I chose the custom route for my trip. My plan consisted of one round-trip flight, a rental car to take us around from there, four different hotels to stop along the way and an itinerary of sites (with room allotted for spontaneous stops). The beauty of a customized trip is that while I prefer to travel at a fast pace, my trip could have easily been modified to be more leisurely if I wanted.
My Personalized Itinerary:
- Fly to Phoenix
- One night in Sedona
- Two nights in Flagstaff
- One night in Page, Arizona
- Two nights in Bryce Canyon
- Drive back to Phoenix to fly home
I was joined on this trip by my friend Abby. We flew nonstop to Phoenix on Southwest, and from there we picked up our rental car and drove about 2 hours to our first hotel in Sedona. After a quick bite to eat, we headed to bed early to get a good night’s rest.
Thanks to the two hour time difference, I woke up to the sunrise to start my day. Because the hotel was just south of the main Sedona tourist area, it was a very scenic drive into town. We drove around to different lookouts in the area where we stopped for some light hiking. We had lunch at Oak Creek Brewery, a small restaurant and taproom where I enjoyed a flight of their beer and the best spinach salad I have ever had!
Because I conveniently had accommodations in Flagstaff, we chose to spend the next two nights there. I enjoyed the change in scenery - the mountains, a small downtown area and cute local restaurants.
The main reason for our trip was to visit the Grand Canyon. When we arrived there, we headed straight to the visitor center to get maps and advice from park rangers. It’s a good idea to talk to them, as park rangers can help determine what sites or hikes you should do or avoid based on the time of year, weather, difficulty, and your personal needs. They have an awesome shuttle system at the Grand Canyon that takes you from the Visitor Center to your starting point.
We ended the hike with some extra time, which we spent exploring the Grand Canyon Village before watching the beautiful sunset.
-Don’t forget that what goes down... must come up! It takes 2 or 3 times as long to hike back to the top as it took to reach the bottom.
-Bring plenty of water, and drink it! There's a place to refill at the rest stop 1.5 miles down.
-Pack a lunch. You can eat at the rest stop while you're enjoying the view (before it's time to hike back up).
-Be prepared to meet the champs who are hiking back up after an overnight at the bottom of the Canyon.
-Go at your own pace - there's no need to rush! Remember, your altitude changes over 1,000 feet so it's easy to run out of breath.
We got a late start on our second day at the Grand Canyon, since we snuck in a quick hike on the Lava Trail at Sunset Crater Volcano Park just outside of flagstaff before heading to the park. This was such a fun pit stop and I got to walk through cooled lava!
The Desert View entrance offers a stop at the Watchtower for a unique view and a self-drive through some vista points and Tusayan Ruins. The canyon shuttles don’t quite go out this far, so these stops were less crowded.
Dinner in the park was the last stop on our agenda and it did not disappoint. The Arizona Room at Bright Angel Lodge offered a cozy and delicious dinner.
The next stop was the tiny town of Page, Arizona, where you can find Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Antelope Canyon is a beautiful underground slot canyon, and because it’s a Navajo Tribal Park you must tour it with an approved group. Our guide, Jerome, told us all about the canyon geology and helped us get the most out of our photos. He also recommended our lunch spot and sent us to Patio 7 for some authentic Native American food.
For more information about visiting US National Parks,
email Stacey or call (314) 439-5700 x 128
-Stacey's Trip to Cuba