If your idea of an ideal vacation involves fun and adventure in equal proportions, then the following may apply to you. When we packed the party vibes of Nevada and the Canyons of Arizona into a single trip, the outcome was the single biggest exhilarating trip of the year so far. There is no doubt that Vegas would unanimously be voted as the single greatest party and fun destination in the world. If you haven’t read about our journey to Vegas, please do read the entire story here.
After 2 fun filled days in Vegas, we proceeded on our tour of Canyons in Arizona. We narrowed down on three places of interest – Glen, Antelope and Grand Canyon
Glen Canyon National Park
This being the closest from Las Vegas at a distance of about 5 hours by road, was our first stop in the 2 day trip. We started from Vegas at about 11 AM in the morning and travelled along the scenic desert roads of Nevada and Arizona before reaching the Glen Canyon National Park. The roads are mostly deserted with strong gusts blowing all through the stretch of road.
The roads are mostly empty despite small towns that pop up occasionally. There are several marked spots where you can park your vehicle and take pictures. After what was a long drive of about 5 hours, we neared the Glen Canyon National Park.
Travel Tip : Unlike what we were used to in the Midwest, there were no rest areas in this stretch of road. The roads are mostly flanked by barren deserts. Plan in advance to take the exits if you would like to take a break or stop for food. Stock your cars with sufficient food and water before starting the trip.
We had planned our stay by Lake Powell in the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. As we neared the Glen Canyon National Park, we were clearly impressed by the choice of place for stay. Lake Powell reflected off its blue hues against a bright blue sky and it was accentuated by the mountains that rose to the sides of the lakes.
Numerous boats and small yachts gleamed in the bright day and boy, what a view it was! We checked in to our rooms and quickly changed to head over the Glen Canyon before sunset.
Visiting the Horse Shoe Bend – Things To Know
Horse Shoe Bend is a short walk from the designated parking lot through the desert. A comfortable shoes is highly recommended to walk through the sands. It is also advisable to wear a sunglass at all times because the sand storms are frequent and it can be quite bothersome if you are not shielding your eyes from the sand. You could also choose to wear a cap or cover yourself to protect your body from the pricking of the desert sand when it gets blown by the winds.
Once you reach the Horse Shoe Bend, you will be amazed by the sheer structure of the entire canyon. Deep down in the valley, surrounded by the river and carved in the exact shape of a horse shoe, this natural wonder will have you marvel at the sheer beauty and size of it.
There are no barricades anywhere along the length of the horse shoe bend viewing area. Exercise caution while looking down because there is nothing preventing a free fall and sure death.
Travel Tip : Go during sunrise or sunset for optimal photographic opportunities. However, the canyon can get excessively crowded during this time. Early birds get the best spots to set their tripod and camera to wait for the right light to shoot.
We spent the entire evening until sunset. The winds are strong here and you need to be careful if you are standing near the edges. There would also be a lot of people moving around, so watch your footing to avoid fatal accidents. Lighter objects, if set on ground, can be blown away by the winds. So do not leave any light weight objects like camera bags and other stuff on the ground while you are clicking pictures.
After what was a memorable evening at Glen Canyon and a relaxing sleep after a long days travel, we woke up the next day morning to cover the next two destinations of our travel – the Antelope Canyon and South Rim of Grand Canyon.
The Antelope Canyon was the best and most beautiful among the three canyons we visited during these two days. Antelope Canyon offers tremendous photographic opportunities due to the vivid colors and shapes carved into it over the years by floods and winds.
Travel Tip : Antelope Canyon tours are strictly guided tours. It is highly recommended to make your reservations in advance while visiting the Antelope Canyon.
We chose to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon tour. This involved descending down a flight of stairs and walking through the colorfully lit canyons underground. It takes about an hour to walk to the exit and is easy to do. The Navajo guides take great pains to explain in detail about the formations and the history of the canyons. They are very informative and helpful and ensure that everyone in the group was comfortable with the pace of covering the canyons.
The Grand Canyons of Arizona – South Rim
We completed Antelope Canyon by about noon and quickly proceeded by the long desert roads to our third and final destination in our tour of the Canyons of Arizona – The Grand Canyons. The journey was again for a couple of hours through deserted highways flanked by barren desert lands on either sides. Occasionally a scenic spot or overlook marked on the road can be used to escape the boredom of the long drive. The gusts are really strong on these roads and the cars drift in the cross winds.
By no means, we expected this to be anything less than jaw dropping. As you enter the Grand Canyon National Park, you would soon realize that it is no surprise that this has made it to the list of Natural Wonders of the World. The sheer size and breadth of these canyons as they extend across much of Arizona and Nevada is worth the long drives through the desert to get here.
Travel Tip : It can get pretty cold and windy on the South Rim. It is advisable to carry necessary heat gear if you intend to stay towards the evening because that is when the winds become cold.
There is a small cafe and bike shop next to the visitor center. The place normally has a lot of people visiting over the year. There are multiple view points along the length of the canyons. As you walk along the trails that link the view points, you will come across multiple points where you can view the stunning canyons below. As always, exercise caution while visiting the unguarded sections of the overlook as there are multiple access points that do not have the protective fencing. There are multiple trekking trails available and the complete map and details will be provided in the visitor center.
The South Rim of the canyons is among the most popular canyon viewing spots owing to the extent of the view of canyons from here and the magnificence of the views.
An Interesting Detour – Historic Route 66
While returning from the Grand Canyon to Vegas to hop on our return flight, we stopped by a town for dinner. The maps told us that we are in the forgotten township of Seligman on the Historic Route 66 . This town is the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the much famed Cars animation film by Disney. We were at the Roadkill Cafe, Seligman and we were probably the last customers they had for dinner. They happily accommodated us and provided us with a lot of details on why and how the little town that survived is a part of history now.
For those interested in reading more about the significance of this town, click here. This accidental detour to Seligman was a great ending to one of our most epic trips through North America. Because it was already past 9 we could not venture around in the town, but clearly, this place itself has quite a bit to visit which we were not aware of earlier. We would highly recommend finding a place here to stay to explore this fabulous place if you make a similar trip because there are tons to explore here!
Passes and Permits for visiting the Canyons of Arizona
An annual national park permit that costs about $80 will grant you access to the park without added costs. We had taken this pass because it granted us entry into Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. It is valid across all National Parks in the USA.So if you are a travel junkie who does multiple trips in a year, it is worth it to buy one of these every year to avoid entry costs in different parks.
Accommodations in and around the Canyons of Arizona
As mentioned earlier, we stayed overnight at the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas. in Glen Canyon National Park. The rooms are average but the view of the resort makes up for most of it. The best places for accommodation while visiting Canyons of Arizona would be in Page. Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas is your answer for an ideal getaway with it being right off the lake offering stunning views of the gleaming blue waters dotted with white yachts.
We have more coming up from our travel stories as we continue travelling the globe. So stay tuned to our updates in Facebook and Instagram.
Save us to your Pinterest board!
That’s a wonderful description of the Canyon tour Neena. And the pictures are beautifully lovely.
I would adopt you as my travel guru 🌸
haha… thankyou so much!!! We are glad you liked the write up. It was an amazing trip really.. one of the best we did in US so far!
You are welcome. I am sure it was wonderful
Thank you!!! We are currently planning our own. Sharing this to my husband now!
We hope you have a great trip to the canyons, let us hope it isnt too hot there when you go!
Beautiful colors in Antelope Canyon! Thanks for all the travel tips, it’s good to have an insider perspective when planning 🙂
Glad you liked it! We have an elaborate one coming up on antelope Canyons soon – beacause the place deserves it!
You hit up all the best spots! What an awesome looking trip and a fantastic guide. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you liked it!! Hope it helps you plan a trip to these amazing places
OMG, your pictures look so amazing, especially the one of Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon. The landscape is breath-taking and I would love to go on the same trip and use all your great recommendations.
I loved seeing your beautiful photos. I’d love to go there with my girls. Do you think that for 5 years old children would be suitable this itinerary?
Oh yes it most certainly is! All the hikes are very easy and your 5 year old should be able to do it like a breeze!! 🙂 Just watch them in the canyon areas because the Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon has lotsa places without safety rails.
Antelope Canyon seems so gorgeous!! I’m always jealous when I see people photos of there! You took some awesome shots!
You could click anywhere in Antelope Canyon and have amazing photographs 🙂 The place is like that – Magical!
I love this part of the USA. I visited most of it (Not Glen yet but hopefully next time) and I really enjoy it. Beautiful pictures also!
Glen is beautiful too! You should definitely try to do the horse shoe bend. It is well worth the travel…Glad you liked the pictures!
This is a trip I would LOVE to do with my husband! I’d love to camp near some of the parks and wake up super early to explore them before they get crowded!
True that. Antelope canyon has only guided tours, so may be if you get to go on the first few trips, it should be less packed. But you need daylight to enjoy the colors. I guess people flock to Glen canyon for sunrise and sunset so its kind of doubtful you would ever find it less packed during the peak seasons
This post is gorgeous and packed with useful tips, thank you! I’ve saved it for the next time we’re in Vegas. I can’t wait to explore this side of Arizona!
Thank you! We hope your next trip to Vegas is more eventful with newer places to discover!
Every time I’ve driven through Arizona, it’s been incredibly windy. I always assumed that Antelope Canyon and Horse Shoe Bend were in Utah. Now I know they’re in Arizona. I could kick myself for not visiting them the last time I was in Arizona. They are so beautiful!
The crosswinds were so strong on the roads… they were even blowing us off wherever we got out for a scenic lookout. But yes, Antelope Canyon is right there and a lot of people miss that out – and that was like probably the best thing we saw! Hope you get to do it next time!
I would love to do this trip!! It sounds amazing. I did a beautiful helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon a few years ago but I sadly haven’t yet made it to the others, they’re definitely on my Bucketlist though and reading has given me many good tips for when I plan my own trip
Grand canyon and antelope canyon is so fascinating..I so wanna visit them ..Thanks for useful tips. Hope to visit someday
Antelope Canyon is a marvel! you should definitely visit some day… Thats the one I recommend to everyone 🙂
Such amazing pics! This is one of my dream destinations, also love how you included route 66, that landscape is gorgeous!