WaZzup guys! My name is Cheryl & I did my exchange at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M). Wisconsin is up North in midwest of USA, known also as dairyland (think cheese everything) and UW-M is situated in Madison, one of the safest (& friendliest!) cities in the States ☺️ Before arriving in UW-M, I travelled along the West Coast (a must-go, as @joelimp mentions) but since he has done that, i’ll take you through another must-see in US — the stunning national parks instead! Believe it or not, we’re gonna hit 11 spots in 5 days!!! Buckle up and join me road trippin’ through the Grand Circle of stunning views, starting with Zion National Park after flying in from Vegas!
After flying in from Vegas in the morning, rent a car and take about a 3hr drive towards our first lunch stop in St. George, Utah: Ocean Buffet (Asian all-you-can-eat buffet) which costs USD15/pax. Its pricey but trust me, you’re gonna wanna load up on as much chow mein/springrolls/teriyaki chicken because all you’re gonna have during the trip are burgers and fries from roadside diners. After eating till your hearts’ content, continue on a 45-min drive to Zion National Park, with a stopover in Hurricane City’s Walmart if you would like to stock up on some of your own snacks for the trip. I only went to the Zion’s Visitor Center (previous post) due to time-constraint but if time is in your hands, please do a hike to Angel’s Landing (the view is incredible!!!!) and walk through Zion’s narrows (wading in thigh-high water 3/4 the hike). After Zion we’ll take another 2hr drive to beautiful Bryce Canyon amphitheater, which overlooks the entire landscape of hoodoos. Take a deep breath to appreciate how mother nature has created such a work of art by hiking down Sunset Point, and when you’re done, its time to grab dinner and rest for the night in a nearby inn (try to get a reputable inn, don’t go for motels as they’re dangerous).
Rise & shine as we make our way towards Arches National Park via Interstate Highway 70, stopping by this magnificent view!! I’m sitting above Salt Wash, a valley in Utah located on the north side of I70 about 52 miles west of Green River. This roadside look-out has spectacular views of the San Rafael Swell and stupendous rock formations ?
From Salt Wash, drive about 1.5hrs through Arches Scenic Drive and you’ll be in for a treat! The first stop is at Balanced Rock, which is said to fall over sometime in the future. Then, drive towards the North & South Windows and Double Arches and snap as many photos! An hour of driving later, LO AND BEHOLD, THE WORLD RENOWNED DELICATE ARCH!!!!! Hike 3 miles to get to this beautiful formation (or alternatively, get an ultra zoom lens to snap it from the photographer’s viewing area)
Welcome to the Navajo (na-vah-ho) Nation: Home of the native americans! Picturesque Monument Valley is also one highly rated action movie location aye (transformers!!!) Honestly, there’s no where else where the ground meets the sky, so be sure to check monument valley out!
Another underrated monument thats equally as captivating — Canyon de Chelly! Chelly actually means canyon, too (lol). Climb around and onto this humongous rock and you’ll be awed by its beautiful vastness 🙂
Our last stop is Petrified Forest National Park! Not because the atmosphere is spooky; ‘petrified’ is used to describe the state of the wood over here. See those brown blocks in photo? Those are the remnants of prehistoric wood with plant and animal fossils in them. I couldn’t even imagine walking on where early dinosaurs roamed and giant forests stood tall, over 200 million years ago. Its unbelievable how nature works – continents have moved, regions uplifted, climates changed, the river system, along with its plants and animals, was buried by layers of sediment thereby fossilizing them. Wind and water have continually molded, sculpted and peeled back layers, giving us a glimpse of the once tropical land we know today as Arizona ? Petrified Forest is indeed a tapestry of time filled with a myriad of hues: a land holding vital clues to the past ?
I’m sitting at the spot which overlooks the entire canyon, sprawling with diverse plant life. Take a hike downwards and up, appreciate how different Walnut is from most other canyons (rocks etc) and feel yourself become ONE WITH NATURE ??
One of the 7 wonders in the world — need I say more? ?
Take a 2.5hr drive southwards and you’ll reach this must-see attraction!!! It was teeming with people when I went but don’t worry, they’re far from the edge so you’ll have no problems getting a good shot like this ?
Seen too many photos of Antelope Canyon? Think this place will fall short of your expectations after seeing it for real? Well that was what I thought and i was SO WRONG. This place is wAAaaaY more amazing than it looks!!!!!!! A favourite among many, and i’m no exception ☺️ (side note: lower is prettier than upper!) Stay tuned as we’re heading to Lake Powell as our final stop!!
Behind me lies the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge which carries US route 89 across the Colorado river. At this point, you’ll be able to see Lake Powell in its magnificence too ?? 11 landmarks in 5 days, hope it was a blast for you! If you prefer to spend more time at each landmark, you’d definitely need more days, but if you want quantity then this itinerary is perfect 🙂 It was great sharing my trip w yall, till next time ?
|About the author
Home University: National University of Singapore (NUS)
Exchange at: University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M)