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.
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.)
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.
Before climbing back up again I saw another scene with the trees on the path.
Another day, more spectacular views, looking down this time.
Sunrise makes the hoodoos glow. It’s called the golden hour for a reason.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
I love the effect that the sunlight causes in the shot below as it filters down from above.
One last look skywards before climbing out again.
Throughout our journey we saw gorgeous trees with autumn colours.
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.
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.
Later that afternoon we drove around the lesser known Valley of the Gods, and again, hardly anyone else was there.
We then headed south towards Route 66.
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.
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.