Hello, Artisans! (my new self-proclaimed name for all of you) As you probably saw on my Birthday Weekend post, my sister (who lives in Ireland) came home for a couple weeks, so my family and I decided to surprise her with a family trip to Arizona!
I had high hopes for this trip since a lot of people have suggested going, but let me tell you, Arizona blew all my expectations out of the water! I could not even believe how diverse the terrain was, even just miles apart! A little angry at myself for taking so long to get there, but so happy we were able to make this trip happen!
We were only able to visit for 5 days due to the fact that it was a surprise, and it was impossible to ask my sister to stay longer, but I think we filled our 5 days with the absolute best things possible to do!
On this post I am going to show you what we did each day we were there and provide a few suggestions on places to check out! I will also list the activities that we missed out on doing. With traveling over 1000 miles in a 5 day time period there was bound to be things that we would not get to do, but honestly I believe we fit in some of the most beautiful things we could have.
We decided to fly into Phoenix and fly out of Las Vegas so that we could spend as much time as possible in each place! And boy am I glad that we did!
Day 1: Sedona
As soon as we landed in Phoenix we set off! We drove through the dessert terrain and up in elevation for about 2 hours until we saw the red rocks of Sedona! I could not believe how beautiful they were! We spent nearly the entire day taking in the sights and embracing all that Sedona had to offer. After we were finished seeing everything we wanted to see we, we took the scenic Oak Creek Canyon route (which terrified my Mom) towards Flagstaff, where we stayed for the night.
What we did:
- Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte– The first major sight you see entering Sedona is Bell Rock. Bell Rock stands with a summit of 4,919 ft. Both Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are composed of horizontal bedded rich red sedimentary rock.
- Chapel of the Holy Cross– A Roman Catholic cathedral built into the buttes of Sedona, Chapel of the Holy Cross is quite a sight to be seen! Nearly, half a century old, the church still stands wedged in between the red rocks.
- Crescent Moon Ranch State Park– This state park gives you an up-close and personal view of the beautiful Cathedral Rock. You can take a dip in the Oak Creek, picnic on the rocks or maybe even stumble across a dangerous rattle snake (like we did).
- Cathedral Rock– This beautiful rock is one of the most photographed spots in Arizona! Comprised of red sandstone, this beauty stands at 4,967 ft.
- Shopping– Sedona is a very artsy town and offers lots of local shops for souvenirs and artisans to sell their work. We did not spend a lot of time shopping, but there were a ton of options of where to go!
- Oak Creek Canyon– This scenic drive twists and turns down the switchbacks of the mountains and gives you gorgeous views of the canyon and river, from way above it!
- Flagstaff– This city just outside of Sedona looks like it is located in an entirely different state! The high altitude brings lots of lush green ponderosa pines, and diverse wildlife from the dessert animals.
Where we stayed: We stayed at this private loft in Flagstaff for the night and it was spectacular! B&B’s apartment was immaculate and their warm hospitality was second to none! Such a great space!
What we ate: Being basic, we chose to eat Red Lobster the first night in Flagstaff. But whatever, it was yummy!
What we missed out on:
- Hiking- We simply did not have the luxury to take time to hike on the trails. Instead we were able to get to see each landmark from a distance. I would love to go back and hike!
- Devil’s Bridge– I would have loved to see and/or hike Devil’s Bridge, but unfortunately we accidentally passed it up, and my Dad would not let us turn around to go to it *rolls eyes*. We had to stick to our timeline.
- Spend more time in Flagstaff- Flagstaff seemed like a really neat skiing/college town with a lot to explore! Unfortunately, we only had enough time to eat and sleep there.
- Meteor Crater– This is one of the best preserved meteorite impact craters on earth, and I would have loved to visit it! Sadly, the crater was located an hour outside of Flagstaff in the opposite direction from which we were traveling. So, we just simply could not fit it in.
Day 2: Grand Canyon
After our nights stay in Flagstaff we travelled Northwest toward the Grand Canyon! We spent most of the day taking in all it’s glory and then headed North toward Page, where we stayed for the night.
What we did:
- Bedrock City– On our way into the Grand Canyon we stumbled a little town full of magical, kitschy attractions, and the coolest one we saw was a Flintstones themed campground called Bedrock City! We really didn’t get to enjoy the campground much, but you better believe we pulled over for some pictures! lol
- Mather Point– We parked at the visitor center right by the Canyon, and our first stop was Mather Point. This was our first look at the canyon, and believe me, it was breath taking!
- Yavapai Point- This point is a perfect place to take in panoramic views of the canyon’s ridges and the Colorado river. Also housed on this point is the Yavapai Museum of Geology which provides educational exhibits that detail the history of the canyons.
- South Rim Trail– We hiked the entirety of the South Rim Trail (also called the trail of time) as we could possibly go before having to catch a shuttle to the other side, and it was so fantastic to see a new angle of the canyon at every turn.
- Desert View Drive– As we left the Grand Canyon we took the Desert View Drive into Navajo Nation and honestly, I think that is when we saw the most beautiful views! We drove the entire way into Page following the Colorado River!
Where we stayed: We stayed at this roomy Airbnb in Page. Such a peaceful stay!
What we ate: We stumbled upon THE BEST restaurant of our whole trip in Page, Into the Grand. This local family-owned restaurant not only serves traditional Native American dishes, provide live music entertainment during dinner, but also a live Navajo American dance performance at the end of the meal! We really got a historic look at how this land once was and learned about the people that came before us. This experience was a 10/10 and really made our stay that much more special. The entertainment was phenomenal and the owner was absolutely amazing! Definitely a must do when in Page!
What we missed out on:
- Hiking into the Canyon- If we had more time, I would have loved to either hike into the canyon or ride a burro to the bottom! The thought of looking up at the canyon, rather than down at it sounds so adventurous!
- River Rafting– Another thing I would have liked to do is go on a rafting trip on the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. Again, we simply just did not have enough time to make this happen.
- Hermits Rest– I have heard this view is amazing, but unfortunately we just did not have the time to take transportation out there.
Day 3: Page
All of my family quickly agreed that Page was the absolute best part of the trip! This adorable little town is Arizona’s best kept secret!
What we did:
- Glen Canyon Dam– This arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River actually lead to the existence of the town of Page. While they were building the dam, the workers needed somewhere to stay, and I guess some just never left! And boy am I happy they never did!
- Lake Powell– This beautiful lake starts in northern Arizona and spans it’s way across Utah. We were only able to enjoy the very beginning of it, but we were just blown away at its beauty! Crisp blue waters, with giant rocks protruding out of the water made it look like we were on a beach on Mars (we actually joked about it being that).
- Horseshoe Bend– This sharp horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River gives it it’s name. Such an absolutely beautiful sight to see the water so far below you! When we went the temperature was around 105º Fahrenheit, so that made this journey a little challenging, but we took our time and it was worth the trip!
- Lower Antelope Canyon– This is one of the other things that just absolutely made our trip in Page. If you every see the screensaver that automatically comes on your computer of a cavern of rocks with light beams coming through the cracks- that is Antelope Canyon. Truly a work of God. This scenic tour takes you into the lower part of the canyon where you get to see all the twists and turns that streams have formed out of the sandstone for many many years. What made our tour even more special was our guide (His name was Tyler). He was so knowledgable of the history and helped us capture the best shots on our cameras!
- Lake Powell (again)- We decided to end our day the same way we started it, at Lake Powell. Since it was such a hot day we figured we might as well cool off a bit before hitting the open road, and it also seemed perfect to watch the sunset over the water.
Where we stayed: The townhome we stayed in in Kanab was absolutely stunning!! It was beautiful and HUGE! So much extra room! We drove late at night to this townhome, so we could not really tell the area we were in until the morning. And that was one of the best surprises! When we woke up and walked out the door we were entirely surrounded by mountains!! Wish we would have had more time to take in that beautiful view!
What we ate: Another great restaurant in Page was the Canyon King Pizzeria. This Pizzeria is built out of an old riverboat that once ran along the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon.
What we missed out on:
- Upper Antelope Canyon- We were able to tour the Lower Antelope Canyon, but not this Upper. This tour was far more expensive than the lower tour due to the better lighting, but our tour guide let us in on the secret that the upper canyon only gets good lighting from around 11am-1pm, which is booked up months in advance. He told us he has toured the canyons thousands of times and would choose the lower canyon any day over the upper. So, I think we got the good end of the deal on that one!
- Shopping- We were in Page on a Sunday and due to the fact that it is such a small town, all of the shops around were closed for the day. We had a full day though, so I really don’t think we missed much at all!
- Big John’s BBQ– Another restaurant I had heard was great was Big John’s BBQ. Ultimately, we ended up eating at Into the Grand the night we were planning on going to Big John’s (which was a pleasant change of plans) I still wish I would have been able to go and see what the hype is about.
Day 4: Zion National Park
After our stay in Kanab, we were on our way to see one of the “greatest” National Parks in America, Zion. Which I must say, did not disappoint!
What we did:
- Canyon Overlook Trail– Everyone (other than my parents, because they were too scared) went up and hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail at the beginning of the park. Though there were steep drop-offs in some areas, the hike itself was very easy! And once you are on top you get absolute gorgeous panoramic views of the mountains and valley between them.
- The Drive into the Valley- Honestly, one of the best parts of Zion was driving from the top of the mountain by Canyon Overlook, through the tunnel and switchbacks on the road to the bottom of the valley. This journey gave us some of the most impressive sights we had seen all day! Just awe-inspiring!
- Zion Shuttle– Since the park itself is so massive, they have a complimentary shuttle bus that takes you to all the different stops you could ever want to see on the trip. This allowed us to see some of the areas we weren’t planning on hiking at, such as The Patriarchs, so we didn’t feel like we entirely missed out.
- Riverside Walk– This 2 mile round trip hike takes a path alongside the virgin river at the bottom of the mountains. If you continue past the end of the paved trail you will get to see The Narrows, which is one of the most known parts of Zion. Unfortunately, we all did not have the proper equipment to walk through The Narrows (since that entire trip would be walking through the river itself), so we were unable to fully take in those views.
- Lower Emerald Pools- There are three distinct emerald pools in Zion, the Lower, Middle and Upper. Due to a natural disaster, the trails to both the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools were closed while we visited. So we decided might as well go see the lower pools since we still had the opportunity to do so. It was a very dry season, so the waterfall was not flowing much, but it still was nice to stand below it to get cooled off from the heat of the day.
Where we stayed: Okay guys, this had to have been the absolute BEST Airbnb experience I have ever had!! This basement apartment in St. George was so luxurious and well put together! They had a projection screen for movies, popcorn and water ready for us, and the best thing (for me anyway) was everything was labeled and organized! *swoon* I love a well organized space! Pattie and Brent were such fantastic hosts, and if I have the opportunity to go back and stay with them, I would in a heartbeat!
What we ate: Again, we decided sometimes something familiar is a little easier to do for dinner, so we ate at Texas Roadhouse
What we missed out on:
- Bryce Canyon– If we would have had more time to visit the area, I would have loved to go and see Bryce and all it had to offer. But we thought that Zion was a better way to spend our time that day.
- Hiking more trails- I think at this point in our trip we were just so exhausted from going, going, going every single day from the second we woke up until the second we went to bed each night. So at this point in the trip we all could not handle much more walking. It didn’t help that due to a rockslide, a lot of the trails were closed during our visit (such as Angels Landing). But maybe next time I can see a bit more!
Day 5: Las Vegas
Photography by Auburn Artisan
Las Vegas was our last stop on our grand road trip adventure. We drove from St. George through the beautiful mountains near the Valley of Fire and enjoyed every second of it! Although, I was sad that we did not have longer to stay, I was so pleased at the trip we were able to take and how perfect everything was!
What we did:
- Hoover Dam– We decided, since we were so close, why not go see the Hoover Dam? So we did! Honestly, we were a bit underwhelmed by the dam itself. It was large and a great thing to see, but the dam in Page looked just as big. So Hoover was not a big deal for us. Maybe if we spent more time there it would have been different, but it definitely wasn’t a highlight of the trip.
- Seven Magic Mountains- Okay guys, you have seen these pictures all over instagram. The rainbow stacked rocks in the middle of the desert? Yep, these are those rocks! And though, my parents weren’t impressed, I loved every second of it! But you know me, I love rainbow everything. The bright colors up against the muted background just made it so much cooler!
- Las Vegas Strip– We spent the remainder of the day just walking around the Las Vegas strip admiring the kitschy buildings and decorations. We really had no objective for the day, so meandering really was fun to do. We were able to see the iconic staples such as the pyramid, the Eiffel tower and Caesars Palace and we ended our day watching the water fountain show at the Bellagio, so I was pretty content with our time there.
What we ate: When in the west, you eat what is only in the west- In N Out Burger! No one in my family other than Ian and myself had eaten at In N Out, so we figured we might as well take them there!
What we missed out on:
- Casinos- Not that I necessarily believe that we missed out by not gabling at the casinos, I still wanted to list this as an opportunity for something you could do while in Vegas.
- Pool parties- I have been told that Vegas pool parties are second to none, so maybe if I return one day I will get to go to one.
- Catching a show- I wish we had time to catch a performance by a musician, Cirque du Soleil or a cabaret showgirls, to get the full taste of Vegas, but maybe next time!
This was the road trip of a lifetime and I am so happy I was able to go with my family! I was especially happy that Kristin was home to take the trip with us! ❤
I really owe this whole trip to a 96 year old gentleman that I talk to quite often at my work. He is one of the absolute sweetest men I have ever met, and is as sharp as a tack! I love listening to his stories of his time in WWII, and all the places he has been. One day I finally asked, “Where if your favorite place you have ever been?” He replied, “Well, I am much too old to travel anywhere now, but if I could go back anywhere again, it would definitely be the Grand Canyon. You must see the Grand Canyon before you die.”
So that’s just what I did.