Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

I’m one of those confused souls who absolutely loves the cold of Colorado. There’s a subtle tour de force that it has on all the senses that captivates the body, mind, and imagination. The feeling of snow flakes brushing your cheeks, the smell of firewood burning, and the warm, soothing feeling of sipping on a hot cup of coffee. It’s a comfort and a challenge to the body and soul all at the same time. To come across that sensation in a majestic place like the Rocky Mountains just makes the experience all the more resounding. Having said all that, there comes a point when the nuance wears off, the altitude gets to your head, and the chill penetrates a little too deep.

Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between
Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

I had spent all winter in colorful Colorado, a long winter, and I was eager for a little change of scenery. As a former resident of Los Angeles before pursuing a life on the road, I figured it was the perfect time to revisit my old stomping grounds.

So I made my way down to sunny Southern California where I spent a couple of healthy weeks soaking in the vitamin D, hanging out and reconnecting with friends, and hitting up the beach every chance I could get. After accruing a semi-passable base tan, it finally came time for me to make my way back to Colorado.

Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between
Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

I wasn’t in any sort of rush to get back to the mountains, so I decided to extend my little vacation and take the long way back. I left Los Angeles and made my way up through Las Vegas, but what happens there stays there. Don’t let your imagination run wild, the only thing I won in Sin City was a head cold.

From Vegas, I made my way just a little further north into Zion National Park in Utah. I will say that there are far worse places to nurse a cold. Zion is a very tranquil place, a paradise in every sense of the word, complete with monumental rock formations, gentle flowing rivers, sweeping vistas, and only minimal traffic during the off-season.

Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between
Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

By the time my sinuses had cleared, I was ready to ramble on. From Zion, I cut down to Page, Arizona, which is where Horseshoe Bend (one of my favorite spots) is located. I remember the first time I saw Horseshoe Bend. The majestic and grand scale of it was more than my mind and my humble 28mm lens could comprehend.

It’s a place I love going back to again and again. The moment you walk right up to the edge and the earth opens up before you to reveal this natural masterpiece will never cease to leave you breathless. Sure, there are tourists all along the edge snagging their selfies, but Horseshoe Bend is plenty big enough to share.

Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between
Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

I’ve passed through Page several times throughout my travels. Every time, there have been flash flood warnings in the Lake Powell area, which prevents you from entering into the slot canyons in the adjacent washes. This time, I was determined to finally venture into Antelope Canyon.

I had prayed away any storm cloud that dared to rain on my parade and I even decided to shell out the extra money for the professional photography tour provided Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. It was absolutely worth it. Going into Antelope Canyon was one of the biggest challenges in my photography career. You are battling light, dust, traffic, and other photographers. But man, is it rewarding. It didn't even feel like a real place, the experience itself was almost surreal, but at least I have the photos to prove at least to myself that it was real.

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After I dusted off my clothes and my gear, I set a northbound course for Moab, Utah. Spring break was still a week or so away, but I really wanted to get my Moab fix before the breakers came flooding in. I spent mornings in Canyonlands witnessing the sunrise through Mesa Arch, afternoons in Arches exploring the gardens of dreamlike formations, and evenings with my head in the clouds as the setting sun painted the sky with vibrant hues of pink and gold.

Moab is a place to be thrilled and awed by the subtlest things. It’s a place of extremes; extreme sports, extreme conditions, and extreme beauty. And if you decide to go during spring break, extreme crowds.

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From Moab, it was just a short climb back up into the mountains to my current home base in Denver. I was ready to sleep in a real bed, as opposed to the back of my car. But like all of my individual journeys, I was sad to see it come to an end. I love collecting experiences that make me think to myself, “How can it get better than this?” There’s a warmer destination, a break in the storm, or your own personal paradise somewhere along any road. Things can always get better as long as your willing to just keep driving.

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Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between
Colorado to California Road Trip: Mountains, Coast and Everything In-Between

About The Author

Joshua Winders, a misplaced Georgian, is a portrait, lifestyle, and adventure photographer who is constantly on the move. After honing in on the photographic medium in Los Angeles, Joshua began traveling full time capturing moments, meeting people, and collecting memories and stories on the road. Joshua is an explorer and true artisan at heart constantly searching for ways to stretch his abilities and ultimately grow and develop as a young man. To delve into more of Joshua's stories; visit his website, follow him on Instagram and check out his Youtube channel.