Friday Fotos: Arizona’s Brilliant Starry Skies

You think you have seen stars, but you haven’t until you’ve seen Arizona’s starry skies. Beautiful shots!

Arizona Highways

Not just beautiful, though — the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore.

Enjoy this week’s Friday Fotos, and a huge thanks to everyone who shared on our Facebook page.

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Top 5 Airport Travel Tips

These 5 tips may seem simple, but can definitely help your overall Airport and flying experience…

1.      Pack a Pen

There are many people out there that forget the all-important pen. It might be handy to fill in a crossword or other puzzle or two, but it’s also really important for filling out custom forms and the like. If you are able to fill out your custom form in line (this applies to more travelers headed to the US at major Canadian airports) then you are able to breeze through the line ups of those having to use the provided pens and you can easily get ahead 10-15 people in line for customs (if not more!). On the plane, it saves you from having to ask for a writing utensil and ensures that you are finished even quicker. Efficiency is key!

2.      Become a Security Line Pro

Security has definitely changed over the years, but now for the most part security experiences are very similar. Go through the steps and be prepared for them (i.e. sweater/shoes off, laptop already out of your bag). This ensures you don’t hold up the line behind you and it makes getting through a breeze. And, somehow everyone still forgets this – no liquids!! Pack these in your luggage or buy your water bottle inside the terminal.

3.      Keep Your Essentials In your carry on

(But not liquid) Things like your wallet and other valuables, laptops, reading material, toothbrush and (small) toothpaste and an extra pair of underwear (you never know if you will have your luggage lost) definitely come in handy. Or, if you are headed to the beach, pack your bathing suit to have with you. You may not be able to check into your hotel right away so it’s helpful to have some key items with you instead of ripping apart your luggage at the Bell Desk…

 4.      Check in ahead of time

I learnt this the hard way – if you don’t check in ahead of time you could be stuck with the dreaded ‘middle-middle’ seats when travelling alone. Checking in online ensures you get a better chance of a seat preference (or at least, more options) but also makes your time checking in at the airport that much shorter. Nowadays many airlines are letting you prepay your baggage fees by credit card online so when you show you just print your baggage tags and off you go! It’s really that simple.

5.      Know the weight of your bag

Most airlines baggage maximums are 50lbs PER bag (not 75lbs in one and 25lbs in another) – and this isn’t just a guideline, it’s a rule. The workers carrying your bags aren’t allowed to carry more than 50lbs. With that being said, the airlines are constantly changing their rules and because it was that way last year, does not mean it is the same now. Always check out your airline’s website before packing and know the weight of your bag BEFORE you go to the airport. Invest in a luggage scale (this one is $25 will probably save you at LEAST $25 in excess weight fees) or weigh it on a scale (we’ve weighed our suitcases on our Wii Fit before!). This will ensure you don’t head to the airport and have to rip open your suitcases and start tossing things back in forth between bags to ‘even them out’.  I always like to leave around 10lbs extra so I can do a little shopping…but more packing tips to come!

What are your tips to make the airport experience a breeze?

Top 5 Reasons to Travel to the Southwestern US in the Winter

Usually known as the “low season”, the winter in the Southwest offers travellers many advantages. Read on to discover the top 5 reasons for travelling to the Southwestern United States from November-February.

1.      Less Crowded

Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park

From the moment you enter into the Parks you can see the difference – less cars, less noise, less people! You can drive up to your favorite viewpoints and actually find a parking spot!

The most famous picture spots, the hiking trails – all of these spots are less crowded and visited during the winter time. You may even be able to get into places that in the summer are unheard of getting into last minute. On my last trip to Arches National Park I was able to get a permit for the Fiery Furnace – a highly sought after hiking destination in the park that only 50 people per day are able to explore! In the winter you feel as if you are the only person in the park and the silence of the area is definitely welcomed.

2.      Save Money

Since it is considered the “low season”, many hotels and activities drop their prices to entice travelers to come and visit. You can often find hotels for 30-50% less than what you would pay during March-October during the busy season. This means you have more money to spend on extra activities, an additional night or a nice meal. Definitely a win for anyone whatever your budget is!

3.      Cooler Temperatures

If you’re anything like me, you will appreciate the cooler temperatures. At different elevations, it can be downright chilly and snowy but as long as you bundle up and dress appropriately, hiking and exploring the Southwest in the winter can be fun and enjoyable. Temperatures range depending on the elevation you are at. For example in Zion National Park, in the heat of the summer, temperatures can range anywhere between 69 and 100 degrees. In the winter at Zion, you are more likely to have temperatures from 35 and 63 degrees. Big difference!

A helpful hint for dressing warmly: wear layers! Three layers, to be exact; your first one should be the interior layer than can wick away any sweat, the second should be a warm layer, like a sweatshirt, and your last exterior layer should be something that will block the wind and water. This will help ensure you stay warm and dry while outside enjoying the spectacular views! I always like to have a warm scarf, hat and gloves/mittens and warm socks with my waterproof hiking boots to make sure I am comfortable on my longer hikes. The scarf will come in handy if it gets windy!

4.      You Are Able to Do and See More in Less Time

With fewer crowds, you will be able to get in and out of the usually busier parks and monuments in less time. This means you will be able to see more and make a more efficient use of your time. Where it may have taken you all day to see the top viewpoints and explore the Village at the Grand Canyon in the summer, in the winter it might take you a few hours instead. Of course, you can still take as long as you want to explore certain sights, but if you are on a tight timeline you should be able to pack more visits and locations into your trip. So if you are ambitious with your itinerary planning, travelling in the winter might be a good idea for you.

5.      See Things Differently

Bryce CanyonPerhaps you have seen Bryce Canyon or other areas in the Southwest before in the summertime and think you have seen it all. Think again! Bryce Canyon is absolutely stunning in the  snow and the other areas are truly beautiful in the winter as well. These destinations are unique in every way and it is truly special to see them lightly dusted (or covered) with snow and in a completely different light. For photographers you will have a new view and may even get a coveted not-so-common shot!

 

A couple of things to keep in mind when travelling in the wintertime – some areas of the park shut down for weather-related reasons (i.e. the North Rim of the Grand Canyon) and often times since the Parks are slower in the winter there are less tours offered throughout the day than in the summer (i.e. tours of the Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park are limited in the wintertime).

 Overall, if you like less crowds, saving time and money and of course seeing the beautiful scenery in a different light, try exploring the elusive and adventurous Southwest between November-February! 

Southwest Adventure Tours has plenty of different tours that can highlight the areas in a new light or even take in winter activities like snowmobiling and skiing! We can also assist with itinerary planning and making sure you get the most out of your adventure. Check out www.southwestadventuretours.com for more tour ideas and options.


Have you ever travelled to the Southwest in the winter? What’s your favorite part?


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Welcome!

Welcome to the Southwest Adventure Tours Blog!

Southwest Adventure Tours is a Destination Management Company that provides  individuals and groups with scenic, photography, and adventure tours throughout the Southwestern US. We offer a wide range of day tour and multi-day tour options and activities and can customize tours to meet your needs. Tours departing from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sedona, Salt Lake City and other local areas adjacent to the National Parks. 

Here we will be posting interesting and relevant articles, photos and tips for travelling in the area. Follow us to learn more about this fascinating area!

For more information on Southwest Adventure Tours please visit: www.southwestadventuretours.com or give us a call at 1-435-590-5864