Sep 042011

Getting out of Vegas felt like a breeze of hot, fresh air. Suddenly you have space, lots of space, and less noise and people. Traveling through the Southwest is every European’s dream and so it was no surprise that most people in the parks were Germans, Italians, and French. It felt like being home, just with a different landscape. Our first stop was Hoover Dam at 120F temperature. Not only on hot days I can recommend the tour inside this amazing structure.

Next stop was Grand Canyon Village on the South rim. Around five hours from Vegas this cozy place is a great starting point for hikes. Getting up at around 5am to see the sunset is highly recommended, followed by an amazing breakfast at El Tovar. I am not sure if there is anything that has not been said about Grand Canyon. It is huge, beautiful, wild, challenging, dangerous, etc. I am not a landscape photographer, I hate carrying tripods ( I don’t use one), I am not patient, and I often believe that most images have already been taken 1 million times. Still I found myself photographing sunsets and sunrises right in between all other tourist. Yes we all took the same images. I think it is a photographers reflex to something visually stunning. You have to press a shutter to capture this moment for yourself. At some point we have to lower the cameras and just enjoy it. While we like to share our stories and experiences we have to make sure that we actually experience them.

The journey continued to Bryce Canyon. Smaller, cozier, it looks like a place that could be part of a Disney story. The rock columns almost feel man made. Actually they look like structures that a giant kid could have build in its sandbox. Bryce feels more touristy just because of its smaller scale. It is harder to escape the crowds unless you go on a longer hike. Bryce Canyon City, right outside the park’s gates is something that you should avoid. While most National Park Villages have a feel of authentic, someone had the idea to turn that place into a comical portrait of a western town with bad food and bad prices. Every evening in summer there is a chance of thunderstorms around the canyon. The clouds in combination with the sun can create stunning lighting situations.

After two days at Bryce we continued our road-trip to Zion National Park. This Yosemite like jewel just made me feel at ease. The temperature was high at around 103F during the day. The river provided much needed cooling and hikes in the morning and afternoon were comfortable as long as you pick the shady side of the valley. Definitely a place to visit again since there is tons to do. We chickened out on Angel’s Landing. Next time.

Without being too political I realize how progressive politicians were in the early 20th century by creating National Parks, by using tax money to build dams to provide unlimited water and electricity to a dry areas, and by using a work force to develop the National Park’s infrastructure for recreational hikers, while protecting the wildlife. Without their vision we would most likely encounter privately owned park areas with amusement rides, water slides, pricey hotels, and most likely slot machines. Thank someone that this did not happen and that we can enjoy these park’s serenity and wildlife as temporary guests.

  One Response to “The Southwest: The National Parks”

  1. Love the perspective in these photos. Makes me feel like i’m really there. I have to admit you’ve inspired me. Thanks for sharing. Alex

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