We flew into Phoenix, rented a car and drove between Phoenix, Flagstaff, Kayenta, Tuba City and Sedona. On the way between each stop we saw lots of amazing sites (natural and human made).
Quick stats about our trip:
- Miles driven: over 1,300 miles
- Time in the car: over 30 hours of “bonding” with family members
- Family squabbles in the car: 4
- Family squabbles that resulted in a car accident: 0 (which is an amazing accomplishment. Here’s an interesting article.)
Goldfield Ghost Town – This was about an hour east of Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains. It’s a great place to visit and kids would love it. The mine tour was very cool. You can walk into several old buildings. They also offer panning for gold and other minerals!
Visited the Heard Museum – If you like native American artifacts this is the place to visit.
Our favorite restaurants –
- Greek Town – great food, great service.
- Kiss the Cook – great food, great service, great prices. They serve these hot, little, tasty muffins too and of course the Yelp listing.
We didn’t see much of Flagstaff since we only stayed 1 night.
About 30 mins east of Flagstaff is the most well known and best preserved meteorite crater on Earth! It’s a pretty drive and a very cool hole in the ground to see. They won’t let you go into the crater itself but they do give tours on the edge of the crater. The visitors center is nice as well.
In this picture, just look how close the meteorite landed to that building!
North of Flagstaff we drove through the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. It was a great side trip. We actually went inside several real pueblo’s that were built in the 1100s.
Unfortunately both Bing and Google don’t provide very good maps of these monuments. This is the best map I could find showing the circular side road east of route 89.
Kayenta and Tuba City area
We used Kayenta and Tuba City as a launching point for Monument Valley. On route 163 heading north from Kayenta, as you cross a small ridge the beginnings of Monument Valley open up in front of you.
We took the Goulding’s 3½ hour tour. It was kinda pricey but was the cheapest tour we could find. Also, you needed a guide to get to remote corners of the valley. The tour left at 9am or so. We had a total of ~12 people in our truck. The driver stopped a few times and explained things to us.
On this map we stopped at points #1 through #6. Next, the tour headed south to the area marked “Restricted Access Beyond This Point” and saw Moccasin Arch, Sun’s Eye and Ear of The Wind in the bottom right of that map. In that restricted area we were able to see petroglyph’s up close.
It was a long trip after 3 hours in the sun. On the way back the truck kicked up dust from the sand. You should come prepared for a fairly rough ride.
Now, this may sound like heresy but we all agreed that the Grand Canyon really isn’t that great when compared to Monument Valley or Sedona. In the Grand Canyon you can’t get very close to the scenery unless you hike or ride a horse into the canyon, whereas Monument Valley or Sedona you drive right through it in an air conditioned vehicle!
Beautiful! Hiking, walking, shopping, just beautiful.
We went on 2 hikes. I’m not suggesting that you go on these hikes, just describing things we did on our trip. We arrived at the trailhead around 8am before the temperature became too hot. Even though they were short hikes we brought plenty of water and food.
On our 1st hike we attempted Devil’s Bridge. This hike is down Dry Creek Road then take FR152 to the parking lot. Some people had a 4×4 and were able to drive further on the road. It was tooooo hot and the rocky road never turned into a real trail so we gave up. These pictures make the destination look great.
On our 2nd hike we were more successful. We reached on the Fay Canyon trailhead early in the morning and set out on our hike. We managed to find the right place to hike up to the arch. My picture of the arch is below. Here’s some additional great pictures of Fay Canyon.
There is so much great scenery in Sedona. Everywhere you look there is some tall rock that resembles something and has a name (Coffee Pot Rock, Bell Rock, etc.). Sunrise and sunset also change the colors of the rocks.
Near Sedona you can find Montezuma’s Castle. By the way, Montezuma never visited this area. Apparently, there were a bunch of miners who stumbled on this pueblo in the mid/late-1800s and figured the construction was too good to have been built by the local Indians. They assumed it was built by Montezuma. Well, they were wrong. The Indian’s living in that areas were fine builders and did construct this amazing pueblo.
Our favorite restaurants –
- Javelina Cantina. Great food, beautiful view. We ate at the table below.
Overall, it was a great, memorable trip.