Look, I get it. Arizona doesn’t have the best reputation. Referred to as “the meth lab of democracy” by Jon Stewart, my home state is often looked at as being full of regressive politics, snowbirds, and excessive heat. Yes, that excessive heat hype is real.
If I were you, I’d probably say hard pass to visiting Arizona too. But before you do, consider this. Arizona has some pretty awesome travel spots. Here’s a few reasons why you should make a pit stop here before your next visit to California:
Antelope Canyon is one of the few hidden gems left in Arizona. It’s a beautiful slot canyon located near Page, Arizona (about a four-hour drive north of Phoenix.)
What’s most surprising to me is that most Arizonans don’t even know about it. Located on Navajo land, the only way to access it is through a guided tour. Flash floods are kind of a big deal, so make sure you check out the weather in advance.
Once there, you can take a guided jeep tour into the canyon. Peak times are at 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and can get quite cozy with tourists. For a calmer outing, go for an afternoon trek.
The upper canyon tour allows you to walk through unique crevasses. The guides are super helpful and will answer questions along the way about the origins and happenings of the canyon (Ask your guide about the “sand dance.”) For a more hands on trip, add the lower canyon to your tour. You’ll have the opportunity to climb to hike through narrower crevasses and climb up ladders.
You can check out tour info here.
The Grand Canyon –
There’s a bunch of different ways to experience this one of the Seven Natural Wonders. My recommendation is going to the south rim (about 80 miles from Flagstaff), which has some great sightseeing as well as campgrounds. The Bright Angel Hiking trail is roughly a 10 mile hike. You’ll slowly descend into the canyon, see springs at Indian Gardens, and reach a great plateau with a bird’s eye view of the Colorado River.
Hiking up, not as fun.
Oh, you can also camp down in Havasupai Falls and enjoy amazing waterfalls. (Make sure you book about a year in advance.)
Home of the famous toilet bowl! Fossil creek is in the Coconino National Forest (up north near Strawberry). It’s far enough from Phoenix that you can survive days – days! – without air conditioning. Once you reach the park entrance, park your car and hike 4-5 miles to access some great and secluded swimming spots.
About that toilet bowl. From what I gathered, it has less to do with excrement and more to do with whirling water. It’s an awesome experience to jump in and then swim your way out to freedom. Here’s a video that will give you a better idea. If you’re not into that sort of thing, you can also swim into a grotto like cave under a waterfall.
Also, you don’t have to deal with a ton of people. My group went last summer and had the toilet bowl area to ourselves. Since then, they’ve implemented a permit for hikers so plan accordingly.
For a small town, Sedona has a lot to offer. Psychics. Hippies. Aliens.
It’s a tourist trap. But the kind of trap that you let take over you as you fold into submission, like a Venus Fly Trap.
Sedona is about two-hour drive north of Phoenix. The city is known for its scenic red rocks and vortexes, which are basically supposed to fill you with positive energy. Some of the locals actually believe it has to do with aliens.
There’s a ton of touristy ways to spend your day. I recommend you forego the pricey Pink Jeep Tours. Rather, take a quick hike to Cathedral Rock or do some swimming at Slide Rock (it’s essentially a giant outdoor water slide.) I also recommend Devil’s Bridge, which is about a five-mile hike and helps you face your fear of heights.
Sedona is the kind of place where people are weirdly nice too. I distinctly remember during a hike an old hippy gave me a red rock shaped like a heart because he wanted to share the love, man. Nature is amazing.
If you have some extra cash, stay at The Enchantment Resort. It so perfectly full of white people activities it could be on an episode of The Bachelor. There’s spas, golf, croquet, a wine bar, and you can wake up to views like this:
If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend the Sky Ranch Lodge. It’s affordable, has decent rooms, and a great sunset spot that overlooks the city. Crash there and then head to Enchantment for happy hour.
#nofilter #pinkclouds #probablycausedbypollution
Your move, California.