Wild West Road Trip {Days 21-22}

After two and a half years of planning and saving, we finally took our big Wild West Road Trip in July! We drove 8,775 miles over 35 days, spent 203 hours in the van, stayed in 26 different hotels/cabins/Airbnbs, and visited 12 national parks, 1 national historic site, 4 national monuments, 2 tribal parks, and 16 states! It was a crazy awesome trip - of course there were a few rough patches here and there, but overall it was amazing to spend so much uninterrupted time with my favorite people and having such gorgeous views made it even better!

I'll eventually get through blogging the whole trip, because so many people have asked for details, but it's going to take a while to get through it all! By the way, some of these photos I'm posting were taken by my husband - he has a great eye and he took a TON of photos! 

If you want to see more of the story, start here for Day 1!

Select landscape prints are available here

Day 21

This day started off with a drive through the eastern part of Zion National Park. As usual, I wish we would have had more time. I really wanted to do the Canyon Overlook Trail but we needed to make sure we got to Page in time for our tour of Antelope Canyon X. 

We had just had breakfast at the hotel about 45 minutes before we passed this restaurant so we weren't hungry but we picked up an apple pie with a side of rum sauce for later. We ate it outside after checking out Glen Canyon Dam and it was pretty fabulous.

We had originally planned to see Hoover Dam, but our route changed and it ended up being out of our way, so we settled for Glen Canyon Dam instead. This dam is 16 feet shorter than Hoover Dam, but it's actually 316 feet wider, so it was pretty impressive and I guess it wasn't really "settling" to see it!

We checked out Lake Powell while we were there too. It was really pretty but I kind of wish we would have found a higher vantage point.

Our next stop was Antelope Canyon X. I did tons of research about the different Antelope Canyon tours and the general consensus of all the reviews I read was that both the upper and lower canyon tours were rushed and way too crowded. The canyon is on Navajo land and you have to pay for a tour to see it. I also researched some other canyons, but none that were easily accessible and close to our route were anywhere near as pretty. I finally found Canyon X tours. Canyon X is part of Antelope Canyon, but this part is run by a relatively new company and it's just not as well known yet. I'm sure that within the next few years it will get crowded too, but for now it was not. I think there were around 20-25 people on our tour and it wasn't crowded at all. Our tour guide was amazing and gave a really cool demonstration about how sandstone is formed. They take you in vans back from the office to the canyon. Once you get back there you have to go down a sandy hill that's pretty darn steep when you're walking back up it in 100 degree heat with no shade. There are a couple of shaded rest areas if you need to take a break though. Also, they offer bottled water but it's not cold, so I definitely recommend taking your own! We took the basic tour, so tripods were not allowed. I'm pretty happy with the photos anyway, and I didn't feel rushed at all.

We stopped at this gas station because the deli there was supposed to have really good Navajo tacos, but the deli was closed so we ended up going somewhere else and having more disappointing BBQ. Actually, the meat was good, I was just disappointed in the sides. I just wanted some good mac and cheese darn it! All the BBQ places we saw out west only had coleslaw and cowboy beans (not the sweet baked beans like I'm used to). I was really excited to try Navajo tacos on this trip (it's taco stuff on fry bread) but we never did. Guess that's another reason to go out west again sometime! I mean, I guess I could make them at home. But lets be honest, I probably won't.

After lunch, we headed toward Monument Valley. We stopped at the Burger King in Kayenta to see the displays about the Navajo Code Talkers from WWII. It was pretty interesting! There's also a museum close to there, but it was already closed when we were there.

We finally made it to Monument Valley that evening, obviously too late to drive through! We stayed in a cute little cabin at Goulding's Campground across the highway from Monument Valley. Compared to a hotel or a house it was tiny and cramped, but compared to a tent it was great. It's all in your perspective! Sadly, it cost as much as a nice hotel in some other areas would have cost, but there are not a lot of lodging options near Monument Valley, so they can pretty much charge whatever they want. It was totally worth it though!

Day 22

Monument Valley was amazing! It looks every bit as awesome as it does in movies - and there have been a lot of movies filmed there, everything from John Wayne westerns to Back to the Future III, The Lone Ranger, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and lots of others.

A lot of reviews I read online warned that the dirt road through the valley is too rough for regular vehicles and you need something with high clearance and 4 wheel drive. I was nervous about it but our van did fine! It was rough and we went pretty slow, and there was one little part that we skipped because it looked too rough, but overall it was fine! It might have been a different story if it was wet, but we didn't have any problems!

There are Native Americans set up selling jewelry and other stuff in several different areas of Monument Valley. One of those areas is at John Ford Point. In addition to the usual jewelry, they also have a horse you can pay to pose on for pictures.

It was pretty darn dusty there!

This is the spot where Forrest Gump stopped running. Since Joey runs track and cross country, I suggested we get a Bubba Gump Shrimp hat and a wig and recreate the scene. I totally expected him to say no, but he agreed! I should have watched the scene again before we took this though - he needed some people running behind him!

After we left Monument Valley, we headed toward Moab, Utah, with a little detour to drive the Moki Dugway. This is a dirt road carved into the side of Cedar Mesa. When I looked at photos of it before we left home I thought this road looked a little scary, but it really wasn't. Even if it was, it would have been worth it for these views!

We stopped at Muley Point and had the whole area all to ourselves. That didn't happen very often on this trip, so it was a special treat! The photo above is the view of Goosenecks of the San Juan River, with Monument Valley in the background.

My sister kind of freaked out when I sent her this photo. She was sure one of the kids was going to fall off a cliff. Spoiler alert: no one did! For the record, I was scared too, but she was already sitting by the time I made it over there, so I figured I might as well take a photo!

Our next stop was Moab, Utah! Just south of town, Wilson Arch sits right off the highway, so it was a no-brainer to stop and check out our first arch! The climb up to it was pretty short but super steep, and the views at the top were pretty amazing!

That's it for Day 22! Next up is Moab, Utah and Twin Falls, Idaho!