This was a long weekend fall trip a while ago. Fall is always tricky because we either go too early or too late. Sometimes we go back but most times it is not feasible. To Utah, we were late unfortunately.
We started from home very early in the morning and arrived by 3pm in Cedar City, Utah. It was still few hours to sunset, we did not want to waste away in the hotel. So after checking-in at SpringHill Suites, we drove some more, to Cedar Breaks National Monument which was only about an hour away.
There were many beautiful distractions along highway 14 where we stopped to snap pictures. We were quiet physically exhausted for any hiking so we ignored all the trails we came across. We stopped at Cedar breaks viewpoint at over 10,000 ft elevation that looked down into a half mile deep geological amphitheatre.
We wanted to be able to visit Bryce and Zion national parks without having to switch hotels. Cedar city turned out to be a convenient center but not exactly close by. An hour drive to either parks. Cedar breaks national monument was a bonus.
Bryce Canyon is an incredibly beautiful park that everyone must go see for themselves. No words can aptly describe it. Many viewpoints opened to a series of amphitheaters filled with thousands of delicately carved rock spires knows as hoodoos. They were in brilliant red, orange and yellow colors. Some of them interestingly shaped to resemble Thor's hammer, Queen Victoria etc. We could not cover all the trails but we hiked a lot. The trails were dusty and zigzag running right through the hoodoos allowing a closer look of the natural formations.
We planned only for one day at each park, which was a serious mistake when it came to Zion National park. We had no time or energy to do anything else after "The Narrows" hike. We read that starting early was better as the currents aren't too strong in the morning and the water is warmer. We rented special shoes, socks and hiking pole at the entrance of the park, and picked up lunch at a joint nearby. It was around 11:00 am when we boarded the shuttle bus to get to the starting point. Yeah not exactly early.
River trail was uneven and slippery, and water levels varied at different sections of the hike. The scenery was beautiful and it was one of the coolest hikes we have ever done. We may have hiked upstream for couple of hours till we reached the narrowest section of the canyon called the "Wall Street", after which we turned around. The entire hike took us around 5 hours.
We wanted to do the Angels Landing hike atleast half way, but because of our poor planning we did not allow enough time in Zion. It was an incomplete trip.
Check out more on: Hiking "The Narrows".
We checked-out early and headed to Page, Arizona directly to tour Upper Antelope Canyon. We killed some time by exploring the mall in which the tour company was located and then grabbed lunch. When it was time we boarded an open truck that took us on a dusty bumpy ride to the canyon entrance. Once there, our guide lead the way into the canyon. It was an easy walk in and out on a flat sandy floor. The smooth curves and bends on the canyon walls carved out perfectly by mother nature and the effects created by light was simply mesmerizing. Despite the large crowds we managed to get few pictures.
We then headed to Lower Antelope Canyon. We did not book any tour in advance nor was a truck ride required. We purchased a tour at the entrance of the canyon and a guide was readily available. It was a very leisure tour with only 4 tourists and the guide. This canyon was very narrow compared to the upper canyon but the rock formations were equally stunning.
Read more about Antelope Canyon here: Antelope Canyon.
We made it to Horseshoe Bend before sunset. It was a short walk from parking lot to the overlook. The place was busy with visitors trying to get their own perfect sunset shot or just to witness it. We found our very own perfect spot at the edge of the cliff and waited for the sun to go down. As we sat there admiring the beauty we realised how massive the landscape really was. Boats sailing on the Colorado river below and the tents of people camping for the night looked like nothing bigger than ants. We then checked-in at Holiday Inn Express & Suites and called it a day.