Natural Wonders on the Utah / Arizona Border

“Honey, I shrunk the monuments!” Donald J. Trump
Patagonia filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mother Nature. REI joined the fight. And Outside Magazine wrote so eloquently: “The next Great Western Land War has begun.” It has always been a war for the land and its resources. And no one ever cared about the people or the planet. #protectourpubliclands

It is rare for me not to know what to say or how to say it. However, the recent actions of the American government on public lands policy have left me speechless. I usually keep my favorite places to myself and don’t share them on the blog. (Hence the story of Badlands National Park in South Dakota hasn’t been written in over an year) It is my way of keeping secrets 🙂 of preserving places from increased visits by the “public” (which I’m a part of #oxymoron). This time I feel it is my duty, all our duty, to speak up, to do what we can to protect Mother Nature. So as a traveler, blogger, writer, and amateur photographer, I will continue sharing the beauty of the American West and showing you pictures from this breathtaking land. Our public lands are NOT for grabs! They have withstood millions of years of climate and geological changes but they are threatened by corporate interests now! We must stand up – with Bears Ears – with Grand Staircase Escalante – and with any other piece of this beautiful country that is threatened. We must resist. So there can be public lands and national monuments for future generations. Because we owe it to Mother Nature! #standwithbearsears #standwithgrandstaircase

I’d like to dedicate this post to the natural wonders of the American West, especially the stunning geological formations and incredible cultural heritage on the Utah / Arizona border! I hope you will go check them out for yourself, and better do it SOON, while you still can… #redrocks #canyoncountry

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Monument Valley on a late afternoon in November

Sometimes, if you get really lucky, the road to a destination is as breathtaking as the destination itself. #justaddsunset Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon left a lasting impression on me and and my travel companion…visible by # of pictures taken 🙂

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The road to Monument Valley
Monument Valley at sunset – her body, my legs

In addition to driving around, hiking, and taking photographs, you can pet / ride all the pretty horses in Monument Valley 🙂 they are very affectionate ❤

After Monument Valley comes Four Courners – the only place in the US where 4 states meet at a 90 degree angle. (On how the Western US map was drawn – another time…)

Four Corners – where you can step in 4 states at the same time
(Arizona and New Mexico were some of the last to be incorporated in the USA in 1912)

Even though quite touristy and hard to capture in a single shot, Horseshoe Bend and the bed of the Colorado River are SO spectacular! Just think about the natural forces of water that have carved and shaped the canyon over millions of years…I’d love to go on a raft trip down the Colorado river all the way to the Grand Canyon! #onlyinmydreams

Horseshoe bend – where taking a beautiful photograph of the bed and bend of the Colorado River is nearly impossible 🙂

No matter how much I praise Antelope Canyon or what superlatives I use, it wouldn’t do it enough justice. This crack in the earth shaped by water and wind is SO magical that you will have to experience it for yourself. It was named “Antelope” after a herd of antelopes that were roaming the area and it is a very tight slot canyon which is a typical feature of the Utah / Arizona landscape. (I hope you are not claustrophobic 🙂

If you’d prefer a more personalized experience of hiking and photographing a slot canyon, book a tour with Terri (of Gateway to Grand Canyon) or go to Canyon X.

The crown jewel of our road trip to Utah and Arizona for me (besides the pretty horses 🙂 was the Paria Townsite in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Try making it all the way to Buckskin Gulch up the Paria River if you have time and a guide! For this part of the trip I recommend renting a 4WD high-clearance vehicle (read: Jeep Wrangler NOT your rental SUV) or booking a trip with Terri and driving thru the back roads of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, It is one of my most favorite public lands. It is remote, of great variety, still quite rugged and unexplored and the landscape (ooops, moonscape) is stunning!

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Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument – you wanna shrink what?!
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You can hike up the Paria River all the way to Buckskin Gulch
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Not fresh pasta, not autumn leaves, just dried up mud 🙂
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Grand Staircase is so stunning, you don’t know which side to turn to photograph…
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Authentic desert dwellings

In terms of accommodations around the Utah / Arizona border, I can recommend a few Airbnb spots on Scenic Byway 12. Your other option is to stay in Page, AZ or Moab, UT. In Page, AZ we stayed with Terry. I highly recommend his hospitality, local knowledge, and private trips. In Moab we stayed at Red Moon Lodge – the most beautiful, comfortable and clean organic B&B right outside of town.
And then there is always the option to camp in your own tent 🙂 #notforme

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Early morning in Page, AZ
Terry’s wonderful little companion – Alicia the Owl
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Glen Canyon Dam, the first “obstruction” of the natural flow of the Colorado River

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Lake Powell moonscapes

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