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USA Road Trip Part 2 – The Grand Canyon

USA Road Trip Part 2 – The Grand Canyon
July 18
14:25 2015

 

The beauty of a road trip is that when one adventure ends another one is just beginning. And so early on the morning of 11 September, the “Super Shuttle“ taxi, mentioned in part 1 of our series, collected us from our house in San Francisco to take us (and a gentleman with a lot of luggage, bearing a suspicious resemblance to Dustin Hoffman) back to the airport.

We had decided to fly to Phoenix, Arizona instead of taking the car, as this would have taken two days. It is also a way of avoiding additional fees, as some companies charge for returning rental cars to a different state from where it was collected. And so after a two-hour flight, we landed in the state of the giant cactus in the early afternoon. An airport bus took us to the car rental department and we were soon making our way north on I17 in our shiny silver Chrysler 300.

grand canyon

Our next destination was to be Sedona, located about 200km from the airport and about halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. For many miles we drove past towering Saguaro cacti many metres tall, but as we neared Sedona the scenery changed to spectacular mountain ranges.

We would spend three nights in an idyllic, rustic hotel on a mountaintop (mesa), which was comprised of cute cottages. Our accommodation was not glamorous, but fit into the characteristic landscape, offering an unforgettable view of the unique mountains and the town surrounded by them. In the evening, everyone would gather in the garden area to capture the kinds of spectacular sunsets that only Sedona has to offer.

There is a small airfield very close to the hotel, from where you can take trips to the Grand Canyon and which also has a very nice restaurant called Mesa Grill, where we consumed many a good meal.

grand canyon

Sedona is surrounded by truly incomparable beauty and is very popular with hikers, artists and spiritualists. Highway 89A from Sedona to Flagstaff via Oak Creek Canyon is possibly the nicest drive we have made anywhere in the world and it was there that we spent the following morning exploring the Canyon. We picked up ‘awesome’ sandwiches and muffins at the wonderful highly recommended “Garlands Indian Gardens Deli” (north of Sedona, near Slide Rock State Park). Garland’s Deli is a ‘must visit’ for their delicious freshly-made meals and nice garden area, which you can sit in to enjoy your food.

There are literally hundreds of hiking trails around Sedona. Many of them are free, but there is a small charge at some which have car parking and restrooms. The hike we did was very nice along Oak Creek River, but unknown to us it involved numerous river crossings so after having stumbled through the water around 10 times we surrendered and returned to the lodge for a couple of hours at the pool before dinner.

Oak Creek River

Oak Creek River

Our second day was devoted to visiting the Grand Canyon, about a two-hour drive north via Flagstaff. You should experience the magic of the Grand Canyon once in your life and then you can rest safe in the knowledge that not much will change over the following years. As with all National Parks there is a $25 entrance fee per car, but the ticket is valid for a week, so it’s a worthwhile investment if you are staying close by. It was another beautiful sunny day, so after brunch in the small town of Tusayan, just outside the park, we were soon at the Canyon and setting off to walk along the rim to Grand Canyon Village. If you are expecting to move along here quickly, you should leave your camera at home, because the countless breathtaking views will tempt you into stopping for photos every few steps.

The village is where you find the gift shops, cafes and hotels – the closer to the Grand Canyon you stay, the more bucks you can expect to spend. We took a short pit stop for a hot dog and peanut butter ice cream and as sunset approached we decided to walk part of the way into the Canyon along Bright Angel Trail – unforgettable!

sedona

We highly recommend you stay on the marked trails whilst exploring the Canyon, as there are some sheer drops which you really don’t want to risk going off! Walking to the very bottom will take an entire day and you would need to be well prepared. We met a young woman who had set off from the base camp in the morning and just about made it to the top by sunset without passing out from exhaustion. It is also advisable to remember where you park your car when you first arrive, because when you get back to the parking lot in the dark, locating your vehicle is not a fun task – we speak from experience!

About Author

Martha and Nigel - BayBreezin'

Martha and Nigel - BayBreezin'

Martha and Nigel are an international couple who live in beautiful Northern Ireland. Martha is German, Nigel is 100% Norn’ Irish and they met when Martha spent a summer working in Sweden, a country they share a love for. After several trips to London, Germany and Prague together, Martha finally settled in Northern Ireland in 2010. They have since travelled large parts of Scandinavia, the US and Ireland together, as well as Portugal and Spain. Nigel has developed into a real travel expert, always finding the best deals, routes and places to stay. They got married on the Beach of Coronado Island in May 2015.

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