Sedona with a side trip to the Grand Canyon- MDW 2018
I basically spent this past Memorial Day weekend living in a painting (at least that's what it felt like). I had a work conference the week before at the Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona (talk about a luxury property- if you want to truly pamper yourself and get lost in a maze of a hotel- check it out), and on Wednesday night Joe flew in. Thursday morning after a quick canal run, breakfast at the hotel and some pool time, we picked up our rental car and headed 2 hours north to Sedona.
Pro rental car tip- do not, under any circumstance, rent from Advantage or Fox rental cars. I have been tricked into doing this the last 2 trips I've been on, and it's cheap for a reason. Both cars have been kind of a mess (scratches, dents), I got a mini-van last time, at least this time was a buick, but the customer service and pick up process was so slow and terrible. I think I'm going to pick a reliable rental car service from now on, build up some points with loyalty and try to get a discount that way- because I can't anymore with these budget rentals.
Anyways I digress, back to the Sedona journey. The drive from Phoenix mid-day Thursday was very easy. Once you approach Sedona and you are heading into town on 179 get ready- the red rocks pop up virtually out of nowhere and it is EPIC.
We checked right into our bed and breakfast - A Sunset Chateau. This place was super adorbs- and check out that window view- does it get any better?! Waking up to that every day was not hard at all. Parking was right in front of our room. We had a one bedroom with separate living area (fireplace, kitchen, dining table)- king bed with jacuzzi tub bathroom attached. So nice- tons of space. It had a couple of loungers on the front patio and a few steps away from the main restaurant where they served breakfast every morning (complimentary) from 8:30am-10am. Each day they would offer a different signature dish (Fri - Eggs Florentine, Sat- Fried eggs on a waffle, Sun- Huevos Rancheros, Mon- BYO Omelet) or you could always request something else (I opted for basic scrambled eggs and toast one day). Inside the restaurant you would grab your own coffee, OJ, tea, water, etc. I loved the breakfast seriously I wish they had done dinner because their chef was the bomb. Anyways, in addition to the free parking, awesome breakfasts and big condos - they also had a huge seating area in the middle of the complex with more loungers, hammocks, seating, etc and a heated pool with hot tub and outdoor fireplace. Almost every night after dinner Joe and I used that hot tub- great way to end a day of extreme hikes. After getting settled we walked down to dinner at La Mariposa- a latin tapas spot with amazing sunset views of the Red Rocks. It was about a 40min walk from the B&B- but easy to get to. It was packed being the spot in town for sunset shots, but we were able to grab seats at the bar. Awesome drinks (margs) and food. If you get a late start on dinner beware- most places in Sedona we found out close at 9 or 10pm.
Friday: Let the hiking begin! In an effort to check it off the list- we decided to make our first full day a Grand Canyon day. After breakfast, it took us about 2.5 hours to get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon- so we arrived a little before 11:30am which was not bad. The line to get into the park was only a few cars deep, and we found parking pretty easily. We took their shuttle bus to the Yaki Point trail, and hiked round trip about 2.5 hrs down and back into the Canyon. It is SO BIG and SO FAR DOWN. It's hard to even grasp the depth of the canyon. After over an hour of hiking down we were nowhere close to the bottom- I'm guessing that could take possibly half a day. This was a great trail, but steep, and if you are looking for something with great views and less challenging- the South Rim trail goes along the top of the canyon and is paved, but also is packed most of the trail with tourists. What else can I say about the Grand Canyon- its amazing. Check it out if you get the chance. This excursion, with the driving (5 hours total) and hiking (over 3+ hours) took the majority of the day. When we finally got back to Sedona we had dinner at Cucina Rustica (same restaurant group as La Mariposa). Good basic italian food- the highlight of this meal probably was the Limoncello dessert at the end- so boozy delicious. This place was a little far to walk from our spot so we ubered (around $20-25 per trip is the average around Sedona it seems like)
Saturday: More hiking! This time we stayed in Sedona, and kicked off with Devil's Bridge. No parking anywhere near the trailhead or in overflow parking- so add a mile onto your hike. Very popular trail- and prepare to wait in line to get that awesome photo of you "alone" on the Rock Bridge. Worth it though- great views and obviously cool photo opps. Once we checked that off the list we headed to the Boynton Canyon trail- a few minutes down the road from the Devil's Bridge hike deeper into West Sedona. This was a very easy up and back trail through some canyons, woods, and consisted of views from the base of the red rocks. That ate up a few more hours- so after we went to homebase for a quick change and uber ride to Slide Rock State Park. A few notes about this place- BYO towel, it's a $30 charge per car or $3 per person to walk in. We ubered ($20) but had no cell service at the park- so we used the ranger's phone to call a cab ($30). In the end- we did not have to hassle with parking (the lot fills up quick) but we ended up paying more and had to wait like 20mins on our cab. Up to you how you want to play it. This place is super fun though- it had a natural "rock slide" (not steep), and was deep enough to jump from some larger rocks into the water. We only did that once though because that is some cold water. Worth checking out. After the cab ride back, we did a hike to dinner (not on purpose, we were told their was a trail to the restaurant, we got a little lost, ended up on a road, but made it to dinner). Mesa Grill at the Sedona airport- another place that was packed but we were able to grab bar seats. Great food and drinks- and yes, at the airport (think private airport, small planes, on top of a mountain and the restaurant was all windows so really cool views). We took the safe option and ubered back to the Chateau.
Sunday: Even more hiking! With a taste the night before of the airport loop trail, we decided in the light of day to try that one again- and very glad we did. For one, it was literally right behind our B&B, and it also had really good 360 degree views of Sedona. Plus seeing the planes come in right above your head was pretty neat too. That took a couple of hours, and was pretty easy, so for a challenge we drove to Cathedral Rock. This was another extremely popular hike where we had to park on the side of the road because all the parking at the trailhead lot was full. It only took us about 20mins to scramble to the top of the rock- but it was really hard and very intimidating. But as usual, so worth it. This was a full body work out, both going up and coming down, lots of climbing on all fours, not what I'm used to whatsoever but so glad we did it. The ride back to homebase was brutal though- so much traffic on 179 - we stopped at Pumphouse for a quick bite and to honestly try to wait out the traffic. We caught Pumphouse on the tail end of their brunch, so they were only serving limited food options, but my crepe was delicious and they had the cutest little patio in the back, plus good coffee. After the pit stop, we made our way through the traffic to our final hike- Adobe Jack trail (trailhead right by La Mariposa). Nice final hike, fairly easy and flat. A shower and change later, we walked down 89 to 179 about an hour to The Hudson for dinner. All the restaurants kill it with the all window walls and amazing red rock views- this one was no exception. Again, sat at the bar, no reservation needed- and had some bangin bruschetta, butternut squash ravioli, Joe watched the NBA playoffs, it was a nice final dinner. At this point it was dark and we were exhausted, so we ubered home.
Monday: bye Sedona- hope to be back soon!
Takeaways from Sedona:
Really good restaurants! When reservations fill up- try for a bar seat- it worked for us everytime!
The traffic can get crazy- there are only 2 major roads - one going North/south, the other east/west, with no alternative backroads. Also, no stoplights- they use roundabouts, and sometimes they have crossing guards at shopping areas that can really slow traffic down.
Parking - is tough- everywhere. Uber is great, but alot of hikes/areas have no cell service
It is hot- but it is bearable, don't be intimidated. It is (like everyone says) a dry heat- like you don't sweat much. It's something to get used to. What I definitely could get used to is there was not a cloud in the sky the entire week+ I was in Arizona.
There are endless amounts of hiking opportunities- trails everywhere. Sometimes you can get trailhead parking, we were visiting on a holiday weekend so it was all free, but most of the time it's $5-10 to park. Also, not all trails provide bathrooms and water, and if they do it's at the trailhead only. So byo TP for those long hikes
The people here are a little...strange. We had very interesting uber drivers- one talked about alternative medicine the whole time and how lack of oxygen is what causes cancer. Another did a tarot card reading and gave us crystals. One explained to us about the vortexes (I could do a whole other blog on vortex spots in Sedona). Everyone is really nice though, and seemingly retired. The youngsters have not infiltrated Sedona much yet as a place to call home. Hence maybe why everything closes at 10pm.
It is so close to so many things! In 2 hours you can be in Phoenix, Scottsdale, the Grand Canyon or Petrified Forest National parks. In 3 hours you can be at Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell. A really good homebase for day trips.
Sunset Chateau (through Airbnb): $1350 (4 nights)
Rental Car: $130