Through My Lens

Exploring the World Through Photography

Category: Arizona

Horseshoe Bend at Sunrise: Grand Canyon’s Famous Bend

Let me just say that Horseshoe Bend is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I have been blessed to the opportunity to visit Taj Mahal, the pyramids…

Let me just say that Horseshoe Bend is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I have been blessed to the opportunity to visit Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt and many of the great wonders of the world but Horseshoe Bend can compare with the best of them. It is one of those spots that you just see and cannot believe it is real. You should have it on your bucket list. I would also recommend seeing it at sunrise as well for two reasons. 1. You will be pretty much by yourself. 2. The light is not shadowing any of the canyon so you can take amazing photos with a tripod. Here is all of the info so you can do it yourself.

Main Details

  • .75 mile hike that takes about 15 minutes
  • 10 minute drive from Page, AZ
  • Bring a wide-angle lens

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I decided to leave about an hour before sunrise from Page, AZ. It was a ten minute drive to the trailhead and there were only 2 other cars, both of which looked like they had people sleeping in them. We set out on the trail which is all in sand and is up and over one hill then down to the viewpoint. It took about 15 minutes because the sand makes it slower going.

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When we arrived at Horseshoe Bend we were the only people there. I set up right in the middle with my tripod and just sat there in awe as I fired away pictures with every change of light. Here is the first photo I took.

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The bend itself was perfect at this time as there were no shadows in the early morning light, so everything lit up well.  About 10 minutes later we were joined by a few other people but it was never more than 10 viewing the sunrise with us. 

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We even got to watch a young man propose to his girlfriend in the beautiful sunrise light, and I got the chance to photograph them after it was over. We sat at the bend for around an hour and a half until the sun was fully up. Once the sun is up the bend becomes much harder to shoot as the light can make hard contrasts. 

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I also saw a small boat and a tent down on the water / beach below. I guess you can boat into the bend and stay, which sounds like it would fantastic and a unique adventure for sure. Be sure to bring a wide-angle lens so you can get fun photos like this.

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After photographing for an hour and a half I packed up my stuff and headed back to the car to get a nap in before visiting Antelope Canyon. All I can say is that you really need to go to Horseshoe Bend for sunrise, the lighting is perfect and you will be able to see this amazing place all by yourself. It is worth losing a few hours of sleep over.

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Upper Antelope Canyon: The Famous Slot Canyons & Light Rays of Arizona

The light rays of Antelope Canyon are a famous pilgrimage spot for photographers and I am no different. On my recent road trip through the South West I made it…

The light rays of Antelope Canyon are a famous pilgrimage spot for photographers and I am no different. On my recent road trip through the South West I made it a point to book a tour on the mid day tour (which is when the light rays are there) and see this for myself. I booked a non photography tour, the photography tour is double the price and allows you to bring a tripod. I was scared it would be a busy mess and it kind of was, but honestly it worked for me, so this review is of that tour.

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Details

  • Must book at least a month in advance for the busy midday tour on a weekend
  • Around $50
  • Plan to never not be surrounded with people so bring your patience
  • Tours take about 2 hours with the drive and the time in the canyon
  • Light comes in from about 10:45AM – 12:45PM but make sure to check the weather for clouds as that will stop the rays from coming in.
  • It will be dusty so plan accordingly with your gear
  • Here is the company I went with

The Tour

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After meeting in downtown Page we were broken into groups of 14 and shuttled via bus type contraptions out to the entrance of the canyon. This takes about 15 minutes and the road is sandy and bumpy so cover your gear as you drive out.

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When you arrive at the canyon you will be ushered over to the entrance as you wait for the groups to go in and for it to be your turn. We didn’t have to wait long to enter, but the entire tour is relatively slow-moving as you are waiting for the group ahead of you.

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The good thing about the guides is that they know the canyon so they are constantly showing you where to set your camera for the best shot. Ours often took our camera from us to take photos for us while in the canyon.

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Like I said before, there is a ton of people in the canyon for this tour. You always have a group ahead of you and a group behind you. The guides do their best to space you out and allow everyone to get a good shot, but it is very tricky. You can only photograph on the way through it, on the way back you have to just walk through without stopping. It is about .25 miles long.

Here are some of thing you will  see in the canyon:

The Heart

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The Candle

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The Light Rays (weather and time permitting)

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The Sand Falls

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Abraham Lincoln

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The Branch Water Brought In

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The Waves

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As you can see from the above pictures, you can still get great photos even with other people all around you. I am happy I booked the tour I did, I saw the photography tour in the canyon and it looked like mayhem too. There were 8-10 people all with tripods, tripping over themselves to get a good shot in the small canyon and it seemed stressful. I am sure that weekdays are probably the best time to go if you have the opportunity to do it then.

All in all though, this was a fantastic trip into the canyon and a great way to check off something I have always wanted to do. Ask any questions you have in the comments below and I will answer anything I am able to.

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Havasu Falls: A Grand Canyon Waterfall from your Dreams

Consider this another of our post barrage on our time in Havasupai Reservation in the Grand Canyon both hiking and exploring the insanely beautiful waterfalls. Since each of these waterfalls…

Consider this another of our post barrage on our time in Havasupai Reservation in the Grand Canyon both hiking and exploring the insanely beautiful waterfalls. Since each of these waterfalls could stand on its own as a destination we decide to break up the posts for each one, this one focuses on Havasu Falls, but you can read about Mooney Falls here and Navajo Falls here. To answer your question before you ask, yes the water is really that blue.

Havasu Falls 1

Havasu Falls is located at the top of the campground, 10 miles from the trailhead at the top of the Grand Canyon Ridge. You cannot do a day hike here so you must get reservations, either at the campground or at the lodge, in order to be able to see it. This is super welcomed for me as the waterfall had a lot less people at it, due to the hike in and the reservation system which meant less trash and less abuse of the area since the only people that make the trek are the ones that really want to be there.

Havasu Falls 2

As you approach the falls you will be hiking in from the top and will not know it is coming till it is literally in front of you. The signs of this are the “danger, don’t get close to the edge” signs that let you know a drop is in store. You can walk really close to the top of the falls but obviously be careful as it is not recommended.

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Taking the trail down to the left will give you your first glimpse of Havasu Falls and if you are like me, your jaw will drop. This waterfall has earned a spot on many top ten best waterfall lists and you can quickly see why. The water drops about 75 feet into a lush and deep, blue water pool. From there it cascades over rocks to create a natural lounge area for floating before creating two smaller 5-7 foot waterfalls, each with their own pools below for swimming as well.

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As you descend you will continue to get amazing views of the falls before seeing a small trail that goes off to the right and drops you at the base of the falls where there are picnic benches for eating and plenty of space to spread out. We spent half of a day here taking in the views, swimming in the water, and just generally loving the insane beauty of this area. Of the three waterfalls this is the best for spending time and relaxing at.

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There is also some pretty impressive cliff jumping near the waterfall that lots of people were doing. Zac tried his hand at a 25 foot jump and you can see the video below. The hardest part is having to scale the side of the rock wall to get to an area where you can jump. Its hard to pick which of these falls are the best but the time we spent relaxing at Havasu Falls was pretty amazing and something you have to add to your bucket list.

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Mooney Falls: Epic Descent to a 200 Foot Waterfall in Arizona

As a caveat, the descent to Mooney Falls is not for the faint of heart. While nowhere near the craziness I have heard it compared to like Angels Landing and…

As a caveat, the descent to Mooney Falls is not for the faint of heart. While nowhere near the craziness I have heard it compared to like Angels Landing and such, this is a pretty sketchy descent that you will take to reach the base of what is one of the most amazing waterfalls I have ever seen.

mooney Falls

After passing Havasu Falls and the campground you will reach the top of Mooney Falls. Like Havasu you start on the top of this waterfall with epic vistas and views and if you want to continue on or see it from below you will have to descend an old mining route that has cables, ladders and caves.

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There will be lots of signs warning you to not take it lightly so make sure you are aware of what you are getting into when you set out.

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The descent goes through two caves first, then continues down the rock face with a series of crude steps, and lots of strewn cable. As you get closer to the bottom you will meet two ladders, one small 5 foot one and another 10-15 foot one. Both were in good condition when I was there. Here is a view of the bottom from far away.

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Here is a video of me ascending the entire route via GoPro cam to give you a taste of what it entails.

Mooney Falls

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When you reach the bottom you will be greeted with a awesome mist coming off the massive falls to your right and will probably need a minute to soak in the epicness.

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The waterfall drops so far that the sheer power coming off the ground is intense, especially considering the water below it is only like 3 feet deep (I walked out as far as I could but the pelting of the falls made me turn around). I really wanted to get a picture in the spray, and since the descent is sketchy we had the waterfall mostly to ourselves with only 10 other people there. This allowed Zac and I to grab the epic picture below.

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After spending time at the main falls we started to walk down the water a little bit and found another 5 foot falls that you could actually swim into and had a small cave behind it.

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From there we continued down stream to the waterfall a couple people told us about that was 5 minutes walk. This one you could climb completely up and so we had to check it out. Amie and I climbed to the top and it was super fun and beautiful as you could sit in the stream and look down at the blue water and the canyon below. The video I made didn’t turn out but I highly recommend coming down here.

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After that we packed up our stuff and headed back up to Havasu Falls, completing what was an epic first half of our day exploring Mooney Falls. Check out the rest of the pictures below.

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New Navajo Falls in Havasupai, Arizona

In the upper part of Arizona, just outside of Grand Canyon National Park, sits an Indian Reservation that houses some of the best waterfalls the world has to offer. They…

In the upper part of Arizona, just outside of Grand Canyon National Park, sits an Indian Reservation that houses some of the best waterfalls the world has to offer. They are only accessed by an 8 mile hike down from the canyon walls into the small reservation (the last place in the United States that still sends mail via horse) and you must have a permit to make the hike. There are a series of four waterfalls on this trail and the first that you will get to is arguably my favorite, New Navajo Falls. It has two distinct sections, Upper and Lower Navajo Falls.

Upper Navajo Falls

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When walking the main trail to the campground you will want to watch for a spur about 1.5 miles from the town. This is the spur that leads to upper New Navajo Falls and since it is easy to miss it is often less crowded then the other falls.

Navajo Falls

This waterfall looked a lot different before a flood came through the canyon and made it into what it is now only a decade ago.It is now is a 150 foot wide majestic falls that cascades over jutting rocks and fills pools of all sizes at its base. To this day it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You can swim in its water, head under some parts of the falls to find little caves, and just bask in the beauty that it creates for days without getting tired of it. The blue-green water that flows from it is a marvel in and of itself.

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Lower Navajo Falls

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About a forth of a mile down from New Navajo falls is lower Navajo Falls. While not as striking at its brethren, this waterfall houses a secretive back area that you can swim up to and climb into. It is a perfect place to watch the crazies cliff jump from above, as this is a popular cliff jumping spot, or to just find some peace and serenity while indulging in the sound of the water as it careens into the pools below.

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You can see how far the two falls are from each other in the picture below. Be sure that if you make the trek in that you get a campsite or a room at the lodge as you want to make sure you have time to see these falls plus the other three.

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This place must be seen to be believed and is one of my favorite places in the United States. Check out the other waterfalls here and make sure to leave a comment.

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Guide to Exploring the Havasupai Waterfalls: Hiking, Camping & Exploring

With the new year already begun, it seems like summer will be here before we know it. Lots of people I know are already trying to plan their trips for…

With the new year already begun, it seems like summer will be here before we know it. Lots of people I know are already trying to plan their trips for the year and a lot of them are asking me about our trip to Havasupai last year. You can see a big list of posts and links you should check out at the end and hopefully this post answers your questions on this amazing trip.

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Permits & Registration

First up is the not fun stuff, permits and registration.This is always subject to change, but here is how it went when we booked the trip last year.

Lodge

If you are looking to book your stay at the lodge then you will need to call at least a couple months before to get a spot. I called around the middle of February and was able to secure the weekend I wanted in the middle of June, but I would say to call as soon as you know, they don’t always take reservations that early but will tell you when to call back. The lodge is about a mile from the first waterfall so you will have to walk at least a mile each way, but you are in the small town so you can easily get food and supplies.

Lodge Costs and Info

Camping

The same is true for the campground, if you know when you are going then just call and secure the spot. Understand that this is not a tourism board, there is the chance you will have to call multiple times before someone picks up sometimes. Be patient and be prepared to pay for at least some of the charge upfront. The campground is about a mile and a half from the town so about 9 miles from the trail head. It is between Havasu and Mooney falls in an amazing area, but the walk is a lot longer to get food at the small store so be prepared.

Camping Costs and Info

Hotel the Night Before

There is really not a lot of close options for staying near the trail head the night before your hike starts. I would recommend Peach Springs which is the closest to the trail head but is still about 65 miles away. Google Maps will tell you that it is 2-3 hours drive from here but when we went the road was a two lane highway and it was in good shape so that drive took a lot less then we had planned.

Here is a link to the Hualapai Lodge that we stayed at.

Also there is not a lot in Peach Springs so don’t assume you will be able to get coffee or gas if you leave early in the morning as a lot of places are not open.

Getting to Supai

Hiking

So now you have your reservation, have a hotel for the night before, now you need to think about getting to Supai. This little town, down in the Grand Canyon is located about 7 miles from the trail head. It is not to hard on the way down as you will drop about 3,000 feet of elevation but on the way back up it can be brutal, especially during the summer if it is hot, so plan accordingly for your own personal hiking time. We ended up leaving at 4:30 from the lodge to get out before the sun and the campground is an extra mile and a half past the lodge so you may need to leave even earlier.

Mules and Helicopter

If hiking is not your thing you can still get to Supai via other means. There is a helicopter ride available and horses or mules that you can rent for yourself or for your gear. I do not have a ton of information about these as I did not use either but I know they are available as I heard the helicopter and watched it land in the city many times each day.

Here is some info

Food & Postcards

I would recommend that you bring a decent amount of snacks for the hiking and for your time at the falls even if you are staying at the lodge. You would not want to miss when the store is open and end up with no food. With that being said there is a small restaurant that has everything from hamburgers to burritos and is decent food. There are also two small stores that sell everything from water to snacks, so there is a lot available for you in that regard. If you are camping though the walk to the town is about a mile and a half each way so you would be better off to bring your own food. From the lodge the walk is less then 5 minutes.

When you are in the town make sure to mail yourself a postcard as this is the only remaining place in the United States that still sends mail by mule out of the canyon so it is a fun souvenir.

Waterfalls

So now that you have made it to Supai you are ready to play in the waterfalls, which are even more amazing in person then they are in photos. It literally is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Here is a little info on each, in the order you will see them.

New Navajo Falls

Navajo Falls

  • Least busy of the falls
  • Two falls, upper and lower
  • Lots of people cliff jump off the lower but be careful as this is not recommended
  • Read my post

Havasu Falls

The most photographed and a beautiful and intense waterfall that splashes into pristine blue water.

Havasu Falls 1

Mooney Falls

The tallest of the falls, this one is pretty breathtaking but do not underestimate the walk down.

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  • Requires climbing to reach the bottom on a pretty intense slope
  • Can continue down the water to see other falls and beautiful areas
  • Read the post here

Here is a video on the descent.

Best Time to Go

As we said above this is Arizona so the summertime can be VERY hot. Of course that is great for when you are at the waterfalls but it if you are hiking in or out during the afternoon it can be pretty rough. May or June are usually good months to go as it should still be warm but not hot like July and August.

Hopefully this post sets you on the right path for your own trip down here. If you have more questions please let us know. Lastly, make sure to respect the people and the culture of Supai when you are there.

Resources List

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