Category Archives: usa

Antelope canyon…for free!

Antelope canyon. On the top of the list to visit. A must before your die list. A must for photograph lovers. A must for natur lover. A must for the facebook profile. For whatever reason, Antelope canyon is simply a must, when visiting USA.

 

Antelope canyon is totally a must for so many travelers that this place is becoming so touristic and crowded. And expensiv!  That is comprehensiv because this canyon is breathtaking beautiful and people are willing to pay a lot of cash and wait in the long line just for a single photo.

What if I tell you that you can visit Antelope canyon cash free and tourist free? It might not be as beautiful as the lower or upper Antelope or it might…I don’t know as I have never been to either of them. But what I know is that the “free” Antelope I know is gorgeous! We had a hard time leaving this magical place. And now only just by looking at the photos brings tears to our eyes.

Ok, I am sorry, I lied! It’s not totally free as you will need to rent a kayak at the lake Powell point marina. We rented our double kayak for 45$ here. From 8am-4pm you will have the kayak so it is totally worth the money! All the information you need you can find on their website.

I have loop in the itinerary from Antelope Marina to Antelope Canyon. It took us about 1hour to paddle from the marina to the canyon. And David was basically the one who did it all by himself.

We meet a couple who snap the photo for us if you are wondering!

Now and then we saw tour boats passing us by at the larger passage. The further in we paddle the more narrow the passage become. And more beautiful and peaceful!

End of the road. Except only by foot.

We didn’t know what to expect when we parked our kayak and walked into the canyon.

The silence, the heat from the stonewalls and the shimmering 50 shades of red tooked us by suprise! The only we heard were our own heartbeats and our footsteps in the sand. I couldn't help myself walking with my fingers stroking the millions of years old walls.

I didn’t mind getting lost in there. For awhile we were imagining that we were the first human on earth exploring this place. We have heard that you can go as far as to the other “paying” Antelope canyons.

But ofcourse our imaginary adventure has to end because it was getting dark and we needed to return the kayak. But on the way back we stopped for a swim.

 

Next time when we have more time in USA we will without any hesitation rent a kayak for a week and explore other wonderful places around lake Powell. We are really looking forward for it!

 

8 places to visit in Death Valley NP, USA

For anyone who hasn’t been to USA or visited any national parks Death Valley sound..”dead” right? Some may wonder what you can do in a valley of death?! Read further and you will discover 8 stunning places to visit in this Valley.

 

Death Valley was the only national park in USA I have heard of before I eventually made some research about other national parks. I have heard about Death Valley in Hollywood movies where people got lost in the desert, where the maffia buried dead bodies and that it’s the hottest place on earth!

It was very hot but bearable as we where there in late october when it was autumn therefore cooler temperature. We only had two nights in the park but for being only two nighs we were able to discover amazing places.

Here are 8 places places we visited worth visiting:

 

1. The Mesquite flat sand dunes

This sand dunes tooked me by suprise by its beauty! At first glance by the car park I was not very impress but further as we went into the dunes the less footprints we saw and we were emerged by the beauty of the dunes and the landscape. Most of the people were staying very close to the car park so we were totatally alone and it was great not sharing this special moment with hundreds other visitor.

Three advises. Walk far far out and go for the sunset..and ENJOY!


2. Zabriskie Point

Another beautiful dunes! Very easy access to the parking lot and a very short walk to the point view. Our initial plan was to hike for the sunrise into the dunes but unfortunally David and I got into an argument ( ahh yes couples do argue!) and we went separate ways for a couple of hours so we didn’t enjoy this site as we could have. Now we just tap our head and wonder why we missed an opportunity to explore such an unique place!

Two advises. No matter what happen, take a walk into the dunes and go very early!


3. The racetrack – mysterious moving rocks

This place was hard to get to as normally you will need a 4WD to get there. But we tried our luck with Jucy, our rented car. We tooked our time and many times we thought we were going to get flat tires but we made it! It was an experience and the scenery was beautiful.

Still today nobody really knows why or how the small rock moves but I must say that the rocks are so much smaller than I expected! Most of them were as big as a handfist while I  thought at first they were boulders big as a car..haha! Neverless, it was cool to see these mysterious moving rocks!

4. Artist drive

This is a short scenic drive along colorful volcano deposit colored by various mineral pigments.

5. Dante’s view

A pointview of Death Valley where we had our homemade dinner watching the sunset. I don’t recommend a car with trailer as driving up is very steep! Easy acces because you have the view directly from your car at the car park but stepping out of the car is definetly recommended!


6. Ubehebe Crater

We drove pass by this on our way back from the Racetrack. Personally we were not impressed by this crater because we have done hikes on massive volcanos few month earlier in Indonesia. It’s still worth walking around the rim. It should take around 30min-1hour.

7. Badwater basin

Badwater basin is the lowest point of North America with an elevation of 86 m below sealevel! Easy acces, just a few meter from the car park. And very hot!

 

8. Devil’s golf course

There is no Death Valley without the devil right? And who says that the devil doesn’t like to play golf? Easy acces as it’s just infront of the car park.

 

Don’t miss Death Valley if you are nearby…it’s totally not dead here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking at The Zion Narrows, one of our favorite hike!

To be honest the hike at the Narrows isn’t our favorite hike at the Zion national park, the Angels landing is but I can assure you that the Narrows is aswell very awesome!

The day before our hike we went to the visitor center to make sure that there was not a Flash Flood Warning. People have died in the narrows beacause of a flash flood caused by a storms kilometers far away! It might not be raining where you are but it might somewhere else.

Once we got the green light, this is optional, we rented each a pair of canyoneering shoes (18$/pair) to help preventing an ankle injury and Neoprene socks (7$/pair) to keep our feet warm. Inspite of the price I was very happy to be walking in the shoes as there was no way you could see what was on the bottom of the river. I remember a few times my feet got stuck between rocks and I was so grateful to have my funny looking shoes on.

Our “walking on the moon” shoes.

Map here: Zion Guru

We started our 16km (ten miles) round trip hike at the Temple of Sinawalast stop of the free Zion canyon shuttleand turned back when we reached the Big falls, the campsite. We were there in late september (2014) and it was crowded but the further you get into the narrows less people it will be because most of them will turn around by the Wall street

As you can see at the map above there are several hikes and you can even go further and for some of them you will need a permit.


It was harder than I expected walking upstream some parts knee to waist hight water, on loose rocks and slippery boulders. Sometime there are potholes but ofcourse you don’t see them until you plunge into one. At some stretch it was a challenge to choose the “right” way to pass. One tips is to look of the people who are walking infront of you…some will fall into a pothole or slip..well then you will know where not to walk.  Another tips is to use a stick! I am still laughing thinking of this guy who put his stuff on his head and walked straight forward and then suddently we saw only his head.


This hike was pure fun and not just an ordinary walk on the mountain that we are so familiar with. And ofcourse the big reason why this slot canyon walk is very popular is the beauty of this place! Everyone should try to hike as far as you can even if it’s not very far because behind every corner you will have a wow-moment!  Just remember that none of my photography makes the Narrows any justice! 

When to go:

The Narrows is normally closed between mid March-late May depending of the level of the water and runoff. The best season to go is between summer and autumn, june-november. If you dare you can do it during winter season, but if you doing it you problably already know about the freezing water.

More great information about hiking the Narrows click Here and Here
So what are you waiting for? Go do this hike!

Why you should love going on a road trip in U.S

Before we flew to U.S in 2014 I was not totally convinced that we made the right choice. For me USA was gangs, violence, barbie girls, highly obese people, drugs, skyscrapers, traffic, greasy food….everywhere. I had a really bad image of U.S.

Yes I am still having this image of USA but not as bad and extreme. After over two month of road trip mostly around Califonia, Utah, Arizona and Colorado I realised that the gangs and the violence are not on every corner of the street. Not everybody are fat or barbie skinny. There are drugs but we were never offered any. There are traffic but mostly in the big cities, like most of the cities all around the world.

Actually, David and I fell quite easily in love with U.S, atleast of what we saw and experiences. We both saw an amazing side of U.S that we did not expected and we both agreed that we can’t wait to get back there!

Here are some of the reason of why WE love doing a road trip in U.S.

The landscape, national parks and monuments. 

We live in Switzerland and we are spoil with beautiful landscape but the one in USA is extraordinary! USA has everything the mother nature has to offer! Just one hour drive away from a huge busy city you can find a stunning landscape and a feeling of calm and harmony!

The nature is the main reason of why we love USA. This endless land is screaming to be explored! And most of it are for free! We have not once been disapointed of a national park we have visited. The visitor center are all great, clean and the staff are always helpful. We can feel that the rangers really care about the the nature. There are tons of FREE, fully equipped camping site around the parks. Use them but please respect the rules too!


The Americans

The Americans are what swiss people are not; open, friendly and very chatty! At first we were quite chocked of how people could come up to you and talk like we were best friends! And then she or he would turn around and totally ignore you like you don’t exist! We got used to it. Americans have a very positiv vibe about everything.  “Aweeesome”, “Beautifuul” or “Amaaazing”, we keep hear they say. We just looove à l’américaine enthousiasme!

The highway

USA is one of the best country to make the ultimate dream road trip not only because of the good roads but aswell of how many wow-moments you will have while driving on one! There are so many great, scenic highways all over the country. One highway that is well known worlwide is the historical route 66 or the pacific coast highway route 1 along the westcoast. My absolut favorite is the route 12 in Utah! Breathtaking!

Get out of the overrated route 66 and you will find the true beauty!

The service

The waiters and the waitress in USA are dependent of tips and they really deserv it! We did not came across any waiter/waitress that showed us how much they hated their job! They were always cheerful and smiling. Every 5 min or so they would come to our table and ask if everything is alright, if we needed a refill..anything. David and I who live in Switzerland (or Europe ) are not use to that kind of service! At first we got annoyed! We even thought that they wanted us to hurry and leave the table for the next client!


The fast food chain restaurants

Living in a country where there are not much choises of fast food chain USA was the food heaven for me. Ok fast food is not healthy but when you are on a road trip you sometimes don’t care! And it is really cheap and the plates are huge coming from someone who eats a lot!

Our favorite chains are :

  1. Bubba gump shrimp CO (from the movie Forest Gump)
  2. Panda express, chinese cuisine.
  3. In-N-out burger
  4. Taco Bell


The viewpoints/overlook

The Americans love the viewpoints! And so do we! Don’t get me wrong, I love to walk but sometimes you are just to lazy to walk some km to have the best view so we appreciate alot those viewpoints where you can just parc the car, step out of the car, walk 2 meters and there you have the view!





Fiery Furnace ranger hike, Arches NP

In 2014 when we were in Arches national park we meet a couple who recommended us to do a guided hike with a ranger at the Fiery Furnace, an area where there are red rocks formation looking like burning flames.

Normally we don’t like guided hikes as we like to walk in our own pace but when we saw these rocks formation we were convinced and decided to reserve at the Arches visitor center two spot for the next morning. As we thought, the tour was fully booked but our names were put on the top of the waiting list if someone would cancel at the last minute.

The next morning we drove to the visitor center and got the good news that two person have cancelled the morning tour! How lucky! Usually people need to book months in advance to get a spot on the tour.

At the meeting point we were around fifteen people plus the lady ranger. Some were looking fit and some didn’t. We had three kids in the group aswell. We introduce breifly to each other and the ranger explained to us the safety procedures. And then off we go.

Our ranger guided us through the flames made by rocks. Beautiful! 

I liked our ranger instantly because she was so lovely. She was aswell very informative and explained things in a way that capture my attention. I could feel that she really loves her job. We learned alot about the plants and the creatures in the park.

Our cute ranger sitting under “the hidden arch” explaning how fragile the nature is. I would like to be a ranger when I grow up!

One of the interesting thing we learned was about these prehistoric brine shrimp living in the potholes. The eggs can survive under extreme heat or cold temperature condition. Now I make it sound so boring but our ranger was so passionted about it and made it so interesting! Haha

Can you see the shrimp?

The beauty of this place really took our breath away ! We have heard that this place is even more magical by the sunset as if the flames really would come into life. I can imagine !

We are experienced hikers so this three hours long hike was not difficult for us so we were just having fun and enjoying the surrounding. For some people this hike might be difficult as you have to climb and jump sometimes but we were helping each other and nobody was ever left behind. Even the kids managed fine with some help. 

Don’t miss this out while out here at the Arches NP.

For more detailed information about the tour please click here and here

Stones that are shaped like mushrooms

David needs a hug!

On our road trip in USA in 2014 David and I got to see incredible natural wonders we did not know existed! The Hoodoos were one of the unknown things for us. So what are they…hoodoos? The hoodoos are rocks that are strangely shaped like mushrooms! 

They are cute right?

These hoodoos we have seen are called the Toadstool Hoodoos and can easily be found on highway 89 between Kanab and Page just west of Big Water near Cottonwood Canyon Road. From the small parking starts the easy hike to the Toadstools. The hike is 2.5km/1.5 miles round trip. If only we were not lazy that day we would have seen other kind of Hoodoos not faraway by taking the Wahweap Hoodos trail that is 15 km/ 9 miles round trip. 

The beautiful surrounding! 

One thing afterwards I really regret is not have visited this place on late afternoon because it has to be even more magical with the warm colors! Imagine it!

So next time  (I promise your there will be a next time) we will visit this place by sunset and do the Wahweap trail!

Here is an illustration of how these rock formation got created. I just love mother nature!https://letslearngeology.wordpress.com/pedunculado/