We went to check out the landscapes of Arizona two weeks ago, and let me just say that our planet surprised with its beauty once again.
Arizona is mostly desert, and now during spring the weather is ideal for outdoor activities, because it is not too hot yet. During the day the temp was about 25C.
We left home on Thursday morning, and drove five hours to Phoenix. To our surprise, we had some time to kill before sunset, ended up googling “top things to do in Phoenix” and bought tickets to Desert Botanical Garden.
I’d never seen cacti as big as those in the garden (I know that’s not a lot to say for someone from Finland lol). But overall, I was really surprised how much life there really is in the desert, especially during the spring! The park also displayed how indigenous peoples have previously lived, and how well they’d learnt to use desert plants for a lot of things.
I just happened to be reading a book about Native Americans (There There by Tommy Orange), and it was cool to be in the same landscapes as some of the story was located, in the Arizona desert. I even had nightmares when the book mentioned UFO white walkers wandering through endless deserts at night…
On Friday morning we headed towards Sedona National Park. Yet again, another place where I just hardly can believe my own eyes. This time our retinas were spoiled with red cliffs and greenish lush spring desert. Our original idea was to relax, and just do an easy hike, but somehow we found ourselves climbing up a vertical cliff (Doe Mountain Trail). So typical of us.
(Tip: For parking at trailheads, Red Rock Pass is required in the area. Day Pass costs $5 and you can get it for example from Circle K, or some parking lots have a ticket automats.)
Sedona is branded as a spiritual place, and besides natural energy vortexes, there are also many businesses focused in luxury retreats (popular around celebs).
Of course, some believe in these things, and some do not. I let myself fall for it a bit, and bought a bunch of healing crystals. Our little one received a heart-shaped stone from an energy vortex from a local guide, to bring love and happiness. Can’t hurt to believe, right?!
After a day of hiking, when the sun begun to set, we continued our journey towards Flagstaff. It was a couple hours’ drive and on the way we started to notice snowy mountains and forests, the city of Flagstaff is actually really high up, at 2106 m above sea level.
We slept in a motel, and the next day we drove to Grand Canyon (South Rim). Our start got delayed because our car needed more coolant, so we had to get it. (Tip: always have extra coolant in the trunk if you’re driving in a desert). When we reached the entrance of the Grand Canyon national park, there was already a long line, and it took us over an hour to get in. Crowds are a bummer here everywhere, but hey who am I to complain, I’m part of it.
Another tip: If you arrive around noon, and every parking lot says “full”, there’s still plenty of spaces. To reach most of the trail heads, you need a bus ride. The bus service runs regularly from dawn to sunset, and departs near the parking lots. Prepare to wait for the bus for 15-30 mins, and decide in advance which route you want to hike. There’s basically no internet.
We chose the South Kaibab Trail, which is somewhat more remote and not-so-crowded as another route we considered (Angels Landing). They both take you down the canyon, and so you get to see the canyon from a different perspectives than only from the very top (The Rim Trail, follows the edge).
South Kaibab trail would take you all the way to the bottom of the canyon, but that would require some mad skills (we saw one person throw up at the end of her hike ). So, we hiked “only” to the first view point, called Ooh Aah -Point. Well named. The view opened to the east of the canyon.
On our way down, the step felt light, but coming back up required little sweating. And Otso had our 2-year-old in the backpack carrier the whole way. She just kept shouting “boring boring”…
As the sun went down, we were done hiking and continued our road trip forward. We stayed the night in a small town called Seligman, the starting place of the Route 66. We slept soundly, even though a huge cargo train passed our motel regularly. I guess we were just so exhausted haha.
On Sunday morning, we explored Seligman a little. Along the Route 66 there were fun decorations , souvenir shops and eateries. There was a historic atmosphere for sure.
We drove along the Route 66 for an hour or two, until our journey took us elsewhere. We went to Chuckwalla Race Track to see Porsche Club America’s track day. My car-enthusiast husband wanted to see what it’s like in there (he is a driving instructor in Porsche Club Finland). If you ask me, it was boiling hot, there were lot of Porsches and huge camper vans. Looks like all our desert road trips end to a race track, don’t know why.
Then we drove home.
We have a flight to Finland in two weeks! Yayy! Oh, and I also received my second dose of vaccine, so it looks like there’s light at the end of this corona tunnel!