Southwest Trip 2014

Southwest Trip 2014

I was recently reviewing my photographs from a whirlwind trip that Pam and I took back in late April of 2014.  I thought it might make a fun post, as well as being a good opportunity to try and choose some of the strongest photos from the many that I took during that busy six day excursion.

We flew from Portland to Phoenix, rented a car and immediately hit the road for the Grand Canyon, where we would be staying for just one night.  We stopped for a quick lunch in Sedona and made a slight detour to check out the Red Rocks Scenic Byway on the way.

Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte
Courthouse Butte

I realized at a certain point that it was likely we wouldn’t make it to the rim of the Grand Canyon before dark, so I was racing to get there.  The sun was already going down and it was threatening rain when we got the to parking lot.  I literally ran with my camera and tripod to get to the rim on time.  It did rain a bit and there wasn’t much light, but I did manage to get a few photos before it was too dark.  The clouds were quite interesting.

Storm clouds at the Grand Canyon

We checked out the weather forecast that evening and saw that a big dust storm was due to blow in the next day.  I determined to get up and be at the rim at sunrise, hoping to get some favorable light before it all went bad.  We wanted to get on the road for the long haul to Bryce the next day.  We ended up being very lucky and pretty much had the rim to ourselves during some beautiful morning light.  We spent an hour or two taking photos and left just as the winds were picking up.

Morning at the Grand Canyon
Colorado River snaking through the Grand Canyon

There was an impressive amount of driving on this trip, but the thing that made it bearable was the strangeness of the landscape.  Neither one of us had ever seen this part of the country and I never got tired of looking at how different it was from anything I’d ever seen before.  We were both quite taken at the San Rafael Swell along the way to Bryce.

San Rafael Swell – Utah
San Rafael Swell – Big

After many stops along the way, we arrived at our cheap motel outside of Bryce canyon late in the afternoon.  It was too late to go into the park, so we went twice the next day – once in the morning and once in the late afternoon/early evening.  I must say that this was the coolest place I’ve ever seen.  It was freezing and a bit overcast in the morning, but still stunning.  I quickly discovered that the cold, coupled with the 8,000 feet altitude was going to keep any hiking into the canyon quite limited for me.  I went down into the bowl a little ways and even that was exhausting (walking back up).  Happily, the light later in the afternoon was absolutely stunning.  Pam and I were both repeatedly telling each other, “ooh, look over there!” as the light and shadows danced across the hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon Morning 1

This next shot gives a little perspective with the people hiking on the upper right of the photo.

Bryce Canyon Morning Perspective
Bryce Morning Wide Angle

This next photo always makes me thing of the Temple of the Oracle of Delphi for some reason.  I guess because it sort of looks like a Greek Temple.

Bryce Morning 5
Bryce Late Afternoon
Bryce afternoon in the bowl
Bryce natural statues
Bryce evening light

We left Bryce the next morning for another drive to Moab.  Again, we made lots of stops along the way.  We spent two nights in Moab and were able to make a few trips to Arches National Park and a quick jaunt into Canyonlands for a sunset.  The two must-see destinations for me on this trip were Bryce Canyon and Delicate Arch at Arches.  I was happy to experience both of them.  Arches National Park was truly awe-inspiring and the Green River Overlook in Canyonlands was in a way more interesting to us than the Grand Canyon was.

Entering Arches
Arches – Park Avenue
Balancing Rock
Arches – Devils Garden
Pam at Double Arch
Elder Alien Holding Court
Delicate Arch through Window Arch
Pam at Delicate Arch
Jeff at Delicate Arch
Petroglyphs at Arches
Canyonlands National Park Evening
Canyonlands – Green River Overlook Sunset
Green River Overlook 2

After leaving Moab, we had planned to spend a night in Mesa Verde National Park, but when it began to snow while we were there we became worried about getting stuck and missing our flight home from Albuquerque the next day.  We ended up doing a quick overview of Mesa Verde and staying the night in the middle of nowhere (Farmington, NM) instead.

Mesa Verde – Spruce Tree House
Mesa Verde – Cliff Palace

We had a harrowing drive though a near-blizzard on our way to the airport the last morning, as well as a very bumpy plane ride during the first leg on the way home, but made it back safe and sound.  We stuffed a lot into 6 days.  Though there were times when I thought, “I wish I could spend more time at this place,” in the end, I was glad we got such a great overview of several places.

Thanks for having a look!




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