Escaping the city to visit Highlands… and meet some ‘coos’

I wrote previously that we spend long weekend in early April in Edinburgh and chose the get out of the city for two days. We booked online two different one-day tours to learn more of the country, history and people during our visit as well as to avoid driving on the wrong side of the road 😉

Our first tour was Hairy Coo Free Highland tour promising us a one day adventure out of the city to see the real highlands and away from the crowds. The cute orange bus “Daisy” started from the center of the old town on Lawnmarket and we were lucky to get three guides for the trip (one of the founders as the main guide and two more in training). The tour took all day and we heard great stories and tales from Scottish history and life  today. I don’t want to spoil anything by quoting too much of the stories and rather let the pictures tell of the places we saw.

At the end of the tour all participants could choose themselves how much they wished to pay for the tour (in tips), as it was Free Tour. I my opinion this tour was very good and it delivered as promised a great day outside the city. I enjoyed the stories told by the guide and especially loved meeting some “locals”, highland cattle, up close.

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Our second tour was with NessBus (through Hairy Coo) and headed to Loch Ness and back. This was also a whole day tour and a bit longer than the Highlands Tour. The drive itself up to Lock Ness (Fort Augustus takes without stops almost 4 hours) from Edinburgh meaning this tour was a lot of sitting in the buss and looking at views. The guide was good and kept telling us stories of the places we drove by as well as history of Scotland with its Kings and Queens, continuous battles with England and tales of Rob Roy MacGregor (the Scottish Robin Hood).

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We started they day in Deanston Distillery learning about whiskey and getting to taste some the distillery’s 12 year old scotch.

After few hour drive we had a two hour break in Fort Augustus to take a cruise on Loch Ness and try to see the monster. On the boat we heard more about all the monster chases and evidence they have gathered of it during the years. On our way back I admit taking a nap in the bus as it had been long day 😉

I did enjoy this tour also though the day schedule felt quite rushed, which is understandable do to long drive to Loch Ness. Of these two tours if I only wanted to use one day to visit outside of Edinburgh I would have to choose the Free Highland Tour and reserve more than a day to drive and visit Loch NessNessie

All in all I also have to admit that I loved Scotland and am already planning a new visit to see more of its castles and beautiful nature.

To the land of the Loch Ness Monster, Braveheart and haggis…

… that was basically all I knew of this proud nation before my visit. I like so many others have heard the stories of Lock Ness Monster, watched Braveheart (couple of times), read the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon (and enjoyed the BBC series) and seen the many pictures of bagpipes, kilts and plated clothes. These were the images I had in my head before getting on the plane for a long weekend getaway to the nation’s capital Edinburgh.

For this long weekend trip we only had four days to spend in Scotland and though you could easily use to explore Edinburgh we wanted the whole experience with some Highland adventures too. So after searching online we ended up booking two one-day trips outside of the city and spend the other two days wandering around Edinburgh.

So to start with two days in the city, what to see?!

On our first day we arrived with a morning flight so chose to just walk around the major sights and get feeling of the place. We started from the Castle heading down Royal mile, popping in to see the beautiful St. Giles Cathedral, enjoying the calm and peace of the old Canongate Kirk cemetery and finally before ending up to the Palace of Holyroodhouse walking past the modern, perhaps slightly out of place among all the old houses, the Scottish Parliament building.

From the Palace of Holyroodhouse we headed back up towards the center via Carlton road and climbing past the Scottish Government house to Carlton Hill. The view over the city and across to the waterfront in Leith was great.

Walking all day we ended up getting some cute and delicious cupcakes from Bibi’s Bakery and getting some dinner from a Japanese restaurant close to our accommodation. I have to recommend both, the ramen was excellent as was the cookie monster cupcake for desert 😉 We stayed in Averon Guest House on Gilmore Place. It was really nice place built in an old 19th century house. The room included warm breakfast which was cooked each day from 8am onwards and each evening the owner performed old Scottish songs and stories in the breakfast lounge at 9 pm.

For our second day in the city we had still many things to do and see. We started early by heading to the castle (to avoid crowds) with many other tourists. We chose to take audio tour to learn some more of history of the place. It took us almost two hours to just walk around the castle, listen to the audio guide, see the Scottish crown jewels and visit the Prisons of war. I thought the most impressive part was to visit the Scottish National War Memorial to commemorate the lives lost in various conflicts. As it is a memorial no photography was allowed inside and I think this also brought the feeling of calm and peace inside the building as people were not trying to get the “perfect picture” but rather focused more on what they were seeing and listening (me included). Do not miss looking up in the Shrine to a large impressive figure of Archangel Michael hanging from the ceiling and the words “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of the God – There shall no evil happen, they are in peace” written across the wall.

From the castle we headed through the blooming Prices Street Gardens down the hill to a bus stop get a ride closer to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Weather was turning to more sunny so we thought it would be nice to be outside for a while. The gardens are well worth the visit even this early in the spring, though not so many flowers were blooming just yet. The entrance is free with the exception of visiting the Glasshouses (fee ÂŁ6,50). We entered the park from West Entrance and headed first to the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden. It had a beautiful little hut which was entirely decorated with sea shells and pine cones inside.

Next we headed to the Glasshouses of which the oldest one, Tropical Palm House, was built already in 1834. There are 10 separate houses with each a different climate and variety of plants. We were really lucky as the rain shower for the day went over the gardens during our visit indoors. A calm walk through all the glasshouses took about 45 minutes.

I have always wanted to try the traditional afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, just like in all the movies and books 🙂 We reserved a table from the Gateway restaurant at the West Entrance which offered a lovely afternoon tea setting with different salty and sweet treats. On our way out of the park we stopped for a while to admire the booming Yoshino cherry tree near the East Entrance.

For the evening we still had one more thing on our to do list, to climb to the Arthurs Seat to admire the view and sunset. Well scheduling is not our forte so we were a bit late getting again across town so instead of climbing the higher Arthurs Seat we decided to head for the peak (Salisbury Crags) closer to the road. The path starts next to the Place of Holyroodhouse. Do not take the stairs and path to the right unless you only want to climb to Arthur’s Seat. Instead walk a bit on the paved road to the left and then the path up the hill. This will take directly to the edge of Salisbury Crags and then to a small valley where the stairs up to Arthur’s Seat start. We did not follow this guide and headed up the stairs to the right so it took us a bit longer detour to get to the peak. The view was very nice over the center and also to the sea. However it was very windy on the top and a flashlight would have been nice coming down after sunset. Just to keep in mind for the next time 🙂

Lofoten Islands – day hiking

I mentioned in my previous post that we visited in August 2016 Lofoten islands in northern Norway to take photos of their amazing nature and to do some day hikes. The hike locations and routes were inspired by 68north blog which has great instructions and pictures of different hikes around the islands.

After looking through most of different recommended routes and their difficulty levels we ended up taking three one day / half day trails during our trip: Røren, Festvügtind and Kvalvika Beach. Just to mention that Lofoten trails have a bit different difficulty levels than what we have at least here in Finland. For me the hike up to Festvügtind, although scaled as moderate, felt quite rough and the climb was very steep. I do need to admit though that I am not very accustomed to hiking on mountains and this might also be why I felt it more difficult than anticipated by the description.

 

As our first hike we chose Røren which is a moderate (quite easy, though winding steep path in the mid-way)trail and started from Yttersand Beach (left from car park and across the sheep enclosure). This was easy and nice start to hiking on Lofoten. It took us approximate one hour to climb up and the views from top of the mountain towards Yttersand beach were beautiful. We took lunch with us and enjoyed it together with the view on top. It is good to bring a light jacket or hoodie even in warmer summer days as the wind gets a bit cold on the top.

 

The second hike we did was just before to Festvügtind with great views over the town of HenningsvÌr. The start of the trail is not very clearly marked but it seems to be quite popular (at least during summer) so we followed some other hikers to the start. There are some parking places by the road in Festvüg and trail starts across the road few hundred meters towards HenningsvÌr. Beginning of the trail was over large boulders but then continued steep uphill on both sides of a rock fall. On this trail I was really happy to have hiking sticks to keep balance and help me climb up the path. Halfway up the trail divides into two, the right one going to a lower peak with a pond on top and the left one continuing to the top. It was very warm and sunny day and it took us with a lot of stops over 2 hours to climb to the top (take plenty of water!). The view from the top over HenningsvÌr was definitely worth the climb. On our way down we took a different path and walked to have a lunch break at the pond on the lower peak. The water was freezing cold though some local kids were swimming in it on our way up. As the hill was still steep going down it took us some time long to get back to the car (and my legs were shaking after it, great workout;)). After the hike we drove few minutes to HenningsvÌr for well deserved ice-creams.

Our third and final hike was quite easy, a bit over an hour hike to Kvalvika beach. The parking lot to for the beach is along the road after a town called Fredvang. The parking space is not very big and the beach is popular. When we arrived there early evening the lot was full but luckily as we came for the sunset some people were already leaving and after few minute wait we were able to secure a spot in the official parking lot. There is a clear stone path in the beginning of the trail (trail marker by the road) and some planks to get over the muddiest parts. First half of the trail is uphill until you see over the pass to the beach. This was definitely the best place to get sunset pictures of the whole stretch of sand. The beach itself consists of two parts accessible on low tide but cut off by rocks on higher water. The beach is popular camping place and many people were staying there for the night.

From these hikes Kvalvika Beach was the easiest and FestvĂĽgtind the roughest. All were approximately half day trips (for FestvĂĽgtind I would reserve more time) depending on how many stops are taken or how much time wants to stay at the end before returning. Here some more pictures of our Lofoten trip. Beautiful place, great hiking possibilities and the natures is just… wow! Well recommended 🙂

Lofoten Islands, Norway

Last August we took a roadtrip from Helsinki to the Lofoten Island in northern Norway (above the Arctic Circle). We had seen some magnificent pictures of the nature and small fishing villages. We also wanted to do some day hikes and were really inspired by the blog 68north with awesome pictures of the islands and guidance for the different hikes. The blog also has really good tips on traveling in Norway on budget and what to take along. Our main purpose for this trip was to find good photo locations and capture the beauty of the nature on the islands.

Our drive from southern Finland went through Tornio border town to Kiruna, Sweden and onwards to Abisko (famous for seeing Northern Lights), over the Norwegian border and to the Lofoten islands. All in all this drive was approx. 1600 km one way and took 20 hours total.

We started early in the morning in Helsinki and headed to Oulu and Tornio. I have to admit that as I was not driving I did sleep most of the way. It took about 9 hours to drive to the Swedish border (plus breaks for snacks and lunch). After the border crossing we drove 4 more hours to Kiruna where we stopped for the night.

In the morning we continued to Abisko which is famous for its great hiking grounds and almost guaranteed Northern Lights during the winter season. We had a short stop in the town, walked a little around the visitor center before continuing to Norway.

Just before the border crossing we stopped once more to get some food supplies from the supermarket. The price level of goods is lower in Sweden than in Norway so the stacked up with some breakfast and lunch supplies (we were on a budget). The drive from the border to the town of Ballstad that we were staying in Lofoten Islands was four more hours. We scheduled the drive so that we drove longer on the first day and would arrive at the accommodation early evening on the second day.

As I mentioned before Norway is not the cheapest place to visit however you can travel with budget by cooking your own meals and staying in hostels or even on camp grounds in a tent. We did not go that far though and stayed in hostel cabins. All in all we stayed on the islands for five whole days. For the first three days we stayed in a Rorbu, an old fisherman’s cabin, booked through Hostelling International in town called Ballstad. Staying in a Rorbu was a nice experience. The cabin had two rooms with private bathroom but no other amenities. It was an old hut (and not one made to look like one) and we could even see ground below through the cracks on the floor boards at places. The cabin key was huge and had an additional padlock to it when leaving outside. We were told that renovation project was on its way but had not unfortunately yet reached the cabin we had booked. The kitchen facilities were short 5 minute walk away across the road in another Rorbu. Our plan was to spend most of the day outdoors so really only wanted to have a place to sleep and shower (bed + bathroom) so this was just what we were looking for. This was a nice experience and suited for budget traveler (night in real Rorbu for ¨90€/room). Also the location was great (if you have a car) to get around the islands.

For the last two nights of our trip on the islands we stayed in Ramberg at a Guesthouse cabin. This was more expensive (130€/night) and was better equipped (cooking facilities, separate bedroom, kitchen and bathroom). It was just by the beach on a camping ground and you could sit on the porch watching sunset while having dinner.

We were really lucky with weather and the sun shined for us most of the trip (it was cloudy on the day we arrived and the morning we left back home). As it was summer the dark time during the night was really short, sunset and rise were only few hours apart. During our trip we did some day hikes on the mountains (more on this in another post) and visited fishing villages and beaches accessible by car during.

Å was a very small town farthest from the mainland and at the end of the E10 crossing the islands.

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Reine was very picturesque little town and had busloads of tourists walking its streets. One of the hikes we had planned to take was high over this town, Reinebringen, however we chose to skip this as the level was hard and we had heard that the path is very slippery and muddy at that time (they construction of the path had begun during the summer so hopefully next time we will be able to conquer also this peak).

Njusfjord is a small fishing village and during the day an outside museum with buildings dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. We did not go for a walk in the town (small entrance fee) but rather took some pictures from the parking lot above the village.

Gimsøya island is small mountainous patch of land with its highest point the 767-metre tall Bardstrandfjellet.

Vikten is a small village on a rough coast. It is also known for its Glass Hut and glassblowers. These artist can also be often seen at work in the studio.

Haukland and Uttakleiv Beaches – Haukland is just next to the road with camping possibilities and sheep meadows next to it. There is a small stream going through the white sand beach and during late summer it is picturesque especially during sunset. Uttakleiv is the most photographed beach in Lofoten and a place where we ended up couple of times on our trip also to take pictures. Road to this beach went through a tunnel next to Haukland Beach. It has both rocky coastline and white sandy beach. During the day we also saw many sheep grazing both on the grass as well as visiting the beach.

USA Roadtrip #10 – Back to Vegas + day trips from there

Our last leg of the road trip was to drive back to Las Vegas from Page.Page-Zion-ValleyofFire-LV map

As we spent the whole morning in Antelope Canyon we then drove the afternoon on Hwy 9 through Zion National Park. We entered through East entrance and first noted the different color in the road pavement. The hills also had several colors in them. There are some tunnels on the way and steep serpentine road down to the Zion Canyon. We happened to be by the river during dusk and got view the last sun rays over the mountains from bridge over North Fork Virgin River. This time we did not have time to spend in the park, just passing by. The brochure did show many interesting trails and even a shuttle bus driving the otherwise closed scenic road in the canyon. Something for the next visit then 🙂

We stopped for the night in a hotel in Mesquite and then visited Valley of Fire State Park (entered from East Entrance) the next day before getting back to Las Vegas. It is a really nice park just approximately one hour drive from Las Vegas so it can also be visited on a day/half day trip from there. This park is also not that commonly known destination. When entering the park there wasn’t any open pay booths so the entrance fee was left in an envelope to a mailbox (soon after a ranger came to empty the box). Just next to the entrance was the Elephant Rock, an arched rock that looks like a sitting elephant when you climb higher on the hill.

Next we continued directly to Parking lot P3 to take the trail to Fire Wave. The trail is a sandy path (sand goes everywhere) and takes about one hour. It was very windy day causing the sand to fly with the gusts. Well worth the hike. Fire Wave was beautiful with its different stripes and the hills behind were very colorful. I have not seen this kind of rock coloring and stripes anywhere before.

This time in Las Vegas we stayed in Stratosphere hotel at the other end of the Strip. This was quite far from the other resorts (longer walking distance to everywhere) but otherwise very nice hotel and casino. Of course we went to the top of the tower the very first evening to see the crazy amusement rides on top of it (I did not dare to try as I am afraid of heights) and admire the view over the city. The hotel casino had everything one might need inside (restaurants, shops, gambling, amusement park rides, pool etc.) so really there would have been no reason for anyone to leave. However there was still some places around Vegas that we wanted to see and couple of days before our flight home.

We did a half day trip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just outside of Las Vegas. It was only 30 min drive from the Strip and had a 13-mile scenic drive around it. It was Saturday when we visited the park and though the weather was very windy and cloudy there were many families enjoying time outdoors climbing the rocks, having picnic in park or just walking around.

We also did one more day trip towards Death Valley. I had heard that there are many abandoned (ghost) towns around this area and really wanted to visit one. So we took the I-95 through Beatty to Rhyolite Ghost Town. I had high expectations of the place and images in my head of this western style empty town. In reality however it was only few walls left in some buildings scattered along the main town road and a closed up old Casino/Saloon with abandoned railroad wagon at the end of it. It was quickly looked through.

We continued towards the state line and noted a dirt road with sign for Leadfield Ghost Town. We thought that this might be more what I was imagining and turned to the road. This was one-way road so no turning back. After a while driving to more and more mountainous scenery the road got really bad. Good thing that our rental had four-wheel drive because otherwise I am not sure we would have made it across the mountains. There were huge holes on the road as well as soft sand in some parts. The nature and scenery though was picturesque. When we finally arrived in the ghost town it really was only three rusted shacks far apart. However the feel was very different from Rhyolite as this was in the middle of nowhere and you could see the closed up mineshafts around the town. There were only very few other cars and adventurous people taking the same road (so not the common tourist road).

Continuing the drive towards Death Valley the road declined to the bottom of Titus Canyon. Actually the road was the dried up river bottom and you still could see where the water had flown earlier in the year and years ago. This trip took us the whole day and after getting out of Titus Canyon we still had over two hour drive back to Las Vegas.

 

 

USA Roadtrip #9 – Page and Lower Antelope Canyon

From Bryce Canyon we headed to Page to visit famous Antelope Canyon.

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On our way we drove through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a dirt road. We stopped to see the Grosvenor Arch (B on the map) and then followed the Cottonwood Creek (Cottonwood Canyon Road) all the way to Hwy 89. As the road was not paved I do not suggest taking it during spring floods or rain. We also had four-wheel drive which would have come in handy if the road had not been in such good shape.

The reason we came to Page on our trip was to visit the Antelope Canyons. These are narrow canyons mostly underground (not visible up above) and always require a guide to go with. They have been molded by erosion and flash flooding which still occur at times. There are two different Antelope Canyons. The upper Antelope canyons are larger and more famous (National Geographic pictures) and the lower Antelope smaller with only two tour companies taking people there.

We didn’t book guided tour in advance because wanted to be sure that the weather was good on the day we would be visiting. Well this was not a good decision and all the tours were fully booked for Upper Antelope when we checked the day before. After checking through all the companies we managed to book a photography tour for the lower canyon. Instead of normal tour we chose a photography tour because it gave us more time to take pictures inside the canyon and to use tripods. On a normal tour you just walk through the canyon with a guide. The canyon is very narrow and has steps to get in and out. There also is a continuous flow of groups passing through so in some places there will be queues to go forward. This causes also that groups are hurried forward and you cannot just stop to take photos where ever you want. We were on Ken’s tour and noticed that their guides did not tell much of the canyon but rather let people listen to the other tour company’s guides explain the history and formations (one even had a flute with and played it at some point). Next time I would choose Dixie Ellis’ tour.

I recommend the photo tour if you have a tripod and want to take better pictures (it is dark in the canyon and you have more time on this trip). This tour is longer than regular tour and gives you more time to take pictures (our guide walked us through the canyon twice). The guide also stopped the other groups once in a while so that we could get pictures without any people in them.

I warmly recommend visiting the Antelope Canyon. Next time I will definitely want to visit also the larger Upper Antelope Canyon (just have to remember to book the tour well in advance, not the day before) to try to get pictures of sun beams flowing in the canyon.

Another must place to see in Page was Horseshoe Bend (D on the map). This is a great view of the Colorado River from high cliff. There are no fences and the edges are slippery as well as in some places erosion has made them hollow below. So be careful!

USA Roadtrip #8 – Bryce Canyon

This national park was like non other I have visited so far. Definitely my favorite park of the whole trip. We stayed for two nights in a small cabin close to Bryce Canyon and spent one whole day walking in the park. The cabins were located in a small town called Cannonville and each of them had kitchen and a barbeque. So we were able cook picnic lunch to take to the park and nice barbeque dinner when we got back.

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View from Sunrise Point

Bryce Canyon is known for its “hoodoos” or bulbous columns created by weather and climate changes (frost-wedging) in higher elevation. We headed directly after getting a map from the Visitor Center to Sunrise Point. After admiring the view and takin hundred photos we headed down to Queens Garden trail. It was quite steep in the beginning and some snow and ice was still visible from the night time. This all melted when the sun got up and started warming the air. It was incredible to walk this narrow path with steep drop on the other side and orange covering hoodoos on the other. At the end of the trail there was “hoodoo” which did as it was named look a bit like a queen with its crown and long dress. We continued our path on the trail going to the bottom of the canyon and then joining to Navajo Loop trail.

We headed up the Navajo Loop Trail (not a loop as Wall Street portion of it was closed due to weather conditions and erosion). This was again steep climb up on a clayey path with no security fences. At the same time this climb was the best hike so far during the whole trip. The views when climbing up were unbelievable and the sun shined warmly. I truly enjoyed this part. The trail comes up to the Sunset Point so after a short picnic break we walked back on the rim trail to our car waiting for us in Sunrise Point.

We drove to see the other scenic points also and apart from Bryce Point I have to admit that the best views are from Sunrise and Sunset Points.

In the evening we returned to the park to take pictures of the sunset.

USA Roadtrip #7 – Capitol Reef National Park, Scenic Byway 12

 

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The Castle and rock layers of Capitol Reef National Park

We stayed the night right next to Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey. In the morning we headed to the Visitor Center to get the map of the park and tips on places to visit. On our way we stopped in Panorama Point and Goosenecks Overlook to admire the scenery.

 

Capitol Reef National Park is known for its geologic landform or wrinkle called Waterpocket Fold. Erosion caused by water still continues everyday to form the sandstone layers, colorful cliffs and arches.

Petroglyphs (carvings) and pictographs (paintings) are seen also in this park. There is a parking lot just after Fruita historic school building and you can get a bit closer to the carvings on a fenced path. These pictures are approximately from 300 – 1300 C.E. and picture the daily life, stories, journeys, clan symbols, calendars etc. of ancient habitants of this area.

A little further from the Petroglyphs site is another parking lot and start for Hickman Bridge trail. This was a short 2 hour hike back and forth with nice views of colorful cliffs and water erosion on sandstone. At the end of the trail is Hickman Bridge towering over dried river bend (bridges form over rivers and streams vs. arches are formed on cliffs due to rain and temperature changes).

After our morning walk we continued south with the Scenic Byway 12 passing from northwest through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and to Bryce Canyon for the night.

Grand Staircase-Escalante is the largest national monument in the United States and at this point we only passed little part of it in north-west (more in later post). The road was winding and we saw some snow again up in the mountains. At one point the road went on a ridge with steep slopes on both sides the same time (good thing that there were two lanes).

USA roadtrip #6 – Arches National Park

In the morning we continued our drive towards Arches National Park. Our original plan was to stay the night in Moab (close to the park) but due to some motorsport conference all the motels were fully booked. So in the morning we still had 1 hour to drive to reach the park entrance (C->D).

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Drive from Monument Valley to Arches National Park and for the night in Torrey (Capitol Reef National Park)

We’d heard warnings from other visitors that the park is very popular (especially during weekends and public holidays) and there might be long queues in the entrance that reach all the way to the highway. So we got up early to reach the gates before rush. The frozen road from previous night’s snow storm was a bit worrying (still summer tires and no chains). Luckily the ice melted when sun got up and we drove safely to the park.

This National Park (as name might indicate) is known of its various natural rock arches caused by erosion and weather. When driving into the park you first arrive to Courthouse Towers with Three Gossips and Sheep Rock (used to be an arch connected to larger boulder but has collapsed years ago).

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Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, Sheep Rock on the left side.

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Three Gossips @Courthouse Towers Viewpoint

First arches we visited were Turret Arch – just next to the parking lot, you can also climb through it to the other side (just note that the rocks are slippery if it has rained).

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Turret Arch @ The Windows Section in Arches National Park

North and South Windows – walking trail around the hill, better view of both windows is from the backside. I recommend to take this trail, it is only 1,1 km long and easy to walk and the view in the back is much nicer than from the parking lot (and you can get both Windows in one picture).

Double Arch – quite short trail from parking lot (same lot with Windows) on a sand path.

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Double Arch @ The Windows Section in Arches National Park

One of the most photographed and famous of the arches it the Delicate Arch. The trail to this arch told to be rough and 4,8km long. You can also see the arch from viewpoints closer to the parking lot with easier access. We did not take this trail as there seem to be many people already on the path and we knew it would take time (we were on a schedule as we had a lot of driving still to do in the evening). My pictures are taken from the Upper viewpoint using. This is definitely an arch I would like to hike to some other time but it really should be either very early in the morning or later in the evening to get sunrise or sunset in the same picture.

Last stops were to Sand Dune Arch (short walk from the parking lot between the boulders, the arch itself was not very picturesque I more liked the boulders around it) and then to Devils Garden Trailhead to hike to Landscape Arch. This trail was also easy to walk as there was clear sand path, though some elevation.

This park had many families really hiking the trails (not just driving from one arch to another, though there were these also) and seemed very good for outdoor walks. This is a place that I would love to come back to and perhaps spend couple of days in walking the different trails and seeing some more of the over 2000 named arches.

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Scenery towards Parades of Elephants from Balanced Rock Viewpoint

 

Our journey continued early evening to spend the night in Torrey (Capitol Reef National Park). The drive still took over 2,5 hours + pit stops and dinner.

USA roadtrip #5 – Monument Valley

This is something I have been waiting to take pictures from for a long time… Monument Valley. Scene for many old western films and some newer ones. We splurged this night and booked a room just outside the park from Goulding’s Lodge. Our balcony had a view directly to the park!

 

We purchased the park ticket already in the evening (valid for couple of days, not included in the National Park pass) and went for a short ride between the rocks though the light was fading. Did not get many good pictures in the park, it was too dark. Of course we had to take the sunset picture 🙂 …

In the morning we got up early and drove up to the Visitor Center to get sunrise pictures. Good thing that the hotel was close by because after the “mandatory” photographing we went back to our room to get some breakfast and pack the car.

Unfortunately for us the wind was picking up during the morning which lifted the sand in the air making our pictures bit blurry. We drove around the park on a sand road loop trail between the majestic rocks. Defying the gusty wind and everywhere sticking sand we did manage to jump out of the car every once in a while.

In the evening we headed north to Monticello for the night. We wanted to take some sunset pictures from the nearby Needles Overlook but run into snowstorm when driving to the mountains. We quickly decided to turn around and get back to the hotel before we would be stuck on the mountain in snow and without winter tires.

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What and interesting weather with morning spend in a gusty sand storm and by evening surrounded by snow!