Road Tripping through the Southwest

Words by Nick Crawford
Photos by Nick Crawford

When’s the last time you took an epic road trip?  I personally love spending time on the open road, and if you’re thinking about the next adventure, I highly recommend taking a road trip through the American Southwest.  With it’s wild, other-worldly terrain, there’s really nothing quite like it … and you’ll get some incredible photos! Thankful to partner again with Wayward on this 7-day road trip through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, sharing some of my favorite photos from the journey as well as some of the gear we used along the way.  If you need any road trip tips or have any questions, be sure to give me a shout on Instagram – @nickcrvwford.

Valley of Fire State Park

Just over an hour away from Las Vegas, our first stop on the road trip was Valley of Fire State Park.  We cruised through and it became quite clear why Fire is in the name. It’s got blazing orange & red sandstone formations all throughout the park … and with long, winding open roads, there’s plenty of opportunities for incredible photos. Spend a few hours there around sunset, and you won’t be disappointed.

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Zion National Park

Next up on our road trip was Zion National Park, a location that had been on my list for a long time.  Mind blowing beauty with the crazy textures and colors. There were a couple great scenic drives we took – The Mount Carmel Highway & Kolob Canyons that offered a great way to see a variety of landscapes while also having the freedom to stop and take photos.  Most of the time I’ll use my Incase DSLR Pro Pack, but it was nice to use something a bit more portable like the Carhartt WIP Military Hip Bag for just the essentials. The climate changed pretty quickly while we were there, and it started pouring, which was pretty cool. Fresh waterfalls were forming, and while we didn’t get to hike as much as we wanted, we had a great experience there.  I hope to come back someday to hike Angel’s Landing and The Narrows.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

On to Bryce Canyon, one of my favorite stops.  It’s terrain is so unique and just as epic as the other parks.  It has these wild spire-shaped rock formations known as hoodoos — which exist on every continent and are the most concentrated in Bryce Canyon than anywhere else on Earth. It’s super easy to get around and stop at viewpoints like Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. This park is a must-visit.

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Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is definitely under-rated. It’s a little further off the route but worth the trip if you have an extra day or two.  We got a ton of great photos with the camera as well as with our phones using the Moment Camera Case with the attached Moment 58mm Tele Lens, perfect for mobile photography in parks like these, where you really need to get some extra distance.  We also used the 18mm Moment Wide Lens, which is my personal go-to for mobile photos. My favorite part of the visit was the 2-hour off-road adventure to get to the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon monuments. Tons of cool rock formations, cliffs, canyons, domes, and everything else!

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Canyonlands National Park

We left Capitol Reef en route for Canyonlands and arrived just in time for sunset, where we spent it at Mesa Arch.  Wow. Just Wow. Stunning views and colors across the park. Gotta stay versatile with the gear on road trips, and the Fjallraven Abisko Trail Fleece took me from Day to Night perfectly.  We were treated to a burner of a sunset, but my favorite part was watching the shadows stretch across the canyon as we found a place to sit on top of the arch. Truly an amazing experience!

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Arches National Park

Next up, we spent the morning at Arches National Park … a stunning place with over 2000 natural stone arches.  The variety of wild formations Arches NP has to offer is incredible. I found myself in awe as we trekked across the park, stopping at places like Balanced Rock, The Windows, Delicate Arch, Double Arch, and Devils Garden.  All unique in their own right, this is a place I’d love to go back to explore.

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Monument Valley

After we left Arches, we hit the road en route to Monument Valley.  First, we arrived at Forrest Gump Point, the road to Monument Valley. Without a doubt, it’s an iconic location. The anticipation was building, so we quickly stopped to take some photos, then raced into the park to catch sunset.  The monuments of sandstone there range anywhere from 400 to 1000 feet and are truly stunning. We ventured to John Ford’s Point just in time to catch the golden sunset light hitting the Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte.  It was a little cool, so the Pendleton Yakima Camp Throw came in super handy. Such a perfect way to end the day, and one of my favorite moments of the entire trip. It was so amazing, we decided to go back the next morning and drive around the entire park to see it all.  This is definitely one of those spots that you have to visit at some point in your life, it’s that beautiful!

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Horseshoe Bend / Antelope Canyon

Off to our last stop on the trip, Horseshoe Bend and Upper/Lower Antelope Canyon.  Horseshoe Bend has been well known for years. I knew what it was going to look like, and still it blew me away.  We stopped in just in time to snap some photos the sun going down, while making sure to catch a seat and enjoy the view.  Make sure to bring a wide-angle lens so you can catch the whole thing! The next morning, and our last day on the road, we took guided tours of both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.  Upper Antelope Canyon is known for the light beams that shoot down into the slot canyon, truly an incredible experience. If you’re looking to see the beams, make sure to book early! I was told they sell out 6 months in advance and are only available by guided tour.  Definitely worth it! Our final stop was Lower Antelope Canyon … the longer of the two slot canyons and definitely my favorite. 100% will be back here. Absolutely stunning to see in person and my favorite stop of the entire trip.

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