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Tuzigoot National Monument | Travel (67/556)

Tuzigoot National Monument | Travel (67/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Tuzigoot National Monument is a lovely, quick drive from Sedona, Arizona. I spent the afternoon exploring the ruins, before a bit of rain and snow fell across the area. In addition to the ruins, the surrounding landscapes and mountain views are absolutely stunning. Definitely save extra time for exploring in your hiking shoes.

Tuzigoot National Monument | Travel (67/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. 110 Room Pueblo - a 1/3 mile trail guides you through the remains of this amazing structure.
  2. Tavasci Marsh Overlook - an easy half mile trail takes you to the scenic overlook.
  3. Tavasci Marsh Trail - a one mile trail is located at the end of Flycatcher Road. This is a shared use trail.
  4. Verde River - for now, enjoy the river view while driving into the park and from the scenic views. Much of the river resides on private land.
  5. Winter Bird Walks - a great opportunity to enjoy the weather during cooler months and a variety of bird sightings.

What are some of your favorite spots in Tuzigoot National Monument?

Tuzigoot National Monument | Travel (67/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Walnut Canyon National Monument | Travel (66/556)

Walnut Canyon National Monument | Travel (66/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) My first visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument filled me with anticipation for future visits. The wind was howling, a snow storm was chasing my tail from the north and some trails were still closed from the winter months. So many reasons to head back, and soon.

Walnut Canyon National Monument | Travel (66/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Archaeology Month - did you know March is archaeology month at the park? Stop in for a great learning experience.
  2. Canyon Ledge Hike - offered during the summer months, this strenuous hike offers a unique terrain along narrow ledges.
  3. Island Trail - a one mile hike taking you to 25 cliff dwelling rooms, in addition to fantastic canyon views.
  4. Ranger Cabin Walk - also available during summer, this easy stroll takes you to the restored 1904 Ranger Cabin.
  5. Rim Trail - only .70 miles, this trail takes you to canyon overlooks, pithouse, pueblo and skirts the rim of the canyon.

What are some of your favorite places to explore in Walnut Canyon National Monument?

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument | Travel (65/556)

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument | Travel (65/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) Eminent snow pushed me away from this amazing place a bit sooner than I would have liked. Definitely heading back in the near future for a bit more exploring around the dormant volcano and lava remnants.

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Aa Flow Trail - this short quarter mile trail takes you through the lava flow area. A new favorite!
  2. Cinder Hills Overlook - a quick drive to this overlook provides a fantastic view of Sunset Crater Volcano.
  3. Lava Flow Trail - an easy one mile hike at the base of Sunset Crater Volcano.
  4. Lenox Crater Trail - a steep one mile hike to the top of a volcano.
  5. O'Leary Peak Trail - the strenuous seven mile Forest Service trail takes you to the summit of this lava dome volcano.

Tell me all about your favorite places to explore in Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in the comments below!

Wupatki National Monument | Travel (64/556)

Wupatki National Monument | Travel (64/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) While fleeing a large snow storm in northern Arizona, I did a bit of National Monument hopping. Wupatki National Monument was stop number one. Due to preservation efforts, some hikes are guided and limited to small groups.

Wupatki National Monument | Travel (64/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Citadel and Nalakihu Pueblos - a somewhat steep quarter mile trail takes you to both pueblos. The view from the Citadel is stunning!
  2. Crack-in-Rock Hike - this hike is through a lottery system, offered during weekends in April and October. Taking on this 16 mile, strenuous overnight hike is on my bucket list!
  3. Wukoki Pueblo - an easy half mile hike takes you to this pueblo, frequented by wildlife.
  4. Lomaki and Box Canyon Pueblos - an easy half mile hike to a pair of pueblos overlooking small canyons.
  5. Wupatki Pueblo - the largest pueblo in the park with nearly 100 rooms. The half mile trail begins behind the visitor center.

Have you been to Wupatki National Monument? Tell me all about your favorite places to explore in the comments below!

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Oh how I love to revisit places. Especially when they are located in Arizona and Utah. February marked my third visit to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

As you will see in the photographs below, I focused on sunrise captures, with clouds that went on for miles.

Would love to hear all about your favorite spots in this national park unit, in the comments below!

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Travel (63/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography My second visit to the Lower Antelope Canyon was as stunning as my first. Slot canyons drop my jaw and widen my eyes. Every single time.

The main difference between this visit and my first was the inability to enter and tour the Lower Antelope Canyon alone. Since a second guide service now offers tours, traffic below the ground was a bit too chaotic to continue allowing photographers the privilege of self tours. An unfortunate, but understandable decision.

Here are some of my favorite captures from this visit.

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Lower Antelope Canyon | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Coconino National Forest | Travel (60/556)

Coconino National Forest | Travel (60/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Coconino National Forest encompasses a few of my favorites spots in Arizona, including Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. Hiking trails, overlooks, stunning views and camping spots seem nearly endless.

Coconino National Forest | Travel (60/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Aspen Loop No. 73 - an amazing 2.5 mile hike delivering seasonal wildflowers, grasses and, of course, aspens. The volcanic field is to the west and the Grand Canyon to the north. So much goodness!
  2. Barbershop Trail - a 4.5 mile trail in open woodlands and shallow canyons.
  3. Oak Creek Canyon - love this drive between Sedona and Flagstaff, along AZ-89A. Stunning, any time of year!
  4. Rim Road - located in the Mongollon Rim District, this scenic drive has impressive drop offs and beautiful overlooks.
  5. West Fork Oak Creek Trail - easily one of my favorite trails in the national forest. Red rock cliffs tower above, a creek runs through the canyon and endless foliage (with great color during fall). The first three miles are marked with the full trail going 14 miles between canyons. The latter requires wading through water and possible swimming, depending on the time of year!

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in the comments below!

Coconino National Forest | Travel (60/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Sedona | Travel

Sedona | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography My visits to Sedona have always been filled with great weather, moody clouds, fantastic hikes and meeting fun people. February in Sedona offered the same goodness and some of the moody clouds were even purple :)

Sedona | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Bell Rock-Courthouse Butte Slot Trail - a moderate 4.3 mile hike up a slot between Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. One of my personal favorites!
  2. Cathedral Rock Trail - rated as a hard 1.5 mile hike, this steep trek will take you to the saddle of Cathedral Rock.
  3. Chimney Rock Loop - a 2 mile moderate loop around the base of Chimney Rock.
  4. Red Rock Scenic Byway - this 7.5 mile stretch of State Route 179 is a National Scenic Byway, through Coconino National Forest and the beautiful red rocks.
  5. Tlaquepaque - an arts and crafts village in Sedona with numerous shops, places to eat, scenic outdoor spaces and beautiful buildings.

Would love to hear all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in and around Sedona, Arizona in the comments below!

Sedona | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Incoming Desert Snow | Photograph Story

Incoming Desert Snow | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Oh how I LOVE snow in the desert.

On the afternoon of New Year's Eve, my sister and I decided to drive up Mount Lemmon. Snow began to appear at the summit and the winding road was suggesting a retreat back to lower elevation :)

We made our way to Saguaro National Park and perfectly timed seeing the snow storm swiftly move across the mountains.

All the golden brown was covered with fresh white goodness. The saguaros had a thin layer of snow and ice. We danced a little in the big snowflakes. And then a rainbow appeared.

Such a special, fun and stunning moment in the desert. Sharing this rare occurrence with my sister made it all more exciting!

Flower Bee | Photograph Story

Flower Bee | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography This photograph comes from one of my favorite places in Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum was visited monthly, if not more often, while calling Arizona home. Saying I'm excited to stop by in October is an understatement :)

During my final visit, just two weeks before moving to Maryland, I came across these pastel, delicate flowers, humming with bees. A lovely photograph opportunity, if you ask me.

Bees require a bit of patience. They are swift and rarely interested in being models. Instead of chasing bees around the flowers, I decided to lock in on this particular bunch of goodness and waited for a bee to briefly stop by. One appeased me, for a few seconds, and I captured this photograph.

This was long before my macro lens joined the gear bag. Instead, a telephoto lens was used showing a bit more of the flower scene.

I quickly retreated to enjoy the rest of my stroll in the desert, and celebrated another non-bee sting moment surrounded by flowers.

White Horse | Photograph Story

White Horse | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography While living in Arizona, most errand trips resulted in me pulled over on the side of the road capturing photographs.

Old Spanish Trail was always my preferred road choice when driving back to Vail, from Tucson. Less traffic, close mountain views, guaranteed wildlife sightings, saguaro cactus goodness and a few ranches filled with horses were just a few of the highlights :)

This white horse always stood out in the desert landscape. Most days, the horses were far from the road trotting through the field. A beautiful and distant sight.

While cruising home one evening I noticed the horses were only about ten feet from the fence. And I was EXCITED.

After making a few u-turns, I made my way back to their location and parked my car. The horses came right to the fence and indulged me while capturing their portraits. Friendly and beautiful.

When I return to Arizona this fall, a drive down Old Spanish Trail is a must. I'm looking forward to the familiar views and seeing if these beauties are still roaming.

Sunlit Creosote | Photograph Story

Sunlit Creosote | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Oh how I LOVE light during the magic hours of the day. This capture comes from the end of the day in Saguaro National Park, Arizona.

So much goodness.

Evening drives have been part of my life since the age of seventeen. Well, with me behind the wheel :) I trust there were glorious drives sooner.

My heart and mind are always happy while out for a drive, whether cruising through open farm land with the windows down, along a coastal road or inside a national park.

Evening drives in Arizona happened almost nightly. I was so eager to explore and there was a national park just a handful of miles down the road.

The creosote bushes were just starting to bloom and this one caught my eye a little way down a dirt trail. The sun was just about done for the day, so I grabbed a headlamp for my walk back to the car.

Although the creosote was stunning the entire time I was on the trail, this moment was my favorite. The beams of light were softly pouring over the horizon line, giving the branches and blooms a gentle glow.

Looking at this photograph makes me want to be outside for the golden hours, every single day, taking in nature's goodness :)

Sunset Lookout | Photograph Story

Sunset Lookout | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography While living in Arizona, driving up Mount Lemmon for pie and sunsets was one of my favorite local trips. Perfect for a Sunday :)

This photograph was captured during one of my final Mount Lemmon trips, before moving across the country to Maryland.

Naturally, the day began with hiking and pie. While driving back down the mountain, I stopped at Windy Point Vista to take in sunset. Always a fantastic spot to watch the clouds roll in, changing stunning colors along the way.

Just as the sun made its final dip behind a large cloud, this hiker walked onto a large rock and paused to take in the view. His placement was perfect in the frame of my camera and I loved how his body was leaning with the clouds above.

Four more months and I will find myself on Mount Lemmon again. I trust it will be a wonderful reunion :)

Keystone Columns | Photograph Story

Keystone Columns | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Visiting the El Presidio Historic District in Tucson, Arizona was on my long list of places to see while living in the area. As luck would have it, I found myself within walking distance after a doctor appointment one morning.

Walking along the streets and seeing the old homes and buildings was a delight. Some were nice and colorful while others were a bit more modest with a splash of color here and there.

The white keystone columns with the green goodness growing through immediately stood out. I loved the contrast in colors as well as the cracked edges. Textures always pull me in for a closer look.

My walk was brief due to a sudden rain storm, leaving me and my iPhone 4s running through puddles back to my car :)

A mini adventure, if you will. I'm looking forward to a return visit later this year.