Antelope, Bryce and Zion

Trip Start Jun 05, 2010
Trip End Jul 25, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today was the final day of our tour and on our way back to vegas we would make three stops. Antelopse Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

For the tour to Zion Geoff dropped us at the Navajo tour center in page where they would run the tour out onto the reservation to Antelope Canyon. We were joined by a few others in an open backed pickup and we made our way to the canyon. After ten minutes of driving on the highway we endured a short bumpy section of off roading before reaching the mouth of the canyon. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, its very small, only about enough to walk through in places and it is cut through the sandstone by flood waters. The walls looked carefully carved and the smooth contours wrap around each other as they go deeper into the canyon and up towards the top where you can see the light cutting in. The light reflects around the canyon highlighting and refracting different colours and showing off the textures of the walls and the effect is really spectacular. The canyon is a Mecca for photographers and the guides are able to assist with all the recommended setting for cameras if visitors are unsure. All the best spots for photographs are highlighted to us as we make our way through the canyon. It soon becomes a little crowded as the separate tours get backed up behind ambitious photographers and the canyon becomes a little overcrowded before we finally make our way out of the other end. After a short ride back to page we meet up with Geoff and begin our drive to Bryce Canyon.

Heading North West into Utah we pass the Grand Starcase which is a vast area of stepped land with the grand canyon at the bottom leading up to Bryce Canyon towards the top.

After several hours of driving we are approaching Bryce through Red Canyon. The road weaves through a small but stunning canyon with rugged red rocks and columns lining it sides. Geoff tells us we will stop for some photos on the return journey.

We arrive at Bryce a short time later just in time for our booked horseback ride. Along with Murray and Mary and quite a few others we are lined up and assigned horses. Van gets Little Buck and I get Red River. We are led out to our horses and wait for the group to be led out of the coral. With a guide at the front and back of the column we ride out into some of the forest on the way towards the canyon edge. We have been asked not to let our horses eat the grass on the trek as it makes them sick. It seems however that this is all that Little Buck is interested in doing. After about 45 minutes we reached the canyon edge and are treated to a glimpse of Bryce Canyon, its not on the same scale as the grand canyon but can easily be considered more scenic. We plod along with Little Buck holding up the back end of the column as he leisurely tucks into his main course. An hour later and we are heading back through the forest and towards the coral. Little Buck is stubbornly chewing on his desert and refusing to move. One of the guides moves him along and he rears up, triggering Van to hold on for her life as he speeds off down the banking to catch the others. Red River joins in but its much more fun when your expecting it. We get back to the coral after an hour and a half on the horses with sore knees and a cowboy stagger. It is notably not a swagger. Little Buck will surely be full and sick tonight.

After picking up our free photos and learning how to walk again we head back to the tour bus and head on to get a better look at Bryce. Bryce Canyon is truly spectacular, its like a miniature monument valley squeezed into a canyon. It's full of small rocky towers and eroding rock formations and the colours range from a golden yellow to a deep red. After spending some time taking photos of the awesome views we head onwards towards Las Vegas via our final stop at Zion.

We arrive at Zion totally exhausted thinking that we have now seen it all. But Zion catches you by surprise. Just when you think you have seen it all it throws something new at you. After following the old road downwards towards the canyon you enter a length tunnel through the mountain. With the occasional cut-out on the side of the tunnel you are treated to teasers of the canyon for fractions of a second as you descend. Emerging from the tunnel you are inside one of the canyons of Zion, the first large canyon we have descended into. The mountains are rocky and looming on either side and boulders the size of houses can be seen littering the mountain and road side. You would not want to be close by when there is a landslide here. We stop briefly at a few points and then once at the bottom of the canyon to take some photos of the stream and the view along Zion canyon. After a brief stop at the visitors center for a restroom break and to fill up on some of the fresh spring water we board the bus for our final journey back to Las Vegas.

With no stops and now travelling on the freeway we make good time towards Las Vegas. The darkness falls as we head through the canyon from Utah into Arizona and finally into Nevada. An hour later we begin to descend towards Las Vegas and the city appears below us like a sparkling lake of gold in the desert, its another incredible site for tired eyes as we return to civilisation. Geoff drops off Murray and Mary at Mandalay Bay and makes one quick stop for us at the Las Vegas sign for a photo before dropping us back to the MGM Grand. We head back to the room and collapse after an exhausting few days.
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