Southern Utah beats the pants off of the Grand Canyon

iron-oxide colors contrast against the clear sky

iron-oxide colors contrast against the clear sky

If you have ever wanted to visit the Grand Canyon I beg you to reconsider. You especially shouldn’t visit the Grand Canyon after you have seen southern Utah in all of its glory. Some of you will not be bargained with nor begged. So, if you must cross of that big sore thumb off of your bucket list, the big sore thumb that is the Grand Whats-It-Called-No-Name, do it BEFORE you visit the parks of southern Utah. Because your experiences in Utah will be your favorite arid landscape ventures. These places beat the socks off of the Grand Canyon.

I’d never pegged myself as a desert kind of girl. I will have to say that I wasn’t entirely thrilled to visit Utah. The fact is- is that my husband was the most excited to explore Utah. Initially, nothing was appealing to me about the area- but man was I in for a surprise!

It’s like you are on a different planet. It’s the closest place to Mars that you and I will ever get. Iron-oxide turns the dirt alien colors of orange and red. Shadows cast hues of purple on crazy rock formations. The maker of the universe did It’s finest architectural work in the Grand Staircase Escalante and Bryce Canyon State Parks. Orange hoodoos and arches contrast with the bright blue sky. It’s hard, almost impossible, for me to believe that millions of years ago this desert wasteland used to be a swamp much like my Louisiana home. This area is desolate, a beautiful wasteland, and I was confused at how it could be both. There is no water, no cell phone service, and no stops for gasoline for an extensive number of miles. So when you visit, go prepared!

Roadway arch on State Hwy 12

Roadway arch on State Hwy 12

Hoodoos at Bryce CAnyon

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

This adventure was a bit unconventional for me.
So, during your exploration, you will NEED the capabilities a four wheel drive vehicle. You CAN NOT miss exploring the Box-Hollow Wilderness. There is a vehicle trail known as Hell’s Backbone that puts the views of the Grand Canyon to shame. This road is a little intimidating. I mean. . . Hell’s Backbone? The name speaks for itself.

In the park, don’t be one of those people who go around looking for THE Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument like it’s a particular formation (we did). Apparently this is a big misconception, because we ran into others who were wondering around looking for one specific site of THE Grand Staircase. Little did they know that they had been driving in Grand Staircase the whole time. The whole area is the Grand Staircase Escalate. It’s the area that “steps down” to the ballroom of the Grand Canyon. Images that people have in their heads of this area are the insane*** Metate Arch and the Devils Garden, two places that you simply can’t miss. I’ve also heard that the rivers and riverbeds of Zion National Park are particularly phenomenal. We didn’t have time to make it that far west, but we won’t miss it next time.

Playing in the Devil's Garden

Playing in the Devil’s Garden

Up close

Menate Arch

This is a disclaimer, I don’t see this type of trip being particularly enjoyable with people who have to have action packed vacations- specifically families with a back seat full of fussy kids. This part of the country would best be enjoyed by those with a patient spirit and the appreciation for natural beauty. There’s lots of wondering driving.

I didn’t mean to knock on the Grand Canyon too hard earlier; I just think that it’s overrated. First off it’s very hard to get too. The park is way out of the way. And when I say way, I mean waaaaay. Now let me tell you about my experience when I got there: We got out of the car at the first pull-out. I looked at the gaping hole in the ground, took a couple of pictures. My two companions and I looked at each-other, discussed how it really was a disappointment, and decided to mosey on to our next adventure . . .all in about 10 minutes. What a boring disappointment. Sorry to bust your bubble if you had your hopes up.

a picture of the Grand Canon just for kicks

a picture of the Grand Canon just for kicks

A much more noteworthy picture of a squirrel at the Grand Canyon . . . he's begging you not to waste your time, money, or sanity driving through the Arizona desert- just go to Utah instead!
A much more noteworthy picture of a squirrel at the Grand Canyon . . . he’s begging you not to waste your time, money, or sanity driving through the Arizona desert- just go to Utah instead!

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