Over the holidays, the hubs and I took a road trip from California to Arizona and back again. You can read about our first stop, Joshua Tree National Park, here! From Joshua Tree, we drove to Phoenix (Scottsdale specifically) and spent a couple nights there. Phoenix was sort of just another big city. We had some amazing food and did some shopping. My favorite thing about the area was the iconic saguaro cacti!
After Phoenix, we headed to the star of our trip: Sedona, Arizona. Sedona was the main area that I wanted to visit, and the trip only turned into a road trip because holiday flight prices were way too high.
Even just driving into Sedona was amazing. The red rock formations were stunning. As brightly colored as the red rock I saw at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, but so much more huge and vast. The red rock and color scheme is integrated throughout the quaint little town and it’s really like no where else I’ve ever been. Sadly, we forgot my camera at home so all of these photos are from our phones. They don’t do justice to the amazing colors.
As soon as we got to Sedona we headed straight for a hike. We decided to hike Cathedral Rock. It’s a fairly short but pretty steep hike that I’d consider pretty hard, even if I wasn’t pregnant. There’s a lot of rock climbing and a lot of walking on somewhat slick, steep rock at a decent elevation. But it was definitely worth the work. Though you probably want to be in decent shape to attempt this hike, there were definitely kids and a few crazy tourists in sandals on the trail. So it’s not impossible! And like I said, so worth it.
You climb up into one of the saddles between two spires of Cathedral Rock. The views from the top are incredible. With the slick rock, going down was definitely more of a challenge than going up (for me, at least… I’m a pretty big scaredy cat though).
I loved this hike! I almost threw in the towel a few times. The rock climbing was really challenging if you don’t have the confidence for it. But thankfully Nick encouraged me to keep going and I am so glad we went all the way to the top!
I scooted most of the way down on my butt, but Nick didn’t have a problem walking down like a normal person, haha!
After we left Cathedral Rock, we headed to a local hiking shop called The Hike House for advice on what to do with the rest of our time in Sedona. We hadn’t planned on visiting the Grand Canyon, but once we got to Sedona we realized it was only another 2 hours away. Adding an extra 4 hours of driving to our trip didn’t seem ideal, but would we ever be this close again? Isn’t everyone supposed to check the Grand Canyon off their bucket lists?
I asked the guy at The Hike House if it was worth losing a day in Sedona to do the Grand Canyon. After all, Sedona was amazing and there were soooo many hikes we wanted to do. He gave us a few pointers for avoiding the tourist masses and told us about a secret hike on the South rim of the GC that he said would definitely make it worth it.
And so, the next day we headed north to Grand Canyon National Park. We got to the visitor center as soon as they opened, before the crowds. As recommended by our Hike House buddy, we went to watch the 20-minute film “Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder” at the Visitor Center. It was a great little introduction to the park and it’s history. After looking around the Visitor Center, we headed out in the car and hit up a dozen or so scenic viewpoints (again, before the crowds).
Since we hadn’t planned to be this far North (or at such high elevation), we hadn’t brought very warm clothes and we were freezing! It was cold enough that there was snow on the ground, and high winds were ripping through the canyon. But still, I think it was a great time to visit the park. It’s the least crowded season, the snow really was pretty, and who wants to be in the desert in the height of summer anyways?
Next up it was time for our hike. I WISH I could remember exactly which mile marker this hike was at, but I can’t. So you’ll just have to stop into the Hike House and ask! Anyways, there’s a sign that says something like “public access prohibited,” but as the HH guys told us, the sign is just for cars. In the summer, weddings and other events can be hosted up this trail, so there is some vehicle access, but it’s closed to the public. However, anyone can hike up by foot!
It was about 1.5 or 2 miles in through the snow, which was barely disturbed and so pretty. Once we got moving we warmed up quite a bit. We literally saw maybe 3 or 4 people on the entire trail. And we came out to the most beautiful cliff views of the canyon. No tourists, no ugly guardrails or fences. Just us the Grand Canyon. It was pretty spectacular.
Definitely worth the drive!! I’d highly suggest seeking out some little-known trails and hikes if you visit the park. It was so much better than the touristy overlooks.
The next day was our last day in Sedona. It was New Years Day, so we decided to take advantage of the fact that most people were in bed hungover. We got up early and headed out to hike Devil’s Bridge, a hike that we were told is very popular and is normally very crowded.
This was a moderate hike, but seemed pretty easy after the hike up Cathedral Rock. There’s just a tiny bit of climbing up rock, but most of it is just slightly rocky trail. The Devil’s Bridge is a rock formation in the shape of, of course, a bridge. When you get most of the way up the trail, it splits into two separate trails. One you can take for views of the bridge from below, and the other will take you to the top of the bridge.
And of course, once again this whole hike had amazing red rock views. The entire city does!
When we got to the bridge, I thought I’d be too scared to go out onto it. But it ended up being a lot wider and sturdier than it seemed from below. It’s definitely not for people afraid of heights, but there were a couple kids out there that were easily navigating it. Then again, kids have no fear!
If you’re wondering, we traded camera duty with another couple that was up on the bridge to get some of these pictures. They came out pretty cool!
We hiked back down, hit up an amazing vegetarian/health food restaurant for lunch (that even Nick loved) and got in the car to start our journey back home. It was such an awesome, active and nature-filled trip. Just what we wanted!