We are still on the road and the internet is spotty. I’m posting pictures along the way on Instagram, but I want dedicated posts here…so many pictures and things I want to remember!

From the Grand Canyon we headed north towards Page. Page, I’ve learned, is known for 3 main stops: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. Prior to planning our trip I had heard of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Lake Powell was new to us and we WANT SO BADLY to get out on that lake. Take a minute and Google it. I need a houseboat on that lake STAT.

On the way to Page, we pulled over at the Little Colorado. We thought is was a free side stop, but it is run by the Navajo and there is a suggested donation to stop. The kids liked looking at the outdoor market the most, despite it being fairly empty due to off season.

4.16Page-014.16Page-024.16Page-03Once we made it to Page, we headed to Horseshoe Bend to catch the sunset. There is a parking lot right off the main road and then a hike to a ridge and back down a bit.4.16Page-04In the picture below, you can see the main road and the parking lot.4.16Page-054.16Page-06You can see Horseshoe Bend in the distance….4.16Page-07I started scoping out where I wanted to capture the sunrise the next morning.4.16Page-084.16Page-094.16Page-10It was spectacular. I was a bit worried it might not live up to all the hype, but it did. So, beautiful and definitely worth your stop if you are in the area.4.16Page-11The next morning it was supposed to be cloudy and rainy, so I cancelled our sunrise trip back. It ended up being sunny and I totally regretted that decision! We did head to Antelope Canyon. If you are looking for a canyon in the middle of nowhere without crowds…this is not that canyon. It was, however, unlike anything we have ever visited. I’m not a fan of crowds, so I tried not to let that take away from our adventure.4.16Page-124.16Page-13See that little slot? That is the canyon you head down into…4.16Page-144.16Page-154.16Page-17Breathtaking.4.16Page-194.16Page-21And our guide snapped a photo of us popping out. It makes me laugh.4.16Page-23So, if you are thinking that canyon did not look crowded….may I present to you the side of photography I avoid:4.16Page-24I’m working on a SnapShop lesson regarding how to avoid other people in your pictures when you are at crowded places. I’ve had several opportunities to work on that content at a few of our stops!

So, my thoughts on Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon:

Overall, we had an incredible time in Page and would recommend both stops if you are traveling thru the area. They both are uniquely beautiful and famous for good reason. Though Antelope Canyon itself was spectacular – the massive amounts of people put a big hamper on it for me. If you are looking for a slot canyon with easy access and pretty easy hiking, it would be a great fit. The guides even tell you what iPhone filter to use and where to put your camera for the best shots (this did drive me a little crazy). If you are looking for an adventure – climbing, hiking, crawling, a bit strenuous – this is not the canyon for you. Later in the trip we headed to Escalante….and I found my adventure slot canyons there!

 

 

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  • teresa - Stunning… your life, your photography, your family, your travels. We are planning a camping trip to Arizona this summer. I’m taking notes!

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. I stood there on the edge. I stared. I blinked once. Twice. Over and over. Still days later, I can’t wrap my mind around what I saw. I’m not the only one. Surrounded by so many people and more languages than I could count, we all were trying to take it in. To grasp the rugged beauty stretching before us.

The Grand Canyon. (that is Chris on the left)

4.16GrandCanyon-04We woke the kids up at 4:30am, bundled them in blankets and headed to a lookout to watch the sunrise. The kids know sunrise is my favorite time of day and my favorite time to experience a new place. I don’t ask them often to join me, but they are always up for it when I do. On this particular day it was bitter cold. They are troopers.

4.16GrandCanyon-014.16GrandCanyon-024.16GrandCanyon-03After getting some more sleep and warming up our cold bones, we headed back to hike in the canyon. 4.16GrandCanyon-054.16GrandCanyon-06Around a bend we came across hard working mules. It was incredibly cool until we asked what they were carrying – empty coolers and trash left behind in the canyon. We are always telling the kids to leave no trace, what you pack in – you pack out, etc. Seeing this come up the trail made a huge impact and brought to life why it is so important to leave no trace.4.16GrandCanyon-074.16GrandCanyon-08I switched between my 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses while we hiked. I have a little backpack that carries all the lenses. It also holds my camera, but I typically just hike with my camera in my hand. I have primarily been using my 28mm lens as we hike in the national parks – so much to capture, I like having my wide angle. I’m trying to remind myself to get a few close ups of the kids with my 85mm too. The 50mm is getting the least amount of use.4.16GrandCanyon-09I kept telling him not to hike with a pretzel rod hanging out of his mouth because he could fall and impel himself. He pointed out I was more worried about him getting hurt with a pretzel than I was him falling off a ledge. He was right. Don’t hike with pretzel rods.4.16GrandCanyon-114.16GrandCanyon-12I spent most of my time hiking behind the boys and enjoying the view – both the canyon and the fun of big kids.4.16GrandCanyon-13Goofballs. They were providing constant entertainment for me and fellow hikers. Did I mention hiking with big kids is pretty awesome? Chris and I would pass parents with babies in packs on their backs and we’d give each other a little fist pump. We did the baby-on-my-back hiking for a decade. Fist pumps all around for hiking with big kids!4.16GrandCanyon-144.16GrandCanyon-15This girl was determined to hike on her own. Chris carried her a couple times just to pick up the pace, but she would promptly demand to be put back down. She let us know she was a “real hiker, not a fake hiker.” We have no idea what a fake hiker is, but we know she is not one. 4.16GrandCanyon-164.16GrandCanyon-174.16GrandCanyon-18It snowed on our last day…4.16GrandCanyon-194.16GrandCanyon-204.16GrandCanyon-21Two days was enough for now, but not enough for good. We’ll go back when the girls are bigger. We’ll put our names in the pot for permits. We’ll hike down all the way. We’ll camp by the Colorado River. We’ll get on that same river. At least those are the dreams my boys walked away with…Chris and I will do our best to make those newly planted dreams a reality one day.

For those visiting the Grand Canyon for a couple days, here are my thoughts:

  • Mather Point is crazy at sunrise. I would drive up a little to one of the pull-outs on the way to the Desert View Visitor Center. I’d probably try one of these for sunset too. We went by the park ranger recommendation (Mather Point) and it was way too crowded for me. You can’t tell that in my pictures because I go to lengths to avoid extra people in my pics. The pull-outs to Desert View provided stunning views too.
  • Bright Angel Trail was a fun one. It is steep in parts if that makes you nervous. We just hiked until we felt like turning around.
  • Ooh-Ahh Point on South Kaibab Trail was a favorite of ours too. Pretty steep too.
  • If our girls were older – we would have gone further on all the trails. The boys really wanted to do an all day hike to the bottom of the canyon. We hope to come back and do the North Rim to South Rim hike.

We were only there for 2 days, so I know I only have a taste. For those of you that have visited before, please leave your thoughts and favorites in the comment section!

CLICKHEREtravel

 

 

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  • TENN - My husband and I hiked rim to rim last September. We camped three nights along the way. It was a great experience. Getting permits is like winning the lottery. We tried many times under each of our names before we were successful. We traveled on the rim-to-rim van shuttle with several groups with two nights of reservations at Phantom Ranch. It was great ‘knowing’ people along the way even though we had different itineraries. The youngest person I saw was around 11 or 12 and she had no problem with the hike. Staying at Phantom Ranch helped their group as they did not have to carry camping gear.

    My suggestion is the head to North Rim next time even without hiking rim to rim. The crowds are smaller.

    Another alternative at South Rim is to apply to stay at the Indian Garden campground for a night or two. The Colorado River would be a more doable day trip with Indian Garden as your base. Many daytrippers walk down here and back in a day. We saw a couple with a small one in a backpack taking a rest here.

    Our next time, we will explore more on the rims.

  • Tracy DelliQuadri - Consider a visit to Havasupai, the very last tip of the Grand Canyon National Park. Havasu Falls is AMAZING, and you can swim in the travertine pools. There is a nice little campground. The Supai village is there too. There is a 12 mile hike from the falls down to the Colorado river. Our family went there once, hiked down on day 1 (and swam), Hiked to the confluence on day 2 (and swam), and hiked out on day 3. You can pay the Supai villagers to carry your packs out on horseback. Or, to beat the heat of the day, you could plan your trip around a full moon and hike out under the light of a full moon. :0) A gem of the Grand Canyon.

  • Kristen - Hi Ashley – Your photos are absolutely stunning and I’m sure the memories you are creating with your family are just priceless. Love following along on your adventures!

  • Keilah - Oh how I love the Grand Canyon! My husband hikes it almost every year, and I have finally had the chance to join him, twice! I hope to go many more times. Last month we brought our oldest son (12 years old) for his first hike on the Tanner Trail, a 3 day trip to the river and back. I have so much I could say but I don’t want to write you a novel, so here are my quick tips:
    1- don’t hike in the summer! I’ve hiked in mid-march (it got a little chilly) and early November (beautiful!).
    2- Plan a day in between the big hikes in and out to rest, explore, and do part of the hike out.
    3- skip the freeze dried meals, yuck! We pack bagged chicken, thai noodle bowls, bagged salmon, instant mashed potatoes, ready cooked rice, tortillas, bagels, PB, oatmeal cups… And bring lots of salty snacks, that’s what you crave.
    4- Rough it on a more primitive trail and skip Phantom Ranch/Indian Gardens. The solitude is well worth it!
    4- If your itinerary allows it, leave water drops on the way down for your return trip up. The weight saved is invaluable!
    5- A Thermarest sleeping pad, or something similar, is a must for the adult hikers!!!
    6- Rough it on a more primitive trail and skip Phantom Ranch/Indian Gardens. Having the trail and campsites to yourselves (almost) is so worth it!
    After my first hike into the Canyon, I was like you; I knew I had to go back. Enjoy your continuous discoveries of that magical place!

  • Karen - My husband and I were there 18 years ago this summer right after we were married. We were only able to go to 2 points (and I don’t even remember which ones they were) but it was one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen. The beauty is breathtaking. I would love to go back and take our kids to see. Hopefully one day we will.

  • Maureen - Amazing, incredible photos. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Seamingly Sarah - It is beautiful! My husband hiked down and camped in the bottom once (between years of college) and it was pretty mind blowing. The vastness compared to the smallness of you, some feelings of being trapped too. He wrestled a bit with God down there. It’s cool to hear him talk about it.

    And the trash and coolers being carried out, yuck. I can’t stand litterers.

  • ellen patton - My parents met at the Grand Canyon in the 50’s. They were college students working there for the summer; my dad ran the dishwasher and my mom cleaned cabins. I’ve been before but am itching to get back. Your photos are fantastic!

Wind.

I’ve experienced strong wind. I live in Oklahoma.

Strong wind coming across the Painted Desert – that is something totally different! We planned a day to spend a few hours in Petrified Forest National Park. We were all pretty excited about seeing fossils and petrified trees. We were not prepared for the wind. The park rangers told us the wind was especially strong that day. Unfortunately, it was too strong for my youngest kids – it actually knocked them over and all the sand blowing in the air was not well received by little eyes.

We tried to explore some and made the most of our day.

4.16petrifiedforest-01 4.16petrifiedforest-02Do you see the petroglyphs on the rock? If you look at the photo above you can see a plaque describing the petroglyph and then look at the photo below to see it. These were all over the park – so fascinating. 4.16petrifiedforest-03 4.16petrifiedforest-04 And the wind took one girl down…4.16petrifiedforest-05 4.16petrifiedforest-06 The boys wanted a photo of them jumping in the wind. I am not a very cautious mom, but I was a bit concerned they would not be able to land on their feet. They did.4.16petrifiedforest-07 Running against the wind…basically we tried playing with the wind instead of being overcome by it.4.16petrifiedforest-08 A petrified tree…4.16petrifiedforest-10 4.16petrifiedforest-12 After leaving the park, we headed to Holbrook, AZ. I could have spent a few hours just exploring this quaint town. We decided to hit up Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. It had high rating on Trip Advisor, which is our go-to travel source. It was a huge hit with the kids.4.16petrifiedforest-13 4.16petrifiedforest-14 4.16petrifiedforest-15 4.16petrifiedforest-16 4.16petrifiedforest-17 This is right after I told her what “dung” means…4.16petrifiedforest-18If we could go back to the park on a day with less wind I would really like to do the Blue Mesa hike. It isn’t very long, but looked like such a fun hike. I would also like more time to explore Holbrook. So many places to go and so little time. I guess we’ll just come again!

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  • ashley jensen - My dad is from Pampa, TX (1 hour northeast of Amarillo) and man is it windy there on the open plains! We also have a travel trailer too and I can imagine how it was pulling yours with those winds. Granted yours is WAY heavier than ours so it was probably a little better to pull than ours would be!

  • Robin - It’s so fun to see you visit my home state! I haven’t been to the petrified forest since I was your boys’ ages but I still have my one piece of ‘wood’.

    Arizona’s desert landscape can look desolate and beautiful at the same time. The photo with your daughter running into the wind is awesome. It looks like she’s running on the moon. :)

  • Karen - Lived in flagstaff, az dor 20 yrs. always so excited for spring and then the winds start….this wind u described until June….every year. But I ? northern az. U must become one with the wind. ???

  • Karen - I love northern az.

  • Emily - What a great trip! I have an east-coast genealogy trip in our future (I’m thinking middle school-ages for a variety of reasons) — your road trips are inspiring me to do something sooner! Thank you for sharing!

  • Sarah - What a fun trip! I can’t imagine how strong that wind must’ve been – a memory created that won’t soon be forgotten I’m sure!

    I’m wondering if you would considering sharing how you go about planning your family trips. We’ve always done the one destination (explore while there), but I’m loving how you road trip! Any tips or suggestions on trip planning?

  • Diana - We went to the Petrified Forest on the way to the Grand Canyon (which from IG appears to have been your trip too) many years ago (19!). My family all took a picture of the very first piece of petrified wood we saw on our walk…which meant we had about 10 pictures of the same thing. By the time we finished the walk we were done taking pictures. Not a big park by any means but still interesting!

  • Jenny - You always have the best pictures! Always! :)