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Beyond the Grand Canyon: Arizona's awesome rocks Add to ...

Explorer John Wesley Powell was the first to find Glen Canyon a “pure delight,” and now the lake that bears his name delights a modern generation of tourists who visit its 96 sculptured sandstone canyons and more than 3,000 kilometres of shoreline via modern houseboats. Not only is it the most comfortable way to explore the many channels and side canyons, you can travel all the way to Rainbow Bridge, the world’s largest natural rock bridge, and one of more than 80 natural rock arches in the area. Rainbow Bridge is a sacred site for local first nations and a national monument – you’ll find a park ranger there who knows absolutely everything about this most impressive formation. nps.gov/rabr; pagelakepowelltourism.com

ANTELOPE CANYON

Back in Page, hook up with a Navajo guide and explore the magical Antelope Canyon – cool caverns washed into the desert landscape by spring flood waters and sculpted by sandy storms. A dusty drive in the back of an open 4-by-4 takes you to the entrance of these famed slot canyons, where sunlight pours through openings to the sky like tractor beams and the dramatically carved surfaces turn from orange and gold to magenta in the ever-changing light. You must have a guide for this tour – flash floods in these deep desert canyons still occur. In 2006, floods closed the Tribal Park for five months and in 1997, 11 tourists were killed by a flood. A one-hour guided tour is $25, or take the $40 two-hour photo tour – best between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – to capture the famous interplay between light and mineral. Bring a tripod. antelopecanyon.com; navajonationparks.org

IF YOU GO

Where to eat: The 1905 El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon has the finest dining room in the park and features dishes with an aboriginal twist. Try the prickly pear chicken with jalapeno jack cheese or Navajo taco, beef or vegetarian chili atop a big piece of fry bread with lots of fixings. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 928-638-2631; grandcanyonlodges.com

At the Tuuvi Café, across the highway from the Moenkopi Inn, they serve American and Hopi meals – hamburgers served on fry bread, Tuuvi taco with beans, or hominy stew with roasted green chilies. 928-283-4374

In Williams, Ariz., – the gateway to the Grand Canyon – you'll find the tallest homemade cream pies ever at Pine Country Restaurant. 107 N Grand Canyon Blvd., pinecountryrestaurant.com

Where to sleep: In Tuba City, stay at the new Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites, the first hotel to be built on Hopi tribal land in 50 years. With authentic native art throughout the hotel and evening talks with local elders, it's a way to connect with the Hopi culture. 928-283-4500; experiencehopi.com

In Williams, the Grand Canyon Hotel (built in 1891, it's the oldest hotel in Arizona) has rooms with private bath that start at $70. 928-635-1419; thegrandcanyonhotel.com.

On Lake Powell, rent a posh houseboat and explore with a bunch of your friends. The 75-foot Excursion houseboat with 2,400 square feet of cabin space, an upper deck, a flat-screen TV with tracking satellite, a hot tub and a fireplace, starts at $6,750 (U.S.) for four days. lakepowell.com



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