ARIZONA

A word of warning: the Grand Canyon can change your life. Proximity to such an epic space can provoke an internal examination of priorities and perspectives.

The trip was a somehow distorted at the start  because American Airlines canceled our flight and forced us to change our plans.  We flew on Saturday morning to Phoenix, and when we finally arrived, super tired because the flight had left Miami at 7 am, we went straight to Alamo rent a car to pick up the SUV we had reserved some time ahead.

 

We'd had slept very late the night before waiting eternally at the Miami International Airport for our flight and then returning back home for a few hours and then going back again before dawn, but still, after a coffee at the Starbucks that is located at the Baggage pick up area at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, we were already excited and thrilled to hit the road.

 

We drove 160 miles, about two and a half hours of perfect freeways of which the last stretch was on the famous Route 66.

 

WILLIAMS

Williams is a small town supported by the tourism economy. The old train to the Grand Canyon departs from this town.

But the town looked almost abandoned. Ghostly. I had read that Arizona is a destination to go at any time of the year but I  never found out why there were so few people around.

We wanted to eat as American as possible, so we chose Goldie’s Route 66 Diner, a place set in the 50’s style. We had a hearty lunch!... A huge grilled cheese sandwich with potato chips and a chocolate shake.

After our meal we strolled around town for a while; we bought some souvenirs and went to the train station, and then back on the route.

Bearizona

It's a drive through Wildlife Park that is nestled on the Ponderosa Forest, north of Williams. Well… big mistake! Animals were sleepy and inactive, and they liked so bored that it was just sad. I will not comment much, just delete it from your plans. Not recommended. It is also expensive. $ 25 per person.

GRAND CANYON

 

Finally about 1h30' later we arrived to the Grand Canyon… just in time to watch the sunset. We went straight to the park, without even going stopping at the hotel. At the entrance we bought the pass that costs $35 and lasts a week.

We were advised to drive up to Mather's Point for the best lights of sunset. We never imagined what we were going to find. The view  is dramatic, magical, limitless, magnificent, all at the same time. The vast scenery steals your breath!

Finally, ecstatic and tired we went to the hotel.

WHERE TO STAY IN THE GRAND CANYON SOUTH RIM

 

The Grand Hotel is located very close to  the park. This little town is called Tusayan. The hotel's architecture blends well with the area.  It  has an imposing lobby. Rooms are plain standard hotel rooms.

We so much  wanted to stay at Under Canvas tented camp, an upscale safari-inspired glamping accommodation in Valle, close to the South Rim, but it was closed during winter.

 

Day 2 at Grand Canyon

We woke up determined to go biking so we went to the place where we had been the afternoon before: Mather’s point. We rented from the only place within the park limits that I have found to rent bikes: Bright Angel Bicycles. We drove through the lower area of the park till we got to the climb. From there we took the bus up to the Rim of the Grand Canyon and then on we rode for miles until we reached the Hermit’s Refuge where we had our picnic and then returned by the same route. We took infinite photos because each cliff, each color changing rock wall, everything, was spectacular.

At the end of the afternoon we could not resist going back to Mather’s Point to enjoy the sunset and the moon rise, one more time.

 

Day 3

MONUMENT VALLEY

Our 3rd day in Arizona was long but every minute was worth it and I am sure we will never forget it. It took us about 4 hours (260 miles) drive to reach Monument Valley National Park.  There is nothing like going somewhere somehow ignorant. We didn’t know the magnitude of this place!!.We renewed our spirit.

I put the address of the Forrest Gump hill in our gps, and  left the hotel on a morning of heavy snowfall. We took route 64. At first, the snowfall forced us to drive very slowly. We didn't even have snow wheels, but we were in adventure mode, so we kept on going.

When the bad weather receded  we began to realize that we were surrounded by these sandstone buttes. Some of the time we slowed down and took photos from afar, but there came times when we even got off the car, took selfies and bought souvenirs from the natives, that was in the Little Colorado River Gorge.

Finally we reached Monument Valley. We had  exceptionally wonderful time there.

We had a picnic without getting out of the car, parked with those "monuments" in front of us as if it were a giant movie screen. We spent hours touring this incredibly unexpected place, . We took a thousand of almost prize winning photos.

HORSESHOE BEND

 

Still energetic we continued our travels. We hurried to try to get to see the sunset from the famous Horseshoe Bend.

About 2 more hours driving. Some 120 miles of unlimited landscapes, clouds, blue skies, feeling super happy with the hours lived throughout that day.

 

Horseshoe Bend is 15 minutes before arriving to Page  just off U.S. Route 89. The entrance to the parking area is $10.

You have to walk less than a mile, about twelve minutes, until you reach a steep cliff from where  Horseshoe Bend can be viewed. People  sit at the rim to take selfies at 1000ft above the water. I don't know how I overcame my vertigo but I  managed to take selfies myself.

You have to go!

WHERE TO STAY IN PAGE

Hyatt Place Hotel was the best we found. It's a Hyatt, therefore it has clean, spacious rooms, but the restaurant served a lousy meal.

Not so far away is the super cool Amangiri  waiting for a privileged few who can enjoy that superb work of desert architecture with all the luxuries you can imagine. I want to stay there once. I'm going to save money!

 

Day 4

ANTILOPE CANYON AND LAKE POWELL

We had a reservation made and paid to visit the Upper Antilope Canyon. It is essential to pre-book with one of the companies that offer their services online, either the Upper or the Lower Antilope Canyon. All is available through the internet. All companies are more or less the same.  You cannot go on your own.

 

Prices vary according to the time of year and above all, the time of day because the hours close to noon is when the canyons receive the best light. For me the best time is the time when there are less people inside  so you can get a true impression of what these narrow corridors are. We were lucky, but I have read about overflowing visitors.  It really sounds unpleasant.

 

From the Canyon we went to the marina to look for our kayak in Lake Powell. A sensational and recommended experience. You can also rent your own boat, and in summer you can wakeboard!

CAMPING EXPERIENCE

At around 4 pm we went to the Tented camp that we had booked: Shash Diné Eco Retreat. A huge ranch on Navajo land about 20 miles to the south. The “glamping” experience was the best. There are only three tents and two restored wagons. No en-suite bathroom just one outside of common use. It was very cold that night but we were given "sub-zero" sleeping bags that worked perfectly. The tents do not have electric light, only solar powered lanterns.

They offered a typical Navajo meal which we were delighted to accept. Later we participated in a bonfire together with a family that was staying in the other tent and then, happy and tired,  we went to sleep.

 

Note: already at the beginning of March, the Covid-19 was making noise so I traveled with pillowcases and my own cutlery... A little weird, I know. It may be useless but they gave me some peace of mind.

 

Day 5

NAVAJO LAND AND SEDONA

After spending the day hiking aroung through endless Navajo lands, we grabbed the car again to drive south to Sedona, our next destination. It was around 2h 40' scenic drive with good music and good highways.

We arrived to this magical place named Sedona. It's inevitably touristy, but how not be...it's so scenic and romantic

 

WHERE TO STAY IN SEDONA

 

Amara Resort and Spa

One of many resorts in Sedona tucked along the banks of Oak Creek Canyon like a secret sanctuary.  It's steps from buzzing Uptown Sedona.

Beautiful view right from our balcony. Nice room, but best of all a relaxing spa. There's something important with the spiritual energy here and I promise it can be sensed all over. So having an indulging  time in the spa seemed like part of the experience.

Enchantment Resort

Deluxe accomodations with  dramatic views rocks of Boynton Canyon. Stop by for lunch if you are hiking Boynton.

L'Auberge de Sedona Resort and Spa

Luxury resort where you can step into an outdoor cedar shower, or dine al fresco on a moonlit balcony and then fall asleep to the gentle sounds of a meandering creek.

WHAT TO DO

 

That same afternoon we went straight to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. A stunning catholic temple carved out from the red rocks of Sedona.

and afterwards we had the pleasure of going to eat fine Italian food at Dahl & Di Luca.

 

Day 6

Woke up ready to go hiking, with some of the many options already in hand. We were also in search of a vortex. We did not want to leave Sedona without that experience. We hiked Bell Rock.  The main Bell Rock Trail runs from Bell Rock Vista parking area to Courthouse Vista parking lot. We only did the first 1.5 miles and return the same way.

 

Day 7

We didn't want to leave Sedona without visiting the Devil’s Bridge, so after having breakfast we went  to hike this 4.2 miles out-and-back busy trail that leads to the beautiful natural sandstone arch. Again I was fighting over my vertigo, but either way we climbed and reached our goal. We stopped on the way  back down, took off our shoes and walk barefooted over vortexes ground to absorb the energy through our feet.

WHERE TO EAT

Dahl & Di Luca fine italian dining in a typical enclosed setting. Everything was high quality and  cooked with organically grown produce. 

Mariposa Grill South American-inspired cuisine in a huge patio with gorgeous views of the red rocks. We had a healthy salad and a yummy Rustico Chicken.

I later learned that this restaurant and Dahl & Di Luca are both owned by Chef Lisa Dahl.

Layla's we enjoyed our breakfasts here so much. We had avocado toast, pain au chocolat, great coffee, smoothies.

I recommend this place.

MONTEZUMA CASTLE

Already on our way back  to Phoenix, we decided to drive a bit to the East to visit Montezuma Castle. Very interesting ruins of the first ‘apartment’ buildings built of stone over a large rock. The history of the place is fascinating!! Its worth the detour!!

 

PHOENIX

It took us about 2h 45’ to finally get to downtown Phoenix. We walked a lot getting to know new places like The Churchill, a 9,000 square foot courtyard intended for dining, drinking, socializing and learning. Also other lively bars and shops until we reached the restaurant that we certainly liked the most. We ate "al fresco" in a nice little place: The Farish House. Good wine list and a delicious light dinner perfect for an overnight at a plane back to Miami.

Our flight was leaving at 11 pm so from there we went to the airport.

El viaje se nos desorganizó un poco porque American nos canceló el vuelo y perdimos un día, así que finalmente Volamos de Miami a Phoenix y al llegar, super cansadas porque el vuelo salía a las 7 am directo buscamos el nuestro camioneta en Alamo y salimos de aeropuerto.

El plan original era llegar a comer en Phoenix el viernes por la noche, pero American Airlines  nos canceló el vuelo, así que finalmente salimos el día siguiente a las 7 am. Al llegar nos fuimos directo a buscar el carro alquilado y a agarrar camino al destino.

 

Yo estaba un poco cansada para manejar, nos habíamos acostado tardísimo la noche antes esperando eternamente en el aeropuerto internacional de Miami para luego regresar a casa por unas horas y salir de madrugada de nuevo, pero aún así, después de un café en el Starbucks que está donde recoges las maletas en el aeropuerto Sky Harbor de Phoenix, estábamos ya emocionadas y  en la ruta.

Recorrimos 160 millas, unas dos horas y media de autopistas perfectas de las cuales el último tramo fue por la célebre Route 66. Super emocionante.

Llegamos muertas de hambre. El pueblo parecía casi abandonado.  Fantasmal. Según he leído, Arizona es un destino para ir en cualquier época del año. Nunca supe porqué razón había tan poca gente, pero para nosotros fue más bien un atractivo.  

 

Williams fue un pueblito con economía propia, pero hoy en día está apoyado totalmente en la economía del turismo. El antiguo tren al Gran Cañon sale de ahí.

Quisimos comer en lo más americano posible, asi que almorzamos  en Goldie’s Route 66 Diner un lugar ambientado en los 50’s. Comimos divino…  Grilled cheese sándwich con papitas fritas y una merengada de chocolate.

Caminamos un rato para conocer un poco; compramos algunos recuerdos; fuimos a la estación de tren y de nuevo en la ruta.

 

De ahí fuimos a Bearizona un parque de animales que recorres dentro de tu carro que queda en dirección al norte, que era nuestra vía. Pues gran error! Fue como ir al Safari Carabobo. No me extiendo, solo bórralo de cualquier recomendación. Además es costoso. $25 por persona.

 

Finalmente como 1h 30' mas tarde llegamos al Gran Cañón justo a tiempo para ver el atardecer. Fuimos directo, sin siquiera pasar por el hotel. En la entrada compramos el pase que cuesta $35 y dura una semana.

Nunca nos imaginamos la inmensidad de lo que encontramos. Algo que a cualquiera deja sin palabras!

 

Finalmente, extasiadas y cansadas fuimos al hotel. El Grand Hotel en un mini pueblo a la entrada del parque que se llama Tusayan. El hotel grande que se mezcla bien con el ambiente de bosque y un lobby imponente. Los cuartos solo normales.

 

Dia 2  Amanecimos decididas a hacer bici asi que regresamos al lugar donde habíamos estado la tarde, Mather’s point.  Alquilamos en el único lugar dentro del parque que he encontrado que las alquilan: Bright Angel Bicycles. Subimos en autobús hasta el borde del Gran Cañón y de ahí en adelante recorrimos kilómetros hasta llegar al Refugio Hermit donde nos hicimos un picnic y luego regresamos por la misma vía. Tomamos infinitas fotos porque cada paisaje, cada precipicio, los cambios de color de la piedras,  todo realmente espectacular. Al final de la tarde no resistimos volver a Mather’s point para una vez más disfrutar del atardecer.

 

Dia 3  Nuestro 3er dia en Arizona fue largo pero cada minuto valió la pena y estoy segura que no lo olvidaremos jamás. Nos tomó como 4 horas (260 millas) manejando hasta llegar a  Monument Valley, pero no hay nada como ir a un lugar de alguna manera ignorantes. Al GPS le puse que nos llevara al Forrest Gump point y así salimos en una mañana de intensa nevada. Caían copos gigantes. Tomamos la ruta 64. Al principio la nevada nos obligó a manejar muy lentamente. Ni siquiera teníamos ruedas de nieve, pero estábamos en modo aventurera, así que seguimos camino. Cuando el tiempo comenzó a mejorar nos empezamos a encontrar maravillas. A veces frenamos y tomamos fotos de lejos, pero llegó un momento en que hasta nos bajamos nos tomamos fotos y compramos recuerdos a los nativos que cuidaban el lugar, el Little Colorado River Gorge.

Cuando finalmente llegamos al parque nacional Monument Valley pasamos un rato maravilladas. Estacionadas con esos “monumentos” de frente a nosotros, hicimos un picnic sin bajarnos de la camioneta.  Estuvimos horas recorriendo este lugar increíblemente inesperado para nosotras. Tomamos mil fotos.

 

Todavía con energía para seguir recorriendo, nos apuramos para intentar llegar a ver el atardecer desde el famoso Horseshoe Bend.

Unas 2 horas más. como 120 millas de paisajes ilimitados, de nubes, de cielos azules, super felices de las horas vividas.

Horseshoe Bend queda como a 15 minutos antes de llegar a Page. La entrada cuesta $10 y te estacionas y caminas unos quince minutos hasta llegar a este lugar de vértigo absoluto. Más por la gente arriesgada que se sentaba a hacerse selfies al borde que otra cosa. Me costó muchísimo superar el rato allí pero hasta logré tomarme fotos.

Hay que ir!

 

Poco tiempo después estábamos en Hyatt Place Hotel. Nada del otro mundo. Y más cuando sabes que no tan lejos queda el super cool Amangiri que esta ahí para unos pocos privilegiados que puede disfrutar de esa obra de arquitectura de desierto con absolutamente todos los lujos que te puedas imaginar. Quiero conocerlo. Voy a ahorrar!

 

Dia 4 Teníamos reservación hecha y pagada para ir a conocer el Upper Antilope Canyon. Es imprescindible pre reservar con alguna de las compañías que ofrecen sus servicios por internet, ya se apara el Upper o el Lower Antilope Canyon. Además no puedes ir por tu cuenta. Los precios varían según la época del año y ante todo la hora del día porque las horas cercanas al mediodía es cuando los cañones reciben la mejor luz. Les puede decir que para mi la mejor hora es la hora donde haya menos gente para que te puedas llevar una impresión verdadera de lo que son estos angostos pasillos. Nosotras tuvimos suerte pero he leído sobre visitas desbordadas y cosas que de leerlas suenan desagradables.

 

 Al salir de ahí nos fuimos a la marina a buscar nuestro  kayak en Lake Powell. Una experiencia sensacional y recomendada. También puedes alquilar tu propia lancha, y en verano puedes además hacer wakeboard.

Como a las 4 pm nos fuimos al Campamento que habíamos reservado: Shash o’Dine Eco Retreat. Un lugar inmenso en tierra Navajo como a 20 millas al sur. La experiencia de “glamping” fue lo máximo. Había solo tres carpas y dos carretas. Sin baño (solo uno común afuera). Hizo muchísimo frío esa noche pero había unas bolsas de dormir "sub-zero" que funcionaron perfecto. Las carpas no tienen luz eléctrica solo linternas solares.

Nos ofrecieron pedir una típica comida navajo la cual aceptaos encantadas. Después participamos en una fogata junto con una familia que estaba en la otra carpa y a dormir.

 

Nota: ya a principios de marzo, el Covid-19 hacía ruido así que viajé con fundas de almohada y con mis propios cubiertos...jeje Quizás inútiles pero me dieron cierta tranquilidad.

 

Dia 5 Después de pasar el día haciendo senderismo por paisajes infinitos, agarramos de nuevo el carro para seguir a Sedona nuestro siguiente destino.  Fueron como  2h 40' pero con buena música y buenas autopistas, siempre.

LLegamos a ese lugar mágico que es Sedona. Nos quedamos en Amara Resort and Spa. Ese mismo dia fuimos directo a la Capilla en la Roca y después nos dimos el gusto de ir a comer a Dahl & Di Luca un buen restaurant italiano.

 

Dia 6  Preparadas para hacer hiking, con algunas de las múltiples opciones ya en la mano. Además en la búsqueda de algún vortex. No nos queríamos ir de Sedona sin esa experiencia. Sedona es espectacular!! Es inevitablemente turístico, pero como no serlo… es bellísimo.Te las ofrecen en el hotel. De regreso nos fuimos al Spa porque en Sedona casi todos los hoteles tienen spas especiales. Hay algo importante con la energía aquí y promto que se siente. Te pegas a la tierra. Prueben por ustedes mismo.

 

Dia 7  No nos queríamos ir sin visitar el Devil’s Bridge así que después desayunar una vez más en Layla’s  (anótenlo. Bueno!) nos fuimos hasta allá e hicimos la excursión hasta el famoso puente. Yo otra vez con un vértigo insuperable, pero de cualquier forma subios y llegamos a nuestra meta.

Ya en ruta a Phoenix , nos desviamos unos 15 minutos para ir a conocer el Castillo Montezuma. Muy interesante ya que son ruinas de los primeros edificios de ‘apartamentos’ construidos en piedra sobre una gran roca. La historia el lugar es fascinante!!

Nos tomó como 2h 45’ llegar hasta el centro de Phoenix. Caminamos un buen rato recorriendo lugares, bares, tienditas hasta que llegamos al restaurant que sin duda nos gustó más, y no nos equivocamos. Comimos "al fresco" (como dicen aqui) en un lugarcito rico: The Farish House. Nuestro vuelo salía a las 11 pm asi que de ahí nos fuimos  al aeropuerto y de vuelta a casa. Amanecimos en Miami el domingo siguiente llenas de fotos y recuerdos. Increíble destino!!

 

Salvo en Sedona, la comida nos pareció nada que ver!

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About Me

My name is Ana Bazo. I'm traveler and a tourist. Planning a trip seduces me. I love visiting far away solitary places. During my travels I write and take pictures... So, one day I put all that  together and The Undercover Pilot was born.

 

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