In October 2016, I went with my friend, Eileen, to visit several of the national parks in Utah and Arizona. We spent 10 days hiking over 100 miles, camping, and eating dehydrated meals/PB & J. While it definitely wasn’t glamorous, it was one of my favorite trips I’ve taken. Today I’ll be writing about our first two stops on the trip: Page, AZ and the Grand Canyon
Travel Tip: If you are going to visit several national parks in a year be sure to purchase the National Parks Pass for $80. It is valid for one year, can be used by two different people, and it is good for all of the National Parks in the United States.
Eileen and I were coming from two different cities so we decided to fly into Las Vegas because it was the cheapest option and then we rented a car from there. We decided to rent a car not from the airport but from one of the rental car places in the city because it was a better deal.
Travel Tip: We found the rental car through AARP and we were able to get a really good deal. While I haven’t served in the military, I was able to get an AARP number and it gave me some limited benefits which included avoiding the under age fee that often comes with rental cars if you are under 25. This ended up saving us around $250 dollars on the rental car!
Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon:
After getting the rental car we stopped by Walmart and REI to get all of our groceries and needed supplies for the 10 days. After driving for 4.5 hours we finally arrived to Page. Some of you might be wondering why we went to Page, AZ but it happens to be the town closest to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (a gorgeous slot canyon). We arrived around 3am and I had made a reservation at a campground. However, we quickly found out that they did not have our reservation on file and the campground was completely full….We tried pitching our tent in a shared area but I guy started getting upset so we were at a crossroads. We knew we wanted to wake up in 3 hours to watch the sunrise at Horseshoe Bend so we decided to just sleep in the car for the night in the parking lot at the campground. While this wasn’t ideal it did create a good story!
The next morning we woke up and drove about 15 minutes to Horseshoe Bend. There was a short walk from the parking lot to the cliff that took about 15 minutes. I was so glad we woke up early because the sunrise was absolutely beautiful. We had a great time taking pictures and enjoying in the view. Even though it was busy it was still less crowded than later in the day. After spending a couple of hours we decided to go into town to cook breakfast (yes we cooked a dehydrated meal in the parking lot) and grab a coffee. We went to a cute cafe called River’s End Cafe. After breakfast, we went to the Glen Canyon Dam and walked around and then continued on to Utah which was only 20 minutes away. We decided to take our rather small sedan off roading near Lake Powell to see more of the scenery. It was a lot of fun until we got to the point in the road where we almost bottomed out… Luckily we were able to get turned around and then we went to a beach on Lake Powell near Wahweap Bay (entrance fee included in our National Parks Pass) where we walked along the water and enjoyed seeing everyone camping, grilling out, and riding jet skis. After enjoying the bay, we went to Antelope Canyon at 3pm for our reserved tour.
Travel Tip: I definitely recommend having a reservation for Antelope Canyon because you are unlikely to get a tour without one. We booked a couple of months in advance and some days and times were already booked. We actually had to tour the Upper Antelope Canyon instead of the Lower Antelope Canyon because the Lower was completely booked for the day we were visiting.
The tour was really interesting and the canyons were beautiful. Unfortunately, there were some clouds that day so the lighting was ideal for pictures but, regardless, it was definitely worth the visit! After we finished our tour we drove on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Travel Tip: If you want to camp on the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park be sure to book a couple months in advance if possible. I know this isn’t ideal for spontaneous trips but the campground was completely booked during my visit.
Grand Canyon National Park:
Since it was October, temperatures reached 25 degrees fahrenheit at night but during the day it was warm enough to be in shorts and a t-shirt. Our first day there we hiked the North Kaibab Trail down to Roaring Springs which was a great 10 mile day hike. If you have to pick one day hike from the North Rim I would definitely recommend this one because it is the only trail from the North Rim that goes down into the canyon. By doing this hike you are able to get a better idea of just how vast the Grand Canyon is! That evening we hiked the Cape Royal trail which was a great viewpoint to watch the sunset and was an easy walk from the parking lot.
Travel Tip: It takes between 30-45 minutes to drive to the parking for the Cape Royal trail from the North Rim campground so be sure to allow plenty of time.
On our 2nd day, we woke up to watch the sunrise. We hiked the easy Bright Angel Point Trail and it was a beautiful spot to watch the sun rise over the canyon. I would definitely recommend watching both a sunrise and a sunset at the Grand Canyon if possible! After breakfast, the packed up camp and hiked the Point Imperial trail which was a nice, fairly easy hike before heading on the our next park. However, the Point Imperial trail is mainly through the woods so if you are wanting canyon views for most of your hike this isn’t the trail for you.
Overall, my experience visiting Page, AZ and the Grand National National Park was amazing and it definitely lived up to the hype! I would recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors and I am already trying to plan a trip to visit these amazing sites again myself.