10 Days in the Midwest United States

Photo by Stevie Vagabond of Mesa Arch at sunrise.

If you have 10 days for a trip, and you love photography (or just love beauty) then this is a trip you must take!

In this post I plan to lay out the itinerary that Romi and I took and little tips we learned either by mistake or from advice of others in mid-late October 2018, starting out with Salt Lake City, Utah.

Salt Lake City

We basically planned this trip to visit one location… Antelope Canyon, which can be a bit difficult to get to. In order to get there we decided to fly into the SLC airport since it was a bigger city making the flights cheaper, and we were able to rent a car for dirt cheap! For the entire trip we booked AirBnB’s in each location ahead of time. Salt Lake City impressed us both with its old school charm, but a new age twist and feel, backed up to giant snow capped mountains and especially beautiful this time of year with the fall colors still remaining on the trees. We didn’t pull out our cameras in the city yet, so there’s no photos from SLC, sorry.

We stayed two nights right in downtown close to many of the best restaurants and attractions like The Gateway, and the Planetarium where Romi and I geeked out and watched a movie in the Dome Theater called Incoming about the stars and planets. For breakfast we loved The Rose Establishment and for dinner we really enjoyed Valters.

On our third day we were on the road to Colorado for a very quick visit with some friends I made while on tour with Gustaff.

photo of a couple under the welcome to colorful colorado sign.
Romi was cold.

Grand Junction, CO

We got in late, taking our time to stop and soak up the rapidly changing landscape along the way, and met up with my friend Rebecca for dinner at Taco Party downtown Grand Junction. Highly recommend this place! Once again we only had one full day, and instead of staying in Grand Junction we decided to head a little further southeast to Aspen. On our way we stopped in at Glenwood Springs to visit the Hotel where Abdu’l-Baha stayed during his visit to the United States. Originally there was a plaque in the rose garden commemorating his visit, but with the new management that has been very sadly ripped out.

Photo of the stone where a plaque used to be commemorating the visit of Abdu'l-Baha to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
So sad this plaque was removed. It used to have the quote, “In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love.” – Commemorating the visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1912.
roadside view of the road to aspen colorado with a bike path in the foreground and mountains in the background.
The road to Aspen.
photo of aspen town with trees and homes in the foreground and mountains in the background.
Our view from Spring Cafe in the town of Aspen.

Once in Aspen we had lunch at Spring Cafe and then decided on visiting Maroon Bells for the sunset. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and we ended up stopping one time too many, because we got to Maroon Bells just after the sun went behind the mountains, and it ended up being a bit too cold for Romi’s comfort level. It was still gorgeous, but we just missed out on all the fall colors in this spot. I would recommend coming maybe end of September to really catch them. While we soaked in the surroundings we spotted about 3 or 4 marmots swimming and observing us from a small rock out in the water. It was nice to see snow, but we were ready to get back to some warmer weather.

photo of a fox in aspen colorado
Cute little curious fox on our way up to Maroon Bells.
  • photo of romi standing on a green wagon with red wheels.
  • photo of Stevie leaning on an old wooden wagon
  • photo of Romi leaning on an old wooden wagon.
Symmetrical photo of Maroon Bells with reflection on lake.
Maroon Bells
Photo of Romi at Maroon Bells with mountains in the background.
Photo of two deer in a roadside field in Aspen Colorado.
Couple roadside deer wishing us a safe ride back to Grand Junction.

On our way back to Grand Junction we planned to stop in at the new hot springs in Glenwood Springs for a dip, but when we got there we ended up getting a refund because they were completely packed full. Not sure when a good time to go would be, but definitely not after sunset. We checked the old hot springs too and they were also full, so we just decided to head back to Grand Junction and get some rest. To our delight, Aaron and Rebecca let us use their hot tub before bed for our own private “hot spring”.

A selfie of two couples.
Aaron and Rebecca <3

The following morning after another incredible quiche courtesy of our wonderful hosts, Romi and I set off for Moab, Utah.

Photo of a quiche breakfast with couple in the background.
Rebecca’s delicious quiche! Cannot explain how good this was!
A girl leaning on a rock cliff in Utah
Roadside pit-stops leaving Colorado.
A couple sitting on a rocky cliff in Utah.
Soaking up the unique views.
Photo of Stevie jumping in the air with his arms and legs out under the Welcome to Utah sign.
“Life Elevated” 😀
A guy leaning on an suv roadside in Utah.
Getting to Moab.

Moab

Not expecting much, we were seriously surprised with Moab. The town has plenty of great food and cafe options, which always excites the two of us! A couple of our favorites were Garage, and Love Muffin. I also grabbed some fresh roasted coffee from Moab Coffee Roasters. Here we AirBnB’d in a camper, which was our way of compromising and letting me get a bit of a camping experience in. Unfortunately the camper was right next to a junk yard which didn’t make Romi too excited. She stayed positive though and we actually made that junk yard work for a few photos one morning! The camper was also great, and nice and cozy at night under the stars, although I am really just trying to make some lemonade here.

Our first night we got into Arches National Park for sunset and stayed a bit longer for some night photos. We met some photographers from Calgary, Alberta and they gave us a couple tips for the area, like going to Mesa Arch for sunrise.

photo of romi holding her camera with the sun behind her at Arches National Park
We didn’t get too far in before stopping roadside to take photos.
a photo of the landscape at Arches National Park
It is a very different landscape than I am used to!
a photo of Romi taking a photo of me with rock structures in the background.
This is how we looked most of our time in this Park.
A photo at twilight in Arches National Park with "#BFS" written with light.
#BareFootStories ✌🏼
A photo of the view from the road through Arches National Park at twilight.
The Big Dipper leading the way.
A long exposure photo with car light streaks across a road and large rock formations in the background during twilight in Arches National Park.
Photos just could not do justice to really being in this park at twilight.
A photo of a rock peak in Arches National Park at twilight.
One last shot before heading to our camper.

The next morning we both planned to get up before sunrise and head to Canyonlands National Park to photograph the famous Mesa Arch, but Romi was really not feeling well and she encouraged me to go do it on my own. I left concerned for her, but confident that she would be okay and super excited to watch the sunrise through the Arch. The drive there was about 1 hour from just south of Moab, and parking was right at the trail head. After you hike a ways in the trail gets a bit harder to navigate, and the Mesa Arch can be a bit difficult to find. Thankfully I spotted some headlamps of other photographers who had the same idea as I, and so I climbed my way down to them. Sunrise was incredible and the experience was interesting to have around 30 other photographers all cramming in to get “the shot” of this arch with a 90-foot (2- meter) span perched at the edge of a 500-foot (152-meter) cliff with the most spectacular views. It was here that I met a group of photographers who were doing a similar itinerary as Romi and I (we ended up running into them randomly 3 other times in the trip).

A photo of the photographers lined up to take a photo of sunrise at Mesa Arch.
One of my new photographer friends took a photo of all of us lined up with our tripods.
Photo by Stevie Vagabond of Mesa Arch at sunrise.
What makes “The Shot” so spectacular is that the suns glow illuminates the inside of the arch at sunrise.
A photo of the silhouettes of photographers during sunrise at Mesa Arch.
Some of my new friends soaking up and saving the moment.
Washer Woman Arch seen through Mesa Arch at sunrise.
Another angle with Washer Woman Arch in the distance.
A photo of the junk yard view from a camper in Moab
The view from our camper… so romantic.
a photo of stevie yawning near a junk yard in Moab
My glamorous return to our junk yard camper. Romi is quite the lucky girl 🤣
a photo of stevie drinking coffee near a junk yard in Moab
Coffee with a view?

That afternoon Romi and I hiked Delicate Arch which actually ended up being more challenging than we thought it would be. It’s not extreme at all, but we did end up hiking longer than we had originally planned. Plus by this point neither of us were feeling too great, but we toughed it out, and we were definitely happy with the view!

A photo of Stevie and Romi perched in the Delicate Arch Window with Delicate Arch in the distance.
Almost near the top there is this window just off the path where you can see Delicate Arch in the distance.
A photo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
Can you see Romi?
A photo of Romi and Stevie standing next to Delicate Arch.
We sometimes get to be in photos together… photobombed by the crow.
A photo of the pathway on the Delicate Arch hike.
Heading back down!
a photo of stevie levitating cross-legged in the middle of an arch.
Romi caught me meditating at the Windows 😁
a photo of Romi cold at Windows in Arches National Park.
These eyes are saying, “Let’s go, I’m cold and tired, but I still love you.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Gosh you’re gorgeous!”

On our way out of the park we stopped at the Windows during sunset. It was beautiful, but by this point we were both in much need of rest and warmth, so we headed back to the camper. The next morning we were back on the road towards Page, AZ with a planned stop at Monument Valley.

a photo of the drive between Moab and Monument Valley.
The view as we left Moab towards Page.
Photo of a rock with the words "Hole in the Rock" and an arrow painted on it.
We saw this and had to stop.
Photo of an old wooden shack in Hole in the Wall with Romi.
A quick little stop along the road at Hole in the Rock, before we stumbled on Bluff Fort Historic Site.

Monument Valley

This was one of those quick add-ons to the trip that we were so glad we did! And on our way to Monument Valley we added some more. Once we were well out of Moab we were driving through a town called Bluff and spotted this old time village. Romi asked if we could go check it out, and thank god she did. We ended up getting to dress up in the old settlers clothes and use the village for our own little photoshoot. That little roadside stop lasted over an hour! Everyone was so kind and friendly while Romi and I played dress-up around them.

a photo of Romi and Stevie dressed as old time pioneers sitting on a wagon.
a photo of Romi and Stevie dressed as old time pioneers with romi steering the horse and stevie hanging off the back.
a photo of Romi and Stevie dressed as old time pioneers with romi steering the horse and stevie sitting in the distance.
a photo of Romi and Stevie dressed as old time pioneers standing near a wagon.
a photo of Romi and Stevie dressed as old time pioneers sitting inside a tipi.

As we were about to leave one of the ladies told us to be sure to stop at Mile Marker 13 where Forrest Gump ended his run. Once again this was another surprise we did not expect. I love that movie, and it was so cool to actually be in the spot where he was “kinda tired”, and decided to “head home now”.

a photo of Stevie pretending to be Forrest Gump at Mile Marker 13
Our day of road side attractions and dress up continues… Monument Valley in the distance.

Monument Valley was just around the corner from Mile Marker 13 and we made it just in time for sunset. After dinner at the lodge right there at Monument Valley we finished the rest of the drive to Page.

a photo of Romi at Monument Valley during sunset.
Just in time for the most beautiful sunset view… and some nice rocks in the background!
Breathe it in.

Page

Finally we made it to Page, where we planned to visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Our AirBnB was just northwest of Page right near the Arizona/Utah State line. Page didn’t have too many incredible food options, but we did have some nice sushi at the Blue Buddha Sushi Bar. If you like sweets make sure you get the Yum Yum Bombs (I think thats what they were called) for dessert.

a photo of romi sleeping at our airbnb in page arizona
My sleeping beauty happy to be back in a real bed catching some Z’s in Page.

After a slow start to the day we decided just to do Horseshoe Bend for sunset and that was all. It was breathtaking, and despite the great numbers of tourists it was pretty easy to find our own spot to sit and enjoy the sunset alone.

a photo of horshoe bend with romi standing on the edge
This spot was pretty breathtaking!
Photo of Stevie and Romi forehead to forehead holding each other with Horseshoe Bend in the background.
Taking in each other before taking in the view.
A photo of Stevie and Romi enjoying the view of Horseshoe Bend.
It is hard to explain the feeling you get by being right there.
A photo of Romi and Stevie sitting on the cliff edge at Horseshoe Bend.
Trying to look relaxed… sorry mom.

The next day we had our Antelope Canyon tour booked through Antelope Canyon Adventures. *Make sure you book well in advance as the tours book up quick (Romi and I booked about 3 weeks before our trip and even then our options were limited). We chose the 5 hour Photographer tour of Owl, Rattlesnake, and Upper Antelope Canyon. Although Owl and Rattlesnake were beautiful, Upper Antelope really is the one to see! It was so full of tourists, but because we were on the Photographer tour we were able to get sections of the slot canyon blocked off for us to photograph without people in the shots for 2 minutes at a time. It was too rushed for Romi and I, but we really enjoyed it none-the-less. Our awesome tour guide Tony took us after to a newly discovered and unnamed slot canyon as a nice little bonus, but still Upper Antelope was the most beautiful. We would like to truly thank and honor the Navajo Nation for allowing us the opportunity to visit this sacred land and experience the powerful beauty of this gift of the Creator.

A photo looking out the back of a truck on the road to Antelope Canyon.
Our view on the way to Antelope Canyon… it got a bit dusty so keep your camera in your bag!
A photo of Romi and another photographer in the back of a truck on the way to Antelope Canyon.
Romi was also a little bit cold as it was just after sunrise, but still smiling!
A photo of Romi and Stevie in Owl Canyon.
In Owl Canyon we had a lot more time and space to get photos of ourselves.
A photo of Romi and Stevie holding hands in Owl Canyon.
A photo of Stevie levitating with his legs crossed in the middle of Owl Canyon.
I also had to do some meditation 🧘🏼‍♂️
Romi standing above the slot canyons in Arizona.
My Wonder Woman!
A photo of a small ladder inside Rattlesnake Canyon.
Just a lonely ladder.
A selfie of Romi and Stevie from inside Antelope Canyon.
An unflattering selfie from inside the canyon.
A photo of The Bear in Antelope Canyon.
Do you see “The Bear”? This was my favorite spot.
A photo from inside Antelope Canyon
My camera was struggling so I had to use my iPhone, but still you can see the beauty!
A photo of Romi and Stevie with their cameras inside Antelope Canyon.
Totally in our element.
Romi standing outside the entrance to a slot canyon in Page, Arizona.
Romi was all warmed up by now.
Photo inside the Unnamed Canyon.
From inside the last unnamed canyon.
Photo of Romi standing next to a truck before heading back to Page.
Getting prepared for the dusty exit from the canyons.

That afternoon our AirBnB host arranged for us to tour Amangiri, a resort hidden in the rocks of southern Utah with an average night costing you around $2,800! Romi loves architecture and design, so this place really impressed her. Everyone at Amangiri was so welcoming and overly kind, we felt like we were famous. I can see us returning to photograph a wedding there in the future.

A photo of Romi and Stevie sitting in a common area at Amangiri Resort in Utah.
A photo of Romi and Stevie near the spa at Amangiri Resort in Utah
Unfortunately my camera was having issues focusing so I only had these two from my film camera in Amangiri.

The following morning we packed up our things and got back on the road towards SLC once again, with a final stop at Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon

On our way to Bryce Canyon we stopped in Kanab for lunch at the Kanab Bakery. If you love fresh baked pastries and croissants then you have to stop here! The town looked really great too, and we were both bummed that we didn’t have enough time to explore.

Breakfast at Kanab Bakery in Utah.
The perfect roadside breakfast!

Following advice from our last hosts we stopped in to check out Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park just 15 minutes off the highway after Kanab. This place would be so awesome to visit during sunrise or sunset when the light is perfect. We spent 20-30 minutes here walking through the sand and once again had to get moving.

A photo of some flowers at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Flowers at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
A photo of Romi shoulders down standing in sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park holding her camera.
Romi getting her feet in the sand.
A photo of Romi walking through the sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
Wish we had more time to explore!

Once at Bryce Canyon we linked up with our photographer friends for the 4th time for sunset at Bryce Point over-looking all the incredible rock formations as the sky lit up in different colors.

A photo of Stevie and Romi with new photographer friends at Bryce Canyon.
This group was truly so amazing and we wish we could have joined them more!
A photo of the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon.
The Hoodoo’s at Bryce Canyon… another place we definitely needed more time for!
A photo of twilight at Bryce Canyon.
Twilight in Bryce Canyon.

Before leaving we stopped in at the lodge to fuel up with some elk chili before driving the last 4 hours to SLC.

Stevie waiting for his elk chili at the Lodge restaurant in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Feeling tired and waiting for my Elk Chili!

Back to Salt Lake City

We got in late and this time we were staying in the historic district just on the edge of downtown. Once again we had just one full day to explore and we both really wanted to try out the electric scooters we had been seeing people zip around on when we were first here. After meeting up with a friend of ours for breakfast at Publik Coffee Roasters (highly recommend) we downloaded the Bird App, scanned two scooters, and had a blast ripping around downtown on these things!

A photo of autumn colors in Salt Lake City.
Just outside our AirBnB the fall colors had a romantic feel.
A selfie of Stevie and Romi with photographer Kristina Box.
Quick breakfast with Kristina!
A photo of Stevie and Romi looking like gangsters with their Bird Scooters.
Killin’ it on our scooters.
A photo of the cathedral in Salt Lake City.
The Salt Lake Temple.

For dinner Romi and I went to the Himalayan Kitchen for some delicious curry, and then made our way to The Gateway where we planned to go to a movie. While we were waiting for our movie we walked around and checked out the shops. On our way out of a shop Jeremy Pivin stopped us and asked if we were coming to his show. Pretty sure I acted like a goofball, but we got a picture with him and decided to change our movie tickets and go see his stand up act. Unfortunately we were super bummed out when they did not let me in to the comedy club with my Canadian ID. Instead of letting it ruin the night we headed back to the theater just in time to catch our movie.

A selfie of Romi and Stevie with Jeremy Piven.
Shopping with Jeremy.

The following morning we dropped off the rental car, and had breakfast at the airport before catching our flight out.

A selfie of Stevie and Romi on the airplane back to Key West.
Isn’t she cute!!! 😍

It was a busy trip with a fair amount of driving, but so worth it. Most of the time we spent being pleasantly surprised, and both of us would love to do it again… but there’s just too many other places to see. 😉

I hope this may help you if you are planning a trip here to this region. Please feel free to ask any questions and I can give more details!

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