Westerns and cartoons have planted the seeds of adventure in most of us. They have also made us long to experience nature in the States. There are many places to visit if you want to replicate the pioneer life or, at least, to feel as amazed as the first white people who stepped into those once wild, wild landscapes.
1.- Monument Valley: experience nature in the States and feel the power of wind and dust
Utah and Arizona are two of the states very well known for the desertic landscapes and the lack of vegetation. Monument Valley has appeared in many western films. Towering sandstone buttes compose an almost mystic skyline. In fact, the Navajo tribe consider this place sacred. This has not prevented them to establish a business around it. Entrance is not free and the stay in the Monument Valley National Park must follow some very strict rules. It is recommended to visit it by car. Better if it´s not a low one, as the terrain might get a bit difficult because of the sand.
The park combines sand surfaces with the iconic mountains. A quick search in Google images will give you an idea of how sand colors merge into each other, creating a whole palette that goes from light pink to dark red. Experience nature in the States by just feeling the sandy wind on your skin.
2.- Painted Desert: a rainbow sculpted in the rocks
Also in Arizona, the Painted Desert National Park is a paradise of colors and rock formations. A road crosses it and it meets the old Route 66, the Mother Road, the first road to cross the whole country. But there is much more to see in this rocky natural museum. As its name reveals, the Painted Desert is made of colorful rocks. White, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange and red stripes define different geological eras. You can go down to the bottom of the formations and experience a dramatic change of temperature. But what is absolutely astonishing is how quiet everything is once you leave the surface behind you. Sound does not seem to travel down the rocks with you. So, in the Painted Desert, you will experience nature in the States and also some unexpected peace of mind. Don´t miss the tree fossils. They lay in the Petrified Forest. Some of the tree logs that have been preserved for thousand years are as big as building foundations. And as strong. Time has turned wood into rock.
3.- Experience nature in the States and feel small by the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States. It has two main routes: North and South. You can take a bus up to the furthest point and then walk back to the tourist information point. This is the safest and most comfortable way to make the visit. Not only because you will be walking downhill, but because you can set your journey to be able to contemplate the sunset at one of the best places. Many photographers stop near the edge of the Canyon to take the best pictures. Be careful with that.
You can walk down the canyon. It´s only two kilometers deep, which you can manage in about half an hour. Coming back is a different thing, though. Climbing up the canyon might take up to two days, nights are very cold and dehydration might be a problem with high temperatures during the day. So, stay by your guide or be prudent. Actually, be prudent and stay by the guide to avoid accidents. Other than that, visiting the Grand Canyon might be the best way to experience nature in the States, just by yourself or with your family.
4.- Antelope Canyon: just a wonder
Arizona is home to a lot of western movie landscapes and Antelope Canyon is just one of them. The effect of sand and water has pierced the sand and stone hills creating passages where strange forms and the most extraordinary colors will transport you to a science fiction landscape. Also locates in Navajo territory, you will have to pay for the visit, but it will be worth every penny. The Navajos will take you to the caves in a 4×4 vehicle. You will cross a sand dessert piece of land and you will see how eagles fly over your head. Keep your face covered with the sand and wait for the miracle to be performed by the light. This is a way to experiment with nature in the States that you will never forget. And also a way to see how much beauty the planet can give us if we just give it time to do it.
Keep reading Exoticca blog for more articles and discover the wonders of America. A continent that still has a lot to unveil to the adventurous traveler.