American Southwest Road Trip

In September of this year, I did a solo road trip around Arizona and Utah. I’d been really wanting to see the Grand Canyon so that sparked my idea for the trip. I figured I only needed one day for that, so from there, I drove up into Southern Utah to check out a couple of National Parks. I couldn’t see them all, so I chose Bryce Canyon and Zion this time around.

I started the trip by flying into Las Vegas after work on Thursday night. I rented a car and stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of Vegas for the night. Then I got up early on Friday morning and drove the 4 hours to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to start my adventure.

I took all the photos below myself using my Olympus camera and a tripod. The only one I didn’t take was the slot canyon photo of me looking up into the light beam. You aren’t allowed to bring a tripod into the slot canyons unless you book a photography tour, and those were much more expensive. So that photo of me was taken by the tour guide.

Day 1: South Rim of the Grand Canyon

South Rim Trail
South Rim Trail – just WOW!
Mather Point
Lipan Point
South Rim Trail

After spending the afternoon at the Grand Canyon, I drove 2 hours to stay in an Airbnb in Flagstaff, AZ for the night. I wanted to stay in one of the lodges at the park, but everything was booked by the time I started planning the trip. So next time I know to book months in advance.

Airbnb link:

Flagstaff Airbnb

Day 2: Page, Arizona

From Flagstaff, AZ I drove two hours to Page, Arizona to see Horseshoe Bend and the slot canyons. I didn’t get to Horseshoe Bend in time, so half of the canyon was shadowed over and I didn’t get any great pictures. I’d definitely recommend getting there before sunrise if you want good photos.

FYI you need to book tours to enter the slot canyons, you can’t enter on your own. There are multiple tour companies that you can choose from. I’d do this ASAP so you can enter during the best lighting conditions and see those iconic light beams. I did tours of both Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. If I had to choose just one I’d go with Upper Antelope, I just felt like I got better photos in that canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon: Tour Company – Antelope Canyon Slot Tours: I entered at 10:30 AM

Lower Antelope Canyon: Tour Company – Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours: I entered at 1:45 PM

Horseshoe Bend
Light beams
Upper Antelope Canyon
See the bear?
Love the light beam shining in.
Heart of the canyon
Twin peaks
Profile of Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.
The reality is your walking through the canyon in this single file line the entire way. It’s really not the most authentic experience. It’s very touristy.

From Page, Arizona I drove 1.5 hours to Orderville, Utah to check into my Airbnb for the night. I’d be staying there the next 3 nights while I explored the National Parks in Utah. I was super excited because it was a tiny home! I’d never stayed in one before and it was a really cool experience. Perfect for one.

Airbnb link:

Day 3: Bryce Canyon National Park


I got up really early on day 3 so I could get to Bryce Canyon before sunrise. From Orderville it was an hour and 15 minute drive, so I had to leave while it was still dark but it was so worth it! There are several viewpoints that are recommended for sunrise including Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point to name a few. I chose Sunset Point for my pictures.


I hiked Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trail which were about 2.75 miles roundtrip. It was a moderate hike and took about 2-3 hours. The Navajo Loop Trail branches off into two paths, Wall Street and Two Bridges/Thor’s Hammer. I did the Wall Street portion based on recommendations from blogs and guidebooks.

Queens Garden Trail
Can you find the hummingbird?
Navajo Loop Trail
Wall Street

Bryce Canyon by night

After getting up early for the sunrise I drove the hour back to my Airbnb to relax for the rest of the afternoon. I booked a night photography excursion with Enlighten Photography so I knew I was going to be up late that night. The photography class was definitely a highlight of the entire trip! I’ve always loved astronomy and wanted to learn how to shoot astrophotography. The guide was really laid back and it was such a fun experience.

Photography class:

Day 4: Zion National Park

I decided to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion because I wanted something quick with a nice view at the end. I was debating doing Angel’s Landing which is a 5.4-mile hike and kind of strenuous, but I was just too tired after staying up late the night before doing the photography excursion. Canyon Overlook Trail was a simple 1-mile roundtrip hike. It took about an hour and the view was amazing!

American Buffalo 🙂

I had such a blast on this trip. I really enjoy doing solo trips. I get to prioritize myself and spend more time getting quality photos, which you can’t always do when traveling with friends who aren’t into photography. No one wants to sit there and watch you take 50 photos of the same thing with different camera settings lol.

This trip really motivated me to spend more time exploring my own country and specifically the western parts of the country where I haven’t spent much time. Now I’m on a National Parks kick! I’ll definitely be going back to Utah in the future. It was really eye-opening.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Erin Kunz says:

    Amazing! I love the western part of the US and our National Park system. Beautiful photos Jess!

    1. jessicasabo says:

      Thanks Erin! I’m just starting to explore it and I’m loving it so far.

  2. Linda Crabtree says:

    Thank you for whisking me away to the west during my lunch! Gorgeous photos!!! I love reading your blog, Jess.

    1. jessicasabo says:

      Thanks Linda! That’s so nice of you to say. I love writing it 🙂

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