,The Grand Canyon really doesn't disappoint. From the first look, to the last, the sheer size and magnitude are awe inspiring. We were lucky enough to explore the Canyon in a way that few do, by cycling along the rim. Whilst we cycled further away from the tourist hotspots, we saw local wildlife such as deer and many chipmunks and were able to stop and take in the views without the bustle of so many people. Whilst we were there, we watched a thunderstorm, common for August, come over the canyon and it was amazing to see lightning hit the canyon floor yet be so far away from us. The storm never crossed by us. It gave you a real scale of the size of the natural wonder.
We cycled about 8 miles to Hermits Rest where we were then picked up to back to the visitor center. It was a fantastic way to see the canyon and I would recommend it to anyone!
Flagstaff is an amazing base to stay at to visit a number of national parks and natural phenomenas. We visited the Meteor Crater, which was made as the name suggests by a meteorite thousands of years ago. It was amazing to see and is definitely worth a quick visit!
After three great days in Flagstaff we moved on into Utah, our final state on our trip (at least for me!) As we started to travel North we passed through Sunset Crater State Park. Flagstaff, we discovered, is so mountainous due to the high level of volcanic activity there throughout the years. Sunset Crater is one of the most recent eruptions and the lava flow is still preserved perfectly, petrifying the landscape and leaving a trail of volcanic ash for miles.
We then visited Wupatki National Monument which was the ruins of a Native American settlement. The ruins included multiple rooms, a ball park, and a meeting space setting up the bones of a strong community. However, although ruins, these buildings were still inhabited during the 1900's bringing to light the difference in progression in these communities to those of the Ancient Romans and Greeks many thousands of years ago. It really shows you how young, especially the Western part of America, really is.
After this short detour we finally made our way into Utah and up to Zion National Park. We stayed in Springdale, which is just on the outskirts of Zion, and I loved the rural and Western way of life. There was a distinct theme of tourism throughout the town but it still had elements of the Wild West. Inside Zion, everything is very well organised, buses run frequently, taking you to the different hikes around the park. The park is beautiful and was a great first impression of the state itself.
We spent the next couple of days hiking and taking in the views. We did the Riverside Walk - an easy trail which was a lovely walk by the river but was very crowded and my least favourite, The Emerald Pools hike which took you up to some pools at varying different heights with some lovely views. However, my favourite hike was the hike up to Scouts Lookout, which is just before Angels Landing. Although we were a bit too wimpy to do Angels Landing, the views were amazing and the strenuous hike up the mountain was worth it!.
From here we would continue further North to explore more of what Utah had to offer!