My husband and I had never ventured anywhere in the SW before. With my mother-in-law living down there we took it as the perfect opportunity to visit her and make a vacation of it as well. We flew into Tucson, where she picked us up and we went right to In-N-Out. After that we went to a desert museum that was really neat. It showed all the animals and creatures and plants that are in the region. Never exploring the desert before it was really interesting to learn about the area. Also the desert is a terrifying place with all the creatures I don't like in once place. After this we headed to Saguaro National Park since I had researched it was close by. This day was also my first time seeing cacti for the first time and the ones in the national park were huge! It was fun exploring the park and seeing the all the different plants close up. So different from the PNW.
The next day we hiked on the Cochise Stronghold trail in the Coronado National Forest. So dry, sunny, and hot. Not used to any of those things!
The next day we would start our road trip. We picked up are rental car in Tucson (reserve rental cars way in advance to get a cheap price!), and were on our way north. We swung less than 4 hours later we were in Sedona. Sedona is a pricier, tourist city so we did an Air B'n B here that worked out just fine. When we first got to Sedona we did some hiking on Bell Rock Pathway.
After that we headed to Cathedral Rock- 1.5 miles/ 600 elevation gain. This trail was really interesting as it wasn't much of a trail a lot of the time and trying to follow it with certain markers. The payoff for views was beautiful.
We headed to our Air BnB for the night and called it a day. We awoke early the next day in hopes of a sunrise hike (too cloudy, but still got an early start on hiking Devil's Bridge. We got to the trailhead and parked in the main parking lot. If you have an off roading vehicle you can take that another mile further down, but we had to walk to extra mileage. The hike was 4.5 miles and 649 elevation gain.We barely saw any people the whole time and had the bridge to ourself, which was a rarity. Such a beautiful natural formation. Sedona did us well. The hiking there was unlike anything I had ever done before.
After this hike, we made our way towards Flagstaff, stopped for lunch and then made our way to the Grand Canyon. We pulled into the Grand Canyon and it was overcast and very cold. Even in the winter the Grand Canyon was very busy, so I can only imagine what it is like in the summer. We took in some views on the overlook areas and then checked into our hotel in the park. We made it out later for a bit of sunset over the park as well. Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time literally took my breath away. The power and magnitude overtook me and humbled me. I have never felt so small in the scheme of the world before.
The next day we planned a hike into the canyon and got an early start. We hiked the south rim to skeleton point- 6.6 miles and 4,069 elevation gain! To access this you need to take a shuttle bus that runs very often and will drop you right off at the trailhead. As I was putting on my microspikes (it was icy and snowy at the top) one of them snapped in half! Very unfortunate timing on that. Thank goodness it wasn't too icy and didn't need them for long on the descent. I have never hiked into a canyon before, so it's very deceiving having the easy part first and the harder part later. We made our way down and down and down "ooing" and "awwign" along the way. Every new twist and turn brought new views that were each a spectacle in themselves. We made it to Skeleton Point, ate some lunch, and then made our way back up. I had been starting to get a cold and this is really when I could feel it going back up. I felt really miserable on that part but just pushed through it. It had actually gotten really hot and I was down to a tank top at that point. It was awesome to see all the backpackers going down with all their gear to the bottom. I am definitely motivated to come back and hike rim to rim now. Another for the bucket list!
After the Grand Canyon we made our way to Page, Arizona, where we would see Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon. We stayed at a really cheap hotel for 2 nights and did both of these things on one full day. For Antelope Canyon you need to made a reservation ahead of time and it is a bit pricey. I thought it was well worth it as it was super unique and beautiful. Horseshoe bend was pretty, but also very busy. These are worth the stop if they are on your route on a road trip!
The next day we headed to Zion! We were both still not feeling good at this point, but were not going to miss the opportunity to do Angel's Landing- 4.4 miles with 2,073 elevation gain. As you get into the park you are surrounded with massive rocky mountains. We descended into the park and prepared to do Angel's Landing. This is a steep hike in itself, but then you get to the ropes. The trail climbs a narrow ridge line for about a .5 mile and the only support you ave are chains in sections you could otherwise fall right off. One of the most thrilling hikes I have ever done. My heart was beating out of my chest with anxiety, but I pushed through anyways and the views were worth it. Zion is very different from anywhere else I've been. The colors of the rocks and the formations are so captivating. I would love to go back to do some more exploring. We made it to a hotel about 30 minutes out of Zion and hit the hay.
The next day we hit up Vegas for the first time and did all the touristy things, ate buffet food and saw a show.
This trip made me appreciate travel and the chance to explore new things even more. We haven't had the chance yet to travel much around the country and world. It's amazing to think this area is just another spec on the globe that is our planet. There is so much to explore and to take in.
"Where ever you go becomes a part of you."