This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States National Park service. To celebrate the big birthday, Chris and I booked a trip to one of our favorite national parks out there– the Grand Canyon. And we thought, what better way to take in the beauty of Arizona than with a good old fashioned road trip.
Being six months pregnant, we decided to take things slow. To break up the drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, we booked two nights at a hotel right in the middle of the two cities–in Sedona. It’s a place that’s been on our bucket list for years but somehow always seemed to avoid. This time, we planned on taking the two days to explore all that Sedona has to offer.
Spoiler alert: Sedona is pretty awesome. It seems like the city is hugged by the crimson walls of the surrounding red-rock buttes. Sedona is a stunning panorama of nature in all of its glory. We arrived to our hotel late at night but awoke the next morning excited for our adventures. We didn’t have a set plan and instead just let the day unfold before us. Before we knew it, we found ourselves at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.
I particularly enjoyed the Amitabha Peace Park with its prayer flags, stunning scenery, and the quiet serene that we encountered as we meandered along the trails. We also made sure to visit the Chapel of Holy Cross as well as explore downtown Sedona complete with the most beautiful Sacagawea statue I’ve ever seen.
On our last day, we heard the legends of Sedona’s energy vortexes. There are apparently four main vortexes in Sedona and a quick internet search rendered a helpful map that plotted out the location of each one. We headed to the Airport Vortex that is known to have a masculine energy. We were told to look for extra twisted juniper trees. That would mark the spot of extra energy.
While we weren’t skilled enough in pinpointing the vortex, we did find ourselves enchanted by the breathtaking (literally, Sedona is at a high elevation) views. A quick hike along the Sedona View trail lead us to the top of a peak that overlooked the entire town. We were told that if we wanted long enough, we’d be able to watch planes pass closely overhead. My growling belly didn’t allow us to linger too long, but the summit was one of my favorite spots in all of Sedona.
The next day, we saddled up and made our way to the Grand Canyon. As it was early February, we knew that it was going to be cold but I naively didn’t expect to encounter snow. The temperature plummeted the closer we got to the canyon and by the time we arrived, a fresh layer of powder covered the road.
As soon as we were in the park, we bundled up and headed to one of our favorite spots–the Bright Angel trailhead. The last time we were at the Grand Canyon we hiked the 12 miles to the lookout point and back. It’s one of my dad’s favorite hikes and had I not been 6 months pregnant this time (and need cramp ons to overcome the snow), we probably would’ve hiked it again. Instead, we settled for cozying up on a bench and congratulating hikers as they reached the top.
Our first choice in hotel at the Grand Canyon was El Tovar but as we booked last minute, we ended up at the Yavapai Lodge. The recently renovated rooms were a welcome surprise and we decided that it’s a place we’ll definitely stay again. And just because we weren’t staying at El Tovar, it didn’t mean that we couldn’t enjoy a fantastic dinner at its restaurant.
The next morning we awoke bright and early and headed to meet up with a tour group to one of the places we’ve been eyeing for years.
Antelope Canyon has plagued our minds since we first started seeing pictures of the gorgeous natural painted walls popping up on our Facebook feeds. It seems otherworldly and we couldn’t wait until the day that we were able to explore it for ourselves.
To get into the canyon, one needs to be accompanied by a Navajo guide. I was worried that the canyon was going to be flooded with other guests, but as it was the off season, our small group of 7 were nearly the only ones there.
Our guide was incredible and more than happy to help with the settings on our phones and cameras in order to better capture the beauty of Lower Antelope Canyon. I believe we spent almost an hour wandering through the canyon, taking photos, and running our fingers along the indents in the walls.
Overall, our six day road trip through Arizona was exactly what we needed. I enjoyed traveling at our own pace and really taking the time to enjoy each and every stop. It’s crazy to think that the next time we visit the Grand Canyon, we’ll have a little one in town.