**Click the links below to visit all of my galleries from my Western Trip or to purchase a Seth Berry Photography print:
Yosemite National Park | Death Valley National Park | Sequoia National Park | Kings Canyon National Park
Mono Lake, CA | Bodie, CA | Nevada Deserts | California | San Francisco
Last week I experienced the vacation and photography adventure of a lifetime with my two roommates as we road tripped out west to hit 4 major National Parks in the US! Especially since I've gotten into photography, I've always wanted to take a road trip to stand in awe of God's awesome wonders and amazing grandeur out west - and this was my first experience to do so! If your idea of "vacationing" is sitting at home not working or on a beach with nothing to worry about except if I'm getting burnt or what's for dinner after a whole day at the beach, then I wouldn't recommend the spontaneousness (my iPhone said that's a word) and in-and-out nature of a road trip. But for those who love to see the world (like me), then a road trip is the perfect way to see ALLLLLLL that you can in just a week, with little sleep...which is what we very much did these next 8 days!
In my next series of blog posts, I'm planning to give you a story day-by-day of what we saw, hiked to, drove through, and stayed in while we were out in the wild west! And since I took over 3,000+ photos...the only justifiable way for me to break them up for you to see, and for me personally to upload, is for me to make a blog post for each day! SO, here we go! Hold on to your seat...oh, and you might want to turn up the A/C.
*Always remember, any of my Landscape and Nature photography work is available for purchase in small or large prints on my website: www.sethberryphotography.com/places
Day 1 - VIVA LAS VEGAS!
Saturday, August 10 - We split out on work Friday and drove to Charlotte to fly to Chicago then to Las Vegas. After the long flight, we finally landed in Vegas at 10:30 PM Vegas time (1:30 AM our natural body, eastern time). Knowing our trip consisted of a lot of driving, hiking, and not sure where to eat each place...we made our first stop in Vegas at WALMART!! WOOO HOO! We do Vegas right! We filled up our rented 2013 Ford Escape with a full sunroof (The Silver Bullet) with as much H2O and snacks as possible and drove down the Vegas strip to go to bed in our hotel.
Slideshow Views from our hotel early the next morning:
Early Saturday morning we hit the desert road east on Interstate 15 for our first awesome destination to do some hiking in 100 degree heat - The Valley of Fire State Park. I'm glad that I did some research before our trip, because it ended up being one of my favorite places right off the bat! (each day seemed to top the day before, and this one was hard to top on day 1). Here are some pictures as we traveled down the desert Valley of Fire HWY and as we entered into the park...my first time I've ever seen Redrocks!
Below: The Beehives - Valley of Fire State Park
Above & Below: Chris and I did a lot of rock climbing in the Valley of Fire! Such an awesome place!
Hangin' with da Chipmunks!
Chipmunks out west are the equivalent to squirrels over here...THERE'S A LOT OF THEM! But in the Valley of Fire, the chipmunks have a pretty good life, seeing they must get fed a lot by the visitors. We were very excited to see our first munk, but after that it wasn't hard to spot them at all. In fact, you could kneel down and they would start coming out of the bushes and right up to your hand thinking you're feeding them. Always have loved these little guys!
Slideshow of chipmunks below:
Below: Awesome 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyphs
Fire Wave Trail
Our next stop in the Valley of Fire gave us an idea of how bad it would be if you got stranded in the desert! We did a mile hike during the heat of the day to the location that I was mostly looking forward to in the State Park - The Fire Wave. This was my first chance to really get some photos I was hoping for! But hiking in the desert sun along the loose dirt and fiery hot rocks sure does drain you! But the hike was well worth it - and seeing the car with water was too at the end of the hike! Check out these amazing formations known as the Fire Wave!! (after the hiking and lizard pictures of course)
Slideshow of the The Fire Way below:
White Domes Trail
After the Fire Wave, we drove deeper into the State Park (see the road pictures) to visit the White Domes - which were giant sandstone formations. Parts of this location was said to be the location where some of Return of the Jedi was filmed! I could tell...even though I haven't seen Star Wars. It looked like another world as you were hiking down into the giant canyon with yellow rock cliffs all around you! Just Amazing! Also on this trail we got to go through an awesome Slot Canyon! Made for some great pictures and climbing opportunities!
Bonus Picture Below: We saw two of these guys in the park!
White Domes Slideshow
Our last drive in the Valley of Fire State Park was to Elephant Rock towards the outer exit of the park before we made our way to Hoover Dam. I think you'll see why it's called Elephant Rock. Our God is so creative!
The Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam sure was impressive! And no...we didn't do any Dam tours. It was too hot! ;)
Las Vegas Night Life
After an awesome and already exhausting day out in the desert, we made it back to Vegas before sundown. After getting cleaned up, we ate at an incredible buffet inside our Casino/Hotel. Then we walked the strip at night checking out all of the Casinos, including the Venetian, Bellagio, Palazzo, and more. But the coolest thing we did was we rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower where I got some amazing night time shots of the Vegas lights and the Bellagio fountains down below. Check out the last slide show from our night in Vegas!
P.S. - We did come away from Vegas with alittle more gas money! ;)
Slideshow of the Las Vegas Strip night lights below:
So we survived the Las Vegas desert and nightlife on Day 1! But we tried to get as much rest in our comfy hotel beds because we knew our greatest adventures and hottest day was coming up next! You think we packed a lot into Day 1, just you wait! Stay tuned for my next blog post - Day 2 - DEATH VALLEY!
Thanks for reading! Remember you can check out all of my landscape pictures from the Valley of Fire, Nevada in my Galleries/Places tab on my website.