Bryce Canyon Hoodoos at sunrise

The canyons and sights of South West USA.

After visiting Death Valley in California earlier this year, I was keen to see if I could run a photography trip to the spectacular sights, canyons and vistas in the southwest of America.  I knew that I’d need more on the itinerary, so I have just returned from a road trip to check out what else there is to see.  I found that there is a LOT of scenery and photographic interest, especially in the canyons, so here are some photos.

Flying into Las Vegas was the starting point, but as L.V is not my ‘cup of tea’, we picked up a hire car and got straight out of there, heading for Bryce Canyon.  On the approach we had a little taste of things to come and the ‘lone tree’ below was a quick roadside stop en route.

Canyon, The canyons and sights of South West USA.

We arrived at Bryce Canyon mid to late morning, and went for a ‘little walk’. This wasn’t actually ‘little’ but not unduly arduous.  We certainly did a loop the right way – some steep switchbacks down, but a longer more gradual ascent.   The scenery was absolutely worth it though, and being down amongst the ‘hoodoos’ brought it home just how enormous they are.  (A hoodoo is a tall spire of rock formed by millions of years of erosion.)

Walking the trail from Sunset Point in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

That evening I layered up (it was cold!!) and we ventured out again to photograph the stars. We were taking a risk with where we went though, as it was pitch black and the paths had steep drop offs. Wearing head torches we picked our way carefully down until we had an interesting foreground with the milky way overhead.

The Milky Way over Bryce Canyon

Before climbing back up again I saw another scene with the trees on the path.

Starry night at Bryce Canyon

Another day, more spectacular views, looking down this time.

Zoomed in sections of Bryce Canyon, Utah

Sunrise makes the hoodoos glow.  It’s called the golden hour for a reason.

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon.

It’s hard to appreciate from my photos above just how vast Bryce Canyon is, or what far reaching views can be seen, as I chose to mostly concentrate on picking out small sections.  The image below gives you an idea.  (Yes, that is me, and No, I didn’t get too close to the edge!)

Photographing Bryce Canyon Hoodoos at sunrise.

Next stop was the famous Horseshoe Bend.  There are railings to stop people falling to their death when trying to photograph it from the very front and I was grateful for them!  There were however many people far too close to the edge of vertical drops elsewhere, and I just couldn’t look at them.  For my photographer friends, despite having a 14mm lens on my camera, I could barely capture the whole bend. My iPhone did a much better job!

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona in full sunlight.

Later that afternoon we went to Antelope Canyon.  This is one of the most spectacular places I’ve been to, and was formed by the erosion of  sandstone due to flash flooding over thousands of years.  Sunlight radiating throughout the canyon gives the walls their fabulous colours.

Orange sandstone at Lower Antelope Canyon

Despite many groups walking through, there were a couple of times when hanging back meant that I could capture a shot down to the ground without anyone else in it.

The sunlight entering lower Antelope Canyon gives the rocks interest.

I love the effect that the sunlight causes in the shot below as it filters down from above.

Lower Antelope canyon colours.

One last look skywards before climbing out again.

Looking skywards in Lower Antelope Canyon.

Throughout our journey we saw gorgeous trees with autumn colours.

Autumn Colour in Utah

Next on our route was the famous Monument Valley, and the scene below was made famous in the film Forrest Gump.  There’s a layby /rest stop at a particular point that’s actually called ‘Forrest Gump Point’ and it certainly offers a great view.  Despite being there mid-afternoon, going back for sunrise the next morning was certainly worth doing as the light was so much better.

Forrest Gump Point looking towards Monument Valley

We then went into Monument Valley itself, and again, it was the perfect time to go.  Lovely light, not too hot, and not too many other cars or people.

Monument Valley early in the morning.

Dead trees in Monument Valley. Arizona.

Monument Valley vistas.

Later that afternoon we drove around the lesser known Valley of the Gods, and again, hardly anyone else was there.

Valley of the Gods. Arizona.

Walking in the Valley of the Gods.

We then headed south towards Route 66.

Canyon, The canyons and sights of South West USA.

Canyon, The canyons and sights of South West USA.

Parts of Route 66 are impassable now as Highway 40 follows the same route.  However there are still some little towns that have plenty of interest and worth a stop, and old cars seem to be a regular feature.

Wigwam Motel in Holbrook.

Old Gas Station and classic car on Route 66

Abandoned Gas Station on Route 66

Route 66 sights

On Old Route 66

Nelson's Goldmine near Las Vegas.

I’m working on putting on a photography trip to Death Valley and the above locations in October 2024.  Message me if you’d like to be informed when it’s all planned.

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3 thoughts on “The canyons and sights of South West USA.

  1. Thanks for going to the places I’ve never seen, except in the old cowboy movies we watched as children. The photos are, as always, wonderful. Lots of ideas for painting!

  2. Absolutely stunning photos as always Julie! I would LOVE to do a photography trip with you but I don’t think I can manage next October.. let’s keep in touch tho!

    1. I think October is good as there’s probably a fine line between the heat of Death Valley & the cool of Bryce Canyon. Maybe your ‘don’t think’ might turn into ‘could do’?

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