The American Southwest: Utah

Our trusty tour guide

Had no idea how to drive, but I’m a good navigator and dedicated photographer!

I had the most life changing Spring Break this year. Both my best friend and I decided to be spontaneous and ventured to the American Southwest, covering states like Nevada, Utah and Arizona, to put our not-so-adventurous self to test. We ditch comfort and opted for a road trip, which none of us have done before. With her being the sole driver, we were very skeptical if we could pull it off at first but since it is going to be our last vacation before graduation we vowed to make it epic and put our doubtful selves aside.

Before we embarked on our journey we had a pretty slothful retreat in Las Vegas for two days, basically pigging out at buffets, sipping on daiquiris and trying our luck at slot machines, at one point I was so sick of being urban bums and the smell of second hand smoke in hotels and casinos is clouding my thoughts and sanity, but thankfully we were driving out of town first thing in the morning via incredible scenic routes and here are some of the amazing, amazing views from our vehicle.

On our way to Bryce Canyon – the scenic view along the 4.5 hour drive kept me occupied

These mountains are massive!

Contrary to my expectations, these places are relatively cold and windy due to the altitude so don’t let the deserts fool you!

It’s amazing to observe the different colors and textures of various mountains and terrains where highways were built around so even though 4.5 hours seemed like a long drive, there’s no dull moment really because we’re constantly under the spell of these magnificent structures. But I got to hand it to the Americans for having such well maintained highways, it’s unreal! Driving across states has surprisingly been the smoothest part of our journey and it didn’t matter what time of the day we were driving, we felt really safe being on the road. As we were driving into the Bryce Canyon National Park information center, we drove past these beautiful brick colored canyons called Red Canyon (for very obvious reasons), which is very much different from the ones I’m used to seeing here in the Midwest (or even back home), heck I’ve not seen anything quite like this before and I couldn’t stop looking at how beautiful those colors are.  There’s a scenic viewpoint few miles into the exit, which allows you to stop and take photographs so that’s really neat.

Red Canyon

Red Canyon from the scenic viewpoint

Red Canyon

Red Canyon arches, there are two of them along this route which is quite exciting to drive through

After what seemed like forever, we have finally arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park info center. According to the park ranger, Inspirational and Bryce point are the best lookout points. Keeping that in mind, we made our first stop at Sunrise Point and took the Queen’s Garden Trail to get a closer view of the canyon (retrieved halfway through because we were running short on time – if you have more time make sure to go all the way as you’ll see the famous Thor’s Hammer and Wall Street, which are both very sweet spots!).

Here are some of the views from Sunrise Point.

Bryce Canyon from Sunrise Point

Queen Garden’s Trail! It’s pretty steep so make sure you have good hiking boots on.

Bryce Canyon amphitheater – incredible view from Queen Garden’s Trail

Notice the tiny lonely tree.

Below are photos taken at Inspirational and Bryce Point, which are simply gorgeous and like the name suggest, truly inspirational. Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon, but a giant natural amphitheater formed through erosion. If you see some of the photos below you’ll see the resemblance of an amphitheater, which is really unique. When I first saw how magnificent these structures are, I felt so tiny and insignificant in comparison and all my insecurities have literally reduced to none. I finally understood why men would push their physical limits to get up close and personal with nature, more so conquer them because if they do, it’ll provide them with insurmountable amount of confidence and empowerment. I’m not adventurous in that sense, but instead I’ve seek inspiration in these wondrous structures.

In a way its beauty and grandeur has become my motivator. Whenever I’m feeling down these days, I would look at these photos, recall those empowering moments where I stood 7,000 ft high overlooking the breathtaking work of nature, and regain my strength to be a better person because I have no reason to make a big deal out of the menial things in life when I really should be living it. That thought alone keeps me going so hopefully it’ll empower those who view these photographs as well.

Hoodoos – tall thin rocks that protrude from an arid drainage basin

Bryce Point

The intricate details are amazing

These textures and terrain are so unreal, almost painting-like!

Rubber rabbitbrush, wildflowers that bloom at comparatively high elevations.

This panoramic photo is the most scenic vistas of the full amphitheater, at 8,300 ft. high. (6 photos stitched together)

For those who are interested, all my photos were taken with a 18-105 mm kit lens mounted on a Nikon D5000. Although a wide-angle lens would be more ideal, I’ve pushed the limit on my trusty kit lens and was rather satisfied with the outcome. When it is just not wide enough, try a different angle or shoot multiple frames and stitch them together during post-processing. Remember, your best tool is the one that you already have!

After we’ve been wooed by Bryce Canyon’s beauty, we were tired and retrieved to a nice lodging owned by Ruby’s Inn, where we had a surprisingly pleasant and hearty buffet for dinner before embarking on our second destination to Page, Arizona the very next morning! Stay tuned!

3 thoughts on “The American Southwest: Utah

  1. Thanks for the detailed and colorful post! I’m not so much a fan of rocks and canyons but your avid descriptions and beautiful pictures helps me understand why you and others love it! Looking forward to read(hear) more! =)

    • Thank you for your kind comments Sulin! I’ll definitely keep you posted and hopefully someday you’ll be able to visit and witness these magnificent places too!

  2. Pingback: Horseshoe Bend | Alexis Fam Photography

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