I went on a road trip around Arizona in November with my girlfriend and here are some of the images I captured. Here is how our trip went. We drove up to Grand Canyon from Phoenix/Tempe which is about a four hour drive, went into the Grand Canyon, and checked out the view a little bit, then drove to the Watchtower which is about a half hour drive from the South Rim entrance. We saw the sunset from there and then basically called it a day since the Sun sets around 5:30pm in November. We ate at the Grand Canyon Steakhouse and stayed at the Red Feather Inn both right outside of Grand Canyon in Tuscayan. Tuscayan is a small town literally right next to the entrance of the Southern Rim with a couple hotels, restaurants, gas station, and a Grand Canyon Imax theatre. The Red Feather Inn was surprisingly nice and I would definitely recommend it. We got a pretty good rate since it was slow season this time of year. The weather is actually quite nice to me at least since it can get really hot there in the summertime. It was not too cold either during the day but at night it definitely was a little nippy as it was down to 20/30s F.
View from Skeleton Point on the Kaibab Trail Hike
The next day, we headed to the North Kaibab Trail and made it all the way to Skeleton Point, which is about 3 miles down into the Canyon. It is not recommended to do a day hike all the way down to the river so this was the farthest anyone should go on a day hike. The elevation change on this hike is about 3000 ft so going back up was not that easy and required quite a few breaks. After the hike, we ended the day with a view of the Sunset at Hopi point. They have a free shuttle that runs throughout the Canyon and Hopi Point was one of the spots that was only accessible by the shuttle as private vehicles are prohibited from driving in. Getting good sunset shots at the Grand Canyon can be challenging as the haze starts to roll in around that time and the visibility tends to be not so good. We ate at the Grand Hotel Restaurant which had a nicer atmostphere and the food was again just okay but I think it deserves credit considering how small the town of Tusayan was.
On day three of our trip, we got up early to drive all the way to Page, AZ which is about 3 hours away from the Grand Canyon. Right before you enter Page, is where Horseshoe Bend was located. Although this is not a very popular and known attraction, the vew is definitely worth the one way 3/4 mile trail into the scenic point. What you see at the scenic point is where the Colorado River curves around resembling a Horseshoe. You can basically walk all the way up to the cliff and see the dropoff as there are no rails. Having my 16-35 wide angle lens definitely helped capture the view.
After that, we ate lunch at Sonic’s and then headed to Antelope Canyon, which was the highlight of the trip for me. This is also not the most obvious attraction for many as there were no signs at all telling you about this attraction from the main highway and you basically had to know about it to get there. Off of highway89 you turn into highway 98 east where the “Welcome to Page, Arizona” sign was. About 5 miles in, you will see the signs for Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. The Canyons are basically small Canyon ridge sandstone formations from water and wind that you can walk into. It is basically a photographer’s heaven as you can capture some amazing images in there. During the summer, you get rays of lights that shine into the Canyon but other times, the rays are non existent. It was nice going in the off season though as our tour guide said that there can be hundreds and thousands of visitors during the summer season so it can be quite hard as you attempt to capture the shot next to hundreds of people. The land is owned and resides on Navajo land and requires a $6 fee per person to go into the parking lot. A $25 fee per person is then required for the ride into the canyon for the guided tour. We went into the Upper Canyon and the Lower Canyon is across the highway about 1/2 mile away whcih is the same but the upper ridges are wider apart and the lower ridges are very close together and requires ladders to go into.
There are many different websites that offer tours and the actual website is not very clear about how the whole thing works. The website is also outdated as it says the tours occur every 2 hours but they actually happen every hour. They have a bunch of trucks that drive to the Canyon so I dont think they have set times for the tours and will start a truck in every so often when people are there. Getting to Upper Canyon from the parking lot takes about 15 minutes and it is a very bumpy ride on the desert path. Once you are at the canyon, you get a guided tour into the canyon for about an hour or so. They also have photography tours everyday at 11am which give you an extra hour and costs a little more. Tripods can be very useful to get some nice images as flash photography is not recommended to capture the quality of the Canyon. I didn’t use a tripod and just bumped the ISO and my images still turned out pretty good. This was quite a cool attraction and I would highly recommend it for anyone who happens to be in the area. We then headed back to Tempe for about a 4 hour drive.
We took a break from all the hiking for a day in Tempe and headed out to Sedona the day after for a day trip. We got there pretty late so we asked the Visitor Center to recommend a trail and they suggested the Baldwin Trail which is only suppose to be a 1.5 mile trail. To get to the trail, you had to drive into an unpaved road for about 3 -5 miles to the parking lot. We entered the trail and wanted to go check out the river and ended up all the way at the Cathedral Rock. Since we were at the Rock, we decided we might as well go to the top which is a steep 0.8 mile hike up as you have to do some climbing to get to the top.
This was my first time in Sedona so I am not sure if the rest of the trails are like this but the trails near the Baldwin Trail were not done very well and they are all over the place so you can easily get lost which is what happened on our way back especiallly since it gets dark very fast after sunset. It didnt help that our 3 mile hike turned into a 6 mile hike since we had no idea where we were going even though we had a map. Hopefully, it was just a bad trail that we took as I highly do not recommend going the way we went unless you like to be adventurous on your hikes and not really know where you end up as I think you can literally hike all over the place as the trails seem to connect everywhere. Cathedral Rock was a fun trail to go up, but I am sure there were a lot easier ways of getting to that trail than the way we took.