Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Trip Report: Grand Canyon and Sedona, June 1-5. Just the facts, Ma'am.

Trip Report: Grand Canyon and Sedona, June 1-5. Just the facts, Ma'am.

Jun 15th, 2007, 09:01 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
Trip Report: Grand Canyon and Sedona, June 1-5. Just the facts, Ma'am.

Our trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona went off without a hitch. No flight delays, diversions or lost luggage. Thanks to DH’s Garmin, no wrong turns or unscheduled tours of unheard of towns. We enjoy what feels like a month long adventure in five days time spending two nights each in the Canyon and Sedona. An additional night in Sedona would have been ideal but, unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to spend.

Planning:

The sources of information that proved most useful in the planning of this trip came from Fodor’s, Travelers To Go, Frommer’s Grand Canyon National Park, the Eyewitness Travel Guide, Arizona and the Grand Canyon, as well as, the National Park Service website, http://www.nps.gov/grca/ .

Air:

DH and I flew Southwest Airlines between San Antonio and Phoenix in a little over two hours. Because of the recent time change, Arizona is the only State that does not celebrate Daylight Savings Time, there is a two hour difference….at least until fall. We leave San Antonio at 7:00 am, arriving Phoenix at 7:10 am. Sweet!

Ground Trans:

We rent through Dollar as they had the lowest on-line rate that I could find. Estimated total charge for an intermediate car came to $207.13 for nearly five full days. At the counter, we are given the option to upgrade to a Jeep Liberty for an extra $10 per day which we did. In addition, we receive a good humored hard time from the counter agent for being from San Antonio. Anyone following the NBA finals knows why.

First stop, the Grand Canyon:

We leave the rental car facility around 8:30 am and expect to sit in traffic somewhere along the freeway headed out of Phoenix but traffic is moving briskly in both directions. The drive from Phoenix to the South Rim Entrance of the Grand Canyon is estimated at approximately 4 hours and I would say that’s how long it took, with stops, though it didn’t feel like 4 hours—more like 2. Or in DH’s case more like 10. Had we taken the time to fiddle with the radio controls sooner we would have discovered that we had satellite radio but instead DH is forced to listen to me sing to the static of FM radio as we waver in and out of tune.

The price of admission to the Canyon is $25 per car load and is good for seven days. At the gate, we are given a copy of The Guide, an informative newspaper on the Canyon that details hike trails, free shuttle bus routes, visitor services, park news, etc. We keep it with us at all times as it proves to be a handy guide we refer to time and again.

Excitement and joy are what I expect to feel upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. The brief, spontaneous combustion of tears came as a complete surprise. Really, there are no words for me to describe the beauty and vastness that beheld us at Mather Point. We stand in silent awe and notice by the silence of the crowd that others must feel the same.

Lodging, Grand Canyon:

In October of 2006 I went in search of lodging inside the Canyon. It was my hope to secure a room at the El Tovar but, alas, I was too late, the hotel was booked. Of the remaining three options I chose Thunderbird Lodge. If everything inside the Canyon is booked, or, you wish for something other than what remains, you may call Xantera, the reservation specialists who handle lodging inside the Canyon, daily at 888-297-2757 to check availability. I wasn’t so intent on staying at the El Tovar that I did this.

Contrary to what I read on message boards about its demolition, the Thunderbird recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and is there to stay. We love our room and would happily stay here again. Our room has a generous partial view of the Canyon and is quiet, cheerful, and comfortable. It contains two queen beds, small refrigerator, safe, ample storage and, though small, very pretty, well stocked bathroom. The new bath / shower tile is beautiful and complimentary to the surroundings though I suspect that, dependent on how tall you are, whoever installed the shower head is vertically challenged, or, tired during installation and knelt. For me, at 5 ft 7 inches tall, I find the shower head perfect for impromptu concerts and acceptance speeches.

I booked our room on-line at, http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/thu...lodge-703.html . The internet rate for a second story, partial canyon view at time of booking is $136 plus tax. A one-night deposit is required. If you read carefully the fine print of the confirmation there is a “rates are subject to change” clause. Because we didn’t pre-pay the second night stay there is an increase in rate of approximately $20. There’s also a statement that reads Xanterra will attempt to contact you by phone, mail or email to advise you of the new rate. To my knowledge, we did not receive such notice and only learned of the rate increase upon check-in.

Hiking:

After checking into our room, we walk the South Rim Trail which is a paved path leading from the lodges to the Yavapai Observation Station. The trip is nearly two miles one way and worth every step for the gorgeous views offered along the way. Of course, that can be said about all the trails in and around the Canyon.

The next day, we are literally up at the crack of dawn and find ourselves hiking down the Bright Angel trail by 7:30 am. There is a lot of activity surrounding the head of the trail which surprises me given the time but, hey, we are up so it stands to reason others are, too, eh? As we make our descent we hear a lot of moans and groans from little ones asking if they can please turn around. At a hair pin turn in the trail I notice a pile of logs blocking what looks to be a foot path. Longing for peace and quiet we take it. It’s a precarious trail that involves climbing in some places but leads us out, almost to the end of the left wall of rock that serves as an inlet to the cove which harbors the Bright Angel trail.

Ready to face the world again, we return to the main trail when all of a sudden, voooooom! I spy a helicopter in dive bomb mode! Holy Hannah, that sucker dives in quick then plunges for the floor. A small group of us freeze at the sight waiting for a final ka-boom and ensuing smoke. Surely this Kamikaze pilot has a death wish and is going to crash? But no, the chopper disappears around a bend and that is the last we saw or heard of the helicopters.

I could have skipped to the loo my darlin’ all the way down to trails end but DH wisely chose a point where he thought we should stop and turn around. Had it not been for him, I would have made it to the bottom then been in a world of hurt fighting my way back up. As it is, the up is a slow and steady challenge and secretly I pray for a crash cart at the top of the trail for the inevitable cardiac arrest that is to follow. The heat of the emerging sun as well as the lack of fresh air, thanks to the mule’s aftermath, make for a tough hike out and we see several day trippers sick on the side of the trail. Fortunately, we make it out without incident.

Please Don’t Do This! A man hiking down the trail placed his foot on a large rock along the edge of the trail. Anyone familiar with the BA trail knows that it zigzags along the inside of the Canyon wall. The weight of this man’s foot sent the rock barreling down, gathering momentum and additional rock along the way. We watched in horror as this small avalanche of rock and debris sped toward the trail below. Thankfully, the pile of rubble stops just short of the trail below. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes the thought that this could happen would never have occurred to us.

Later in the day, we begin to hike the Hermits Rest Route which is a 7 mile hike, one-way, between the Village Route Transfer and Hermits Rest. We’re beginning to tire so we take advantage of the free red shuttle bus that runs between the two points and offers eight canyon overlooks at which to stop along the way. It’s a hop on / hop off system with buses running about 10-12 minutes apart. By the time we return (read huff, puff and crawl) to our room it is nearly 5 pm—it was a long but fabulous day.

Our final day in the Canyon finds us barely able to move, lol. We take one last stroll along the South Rim Trail making it only as far as the El Tovar before hobbling back to the car to load up. Before we leave the park we take the 23 mile, one-way, Desert View Drive. Here we find more incredible overlooks at which to stop either on the way to or from Desert View. We make it as far at the Watchtower and are amazed at how different the Canyon appears from what we had previously seen.

We are impressed by the significant number of foreign visitors to the Canyon. What, or who, cheers us most are the Europeans on motorcycles. Several years ago, at a motor stop in Belgium, we can’t help but notice all the gorgeous motorcycles in the parking lot and their stylish leather clad owners inside, what a sexy lot! We had never before seen such fashionable motorcycle gear. Now here they are again, sexing up the Canyon. They have got it going on, imo!

We leave the Canyon, headed for Sedona, feeling content with all that we saw and experienced. Of course, we would like to stay longer and take advantage of all the Canyon has to offer.

Dining inside the Canyon:

We eat at several of the restaurants located inside the Canyon and find all are good with friendly and attentive wait staff. The Bright Angel Restaurant reminds me of a diner—the food is simple but good. Best of all, they accept patrons in most any manner of dress so after a hike we feel comfortable dining amongst fellow hikers without fear of offending anyone.

After reading a swarm of mixed reviews on the restaurant at the El Tovar I want to give it a try to see for myself. With the exception of my entrée the food is better than I expect. Add to this the attentive wait staff and cozy atmosphere and we enjoy a wonderful dinner here. May I suggest to you a glass or two of the El Tovar Pinot Noir? It is wonderful!

Grand Canyon to Sedona:

For the love of sanity, can someone please tell me how to stop the Jamie McNeil song, “There is No Arizona” that’s been playing in my head now for nearly three weeks!?! It’s driving me bonkers! But I digress….

To reach Sedona, we reverse a good portion of our drive to the Canyon taking the 64 to the 40, to the 17 south, exiting onto the 89. As we begin our drive along the 89 it’s all very ho hum when, oh, out of the blue how the landscape changes! What starts off as a Sunday drive turns into Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride complete with hair pin turns and death defying drop-offs. What an absolutely beautiful and fun drive this is through the Kaibab National Forest. We lose all track of time but I believe it took us roughly two hours to drive to Sedona.

Lodging, Sedona:

Years ago, I heard about the Enchantment Resort on the Discovery Channel and have wanted to stay there ever since. It is everything I hoped it would be and more. In the weeks prior to arrival we receive emails from the resort containing their list of recommended places to eat, places to hike, things to do in Sedona, list of activities at the resort, maps, etc.. In addition, we receive a phone call from the hotel asking if there is anything they could do for us to make our upcoming stay more comfortable. Upon arrival, we are greeted by a guard at the gate. By the time we reach the reception desk everyone knows our name.

I reserve our room on-line, selecting a king bed, junior suite at a rate of $495 per night plus tax and a $22 resort fee. Among other things, the resort fee includes postage for postcards and letters, internet service, use of tennis courts, miniature golf, bicycles, croquet court and equipment, laundry room, as well as resort activities such as the well equipped local astronomer we star gazed with one night. Our room includes a fireplace, gi-normous bathroom with soaking tub, refrigerator, sitting area, and deck with table, chairs and a view to die for. We are provided bottled water each day and in the mornings awaken to a basket filled with bottled orange juice on the door step along with a daily paper. It is my wish to send for the kitties and move in.

Enchantment Resort is located inside Boynton Canyon and shares space with several amazing private homes. It is a peaceful and relaxing get away with gorgeous scenery everywhere you turn. http://www.enchantmentresort.com/ .

Hiking:

Unfortunately, we don’t have the time in Sedona to hike more than the Boynton Canyon Trail but given the beauty of this area, as well as the heat of the day, it is enough given the time we do have. Enchantment has a private entrance to the Trail. As we start our hike we, by chance, befriend a couple who has stayed at Enchantment for the past 16 years. They ask if we would like them to take us off trail to view the Indian ruins. Not knowing anything about the ruins we say yes. The only marker we see that even suggests that what remains is noteworthy is a small sign that states, among other things, there is a $25,000 fine for damaging the site or removing materials from the area.

By 11 am, we head back to our room to shower before heading to town to find lunch—we have been hiking since 8 am and the sun has become offensive.

Dining:

Is Sedona the land that chain restaurants forgot? I don’t recall seeing a one and if there’s a bad meal to be had we didn’t find it.

We enjoy a fabulous dinner at Enchantment’s restaurant, Yavapai. What an extensive, and expensive(!), wine list they have. Not being one who fully understands or appreciates the art of fine wine I don’t feel comfortable or compelled to spend $100+ on a bottle (DH delegates these responsibilities to me). We very much enjoy the bottle of C.M.S. (cabernet, merlot and syrah) by Hedges of Washington State for under $60 that I eeny meeny miney moed.

Other exceptional dining experiences are had at Secret Garden (thank you, Jocelyn!), Oak Creek Brewery, and Shugrue’s Hillside which has a large deck and fabulous views of the surrounding area.

Thanks to all who contribute your experience and information from your travels via a trip report, I glean so much helpful, insider information from reading them. They, once again, contributed to the success of yet another trip. We enjoyed a wonderful trip and would love the opportunity to one day explore these areas further—they are a sight to behold and contain riches unlike anything we had ever seen or experienced before. It would be my dream to return to Enchantment for an entire week, as well as Sedona for that matter, as they have so much more to offer than we had time to take advantage of.

Still here? Pictures may be viewed at,

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slidesho...y=-17chee&Ux=0
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 09:16 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 8,296
Ann Marie, this is a GREAT trip report! I love your details and your sense of humor, girl. From your impromtu shower speeches to your singing enroute and the sexing up. You are a great storyteller!

Thank you for sharing your photos, too. Beautiful pictures! I especially love the boots! ;-) And you are such a pretty lady, although I am not surprised.
BayouGal is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 09:33 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,207
AMC!! What an amazing trip report!

You have such a wonderful way of telling a story. I was incredibly intrigued by what you were going to do next, and chuckling my way through the report at the same time. You certainly have a fun way of looking at things - that's probably why I like you so much!

And as I mentioned in my e-mail - great photos too! I am definitely going to look at them again when I have more time.

Thanks for sharing your adventures!
travel_addict is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 09:50 AM
  #4  
OO
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 8,973
Bravo bravo!! What a fun report AnnMarie!

Your view from Thunderbird was amazing. As much as we've enjoyed Bright Angel cabins...I'll have to rethink this for another trip!! Super pictures. The trail you see in several of them...way off below in the distance leading out to a point is the Plateau Point trail Fond memories. No one hiking in sexy leather though. (See if you can recapture that experience in Luckenback, LOL)

I'll have to go to you for restaurant recs in Sedona next time. Ours have been just OK. I'll bet Enchantment doesn't carry Two Buck Chuck. Can we bring our own providing we pay corkage?? LOL
OO is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:38 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
Glad you had such a great time! Terrific report and pictures - your DH is a cutie pie! I have same boots as he does

I think I have a picture of the same condor -- #46!!

Debi
DebitNM is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:48 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
Oh, yay, I'm so glad you all like the report because I whipped it out and wasn't sure it would make sense to anyone else but me, lol.

OO, you were spot on about that dry desert air sucking the moisture out of our bodies as well as the echoing screams of the mating yahoos in the Canyon. Fortunately, we were near trails end when the HEYheyheyheys began.

I'll be happy to pass on to you the list of recommended restaurants provided us by Enchantment.


AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 11:51 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
AMC, what a great trip report! You write just like you talk! Loved it.

When I read your line upon arrival at the Grand Canyon, I, too felt the same way. DH and I just stood there in awe as no words could be spoken when seeing this site for the first time. I felt so queer with tears in my eyes but nothing was as spectacular as that site.

Anyway, enough of that! We had such a similar trip to yours and also stayed at Enchantment in Sedona. LUVED LUVED IT!! Was it fabulous?!

Glad you had such a great trip! You must have been a young child bride to have been married 22 years! Congrats to you and your DH!

Sheila
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:14 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,619
AnnMarie, I loved your report and your pictures! We leave for our trip in 2 weeks. I've printed out the Grand Canyon portion of your report, and we'll take it with us.

Thanks so much for all that information!
Samsaf is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:15 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
lol, BeachGirl, yes, I was a child bride at 10.

We really loved Enchantment, I wasn't kidding when I wrote we could have moved in!

So what's this about your house being for sale? Where you headed, girl? Texas?!?
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:19 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
Hi Samsaf,

You're going to enjoy a wonderful trip! How long will you be at the Canyon? We easily could have spent a week there is so much to do. I look forward to reading your report!
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:29 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 7
What beautiful pictures. My DH and I went to Grand Canyon and Sedona last summer and your trip brought back memories. Your pictures are so much better than mine that I am tempted to print them. What kind of camera did you use?
eellis is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:32 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
AMC, not heading to Texas, but that's a good thought! Nope, since the kids are grown and out of the house the two of us don't use much of this big 'ol house so we're looking to move into an older area close to an arts district. Lots of charm but short on closet space! Didn't women wears shoes back in the 30's?? Where did they put them all?!!! Downsizing isn't just for square footage I'm learning......What do you mean I have to sell half of my shoes?????
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 12:52 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,254
AnnMarie, this is brilliant! I loved loved loved it!

From bikers sexing up the canyon, to the vertically-challenged shower, dive bombing helicopters, and a $495 room (hope it was good orange juice, lol!) - this trip sounds absolutely delightful.

Pictures were fabulous!

Happy belated anniversary!
kopp is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 01:25 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
eellis, what a nice compliment, thank you! The pictures are a result of both DH and my cameras--we each have a Kodak EasyShare. DH uses the DX6490 which is an older model and I use the V550.

BeachGirl, that's exciting but the lack of closet space would scare me, too! I see you converting a spare bedroom into a closet for your shoes--I'm psychic that way. I often wonder if we shouldn't move closer to a city instead of living in the burbs. Would love to hear more about your experience as it transpires!

kopp, lol and thank you!
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 01:35 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
I love it---what a great report!

I can just see those EuroBikers in their sexy outfits.

I'm curious about two things.

I thought helicopters aren't normally allowed in this part of the canyon. Might there have been some kind of emergency?

And I'm wondering which entree at El Tovr disappointed you---we'll avoid it next time (but we'll try the Pinot Noir). Is it actually an El Tovar label on the Pinot? Or could it have been Firesteed (that's what we had; it is quite nice).
enzian is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 01:45 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,408
Hey AnnMarie,

Sounds like you had a wonderful short trip! Just for future reference, that pile of logs at the hairpin turn on the Bright Angel Trail were meant to block you from going out on the "precarious" trail for the very fact that it wasn't safe. A good thing for hikers to know.

Happy future trails too!
Dayle is online now  
Jun 15th, 2007, 03:55 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,912
You're right, Dayle, thank you.

Hi enzian, the helicopter was navy blue with yellow numbers on the under belly--does this sound familiar? It did not look like any of the helicopters we saw parked at the airport. As it zoomed overhead I thought of the Blue Hawaiian helicopters and assumed it was a tour.

The disappointing entree of the evening was the halibut on the menu...the fish was dry and a tad chewy.

And, yes, the wine is labeled El Tovar Pinot Noir. There were other wines under the El Tovar "label" but I didn't ask from where the wine came. It couldn't have been from the Canyon as I didn't notice any vineyards there...or did I miss them?!? ;-)


AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 15th, 2007, 04:13 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
The 'copter don't sound familiar. Our map has a large "no fly" area blocked out over the canyon; I assume that is for commercial flights. There is a landing pad down by the river (near Phantom Ranch), at the ranger station, so there are 'copters allowed for some purposes. Actually, blue with gold letters sounds like it might be park service or something.

I guess none of us had the halibut. I did try the Salmon Tostada and it was great (they even use wild salmon, according to the menu).

Nope, you didn't miss the vineyards---there aren't any anywhere around there (except for the wild grapes that grow along the river at Indian Gardens) But those are definitely not Pinot! (which I believe likes it cooler than some other grapes) They must just choose one to put their label on. I wonder what it is?
enzian is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 05:48 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,172
AnnMarie_C:
Thank you for taking the time to post your report and photos - lovely. The formatting in your report really helps.

I got such a chuckle out of your line "I find the shower head perfect for impromptu concerts and acceptance speeches", every time I shower now I'll think of it!

We're just starting the planning process for an Arizona trip, and your report was very helpful!

Thanks again-

Cyn
cynstalker is offline  
Jun 16th, 2007, 06:10 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
Nice report. I'm now moving it up near the top of my short list of places to go/see. The pictures were fantastic.
Budman is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:43 PM.