For the last six days we’ve been traveling around Southern Utah. We were based in Bluff in the southeastern portion of the state and Kanab in the southwest. We loved both of these small, friendly towns. We wanted to feature one of our photos from the trip as Photo of the Week. There were so many shots that we wanted to share so we decided to include one from each place we experienced. Here are a few of our scenic Southern Utah photos; we have hundreds more. We’ll write more about Bluff, Kanab and southern Utah in future posts.
Scenic Southern Utah photos
You’ve probably never heard of Hovenweep National Monument; it sits just over the Colorado border in Utah, a short detour between Durango and our next destination, Bluff, UT. We had to go. This ancestral Puebloan site, shows signs of human habitation going back 10,000 years. These Pueblo ancestors were here from around 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D. Most of the buildings here were built between 1,2oo and 1,300. The area was once home to about 2,500 people. An approximately two-hour loop walk takes you past remains of stone structures including round and square towers, dwellings and kivas (ceremonial chambers). What we loved about Hovenweep after we experienced the crowds at Mesa Verde was the relatively undisturbed state of the site. Currently admission is free.
Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument is on the way to the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park. Even if you’re not planning to visit the park (we didn’t) it’s worth the trip. Why? The rock is covered in petroglyphs (rock carvings) made by native peoples. We love to visit petroglyph sites whenever we can and this is one of the best we’ve seen. They speak to us. Our detour on the way to Arches added about an hour to the trip but was well-worth it. This is a fee-free site.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park in Moab is one of the most spectacular places we’ve ever been to. The red rock formations and arches are truly stunning. I found myself saying, “Oh my God, oh my God.” over and over again coupled with “Wow, just wow!” When we got out at a viewpoint to take photos a woman from New Jersey emerged from her car with an astonished, “Holy cannoli.” I know exactly how she felt. There is a per vehicle admission charge.
Our route took us past Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation on the Utah/Arizona border. We stopped to get a few shots of some of its remarkable rock formations from the road. We want to go back and drive the road through the area. There just wasn’t time on this trip. There is a per vehicle admission charge.
We added some Arizona pics to our scenic Southern Utah photos. While we crossed state borders the natural environments flow together.
Grand Canyon North Rim
Our Southern Utah road trip was catalyzed by a desire to see Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The rest of the trip evolved from that. Although the site officially closed on October 15th it will be open to visitors until the road in is closed by snow. It’s definitely a less crowded time to visit this popular site. We made the hour-plus trip from Kanab, Utah where we moved after three nights in Bluff. Although it was an overcast day with prescribed burns in the area the conditions weren’t optimal for good photos but we gave it our best effort.
On our way back from Grand Canyon we skirted the southern edge of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The extra time it added to our return trip was well worth it. The red cliffs are magnificent. We’d love to return on a sunny day! The monument is accessible via permit only. Information can be found here.
Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon
The historic Navajo Bridge, on US 89A, opened in 1929, crosses the Colorado River at Marble Canyon. It replaced the unreliable Lee’s Ferry that crossed the river at a low point in the canyon. The bridge, which was built with the traffic of its day in mind, wasn’t up to the demands of modern traffic demands and was replaced by a newer, wider bridge in 1995. The original bridge is now open to pedestrian traffic. Walk out into the middle for great photo ops. Admission is free.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most visually stunning places we’ve ever visited. The park is composed of hoodoos (pinnacles of eroded rock). We drove to Rainbow Point (the furthest viewpoint) and made our way down 15 miles of road, stopping at every pull-out and parking area to see the views and take photos. It took us about two and a half hours. Allow more time if you’re planning to hike some of the trails.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is made up of a series of rock formations representing seven geological eras going back as far as 250 million years ago. The road is narrow and crowded with pull-outs for people to stop, enjoy the views and take photos. The first 12 miles to the Visitors Center is open to vehicles. To see the rest of the park, visitors must board shuttle buses.
We took lots of other pictures as we drove through Southern Utah but we’ll save them for another time. We hope you enjoyed our scenic Southern Utah photos, a definite departure from our Photo of the Week format.
Do you have any scenic Southern Utah photos? We’d love to see them and hear about them.