Over the summer, we went on a road trip through Arizona, follow along for your next vacation!
Day 1: (Montezuma Castle)
We flew into Phoenix Airport and drove North to Sedona, which is about a 2.5 hour drive. To break up the drive, we stopped at Montezuma Castle, which is an interesting cliff dwelling created by the Sinague people 1000 years ago! It makes for a great stop, as it's a short 1/4-mile paved loop to see it, and has a small visitor’s center with water stations and bathrooms.
Days 2-3: (Sedona)
Plan to spend a few days exploring the gorgeous city of Sedona. Sedona is settled in incredible orange rock formations that glow brightest around sunset. There are some absolutely awe-inspiring hikes to take, our favorite of which was Devil’s Bridge. The hike is long(!) 3.6 miles to reach it (and then you have to hike back). Begin in the parking lot for 'Dry Creek trailhead' and hike along that trail for about a mile until you reach a wide dirt road (Dry Creek Road). This road is closed to all normal vehicles, but open to off-road vehicles and large SUVs. If you rented a big enough SUV, you can bypass the first half of this hike, by driving down Dry Creek Road and parking at the smaller lot at the bottom of the hill. If you are walking this stretch of the trail, it is the hardest part of the hike, as there isn’t much to look at it and there is no shade which can be grueling in the Arizona heat. Once you reach a red sign post, and a small parking lot on your right, that’s where the “real” Devil's Bridge hike begins. It’s just about another 1.5 mile up and it’s definitely worth it! When you get to the carved tunnel like cave (a must stop place for pics and rest!) you are really almost there as it’s just around two more bends.
Devil's Bridge is a natural rock arch. You can walk out on it and take pictures, but be warned if you are scared of heights, there are cliffs hundreds of feet down on either side. Our son who was 9 at the time did go out on the arch, but it was very nerve-wracking.
Other hikes to consider in Sedona are Boynton Canyon and Red Rock crossing. Also make sure to check out the Tlaquepaque center to see local art and eat in one of the many fabulous restaurants.
Days 4-6: (Williams, AZ)
After Sedona, continue driving North to Williams, Arizona which is about 1.5 hours away. Williams is a very, very small town (think one major road- Route 66!) but it is the closest town to the Grand Canyon. All of the restaurants in town are Route 66 themed, and there are even some Disney/Pixar 'Cars' themed cars who cruise the route regularly so keep your eyes out.
Our favorite attraction in Williams was the Deer Farm. Once inside you will immediately be surrounded by hundreds of hungry deer. You can pet them, feed them and spend as much time as you like with them. However, the deer can get slightly aggressive and start chewing on your clothes when you run out of food. Also check out Bearizona- a sort of self-driven safari zoo, where you drive through the cages of bears, wolves, reindeer, bison and more.
Dedicate at least one of your days in Williams to visiting the Grand Canyon. We took the Grand Canyon Railway which is a train that connects Williams directly into Grand Canyon village. The advantage to taking this train is that you bypass traffic going into the park as well as searching for parking, but the train is SLOW (it runs at 40mph the entire time) and it’s a 2 hour ride, so get comfortable. We rode in the first class observation car, and to be honest there’s really nothing to see along the way, so save your money and just book the cheapest car.
At the Grand Canyon we hiked the South Rim trail to the Yavapai Geology Museum (about 1.5 miles). The trail does go right along the rim of the canyon, as the name suggests, but there is a small barrier before the canyon drops off so we never felt unsafe. After our short hike and taking in the views, we had lunch at the famous El Tovar Lodge (views are great, food is lackluster).
Days 8-10: (Page, AZ)
Your final stop on the road trip is the city of Page, AZ, located about 2.5 hours North of Williams. On the way, make sure to stop at the Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks, as it is absolutely fascinating!
The area used to be a marshland when the infamous meteor struck in Mexico. The sheer heat essentially baked the clay ground into a hard rock, locking in hundreds of dinosaur tracks frozen in time. When you pull up, a Navajo guide will meet you and take you on an astounding 1/2 hour tour to see many different kinds of dinosaur prints, eggs, and even poop. There is no cost for the tour, they work solely on donations/ tips, so just bring along some cash.
In Page, you MUST visit Antelope Canyon. It was our favorite part of the entire trip, and in our opinion is even more impressive than the Grand Canyon. Antelope Canyon is really two different canyons- lower and upper. After A LOT of research, we decided to tour the lower canyon and it did not disappoint! Note: you can’t go without booking a Navajo tour guide and tours do fill up, so book early. The canyon is unreal and a photographer's paradise, so savor every moment.
Finally, be sure to visit Horseshoe Bend in Page. This is a 1000 foot straight down cliff where the Colorado makes a turn and resembles a horseshoe. From the parking lot it is about a 1/2 mile walk to reach it, but beware- while there is a fence barrier in the middle, the two open sides are filled with people who get way too close to the edge.
Are there any must-see places in Arizona we missed? Let us know!