North American Photography Road Trip
After our recent road trip in North America i would like to share our experience and give some advice to anyone wishing to do the same fantastic trip.
Read on and enjoy .................
First a brief overview of our September trip.
San Fransisco - 2 Days Holiday Inn *** (Fantastic City wish it was 3)
Drive to Yosemite - 3.5 hrs
Yosemite View Lodge *** - 2 days (wish it was 3)
Drive to La Vegas Nevada - 8 hrs with a stop for breakfast (fantastic drive through Tioga)
Las Vegas Luxor Hotel **** - 2 days (just right time spent in this mad city)
Drive Las Vegas to Zion National Park Utah - 3 hrs drive and then another 2 hrs drive on to Bryce Canyon National Park to base for the evening at Rubys Inn ***.
Next day a full day of photography in the park via shuttle bus.
Late afternoon drive from Bryce to Lake Powell & stay at Lake Powell Resort ****
Next day trip to Antelope Canyon with Antelope Canyon Tours.
late afternoon drive to Monument Valley for sunset and stay at Kayenta Inn ** (dry town....no beer !!!)
Overnight stay and off to grand canyon with mid morning stop off for breakfast on route at trading post yummy steak and eggs !!!
Another stop off for lunch and a beer at williams a really nice litte town about 60 miles from Grand Canyon village.
6.5 hrs drive later including stop offs and arrived Grand Canyon Holiday Inn **** 2 days stay.
7 hrs Drive to Palm Springs via Joshua Tree Park.
Palm Springs 3 days stay at Palm Springs Mountain Resort **** lovely hotel in central location and near Rubys.......more of that later.
Final Leg of journey 2 hr drive to Los Angeles for afternoon explore on foot and overnight stay at Marriot ***
Next day fly home back to UK.
And now for a bit more detail........
Arrived San Fransisco and based in a central location in the Bay area at Holiday Inn on Van Ness Avenue. This was 1 block from the tram stop on Califormia which takes you downtown and with a second tram link to Fishermas Wharf.We purchased a 7 day tram ticket which worked out cheaper than buying a daily ticket and we passed it on to a couple in the hotel after our 2 day stay. Just a note on the lady in the hotel gift shop, she was a great source of tourist information.
We dropped our luggage and headed for the italian quarter for a meal. plenty of good places to eat and we did Al Fresco and fell asleep in our pizzas (uk time was 0300 am !!!)
Next day we took the tram to fishermans wharf for the day, had a look see and hired a bike for the afternoon and cycled over the Golden Gate bridge and did a circular back through golden gate park, about 3 hrs in total and around $65 to hire 2 bikes but well worth it.
Had a well earned and very enjoyable meal in Las Margaritas mexican resteraunt that evening....lovely.
One point to mention about San Fransisco in September is that it is often misty and there are just certain times of the day when you are lucky to catch the sun for photography, hence the golden gate bridge is often shrouded in fog.
Up next morning, check out and a 5 block walk to Alamo to pick the car up to officially start our road trip to Yosemite.
Collected car, fired the sat nav up and off we go to Yosemite National Park.
Joined route 120 and 4 hours later arrived late afternoon at Yosemite View Lodge. Nice river view room, down bags and a quick trip into park, park fee paid $20 for a 7 day pass. did a quick photography session at cathedral point on merced river as sun setting over El Capitan. You can get some nice late evening shots here of both El Cap and Half Dome.
Back to Lodge and a nice evening meal in the restaraunt.They do a nice cocktail in the bar !!
Following day decided to hike the various points in the park from the hop on hop off shuttle buses at the visitor centre. A good way to sample the park and its wildlife in one day. We loved Yosemite, one of natures jewels and the visitor center is well worth a visit. One thing we tried to do unsuccessfully was to hike the 6 miles up to glacier point for a sunset, but due to altitude combined with heat and a lot of camera gear we abandoned half way up as we summised it would be pitch black on our journey down........remote risk of mountain lions you see !!
There are lots of hikes in yosemite and we did a short one to mirror lake, unfortunately in mid September its dried up !!! remember this if you plan to photograph half dome from this point.
Had a full day in the park until dusk and we met a deer on the way back.
Next day drive Yosemite to Las Vegas.
Left Yosemite early doors and although sat nav threw a wobbler we drove for the first 30 miles on a stunning drive through Tioga...this is a must do.
Once you are out of yosemite the landscape changes dramatically into a desert terrain as you head for Nevada, There was an option of diverting through Death Valley but we decided against this due to time constraints.
We stopped off at a small town called Bishop and had a fine breakfast and very reasonably priced, the apple pie was to die for....... filled tank with petrol and back on the road again.
After a long drive through the desert we arrived in Las Vegas and checked into the luxor hotel along with a lot of people around 6pm. Hotel very nice and had time for a glass of wine and a couple of hours look round the bright lights of the city, all i can say its another planet in our solar system.
Next Morning hopped on a bus not far from our hotel and headed for the shopping mall.
We found that prices in america were about on par with the UK although petrol is the exeption being very cheap and we found you can fill the tank for around £25.
Back to hotel and lounged around the pool for rest of the afternoon to chill a bit.
We saw the early Cirque de solei Chris Angel magic show at the hotel theatre which was excellent and headed out on the strip for the evening.
Highlights were gondolers at venetion hotel,a nice italian meal and the bellagio waterfalls complete with Elvis soundtrack, surprisingly good.
Walked back to hotel along strip and zzzzzzz
Next Morning sunrise over the desert shining through our window, check out and on the road again heading on our 5 hour drive to Bryce Canyon via Zion National Park.
3 hours later after scenic drive we arrived in Zion national park and bought our park pass and parked at the visitor centre. Zion is a very scenic place and after our hike up to a few view points we headed into the village which has numerous unique giftshops specialising in navajo gifts and collectors pieces, well recommended and found a great mexican restaraunt margaritas and all.
You can easily make a day of it here with a stop over, wish we had more time as we really liked Zion.
Another 2 hours and we arrived at Bryce Canyon best western rubys inn just before dark. glass of wine in our room as Rubys doesnt have a bar, just a dining area.
Next day we walked over to the visitor centre and shuttle bus stop which was just over the road and caught the $20 bus up to the canyon itself.
First site of the canyon was spectacular and the morning sun was just perfect for photography. There were many pathways down into the canyon but took the east side route and found this to be less busy at the time. As you head round the canyon basin you walk through some interesting sculptures of eroded towers of rock and arches.The one thing i will say about carrying lots of photography equipment around is that the sun is not forgiving as it approaches midday and it was extremely tiring ascending out of the Canyon. more than worth it though as to me this is one of the wonders of California and every photographers dream to photograph the ever changing colours of the landscape.
Bus back to hotel late afternoon and a well deserved rest.
Next stop Monument Valley...............