Canyonlands – Part 1

A few years ago I had the opportunity to explore the amazing Canyonlands in Utah and Arizona. What could be easier than a 2.5 hour flight to Las Vegas, the jumping off point for the trip? I traveled with Explore Worldwide, one of the many small group adventure companies we work with.

After meeting my fellow hikers we hit the road, crossed Hoover Dam and drove a stretch of the famed Route 66 – very kitschy. We came upon the Grand Canyon at the south rim just in time for a spectacular sunset! It just opened up in front of us and although I knew what to expect I was still awestruck by the size of the expanse.

We spent the next couple of days doing various hikes at our own pace along the rim or down into the Canyon, on the Bright Angel Trail. This was a bit tricky as it was still early for hiking and the trails were snowy and icy. But you could rent or buy crampons for your boots and so managed fairly well. We eventually had to leave this amazing place and as we drove out the East Gate we managed to time the sunrise just right for more jaw dropping views.

From Grand Canyon we met the ‘wild west’ as we made our way through Navajo land to the classic site of Monument Valley. As we crested a small hill, there it was, right in front of us, the scene from every Western movie I had ever seen. Mesas and buttes in various shades of red, eroded over time, silhouetted against the blue, blue skies. We enjoyed a fantastic jeep tour led by our Navajo guide who shared Navajo folklore and drummed us into a trancelike state in a beautiful natural rock amphitheatre as the sun slowly set.

I seemed to be in a constant state of exclamation during the trip as it was an endless collection of unbelievable sunrises, sunsets, vistas, colours and rock formations!