Have you been to Northern Arizona? If you enjoy being outside and active you really need to add this to your “bucket list.” My family visited the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ over Spring Break and I was really blown away.
The Grand Canyon
We flew Southwest into Phoenix and drove the 3.5 hours to the Grand Canyon via Flagstaff (great spot for lunch – Diablo Burger). We stayed in the Maswik Lodge (nice, but certainly not luxurious) for two nights while we explored the area. All of the lodging and restaurants in the park (learn more) are operated by a company contracted with the federal government. There are about 2,000 residents in the park, compared with just over 500 in the city of Tusayan where the canyon is located.
We took a three-hour South Rim Pink Jeep Tour and really enjoyed it. Our guide, Sam Rodriguez, gave us very detailed information as we covered the entire part of the South Rim accessible by car, getting out several times to see the sights. I especially loved learning about Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (1869-1958), one of America’s earliest women architects. She had exacting standards and didn’t let anything stand in her way of achieving them. Apparently the men were not listening to her, so she started carrying a stick and hit them with it when they didn’t do as she asked. They decided she had turned into a witch, but they stopped ignoring her directives in order to keep their jobs.
We looked into a helicopter or airplane tour over the canyon, but the wind gusts (40-50 mph) made that an impossible option. Sam told us the Hualapai Indian Tribe (Western Rim) offers the best options as they land in the canyon. Other vendors only fly over the Ponderosa pine forest and over the rim, but they cannot go into the canyon. They also offer the glass skywalk but this can get very pricey, and you cannot take your own photos.
On our second day my husband and teenager hiked partway into the canyon. There were strong wind gusts, so we felt it was more than our eight year old could handle. The first ten minutes of the hike were concerning to my husband, but after that he really enjoyed the experience. They were both really happy about their hike, and totally ready for a full excursion into the canyon on a future trip (tomorrow, if my teen had his way).
We loved our meals at El-Tovar (make a reservation for dinner long before you leave home) and the Arizona Room. Neither had meals as good as Plano-area restaurants, but the great service and amazing view helped make up for the less than perfect food (and by perfect I mean we have pretty high standards). If possible, we would have dinner exclusively at the El-Tovar in the future. Great menu, very good wine list and a lot of history in the room.
We were there early March and it was very cold during our stay. We wore our long underwear and plenty of layers. The toughest part was when we opted to get up to see the sun rise. My fingers took a long time to warm up after that!
We drove two hours south to Sedona after two nights at the canyon. It was a beautiful trip. Without planning, we stopped at Slide Rock State Park as it looked amazing as we drove past. The $10 parking fee was well worth it, especially for my kids.
We stayed at The Orchards Inn and enjoyed briefly checking out downtown Sedona. We visited The Chapel of the Holy Cross (no hiking, just beautiful) that afternoon, and took a hike on Doe Mountain the next day before lunch. My eight-year-old was very concerned about this trip, but he was so enthusiastic about this hike we had to ask him to slow down. Great Sedona Hikes and Sedona.net provide good information on easy, moderate and hard hikes. You need a Red Rock Pass to park at the trail heads, but at Doe Mountain there was a kiosk so getting the $5 day pass was easy.
We had an amazing dinner at The Hudson and really enjoyed the view. We wished we had more time in Sedona as there were so many awesome hikes we wanted to do. We’ll be back!!
Where have you been in Northern Arizona? We can’t wait to return and see more, and my husband wants to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. First we need to get my now eight-year-old on board with this idea. One step at a time.
- Good hiking shoes
- Good hiking socks, and liners for spring/fall trips
- Layers for spring/fall trips – long underwear tops and bottoms, warm hats, gloves and glove liners, Polartec and other cold-weather active clothing. Overpack, you won’t regret it.
- Water bottles
- Snacks (options once you’re in the Grand Canyon are limited)
- A good camera, and a tripod if you want to take sunrise or sunset photos
- Selfie sticks are allowed at the Grand Canyon, drones are not
- Your sense of adventure!