Nov 8, 2011

Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley

It’s a scene straight out of many a western…the stark red desert landscape with eerie structures rising into the sky. The unique landscape which marks most of Utah and Arizona is really like no other mapped with the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Arches Canyon among others…each vastly different from the other.

The canyons are spread apart from each other and it was impossible to fit all of them on a single 3-day trip.

We picked the Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley – after much debate and for no particular reason – and we did not regret it especially since we also get Glen Canyon and Lake Powell as a bonus feature.

The Antelope Canyon lies in Page, AZ reachable by flight from Phoenix and Las Vegas among others. The tiny plane wobbles and dips and bumps alarmingly as it approaches the Page airport – damn those treacherous air pockets! We land none too soon, all the wings and limbs are accounted for, and step out into a hot blast of air. Talk about a warm welcome!

The Lake Powell resort where we are staying is a short drive from the airport and has a beautiful view of the Lake. The sunset is especially spectacular as it turns the lake a deep turquoise blue, the sand a glowing orange and the walls of the canyon a dreamy pink. The sky is another explosion of color and the lake is dotted with several boats and cruise ships.

It then becomes an exciting place for stargazing too and several tours run stargazing camps on the banks of the Colorado River combined with some white water rafting – alas not enough days on this trip (Watch this space for more, hopefully).

The Antelope canyon has two sections – Lower and Upper and apparently most folks head to the Upper – as did we. Also apparently booking a tour through a tour company seems to be the best (and from what I could make out, only) way into the canyons, since entry is restricted. The noon tour is understandably crowded, as most people want to catch the sun beams falling into the canyon. It is indeed a magical experience as the soft tones of a Native American flute fill the canyon with a mysterious tune – even as the guide for the next tour hustles you along, none too gently. Well that’s to be expected on long weekends!
We drive into the Monument Valley, just in time for sunset. The best view is from the visitor center – and it is also the most iconic one. Twilight enters softly around the buttes, aptly called “The Mittens”, as we dine at “The View” (again, aptly named) hotel perched on the edge of the valley. We decide that the sunrise should be equally, if not more, spectacular and stay overnight at a nearby motel (“The View” was full, unfortunately).  
Since the motel is around 30 miles away – we need to wake at an ungodly hour, in order to make it in time for sunrise.  It lies close enough to the state boundary and each clock shows a different time – so we end up arriving an hour early and find much to our surprise, that it can actually get chilly in the desert! Once the sun starts peeking over the horizon, lingering thoughts of warm bed begin to melt away and there is simply awe.
Like minded people start arriving slowly as the sun streaks the sky a deep red, just before the first rays illuminate the buttes. Something rustles nearby and we catch a glimpse of a lone fox darting after – something which we rather not know.
One cannot help but wonder what it all looked like millions of years ago and as the wind and the water continues to work it's magic, what will it look like millions of years from now? And beautiful as it is stark, as serene as it is harsh, as stirring as it is soothing, the desert lives on as wonderous and mystical as ever.


Sagar Bhanagay said...

Wow! This is your best travelogue so far... Fursat se likha hein! It's almost poetic. I like the way you describe the sunset at Lake Powell & the way you end this blog. Leaves a dreamy trail of an almost surreal place in one's mind.

And this comment is from the Wi-fi newly set at this new place :-)

Sharvari said...

:-) it was the experience speaking for itself!

nice! what with the wi-fi and desi food downstairs you are pretty much set.

Rummana said...

Thought it was just your short stories, but the travelogues are even better! 'what will it look like millions of years from now'...doesn't quite matter ;)

Sharvari said...

lol...nice rhymes! :-)