Travel Blog

Photography, travel, and self-reflection

Highlights from a Great American Road Trip

Late this summer I took off with the Dutchman on a classic American road trip. Beginning in Detroit, we looped up through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and continued across the country all the way to Southern California. It was a beautiful ride cruising from the American Midwest, to the open plains, into the Rockies, and over to the Mojave Desert.

Throughout the five-thousand mile trek, we camped and hiked and photographed the scenery while capturing tons of fun GoPro footage. This was the Dutchman’s first road trip in the USA, so I was eager to introduce him to a few of my favorite photogenic sights.

Getting Drenched in Colorado

By the time we rolled into Colorado from Kansas, our clear prairie skies were long gone. We drove straight into a rainstorm that didn’t quit for days. All throughout the Rockies and down into the desert we were enveloped by “bad” weather. While I wasn’t able to capture the golden hour shots I had originally planned, instead, I ended up with much moodier, vibrant images that I love. We drove through evergreen-speckled mountains, wide open valleys, and quaint small Colorado towns.

Greeted with rain in Colorado

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The Valley of The Gods

After a couple wet days into Colorado, we cut through the Southern Utah for a drive through Valley of the Gods.

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A Stormy Night in Monument Valley

We arrived at Monument Valley with just enough time to set up camp and shoot scenery in the twilight. That night, a storm rolled overhead and pounded our tent for hours. It was worth it: the cloudy weather made for incredible desert photography.

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Sacred Sites in Arizona

We headed for Canyon de Chelly to hike down to the White House ruins. It’s a long and vigorous hike, and the Dutchman recorded it all with a GoPro strapped to his head. Later, we cruised up towards the Grand Canyon stopping at more ancient pueblo dwellings on the way.

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A Quick Stop at the Grand Canyon

Since no American road trip is complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon, we made a point to stop at the South Rim on our way to Las Vegas. The South Rim is an unfortunate tourist trap: overpriced and overcrowded, it feels more like a visit to Disneyland than a serene stop at a national park. The viewpoints all yield an overly photographed perspective, so I made a point to shoot a different viewpoint from the outskirts of the canyon. This view is not what you normally think of when you picture the Grand Canyon:

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Of course, we entered the park and snapped a few of those quintessential shots of the Grand Canyon, too:

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A Long Weekend in Las Vegas

We took a break from camping and spent a few nights having some fun in Las Vegas, including a visit to the Fremont Experience, and a drive through Red Rock Canyon.

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A Night in Death Valley

Driving up through Beatty, Nevada, we entered Death Valley for a night of camping followed by a day of sightseeing. We took a short hike on Mesquite Dunes, a stroll on Badwater salt flats, and a long drive through the open road of the valley.

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Utah Beauty

Continuing on to Utah, we spent a few nights recharging at Zion Ponderosa, followed by a stopover to hike in Bryce Canyon. All the while we saw the best nature and geology Southern Utah has to offer.

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It was a great trip, and the drive back to Detroit was far too quick. I’ll be back in the desert next spring for more hiking, exploring, and landscape shooting. Can’t wait!