I had the pleasure of driving through Arizona in the summer of 2003 while attempting to move to LA. My most distinct memories of the state are from the Grand Canyon.
Unfortunately, all of my photos from that trip have been lost, so I am borrowing Jon and Katie Dick's photos from their road trip in December of 2014. All photos in this post are by them. Thanks, Jon and Katie!
Many places in America are craggy, and many places are colorful, but nowhere else in the country is the land as craggy and as colorful as in Grand Canyon National Park. Rocky, jagged formations give way to deep canyons that go on forever. The drops are so dramatic that it's too physically taxing for most to hike down a cliff and back up in a single day. The earth that makes up the canyon displays layers of red, brown, orange and yellow mixed in with white and grey. Add the changes in elevation and the color of the land together and you have a vast, beautiful landscape that everyone should witness at some point in their life.
My visit was a quick one, as we only had time to drive through the main drag, but even that was a special experience. The views were incredible, and they kept getting better. Every time we thought we'd made our last pull-off, another incredible sight would pop up. It was really fun to have such easy access to the steep cliffs.
I would have loved to have explored the park further, but here's the thing with the Grand Canyon: you should either do it in a day or over a stretch of five days or more. A day is enough to drive it, but if you want to hike the canyon or raft down it, that typically takes several days. I'm adding a week-long stay in this magical place to my "next time" list.
Also on the "next time" list is the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West. It's a translucent bridge that allows you to see four thousand feet straight down to the bottom of the canyon. Technically it's not part of the national park, and the price is as steep as the drop (upwards of $90 per person), but the experience sounds unique and fun. I am all for it.
We made one more stop in Arizona on that trip to LA, a visit to Petrified Forest National Park. I had heard about this park when I was growing up and thought it would be a great stop, but to be honest, I was not impressed. I didn't find the scattered piles of petrified wood in the park to be all that interesting. It may have been that I had reached nature overload after seeing Arches National Park and the Grand Canyon over a three day span. The photos of the visit I recently uncovered show that it there was some tremendous scenery, in addition to some really cool preserved etchings.
Overall I think Arizona is a really cool state that warrants further exploration. Hopefully I'll have occasion to update this post with more on Arizona in the future.
Must See in Arizona:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Petrified Forest National Park
The "Next Time" List:
- More time in the Grand Canyon
- The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West