I spent a week driving through the American Southwest with some friends. We set off in mid-September, beyond the peak summer heat as the weather cooled and the autumn approached. It was still quite warm though! Our trip took us through the grand state of Arizona, where we visited the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the lower Antelope Canyon. The landscapes were utterly insane, in a good way.

Antelope Canyon is a narrow slot, a thin fissure in the face of the earth, mere inches wide at certain points. Without all the signs, canyon staff, and tourists, I bet many people would walk right by such a small opening in the ground. Sunlight filters down into the canyon, resulting in bright orange and purple hues that are constantly changing as the sun makes its way through the sky. The abstract shapes and colors were beautiful, and I recommend visiting if you're in the area.

Unfortunately, as a tourist, I was a bit disappointed. The tours are overly commoditized. People are lined up and herded through the narrow slots without much spacing between groups. There are so many people that it becomes difficult to take photos or enjoy a sight without a crowd of people in your view. I opted for the photographer tour, but the only difference, aside from longer duration, is the ability to bring my tripod. Even so, all tours are led through the same canyon, so photographers are rushing to find open spots, set up their tripods, and trying to find a clear view to shoot without someone photobombing or tripping over a tripod leg. It was a zoo!

After that experience, Horseshoe Bend was divine. No tours, no restrictions, just open space for anyone to walk up to and take it all in. A five minute walk from the side of the road, and the terrain just falls away at your feet, opening up to a thousand foot drop to a beautiful green ravine below. I've seen a lot of photos of the Bend, but never knew how large it really was until I was standing there, at the edge of the cliff, squinting so I could make out of the canoes and campgrounds below. Loved it so much, I'll be back someday...

And the Grand Canyon. An enormous crack in the face of this planet, exposing nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history. I could spend months, if not years exploring the many nooks of this terrestrial rift. One night, I had left my friends in their warm tents as they slept and drove up to Yavapai lookout. In the middle of the night, no one was around, and I enjoyed the chill, crisp air, sitting below the stars as my camera snapped away. Down below, I could see some campfires keeping some hikers warm. I sat with the land that night. In the quiet, in the darkness, humbled.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:North America
Subcategory Detail:United States of America
Keywords:abstract, antelope, arizona, canyon, colors, earth, grandcanyon, horseshoebend, landscape, light, page, photography, shapes, sunset, terrain, texture, tourism, travel, unitedstates, yavapai