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Mexican Hat Rock
Mexican Hat Rock

2015 Western Parks Vacation


By Laurie

In the summer of 2015, my daughter, her son, and I spent 19 days visiting National Parks and other scenic attractions in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. We met in Las Vegas and rented a car. We drove more than 2000 miles and I took more than 2000 photographs (some of which I still haven’t looked at – one of the reasons for starting this photo blog was to take the time to look at all of those photos). I am extremely grateful for my daughter’s organization: she did most of the planning for this trip and made all the reservations in advance.

My daughter and I have both been asked multiple times what we were most impressed with and we both agree that it was the slot canyon we toured. It’s hard to compare the slot canyon to the majesty of the Grand Canyon but the slot canyon was so unique and memorable because we were close to the rock formations and layers instead of viewing them from a great distance.

A note on the featured photo: This is Mexican Hat Rock as viewed from U.S. Route 163 between Monument Valley and Mesa Verde. We saw it as we passed by and stopped to take pictures (or took them from the moving car). There is a dirt road to the east that has a better viewpoint of the rock but we didn’t go there. It has been suggested that the rock formation and the nearby town were called Mexican Hat because people couldn’t spell Sombrero. 🙂

This was our itinerary. As I post photos, I will link the itinerary items to the individual posts.

  • Las Vegas (Saturday & Sunday)
  • Hoover Dam (Monday)
  • Grand Canyon National Park (Monday – Thursday)
  • Little Colorado River Gorge (Thursday)
  • Painted Desert (western edge) (Thursday)
  • Page, AZ
  • Monument Valley (Saturday)
  • Mesa Verde National Park (Saturday & Sunday)
  • Durango & Silverton Railroad (Monday)
  • Newspaper Rock (Tuesday)
  • Canyonlands National Park (Needles District) (Tuesday)
  • Arches National Park (Wednesday)
  • Balloon ride over Arches National Park (Thursday)
  • Canyonlands National Park (Island In The Sky District) (Thursday)
  • Capital Reef National Park
  • Half-day horseback trail ride in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Bolder, UT (Friday)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Friday – Monday)
  • Zion National Park (Monday & Tuesday)
  • Valley of the Fire State Park (NV) (Tuesday)
  • Las Vegas (Tuesday & Wednesday)

One lasting memory about this trip is that even though we saw an endless number of interesting rock formations, we only saw a small portion of that part of the United States. I will occasionally include additional photographs of rock formations that are not part of a specific destination. The photo of Chimney Rock in the Additional Images section below was taken at the intersection of US Rt. 160 and US Rt. 491 near Towaoc, Colorado as we traveled from Monument Valley to Mesa Verde.

Additional Images

Technical Data

Mexican Hat Rock

  • Date: 6/27/2015
  • Time: 11:38 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T1i
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 55-250 mm, f/4-5.6 IS
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 200 mm, f/5.6
    • ISO: 250
    • Shutter: 1/1600 sec
  • Uncropped image is 4752 px x 3168 px
  • Approximate GPS: 37°10’22.548″ N, 109°51’36.089″ W

Chimney Rock

  • Date: 6/27/2015
  • Time: 1:30 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T1i
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 55-250 mm, f/4-5.6 IS
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 200 mm, f/5.6
    • ISO: 100
    • Shutter: 1/800 sec
  • Uncropped image is 3168 px x 4752 px
  • Approximate GPS: 37°5’21.152″ N, 108°43’55.941″ W


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