American Adventure: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce & Monument Valley

Southwest USA Travel Blog: Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (USA)


A summary:

What an amazing time! Our journey took us from Nevada, through northern Arizona, to Utah, and back to Nevada. We experienced the bright lights and sounds of Las Vegas, and a perfectly silent, beautiful sunrise at the Grand Canyon. We saw the fantastic dancing water of the Bellagio fountains, the astounding Lake Mead, and put our hands in the Colorado River… and also drove through hundreds of miles of hot, dry desert with empty riverbeds, through Dixie National Forest, surrounded by a variety of autumn colours, and other times we drove through forests devastated by fires, with no colour at all. We met lovely people, ate delicious food (a lot of Mexican influence in this region and we also had some native American food), saw amazing places, and caught plenty of warm sunshine. It was an incredible trip; the holiday of a lifetime.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas was essentially only on our itinerary for this trip because it was the closest airport to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us were particularly excited about going there, but we loved it! The atmosphere was brilliant, the casinos range from tacky to classy to the truly bizarre. We absolutely loved the Bellagio Fountain (see pic below) which can only be appreciated by going there, or looking it up on YouTube (go on). We went on a wonderful helicopter trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, flew over the strip at sunset, and also saw Cher at Caesar’s Palace.

vegas vegas1

Grand Canyon

No words or photos can ever do the Grand Canyon justice, you really do have to see it for yourself. The canyon is almost 300 miles long, and at each view point, you see something new. We hiked along the South Rim, taking in the various viewpoints, and also visited the North Rim about a week later, which is much greener and less touristy. If you’ve ever wanted to see the G.C. – I urge you to go. You will never experience anything else like it. Second photo below is of the Colorado River at the start of the canyon, from the Navajo Bridge. There are people in this photo down on the sand on the right side of the river, to give it some perspective! The heat on the bridge was almost unbearable.

grandcanyon grandcanyon1

Monument Valley

As you can see from the first photo below, Monument Valley is instantly recognisable from various movies, it really does symbolise the true Southwest. The park is run by the Navajo people, who couldn’t have been more welcoming. We ate fry bread and bought many of their souvenirs. Amazing place. In the photo on the right, the lighter shade of orange streak that runs through the photo, about a third of the way up, is a road and there are cars on it. The scale and size just takes your breath away.

monvalley monvalley1

Arches & Canyonlands National Parks

Compared to the Grand Canyon and Mon.Valley, these two national parks didn’t seem quite so spectacular, which is ridiculous considering they are still amazing places with dramatic landscapes. Canyonlands is so huge we didn’t have time to see it all, apparently some parts of the park are the furthest away from a city in the whole of the USA. More photos below.

arches arches2

Bryce Canyon

I am so pleased we decided to include Bryce Canyon, what a beautiful place this is, and I think I liked it as much as the G.C. The pillars of rock (hoodoos) are beautiful shades of beige and orange, and we hiked down into the canyon and walked among them. Another amazing place, I’d happily go back there to try out more of the hiking trails. We also stayed at the best hotel of the trip here, really beautiful place and chat to a lot of other folks staying there, over breakfast. Americans seem so friendly.

bryce bryce1


Another place I’d definitely like to go back to, Zion is like a paradise. Very green (esp. compared to the deserts we’d been through) with an incredibly dramatic, beautiful landscape. I could easily spend a week here hiking. We stayed in Springdale and enjoyed a fantastic meal at Wildcat Willies, check it out if you are ever lucky enough to go to Zion.

zion2 zion

All the bits in between

Driving around was a dream. Most of the roads are very wide, long and straight and you can see for miles with very little traffic. We got the chance to drive along Route 66 (get your kicks) and also witnessed evidence of forest fires.

ontheroad ontheroad1

An amazing trip… if anyone would like any tips on a similar trip, I have plenty about where to stay, what to do/avoid, and so on. Feel free to email me for advice!

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