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Author Topic: Recommended locations for 4 days around Lake Powell  (Read 2835 times)
DeltaSierra
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« on: October 15, 2012, 03:40:52 PM »
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I have been a frequent reader of the forums here but find myself looking for some experienced advice as I expect to have 4 days available to me from Dec. 1-4 starting from Flagstaff, AZ. Knowing how much distance there is to cover for all the amazing places in the SW, I figured to try and do my first visit in an area where there are a few famous venues within easy driving distance so I am looking to operate from the Page, AZ area at Lake Powell. I figure that I can work sunrise/sunsets on Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley and later morning/daytime at the Lower and/or Upper Antelope Canyons or one of the lesser known slot canyons. I am hoping some of you can make recommendations on whether that seems sensible for the few days I will have or if you have other recommendations that I should consider.

Thanks in advance,

Doug
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louoates
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 06:51:57 PM »
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WAY too much to travel between those places in such a short time. Choose one place and do a good job there. 2-3 full days in Monument Valley at a minimum. If you choose Antelope Canyon make sure you have a tour spot reserved -- it often is booked and you'll be out of luck. Call any of the tour spots in Page. Horseshoe Bend is just south of Page on the main highway but requires about a 30-45 minute hike to get to the rim from the parking area.
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marvpelkey
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 07:37:23 PM »
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Doug,

Have been to the areas you are contemplating, a couple times over the years, with the most recent staying at Page (RV Park adjacent to Wahweap Marina) in May of this year. A couple comments:

Lake Powell - Difficult to get to much of the lake without boat or serious offroad driving. The area around Wahweap Marina (on the west side of the lake and a bit north of Page), including an elevated viewpoint adjacent to the highway, allows the best road access to some views for some sunrise/sunset photos. I did mostly sunrise shots with the sun coming up over the horizon with some hilly layers in the background and water in the foreground. Part of the problem with photos close to the Marina is numerous boats cluttering up the water. If you go north from the Marina along the waters edge to a new development (about a mile max and good sunset shots) or just south of the Marina along Lake Shore Drive (just south of the gatehouse and just north of the dam and good sunrise shots), you can get some stuff without boats. One day (weather permitting and staying land based) is plenty for the lake itself.

Antelope Canyon(s) - Should be less crowded at the time of year you are going, however, the sun will not necessarily be optimum for the sunlight rays seen in so many iconic shots. Only a few minutes from Page.

Horseshoe Bend - Only about 4 miles south of Page along the highway. Keep close watch as the entrance to the parking area (on the west side) comes up pretty quick and isn't real obvious. Short hike/walk to viewpoint (less than a mile if I recall). A bit up/down and some sand. Hopefully the bugs will not be as bad as they were in May. Enough to turn many people around.Not sure of the sun position in early December, perhaps others can advise. Can be done in one morning/evening.

Monument Valley - Excellent destination. About 125 miles from Page so if looking for sunrise (from the main guest area), get up early for the drive or go the night before and stay at either the lodge/hotel on site or at Gouldings across the highway. You should definitely take the drive in the park or hire a guide to some inaccessible views. If only doing sunrise and driving the same day, it can be done easily in one day.

Other options - Grand Canyon (South Village 140 miles one way and a nice drive with some good spots along the way) (North Rim about 125 miles one way, although less variety of locations). Zion Park (115 miles one way and a very good park to visit. I think by Dec, the park is open to private vehicles as opposed to the bus system; same with south Grand Canyon). You could probably do Zion and North Rim in the same drive.

Personal opinion (excluding renting a boat), I would do a full day/overnighter to either GC, MV or Zion and commit the rest for sunrise/set around Powell/Horseshoe, with Antelope during the middle of the day, if you are committed to Page. You might be able to squeeze in two of the three with one being just a day trip but that is pushing things. If you are not committed to Page and are new to all areas, you might want to consider dividing time between GC and MV as each (especially GC) deserve much more than a short visit. Again my personal opinion.

Let me know if I can help further with more detailed info.

Marv
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DeltaSierra
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 08:41:36 PM »
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Louoates,

I appreciate the input. I am slightly confused by the WAY too much travel comment. I figured everything was withing 45-60 minutes other than Monument Valley. On the Antelope Canyon reservations, I understand the requirement from what I have been reading and I will book that part in advance, thanks.
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DeltaSierra
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 08:49:11 PM »
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Marv,

Your insights are really useful. That personal knowledge is what I was hoping to learn from folks on the forums. I also did contemplate some of the options you recommend and may swap some of my plans as this planning and learning effort continues.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2012, 09:24:27 PM by DeltaSierra » Logged
francois
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 04:45:27 AM »
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If you still have the time, have a look at Laurent Martrès' books (Amazon link).
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Francois
DeltaSierra
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 02:48:12 PM »
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Francois,

Good idea, I have seen references to his books before. I have ordered the Photographing the Southwest: Volume 2--Arizona (2nd Ed.) and hope to have it in the next few days to use in conjunction with the experiences from other forum members here for maximizing my short first trip into Arizona.

Thanks.
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kikashi
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 06:24:30 PM »
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Try to stay in The View hotel in Monument Valley: it's very pleasant and has wonderful views of the main three buttes. I found Martrès's book superbly helpful. If you turn up with an expensive-looking camera and a tripod at Lower Antelope, you can book the photographers' tour (4 hours, departs when you are ready) for the same price as the ordinary tour (1 hour, departs on the half hour).

Have a great time!

Jeremy
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DeltaSierra
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2012, 05:54:15 PM »
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Thanks Jeremy, I appreciate the advice and will use that in formulating my itinerary. My copy of the book arrives on Friday so I have to wait a couple more days on getting a good look at it.
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rankle_hiway
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2012, 01:31:01 AM »
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DeltaSierra:

Sorry, marvpelkey and I'm not denigrating your comment in any way.

The fact is, the road down to the North Rim i.e.; Highway 67 is closed at that time of year. There's a gate just south of Jacob Lake Lodge that's shut and locked from just after the late deer hunt ends [Oct 31 +/- ... 'til spring]. Hate to see you waste several hours of what will seem to be all too little time as it is.


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DeltaSierra
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2012, 10:28:09 AM »
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Rankle,

I didn't read anything negative into anything Marv offered, on the contrary his experience and thoughts are quite valuable. I think he was only providing the North Rim as an option anyway. What I am much more aware of now is the potential for weather related challenges for the roads which is why I am trying to keep my intinerary as simple as possible with minimal distances to any destinations. I welcome the comments as it will all be useful to finalizing my plan to make the most out of a short amount of time.

Thanks,
Doug
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marvpelkey
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 07:20:20 PM »
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Rankle,

You are quite right about the seasonal closure. I'm still in summer mode and completely forgot about winter-related issues. Glad you clarified that point.

Marv
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Tony B.
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2012, 05:20:01 AM »
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A couple of things you could try.  You could head to Kanab one morning to try and get a walk in permit for Coyote Buttes North (the wave) or Coyote Buttes South, below is information.  Then with or without a permit for the following day you could head to wire pass for some slot canyon photo's, there is a day fee charge.  Also, there is close to a mile hike from the parking lot to the slot (you pass the trailhead to Coyote buttes North on the way to wire pass), wire pass is only about 1/4 mile long.  Last time I was there it had two downclimbs of around 6-8 feet.  You could hike to the confluence of Buckskin Gulch then head downstream as much as you would want to hike and return to vehicle.  There have been some big floods in the last couple of years so the difficulty of wire pass is unknown to me at this time.  Also, there is always the possiblilty of water/mud in the canyons.
It also could be cold in the canyons as you will not get much, if any, sun.
Just giving you another option of something to do around Page.
I tried for a walk in permit once a few years ago in October.  I was running late and did not get one but they said 40 people showed up for the 20 available permits.

Enjoy, Tony

How do I obtain a walk-in permit?

If you missed the lottery or are just in the Southern Utah/Northern Arizona area, you can obtain a walk-in permit at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah.

Walk-in permit procedures:

For Coyote Buttes North (The Wave), be at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah (745 E. Highway 89 in Kanab Utah across from Walkers gas station and Wendy’s restaurant) from 8:30-9 a.m. Mountain Standard Time -Utah- (9am Daylight Savings Time in summer) to submit your application. For permits to Coyote Buttes South, be at the same location and submit your application between 9:30-10:00 a.m. The lotteries for Coyote Buttes North and Coyote Buttes South will run at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. 
Walk-in permits must be paid with either cash or by checks. No credit cards can be accepted.
If there are 10 persons or less seeking permits, you will be issued one on the spot for the next day.
If all ten permits were not issued the previous day, a same day permit may be available.
If there are more than 10 persons seeking a permit, there will be a drawing for the next day's 10 open slots.
Only one person per group may enter the drawing.  If more than one member from your group submits an application, your group will be disqualified from the lottery.
If you receive a walk-in permit, you must wait two weeks before you can re-enter the drawing.
Permit holders may be required to show their government issued I.D.
Walk-in Permit Example

Three groups show up on a Tuesday. One group of six and two groups of four
A drawing is held with one potential permit being available for each group
If the group of six and the group of four are successful, all ten slots are filled
If the two groups of four are successful, there are still two slots remaining, and the group of six is then faced with a difficult decision, because only two of their party can receive a permit.
Some people have tried to circumvent the process by having more than one person in their group enter the drawing. This is dishonest and unfair to those who follow the rules. Please respect your fellow hikers and the BLM staff.  If more than one member from your group submits an application, your group will be disqualified from the lottery.

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2012, 06:16:52 PM »
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I found the San Juan river to be very interesting with old rock carvings and a more intimate shooting experience.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Frank Sirona
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2012, 02:45:13 PM »
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If you turn up with an expensive-looking camera and a tripod at Lower Antelope, you can book the photographers' tour (4 hours, departs when you are ready) for the same price as the ordinary tour

"Expensive-looking" essentially means a DSLR. I doubt a bit that they will recognize a Leia as what it is - although, meanwhile, at least they do know what a large format camera is.

Unfortunately, as of this year, they cut the time a so-called "photographer´s pass" (which simply is a piece of plastics with a sticker carrying the hand-written expiry time) is valid to half - now it´s only two hours, and according to what I have heard, they would not let you in for a second time on the same day (I don´t know whether this is really true). In fact, at Lower Antelope they are changing their policies more frequent than one would believe, so be prepared for additional surprises.

One thing, though, is not surprising: the light is best in the early morning, so try to be there at opening time. "Opening time", again, is something handled in a relaxed manner: officially, during winter time, it´s 9 a.m. However, you may arrive at 8.45 h and find the gate already open, or your may have to wait until 9.15 h or so until someone shows up. So, in the end, we are dealing here with a quite relaxed bunch of guys. Which definitely has its pleasant sides, too.

Finally, during the winter be prepared for low temperatures in the canyon. It receives virtually no sunlight during the day, and during the night the ice cold ground air flows down through the canyon. You would not want to spend 15 minutes of the two hours you have only for returning to your car to grab a jacket and your gloves.

Best,

Frank
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Frank Sirona. Large format photography of the Desert Southwest.

www.franksirona.com
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