Poor planning on my part had us traveling on a very special day--Greg’s 50th birthday! Not sure what I was thinking when I planned our route, but the only good thing was that it wasn’t a long travel day….about three hours. But it was still a travel day nonetheless. And until this point, of all the birthdays we have celebrated on the road, we have been fortunate--with one exception--to be traveling with other people, which makes celebrating a little more fun. So, travel day and traveling alone--two strikes. Bummer.
Well, I realized the error of my ways in Moab and had a great idea, which was to throw Greg a virtual birthday party. There’s not much that can’t be done virtually these days and while it wasn’t perfect, it was something. So after searching for some web based options without much success, Facebook to the rescue!! I set up a secret group page and invited friends and family to leave a message—upload videos, pictures, etc. on the page--and then the plan was that on his birthday, I’d share the page with him and we would attempt to do a “live” Facebook event which would be a small party with cake and friends and family could participate virtually!
The Facebook Page and Birthday event
So, after arriving in Page and getting settled, I ran to the store to get a cake and when I got back, I shared with Greg that we were having a virtual party. He was a little confused so I added him to his Birthday facebook group so he could read all of the messages and watch the videos, which he thoroughly enjoyed.....and then, it was time for the party and cake!!
Greg checking out the many birthday wishes!!
Even Hobie got into the party spirit!!
We attempted to go live on Facebook for the actual party/cake part, and after two attempts, we finally figured it out….but of course Greg started eating the cake on our first “live” attempt! And to top it off, we had the phone turned the wrong way, so to watch the video you had to tilt your head sideways, but hey, it was a party!! Ultimately he was really appreciative of all the messages that everyone left and while we were alone, it didn’t feel that way, so I was glad that it worked….for the most part!!
A "flipped" screenshot from the "live" video!!
With Greg’s birthday behind us, we had two weeks slotted for Page, but we both had some work planned, so our time for exploring was limited, which turned out to be okay.
I'm sure most of you remember the Field of Dreams movie, right? Well, that whole “build it and they will come” seems to also be the motto of the town of Page.
Page has a population of around 10,000 and about three million visitors a year.
Needless to say, they have lots of hotels, and this doesn't even include
all of the hotels on the outskirts of town.
And while it may have taken thousands of years for one of Page’s main attractions to be built, people by the busloads come. Day after day, they come. More busloads and then more after that.
Busses and rental RV's were everywhere!!
It seems that most of the visitors come to Page to see Antelope Canyon, which are pretty famous slot canyons that are located on Navajo land right outside of Page. There are actually two Antelope canyons--an upper and a lower--and both are pretty popular with the tourists.
And when in Rome.....well, we had to see what all the fuss was about! We had made a reservation to do the lower canyon a couple weeks prior to our arrival and once we got to Page, we were talking with one of the folks at the park we were staying at, and he highly recommended the upper canyon over the lower one, so we ended up getting a last minute reservation to do the upper canyon as well. Most of the information we had read said to try to go around noon for the best light, so we were lucky to get both reservations around that time.
Lower Antelope Canyon was first and there are two tour providers that do tours of the lower canyon—Dixie and Ken’s. From what we could tell, the only difference is that Dixie manages the sizes of each group going through, at least that is what our guide told us. But with that being said, for our tour, Dixie booked two tours at the same time, one the pubic tour and the other one, yep you guessed it….a bus tour!! So, not sure if one provider is better than the other, and most likely the guide you get probably makes the difference and I’d guess that both operators have good and not so good guides. We were fortunate to get a great guide, Malory, who did a nice job highlighting various aspects of the canyon as well as telling us about some of the Navajo traditions.
Waiting for the tour
To get into the canyon you go down a series of five stairs, with two of those stairs being more like ladders. Once inside, while we had to stay with our group and it was fairly crowded, it did fan out a bit, but rarely were we in a position where someone wasn’t in sight.
Two of the sets of stairs into the canyon
Inside the canyon are some breathtaking views and it’s easy to get lost in the beauty; it was definitely hard to capture in pictures….but we tried.
In most of the pictures, can't tell you what direction the camera was pointed!
The narrow walls
And inside the canyon
To exit, you climb up a bit and then just sort of "appear" out of this crack in the rocks. Cool!
This was our guide Malory explaining how slot canyons are made.
Also, it was in the Lower Antelope Canyon that the world's most expensive picture was taken. In 2014, Peter Lik, a famous photographer sold one of his pictures to a private investor for $6.5 million. That's a nice payday!!
Our visit to the Upper Antelope Canyon was a few days later and in general, it was more crowded than the lower canyon. There are several different tour operators and they bus you to the entrance in an army-like or modified pick up trucks. Physically this canyon is a lot easier, no steps, just a straight walk through the canyon and once you reach the end, you turn around and walk out the same way you came in. Most tour operators charge more for the mid-day tour and since we were late to the party on scheduling this tour, we only found one operator who had any availability at the peak time, so booking ahead of time is highly recommended.
For some reason, Greg has always wanted an Army truck.
A ride in one to Upper Antelope Canyon will have to suffice!
Our guide for this tour wasn’t as engaging as Malory, and he had a hard time keeping our group of around ten people moving. There were two couples in our group that had to have their photos taken at every corner of the canyon. Greg was annoyed about five minutes into it….and I was on board about half way through; it was beyond ridiculous how many photos they had taken of themselves with basically the same background. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much but the guide had to keep a pretty good pace going through the canyon and the continuous photo shoots were impacting everyone else in the group and it really was just plain obnoxious after awhile. Okay, rant over.
As you can see, the canyon is very cool, but to us, the views were similar to that of the lower canyon.
One of the groups entering
This was a cool effect that we didn't see in the lower canyon
The only picture of us in this canyon.
Outside the canyon with our guide....don't remember his name!!
Both were equally beautiful, and not sure that one was that much more spectacular over the other and since the lower canyon was the least expensive, less crowded, we'd recommend that one over the upper. But, that's just our opinion and we're no slot canyon experts!!
Page is part of the Glen Canyon Recreation area and is also home to Horseshoe Bend Canyon--where the Colorado River wraps around a tall rock butte in a fairly tight curve as the river makes its way to the Grand Canyon. The day we went, the parking lot was packed with yet more busses, but since it’s a little bit of a walk to get to the main attraction and no formal tour, the crowds dispersed fairly quickly and it didn’t feel too crowded. We were able to enjoy the views and take some good pics without getting annoyed whatsoever. A good day!!
Hobie getting in on the action!!
Another reason Page is so popular is that it is also home to Lake Powell, home of all the incredible houseboats, and we couldn’t resist checking them out.
The lake was really beautiful and not too crowded, even over the Holiday weekend!
And the elusive jack rabbit...I have been trying to get a picture of one
for the last couple of years, but they are fast little buggers!!
Finally!! Thank you Lake Powell!!
There were many other things to do in Page, but since we weren’t digging the crowds too much, we found ourselves looking for some other options nearby.
The one who walks alone,
is likely to find himself in places
no one has ever been.
And while we didn't end up in places no one has ever been before, it did push us to explore less popular areas. We discovered a couple of scenic drives, one of which started on Cottonwood Road, off of 89 and ended at Kodachrome Basin State Park. Most of this drive, excluding the state park, is considered part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is the largest National Monument encompassing around 1.9 million acres and until a couple of months ago, we'd never even heard of it!!
Getting ready to drive Cottonwood Road.
Look at us!! Checking out the map and everything!!
The drive on Cottonwood Road. We rounded a curve, and this was our view.
A patchwork of color creating an incredible landscape!
Grosvenor Arch, part of the Escalante Staircase National Monument
There were two other people at the arch when we were there!! Definitely off the beaten path!
At the end of Cottonwood Road, we took the turn into Kodachome Basin State Park. The entrance fee was $8.00 but the views throughout the park were fantastic. The color and beauty found at the Park prompted a National Geographic Society expedition to name the area Kodachrome, after the popular Kodak color film.
Views from the trail on the way to Shakespeare Arch
Sand Pipe.....definitely an odd rock combination!!
We enjoyed the small portion of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument that we explored, so we decided to check out some other areas of the Monument. Along Highway 89 between Page and Kanab is Paria River ValleyRoad, which ishome to Pahreah ghost town plus the site of a 1930's movie set, both surrounded by amazingly colorful rocks. Nothing really remains of the ghost town, but some foundations and fences, beautiful drive, but wish there was more to the ghost town, other than the cemetery.
Statue at the entrance
Some of the cliffs along the drive.
Another stop on Highway 89 are the Toadstools and also part of the Monument. They are a section of balanced rock formations which look like mushrooms, The Toadstools are in a wilderness area accessed by a fairly easy 1.5-mile round-trip hike, which about half way in the rain started, so a few quick pics and back to the car!
Toadstools on top of the cliffs, which can barely be seen without getting closer.
And a close up of the Toadstools
With 1.9 million acres, there's definitely a lot more to explore of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and we are hoping to find some more time later in the month to hit a few more of the areas of the Monument.
We also took a quick trip to Coral Pink Sands State Park, located outside of Kanab, about 70 miles from Page. The park features coral-hued sand dunes located beside red sandstone cliffs. The Dunes are formed from the erosion of pink-colored Navajo sandstone surrounding the park and are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. While the color is really vibrant, and the sand scape is beautiful, you can see the dunes just as good from outside the park, as opposed to paying the $8.00 entrance fee just to go to the overlook inside the park. However, there is a nice campground, some hikes and ATV trails, etc. so there's more to the park than the overlook and if you have the time and toys, it's definitely worth exploring more.
Another road trip landed us on Highway 89A, which brought us to the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, which is described as the second "step" up in the five-step Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau. Nice scenic drive and a great escape from the popularity of Page.
The Vermillion Cliffs
Navajo Bridge is a pair of steel spandrel arch bridges
that cross the Colorado River near Lee's Ferry in northern Arizona.
The original bridge was built in 1929, and the new one in 1995.
The newer bridge carries vehicular traffic over Marble Canyon.
Echo Cliffs in the background.
Marble Canyon is the section of the Colorado River canyon in northern Arizona
from Lee's Ferry to the confluence with the Little Colorado River,
which marks the beginning of the Grand Canyon.
Well, some touristy stuff combined with some really cool explorations--that pretty much wraps up our time in Page and the surrounding area!! And while Page was overrun with crowds, it really is worth a (short) visit. Aside from the more popular and touristy things we did in Page, we also got to stock up on groceries and hit a Walmart, which was the first one we had seen in over a month (not always a bad thing!!). The crowds did push us to look outside the box and explore areas that weren't on our original agenda and we definitely hit some places that were off the beaten path and for that....we appreciate the popularity of Page.
Thanks for following along, next up we hit Zion and Bryce....and stay tuned for travel adventures with our 14 year old niece Kennedy! Yikes!!