I’ve been a road tripper my entire life. I have fond childhood memories of summers our family spent touring the Western half of the United States in a VW bus. In recent years we’ve found ourselves exploring further afield. Last year we spent three weeks driving around Ireland, Scotland and England, the summer before that we toured Portugal with stops in Lisbon, Sintra and Carvoeiro before we set off for further adventures in Spain. Along the way we’ve discovered many wonderful surprises!
No matter our destination one thing has always been the same: I’ve been the passenger for thousands of miles. Preferring to let others take on the driving duty, I was content to sit back taking photos out the window, and reading my guidebooks in between periodic naps. But that changed this past summer when the boys and I joined my parents for a 2000 + mile road trip throughout the American Southwest.
The One Behind the Wheel
This time I would be the main driver and I was somewhat aprehensive. I knew I could do it, but everyday for two straight weeks? Would I get bored? Would it be too much driving? Would I hear a never ending chorus of “Are we there yet?” from the back seat…
Deciding to take my chances and do it my way, we took our time and stopped when and where we felt like it, which really helped to break up the monotony of the miles. Success! I don’t recall hearing anyone ask “are we there yet?” and we discovered many wonderful places along the way! Here are just a few*…
THE SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS
Along the way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas
20 miles from The Delano Hotel Las Vegas
Our first “along the way” stop was The Seven Magic Mountains, a temporary art installation, in the desert just outside Las Vegas. An instagrammers dream, this grouping of brightly colored boulders stacked 30 feet high was created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Installed in May 2016 the exhibit will be in place for two years.
GLEN CANYON DAM
Along the way from Monument Valley to Antelope Canyon
125 Miles from Monument Valley
The famous Antelope Canyon brought us to Page, but our visit wasn’t until the following day, so we decided upon a visit to the Glen Canyon Dam. The Visitor Center provides fabulous views, of the Dam, beautiful Lake Powell, and has an exhibition worth exploring. We took the Dam tour where we not only learned about the construction of the dam, but had the chance to walk across the top, and to go inside, which was around 638 feet down…
Along the way from Antelope Canyon to The Grand Canyon
110 Miles from The Grand Canyon
Located just outside Page, Arizona, Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed spots on the Colorado River. That said, walking to the edge of a 1000 foot drop with no safety guards isn’t high on my list (pun intended!) Go? Don’t go? How could I skip this natural wonder? Go? Don’t go?! I went, but I had to crawl to get to this point. I admit I didn’t heed the signs, but you should. What have you done to get that photo? Would you have leaned over to get the perfect pic?
THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Along the way from Horseshoe Bend to Las Vegas, Nevada
253 Miles from Las Vegas
I know what you’re thinking! How is the Grand Canyon National Park just a stop along the way? Well… after two weeks of soaring temperatures, visitor centers, and redish colored rocks we were simply canyoned out. We felt a bit like National Lampoon’s Vacation. Arriving just before the rain, we had time to visit the Desert View overlook and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center before we called it a day.
The next morning we had a family meeting and gave ourselves permission to continue on our journey without another visit to the Park. I can’t say for sure if I would have felt this way had The Grand Canyon been our first stop, but we visited many beautiful places on this adventure and felt no remorse about the nature of our visit.
HISTORIC ROUTE 66
Along the way from The Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
Kingman & Seligman, Arizona
104 Miles from Las Vegas
At one time stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California Historic Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the United States. No longer an official highway it is still possible to drive on stretches of what was once known as America’s Main Street, or The Mother Road. We took the time to stop in Seligman for some kitschy Americana photos and again in Kingman at an old school diner for some lunch.
THE HOOVER DAM
Along the way from Route 66 to Las Vegas
33 Miles from Las Vegas
Our final along the way stop was the Hoover Dam. Walking across Glen Canyon was pretty neat, but driving across Hoover Dam was really cool, at the same time I couldn’t help but think about all the action movies I’ve seen where they detroy the dam… Let’s get out of here!
*If you’d like to read more about our adventures through the American Southwest, and other fun places we stopped along the way check out these related blog posts:
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