Restaurants · travel

Days 36, 37 & 38 of USA Road Trip – driving through Arizona & Utah 

We’ve had a very jam packed few days; lots of driving, sun and out of this world views. On Tuesday we headed to Petrified Forest National Park, an insanely stunning park with more than enough there to fill a whole day of exploring. We went to every single point in the park, and at the Blue Mesa point we decided to take the short trail which led you into the heart of the mesa. It was only a 1 mile circuit which we thought sounded like nothing and were surprised that we were the only ones doing the trail. We were wrong. Walking up and down steep inclines in 100 degree heat was pretty intense to say the least. Ewan may as well have been walking an overweight Labrador by the way I was panting throughout the trail. The views were just about worth it but I would definitely recommend going in the morning when it’s cooler!

Tuesday’s accommodation was our most exciting yet – a Wigwam at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. It was actually more like a tiny house in the shape of a wigwam, because it had proper walls, a bathroom and a tv, but I loved it nonetheless. It was apparently the inspiration for Lightning McQueen’s hotel in Cars, which would be exciting if I’d actually watched that movie. 

For dinner we headed a few doors down to Romo’s Mexican Cuisine. They could make most of their dishes gluten free as long as you requested corn tortillas, so I ordered the chicken enchiladas with green chile. It was enormous, looked a little bit like vomit, but tasted incredible! 

After a good nights sleep in our wigwam, we got on the road to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It’s completely free and the view from Spider Rock was absolutely ridiculous, there’s no way the photo below does it justice. Add it to your bucket list immediately! 

We then drove on to the Four Corners Monument and stood with our feet in all 4 states at the same time. It was cool but I wasn’t overly impressed with the area on the whole – for the $10 entrance fee I’d hoped that they would at least have a toilet seeing as it’s in the middle of nowhere! All of the toilets were closed so we didn’t stay long. 

On the way to our final stop of the day, Monument Valley, we got caught in a huge, sudden hailstorm. The hailstones lifted all the dust from the hills around us, which in turn created a scary dust storm which was horrible to drive through and covered the car in orange! Definitely an experience but hope that doesn’t happen again! 

Monument Valley doesn’t close until 8pm in the summer, so when we arrived around 6pm we still had loads of time. We started with the self-driven tour but our little Ford Fiesta wasn’t doing particularly well on the very hilly and rocky dirt track, so we turned around and took in the views from the visitor centre. It was gorgeous. On the way to our hotel for the night, we pulled the car over to watch the sun setting behind the Monument Valley skyline. Beautiful! 

By the time we got to the town of Bluff, where our hotel was, it was pitch black and we hadn’t eaten since lunch. To our relief, we came across a cute road-side bistro called Coombe Ridge and headed on in for a bite to eat. I didn’t have high hopes for anything but a salad, but they had loads of gluten free options, including burgers, quiche and genuinely yummy sounding salads. I went for the cheeseburger with a cup of tea and I was in heaven! 

Yesterday, we got up early and drove to Antelope Canyon to do the Upper Canyon Tour. We had tour reservations for 12pm and they ask you to arrive an hour early to keep your spot, and what with the confusing time zones between where we were staying and where we were heading, we ended up arriving at 10.30am! They let us join the 11am tour, which ended up being a huge stroke of luck because when we arrived at the Canyon after travelling in the back of a jeep, the canyon was full of sun beams! By the time we left the Canyon around 12pm, all the sunbeams were gone. Without the sunbeams the Canyon is just very dark and shadowy, and much less fun to photograph! The tour itself is a bit of a chaotic nightmare (you are asked to keep moving at all times in order to keep the crazy amount of human traffic going, but we had a very vain teen in our group who got her parents to take around 2000 photos of her and held everyone up, which resulted in a shouting match between the tour guide and the parents) but you can’t get into the Canyon without a tour, so that’s kind of unavoidable.  

For lunch we went to my fave, Denny’s. I’m obsessed with their gluten free English muffins! They have pretty amazing gluten free options for a diner style restaurant too. 

After lunch, we were heading to ‘The Bend’ and found an overlook to Glen Canyon Dam. Not as stunning as some of the other crazy views we’ve seen over the past 2 days, but still gorgeous!

When we got to ‘The Bend’, we were surprised to find that you have to hike to get to the site. I’m not sure why but we were expecting a side of the road parking lot viewing area kind of thing! It was 100 degrees, I was wearing black (idiot), and there are 2 very steep hills to get there… so it was another sweaty hike! The bend itself is out of this world, but you have to watch yourself as you are literally stood on a steep cliff edge with no barrier, looking down. I can imagine on a summer weekend that the crowds can get quite dangerous, so I was glad we came on a weekday! 

After all that sweating, I was ready for a quick dip in the hotel pool and a nap! I slept soundly until Ewan woke me up for dinner. We headed to the Italian restaurant in Page, which is bizarrely called Bonkers. They had an insanely good gluten free menu, including chicken dishes, pastas, garlic bread and so much more! I went for the chicken parm with garlic bread and it was delicious but I’d pass on the garlic bread next time. It was a slice of gluten free seeded toast with cheese on top. Strange. 

I’d read some reviews about last nights hotel online (Travelodge Page) and some people had complained about bed bugs. I was petrified, but we checked the bed very thoroughly and couldn’t find any sign of them. I decided that to be safe, I would sleep on top of the covers in tight bottom track pants, a t shirt and a hoody with the hood up, leaving literally only my hands and face exposed for potential bites. If I had packed my balaclava and gloves, I would have worn them too! I woke up very dehydrated but with zero bites on me…. take THAT bed bugs!

Today we’re off to the Grand Canyon and tomorrow we will be in Vegas. Woo!