|USA 2017 - "Right back to where we
||During July I did a Roadtrip trough
the Southwest of the USA. Accompanied by a good friend
Deuscher), our goal was
to see as much Nationalparks and nature as possible. This being my
first time in the US it was very impressive and overwhelming. On the
left I approximately have displayed our route.
All in all we
drove 5.400 mi/ 8.600 km and passed the borders of Nevada,
California, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.
|Starting in Vegas, we
headed down to the Joshua Tree Nationalpark. Though
we only stayed for one night the surreal landscape really caught my
mind. Because of the summer heat the whole park was pretty empty,
and we had no problems getting a camp spot. Our first night we slept
not in our tent, but on the pick up, watching the stars and the sky
Antelope Ground Squirrel was so bold, it sat on our desk 1
meter away from us. During the night we even saw a kangoroo rat.
The next day we continued to the Sequoia and Kings
Canyon Nationalpark. Of course we stopped by at the General
Sherman Tree which was very crowded. Still it was impressive.
On the way we had our first fast food meal at Arbys (one of the best
we had on this trip).
longer search we found this lovely campspot some way down the road
in the Sequoia National Forest. The surrounding was
pretty quiet and the total opposite of the tourist masses from
earlier that day. Seeing the bedding of stone so clearly was
formidable. From there on my rapturousness for various rock
Down here is our typical meal (groundbeef and
tomato sauce) for when we didn't try different kind of fast food.
|The following day we drove to Yosemite.
Following the scenic route and not stopping once in the National
Park, I experienced what I like to call "Drive Through Tourism".
Driving on a 2 lane road, trying to get a glance on nature while
everyone else is doing the same, I got the feeling like being in
line to order at McDonalds. I got one picture of the Half Dome (of
course out of the window). Fleeing the tourist masses again we chose
the Tioga pass to Lee Vining. In the afternoon we visited the Ghost
Town Bodie. Wandering around and trying to imagine
life in a different time was fun. On our way back we briefly stopped
at Mono Lake. But with the unpleasing smell and
scores of flies it wasn't the right location to stay. Also being
really picky about our possible campspot and not seeing the sense of
staying in this place, we decided for a night drive all the way to
Great Basin NP.
morning we found a nice campsite right next to a small creek. In
contrast to the
|The US-6 East
was by far the most lonely road we negotiated during our vacation.
We even saw 2 living (!!) rattlesnakes laying on the street. After
290 miles, 5 hours of driving and 2 refuiling stops we reached the
Park at 12 pm.
|days before we stayed for 2 nights.
The first day we did a hike up to the bristlecone pines
( the tree on the right is still living at a small part of the
the glacier. The other day we went down the creek. A nice suprise
was discovering some marmots at the side of the path!
Another meal we had (onions, breakfast meat and eggs). The camping
cooker we had was really usefull. Using only a couple of coals and
lighter we had enough heat for cooking and boiling water..
During one night we got suprised by some heavy rain, so we
secured all our stuff on the pick up bed with a canvas and slept in
the car. It is possible, but not comfortable.
|Our following stopover was
the Antelope Island State Park. Leaving the traffic
of Salt Lake City behind us we strolled over the island. It was by
far the most diverse place. We were able to watch avocets, willets,
some ludicrous red-neckedsome phalaropes, swallows, one burrowing
owl and some more birds. From the car we saw a mule deer with one of
the largest antlers imaginable. On our way to the Fielding Garr
Ranch we passed a huge drove of bisons who blocked the road.
After enyoing a beautiful sunset the evening before we drove on to
Bryce Canyon NP. Though passing Zion
we didn't pay much attention to it (much like in Yosemite).
||More by accdident we ended up
doing a 8 mile (13 km) long hike. Still it was the best way to get
an impression of the canyon and it's size. (It took some time to get
this perception. During the hike we we're mainly thinking about
finding a way out.) Afterwards we checked the scenery points along
the road and saw a group of prong horn antelopes and some prarie
We spent 2 nights on the campground (belonging to the
near the Red Canyon.
|After the first night we relocated to another spot
(within the campground). Out of laziness and a little bit of
foolishness we chose the easiest way to move the tent:
fortunate coincidence. On our second spot we were able to observe a
buzzard, calmly sitting in the tree above us.
We mostly drank Dr Pepper or flavoured water. The unicorn
version of the can enlivened us.
Always looking out for typical american food, I had to try twinkies.
Having heard a lot about them the taste disappointed me. They don't
taste bad, but they also don't taste particullary special.
|From back home we
already had booked a camping spot in the Dead Horse National State
Park. Still having a couple days left till that apointment, we
decided to do a drive down to
Grand Canyon North Rim for 1
night. We discovered this awesome field of old cars in XXX.
camped 5 miles in front of the park, because the campground within
the NP was already full.
From our campspot we watched 2 northern
flickers flying around. We had to sleep in the car again due to the
fact that our tent was still wet and it rained again.
next morning we left again. On our way out of the acces road we
found a dead coyote pup. He must have been run over a couple of
hours before. We carried the corp of the street, so no more carrion
eater would get hurt or killed.
In the backround you see the remaining stumps
of trees, reminding of a forest fire. The park itself was lovely.
Not as crowded as the South Rim (as I soon will find out), and some
of the winding back roads are lined with beautiful aspen forrest.
It must be an awesome place for landscape photography in autumn.
|Driving all the way back through Bryce
Canyon, our next stop was the Capitol Reef National Park.
We did another small hike through a narrow, visited the ancient
human drawings on the wall and bought matching coffee mugs in the
little village store (to have a daily reminder of this journey).
Sadly a meadow full of ripe peach trees was locked. And again it was
raining on our way there.
||A little down the road was a viewing point from where we
overlooked this bend. It was a little replacement for the
Horseshoebend we had to leave out.
Cattle grids are probably
pretty common in the US or when driving trough Australia. But
to me as a German, seeing an "Open Ranch" sign and driving over
cattle grids was something totally new. That's the reason I'm
sharing this picture.
|The road through the
showed us another surreal rock landscape. Still having 3
nights left we decided against staying in Goblin Valley (having
nothing around us but bad lands) and headed to the
National Monument. One of the best decisions we made, being
one of my favourite nationalparks in retro perspective. Down
here is the view you get from the Rim Walk near the visitor
|The rim is filled with those
potholes, also known as a "giant's kettle". The algae
and bacteria in the
water dissolve the stone. This way the hole is getting even deeper
and more water is able to gather in there.
park we saw some cottontail rabbits and raven. The european
nightjar, which flew around during dawn, was exciting (but not
photographable). But the most exciting animals were the lizard. We
didn't only see the "normal brown lizards", but also 2 collared
lizards (male and female). The Highlight was being able to
photograph as long as over 2 hours!
That even outshined seeing a
female bighorn sheep, being my favourit street sign subject.
During the whole trip we got the feeling that not many people look
out and search for animals, while driving around the Nationalparks
and also in general. Only when we stopped for taking pictures or
enyoing the moment other people seemed to discover them too.
recomend doing a ranger talk at the Independent Monument. It helps
understanding the rock formation. And when you are interested in
geology or geography it enables you to conect your knowledge with
the real formation. I really enjoyed that.
During the midday
we drove down the plateau to Fruita and Grand Junction. We poked
around in a few antique stores and bought old licence plates
as a souvenir.
When the day was finally come we continued
the trip to Moab. It rained all the way there.
|At the campground (you can see
our spot right up here) we had 2 extraordinary events.
1. We saw
a kitfox sitting 10 meters away from us. Only having a 200mm lense I
didn't get as close as I wanted, but close enough for some valid
2. We experienced the desert in pouring rain! Prove in
point for our feeling of "following the rain". It rained for 2
hours, flooding everything (including our tent) and causing little
creeks down to the canyon. After seeing this you will have no
problem believing and understanding the water erosion that forms
Having 2 nights there (and paying the ridicolous amount of
80$) we visited the Canyonland and
NP, as well as Moab.
In Moab we had an
internet stop at McDonalds (fast food chains were the only place for
us to get w-lan), wandered around in some galeries and ate some
expensive but tasty frozen yogurt.
|Of course we went to see the
Mesa Arch during sunrise. Really beautifull, but because of the
croud of people waiting for it -just like you do to- sadly you can't
ease into the sight as much as you want to.
After the early start we continued to Arches NP, wanting to hike
to the Delicatie Arch. Not being informed beforehand we were
suprised of the construction in the park (you even had to leave it
until 7pm) and the closure of the Delicate Arch.
the best out of it, we went to view the Double Arch (do the
"primitivie trail" that goes behind the arch, you will be kind of
alone not realizing the crowd you came from) and did a hike starting
at Devils Garden. It included a small fixed rope route I personally
had a lot of fun with. Contrariwise to my travel partner who was
very careful (thanks again for doing me the favour!).
The kloofs at Canyonland were one of my favourites (next to the
smoother once in the Colorado National Monument). You'r really able
to see the different plateaus and where the Colorado is cutting
I much prefer it over the Grand Canyon, which I
think is too big to capture. It's like I don't realizi the massive
nature before me. That's why I don't understand the hype about it.
Speeking of the
next day we had a long drive. Not wanting to spend our last days in
Las Vegas we setted our GPS to 29 Palmsville (Joshua Tree) again. On
our way we did a little loop, so I at least saw the
Rim. (No joke: it rained again.)
This way we passed "Roys" a second time, this time with a much more
At the railroad crossing 500 meters from the old
motel I had the chance of counting the container waggons. It was a
chocking fact to me, that in the US the containers are even shipped
in a douple pack (stapled over each other). Somethin I didn't see
before (just like the cattle grids).
Late that night we
Tree (again), not
without buying some onion rings (after trying some I figured that I
love them) and a strawberry smoothie at Jack In The Box.
Like in the beginning of the trip we enyoyed the night sky.
I even picked/stole my own cactus pear from a wild growing plant
(and hurt my hands with the stings).
This time we didn't so much move within the park. We visited the
towns around the area, like 29 Palms und Palms Springs. Walking
around, going through antique stores and watching oldtimers for
We also had a glorious breakfast at iHop (my first time
eating french toast). For me this trip was as much a degustation
journey as it was a nature road trip.
On our way we drove down to
(knowing the interesting history about it). We didn't got so far to
see a lot of abandoned buildings (only a gas stop).
stumbled across a little village called Bombay Beach. Seeing the
trailor buildings, broken houses and the all in all dismal
neighbourhood - always knowing people actually live here- was
devistating. It made me understand the patrionism and "America First
thinking" in some way.
A good video to this topic by Veritasium:
Lastly we had to drive back to Las Vegas. This time staying at the
"Gold Coast". We celebrated our last evening uproad with
a tasty buffet, some
drinks and a fantastic view.
The day of our return flight visited some more antique stores and
found the biggest little treasure of the whole journey. A red
parking meter (estimated to be from the 1960s):
Our first, as well as our
second flight was delayed, so everything would have
worked out fine. But in Cologne I got pulled out of the line. The
wanted me to open my luggage so they could check it. The security
man drove me over the whole airport, I walked down some mysterious
corridors and showed him the parking meter. He wasn't serious,
Now we got a new problem: Not to exceed the luggage weight. So we
started -being at the airport 4 hours too early- weighing our bags.
We were lucky. Though our luggage weight clearly over 23 kg each the
check in lady was very laid back and we got no problems.
At the airport we sat down at Carl Jr, ate and used the refill
a couple of times while waiting.
That was our last
view of Vegas:
With a delay of two hours we
arrived at Lüneburg, and after 3 exciting weeks with nothing to worry
about, except for what to eat and visit, I got back home in the same
daily grind as usual. Until my next journey..
Joshua Tree NP
Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP
Sequoia National Forrest
Great Basin NP
Antelope Island State Park
Dixie National Forrest
Bryce Canyon NP
Grand Canyon NP (North and South Rim)
Capitol Reef NP
Colorado National Monument
Dead Horse Point State Park
1 tent (North Face VE25)
2 sleeping bags (for summer temperatures)
2 camp chairs
1 Petzl head lamp
light rain jacket
1 cooler box
pocket knife + cutlery
Canway camping stove
Canon 7D Mark I
Canon 6D Mark I + Canon EF 17-35mm f/2,8
Canon EF 100mm
1:2,8 Macro USM IS
Canon EF 70-200mm /f4 Telezoom USM IS