The Beautiful West

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It’s time to get your car’s oil and filter changed, the tires checked and to get ready for a beautiful drive to and through some famous western regions you have read about, but perhaps never traveled to. We are talking about the Grand Canyon, some flight seeing, Lake Powell, rafting through Glen Canyon and seeing some real-life western settings that perhaps you have seen in movies.

From Payson, head over to amazing Sedona, surrounded by towering red-rock formations that are sometimes seen in classic western movies. The scenery is memorable. You will want to stop by two or three art galleries and a museum or two to fully take in the town and area. Be sure to have lunch here in one of the many fine restaurants. Then, drive to nearby Flagstaff and head west and north to the awe inspiring, one mile deep, 277-mile long Grand Canyon.

Even if you have seen many photos of the canyon, seeing it in person remains very impressive. At the South Rim you can find lodging to suit your budget. The most impressive is El Tovar hotel, which is now more than 100 years old and beautifully maintained. Request a large room to stay in since the standard rooms are quite small.

Here, you will want to enjoy a fantastic dinner in El Tovar’s main dining room. It features a fine menu, good service and be sure to request a table near the windows facing the canyon.

Since parking can be a challenge, purchase tours in and around the South Rim, which are not over priced and do all the parking for you.

Also, be sure to take a sightseeing flight over the canyon and this is not overly pricey either. You can purchase tickets at the Grand Canyon Airport or reserve through the tour desk at your hotel or even book ahead on the Internet.

I suggest your taking a morning sightseeing flight as in the afternoon there are often strong winds over and around the canyon that will pop your plane around.

Do stop and see the Grand Canyon film at the IMAX theatre in Grand Canyon Village. Only 40 minutes in length and well worth the money and time invested to see one of the best films you will ever see.

Some travelers enjoy taking early morning hikes along the Rim Trail. Sunrise is spectacular.

Later, you can take a driving tour of the East Rim, which averages 2,000 feet higher than the South Rim. Keep a watch out for interesting animals, some of which may cross the highway right in front of you.

Next, head for the beautiful waters of Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Here is the world’s largest natural bridge, Rainbow Bridge and is a wonder to behold; fly over it in a flightseeing trip you will completely enjoy. You can even rent a boat and cruise on Lake Powell for spectacular views of Glen Canyon Dam and even explore Antelope Canyon by open-air 4-wheel drive vehicles. Be sure to take a walk through the canyon if you can. Camera shots are everywhere!

Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation was carved from rugged sandstone by rain and wind. Its Navajo name translates as “the place where water runs through rocks.” It is protected from the elements and respected by the Navajos for its spiritual harmony with nature.

From here, you can also book a 4-hour flightseeing excursion to Monument Valley where you will see the tall stone spires rising high from the desert floor over a vast area. Many western films were made in around here and made for great backgrounds.

How about experiencing a rafting trip by pontoon boat through Glen Canyon? What a thrill this will be. In this area you will find colorful sandstone landscapes that again will remind you of the western movies you have enjoyed.

Drive on to Kanab, Utah, another favorite location for such famous movies as “Stagecoach,” “My Friend Flicka” and “Gunsmoke.” You can travel along the Bryce Canyon National Park rim road through cathedral spires tinted with shades of pink, red and orange for a stay right in the park.

Nature’s brilliant colors in the canyon are all about you. You can get a closer look at the whimsical “hoodoos” and intricately carved pillars of rock all around.

Here, you can rent horses and ride with a cowboy who points out hidden sights in this geologic fantasyland. Bryce Canyon is home to an ever-changing world of naturally carved amphitheaters, rocky spires, gravity-defying bridges, balanced rocks and sculpted limestone cliffs.

Next, swing over to Zion National Park. Take some time to rest and to drink in the sights surrounding you. Perhaps a hike on the trails to discover the dramatic rock formations deposited more than 200 million years ago.

There are sandstone cliffs that reach up to 2,200 feet.

Now, its time for fun in Las Vegas!

So many sights to see, shows to enjoy and a zillion ways to loose your money. Shop around on the Internet for the best hotel to stay at and the best rates. Las Vegas was hit big during the current recession and the more deluxe the hotel, the better the bargains are.

The new bridge over Hoover Dam is open and that will help speed your trip home to Payson. It should take about six hours if you don’t stop. Win big and see a lot!

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