ROAD TRIPS + USA + BEYOND
Las Vegas - Zion - Bryce - Antelope Canyon - Grand Canyon - Flagstaff - Sedona
Nothing quite opens the soul and liberates the mind like a road trip into some of the nation’s most beautiful arid landscapes. Jumping deep into the paved highways and byways that interconnect us while allowing us to escape the mayhem of cities.
Of course I speckled this with a car stop along the way. I can’t help myself. Check out my visit to Carroll Shelby’s Museum outside of the Las Vegas Airport HERE! See stop number 7 below!
If you plan to visit more than one National Park within a year, do yourself the favor and purchase a year pass. You’ll make up the money within two-three visits ($35+ per park), plus you have an incentive/push to visit more parks, AND you’ll enjoy having a pimp little card with a wonderful photo of a national park in your wallet. To Purchase one click HERE.
I debated just how long I would spend in this over stimulating city, as I’ve partook in Las Vegas excessive many a time for work and play, so I figured I would pop in for the night and head to Zion morning. Just enough time to annihilate an In-N-Out burger, shove myself into a very small blue dress, make friends, double their money at a black jack table (luck favors the novice), and enjoy four hours asleep before setting on the road. A perfect night in Vegas if you ask me!
On prior trips I’ve been sure to stop into Frankie’s Tiki Room, the ‘Boneyard’ at the Neon Museum, Cosmopolitan Hotel Vegas, the travelling art exhibit at the Bellagio, and OF COURSE, the Penn and Teller Show at the Rio.
There is really no wrong way to do Vegas, unless someone goes missing from the Spearmint Rhino which frankly, is easy to do.
Yes, certainly I was operating on limited sleep and the evening prior’s over-abundance of sauvignon blanc, BUT I more than pull through a slight hangover when it involves travels- especially in national parks!
A MUST do hike in Zion is the Narrows Trail, which is a scenic path that traverses through water, swift moving currents, and slippery rocks. Considering that peril, one should plan accordingly with appropriate shoes (they will get wet!), walking stick to sturdy yourself in the currents, wide brimmed hat to avoid sun burn, and a good attitude.
With the fast moving currents of the Narrows Trail and the water polished rocks underfoot, an accidental baptism into the cool water will wake you up real fast. #byehangover
Another girl was travelling alone and we immediately formed a team, helping and notifying each other of especially strong currents or a drastic plunge in the depth of the water.
GOOD STOPS: Zion National Park lodge,
A place to find some of the more wildly bizarre landscape our nation has to offer. Many vantage points of the canyon allow the visitor to mentally dive into the extraterrestrial surroundings. A thing that brought me great joy at Bryce Canyon was the vast numbers of cliff swallows that call the crevices of the unusual landscape home. With a memorizing agility, the swallows bob and weave seamlessly through the air for their catch.
You simply get lost looking at this wild scene of geology. You’ll love it.
Bryce Canyon boast’s world largest the largest number of hoodoos which is an awesome term for some fascinatingly weird rock columns. Pick any loop for an unbelievable day hike. Be sure to plant yourself on one of the vistas for the evening’s spectacular sunset but dress warmly at night as the temperatures dropped. I am pretty sure I layered on everything I had in my backpack, which really wasn’t much though.
It’s an unreal sight, striations of red, yellow, and orange file up your periphery towards the small cracks of sunlight that slip through the canyon’s openings. A step into a different climate zone too, from the hot and steamy exterior desert and then through the entrance of Antelope Canyon which immediately engulfs you with a lower temperature and slowly passing breeze passing from rock wall to rock wall.
You won’t want to miss this stop, PLUS it’s a nice midway point between Bryce National Canyon and Flagstaff, Arizona. Road trips are where the stops are, so make them plentiful and purposeful. The canyon is located on a native american reservation and the folks that run it are quite pleasant so be sure to tip your tour guides. You are on their land you know.
For instagram crazed folks this is an ideal spot, you can not NOT take a fantastic National Geographic quality photo here.
Check out The Bad Blonde travel post covering Antelope Canyon HERE.
I had decided on Flagstaff as my sweet base camp location for day hikes within the Grand Canyon’s east rim, an obvious choice with a wide range of available breweries, plus home to one of my favorite haunted hotel bars. I’d been to Flagstaff a time or two before, and I was eager to wander the charming streets again.
The Hotel Monte Vista’s cocktail bar was my first stop after checking into the Grand Canyon Hostel, my dirty martini full to brim and comforting in the way a salty booze drink can be to a wary traveler. Within minutes or sips, I noted that a young patron is intensively studying a large road map spread across the wooden bar. I love maps. A conversation was quickly initiated. You’ll find Flagstaff is quite friendly, whether it be visitors or locals.
I popped out of bed in cheery spirits eager to see the glorious red striated views that only the Grand Canyon can provide. A dry kind of calm with the forgiving rays of early morning that only Arizona can offer. Heading out the door, mind on the beckoning road, I immediately drop back down to reality to see my side view mirror dangling dejectedly. A fallen soldier.
As I didn’t check a bag and just carried a lone backpack with me, I was without my trusty knife, however, in the back of my mind I knew I was travelling some kind of useful tool. It took me about 10 minutes to slowly sever the remaining cords of the mirror. During this slow process, a jovial young homeless man wrapped in a blanket asked if he could assist. “I think I got it. Thanks though” I chuckled, to which he replied “That’s fine. I’ll just supervise.” And that gave me a solid good laugh during the remainder of my slow sawing with the bluntest of shears.
Whether an extreme hike down the South Kaibab Trail of the Grand Canyon or just lounging in the afternoon sun at one of the many vista points, the Grand Canyon is the experience of a lifetime. It’s beauty and grandeur is expansive, one can simply get lost staring into the various striations of the landscape.
I hiked down the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail, passing the glorious vantage of Ooh Ahh Point, and continuing till I decided returning might be less of an option. If you plan to adventure to the base, it is extremely recommended that it be a two day hike. I was deliberately without camping equipment, a two day hike was not an option, and I did not want to get stuck down there without an option. Before hiking always be sure to check the website of the park and or check for desirable hikes at AllTrails.com.
Whether it be from the sun or the red clay dirt of Arizona, your skin starts to the match the tawny colors of the canyon landscape. After a lovely yet strenuous hike, I was more than eager to treat myself to a hot shower at my hostel and an cold IPA.
STOPS: South Kaibab Trail, Ooh Ahh Point
7. Carroll Shelby Museum - Nevada
One of American’s most unique and successful entrepreneurs in the sports car and racing world, Carroll Shelby. A chicken farmer from Texas turned race car driver and winner, who created one a world class sports car. I was OHH SOO eager to make a pit stop at the Carroll Shelby Museum and it happened to be quite conveniently located by the Las Vegas airport. I was able to pop in before my flight back to Texas. Dependent on how avid a museum placard reader you are, the museum can take you anywhere from 1-2 hours for a visit, plus take on a little extra time for the gift shop. They had some legitimately cool Cobra shirts, and on sale too!
Carroll Shelby’s unique story captures the minds and hopes of all car builders, enthusiasts, and race car drivers. Starting off as a chicken farmer, Shelby always wanted to pursue a life of racing and would finally do so with zeal after the collapse of his chicken farm. Shelby would prove himself a winning driver and a keen mind for car building. After a heart condition took him off the racetrack, Shelby would go on to create of of the most aggressive yet romantic automobiles ever, the famed AC Cobra. Using the British good looks of a AC Cars ltd body, and putting the reliability and power of a Ford V8, it was no shocker that the end result was pure automotive magic. A car that made a sensation in the world of motor-sports and enthusiasts.
STOPS: Carrol Shelby Museum, Las Vegas Airport
BIG thank you to Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card!
I always use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to pay for rental cars, which means I get to completely decline the costly insurance the rental car company offers.
A garbage truck decided to pick a fight with my side view mirror during this road trip, and Chase took care of all of the damages. As simple as pie, all I had to do was send over my rental agreement to Chase Credit Card and they handled the rest.
Such a convenience and perk!
The Bad Blonde aka Caitlin Shook has grown up in the mechanic shop world. Shook Enterprises is a south Texas automotive repair shop that focuses on the antique, classic, rare, awesome, and sometimes just plain hard to fix vehicles.
An avid fan of travel and adventure, she’s popped into every car MUSEUM and car SHOW + AUCTION she can along the way.