Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley

 Horseshoe Bend 

It’s a Horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page in Northern Arizona and adjacent to the border with Utah. It’s a 1.5 mile hike roundtrip from U.S. Route 89 and leads to the top of a cliff, overlooking Horseshoe Bend and the Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. The trail is accessible to people for all hiking skill levels and takes between 30min and 1h. The trail is made of sand and sandstone. There is no reservation needed. The National Park pass will be required. It might be difficult to park if the place is crowded.

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Trail
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Sunset

Antelope Canyon

It’s a slot canyon located on Navajo land East of Page. A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rocks. The color of the walls is of a very intense orange. There are 2 different canyons : Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon but most of the time people visit the Lower Antelope Canyon.

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Cost : There is a $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee per person to enter into the indian reserve. You must book a tour, either online or in person. I’ll recommand you to book in advance especially during the summer. Tripods are forbidden. If you want to bring yours you’ll have to take a Photographer Tour.

Upper Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $48 for a general tour (1h) and $120 for a Photographer Tour (2h)

Lower Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $25 for a general tour (1h15) and $47 for a Photographer Tour (2h15)

Different guided Tours are available. We chose Ken’s Tours to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon (see review below in “my experience”)

You can book a tour for the Upper Antelope Canyon with :

Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours

Antelope Slot Canyon Tours

Antelope Canyon Tours

Antelope Canyon Najavo Tours

From April to September, do the tour around 11am or 12pm. The sun is at its zenith, and enters the canyon in a spectacular way.

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Monument Valley

It’s located on the Arizona-Utah border. The Valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. It is known by its cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. The most famous buttes are called “West Mitten Butte”, “East Mitten Butte” and “Merrick Butte”. The Navajo people call this place the Valley of Rocks. Monument Valley has stood as a symbol of the American West. No reservation needed. There is a $20 fee to enter into the Park.

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View from the Visitor Center

🚗 Take a scenic drive : Monument Valley can be visited by driving through a 17 mile dirt road that passes 11 stop points

  1. The Mittens
  2. Elephant Butte
  3. Three sisters
  4. John Ford’s Point
  5. Camel Butte
  6. The Hub
  7. Totem Pole
  8. Sand Springs
  9. Artist’s Point
  10. North Window
  11. The Thumb
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On the dirt road

My experience

We did all of those places in one day. It was a part of the Road Trip we did last year in March/April.

We spent the night at Page and started early, around 6:30am-7am at Horseshoe Bend. In my opinion, it’s better to go in the afternoon because of the shade that cuts half of the Horseshoe-shape. The good thing was we were alone. Also, we stopped there the day before. We caught the sunset after we spent the day at the Grand Canyon.

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Around 7am in April

Then, we went to Antelope Canyon. Our tour was scheduled at 8:30am with Ken’s Tours, which was $28 for a general tour (1h15) + the $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee.

Review : 4.5/5. We entered into the canyon by group of about 12 people and a guide. The guide was very nice and provided us a verbal tour and assistance in taking photos. I got my camera a few weeks before the trip (Nikon D3300) and he helped me with the settings, making my pictures look better 😍 Also, he offered to take a panaromic picture of us with our phone. When we came out of the canyon he showed us some actual “Prehistoric Dinosaur’s paw prints”.

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Finally, we drove to Monument Valley, which is about 2h drive (120 mile) from Antelope Canyon and spent the afternoon there. We had a great view of Monument Valley from the Visitor Center. Then we hiked The Wildcat Trail, which is 3.2 miles around the West Mitten Butte. It takes about 1h30-2h. We really enjoyed this hike. We drove through the park on a 17 mile dirt road. We had an economic car and it was totally doable to drive on the dirt road (the road was dry). We left around 5pm and went back to Page for the night.

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Grand Canyon 

The most famous and spectacular

National Park in the USA

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Where should I land ?

Either Las Vegas or Phoenix.

From Las Vegas to the South Rim, it’s 4h15 drive if you use Google maps but you should round up to 5h to be safe. If you have time, you should definitely stop by Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours located just 45min from Las Vegas. It’s the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. You can do the historic Mine tours ($12.50 for an adult / 1h10) or just walk around like we did. It’s very cool.

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours

It’s faster from Phoenix with a 3h30 drive when using Google maps, but consider 4h to be safe.

What kind of car should I rent ?

Whatever you want. You can rent an economic car cause you won’t have to drive on difficult roads. If your group is more than 2 or 3 people, you should rent a van or a RV. It’s fun to go for road tripping and you can sleep in it.

Where to sleep ?

Depends on if you prefer adventure or comfort and your budget. Sleeping in the National Park’s Lodges is expensive (prices start at $100). I will recommend Flagstaff which is 1h30 from the South Rim. Or you can camp in the park. The most popular Campground is called Mather Campground ($18/night), you have to make a reservation and if you plan to go in the summer you should make it as early as possible. If it’s already full you can sleep at Desert View Campground which is first-come, first-served.

If you wish to camp anywhere in the park other than in developed Campgrounds, you must obtain a backcountry permit. You have to submit the permit request form either by fax or by mail. Permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by email. APPLY AS EARLY AS YOU CAN!!! (About 4 months before)

South Rim or North Rim ?

The South Rim is the most popular and visited and it’s accessible year around. The North Rim is closed for the winter through May 15 for the 2017 season.

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Moran Point

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From Bright Angel Trail

Transportation inside the Park :

You can park your car at different places and take the Shuttle (Refer to the map). The shuttles cover most of the park but you will have to take your car on the Desert View Drive that leads to Desert View Watchtower and the Campground. Many overlooks along the way.

What to do ?

Many activities are possible :

Guided Tours :

  • South Rim Bus Tours
  • Bicycle Rentals and Guided Bicycle Tours – South Rim
  • Mule Trips – North and South Rim
  • Guided hikes with a Park Ranger (Free) – North and South Rim
  • Raft Trips
  • Air Tours
  • Jeep and Van Tours

Hiking :

Many options are available for day hikers. The South Rim and the North Rim offer Rim Trail Hikes that have spectacular views. Or you can choose to day hike into the Canyon. The most popular hikes on the South Rim are Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail.

Hiking into the Canyon can be very dangerous (Falls, heat stroke, dehydratation). Over 250 people are rescued from the Canyon each year. Be prepared for a safe and enjoyable hike. Bring enough water and enough food. Don’t underestimate the wilderness and overestimate your own abilities. Wear comfortable hiking boots.

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Bright Angel Trail 

Havasu Falls

One of the most beautiful, amazing, incredible blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon and DIFFICULT (almost impossible) to get reservations for. The Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park.

Campground reservations started on February 1st and were only taken by phone. It was impossible to get someone on the phone, all lines were busy. The ones who where lucky to make a reservation spent their entire day calling multiple times. For what I know, the Campground is already full for the 2017 season.

It requires a 10 mile hike EACH WAY to the waterfalls of Havasupai. NO DAY HIKING ALLOWED. You must obtain a reservation and permit or they will turn you away. Also, it can be very dangerous to attempt this hike in one day. Temperatures can reach 115°F (46°C)

Cost :

  • Entry Fee : $50 per person + 10% tax
  • Campground (300 sites) : $25/person/night + 10% tax
  • Environmental fee : $10 + 10% tax

 

NOT MY PICTURE

My experience

I went to the Grand Canyon (South Rim) twice and I’m planning to go again in June. Both times I landed in Las Vegas and made a stop at Eldorado Canyon Mine Tour.

The first time was in December 2015 with my best friend Bruna. We planned to stay 2 days, drive at each overlook and do at least one hike into the Canyon. I pictured the Grand Canyon always warm and sunny. What a surprise! It was COLD and SNOWY! When we arrived on the afternoon, we were totally exhausted after a crazy night in Las Vegas and 5h drive. So we decided to drive from the Visitor Center to Grand View Point and stop at each overlook. The first time in the Grand Canyon is magical and totally breath taking. We were so excited and couldn’t believe our eyes. A DREAM CAME TRUE ❤ We spent the night at a couchsurfer’s place inside the park. We planned to stay 2 nights there but it was very uncomfortable to sleep because (funny story) the very nice guy who welcomed us snored TOO LOUD 😅  We were too exhausted and wanted to find another place for the second night. Finally the 2nd day was snowy and foggy like crazy. No view of the canyon. So we decided to make a snowman ☃ and we spent the night at Flagstaff. We drove on a part of the famous Route 66 on our way back to Las Vegas and found a nice and weird town.

Route 66

The second time was in March 2016 with my boyfriend. This time the weather was way better. Cold at night but warm during the day. We started early in the morning and walked part of the South Rim Trail from Bright Angel Lodge to Mojave Point. Then we did some of Bright Angel Trail (6 miles out and back). We were done around 4pm, stopped at some overlooks on Desert View drive and headed to Page where we caught the sunset at Horseshoe Bend.

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I just requested the Backcountry permit for Bright Angel Campground in June 2017. This time I want to do backpacking and sleep in the canyon. Hope I get the permit. FINGERS CROSSED 🍀

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Road Trip #1 : California-Nevada-Arizona-Utah (March/April 2016)

A Road Trip is an amazing way to discover a country and especially in the USA. The scenery is just breath taking. It’s like a show from your car. Also, you better like driving cause you are going to drive for long hours and some roads are straight and endless. There are so many different Road trips you can do. Depends on how many days or weeks and what you want to see. Here are some ideas… 🚗

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9 DAYS – 2 PARTS

For some reason my best friend Bruna couldn’t make the entire road trip with me. My boyfriend decided to join me for the second half. This is why I chose to land in Las Vegas. Otherwise a start in Los Angeles would have been the best. I spent 4 days with Bruna in Nevada and California and 5 days with my boyfriend in Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

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HOW MUCH DID IT COST ?

☆ Flight : $340 / pers (from Seattle)

☆ Rental : $290 (Enterprise) / 3 pers

☆ Gas : About $225 (~2000 miles) / 3 pers

☆ Hotel : $300

  • 2 nights = Couchsurfing = FREE
  • 1 night = RV = $52 / 2 pers
  • 5 nights = Hotel = $248 / 2 pers

☆ Visit :

  • $86 Universal Studio Los Angeles (Cheaper online) / pers
  • $80 National Parks Annual Pass
  • $20 Monument Valley
  • $28 Antelope Canyon / pers
  • $65 Canyon Trail Rides Bryce Canyon (Horse ride) / pers

 

I planned and booked everything about a month before. The earlier you book, the cheaper you will pay. You definitely can find a flight for Las Vegas for less. If you are under 25, you will pay more for the rental because of the insurance. It’s also more expensive if you drop the car off in a different place than where you picked it up. I usually book my flight with Kayak, the car with Rentalcar.com and the hotel with Booking. 

I like to use Couchsurfing when I’m travelling in the City, either for the night or just to hang out. It’s a nice way to meet people, share culture and whatever you like, and you have someone to show you around or give advice about where to go. Usually, you’ve already researched online what you want to do and what you want to see but they can advise you about places less touristic.

 

THERE WILL BE A POST IN MORE DETAIL ABOUT EACH DESTINATION

 

Los Angeles

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Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

Death Valley

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Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

Click here to read the Death Valley blog

Grand Canyon

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South Rim, Grand Canyon

Click here to read the Grand Canyon blog 

Horseshoe Bend

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Sunset, Horseshoe Bend

Antelope Canyon

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Monument Valley

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Click here to read about the Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley Blog 

Grand Staircase Escalante

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Spooky Gulch, Grand Staircase Escalante

 Bryce Canyon

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Click here to read about the Bryce Canyon blog

Zion

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From Angels Landing Trail, Zion

 

🚗 Have fun and Drive safe 🚗

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