Two months have passed since we returned from our USA National Parks trip, the early part of which you may have read about in Part 1. For those of you who are familiar with the first part, you will recall I concluded it just as we had heard about the closure of the National Parks due to the US Government Shutdown.
USA National Parks
The planned visit to Zion National Park was not to be. Although hoping that things would improve the next day was spent trying to decide what to do if the Parks remained closed and whilst we were doing that took the opportunity to take a drive around the area returning back along the state highway that runs through part of the National Park. Due to the restrictions in place, only minimal opportunities arose to take photos but just to prove that I was there here’s one captured from the side of the road. The title accurately reflecting our predicament.
Of the other USA National Parks after Zion, our next destination was Death Valley to be followed by a trip into California to Sequoia and Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. Whilst it would be possible to drive through the main highway in Death Valley access to the Badlands the area we wanted to visit was closed. Decision made, we didn’t see the point in driving 300 miles north to not see and photograph what we came for unless there was some chance of being able to get into the other National Parks afterwards. It would have been a further 500 miles to reach Yosemite and then 400 miles back to Las Vegas.
What next well all I can say is thank goodness for State Parks, Nevada and the Navajo. I had already completed research on Valley of Fire State Park in the hope that we might get time to visit and thankfully that was the case but first still in Utah we visited Snow Canyon.
Snow Canyon State Park
The highlight of Snow Canyon was visiting the Whiterocks Natural Amphitheatre, a natural bowl formed at the base of three tall sandstone hills. An amazing landscape the likes of which I have never seen before. It looks like elephant hide. Our visit was late afternoon and like in many locations at that time of day the wind started blowing through just as we were leaving creating a mini sandstorm. Our departure out of there was quicker than our arrival if only to protect the cameras.
Cathedral Gorge State Park
On now into Nevada and Cathedral Gorge State Park, another exceptional landscape even though it meant travelling further out of our way it was well worth it. A photographers dream where erosion has carved dramatic and unique patterns in the soft bentonite clay creating cave-like formations and cathedral-like spires.
Valley of Fire State Park
The Valley of Fire was on the list but I doubt if we would have had time if the original route had been followed. A full day was spent here although like most of the places visited there was a need to spend more time to make sure everything was seen. The main objective of getting here was to visit the Fire Wave images of which I had seen on another photographers website. The Fire Wave is a beautifully layered sandstone formation rivalling the famous Wave in Arizona. The Fire Wave began forming 150 million years ago by the shifting sand dune.
We were flying home from Las Vegas and by now it was obvious that the USA National Parks were not about to reopen any time soon. So decisions again, this time heading in the right direction for Page in Arizona and although we couldn’t get near to Lake Powell as all access roads to the lake were closed the trip ended on a high visiting Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River and a trip into Antelope Canyon with probably the best Navajo guide we could have hoped for.
Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. Walking through here you are so consumed with the amazing formations and light that you, unfortunately, forget to remember the 11 people who lost their lives here in 1997 when a flash flood engulfed the canyon leaving the guide as the only survivor. Yet without those flash floods, mother nature would not be able to create this special place. This was one such flood that took place in the area just less than two months before this image was captured. Fortunately, during the whole of our trip apart from one or two drops in Moab, we did not see any rain.
Apart from a great last night in Las Vegas that was the end of our photo trip to the southwest USA National Parks, although I do have one further episode about this trip to share with you. The locations visited provided many opportunities to capture the more intimate features of the landscape which you can see in the last part of this review of our journey.