Trip Report - Two Weeks in Northern Arizona

Apr 20th, 2019, 07:24 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Two Weeks in Northern Arizona

We spent two weeks in northern Arizona early in March. The first week, we were a mixed family group of 11, all adults, staying in Flagstaff; the second, my family of 5 only, staying in Sedona.This was our first trip to Arizona and I have to say that I think we'll be back.Beautiful surroundings, great hiking, laid back atmosphere.Flagstaff: We stayed at the Wyndham Flagstaff (timeshare).Nice units if a little dated.We had 3 two-bedroom units so lots of room per family, but not a lot of room in 1 unit for the 11 of us to gather for meals.We rented cars and took 3 day trips, each 1.5-2 hours one way.
  1. First up was a day touring the slot canyons at Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Spectacular. You need to sign up for a tour for each of these slot canyons. We thought they were both wonderful, but you could get away with doing just one I suppose if you were pressed for time. The tour guides are great – very friendly and know just how to get the right pictures of the amazing formations. We started with Lower Antelope Canyon in the morning, to which you hike a short way down and enter using a series of steep metal stairs. We brought a picnic for lunch and used the picnic tables at the meeting spot for the Upper Antelope Canyon tours. Our tour of this canyon in the afternoon started with a quick ride in a truck, but the entry was much easier with no stairs. However, this Canyon is deeper so it is a little darker.

    We tried to see Horseshoe Bend on our way out of the area, but the parking lot is under construction so there is parking at a lot a little farther away and a shuttle to take you back and forth, all for the rather exorbitant cost of $12. After paying a fair bit for each of the slot canyon tours, we decided to pass.

    We stopped at the Cameron Trading Post on the way back to Flagstaff for a little shopping and an early dinner. Most of us had the Navajo tacos and they were just ok. The frybread base was good, but the toppings were pretty boring. Not worth the fuss.
  2. Next was a day at the Grand Canyon and if we thought the slot canyons were spectacular, we were totally wowed by this. We didn't get as early a start that day as I would have liked (herding 11 people has its challenges!) so we didn't get to see as much as I had planned, but we all felt fully satisfied with what we did see. We entered through the east entrance so our first stop was at the Watchtower. This is a spectacular, must stop kind of place and we spent over an hour here, checking out all of the different viewpoints. We picnicked at a roadside viewing point, sitting on a low wall overlooking the canyon, as we found that all of the picnic sites were in treed areas with no view and lots of snow. Probably nice to be in the shade in the summer, but much less appealing in the late winter. Next up was the Visitor Center where we watched the movie (very good) and consulted with the park rangers about how to spend what little was left of the day. They suggested that we walk the rim path from the visitor center to the Geology Museum at Yavapai Point. We could either walk back or take the shuttle bus – our group did both. Someday we'll go back and see the village and all those western viewpoints off Hermit Drive – oh and maybe even venture down a little…
  3. Our last road trip was to see the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. We stopped in Winslow on the way there to stand on that corner (and sing the song for the young'uns who were less familiar) and have our picnic. I have to say that the slot canyons and the Grand Canyon were tough acts to follow, but we had a good day and enjoyed both locations. It should be noted that there is no forest left at the Petrified Forest – it is desert-scape now with lots of petrified wood and petroglyphs to see – but it was interesting nevertheless.

    We stopped again in Winslow on the way back to Flagstaff for a wonderful last night dinner at the Turquoise Room at La Posada. Gracious service, delicious southwestern food, and all in a lovely inn.
We spent a couple of afternoons wandering around old town Flagstaff and had some nasty weather so we actually took in a movie one afternoon. We enjoyed lunch and live music at the Flagstaff Brewing Company, a visit to the Mother Road Brewing Company (great beers and ciders), a delicious lunch at the Market Bar & Kitchen (the market salad is wonderful - full of fresh herbs, fresh and dried fruits and nuts along with pomegranate seeds and delicious balsamic pearls which I had never had before but have since sourced and purchased), and a very fun birthday celebration at Sosoba, a great Asian fusion place (try the balls of fire – mac and cheese balls infused with hot sauce – bao buns, gyoza, and the ramen – all yummy!).SedonaSo we thought that we had seen what had to be the most spectacular sights in the state in our first week when we moved to Sedona, but we were just blown away by all of the red rock awesomeness there. We stayed at a lovely timeshare resort right off the main road in Uptown Sedona, Arroyo Roble.We fell into a lovely routine of lingering over breakfast, packing a picnic, heading off to hike one of the many, many wonderful hiking trails in the area, and then returning to the resort to hot tub, have pool and ping pong tournaments, and cook delicious dinners.We hiked the Airport Mesa and Loop Trail, the Boynton Canyon Trail, the Bell Rock Trail, and Fay Canyon. All were lovely and easy-ish for people with no gear and more enthusiasm than skill.We were interested in the vortex sites, but we really felt no different at these sites than elsewhere in Sedona (which, admittedly, is a pretty special place).We lucked into going to the very nice Farmers Market on our second day in Sedona and bought marvellous pickled fruit – pineapple and strawberries – which we used for the rest of the week in drinks and all sorts of dishes. Very unique.We did one road trip to Jerome, Arizona, which I highly recommend. It is a beautiful drive there and back, and what used to be known as the "wickedest town in the West" is a great little place, with art galleries, nice shops, wine tastings, and good restaurants – all with a spectacular view as the town is built into a cliff.We had a great lunch at the English Kitchen or Bobby D's BBQ – best BBQ I've ever had!We had a great brunch at Creekside American Bistro one day – delicious crab cake eggs benny, poke bowls, tuna burgers and regular burgers. Service was also very good here.We also enjoyed the tamales at Tamaliza – charming place, very kind staff and delicious homemade tamales that you can get gussied up in the Tamale Supreme for $13.PhoenixWe didn't spend much time in Phoenix on this trip, but enjoyed two meals there: a wonderful brunch at Ocotillo and a very yummy seafood dinner at Chula Uptown.We also wandered around the Roosevelt Row area, checking out the shops, galleries and street art.Finally, we spent a great couple of hours at the Desert Botanical Garden, admiring the cacti and other desert plants.

Arizona really exceeded our expectations and we all loved it!
lizcdn2 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2019, 07:26 PM
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Eek, sorry for that one long paragraph - it removed all of my paragraph spacing when I published!
lizcdn2 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2019, 03:48 AM
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It sounds like a great trip. Now you do need to plan another trip, return to the Grand Canyon and hike down at least a short way, visit the Utah Parks and spend some time in New Mexico and Colorado.

Thanks for the report.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 12:28 PM
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Lizcdn2 I am always grateful when someone takes the trouble to post a report, so thank you.

Given that you had even more limited time at GC than you hoped, I think you did the smart thing starting at the east end. In my humble (and it is, as we have only been the once) experience, the views in the east area easily compared with the views on Hermit Drive, but the big difference is the Watch Tower, I could not agree with you more, that's a must see. I agree there is always going to be a reason to return if you can. (Emalloy who I understand has been there many times surely agrees.)

Couldn't agree with you more about Sedona. GC is lovely but I think the hiking was better in Sedona. How I envy you your leisurely stay!

Glad you enjoyed your trip.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  

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