Saturday, 13th. May – Grand Canyon
Weather: ~30 °C, a.m. cloudy, p.m. sunny
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express, Page
For breakfast we bought some stuff at the shop in the
Cameron Trading Post and by 8 a.m. we were on the road again. 40 minutes later we arrived at the East Entrance of Grand Canyon National
Park. Now that I was there for the third time we
were finally lucky with the weather (first time there was snow and no
view, second time there were clouds and hardly any view).
The entrance fee has increased from $20 to $25 this year, but we had our
National Parks Pass so we didn't have to pay anything extra. We stopped at nearly every viewpoint and
reached Grand Canyon Village around 11 a.m. While the morning was still a
little cloudy, we
had perfect weather from midday, up to 30 °C I would say. We took the Shuttle to
Maricopa Point and walked along the canyon rim to Powell Point and Hopi Point. A
new Mass Transportation System is going to be introduced in the near
future so that it will no
longer be possible to travel anywhere by car within the park boundaries. With the
large number of visitors at the South Rim each year, parking at the different viewpoints is an
issue. By the time we had returned to the village the train from Williams had arrived and we took a photo.
We also saw a few condors circling above the Bright Angel Lodge.
At 1:30 p.m. we left the park towards Page where we arrived around 4:30 p.m.
We checked into the Holiday Inn Express where we had prebooked a room with king
size bed for 3 nights ($81 excluding tax). When we asked for 2 queens instead of
the king we
were told that the hotel was fully booked. But the room was large with free W-LAN and
there was a coffee maker. In the breakfast area they offer 24 hours complimentary coffee as
well. A luxury continental breakfast was included and there's an outdoor pool (the
water was freezing though). For dinner we met Eva and André who were staying at
the same hotel and we went to Ken's Old West which had live country music on the
Sunday, 14th May – The Wave
Weather: ~32 °C, a.m. sunny, p.m. partly cloudy
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express, Page
14th May saw the highlight of our tour: The Wave! We had
managed to get permis for North Coyote Buttes via the internet a few
months in advance. We woke up early
as we were still used to Utah time, so we were on our way by 7:15 a.m. Arizona
time, on the 89 towards Kanab. It was sunny with a light wind. A few miles
beyond the Paria Contact Station we
turned left onto Houserock Valley Road, a dirt road that becomes impassable
when wet, even for a 4-wheel drive. An hour after our departure we reached the Wire
Pass trailhead. The hike to the Wave via
unmarked trails took 1.5 hours. With the permits we had received a trail
description with photos. There
was no shade on the way. We even met a ranger who checked our permits.
Wave is a fossilized sand dune with fantastic swirling patterns (see
view). We met a few Americans and two German couples. We were told that 50 people
tried to obtain a permit via lottery at the Paria Contact Station the day before.
Only 20 people are allowed each day: 10 via internet permit and 10 via
local lottery. We found the Second Wave and climbed up to Melody Arch, saw the
Brain Rocks and the Hamburger. In total we spent 3 hours here. We left at 1 p.m.,
however, the way back wasn't always easy to find and we had to fight against the
heat. By now we had 32 °C but a few
clouds had appeared.
We both drank 2 litres of water and we still had 1 spare each. (In
2008 we had the chance to visit the Wave a second time!) At 4 p.m. we were back in Page and I tried out
the pool. For dinner we went to the Fiesta Mexicana restaurant around the corner ($27 including
tip). It was very good.
Monday, 15th May – Wahweap Hoodoos – Toadstool Hoodoo –
Paria Movie Set – White Rocks
Weather: ~32 °C, sunny
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express, Page
Today was hoodoo day. We left at 7:45 a.m. The sky was a perfect blue. We went
back on the 89 towards Kanab and tried to find the Wahweap Hoodoos. Between
milemarker 17 and 18 we turned north on Cottonwood Canyon Road. After 1.4 miles
we turned off right onto BLM 431. After 4 miles on this road we came to a
crossways of BLM 431 and 430. We continued on the 431 to the right. Then we had to pass
through several gates, always following the main route. After 10 miles from CCR the road
goes down a hill and it more or less ends after another gate, unless you want to
drive in the riverbed. Here we left the car, it was shortly before 9 a.m. We
went south for a mile, some white cliffs could be seen in the distance. After rounding
the cliffs, in the second side canyon, we saw them! The white pillars with
looked spooky. The best light is certainly in the morning.
later we were back at the car. It was 10 a.m.
On the return trip we met some other tourists. We drove back onto Highway 89 and
We went to see the
Rimrocks afterwards. At milemarker 19
there's a small parking area (no sign) right at the trailhead. It was just a 15 minutes walk
north following the wash, then we stood right below Toadstool Hoodoo. It is brown with a dark
cap. The best light is probably in the afternoon but it looked good anyway. At 11:45
a.m. we were back at the car. Next we visited the Paria Movie Set. The location can
be reached via a dirt road starting off at milemarker 30. We reached the movie
set around 12:15
p.m. The site was flooded in 1998 and the original buildings were destroyed.
The last film that was shot here was with Clint Eastwood. The reconstructed
wooden buildings still looked very new and they were destroyed by fire in August
2006, just a few months after our visit! But the colourful landscape in
this area is absolutely fantastic and still worth a visit. The only remains of the original Paria Townsite is an
uninteresting graveyard a bit further down the road.
Back on the 89 we turned left, back towards Page. Shortly after Church Wells we turned
left at milemarker 13 (no sign) onto a dirt road towards the White Rocks. The road
ends after approx. 5 miles. We saw several small hoodoos and some white cliffs, but compared to the
Wahweap Hoodoos this area was fairly uninteresting. After just 30 minutes we were back on
the 89. Then we drove to Lone Rock, a huge rock that stands in Lake Powell (day fee or
National Parks Pass required), the Wahweap Scenic View looking down upon Lake
Powell and to the Scenic View Drive in Page with a view of the Glen Canyon Dam. At 2:45
p.m. we were back at our hotel.
For dinner we went to Bella Napoli. They had an All-you-can-eat buffet including
drinks for $10, but it was just so-so. Afterwards we drove to Antelope Point (day fee or
National Parks Pass required) to view the sunset at 7:30 p.m. Arizona time, but it wasn't a good
From Page boat trips to Rainbow
Bridge, a very large arch on Navajo land, are
offered, but they are expensive, around $100 per person for the 7.5 hours trip.
Tuesday, 16th May – Lower Antelope Canyon – Horseshoe Bend – Johnson
Canyon Movie Set – Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Weather: ~25-30 °C, a.m. sunny, p.m. cloudy
Accommodation: Bob Bon Inn, Kanab
On Tuesday we left shortly after 8 a.m. We took the 98 towards Kayenta to
Lower Antelope Canyon ($15 fee) which is on the road to Antelope Point. Both
Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon are on Navajo land meaning a usage
fee of $6 has to be paid in addition. Upper Antelope Canyon is famous for its sun beams at
midday, however we chose Lower Antelope Canyon because you can just park there
and climb right into it and it's less busy. For the upper canyon you have to make an
appointment with the Navajos for a tour and there's a time limit. Apart from the
beams the lower canyon is even said to be more spectacular. We
brought a tripod all the way from Germany to be able to take pictures inside the
narrow canyon as it gets pretty dark down there. We spent a couple of hours and left
the site at 10:30 a.m. On my birthday in 1997 11
tourists died in the canyon when they were surprised by a flash flood.
After our visit we drove to the 89 and parked at the trailhead to Horseshoe Bend
Overlook. It wasn't far to walk but the path was rather sandy and it was hot.
All in all we spent 30 minutes. Horeshoe Bend is best photographed in the
morning. Our next destination was Kanab and we travelled the Vermillion Cliffs
Scenic Highway (Alt 89) with at stop at the historic Navajo Bridge that spans across Marble
Canyon, and the Cliff Dwellers, before the road climbed up from 4000 to 8000 feet.
Lake the road turns off to the Grand Canyon's north rim. More and more dark clouds
appeared and there was lightning in the distance.
At 2:15 p.m. Arizona time (3:15 p.m. Utah time) we arrived in Kanab. We got a
room at the Bob Bon Inn. It was fairly large with 2 beds, fridge and microwave
for $66 including tax. Only the small pool seemed to need some cleaning. After
checking in we took off again towards Johnson Canyon, 10 miles east on the 89. We turned left and after another 5 miles we saw the Johnson Canyon
Movie Set on the right hand side. Unfortunately there was a fence and the gate was
locked, so we could only look at it from a distance. But it looked like a real
old west town. Apparently "Gunsmoke" was filmed here. We continued on the road,
which turned into a well-maintained dirt track after a while, and followed the
signs to Glendale. The map of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
from the BLM office was really useful here as it gave us a sense of direction.
Eventually we hit the 89 again,
turned south and not long afterwards we turned off right to Coral Pink Sand
Dunes State Park which was another 12 miles. When we got there at 4:30 p.m.
(Arizona time - we stuck to this as we would be back in Nevada the
following day which observes the same time) the sun had disappeared behind a
cloud. So we didn't pay the $5 day fee at the entrance station, but had a quick
look from the access road. Then we returned to Kanab. We got there at 5:15
p.m. and had an early dinner at Houston's Trail's End Restaurant where the waitresses
are carrying colts! When we were finished, shortly after 6 p.m., the sun was shining
again and we went right back to the sand dunes! It's just 18 miles to the south
entrance. This time the light was much better but the dunes glowed orange
rather than pink... An hour later we were back in
Wednesday, 17th May – Zion National Park – Las Vegas
Weather: up to 39 °C, sunny
Accommodation: Aladdin Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Wednesday was sunny and warm. We left Kanab shortly after 9 a.m. and took the
route via Zion NP,
instead of Route 59. The distance is about the same. In Hurricane we had a
quick milk shake at Dairy Queen. There was a lot of traffic
around Las Vegas. At 2 p.m. we checked into our pre-booked
hotel, the Aladdin Resort & Casino. We had made the reservation at a special
promotion rate for $49 plus tax per night (the 2nd cheapest hotel of our entire
trip!). During the week you can easily get some great offers, while prices
double or triple at the weekends. The room at the Aladdin was large with 2 beds, a large
bathroom and a safe. W-LAN was charged at $12 per day, so we did without. A room
with a view of the Bellagio Fountains costs $30 extra. In 1998 the old Aladdin
was torn down but the new 2600 rooms complex is currently being redesigned as Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. However, we did not get inconvenienced in
any way by the reconstruction activities. The pool area on the 6th floor has a view
of the Eiffel Tower which is neat. In 1998 we stayed at the Stratoshere Tower Hotel. It was
fine, but quite a way from the main part of the Strip. From top of the Stratoshere Tower
you can also get a good view of Las Vegas.
In the afternoon we strolled along the Strip and had a look into some of the
casino hotels (Paris, Flamingo, Venetian, Mirage) as well as the
Forum Shops. On the street the air was like in a baking oven: 39 °C! We admired the
artificial skies in some of the hotels and the hourly Rainstorm in the Aladdin
shopping mall as well as the singing gondoliers in front of and inside The
Venetian. At the Mirage you can see the white tigers (no charge) or visit its Secret Garden
with dolphin habitat ($15). The MGM presents a lion habitat that's also free of charge. For $9 you can
go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and look at Las
Vegas from above.
For dinner we went to the Flamingo buffet
which was good ($18 with drinks, excl. tax and tip). Here we met Carsten from the USA Stammtisch travel
community and afterwards we had a drink at a bar with still another guy from the travel community, Uwe, and his mum.
Thursday, 18th May – Las Vegas
Weather: 39 °C, cloudy
Accommodation: Aladdin Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
The next morning we had breakfast at the Aladdin buffet. The regular price is
$13 per person including drinks but we got a 2 for 1 voucher with our
reservation. The buffet was really good. Afterwards we did some shopping at the Las Vegas
Outlet Center south of the airport. The sky was full of dark clouds but the air
was still hot. In the afternoon we repacked our luggage for the flight the next
day, then we
went for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the Forum Shops at the Caesars
Palace Hotel. The ceiling in the Forum shops changes slowly from day to night
and back again. The restaurant was already busy at 6 p.m. and we had to wait 25
minutes to be seated. Those
that came after us had to expect a 40-minutes wait. But the food was worth the
wait. We paid $46 incl.
tip for 2 chicken dishes, table water and a lovely cheesecake which I absolutely
had to try though I was already full...
While we waited the hourly 10-min. Atlantis Water Show went off in
front of the Cheesecake Factory next to the saltwater aquarium. After dinner we went to
see the Volcano at the Mirage which
erupts every hour after sunset and the Sirens of TI Show at the Treasure
Island Hotel. The latter is scheduled every 90 minutes from 7
p.m. and lasts 20 minutes. It replaces the Treasure Islands Pirates Battle and
features music, dancing, acrobatics and swordplay with a lot of
pyrotechnics and a sinking ship!
Friday, 19th May – return flight Las Vegas - Düsseldorf
Total miles: 2997
The 19th was the day of departure. As the flight was rescheduled for 7 a.m. we
had to get up early. We returned the rental car and by 5 a.m. we were queuing at the
check-in. This took 30 minutes, followed by the security scan. Then we
took the shuttle to the domestic terminal. 40 minutes later we were at the gate.
The flight to Atlanta took 3.5 hours. Here we had to change to the international
terminal but we didn't have to go through another security scan nor pick up
our luggage. Thus it took just 30 minutes to get to the gate. After a 1.5 hours wait
the flight left in time and we arrived in Düsseldorf even an hour earlier than
scheduled, at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday morning. This was the end of a great trip.