Category Archives: Road Trips

Mississippi Delta Blues

Mississippi_01

As I wrote in my post about Hot Springs, when I realized I needed to meet a friend from Dallas in New Orleans on Easter weekend (and then drive back together to Dallas), I immediately began to think about what road trips I might tack on to the journey. I ended up making a loop from Dallas through Arkansas to Memphis, then down the Mississippi River Valley to Cajun Country and finally New Orleans. My sister joined me for most of the trip, meeting me in Dallas and flying out of New Orleans.

While adding Hot Springs and Cajun Country was somewhat unusual, it turns out that the Memphis-Clarksdale-Vicksburg-Natchez-New Orleans route is pretty standard for travelers. The landscape is rather uninspiring, but we met many interesting locals along the way and there is lots to see and do. In fact, although I always feel I could have used more time, in this case I really could have used at least two more days (we arrived in Memphis on a Saturday afternoon and in New Orleans the following Friday) because both Memphis and Vicksburg/Natchez felt rushed.

The first part of our Mississippi River journey was focused on music, mostly the blues. We started in Memphis, Tennessee, then drove down the Delta Blues Highway (Route 61) to Helena, Arkansas; Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Dockery Farms, before heading out to Rosedale to follow the Great River Road (Route 1) to Vicksburg.

Dockery Plantation, the birthplace of the Delta blues. Residents included Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

Because we were in Memphis for only one night, we splurged and stayed in the Peabody Hotel, home of the famous Peabody Ducks, who live upstairs on the roof and march into the lobby fountain every day at 11am and out again at 5pm. In addition to providing this entertaining spectacle, the Peabody is conveniently located right downtown near Beale Street. It’s a perfectly nice hotel, but pricey. Still, it saved a lot of time being able to walk to most things we wanted to see.

The Peabody Duckmaster instructing his latest charge. Get there early for a seat.
The Peabody Duckmaster instructing his latest charge. Get there early for a seat.

Since time was short, we bypassed both Sun Studios and the Stax Museum to focus on Beale Street and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which evolved out of a traveling Smithsonian exhibition and tells the broader story of Memphis music history, from gospel and blues to rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul. The path through the exhibits isn’t always intuitive, but in addition to the basic audio tour, there is an incredible amount of additional musical content to listen to as you go. I discovered many songs that I later added to my collection.

On our way south out of town, we made the de rigueur pilgrimage to Graceland. Graceland attracts about 600,000 visitors a year and you certainly feel them on the tour. Although we didn’t have to wait too long (and I was able to grab a delicious grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich at Rockabilly’s Burger Shop while waiting), you are really rushed through the house. Still, the décor is interesting—to say the least—and I’m glad I saw it.

I loved these stained-glass windows leading into the music room at Graceland.
I loved these stained-glass windows leading into the music room at Graceland.
“A pretty little thing, waiting for the king, down in the jungle room…”

Besides discovering the wonder of a grilled PB&B (seriously, that was tasty), we did pretty well food-wise in Memphis, eating dry-rubbed ribs at the famed Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous (good, but I prefer sauce myself) and sweet potato pancakes at the Arcade Restaurant, the “oldest restaurant in Memphis” and set of Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. Really this whole section of the city looks like a timeless movie set.

The old-fashioned signage of the Arcade Restaurant in the South Main district.
The old-fashioned signage of the Arcade Restaurant in the South Main district.
The 1950s Lorraine Motel, where MLK Jr was assassinated in 1968, has been turned into the National Civil Rights Museum.
The 1950s Lorraine Motel, where MLK Jr was assassinated in 1968, has been preserved as part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

After Memphis, we headed down the Delta Blues Highway to Helena, Arkansas. This once-thriving mill town, thirty miles north of Clarksdale but on the other side of the Mississippi River, is home to the King Biscuit Time live radio show, which broadcasts out of the Delta Cultural Center. King Biscuit has been on the air since 1941 and is the longest-running daily blues show; Sonny Payne has been hosting it since 1951. There’s not much else in town, but if you find yourself in the area around 12:15pm, do stop in to watch the broadcast. Sonny is an absolute delight at eighty-nine years young. Luckily, our host at the beautiful Edwardian Inn had warned us that he is quite deaf, otherwise I think we would have been even further unprepared when he surprised us with an impromptu on-air chat (check us out around minutes 14 and 27 as we try to keep it together, communicate, and plug the sponsor despite Payne’s poor hearing and even poorer jokes).

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas, home of the King Biscuit Time radio show and my not-quite-fifteen minutes of fame.
The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas, home of the King Biscuit Time radio show and my not-quite-fifteen minutes of fame.
This spring, the Delta Cultural Center featured an exhibit on photographers Hugo and Gayne Preller, who cruised the Mississippi in their floating studio.
This spring, the Delta Cultural Center featured an exhibit on photographers Hugo and Gayne Preller, who cruised the Mississippi in their floating studio.
The Confederate Cemetery in Helena, Arkansas, resting place of General Patrick Cleburne, “the Stonewall Jackson of the West” and namesake of our lovely room at the Edwardian Inn.

As mentioned on the above radio show, in Clarksdale we stayed at the Shack Up Inn, a unique, laid-back place to soak up blues culture. Clarksdale is the hub of Delta blues and even on the slow days of the week it offers up incredible musical performances. The folks at the Shack Up will let you know where to go each night. The Monday we were there we took in the Iceman Blues Review and Watermelon Slim at the Bluesberry Café. We had actually come across Slim earlier in the day picking at his guitar on the street outside of Cat Head. At the Delta Blues Museum, housed in the former train depot, we encountered Josh “Razorblade” Stewart, a wizened old local featured in one of the exhibits, who told us story upon story about performing the blues, Morgan Freeman, and whatever else he could come up with. I gave him $10 for his troubles and a CD, which turned out to be rather good, much to my surprise.

The grounds of the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. That's the bar back there.
The grounds of the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. That’s the bar back there.
Our very own shack (#482) at the Shack Up Inn. Beers on the porch at sunset = heaven.
Our very own shack (#482) at the Shack Up Inn. Beers on the porch at sunset = heaven.

While the music was great, it is still often all about the food, and we ate our third barbecue in five days at Abe’s BBQ at “The Crossroads” (the intersection of Hwy 61 and Hwy 49). I think these were my favorite ribs of the trip (for those keeping score, McClard’s in Hot Springs had the best slaw, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous had the best beans). Unfortunately, the nearby Delta Donuts, which I had also read about beforehand, burned down not that long ago. If you need to walk off some barbecue, Clarkdale’s downtown is worth a meander. In addition to the museum, check out Cat Head (and talk to Roger if you’re interested in history), Hambone (a music space/gallery with art by Stan Street), and Miss Del’s General Store.

My favorite sign of the trip, spotted in Miss Del's General Store in Clarksdale.
My favorite sign of the trip, spotted in Miss Del’s General Store in Clarksdale.

After a day spent mostly on the backroads of Mississippi, we arrived in Vicksburg very late in the afternoon. Located on a 300-foot-high bluff on the Mississippi River, this town is best known for being the last Confederate stronghold on the river, surrendering on July 4, 1863, after a siege lasting forty-seven days. Upon arrival, we headed straight to our main goal, the expansive Vicksburg National Military Park. Good thing we arrived when we did because we really had to hightail it to complete the battlefield drive in the hour or so remaining to us. This park hadn’t been very high on my sightseeing list, but I must admit it is quite impressive. The full drive around the park is sixteen miles and scattered over the former Civil War battlefield are 1330 monuments and markers, including trench markers for the Union and Confederate sides. It really helps one get a sense of how the battle played out. As we exited, it was clear that the park is also a popular after-hours spot for local runners and walkers.

Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The USS Cairo, a restored ironclad Union gunboat sunk in 1862.
The USS Cairo, a restored ironclad Union gunboat sunk in 1862.

Our final stop in Mississippi was Natchez, once home to more millionaires per capita than any city in the world (back in the 1840s when cotton was king). To get there, we took the Natchez Trace Parkway, which extends almost 450 miles from Natchez on the Mississippi River to just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The parkway follows the long-standing travel corridor established between the traditional homelands of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez and designated by Thomas Jefferson as a national post road. While the Trace could easily serve as the base for its own road trip, we traveled on only the small portion between Vicksburg and Natchez. One reason I wanted to travel the Trace, in addition to its being a lovely drive, was to visit Emerald Mound, the second biggest ceremonial mound in the United States, after Cahokia (which I learned about in the U.S. history textbook I recently edited). It’s not very exciting (just a graded, flat-topped hill really), but I was happy to have a visual frame of reference for what these mounds actually look like in the wild. You could also stop and hike part of the original Trace at mile-marker 41.5 near Port Gibson.

A panel helps you imagine what the Emerald Mound might have looked like in 1250 C.E.
A panel helps you imagine what the Emerald Mound might have looked like in 1250 C.E.

Natchez is the oldest European settlement on the Mississippi River, predating New Orleans by two years. Today, it is best known for the Natchez Pilgrimage: the annual tour of the city’s antebellum mansions. I loved touring Rosalie Mansion, which served as Union headquarters after the city’s surrender (and so was able to keep most of its original furnishings intact), and Stanton Hall; however, the lack of acknowledgement of the role slavery played in building these fine homes was disappointing. For that reason, I’m happy we were also able to visit the William Johnson House, a National Park historic site. Admittedly, we originally chose this destination because it was free, but the house/museum was fascinating. Johnson, a free person of color who apprenticed as a barber after being freed by his presumed father, owned three barber shops in antebellum Natchez. As a businessman, he owned slaves, but through his diaries and the house exhibits, the park service provides more insight than the pilgrimage homes into the city’s less-glamorous past.

The Rosalie Mansion, Union headquarters after Natchez surrendered during the Civil War.
The Rosalie Mansion, Union headquarters after Natchez surrendered during the Civil War.
The impressive Stanton Hall, a cornerstone of the annual Natchez Pilgrimage.
The impressive Stanton Hall, a cornerstone of the annual Natchez Pilgrimage.

Speaking of things less than glamorous, our last stop in Natchez was the Under the Hill Saloon. A favorite of Mark Twain back in the day, this riverside watering hole possessed the perfect collection of eccentric locals (drinking in the middle of the day) to cap off our Mississippi tour. My favorite moment was when the drunken flirt next to me heartily recommended Greg Iles when I asked about local authors, but then had to ask the bartender whether he wrote fiction or non-fiction. [Side note: I ended up buying his The Quiet Game in a New Orleans bookstore and would put it in the category of very good airplane reading.]

Sunset over the Yazoo River, Centennial Lake, and the Mighty Mississippi.
Sunset over the Yazoo River, Centennial Lake, and the Mighty Mississippi.

But wait! The sun has not yet set on this Mississippi River tour, tune in tomorrow for some time down on the bayou…

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Road Trip: The Grand Circle

Thanks to all of you who joined me in revisiting my trip around the Grand Circle in honor of National Parks Week. I’d like to give a special shout-out to my new followers: Welcome! You have inspired me to continue on a more regular schedule here. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on some of my favorite national parks, including Grand Teton and Yosemite, as well as road trips in the Carolina Low Country, the Scottish Highlands, and West Texas.

When last we left the Grand Circle, I was in Monument Valley. I’m afraid there’s not much more to report after that. The drive from Monument Valley back to Las Vegas via the Grand Canyon can only be described as a whirlwind. With four to five hours of solitary driving each day, there wasn’t much time for sightseeing. I arrived fairly late at the Grand Canyon, and then had to leave very early in the morning. Luckily, I did manage to get a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge, which meant that I was right on the rim of the canyon and could sneak in a sunrise hike partway down the Bright Angel Trail. It was very quiet at that hour but I was so intent on setting up my tripod for some shots that I didn’t notice that a bighorn sheep had come up behind me and was about to knock my tripod over the cliff! An incredible moment, sadly not captured on film.

Bighorn sheep sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Bighorn sheep sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Frankly, I have to say that the Grand Canyon was somewhat of a disappointment after all I’d seen on this trip. Of course, the scale is amazing, but it’s not nearly as pretty as some of the other parks and is a far less intimate experience. But perhaps that is only because I was rushed. This was the second of two abbreviated trips I’ve made to the Grand Canyon and one day I would really like to spend more time there, especially if it involves rafting in the canyon itself and/or a stay at Phantom Ranch.

Mule train down to Phantom Ranch
Mule train down to Phantom Ranch

Of course, I always want more time. While I took ten days for this trip, and it’s very doable in that amount of time, I would suggest a full two weeks to complete the full circle, perhaps adding a few more days if you want to spend any time in Vegas itself. If I had to do it all over again, I would add another night at the Boulder Mountain Lodge, one in Moab in order to properly visit both Arches and Canyonlands, and one at the Grand Canyon.

This is not really because I felt I gave any of these parks short shrift, but rather because the beauty of the Grand Circle is that even outside the main attractions, there are many interesting things to see and do along the way and it’s nice to be able to stop and smell the desert roses. Side trips abound, such as Dead Horse Point State Park, which is most familiar as the scene of Thelma & Louise’s final send-off, and Newspaper Rock, a sandstone wall covered with 1500-year-old petroglyphs (just there by the side of the road on the way to the Needles district of Canyonlands).

Newspaper Rock in black and white (and read all over)
Newspaper Rock in black and white (and read all over)

Not to mention the many picturesque diners along the route. I mean, don’t you want to be able to say you’ve tried a “ho-made” pie? Or any pie, really. I can still taste the enormous slice of banana cream pie I had at the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, Arizona. That thing was a meal unto itself.

The Thunderbird Restaurant, Mount Carmel, Utah
The Thunderbird Restaurant, Mount Carmel, Utah
Blondie's in Hanksville, Utah, or, as we called it, "The Scary Diner"
Blondie’s in Hanksville, Utah, or, as we called it, “The Scary Diner”

To read the complete Grand Circle series, click below:
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Arches National Park
Monument Valley


*Note: This trip was back in the days of my much-loved Pentax K1000. As such, most of the pictures in this Grand Circle series are scans of my printed photos.

Arches National Park

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
—Edward Abbey

By the time we got to Arches National Park, we had been on the road almost a week. So, it is perhaps not surprising that we found ourselves with a slight case of “park fatigue” and didn’t love it as much as expected. It didn’t help matters that Arches was crowded (at least compared to where we had been), especially with too many kids who were clearly bored out of their minds with all the walking.

I can’t imagine what this park is like during the summer, as even in mid-October we would arrive at viewpoints and not be able to park. At Devils Garden, we walked for close to a mile from our car to the trailhead. With over a million visitors a year these days, not to mention the intense desert heat, I’m stunned that they apparently still haven’t developed a viable shuttle system.

The boulder on top of Balanced Rock is more than fifty-five feet high.
The boulder on top of Balanced Rock is more than fifty-five feet high.

Devils Garden is at the end of the park road and the road is not a loop, so, depending on the sun and any photography needs, you may be better off heading there first and then winding back to see the other viewpoints on your way out of the park. There’s a reason this section of the park is so popular—it has more arches than any other. The full loop hike is 7.2 miles and quite strenuous in parts, but there are several shorter options.

Tunnel Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Tunnel Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Pine Tree Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Pine Tree Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Landscape Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Landscape Arch, Devils Garden Trail
Skyline Arch is located just south of Devils Garden.
Skyline Arch is located just south of Devils Garden.

Another popular spot is the Windows Section, with two of the most photographed arches in the park, the North Window and the Double Arch (featured above), both easily accessible from nearby parking.

The larger opening of Double Arch is over one hundred feet high.
The larger opening of Double Arch is over one hundred feet high.
The North Window's opening is approximately fifty feet high and almost one hundred feet wide.
The North Window’s opening is approximately fifty feet high and almost one hundred feet wide.

The only popular feature you won’t see pictured here is Delicate Arch. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to make the rather strenuous hike up to it, and, while we did drive to the Delicate Arch viewpoint, I just couldn’t get a good shot of it.

Finally, another reason we didn’t visit as much of Arches as we should have and (Shock! Horror!) didn’t even see Canyonlands, is that we decided to pamper ourselves and stay at the swanky Sorrel River Ranch and Spa, which was well off the beaten path from Moab and both parks. If you know me at all, you know I’m a completist and it nearly killed me to leave Canyonlands off the list, but the foot massages after all that hiking may just have been worth it.

Looking out from the front of the Sorrel River Ranch
Looking out from the front of the Sorrel River Ranch
Looking towards Arches from the Sorrel River Ranch
Looking towards Arches from the Sorrel River Ranch

Note: If you are visiting Arches, I recommend taking along a copy of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, an account of Abbey’s time as a park ranger at Arches in the 1950s and his consequent ruminations on environmentalism, solitude, and wilderness.

Entry to Arches National Park is $10 per car for seven days. If you are completing the Grand Circle, I recommend getting the annual parks pass, which is $80. The pass is good for a full year and can be used to cover the entrance or other fees at over 2000 federal recreation sites.



*Note: This trip was back in the days of my much-loved Pentax K1000. As such, most of the pictures in this Grand Circle series are scans of my printed photos.

Capitol Reef National Park

It may seem that Capitol Reef is the neglected step-child of the five national parks in southern Utah, and I suppose in many ways it is. In fact, I’m not sure I had even heard of it before I started researching this Grand Circle trip, which was well before I began my parks project. However, one of the reasons we decided to include it was to stay at the Boulder Mountain Lodge in Boulder, Utah (B on the map above), one of ten great budget lodges on a list I had from my favorite travel magazine ever, Budget Travel, which is sadly no longer in print but still exists online. Not only do I highly recommend the lodge, and especially the restaurant, the Hell’s Backbone Grill, but this part of the trip proved to be a lovely interlude between the twin juggernauts of Zion-Bryce and Arches-Canyonlands. In short, there are a number of reasons to travel the almost 300 miles between Bryce Canyon (A) and Arches National Park (E).

While we spent two delightful nights at the Boulder Mountain Lodge, which included chatting politics with the chef-owners of the restaurant (it was October 2008 after all) and enjoying the fruits of their on-site organic farm, I think we all wished we had factored in more time here. Boulder, Utah is just under two hours from Bryce Canyon on Highway 12, or Scenic Byway 12, a gorgeous road through the heart of the biggest national park in Utah that is not a national park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. At nearly two million acres, Grand Staircase is enormous, and, yes, for this reason it is stupid that it’s called a “monument” but let’s just all hope that one day it grows up to be a real park. [Side note: There is a long history of presidents using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to immediately protect lands that are later granted national park status.] While Grand Staircase is more of a backcountry park, there is a relatively easy 5.5-mile round-trip hike that takes you out to Lower Calf Creek Falls, a lovely spot for a picnic. There are sandstone cliffs, pictographs, and various flora and fauna to keep you entertained along the way.

Staircase 01

Staircase 02

Staircase 03

Staircase 04

A fun drive to take, if your car can handle rougher terrain, is the Burr Trail Road, which starts in Boulder, winds through Long Canyon, and eventually ends up at a side entrance to Capitol Reef National Park. While you probably don’t want to go that far, it’s a beautiful drive that eventually opens up to an excellent view of the Waterpocket Fold, the 100-mile-long wrinkle in the earth that is Capitol Reef. The park itself is best entered from Highway 24.

The Waterpocket Fold is a must-see for any geology fans. I highly recommend buying the recording at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center (C), which provides you with a guided audio tour of the geological features along the 25-mile Scenic Drive. Seeing the various rock strata on full display is actually far cooler than I thought it would be.

NP_Capitol Reef_01

NP_Capitol Reef_02

In addition to looking at rocks, you can also walk among them. With proper planning, you could easily do the entire Grand Wash Trail, which runs from the Scenic Drive out to Highway 24, or simply walk the Grand Wash Canyon part of it and retrace your steps back to the Scenic Drive. At the end of the Scenic Drive is another short walk to some petroglyphs. During harvest season, you can “pick-your-own” in the Fruita orchards, left by Mormon settlers and now maintained by the National Park Service.

Entering Grand Wash Canyon and feeling very small. Note: Always check for flash flood warnings.
Entering Grand Wash Canyon and feeling very small. Note: Always check for flash flood warnings.
I found the "desert varnish" on the walls of Grand Wash Canyon to be extremely beautiful.
I found the “desert varnish” on the walls of Grand Wash Canyon to be extremely beautiful.

Last, but not least, this route contains a little-known gem that was recommended to us to break up the 150-mile trip from Capitol Reef to Moab, which is a long stretch of fairly dull landscape. Goblin Valley State Park has a bit more notoriety now as the scene of a viral video showing Boy Scout leaders knocking over one of its 20-million-year-old hoodoos.

SP_Goblin 00

This state park is hidden in the middle of nowhere, twelve miles off Highway 24 (D). It is a small valley of crazy, random, mushroom-like stones, similar to the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, but much smoother. I felt as if we had wandered onto the cheap set of an early Star Trek episode. One thing was for sure, the kids we saw were absolutely delighted to be running around and among all these bizarre shapes. I even went black & white for the occasion.*

SP_Goblin 01

SP_Goblin 03

SP_Goblin 02

Entry to Capitol Reef National Park is $5 per car for seven days. The day-use fee at Goblin Valley State Park is $8 per car.



*Note: This trip was back in the days of my much-loved Pentax K1000. As such, most of the pictures in this Grand Circle series are scans of my printed photos, including these black & white images.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Just ninety minutes down the road from Zion National Park is Bryce Canyon. Despite being the scene of an epic birthday meltdown (yes, mine), it was probably my favorite park on the Grand Circle. At one-quarter the size, it is much easier to take in than Zion, which contains an enormous backcountry that most visitors never see. Bryce also has one of the best park lodges there is: While the rooms are spartan, the location on the edge of the canyon between Sunrise and Sunset Points can’t be beat.

As with Zion, we took the approach of driving the entire length of the park road on the first day, making stops at viewpoints along the way and taking short hikes along the rim. This is another park that one can enjoy even without hiking. In fact, it is important to realize that the altitude may mean that even walking short distances may be more difficult than normal. However, the layout and multiple intersecting loops make tailoring a hike for one’s fitness level fairly easy. Note: All hikes begin with descents into the canyon, so you must take care to remember that you may have a steep climb out.

While one can admire the hoodoos from above, it is truly incredible to walk among them.
While one can admire the hoodoos from above, it is truly incredible to walk among them.

There’s not much flora or fauna to be seen at Bryce; this park is all about the odd geological formations. We were stunned into silence by the beauty of Bryce Amphitheater with its curious hoodoos.

NP_Bryce 03

NP_Bryce 04

Of course, this beauty was somewhat marred by the fact that it was f*cking freezing. [Note to self: Visiting a park that sits at 8,000-9,000 feet in mid-October might not be the best idea.] We got up to take pictures at sunrise and, almost an hour later, I could no longer operate my trusty Pentax K1000 due to my fingers being about to fall off.* Good times.

The view from the aptly named Sunrise Point (at sunrise, duh)
The view from the aptly named Sunrise Point (at sunrise, duh)
I'm not sure I could feel my fingers at this point but it sure was pretty.
I’m not sure I could feel my fingers at this point but it sure was pretty.

Even though we stayed only one night at Bryce, being up so early, we did manage to get in a good hike before leaving, combining the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trails to make one 3.5-mile loop. Word to the wise: Descend into the canyon via the steeper Navajo Loop Trail rather than the reverse. This trail descends over 500 feet in .75 miles; the featured photo above was taken looking back up and out of this entrance to the canyon.

Wall Street on the Navajo Loop Trail
Wall Street on the Navajo Loop Trail

Once you exit Wall Street, the trail opens up, and you can either loop around and head back up to Sunset Point via “Thor’s Hammer” or continue on to the Queens Garden Trail, which eventually exits the canyon at Sunrise Point.

Along the Queens Garden Trail
Along the Queens Garden Trail
At one point it felt like we were shooting a sequel to Lawrence of Arabia
At one point it felt like we were shooting a sequel to Lawrence of Arabia.
I'm pretty sure I'm so happy here because I know the end is in sight.
I’m pretty sure I’m so happy here because I know the end is in sight.

Just writing this post and looking at these pictures again is making me want to go back.

Entry to Bryce Canyon National Park is $25 per car for seven days. If you are doing more than one park, I recommend getting the annual parks pass, which is $80. The pass is good for a full year and can be used to cover the entrance or other fees at over 2000 federal recreation sites. For example, I can use mine to visit Muir Woods, which is just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.



*Note: As I got prints from both sets and scanned them, I am not sure which photos are mine and which are by The Boys. You should assume the better ones were taken by The Boys.