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Map of area visited    Having been to California in 2003 and not being able to fit in a look at the Grand Canyon, this trip was dedicated to touring the canyons and other natural sites of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The itinerary fell into place quite easily when the map was studied, since a loop could take in some of the most spectacular vistas that can be encountered anywhere. The arrival airport could realistically have been either Phoenix or Las Vegas, but the circuit more naturally lent itself to the latter.

    Following our arrival in Las Vegas, and an overnight stay there, we left the next morning to cover the following locations:

Flagstaff. Set at a relatively high altitude, this is a good central spot for various differing parks and also Sedona, which is a very picturesque town to the South. Early mornings here were cold (around 40F);

Grand Canyon. It has to be done, and is every bit as spectacular as you have heard. The best direction to approach the National Park is from the East entrance, since the road from here passes many outlooks from the South rim. Within Grand Canyon Village itself, there is a worthwhile walk westwards along the rim. We found it was best to buy an annual pass to the National Parks, since this worked out better value than day passes when also visiting Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Capitol Reef;

Page. This is the town set up in the 1950's to service the building of the Glen Canyon dam. It is thus located only a couple of miles from Lake Powell, which is probably of most interest to water sports enthusiasts. However, there is a good 8 mile circular rim walk around Page, with some nice views of the lake and also one or two birds to be seen. In addition, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are well recommended;

Moab. Many people visit here for the water based activities on the Colorado River. For ourselves, the two main reasons for the visit were Arches NP, which is only 5 miles to the North, and Monument Valley, which is on route from Page;

Bryce Canyon. This is at a higher elevation than expected, which keeps the daytime temperatures down to a respectable level, and the composition of the canyon itself is astounding. Not only does Bryce offer stunning scenery, but the accompanying forest and sage brush land over the highway are good for both birds and mammals.

    While a little bit of research into the birding sites of the area was conducted before leaving, the main object of the holiday was to see the sites, and staying 2-3 nights in each of the locations left little time for any other activities. That being said, the geology and interest from the natural wonders of the area are unbelievable, and should be enjoyed in their own right. Some birds can be seen at some of these locations, but lack of them is by no means a disappointment.

    The timing of the trip was intended to fit in with our other holidays, so the fact that we were in the area during the driest month was a useful coincidence. Not only was there no rain during our stay, but even clouds were few and far between. Temperatures varied hugely from one location to another, with highs in Las Vegas being bring up to 109C (even nights didn't drop out of the 80's), to the much more refreshing 70's - 80's of Flagstaff and Bryce Canyon. Car hire was booked via the internet and using Dollar, which was much cheaper than the counter prices. We treated ourselves to a convertible, which was a good investment given the weather.

Arizona Mountain Inn

 

Arizona Mountain Inn, Flagstaff   (www.arizonamountaininn.com)

    There seem to be many chain hotels within the town, but this is a much better location, since the main building (with 2 recommended reasonably priced suites including breakfast) and associated cabins are surrounded by ponderosa pines. This offers some immediate birding on the doorstep, and while the variety of species is limited and generally of commoner types, seeing such characters as Western Bluebirds and Hairy Woodpeckers close up and almost on demand outside of the back door is rewarding.

Yavapai Lodge

 

Yavapai Lodge, Grand Canyon

    Accommodation within Grand Canyon Village is limited, with only 4 lodges to choose from. When we arrived at Yavapai, all rooms were booked, which is probably why most tourists either stay at Tusayan a little further South, or visit for the day. Hence booking ahead in the Summer is advisable, but the reward is to be able to sleep within walking distance of the local California Condor population. Yavapai seems to be the more basic of the choices, but still offers a roomy and clean respite, surrounded by pine woodland with ample potential for a small variety of common species.

Marriott Page

 

Marriott Courtyard, Page

    Page is located 2 miles from the Glen Canyon dam, which is the reason for the existence of Lake Powell, and even for the town of Page itself, since it was founded in the 1950's for the construction of the dam. There are many chain motels in the town, but the Marriott is set aside from habitation for a still reasonable price. It is also next to a golf course, but this didn't seem to hold anything of particular interest. An 8 mile rim trail around the town is worth doing for the spectacular views of the lake.

Mayor's House

 

Mayor's House, Moab

    Moab is the largest town in South-eastern Utah, and hence has a good variety of chain hotels, but it also offers very reasonably priced B&B's such as this. The property is set to the East of town towards the hills. Worthy of note are the excellent (but not too filling) breakfasts, and the lack of any keys to enter the property and rooms (no need for them according to the owners). It has a small garden with pool, and of avian interest the nest of a pair of Black-billed Magpies. I did walk the street looking for birds one afternoon, but in the high heat only came up with Western Kingbirds, Lesser Goldfinches, and copious American Robins & House Finches.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

 

Bryce Canyon Lodge

    There is one lodge within Bryce Canyon NP, and several less expensive ones just outside. On the face of it, there doesn't seem a great benefit in the former, since a car or shuttle is still required to reach many of the viewpoints and hikes. One of the beauties of the lodge is the proximity to the main road, and more exactly, the open area of sage brush beyond. This has great potential for open meadow and sage specialists.


Home

Paintings gallery

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Contact

Site map

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Content

Introduction

Flagstaff

Page

Bryce Canyon

Las Vegas

Other NP's

Species list

Text only