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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Category: Arizona

Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon in Arizona

Paula Gaston

There are so many amazing places to see in Utah and Arizona! We were lucky to be able to visit many of them on our road trip. I hope you saw the pictures from our visit to Antelope Canyon. it should really be on everyone’s bucket list! Even though we really liked both Snow Canyon and Zion National Park in Utah, and hiked to see some Toadstool Hoodoos, Antelope Canyon was the most memorable place by far. But that was not all. Next we headed to Glen Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Maybe you have seen some photos of this horseshoe shaped river in Arizona? Here is what you should know about visiting Horseshoe Bend:

GLEN CANYON DAM AND THE AMAZING VIEWS

When we started to get closer to Glen Canyon, the views started to change. We passed the harbor where you can hop on a boat to get to Rainbow Bridge. Rainbow Bridge is the biggest natural rock arch in the world, and is a National Monument. I was disappointed that we were not able to visit the arch this time, but a whole day in a small boat with the kids didn’t sound like something we wanted to do. Luckily there are plenty of other things to do at Glen Canyon Recreation Area which also belongs to the National Park Service.

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Our first stop was a lookout where you can see the Colorado River. After that we drove to the Visitor Center by the Glen Canyon Dam. Built in 1964, it is the second largest dam in the U.S. after Hoover Dam. Glen Canyon Dam generates power while regulating the water flow of the Colorado River. Since many states battle with drought and the Colorado River runs through many states, it has become an important element when distributing water. However, people are still debating about the environmental affects of the dam, and many think that it should be demolished. You can see the dam really well from the Visitor Center, and it is a great place to stop in many ways. They have great facilities for families (diaper change? no problem), and they are very helpful with the Junior Ranger Program for kids. We also visited their museum and souvenir shop.

Glen Canyon Dam

Glen Canyon Dam

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THE BEUATIFUL HORSESHOE BEND IN ARIZONA

The most visited place in Glen Canyon must be Horseshoe Bend which is located in the city of Page. Horseshoe Bend is a spot in the Colorado River where it makes a turn shaped like a horseshoe. It is right at Highway 89 when driving south from Page.

 

In recent years, Horseshoe Bend has become famous due to all the gorgeous photos in social media. The amount of visitors has jumped up. Unfortunately, the amount of deaths has also risen as some tourists take selfies so close to the edge that they fall down into the canyon. A 14 year old girl just fell in during Christmas week. Because of these accidents, they have now opened a new fenced viewing point at Horseshoe Bend where it is safe to look at the canyon. At the same time, they built a new parking lot, and installed some benches and a rest area to the trail heading down to the viewing point. This had all just opened a week before our visit. Now that the new parking lot was in use, they also started collecting a parking fee of $10 per vehicle. We figured we were happy to pay that for the facilities we got.

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The trail to the viewing point and back is about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) long. When you walk back, it is mostly uphill and the sun will make the walk pretty hot, so people were sitting on the benches while catching their breath. So visiting Horseshoe Bend won’t take that much time, and we were there maybe for an hour. The trail is OK to do even with a stroller. The best time for the visit is from late morning to late afternoon. Very early in the morning the river is in shadow, and in the evening it is hard to get photos because the sun will shine straight into your camera.

Horseshoe Bend at Glen Canyon Recreational Area

Horseshoe Bend at Glen Canyon Recreational Area

There are still many spots at Horseshoe Bend to risk your life and climb close to the edge, and some people seem to be very brave and even took their kids up on dangerous spots. It is hard to get a photo of the river where you can fit the whole turn in it, but I would never risk our lives for the sake of a photo. We actually figured that the best view was right at the view point with the fence, but we did have to fight for space.

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This was a great little stop, and the views in this area are amazing no matter where you go. We also visited some other national parks on our stop in Page, but more about them next time!

 

Visiting Antelope Canyon in Arizona with Kids

Paula Gaston

Our Spring Break trip continued as we moved from Utah to Arizona. We still had many exciting places to see before returning back home to California. So far, the most memorable things we had seen on this trip were the amazing hoodoos in Kanab, but we also really liked beautiful Snow Canyon in Utah. After I injured myself in Zion National Park, I had to be really careful not use my thumb, but the swelling had already gone down. I also found a brace for my finger from Walmart which helped a lot. We had now driven to Page, Arizona, and our plan was to visit Antelope Canyon which had for long been on my secret bucket list. I have actually never written down a bucket list, but I have always wanted to visit Antelope Canyon.

DEADLY BUT GORGEOUS ANTELOPE CANYON

Antelope Canyon is located close to the border of Utah and Arizona, in a small town called Page. It is a slot canyon shaped and carved by water. The canyon is on Navajo indians’ land, so when visiting, people need a permit from the Navajo tribe. There are actually two separate canyons; Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon, and both of them can be visited by purchasing a tour.

 

Over many years the canyons were formed due the rain water accumulated on the top of the canyons. After building up some power at the top, the water then runs through the canyons with force bringing sand at the same time. This erosion has carved a path, a slot canyon, which is big enough for a man to walk through. In 1997, 11 people died while visiting Lower Antelope Canyon when it was suddenly filled up with water. After that, the safety of visitors has been improved by building a medal staircase in the canyon and by building an alarm system. People are also not allowed visit the canyons by themselves anymore; everyone is required to book a guided tour. In 2010 the flooding scared some visitors in Upper Antelope Canyon. No one died, but some of the visitors got stuck on ledges until the water level lowered again.

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Antelope Canyon has fast become very famous after people have seen the magical pictures of its’ red wavy walls.

ANTELOPE CANYON WITH KIDS

Before our visit, I was desperately trying to find information about visiting Antelope Canyon with kids - Especially with toddlers. Few tour operators would take kids at all, and after reading many reviews and searching for the information, we decided to go for Upper Antelope Canyon. We ended up booking a tour with Navajo Tours since they seemed to have been hosting tours with kids before and we wanted to support the Navajo tribe’s business since we were on Navajo land. I think bigger kids do fine on this tour, like for example our six year old, I was more worried about our toddler. We always want to be considerate to other people on the tours as well.

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We chose the Upper Antelope Canyon because the Lower Canyon has a little bit of climbing to do. You will have to walk some metal stairs up and down, and sometimes a small amount of sand might be falling on you.

For the tour they wont allow any bags or backpacks, so carrying the baby or a toddler on your back is not an option. We figured that our toddler must be able to walk along with us or we will have to carry her. We did see a dad there with a very small baby who was in a front carrier though…and to be honest, the canyon is very narrow, so carrying a child on your back would be kind of difficult and dangerous. Walking through the canyon is not hard or long, maybe 15 minutes total if not counting photo breaks. So in that sense, we were sure we would be able do it. However, every toddler is different, so before booking your tour just remember, that kids can’t run around in the canyon or stop whenever they want.

There were some websites that said you must bring your own car seat for the child, but I think most, if not all of the tour operators now use trucks. People will sit on the back of the truck and the toddler or a baby can sit on your lap. The drive was quite short and they drove very slowly.

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THE AMAZING UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON

Our tour went really well. 15 minutes before the tour, we were led to the trucks and then we drove about ten minutes in the sandy river bed. At the canyon we had to wait a little while, since it was pretty crowded. Our guide told us about how the slot canyon was formed and something about its history. He also showed us the best spots to take photos and took group photos for people. Tour guides seemed to know all the best filters and settings to use your camera or phone in the canyon.

This is what it really looked like.

This is what it really looked like.

The canyon is quite narrow and here and there we had to give room for people coming out. The fact that it really is pretty crowded can be a buzz kill, but the guides had everything under control. However, everyone had to really follow the rules and move along with your own group. We didn’t care so much, since the canyon was so mesmerizing!

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THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING ANTELOPE CANYON

Visiting Antelope Canyon is extremely popular and the best times for the tours are sold many in months advance. You should book your tour as soon as your trip to Page is confirmed. The best time of the day is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the sun is high up and you can see the sun beams shine down inside the canyon.

When we arrived, we first had to sign up to our tour and pay. Since we were there quite early, I asked if there was any room in the earlier tour. They told us that all the tours for the day were sold out, and everyone had showed up to the tour before us. You are required to check in to your tour an hour earlier, and I had read from somewhere that if you come even one minute late, they might have already given your spot to others. So of course, we were there way earlier than needed. They don’t offer an indoor spot to wait around, and it was getting hot outside, so we decided to go for a little drive after checking in. This allowed the baby to take a little nap in the back seat, and we were able to get a quick lunch. Our tour started at noon and we were guided to our tour truck at 11:45.

The price for the tour was $60 for adults and $30 for kids. And even our toddler had to pay. I knew that in recent years the prices have gone up, but most of the tour operators charge the same price. However, some charge more during the middle of the day to see the sun beams. An $8 permit fee for the Navajo tribe is included in the price, but has to be paid separately with cash. Otherwise you can pay with a credit card too. Also, don’t forget to tip your tour guide. Bring your ID and your confirmation of the reservation at check in. The tour takes about 1.5 hours.

Since there is a little bit of a wait before the tour starts, make sure to bring some water with you and maybe some snacks too. They don’t allow any bags or backbacks on the tour, and no selfie sticks or tripods. A water bottle was OK. There is no video taping in the canyon, so they also didn’t allow GoPro cameras. Sunscreen might be needed while waiting, but the canyon itself provides shade. Some kind of a hat, and even a scarf or bandana is really good on a drive, and sun glasses to protect your eyes. The sand is flying everywhere, and it made people cough and wipe their eyes.

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Despite the crowds and the waiting, we really enjoyed visiting Upper Antelope Canyon. What a surreal place! Everything went well, and as memorabilia, we got some beautiful photos from the canyon. If you visit Page, you don’t want to miss this! And next time… another amazing place from our visit to Arizona!

 

8 Photos from Our Road Trip to Utah and Arizona

Paula Gaston

Our first travel day from California via Nevada and Arizona to Utah went well. We drove about 486 kilometres (302 miles), and spent a night in a city we already knew in Mojave, California. We even stayed in a same hotel as we did on our last trip. It is in a convenient spot midway on our drive. Due to heavy rains in California this winter, the famous golden hills were all green and lush, and the reservoirs were full of water.

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Also the Joshua Trees seemed to have loved the rain since they were all blooming. And they don’t bloom every year! These unique trees only grow in this one area.

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We continued from Mojave toward Nevada and Las Vegas on I-15 which goes through the desert. The views are not the greatest there but surprisingly every once in a while there is something cool to see.

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Along the road is a place called Zzyzx. The name has a funny history. It was founded in 1944, and it was meant to be the last place name in the English language.

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We were actually so curious that we decided to explore Zzyzx a little. We took the Zzyzx Road a little ways until we saw a parking lot and one has to continue on foot. This area belongs to the Mojave National Preserve and there is a Desert Studies Center. Years ago this place used to have a spa. We turned around at the parking lot and returned to take some photos of the old lake bed which was now covered by salt. That was about the most exciting thing they had in Zzyzx.

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Right before Las Vegas there is an art installation called Seven Magic Mountains. This piece by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone was opened in 2016, and it was supposed to be up for only two years. Though, it started to attract more and more people, and so the plan was extended to the year 2021.

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Finally we crossed the Arizona State border and ten minutes later also the Utah border. From there we only had a ten minute drive to the city of St. George. That was a quick visit to Arizona.

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And FINALLY THERE! More about our adventures in Utah and Arizona soon so stay tuned!

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Visit to Hoover Dam in Nevada & Arizona

Paula Gaston

Our road trip continued from Las Vegas to the border of Nevada and Arizona. While our next destination was in Utah, before heading there, we wanted to stop at Hoover Dam, which for sure is the most famous dam in the USA. It is located on the Colorado River right at the state border. Many people visiting Las Vegas also visit Hoover Dam since it is so close.

 

The drive to Hoover Dam from Las Vegas is less than an hour. There are a lot of visitors there, so at the end of the drive, the traffic was going very slowly and we had to line up for a security check. Not all of the cars were inspected, but we were told to drive to one side with many other SUVs. The security check was very fast; they looked in from the windows and wanted to see what was in the trunk. Then we were given permission to continue.

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Hoover Dam provides power not only to Nevada and Arizona, but also to Southern California. In 1936 when it was construction was completed, it was the biggest concrete dam in the United States. And for sure the most famous one too. A total of 112 men were killed during the construction. The dam was named after president Herbert Hoover. Today, Hoover Dam is a major tourist destination getting almost a million visitors yearly. We felt like there were cars everywhere, and even the huge parking garage seemed to be pretty full. Luckily there was always someone leaving and we found parking pretty quickly. And so we headed out to see the place.

Hoover Dam is interesting, since if you cross the river, you are actually in a different state and in a different time zone. So you can move your clock forward one hour. And then you can walk back and turn your clock back too.. ha ha. The view from the dam is amazing. You can see the Colorado River and the newly built bridge. Hoover Dam Bypass was built to ease up the traffic for those who are just passing by and not there to see the dam. If you look down, you can see all the concrete that they used to construct the dam. There is three and one-quarter million cubic yards of it.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

On Nevada time

On Nevada time

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They do have some guided tours at the Hoover Dam Powerplant, where you get to see how the powerplant works, see the generators, and go onto the visitor center observation deck. You can check the prices from here. While we visited Hoover Dam, the visitor center was under renovation, so also the guided tour was limited to the powerplant only. We skipped the tour and headed to the free viewing point instead, which in my opinion, was an even better experience than walking on top of the dam. It is on the bridge that you can see in the photo above. My husband didn’t agree with me, and he thought walking along the dam was way cooler. I however loved the view from the bridge. Just follow the signs to Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Plaza. That is also where we took the photo posing with the “Welcome to Nevada” sign.

Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Plaza

Mike O’Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Plaza

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A visit to Hoover Dam is pretty interesting! It isn’t every day that you get to see something like this. So if you are close by, you should definitely include a stop at Hoover Dam in your itinerary.

 

Our Thanksgiving Trip to Nevada and Utah

Paula Gaston

Our latest trip is now finished and we have arrived back to California. Our final souvenir from the trip was the stomach flu that first hit the baby and then me, so it has been a little quiet here in the blog, and on instagram as well. On our way back home from Utah we stopped in Nevada for one night, and that was when the baby started vomiting. It was like a flashback from our trip to Highway 1 few years ago, when I had to stay up all night with our older daughter due to the norovirus. Luckily, this time the bug wasn’t so bad, and we were able to continue our drive the next day. No one else felt sick. But when we arrived home the baby got a fever and I started feeling very worn out.

Here is the route of our road trip:

FROM AN INTERNMENT CAMP TO DEATH VALLEY

Sounds quite disturbing, right? But actually it was not like that at all. Our trip was great. We were happy to leave the smokey Bay Area behind us and breath some fresh, clean air. Our first stop was the city of Mojave where we spend the night. It was the first place to see blue skies again since the smoke had spread all over the Central Valley. The next morning we headed towards Death Valley, and on our way there, we stopped at the Manzanar internment camp where Japanese people were held during World War II. After visiting both; Manzanar and Death Valley, we drove to Las Vegas were we spent two days.

Las Vegas is always fun, even with kids, but at the same time it is tiring and surreal. But we enjoyed staying in one spot for more than just one night and being able to unpack our bags a bit. While in Vegas, we always end up walking a lot since we like to see different things the hotels put on display. And so we did this time too; we ended up walking the Strip almost from one end to the other.

A MOMENT IN ARIZONA AND THEN TO UTAH

Then it was time to leave Vegas behind and head to the Colorado River to see the Hoover Dam. Before getting there, we stopped at Lake Mead which is part of the National Park System in the USA. Hoover Dam is right at the border of Arizona and Nevada, so just by walking to other side of the dam, you can change states and turn your clock forward or backwards one hour. Hoover Dam was pretty amazing and I am not surprised that it is the most famous dam in the USA. This was our first time visiting.

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From the Hoover Dam we drove over to Utah. Before getting to Utah, you are actually in Arizona for a time. Our first place to stop in Utah was the city of St. George, where we stayed the night at 7 Wives Inn. We all know about Utah’s polygamist history, and our bed & breakfast has an interesting story. 7 Wives Inn was really lovely and I will tell you more about it later. In the morning we packed our bags in the car again, and drove up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. We spent a day enjoying some brisk mountain air and snow, and then stayed the night in Cedar City.

THANKSGIVING WITH FAMILY AND DRIVING HOME THROUGH THE SALT FLATS

From Cedar City we drove to Vineyard to meet some family. We got to enjoy Thanksgiving with them, and spent time with cousins and great gramma. Three days went fast and right when it started snowing, we left for our long drive back home. This time we took the northern route via I-80 to Nevada and then on to California. We drove along the Great Salt Lake and then to the famous Bonneville Salt Flats where we stopped for some photos and lunch.

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After spending the night in Winnemucca in Nevada there was only the last leg of out journey remaining. That was the most boring drive on this trip so far, since there is not much to see in Nevada. At some point we did see some wild horses. When we finally reached the Sierra Nevada mountains, the views really started to change. Beautiful mountains and lots of snow!

Even though it is always great to be on the road, we really enjoy returning home too. Last week the Bay Area got some rain and the air quality is good again. Also the wild fires have been tamed which is great news. The next challenge will be mud slides or flooding caused by the rains. But we are happy to be home and getting ready for Christmas!