the lake and a little walk around the beautiful Glen Valley next door at sunset.
The next morning we had booked a tour of the Upper Antelope Canyon on the outskirts of Page. This Canyon is on Native American owned land and is not a National or State Park, and due to the possibility of flash floods in the area and an incident several years ago where several people drowned in the canyon during such a flood, you are unable to enter the canyon by yourself without a guide.
I have to say that this tour of the Canyon was easily the most disappointing part of our entire little detour to the USA. We booked a tour time slot in the middle of the day so the sun would be directly overhead and certain parts of the canyon would be lit up most for photos. We knew the canyon would be crowded at this time of day but we weren't prepared for an absolute zoo. Our guide rushed us through taking standard photos for us with our cameras, with little to no time for us to take our own photos at all, let alone waiting for our own photos without hundreds of other tourists in the background. After we had been in then canyon an hour exactly, our whole group was kicked out and forced to return to the car despite us not having seen the entire canyon (which is only a couple hundred metres long) nor getting a chance to take photos of the light beam chamber, which was the whole reason we had booked that time slot.
We learnt later that guides don't get paid for tours that run overtime, due to a ridiculous system developed by community elders and tour groups to try and cram as many people through the canyon as possible per day.
Whilst the canyon was beautiful, neither of us would suggest doing the tour to see it for yourselves. The tours were very poorly run and very expensive considering the minimal time you get inside the canyon to enjoy it. The production line, "get 'em in, get 'em out" style of tour left a really sour taste in our mouths, and the crowds combined with limited time in the canyon is something that the community elders and tour company managers really have to sit down and address.
If you really feel you MUST go to see Upper Antelope Canyon for yourself, then we suggest going early morning or afternoon to avoid the crowds. It really isn't worth your cash otherwise.
Anyway, this we jumped back in the van and headed back into Utah to the beautiful Bryce Canyon. Stay tuned for more!