In my last post I covered our favorite places in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, this time I’m looking at our favorites outside the valley.
Sedona – known for its picturesque Red Rocks, Sedona did not disappoint. We chose to take a day trip from Phoenix. It was an easy drive with good roads. You start in the Sonoran Desert and its interesting to see how the terrain changes as you approach Sedona. As you enter Sedona itself and head into the town it does get congested and on top of that there was road work so parking can be a challenge. We decided to take a tour from Sedona Trolley to learn more about the area and the highlights. We took the “B” tour of the town and Boynton Canyon as we had seen the exit for the chapel on the way in. The tour was a great way to learn more of the history and we were given a chance to exit the trolley and take pictures at one of the Canyon Stops. I would recommend the trolley as a great way to see the area, especially if like us, you didn’t have a lot of time in Sedona. If you do nothing else in Sedona however, I highly recommend visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It’s setting is amazing. The views are incredible, and it was just awe inspiring. It is a trek to get to, but they have amazing volunteers helping the visitors. If you do take the Trolley up there, they have a prime spot closer to the entrance, so you don’t have to walk as far. My picture gives a little context of location but doesn’t do it justice!
Williams, Arizona – gateway to the Grand Canyon and the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed. It is a cute stop with fantastic pie at the Pine Country Restaurant (we had the Cherry and Pumpkin). Its also where you can ride a bit of history and catch the train to the Grand Canyon. They have cute shops, lots of Route 66 signs and a bit of kitsch.
The Grand Canyon – Some places probably don’t need a lot of explanation. The Grand Canyon is one of them. It was impressive and yet what I expected at the same time. To visit the Grand Canyon, we booked a day trip from our hotel through Detours of the American West. Their customer service was terrific. They offer an option to purchase a boxed lunch through them to maximize your time at the Canyon. Keep in mind it is a 12-13 hour day with about 3-4 hours at the Canyon. What made our trip stand out to me was that we added on a helicopter tour through Maverick Helicopters. After our driver had picked up everyone on the way to the Canyon, he mentioned that it was an option and that there were 5 seats available, if you were interested to talk to him at the first stop. My sister and I took my seven year old niece, who loves geology, on her first helicopter ride and she loved it. Seeing her joy along with the experience of seeing the magnitude of the canyon from above is what really made it for me. After the helicopter we stopped at the Geology Museum at the South rim and then had a little over an hour to wander and join the rest of our group. Being as it was January and there was snow it was a bit icy so it was good that we had boots. Definitely check the conditions before you go!
While I know there is a lot more to Arizona, these were our highlights on our journey to visiting all 50 states!