• CONTACT US if you have any problems registering for the forums.

United States Trip Report: 8 nights in Arizona in November 2021

devarae

100+ Posts
Hi folks! After two years of no vacation travel my husband and I are spending 8 nights in Arizona! Thank you to all who mentioned it as an option last year when we were planning. So far it's been wonderful and definitely a nice change of scenery (and temperature) from our home in Maine.

We left home Friday Nov 5, traveling via bus to Logan airport, then flying direct on American Airlines to Phoenix. The flight took just over five hours (shorter than scheduled) and was very full, but well run. We were also really happy that everyone appeared to be taking the mask mandate seriously. Also, I really love Biscoff cookies so it was fun to get those as a snack on the flight! :)

We arrived, got our bags, and easily found the shuttle to the rental car center which is about a 10 min drive away. There were at least a hundred other folks in line for the shuttle bus but there were also about 3 shuttles waiting and 3 more that arrived within minutes so it was fine. I was worried we might have to wait for our car because we were early and because it was so busy but that also went without any hitch. The rental car center is a giant complex but they make it very easy to get your car and we were on the road about an hour after landing.

We drove to our AirBnB rental in Scottsdale and checked ourselves in and got settled and changed into lighter clothing (having come from temps in the 30s to temps in the 80s!). The apartment is nice, modern and clean with a very comfortable bed and a nice kitchen. We were pretty exhausted and also hungry so we set off on foot to explore the Old Scottsdale area and find somewhere to eat.

Scottsdale isn't a place I'd want to spend a lot of time as it seems mostly oriented towards shopping and partying (we saw the "party bus" go past several times, and at least five groups of women on bachelorette outings) but I'm happy with it as a place to recover from our long travel day. The mood in town is festive and active and we enjoyed the various "old west" decorations. We ended up eating at Hula Modern Tiki, where we had some excellent tropical mocktails (we don't drink alcohol but love fun beverages) and some delicious Jamaican-Hawaiian platters (with plenty to take home for leftovers).

We walked home, drove to a nearby grocery store to pick up a few things (there wasn't any sort of market close enough to walk, alas) and that was it for our first day.

Today (Saturday) will be our first full vacation day, but we are taking the morning slow. My husband slept in while I walked around town enjoying the pedestrian-friendly area near the canal, and visiting the Scottsdale Farmer's Market, which was quite impressive, with fruit and veg, baked goods, beignets, paella, tamales andmore! I got a purple lemonade flavored with prickly pear that was a nice treat as the weather started to heat up. We're going to have a quick lunch of leftovers in the apartment before heading out to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home, Taliesen West, for a tour.

Photos are the delicious mocktails, a fountain in Old Scottsdale, and the canal area with pedestrian paths along the sides.

PXL_20211106_005408950.PORTRAIT.jpg


PXL_20211106_144639453.MP.jpg


PXL_20211106_145249067.jpg
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Continuing with the second half of our first full day:

We drove out to Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed American architect, for our 1PM tour. I actually didn't know all that much about Wright personally but I do love his aesthetic and thus appreciated seeing the site. It was fascinating to see the choices made by Wright and his apprentices to construct buildings with an intention of reflecting the natural environment. It made me want to read a biography with more information not just on Wright but on the young apprentices who paid a not-insubstantial fee to come work for him in the middle of the desert, creating these structures with limited resources.

They were setting up for a wedding at the site and we heard that it costs 40K just to rent the site! It looked like it was going to be quite the event...!

After our hour-long tour we headed back to Scottsdale and parked at the large mall (free parking) as we were going to be seeing the installations at Wonderspaces there later in the evening. We spent some time wandering around the Old Town, picked up some Boba Tea, and eventually got a very good early dinner on the patio at Barrio Queen (we shared Mexican street corn, chicken mole poblano and a large chopped salad with beans, cotija, pomegranate and avocado). Bob got some horchata (sweet rice milk drink) that was delicious and tasted sort of like rice pudding in drink form.

By then it was getting dark and there was a special light show going on along the canal so we spent some time admiring the various beautiful displays. It was quite crowded and festive!

After that we went into the mall (enormous and crowded) then to Wonderspaces, where we enjoyed the various art installations, including a beautiful 9 minute virtual reality movie (you wear a headset thing that is sanitized after use) and a completely dark room filled with thousands of invisible threads with small lights on them that gradually turn on so that it feels like you're drifting in a sea of stars. We enjoyed the experience but were glad to drive home and watch a bit of the Great British Baking Show before bed.

This morning I'm up early doing laundry in the apartment's laundry room (we had just enough quarters for one load of wash/dry!) before we check out and head north to the Grand Canyon!

Wright's bedroom, with a barrier installed by his wife so that when he woke in the middle of the night with some new inspiration he wouldn't wake her up! Unfair that her side is so much smaller though, in my opinion :)

PXL_20211106_203107044.jpg

More Taliesin West:
PXL_20211106_204521903.jpg


Dinner!

PXL_20211107_001838257.jpg


This was a large hoop around a pedestrian bridge that gave off mist every few minutes to cool folks down as they wandered along the light show...
PXL_20211107_010923587.jpg
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Day 2 of vacation: After a morning doing chores and taking a last walk around Scottsdale, we headed north to the Grand Canyon. It is theoretically a 2 hour drive but there was a detour that delayed us, and we decided to go through Sedona so we'd be more familiar with the route when we drive it again later so that was a bit slower.

We stopped for lunch at the Indian Gardens Cafe, with outside seating under the trees where I had a really delicious salad (it came with fried halloumi cheese which they forgot and brought later so that's not in the photo) and a slice of pumpkin cake, yum! The area outside was lovely and felt a little like Rivendell (from the Lord of the Rings movies) with the softly falling golden leaves.

After that it was more driving, a few stops for bathrooms/scenic overlooks) and we arrived at the Grand Canyon, bought our park pass, and got to the area by Mather Point about 20 minutes before sunset. The sun actually sets over the trees, not the canyon (at least at this time of year) but the light strikes the rocks and turns them very vivid. It was crowded and even though there were signs saying masks were required even outside hardly anyone was wearing them, alas. But we found some quiet spots and enjoyed the scenery very much! Then we went off to check into our room at Maswik lodge, took a short walk around (it is very dark! We needed to use our phones as flashlights to get safely along the sidewalks) to check out El Tovar and look at the stars near Bright Angel, ate some leftovers for dinner, and went to bed.

The room is quite nice-- comfortable king bed, small fridge, a coffee maker I have used successfully to make hot water for tea without it tasting too much like coffee. :) It's larger than I expected and has a tub (I love hot baths).

I'm up early this morning plotting to see the sunrise and then do a solo hike down into the canyon (not all the way!) while Bob sleeps in!
PXL_20211107_210128169.jpg

PXL_20211107_211632085.PORTRAIT.jpg
PXL_20211108_002012592.jpg
PXL_20211108_003333213.jpg
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Vacation Day 3: I headed out in the pre-dawn dark to see the sunrise near Mather Point (probably the most popular sunrise and sunset spot since it's near the main Visitor Center). I drove over (confusing in the dark!) and made it out to the rim just as the sky was starting to get light along the east. There were already plenty of other folks there, and more continued to arrive. I found a spot further to the east where I could be away from the large crowds. I may not have had the prime views but the peace was worth it! I think I was there about 45 min before actual sunrise, but I had my tea and croissant to sustain me, and I did enjoy watching the changing colors both of the sky and the stones of the canyon. I think it was actually more impressive than sunset for me.

After that I headed back to my car to leave behind my warm coat, then got a shuttle over to the South Kaibab Trail Head (only accessible by shuttle) for an early hike down into the canyon. I think this hike was probably the highlight of my visit. As impressive as the canyon is from the rim, it was an even more powerful experience seeing it from below. It took me about an hour to get down to Cedar Ridge, stopping quite often for photos. It was very windy and I wished I had lip balm and a band to keep flyaway hair out of my face! The descent made my stomach lurch a couple times, with the sheer drops alongside some parts of the trail. At Cedar Ridge there was a restroom but no water.

The climb back up took me about an hour and a half and was a lot more strenuous! I wished I'd had more than one bottle of water!

After that I took the orange shuttle back to the Visitor's Center, with a stop at Yaki Point to check out the gorgeous views there. I'd also read that Yaki is popular for sunrises and was considering coming there the next day (ultimately I didn't do that because it would have required more shuttle/car time and I wanted to go somewhere less popular).

Back at the Visitor Center I refilled my water and got a hot chai from the cafe at the bike rental place, which had a good selection of to-go items and even had microwaves for reheating them. The chai was very good too!

I drove back to Maswik to meet my husband Bob, who had slept in, and we walked over to Bright Angel Lodge (5-10 min) where we got hot lunches to go from Harvey's and ate outside on a bench near the overlook. The food was pretty decent and tasted fresh. Bob had a hot turkey sandwich and I had a Beyond burger, with side salads.

Refreshed and ready for more, we went over to the start of the red bus line that goes out to Hermit's Rest along a shuttle-only road with several other spots to stop. You can also hike between the stops along the Rim Trail, which varies from flat/paved to bumpy/gravel in places. We hiked a couple short sections, getting on and off the shuttles, until we reached Hermit's Rest, where there were restrooms, water, and a cool old stone building that now served as a snack bar/gift shop.

We were pretty tired out by then and we knew we needed to get our warm coats if we were going to stay out to watch the sun set, so we headed back again to the Village area. We'd seen they had ice cream cones at Bright Angel and that sounded like just the thing to keep us going. Yum!

We got our coats from nearby Maswik, then took the shuttle back east again to Hopi Point, which is one of the most popular sunset viewpoints. By then it was about 45 minutes before sunset so we could see some of the light starting to strike the canyon walls. It was impressive but I found the gathering crowds a bit oppressive and the colors in general were not as vivid as the previous night, probably due to differences in the cloud cover.

We decided to walk the .3 miles west to Powell Point to see what that was like, and were glad to have done so. Powell was one of my favorite overlooks of all! You walk out along a narrow jutting finger of stone to a nice spot with views both east and west. There are some trees so maybe that's why it's not as popular? I decided at that point to come back to Powell the next morning for sunrise.

As it was getting dark and the sky itself was not particularly dramatic, we decided to leave while it was still light enough to see our way. We took the shuttle back to the Village and then drove over to the Market area where we found the large grocery store and got some things we could eat for dinner (hot sandwiches and some ramen I made with hot water from the coffee-maker in the hotel room). And that was it for the day. My feet were sore and I was very glad for the comfortable bed.

Photos are from sunrise near Mather, and along the South Kaibab trail.

PXL_20211108_134256869.jpg
PXL_20211108_151725434.jpg
PXL_20211108_153102456.jpg
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Day 4:

This was a travel day, leaving the Grand Canyon and heading to Sedona for the last four nights of our trip, but I wanted to make the most of it so I once again headed out early to catch the sun rising over the canyon. This time I walked over (very short walk, since I discovered a short cut behind our hotel) to the Red Shuttle pickup. I thought I'd need to wait until 6:30 but a shuttle came at 6:15 which was good because it was very cold even with my winter coat on! It was just me and one other passenger. The driver tried to convince me to go to Hopi point but I stuck to Powell and was very glad I did. I was the only one there from 6:20 until 7 (sunrise was at 7) and it was so peaceful. The sky was more overcast than the day before, meaning that there were more colors, but no sudden "there's the sun!" moment as the sun was hidden by clouds after it rose above the horizon. I loved it though, and was very glad I got out so early to appreciate the gradual warming of colors in both the sky and reflected light on the canyon itself.

I could hear voices drifting from nearby Hopi and could see there were at least a dozen folks at that overlook. Eventually about four other folks showed up at Powell and immediately climbed out on the stones to the edge right in front of me. I don't mind the people so much as the fact that it's nerve-wracking watching them dangle themselves over the edges! But I'd had my private sunrise so I didn't begrudge them enjoying it in their own way. I headed back to the bus stop and caught a shuttle to the village, where I returned to our room to have tea and cereal.

After some fortification, I decided to do one last hike down into the canyon, along the Bright Angel trail which begins only a few minutes walk from Maswik. I was excited to see a caravan of mules preparing to descend in the pen near the trailhead! But also nervous about them catching up and needing to pass me. Thankfully the trail appeared to have plenty of areas to step aside so I plunged onward.

The day was a bit overcast so the views were not quite as stunning as the previous day, but still overwhelming. Bright Angel trail seemed a bit smoother, especially at the top, and actually passes through two different short tunnel/passages in the stone along the way. I hiked down about 45 minutes to the second of these, which was where the mules caught up with me. I'm still not sure I'd be comfortable trusting one on those trails but I suppose they have as much of a sense of self-preservation as I do! Maybe next time! I watched them continue on, enjoying how the sound of their hooves clattered and echoed from the canyon, then turned back to ascend. I made it back up in about an hour, with plenty of breaks to rest. Overall I preferred the views from South Kaibab but then I didn't go as far on Bright Angel so it's hard to compare them.

And then it was time to check out! Bob and I packed up, loaded the car, and bid farewell to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Post Office to mail out post cards, and were on our way, heading east towards Cameron.

We enjoyed this drive a lot, and stopped at a handful of the dramatic overlooks along the way, ending with the Desert View Watchtower, where we were able to get some water/tea and use the facilities, as well as getting a last gorgeous look at the canyon.

I think for us, staying two nights was the perfect amount of time. The GC is so overwhelming that I'm not sure we could have appreciated any more than that! And since Bob has knee issues (he's still healing from knee surgery) we couldn't do too much significant hiking. I would certainly go back again, maybe in the spring to see what it's like in a different season. Or to explore the North or West areas of the park.

We headed on out of the park, into the more open deserty landscape and eventually to the Cameron Trading Post. We were curious about Navajo Tacos and decided to stop there to sample some. Bob got the traditional, with beef and beans, and I got the veggie version with refried beans. They were tasty and fresh but very substantial (I only ate part of mine) and not something I need to eat more than once in my lifetime. :) We got our meals to go and ate outside in the back at some picnic tables overlooking a somewhat bleak rocky gorge. The trading post had lots of crafts and art as well, many of them actually authentic, and we enjoyed looking around.

Then it was onward to Sedona, taking the somewhat nerve-wracking drive along 89A with a set of steep hairpin curves down from the high elevations and into the Red Rock area. We arrived at our rental and got settled in easily. It's small, but comfortable. I was still pretty full of Navajo Taco but we decided to walk around town to scope things out.

Sedona is definitely very touristy! There are lots of candle and jewelry and crystal stores, and plenty of dining places. It's not a place I would want to spend a lot of time hanging around in, but it is convenient to have so much within walking distance of our apartment. We eventually settled on Thai food for dinner, eating outside with a heat lamp to keep us warm. We admired the colorful skies as the sun set. Hopefully we can see them from one of the trails at some point!

After that it was home to do laundry, watch some Baking Impossible, and head to bed to rest up for another day.

Here's a video of the mules on the trail below me:



And Navajo Tacos!

PXL_20211109_204930599.PORTRAIT.jpg


Pre-sunrise at Powell Point:

PXL_20211109_134915695.jpg
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We did one of the hikes down into the canyon many years ago. I think it was the one from your mules video because I remember mules. We didn’t get to the very bottom. I always meant to do another trip when we lived in Santa Fe but I didn’t which I regret.

We have been to Sedona many times. We even considered moving there at one time but the touristy part is off putting. Still, everything else is wonderful. We’ve done a few hikes there. There is a restaurant that we liked to go to - I checked and it is still there - Thai Spices, which has good vegetarian options and some macrobiotic dishes (that is our background). It is a bit out of the center. I also remember eating cactus in one of the restaurants in the center.

Thanks for posting all these details! I miss the southwest (of the US, I live in the southwest of the UK - very different).
 

devarae

100+ Posts
There is a restaurant that we liked to go to - I checked and it is still there - Thai Spices, which has good vegetarian options and some macrobiotic dishes (that is our background). It is a bit out of the center. I also remember eating cactus in one of the restaurants in the center.
We drove by Thai Spices yesterday! It looks good. I noticed cactus on the menu of the cowboy-themed restaurant in the center. I will let you know if I try it!

It's a gorgeous area aside from the touristy parts and I already can tell I'm going to want to come back to the south west again!
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Day 5: I headed out at a bit after 7 to do a hike, hoping to beat the crowds to the parking lots (and take advantage of cooler morning weather). I'd read about the Soldier's Pass trail and it sounded cool, and I had found there was a way to access it from the Jordan Road Trailhead which is relatively close to our apartment. I was a bit concerned because I couldn't figure out from the websites whether I needed a Red Rock pass to park there but I had seen someone post on another travel board that you could buy them at kiosks if they were required.

The road to the trailhead was very bumpy and I got confused by a tiny overflow parking area along the way, and ended up doing some extra walking back and forth before I realized there was a larger area further on with bathrooms, parking kiosk, and large sign saying yes, you do need the Red Rock Pass there. Fortunately I was able to use the kiosk and get a week pass so I am all set for the rest of the visit. There were about five other cars in the lot and more arriving every few minutes!

I set off along the Cibola trail, which passes through the gorgeous Red Rock terrain with views of several of the large stone towers (buttes?). It was gorgeous right from the start and I kept saying "WOW" to myself over and over. I was glad there were a few other folks on the trail since I was alone and not entirely sure of the way.

It took about 30 minutes to get from Jordan to the start of Soldier's Pass (via Cibola and then Jordan trails). Some of the places were confusing but I navigated via my GPS/googlemaps and the prints of boots in the dusty earth. There were also stone cairns in some places to indicate the right way.

I took a sidetrip to the Soldier's Pass parking lot to use the restroom there, then continued on. This area was busier but if you wait long enough large groups will pass and you can have relative peace. I also hike with a single earbud in playing music sometimes if there are a lot of folks nearby. :)

Soldier's Pass was beautiful, passing between several more of the tall, alien (to my New Englander eyes) stone pillars and outcroppings. The trail was rough in places, requiring some scrambling and large steps, with a bit of up and down. I was going to check out the Seven Sacred Pools when the trail passed near them, and there was a Jeep Tour group (a Jeep trail runs parallel to the trail I was on, which is only for walkers/bikes/horses) there already so I decided to get a closer look on my return trip. The pools were also not particularly dramatic as only four were full (it depends on recent rain I think) and in shadows still at that hour.

Continuing on, I was on the lookout for a side trail up to some large "secret" caves I had read about. They are not posted on the trail map but they are also not particularly secret, it seems, because everyone else on the trail was headed that way and the trail was fairly obvious. To get up to the caves required considerably more climbing/scrambling but it was worth it! There are three large half-circle caves you can stand inside looking out over the beautiful valley. One of them has a place you can climb up onto a ledge so you are sort of inside the upper part of the cave. I went up just part way as I was alone and even though there were about a dozen other people nearby I didn't want to risk a fall.

I took a break in one of the non-climbable caves to have a snack and water, before heading back down. It was getting hotter by then, but still comfortable. I retraced my steps back to Jordan Road Trailhead and got there around 10:30, so the entire hike was about 3 hours. By then the lot was full with at least four cars waiting for spots!

I headed home where I needed a shower and a change of clothes due to all the red dust! After cleaning up, Bob and I headed out to get lunch. We went to Tamaliza, which is on the way to West Sedona, and had a really tasty meal-- Bob's Chicken Mole enchilada and the homemade horchata were both good enough to go back for!

Fortified, we drove onward on 89A to Jerome, the old mining town that is now a "ghost town" because of the dramatic decrease in population since the mine closed. I believe it was 15K at its height, and one of the biggest cities in Arizona. Now it still has several thousand residents, and is mostly a tourist spot. It was a bit grim but also discordant with the colorful tourist stores and art galleries set precariously on the side of the bleak, bare brown hills. Our favorite part was visiting the Gold King Mine Ghost Town which is a sort of weird enormous junkpile of old cars, tools, and small shacks set up with thousands of artifacts from the last century and earlier. It's kind of a shambles but it was visually engaging and atmospheric in a sort of retro post-apocalyptic way.

We visited the Jerome Historic Park as well, which had some interesting exhibits, but overall was not necessarily something I'd go out of my way to see unless I had a specific interest.

After that we headed back to Sedona (it's about a 35 min drive) and stopped at the Cultural Park Trailhead to enjoy the beautiful views of the region and a short, flat walk (only about a half mile). The sun was setting by then so the light was dramatic. We decided to drive up to the famous Airport Mesa Overlook even knowing we would likely not be able to actually park. It was even MORE crowded than I expected, with a giant parking area that was full, and a large crowd gathered to watch the sunset. I'm glad we didn't try to watch it from there since it seemed very chaotic! We turned around up at the airport and went back down, stopped for gas, then headed to get dinner at an Italian place associated with one of the many large resort compounds along 89A. That meal was also chaotic (they probably shouldn't have taken our reservation as they seemed very understaffed) but the bruschetta, bread and Bob's lasagna were all very good (my pasta was just okay).

We stopped at the grocery store for a few things then headed home to rest up for another day!

Photos from the day:
PXL_20211110_145231216.jpg
PXL_20211110_153526606.jpg
PXL_20211110_163534343.jpg
PXL_20211110_192616315.jpg
PXL_20211110_205322145.jpg
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Beautiful photos! I am surprised at how crowded the trails are. Maybe more Americans are traveling in the country instead of going abroad? That’s what happened in the UK this year. Holiday areas were very crowded. Your food photos are great!
 

Georgia & Zig

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Day 2 of vacation: After a morning doing chores and taking a last walk around Scottsdale, we headed north to the Grand Canyon. It is theoretically a 2 hour drive but there was a detour that delayed us, and we decided to go through Sedona so we'd be more familiar with the route when we drive it again later so that was a bit slower.

We stopped for lunch at the Indian Gardens Cafe, with outside seating under the trees where I had a really delicious salad (it came with fried halloumi cheese which they forgot and brought later so that's not in the photo) and a slice of pumpkin cake, yum! The area outside was lovely and felt a little like Rivendell (from the Lord of the Rings movies) with the softly falling golden leaves.

After that it was more driving, a few stops for bathrooms/scenic overlooks) and we arrived at the Grand Canyon, bought our park pass, and got to the area by Mather Point about 20 minutes before sunset. The sun actually sets over the trees, not the canyon (at least at this time of year) but the light strikes the rocks and turns them very vivid. It was crowded and even though there were signs saying masks were required even outside hardly anyone was wearing them, alas. But we found some quiet spots and enjoyed the scenery very much! Then we went off to check into our room at Maswik lodge, took a short walk around (it is very dark! We needed to use our phones as flashlights to get safely along the sidewalks) to check out El Tovar and look at the stars near Bright Angel, ate some leftovers for dinner, and went to bed.

The room is quite nice-- comfortable king bed, small fridge, a coffee maker I have used successfully to make hot water for tea without it tasting too much like coffee. :) It's larger than I expected and has a tub (I love hot baths).

I'm up early this morning plotting to see the sunrise and then do a solo hike down into the canyon (not all the way!) while Bob sleeps in!View attachment 33820
View attachment 33821View attachment 33822View attachment 33823
We were there in October and loved it. We didn’t hike down, but watched the people coming back up and how tired they were. Then we were happy to not hike down. But we got some gorgeous pictures from the rim trail.
F52FA3DC-48FE-4F35-B594-AA8226E80019.jpeg

Day 4:

This was a travel day, leaving the Grand Canyon and heading to Sedona for the last four nights of our trip, but I wanted to make the most of it so I once again headed out early to catch the sun rising over the canyon. This time I walked over (very short walk, since I discovered a short cut behind our hotel) to the Red Shuttle pickup. I thought I'd need to wait until 6:30 but a shuttle came at 6:15 which was good because it was very cold even with my winter coat on! It was just me and one other passenger. The driver tried to convince me to go to Hopi point but I stuck to Powell and was very glad I did. I was the only one there from 6:20 until 7 (sunrise was at 7) and it was so peaceful. The sky was more overcast than the day before, meaning that there were more colors, but no sudden "there's the sun!" moment as the sun was hidden by clouds after it rose above the horizon. I loved it though, and was very glad I got out so early to appreciate the gradual warming of colors in both the sky and reflected light on the canyon itself.

I could hear voices drifting from nearby Hopi and could see there were at least a dozen folks at that overlook. Eventually about four other folks showed up at Powell and immediately climbed out on the stones to the edge right in front of me. I don't mind the people so much as the fact that it's nerve-wracking watching them dangle themselves over the edges! But I'd had my private sunrise so I didn't begrudge them enjoying it in their own way. I headed back to the bus stop and caught a shuttle to the village, where I returned to our room to have tea and cereal.

After some fortification, I decided to do one last hike down into the canyon, along the Bright Angel trail which begins only a few minutes walk from Maswik. I was excited to see a caravan of mules preparing to descend in the pen near the trailhead! But also nervous about them catching up and needing to pass me. Thankfully the trail appeared to have plenty of areas to step aside so I plunged onward.

The day was a bit overcast so the views were not quite as stunning as the previous day, but still overwhelming. Bright Angel trail seemed a bit smoother, especially at the top, and actually passes through two different short tunnel/passages in the stone along the way. I hiked down about 45 minutes to the second of these, which was where the mules caught up with me. I'm still not sure I'd be comfortable trusting one on those trails but I suppose they have as much of a sense of self-preservation as I do! Maybe next time! I watched them continue on, enjoying how the sound of their hooves clattered and echoed from the canyon, then turned back to ascend. I made it back up in about an hour, with plenty of breaks to rest. Overall I preferred the views from South Kaibab but then I didn't go as far on Bright Angel so it's hard to compare them.

And then it was time to check out! Bob and I packed up, loaded the car, and bid farewell to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Post Office to mail out post cards, and were on our way, heading east towards Cameron.

We enjoyed this drive a lot, and stopped at a handful of the dramatic overlooks along the way, ending with the Desert View Watchtower, where we were able to get some water/tea and use the facilities, as well as getting a last gorgeous look at the canyon.

I think for us, staying two nights was the perfect amount of time. The GC is so overwhelming that I'm not sure we could have appreciated any more than that! And since Bob has knee issues (he's still healing from knee surgery) we couldn't do too much significant hiking. I would certainly go back again, maybe in the spring to see what it's like in a different season. Or to explore the North or West areas of the park.

We headed on out of the park, into the more open deserty landscape and eventually to the Cameron Trading Post. We were curious about Navajo Tacos and decided to stop there to sample some. Bob got the traditional, with beef and beans, and I got the veggie version with refried beans. They were tasty and fresh but very substantial (I only ate part of mine) and not something I need to eat more than once in my lifetime. :) We got our meals to go and ate outside in the back at some picnic tables overlooking a somewhat bleak rocky gorge. The trading post had lots of crafts and art as well, many of them actually authentic, and we enjoyed looking around.

Then it was onward to Sedona, taking the somewhat nerve-wracking drive along 89A with a set of steep hairpin curves down from the high elevations and into the Red Rock area. We arrived at our rental and got settled in easily. It's small, but comfortable. I was still pretty full of Navajo Taco but we decided to walk around town to scope things out.

Sedona is definitely very touristy! There are lots of candle and jewelry and crystal stores, and plenty of dining places. It's not a place I would want to spend a lot of time hanging around in, but it is convenient to have so much within walking distance of our apartment. We eventually settled on Thai food for dinner, eating outside with a heat lamp to keep us warm. We admired the colorful skies as the sun set. Hopefully we can see them from one of the trails at some point!

After that it was home to do laundry, watch some Baking Impossible, and head to bed to rest up for another day.

Here's a video of the mules on the trail below me:

View attachment 33827

And Navajo Tacos!

View attachment 33828

Pre-sunrise at Powell Point:

View attachment 33829
We had the Navajo tacos on fry bread! Yumm!

8F5B633F-6648-4000-B303-1B738F110AC6.jpeg
 

Georgia & Zig

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Beautiful photos! I am surprised at how crowded the trails are. Maybe more Americans are traveling in the country instead of going abroad? That’s what happened in the UK this year. Holiday areas were very crowded. Your food photos are great!
Yes, Zig and I went out West in October because we were tired of staying home in Kentucky for a year!
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Pauline, that was indeed the case for us: we weren't comfortable making a trip abroad but really wanted to go somewhere different than New England, so we came out to Arizona. On our Pink Jeep tour yesterday we had four people from Illinois and another two from Florida.

Georgia, I'm glad you got nice blue skies for your Grand Canyon trip! Those are great photos!

Day 6: Wednesday, November 11. Starting to feel the end of vacation creeping up on us now! Just one more day in Sedona and then our travel day back home to Maine. It's been a great trip though, and while I'm not excited about returning to colder weather and less sun, I am looking forward to being home again, especially seeing our dog again. I think the best sort of vacation is when you don't want to leave the place you are, but you also have reasons to want to go home!

I headed out early again because I wanted to hike/climb Cathedral Rock and knew it was very popular. It's a good thing I did because when I arrived at just after sunrise both lots were almost full! I guess a lot of folks arrived in the dark to climb up and watch the sun rise from the top! I found the (stinky, almost overflowing) toilet, then headed on along the trail with a few other folks. I was never really alone on this hike, but that was reassuring since it involved a lot of scrambling up rocks, more climbing than hiking. I was very glad I have good leg strength and the flexibility to do deep squats! I met a handful of folks who decided not to attempt it. But even getting partway up you have dramatic views of the rocks above you, as well as the surrounding valley.

I eventually made it to the top. Since it was still early and cool, and the climb was short, I wasn't as worn out as I feared. I explored the sort of saddle area between the two "spires" of the Cathedral, marveling at the immensity of the stone. It's just so impressive to be up close to them!

After my brain had taken in all it could, I started back down. I was worried it would be nerve-wracking but it was fine (especially compared to going down the trails at the Grand Canyon!) and I just embraced the fact that I was going to get covered in dust and slid on my butt down a bunch of the smooth stones.

I explored some side trails that afforded more angles on the rocks and the valley, and then returned to my car. There was a line of about five cars waiting on the street/in the lot, and more arriving every minute it seemed. I wouldn't have wanted to get stuck in that line as it seemed like you might end up trapped behind other cars that were willing to wait longer than you were. Fortunately it was easy to get out, and I headed onward.

It was only around 9:30 at that point, so I decided to drive past some other nearby trail heads to see if there were any parking spots. I found none at the Courthouse, but did find one at Bell Rock. I got out and hiked up partway. The trail is nice and smooth to start, but eventually turns into more of a boulder-scramble if you want to actually climb up the rock. I'd had enough climbing for the day, and was out of water by then, so I turned back.

I had one more stop planned before I returned to the apartment to meet Bob: I wanted to check out the Tlaquepaque shopping area as we were thinking of going there later and I wanted to scout out parking. The traffic was getting very congested by then on 179, the main (only!) road linking Oak Creek and Upper Sedona, but I managed to find the turn into Tlaquepaque and found parking pretty easily. The area is modeled on an old Mexican architectural style and has lovely cobbled paths, lots of trees and greenery, statuary and fountains. I picked up some delicious chai at The Chai Spot, one traditional (like you can get at an Indian restaurant, not Starbucks-style) and one "Butter Chai" which is pink and slightly salty.

I brought the chai home to share with Bob and we decided to head back to Tlaquepaque so he could see it and to have lunch at El Rincon, the Mexican restaurant there, which had outside seating. We enjoyed this and Bob also found himself the souvenir he'd been looking for, a leather hat (sort of a cowboy style I think? I don't know a lot about hats!). Lunch at El Rincon was tasty as well, and we only had to wait a short time for seating outside.

We wandered around a bit more, explored the park area along the creek, and then headed back to drop our car at the apartment as we had a Pink Jeep tour scheduled for 3PM. Fortunately it's only a short walk from our rental to the jeep office in uptown Sedona, and we checked in as requested at 2:30. We waited in a nice scenic overlook area where there were bathrooms and water refill station available. Eventually our driver arrived (traffic was very bad, possibly because it was Veterans' Day) and we boarded our Pink Jeep with six other passengers. Bob and I were on the side (the back was supposed to be the bounciest).

Our driver was engaging and capable, but also made a couple of racist jokes about Native Americans which I did not appreciate. But the real star was the scenery and that was gorgeous! We drove out along the Broken Arrow trail, and got to see some really beautiful views of the Chicken Point rocks and others. The jeep ride itself was fun, and did not make me sick or anything. It was a bit harrowing as the drivers deliberately go close to some edges and down some really steep slopes! I'll include a video below that we took of another jeep doing so (after we had just gone through it ourselves).

After our 2 hour tour we were tired out and just went home to have leftovers and watch tv and do laundry, so that was our day!

Jeep Tour video:


Cathedral Rock! This is from halfway up, on a side trail. I climbed up to the area between the two outcroppings. I think the trail goes up along the right slope. It was mostly about a 45 degree angle.

PXL_20211111_154635699.jpg


Bob in his new hat!

PXL_20211111_231407263.PORTRAIT.jpg
 

devarae

100+ Posts
Nice trip and excellent write up. My wife has a lot of relatives around Phoenix and Tucson, so we go to Arizona every couple of years. You mentioned returning in the future. The southern half has a lot of old west history in towns like Bisbee and Tombstone.
Thank you! Yes, I could definitely see returning and visiting the southern part of the state, as well as New Mexico. And I would love to do a trip to see Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, maybe combined with some of the parks in Utah...! Lots to see!
 

devarae

100+ Posts
I'm back home in Maine now after a long travel day, but here are some notes on our final full day in Sedona...

Day 7: I once again headed out at around sunrise and drove over to the Little Horse Trailhead with a plan to hike from there to Chicken Point Lookout and see the area we visited the previous day on our Jeep Tour at a quieter hour with more time. This was a lovely hike, cool and peaceful with the sun not yet above the rocks on my east for the first hour. I saw a handful of people on the way. At Chicken Point I decided to try to take the side trail of the Broken Arrow path that goes up the stone ridge (more climbing than hiking) because we had seen mountain bikers up there the previous day and it looked terrifying and I was curious how narrow/steep it actually was.

It was, in fact, pretty steep! While I was up there trying to figure out where the trail actually went, a trio of bikers came up planning to do the ride. Once they got up to where I was I heard them chatting and deciding that they were not going to try to actually ride out on the narrow ledge. One of them didn't even want to walk out (neither did I!) but two of them walked out. I deliberately didn't let myself google "how many people die hiking in Sedona" (or at the Grand Canyon) before this trip!

After that I headed back along the Little Horse trail to where I could take a .7 mile side path over to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, famous for its location up in the rocks with views of the valley and other formations nearby. It was getting hotter and sunnier by then so once I got to the Chapel I didn't stay long. It was about 9:30 I think, and already packed with visitors even though it opens at 9 I believe. I wonder if I'd arrived before the gates to the parking area open if I could have walked around and gotten some quieter views. I'm glad I checked it out but it's really hard for any human-built place to live up to the stunning natural environment!

I headed back after that, and by the time I reached the trailhead parking lot (sometime after 10) it was full. Lots of mountain bikers on the trail as well. I was tired and hot and glad to head back home then! Back in Sedona I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to find a good souvenir (everything was either too cheap or too extravagent) but successfully acquiring some Thai Iced boba tea that Bob and I shared as a pre-lunch treat. We then headed back to Tamaliza which we'd enjoyed enough to return to for chicken mole burritos.

After lunch, I wanted to try to see some of the trails on the west side of Sedona, so we drove to Fay Canyon Trail which was supposedly relatively flat (good for Bob's bad knee). Along the way we passed the area people park for the Devil's Bridge trail and natural stone arch which is probably the most famous site in Sedona. There were literally hundreds of cars along the road, and we were not even within site of the trailhead! I guess that is the peril of a site becoming famous on Instagram! We were content to pass on and park near Fay Canyon which had plenty of parking. From there we did a short hike into the canyon which was very beautiful, and more shady thanks to the trees along it. We didn't go up on the side trails but saw folks above us crossing a sort of stone bridge along the canyon walls.

We drove around a bit after that, admiring the scenery, and in search of another flat trail we went back to Little Horse as the first part of the trail there was relatively flat. And by then (3:45 or so) the parking lot actually had a few spaces again. We had a nice walk along the Bell Loop trail, with views of the Bell Rock looking very red in the light of the low sun, before turning back and going in search of dinner.

The two main roads (one that links Sedona and Oak Creek, the other that links Sedona and West Sedona) were both jam packed by then. Traffic is clearly an issue even in the shoulder season for tourism! The driver on our jeep tour had said that the town is really grappling with this issue and considering various solutions (building different roads, using shuttles to transport hikers to the popular trailheads) but for now you just have to deal with it as there is really no other way to get from one part of town to another.

We arrived at Hiro's Sushi Bar just as they opened at 5, which was good as they had a lot of reservations but were able to fit us in early. We enjoyed the food a lot-- cold sushi was tasty after a hot, sunny day! And they had non-fish options for me (avocado, egg, and fried tofu).

After dinner we headed home to watch a movie and pack up for our early morning departure!

Travel Day:
I'll quickly add a bit about our travel home for reference. We left Sedona at 5AM and the drive to Phoenix was very easy! I'd been worried about driving in the dark but it was no worse than driving Maine highways in the dark which we do often enough. It was very easy to find our way to the car rental complex and drop off our vehicle, and no wait at all for a shuttle to the airport. We had plenty of time to check in, go through security, and get to the terminal. Mask compliance was good throughout. We picked up some sandwiches to eat on the plane and boarded our very full flight on time. Thankfully there were no hiccups at all, just a long day with the 5 hour flight, then 2 hour bus drive, then the drive home. But we're back now, and it's a beautiful sunny morning in Maine, and I'm glad to be in my own home again!

Other thoughts:
I'm happy with how this trip went! I don't think I'd change anything significant. I liked having the time in Scottsdale at the beginning (also we had the best food in Scottsdale) and I felt that the amount of time we had in the Grand Canyon (two nights) was just right. More than that and I think my brain would not have been able to absorb the experience. Likewise in Sedona having three full days was about as much as I needed. I could have kept doing more morning hikes but we were running out of things to do in the afternoons-- it was just too busy to do a lot of afternoon hiking with all those crowds!


Here's a photo of bikers up on the rocks:

PXL_20211112_160258538.jpg



And one last view of the beautiful Sedona rocks:

PXL_20211112_150026509.jpg
 

How to Find Information

Search using the search button in the upper right. Search all forums or current forum by keyword or member. Advanced search gives you more options.

Filter forum threads using the filter pulldown above the threads. Filter by prefix, member, date. Or click on a thread title prefix to see all threads with that prefix.

Sponsors

Booking.com Hotels in Europe
AutoEurope.com Car Rentals

Recommended Travel Guides

52 Things to See and Do in Basilicata by Valerie Fortney
Italian Food & Life Rules by Ann Reavis
Italian Food Decoder App by Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls
How to Be an American in Italy by Jessica Scott Romano

Share this page

Top