Friday, June 1, 2018

Lone Rock Campground, Slot Canyons & More

lone_rock001

Utah And Arizona are states you could travel around for years and still not see all they have to offer. When Linda and I originally talked about going to visit Page to see the slot canyons, I had no idea just how epic it would be. Our destination for the area was Lone Rock Campground with gorgeous views of Lake Powell.

The Lake is actually a reservoir on the Colorado River perched on the border of Utah and Arizona. It's the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States behind Lake Mead. The terrain is desert-like with massive rock structures in abundance. The lake itself almost seems unexpected, at odds with its otherwise arid environment. Nonetheless, to me it was fertile ground to capture some photographs.

Lone Rock, a gigantic mass, looms up from the water and changes its form depending on the angle of the sun. Being there felt as remote as some of the far reaches of our Alaskan adventure. I can't really explain it in words but the whole experience took my breath away and I was completely hooked.

I'm not the only one spellbound by the Lake Powell area. Just ask Hollywood. The surrounding landscape is reminiscent of some imagined barren planet at the edge of the universe and continues to attract movie makers far and wide. Many films you may know have been shot here, including; The Greatest Story Ever Told, Planet of the Apes, Gravity and, most recently, one of my favorite TV shows, Westworld.

pota  westworld
Stills from the original Planet of the Apes movie and Lone Rock in the TV show Westworld.

So, with all of that in mind, we arrived at Lone Rock Campground, right on the banks of Lake Powell. All sites are boondocking only and it's also first come first serve. There is a dump station with potable water near the entrance which we availed of twice while there. We decided to put our jacks down at the top of the hill overlooking the lake and beach instead of driving down to the water's edge. After a pretty nasty windstorm moved in a few days later engulfing the beach with airborne sand, we were even happier with our choice.

IMG_9710
Looking down on the beach from our cozy perch, the wind violently whips up sand. You can barely see the RVs.

The campsite is only a short distance from Page in Arizona. And let me tell you, there is an hour difference between our campground and Page and, unless you actually know about the time zone, it's easy to get royally confused by all the flip flopping.

We fell victim to this fissure in time when we went to visit one of the biggest attractions in the area:  Upper Antelope Canyon. We had booked a tour in advance and were instructed to arrive absurdly early. Being the conscientious people we are, we arrived on time at what felt like the crack of dawn. There was no one around and we thought to ourselves, cool, we have the whole tour to ourselves. That was before we realized we had arrived an hour early because of the time zone difference. So, in effect, we were there two hours before the tour started. Brilliant!

lone_rock002
Empty benches mocked us as we arrived two hours early for the canyon tour.

When we finally got going, however, it was well worth the wait. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon and hugely popular for photographers and sightseers. There is an upper and a lower canyon. The most popular is the Upper Canyon so that's the one we decided to visit.

Your experience can vary greatly depending on what time of the day you go, the weather, how many tourists are there and the personality of your guide. While our guide was nothing to write home about, we did manage to see some beautiful sights in the canyon. Despite the crowds (and there were a lot of people), keeping our cameras facing upwards allowed us to capture some nice shots. We appreciated the fact that our guide directed us to the best spots and was willing to take the photos if we liked.

IMG_9707
Our mode of transport. It was a bumpy, dusty ride to the slot canyon.

IMG_4855  IMG_4876 
There is always a constant flow of people going through the canyon.

I wasn't too concerned about the crowds because I had also booked a tour to the same canyon specifically for photographers and that afforded me much better access to the famed light shafts. I wrote a separate blog post about my experience on my photography site about that tour here.

IMG_9690  IMG_9700  IMG_9702

IMG_9693

IMG_9699  IMG_9701

IMG_9703

IMG_9704
Steven was able to get much better images with a tripod during the photographer’s tour.

IMG_9708
You have to be quick on your feet during the photographer’s tour. You got about one minute for each shot.

We ended up staying at Lone Rock Campground for a total of 9 days. That was longer than we had planned but extreme winds and cold had dictated that we change our plans for our upcoming stay at Bryce Canyon National Park. Our original plan was to camp at Red Canyon Campground which is just a few miles from the park but, alas, that was not meant to be. At the same time, we weren’t really complaining because even hanging out in Scoopy staring out the window, the views were just breathtaking.

IMG_9682

IMG_9687

IMG_9688
The many moods of Lake Powell and Lone Rock.

We decided to drive to Bryce for the day while still at Lone Rock. Let's call it a reconnaissance. When we have the opportunity to visit an upcoming destination in advance, we generally take it. When we stopped at the visitor center, we were told that Red Canyon Campground was still closed for the season. Great! Not what we were expecting and we didn’t have a Plan B. The ranger pointed us to a couple of areas where we could boondock. We found a suitable place that was a favorite of horse owners. We were all set to go until, as I said,  the weather changed the plan. Oh well, at least we got to see Bryce Canyon albeit briefly but I guess we'll come back another time.

IMG_4827
Along the road leading up to Bryce Canyon National Park.

IMG_5019
It snowed briefly while we were there. The wind was biting but we managed to get a few photos!

IMG_9716
Beautiful light moves across Bryce Canyon.

IMG_5032
Hey, let’s get a selfie while we’re here.

During our stay at Lone Rock we managed to visit a few other places around the area including Horseshoe Bend (another place stricken from my bucket list) Glen Canyon Dam, Lees Ferry, Cave Dwellers and Vermillion Cliffs. We also caught up with our friends Lee and Tracy who opted to camp down by the beach. They were braver than us! Anyway, it was nice to exchange travel stories with them for Happy Hour.

IMG_9670
Horseshoe Bend did not disappoint. You have to crawl on your belly to the edge of a cliff for this view.

IMG_4701
Navajo Bridge, near Lees Ferry.

IMG_4716
By the Colorado River that flows through the nearby Grand Canyon.

IMG_9673
Linda holds up a toadstool rock singlehandedly.

IMG_4776  IMG_9672
Toadie poses for her Instagram feed.

IMG_4791
Glen Canyon Dam.

IMG_4800
Steven snaps photos of the dam from the visitors center.

IMG_9677
Lake Powell and the distant Navajo Power Plant in Page, Arizona.

IMG_4996
Happy hour with Lee and Tracy.

There's just so much to do and see in this area, it's hard to cover it all in one visit. Lake Powell ranks in my top 5 favorite places and we'll definitely return the first chance we get.

22 comments:

  1. What a beautiful area, Steven (except for the power plant). Love that toadstool shot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know. I'm always intrigued by man-made structures in nature. I find the geometry of that power plant against the rugged backdrop to be really interesting :) Yeah, the toadstool rock was fun. It actually collapsed as we were leaving. No, no, just kidding!!

      Delete
  2. One of the most beautiful places we have been. Between Lone Rock, they slot canyons and horseshoe bend you just cannot beat it! Awesome images as usual!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. There are some places we go to and the payoff is incredible with minimal effort. There is so much to see in such a short distance in this area. Thanks for the comment!

      Delete
  3. That's our favorite area of the lower 48 - spectacular!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ours too. It's one of those places I just felt sad leaving because it's just hard to follow it up with anything else remotely as exciting.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful photos! Love the post. We have most of those places on our list. Hopefully next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Well I can wholeheartedly recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

      Delete
  5. I thought I was behind on my blog! I also just posted about our time in Lone Rock! We LOVED it and all the stuff to see and do in the area! Steven’s pics are better than mine though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I know, we are lame when it comes to keeping up with our blog but at least it's up now! I really liked your photos of the area. You captured its essence! Thanks for the comment Kelly.

      Delete
  6. Great read! Lake Powell is definitely on our bucket list of places to see. Beautiful photography and so good to see Tracy and Lee's smiling faces too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It was fun to see Lee and Tracy down at the beach. I didn't envy them in that big sandstorm, though. Keep it at the top of you bucket list!

      Delete
  7. Your photos of Antelope Canyon are fantastic! We did tours of both the upper and lower canyons and enjoyed both. But we don't have photos like yours. :-) We love that whole area. Did you make it to Paria ghost town? It's not too far from Lake Powell—I think you would enjoy the colorful striped mountains. Very fun new header photo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Laurel. We didn't make it to the Paria ghost town. There's simply too much to see in this area to cover in one visit. We'll be back for sure!

      Delete
  8. One of our most favourite stops! I had to laugh when you said you showed up an hour early...we did the same thing when we booked a boat tour and nobody was there when we showed up. Great pics! Safe travels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I felt like we were in one of those Star Trek episodes where we were in an alternate reality :)

      Delete
  9. It was really nice seeing you guys and we love your antelope canyon pictures!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tracy! So nice to see you guys too!

      Delete
  10. Definitely in our top 5 as well. We've been twice and still not seen everything - including Horseshoe and Antelope Canyon! Your site really gave you beautiful views, even in the cold wind. Love the pic of the dusty beach! Stunning shots in the canyon, seriously the best I've ever seen. Life is so good :-))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jodee. I have to admit I was a little nervous that, after investing the time and money in the photographers tour, my photos would suck :) I'm glad I got a few keepers.

      Delete