I don’t pretend that this makes sense. As a matter of fact, I’ve been told many times that my preference to drive is a bit crazy. Be that as it may…when given the opportunity to drive to Las Vegas from Dallas, I decided it was a great opportunity to see some sights and create a road trip "scrapbook." Besides, a friend asked me to share my itinerary, as he is considering a similar trip. Happy to provide some details, happy to share my thoughts and opinions, and really happy to have had this experience.
It all started when talking to my boss about our upcoming annual conference in Las Vegas to promote our attorney portrait services. We needed to get our trade show booth, display TV and other equipment out there. After perusing the map and thinking about options, I offered to load up my Jeep and make the drive. In theory, the cost to ship all our gear to Las Vegas would cost roughly the same as the expenses associated with driving. So, why not, right…right?
Day 1: Left Dallas to arrive in Corsicana, TX and pick up trade show booth, etc. Then, on to Albuquerque, NM - approximately 12 hours, 777 miles. At about 8 hours and 30 minutes into the trip, I made it into New Mexico. It was an inconspicuous crossing as there were no welcome signs on US380. Interestingly, the elevation here is 4100 feet above sea level so I had a very slow gradual climb from the Dallas area which is around 500 feet.
Day 2: Albuquerque, NM to Page, AZ - approximately 7 hours, 406 miles via 550 north of Albuquerque.
My destination by sunset of day 2 was Horseshoe Bend outside of Page, AZ. (http://horseshoebend.com/#)
The bend features the Colorado River meandering down towards the Grand Canyon. It’s an impressive sight, though I don’t recommend it if you are acrophobic. I am not, but with no fences between you and a sheer drop-off to the river, I was more than a bit uneasy. The hike from the parking lot off 89 (a few miles south of Page) is relatively short and very easy. A bit uphill to a crest then downhill to the cliff’s edge and the stunning beauty of the Bend. Because it is so easily accessible there were a lot of people there - people looking for the quintessential selfie and backing up a little too close for comfort, in my opinion, to the edge of the cliff. I found a place close, but not too close, to the edge and settled in to await the sunset.
Day 3: This was my most anticipated day of the trip - The Antelope Canyon Slot Canyons tour. I elected to do the “photographer’s tour” of Rattlesnake and Upper Antelope (3.5 hours). There are five companies that have access to these Canyons and you must book through them to have access. I used Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours (https://navajoantelopecanyon.com/index.asp). Luckily, I was the only photographer signed up for the earlier (Rattlesnake Canyon) tour so Roman, the guide, and I were able to leisurely walk through this Canyon. At the time, I didn’t realize what a luxury this was. While this Canyon isn’t quite as large and photogenic as the Upper, it was nice to photograph it without the throngs of other photographers and tourists. The water that formed this Canyon falls down the hill into the wash below, so it was an easy hike up. We would take a short walk through Slot Canyon walls, then climb a ladder to get to the next level. Most were very easy, but a few were a little awkward to climb while carrying the camera and tripod.
Once we completed the Rattlesnake Canyon, we made our way back out to the wash to be picked up. Here I joined a new tour with a group of German photographers/tourists to view the Upper Canyon. This was a much more popular tour and created a lot of people in a very small area. But, our guides did a great job of getting the photographers with tripods into position and holding all the tourists at bay, while we spent a few minutes capturing the scene. The Upper Canyon is much larger and all on one level. We made our way through the Canyon stopping around 6 to 8 times to capture different vignettes. Once we made our way through the Canyon, we turned and walked back the other direction, which gave an interesting and different perspective of the Canyon. We stopped a few places on our way back including the area where, on a sunny day, you get a narrow band of sunlight coming down through the Canyon striking the sandy floor. Just as we arrived, the sun came out from behind the curtain of clouds so we were able to grab a few of these popular shots. It was fleeting and I wasn’t in a great position for that “classic” Slot Canyon shot, but it was fun to see it. Once the sun starts appearing, a guide uses a large ice scoop to pick up and throw sand into the beam of light so it is easier to photograph. I will have to revisit this Canyon in hopes of better luck in getting the shot.
While walking out of the Canyon, my guide and I started talking about other areas around Page. He suggested that I check out Alstrom Point (http://alstrompoint.com). It’s a long dirt road that leads to a 4-wheel drive. Since I didn’t have other plans, I decided to give it a go.
The dirt road out to Alstrom Point was long and rough but can be done in just about any vehicle. Plan on a solid hour to drive the 20+ miles and make sure you have the PDF from the website (above) with you. Set your trip odometer at the beginning to accurately follow the map. I got to the Point just after sunset so didn't have a lot of time. I grabbed a few photos before venturing down the 4 wheel drive part of the road. It was pretty rough and the extra clearance of a lifted Jeep came in handy. It didn't take long for it to get very dark so I reversed course and started the long drive back to the hotel.
I made my way a little closer to Las Vegas the next day and started getting mentally ready to leave the all this natural beauty behind to spend the next few days in the chaos and bright lights of Vegas. Stay tuned for “Part II: The Trip Home”