Exploring the Winter Glories of the West on an Epic 5,600 Mile Road Trip
Late this past winter, I had the opportunity to embark on a rather epic road trip from Jacksonville, FL to Scottsdale, AZ and then back again. Not wanting to waste a winter trip so close (relatively speaking) to some amazing national parks and scenic areas, I decided to take an extra two days on the return drive to see if I couldn’t find something a bit less monotonous than the 2,500 miles of I-10 I drove on the way out. I wasn’t disappointed. At times, it was as if every turn presented another vista of winter glories to behold!
So, where did I go to find all these “winter glories”, you ask? Well, I started off at the Grand Canyon (photos in the gallery below) and spent an afternoon and evening exploring and photographing the snow-spattered canyon’s southern rim. From there I toured the slot canyon of Lower Antelope Canyon (top) and it’s flowing red sandstone formations. Later that day, I stumbled upon a sign for Monument Valley and opted to take the detour. It proved to be a perfect diversion, with the sun setting between two layers of clouds and lighting the entire sky and the eerie formations on fire for a glorious, though fleeting moment. Early the next morning, I attempted to check out the winter glories of Canyonlands, but upon discovering the road from Moab to the park was dirt and wound through a steep mountain pass, I opted to return to Arches National Park for a sunrise that would be less likely to ruin the car I was photographing for AVIS. Talk about winter glories! The sunrise over the snow-capped mountain range provided a stunning backdrop to the other-worldly formations found in Arches, like the scene above.
My last stop was the fabled Rim Rock Drive, a scenic extravaganza of a drive up to the top of Colorado National Monument. With the latitude and altitude increasing, this is where I saw the most snow, but even still I had been hoping for considerably more snow for this “winter glories” trip. Yet, I have to say, even without quite as much of a winter landscape, the scenery certainly didn’t disappoint. I even stumbled upon the remains of the old Vulcan Mine (and discovered it’s fascinating and tragic story) as I drove through New Castle, CO.
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The Western Expanse – Winter Glories in the Western United States
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