A week in the canyons: Navajo reservation & Grand Canyon

On our fifth afternoon, we made our way to the Navajo reservation a few hours away from Moab.

The drive towards the reservation was again beautiful, with kilometers of deserts and canyons around us and going at some stage through a very steep road leading to the reservation (the old wreck of a truck half way down showed not everyone was successful traversing this tight passage).

Our guide was so knowledgeable about the history of the region. He gave us some great background stories on the Navajo population and their constant battles with white men over the years, and how they fought to get their land back to create the reservation. Really interesting.

On our way to our stop for the night, Monument Valley, we made a quick stop at Forrest Gump Highway, a famous stretch of highway seen in the movie when Forrest decides he’s tired and doesn’t want to continue running anymore. It was also filled with tourists looking at taking the best picture of this iconic road.

We then arrived in Monument Valley and set our tents up in our camp ground for the night, the best spot in the park with breathtaking views over the national park. Nick and I got lucky enough to get a prime spot which gave us an unobstructed view directly from our tent. Amazing!

Our guide had organised a Jeep tour in the park with a local Navajo guide, which gave us a better view and more background on the different canyons and cliffs, and learnt more about the buttes and their stories.

That evening we dined at a local Navajo family house, who served us some great Navajo tacos as we watched the sun go down.

By the time we arrived at our camp-site, the sun was nearly completely down which provided such a special atmosphere with an overall red/pink hue over the Monument Valley. It looked a bit fake!

In the morning, we enjoyed watching the sunrise over the valley from our tent before we made our way towards Antelope Canyon, still in the Navajo reservation.

Antelope Canyon is the famous canyon that we see all over social media, with its wave-like rocks and stunning orange/red colourings. The water has slowly carved away at this narrow canyon for years, yet it’s barely visible from ground level. It was only found when the farmers started looking for missing live stock and found that they had fallen down in to it.

This canyon is located on the reservation, so a Navajo family owns it and uses it for tourism purposes. With 1500 visitors a day, it is a very busy place and it sells out quickly, but seeing it is so worth it. It is truly beautiful and pictures really turn out gorgeous.

A big plus was that the tour guides that take you down (in small groups) are trained to take pictures down there too, so they help you with settings on your phone/camera to assist you in catching the true beauty of the place.

After a lunch pit stop, we headed to Horseshoe Bend, another place famous for its striking view over the meandering river. By that point, the heat had peaked and staying out in the sun was pure torture so we made it a very quick stop.

Finally, our day finished by driving to the Grand Canyon where we spent the night. After quite a hectic 2 hours putting our tents up and hitting the showers, we made it in time to watch the sun set over the canyon. Afterwards, we enjoyed camp fire enchiladas for our final dinner of the trip with the rest of the group.

Our last morning was dedicated to spending more time hiking in the Grand Canyon. The most famous one on the south rim is the Bright Angel trail. It’s a 9 mile return hike down to the bottom of the canyon and back up the canyon rim.

Nick and I decided to start by doing the rim walk from the visitor center to the village, and then hike the beginning of the Bright Angel’s trail down to the 1.5 miles resthouse.

After walking for about 2km,we realised we went the opposite way to the village, and decided to take the shuttle for a couple of stops back in the right direction to make up for lost time; we had limited time in the canyon. We then reached the beginning of the Bright Angel’s trail and started making our way down.

Going down wasn’t an issue, it’s going up that was. By that point, the sun had risen and so did the temperature, so it was a tough walk back up.

The views from all sides were magnificent over the Grand Canyon. That trail is pretty cool and we would have loved having more time to do it but we couldn’t be bothered to wake up at 5am.

We then met with the rest of the group to start driving back to Las Vegas. On the way we made a quick lunch stop in Seligman, one of the main old touristy towns that Route 66 passes through. It is full of tourist shops and burger places for people driving by.

After a long 5 hour drive, we finally made it back to Las Vegas.

This week was so amazing. We’ve seen so many beautiful places and camping really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Tomorrow we’re making our way to Texas, where we will be spending the next few days.

#TheDexplorers

TIPS

  • If you have time and are fit, the Bright Angel trail seems very cool to do and so is the rim to rim trail that goes from one side of the canyon to the other. We’re super keen to go back to do it one day!
  • The Monument Valley camp ground is the best spot to watch the sun rise over the valley. Breathtaking views guaranteed.
  • Purchase your Antelope Canyon tickets in advance. It is very busy down there, and they only have a limited number of spaces available. We went to the south canyon and were told it was the brightest and best one, but can’t confirm that 100% as we didn’t get to do the North side.

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