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!
Portugal: Detour to the End of the World
England: Along the Way: Hadrian’s Wall
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.
Related post: Postcards from 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:
8 Things to do in Las Vegas… with Kids
Family Friendly Hiking in Zion National Park
Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park Day & Night
Road Trip to Arches National Park
Soaring Over Monument Valley
Chasing the Light in Upper Antelope Canyon
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Wow… impressive post as usual!
This trip is similar to a trip I did with my parents almost 35 years ago. Brings back a ton of memories. Was the grand canyon on the north rim side?
Fun! I’m glad to bring back some fond memories. This was the south rim
What amazing pictures you have taken! Thanks for sharing!!
Loved reading about your road trip Hilary, every single one of those stops would be right up my street!! Not sure I’d be brave enough for that Horsehoe Bend photo though – my knees are knocking just looking at you. I’m always the passenger on our road trips!
I may go back to being the passenger!
This is like the ULTIMATE über American road trip every American should take! I remember visiting Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon back when I was about 12. Would love to take my husband on this same trip one day! #FarawayFiles
It was pretty epic and iconic too! I might be road tripped out at the moment!
Can you believe that I’ve hardly done any road trips? I usually prefer to be the backseat driver too. Funnily enough the biggest road trip I’ve ever done was in the States. I HAD to drive as my friend couldn’t so drove down the coast from San Francisco to LA then onto Vegas and the Grand Canyon and back again. But 2,000 plus miles? That is some trip!! The blog posts have been incredible so I’d say it was worth it. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles
That’s quite a road trip! What was it like driving on the “wrong” side of the road? Were you nervous? The drive from LA to Vegas is awful, isn’t it?!
fifi + hop
I love to be the passenger seater too, for all the same reasons. But back in the day I used to love to be the driver, so I see the advantages to both. I love the part about having the family meeting the next morning at Grand Canyon – each to their own! #farawayfiles
I’m feeling like I’ll go back to being the passenger as I think it will be a while before I’m excited about a long driving trip again!
I am definitely pinning this and doing this trip! Out of all of these stops I’ve only done one – Hoover Dam. I really need to see the rest as well! They’re all on my bucket list. #FarawayFiles
I’ll look forward to reading about your adventures! It’s always fun to see places from other perspectives!
Beautiful pictures! We are visiting my mom in Phoenix this Christmas and Antelope Valley + Horseshoe Bend are high on my list of things to see. 🙂 #FarawayFiles
Great! I’m sure you’ll love it! Make sure to book your visit to Antelope Valley way in advance…
It’s the greatest American roadtrip I think. We did some of this trip when I was a teenager butI really didnt appreciate it. Must redo it as the landscapes are incredible. PS I now have Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode in my head. #FarawayFiles
It’s certainly one of them! I’m happy to have checked many of these places off my list! I can’t believe we didn’t listen to DM on this trip, what was I thinking?
Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns)
There is just so much to see in that area it is hard to fit it all in! I just went to the Grand Canyon for half a day on a helicopter tour from Vegas. I loved it but really wanted to have more time there. I have been really enjoying all your posts from this trip. Will definitely be referring to them, when I get around to doing the parks in Utah. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Yes, it’s unbelievable how much there is to see in just one of these parks let along all the ones we fit into this trip… I feel like we got a taste of each one, but would love to revisit a few of them someday. The helicopter tour would have been amazing, but we just ran out of time…
I’ve had great fun on road trips, but I think I’m getting too old now – I just find myself struggling to keep awake the entire time on the road! Not great – especially when I’m the one driving… How did you keep awake?
I know what you mean! I made sure to drive shorter distance with a maximum of 5 hours in a day, lots of stops along the way, and didn’t really do any night driving!
I love so much about this post, but perhaps nothing more than you and your “sensible shoes” next to that sign. 😉 Also, I have three magic words that help me get those death defying photos: Really Long Selfie-stick. (That’s not cheating, right?) Great post, Hilary! As always, thanks for sharing it with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
LOL! I know! My shoes were so NOT sensible, but in my defense I wasn’t sure I was even going!! Great idea about the selfie stick and no it’s not cheating!! 😊
We always love camping at the Grand Canyon! A few years back we also enjoyed a river raft trip in Glen Canyon! Great article and amazing photos! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you! Next time I’m definitely going on the river!