USA – vol. 2, Nature, Canyons, National Parks
Coming to the US for the first time, I mostly wanted to see all the well-known cities, like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and many others. Since I’ve heard a lot about them, have seen them in various movies, I thought that seeing them with my own eyes would make a lasting impression on me. And although each of these cities is very interesting and worth seeing, it was nature, that made the biggest impression on me in the US.
Amazing and so far unseen spaces, changing colors of the mountains, giant sequoia trees, waterfalls, canyons and deserts. Roads, where you drive alone, without traffic jams, where you cannot even see cars neither in front of you nor behind, and on the horizon on the left and the right side you just see free unused space, which seems to have no end. It gives you a sense of incredible freedom.
On one trip we managed to visit the Grand Canyon, the Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, the Bryce Canyon National Park, Death Valley and the Yosemite National Park.
Related: USA – vol. 1, New York – click here
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is located in the northern part of Arizona state. The easiest point that you can reach here is probably the South Rim of the canyon, which is located about 4 hours drive from Las Vegas and is open for tourists all year round. There is also a tourist information center in the southern part of the canyon, and viewpoints can be reached by a free bus, starting from the Grand Canyon Village.
I had heard so many stories about the Grand Canyon, that driving there I had great expectations to see spectacular views. But when we got there, what really surprised me was the wildness of the national park. You can walk around and sightsee completely without security, fences or guards. What particularly in the United States seemed to be quite amazing (since at the entrance to any museum security measures remind you of the ones that can be found in international airports). Another interesting thing was that we did not feel surrounded by crowds of tourists there. Although there was obviously a lot of people, in such a large space, everyone just walked in their own groups and was not too much in each other’s way.
And the views were certainly not disappointing. It is particularly worth to stay there for the sunset – the colors are breathtaking.
When entering the Antelope Canyon you have to pay a fee for the Navajo Indians, since it is located in the Reservation of this tribe in the state of Arizona. Going to the canyon on your own is not permitted for safety reasons, so you have to buy a guided tour. The canyon is very narrow and when it starts raining, it fills with water very quickly, which may pose a threat even for the life of tourists.
The Canyon is divided into two parts – the upper and the lower one. Due to the fact that the upper part has a reputation of being crowded by tourists, we decided to visit only the lower one. We were exploring it with a guide and a group of about 15 people, so there were no crowds or problems with taking nice pictures without having people in the background.
The entrance into the Canyon for me was a little claustrophobic, since you need to go down to a long narrow hole in the ground. The lower canyon itself is very narrow as well, sometimes you have to literally squeeze yourself through the rocks. But it is all worth it, because the atmosphere there and the views inside are quite impressive. Water has carved amazing shapes here, and the small amount of sunlight that manages its way in, completes the work and allows you to take nice and unusual pictures.
We had only planned to visit Antelope Canyon in this area, close to the town Page in Arizona. But just after coming back to the ground from the canyon, during breakfast, I suddenly remembered an old video of Britney Spears “I’m not a girl”. So we started to search the web, whether by any chance there was a lake in the area. And this is how we came across Lake Powell. Thanks, Britney 😀
Not to visit Lake Powell, while being nearby, would truly be a sin. Clear blue water, contrasting with a flaming color of rocks, irregular shapes of the lake and rocks reminding of Hollywood westerns, make this place really special. Another advantage for me was that this place is totally wild, untouched by men and not tailored for the needs of tourists with numerous hotels, restaurants or trailers selling hot dogs. It is simply natural, lovely and peaceful.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The Bryce Canyon National Park is located in the southwestern part of Utah state. I was impressed by intense orange-red colored and perfectly shaped rocks and, of course, by the space. Additionally, trees growing in the valley and forests visible far away in the horizon give a great contrast to the red dry rocks. Because of the tight schedule, that we had set ourselves, we did not have much time for sightseeing in the Bryce Canyon. I think it is worth devoting some more time to it and going for a longer walk to admire the amazing shapes of rocks. It’s hard to believe that such perfect sculptures are the work of nature itself.
While preparing to pass through the Death Valley we approached the topic very literally – fully fueled our tank and bought a lot of water supplies. We preferred not to take any risks in the desert, recognized as one of the hottest and hostile places on earth, where you can barely find any gas stations or other places to stop.
Death Valley in California is one of those places in the US, where you feel completely alone on the road. We have used this fact to do a long photo shooting, sitting down in the middle of the road. Within nearly half an hour of taking pictures, even one car has not passed us.
But the main advantage here are obviously the views. Amazing colors of sand and rocks, changing from gray, to gold, green and even pink, as well as Racetrack Playa – the bottom of a salty lake, dry and cracked from the heat.
It gets especially beautiful here at sunset – the colors are even stronger then and photos taken with a cell phone look like taken with professional equipment.
Yosemite National Park
Just as Death Valley, the Yosemite National Park is located in California. And that’s where the similarities of these two places end. Contrary to the hot, dry and inhospitable Death Valley, the Yosemite Park stands out by amazingly green nature as well as fresh climate, very inviting for sightseeing. Here we visit impressive mountains, standing out from a thick forest, numerous beautiful lakes and waterfalls and giant sequoia trees. Although I was actually hoping to see more of those trees – I’ve only seen a few of them there. You should probably go to the Sequoia National Park to see more of them.
We have spent almost the whole day there, but looking back, same as in the case of Bryce Canyon, now we would plan more time for exploring this beautiful place. It is worth coming here even for a few days, putting up a tent in a camping place and giving in to the moment, surrounded by incredibly beautiful nature.
And what are your favorite places and National Parks in the US? Or perhaps there is no need to go that far and we can find some great places to enjoy nature in Europe? Be sure to share your experience and favorite places with us in the comments field!