Why it took me so long to explore Arizona… I’ll never know! This has to be the most underrated state in America. I know that’s a big claim, but I’ve seen some very impressive sights and I still found myself awestruck and truly at a loss for words. I was completely blown away by the natural wonders we saw on our four day road trip. I really just can’t say enough good things and if you call North America home – then this absolutely must be on your 2018 travel list.
As per usual, I crammed as much activity as humanly possible into my long weekend getaway. Joined by one of my tried and true travel buddies, Megan, we were on a mission to do some major bucket list checking.
We started off in Phoenix, somewhere that I had actually been once before as a child. Megan had some work obligations, which she quickly wrapped up so that we could “play” in the desert. I’m definitely a Pacific Northwest girl through and through and prefer the evergreen trees and mountains to the cactus and red sand of the Southwest. That being said, I truly love seeing a landscape that is so unlike what I’m used to… and the palm trees never cease to make me smile. We visited two parks in our one afternoon – Papago to check out the famed Hole in the Rock and the Sonoran Preserve to see some massive cacti up close and personal.
Our second day was as perfect a travel day as any I could have dreamed. We left our Phoenix hotel bright and early at 7am to make the two(ish) hour drive to Sedona, which ended up being one of my new favourite places on earth. The photos don’t do it justice, but the scenery is jaw dropping and the town could not be more adorable with its coordinated terracotta buildings. Our main activity was to hike Devil’s Bridge, a fun and easy hike with a major pay off. My phone is still full of photos that I refuse to delete.
After Sedona, I could have gone home and called the trip a success but we still had the biggest bucket list item yet to come. We ate a delicious patio lunch and then got back on the road to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We arrived at 4pm and quickly started our rim walk, trying to soak up as much daylight as possible. This place was so magnificent that I couldn’t fully comprehend what my eyes were seeing. We were also thrilled that most of the rim was unfenced, allowing us to crawl out onto every cliff we dared. I’d really do almost anything for a good photo.
After watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon (pinch me!) we still had to drive several hours up to the Utah Border and the little town of Page. Arriving in pitch black, we were thrilled to wake up to the beautiful Lake Powell. Our resort was a little oasis in the middle of nowhere and the perfect launching pad to explore a couple more big-time sights.
Again, we had trouble photographing the incredible Horseshoe Bend but we had a great time scrambling around just the same. I’d love to come back with a drone someday…
After Horseshoe Bend we made our way to Upper Antelope Canyon for a guided tour, which is required as the canyon is on Navajo land. I have to be honest that the tour was not a pleasant or comfortable experience. We were herded like cattle through the tight walkways and yelled at almost continually to keep moving. We were instructed that we could take photo (no videos) on the way in only and on the way out we would be made to put our cameras away. Megan and I were highly stressed trying to capture photos with people everywhere and the pressure of constantly having to keep moving. Not exactly an experience I’d like to repeat. That being said, we got some epic photos and the canyon was stunning. I can’t imagine what it was like fifteen years ago before social media and the Internet turned it into what it is today.
Our last day was spent making the five hour drive back down to Phoenix with a couple rest stops along the way, that also proved to be quite scenic. It was a weekend that I won’t soon forget. If you haven’t taken the time to explore Arizona yet, make it a priority. It is the most high value trip I’ve taken yet – affordable and worthy of any highlight reel.