Antelope Canyon – Arizona
Antelope Canyon is one of the most-photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest, well known and popular due to these stunning photographs. The entrance is pretty unspectacular and just a gap in the rock, behind which you do not expect much. However, once you are inside, you realize the exceptional beauty of this canyon. Openings of different size at the upper canyon rim allow sunlight to penetrate into the narrow canyon (slot). Depending on the time of day, the sandstone formations are wrapped in exciting shades. The highlight for photographers are the lunch tours, when the sun sends vertical light columns into the dark canyon – an incomparable and unique play of colors, which is not easy to capture in a photograph and often requires a very long exposure time. The result – a dream! Best time for travel / photo: mid-March to early / mid-October.
Antelope Canyon is located in the Navajo area, just a few kilometers away from the fabulous Lake Powell, and can only be visited with a Navajo guide. The tour providers are located in the center of Page, Arizona. The village on Lake Powell offers plenty of restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities.
White Sands National Monument ~ New Mexico
The glittering white sandy desert lies at the North end of the Chihuahuan Desert, deep in the heart of the Tularosa Basin. Big wave-like dunes of gypsum sand flooded 175,000 acres / 713 square km of desert and created the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field. The majority consists of this unique dune field, in which plants and animals have successfully adapted to the constantly changing environmental influences. Ranger offer different tours such as Sunset or Full Moon Tour in summer, both fantastic experiences.
Admission: $5 per person * www.nps.gov/whsa
Red Rock Canyon ~ Nevada
Red Rock Canyon is one of the most scenic areas in southern Nevada and equally popular with tourists and residents. Red Rock has drawn its name from the red sandstone formations, which can be seen throughout the entire region. The striking contrast between the red sandstone, embedded in layers of gray limestone of the rough cliffs, is an incredible sight you will hardly forget. The sandstone is part of a geological formation known as the “Navajo Formation”, which can be found throughout the southwestern United States.
Red Rock Canyon is only 19 mi / 30 km away from the Las Vegas Strip, but yet you believe to be in another world. Apart from the fantastic photo opportunities and the spectacular environment, Red Rock Canyon offers a lot of rock recreational opportunities such as horseback riding, picnicking, hiking and climbing, which has developed here as a particularly popular sport. There is also a 19 mi / 30 km long scenic road, about 31 mi / 50 km fantastic hiking trails and a visitor center with exhibition space and bookstore.
Admission: $7 per vehicle per day (motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians $3) or $80 for the NP Year’s Pass “America the Beautiful” www.redrockcanyonlv.org * www.friendsofredrockcanyon.org
Rocky Mountain National Park ~ Colorado
Rocky Mountain NP – The showpiece park of Colorado presents itself in all its splendor and glory of its wet, grassy valleys at 6,500 ft / 2,000m up to the weather-rugged Longs Peak, rising up to 14,259 ft / 4.345m, making it Colorado’s highest mountains. The continental divide, which runs through the middle of the park, provides two different climate zones – dry and arid on the East side at Estes Park; humid and rainy on the West side at Grand Lake. “Rocky” is a park of superlatives – dominated by the magnificent mountain scenery with more than 60 mountains over 12,000 ft / 3,700m. The park is a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers and provides endless opportunities to enjoy breathtaking views. Mountain flowers, clear lakes, wild rivers and lots of wildlife such as bighorn sheep, coyotes, deer and snow grouse in winter round off the beauty of this national park.
Rocky Mountain NP has several scenic sections that you can enjoy by car. There are also several free shuttle buses that take you to different places. The park is open all year.
Admission: $20 for 1 day; $30 for 7 consecutive days * www.nps.gov/romo
Antelope Island State Park – Utah
Antelope Island State Park – The largest island in Salt Lake is home to 600 free-roaming bison, sharing the rich pastures with antelope and bighorn sheep. A narrow, two-lane overpass brings visitors to the peaceful island that is surrounded by water, which is five times more salty than the ocean. Nevertheless Antelope Island offers a wide range of wild animals such as coyotes, deer, bobcats and various species of birds. Many years the island had to exist without its namesake, but since 1993, the antelopes have returned. The buffalo came much earlier, around 1893. An annual Buffalo round-up in November is not only for the animals’ health check-up. An auction is held, where visitors can also participate, so the numbers of buffalo can be kept within limits. Horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and in winter cross-country skiing are just some of the activities that you can do on the island. A visitor center provides information on the unique biology, geology and history of Antelope Island. Admission: $10 per vehicle;
www.utah.com/stateparks/antelope_island.htm * http://stateparks.utah.gov/stateparks/parks/antelope-island/
Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
Grand Teton NP is situated in the center of the Yellowstone ecosystem. Rockefeller Parkway (route 191) connects Grand Teton from Jackson, WY to Yellowstone National Park. Only few landscapes are as impressive as the Grand Teton mountain range. Not only will its immensely high mountains fascinate you, but also for spectacular harshness, which reminisces of the Dolomites in Italy. Grand Teton NP is a beautiful scenic park that certainly deserves more attention than just being the entrance to Yellowstone NP. A paradise for nature lovers, the park offers plenty of leisure activities – hiking, boating, kayaking, swimming, camping, mountain biking, photography, etc. At Jenny Lake you can either cruise with your own boat or rent one. There is a boat shuttle to Canyon Trailhead, which takes you to the Hidden Falls. A little more into the park you will find the even larger Jackson Lake with partly frozen shores sometimes as late as May. On a clear day, both lakes reflect the surrounding mountains. The altitude of the park ranges from 6,200 ft / 1,900m to 13,800 ft / 4,200m. Snake River winds down into the valley, passing a fantastic scenery. And every time you look up at the Tetons, you get this overwhelming sense of awe.
Admission: $30 per vehicle, valid 7 consecutive days for Grand Teton National Park. Yellowstone National Park has a separate entrance fee. Or, $80 for the NP Year’s Pass “America the Beautiful” * www.nps.gov/grte