An Arizona US roadtrip: Scottsdale, Page, Sedona and The Grand Canyon
Road Trip By Brian Norton | March 29, 2018
Embarking on this epic US roadtrip was my first taste of America barre the time that, as a Mickey and Minnie obsessed 5 year old with my brother and parents, I visited Disney.
This was the first time I was to uncover America as the outdoor adventurer and fully fledged adult that I am today and I was ever so excited to explore new lands.
Admittedly, it’s now August 2017 and I did this roadtrip in June 2016. A little late to say the very least. But last week I noticed my vlog from this exact roadtrip hit 100,000 views on Youtube and so I thought you may appreciate the facts and finds in a blog post too.
Apologies if the details are a little rusty, but let’s give it a whirl…
Here’s a map of our route and the hotspots we visited within it!
The adventure began when I flew into Phoenix, the largest connecting airport to London Heathrow, with two of my best friends. The whole trip was actually centred around a challenge they had set out to complete here in Arizona and I had just decided to hop on board (with the trip, not the challenge). The challenge was to run the 29miles (for 7 hours) from the north rim of the Canyon to the south.
Madness, I know. You can read more about their epic adventure here.
From the airport we continued on to Scottsdale where we stayed for 2 days with my friends dad who lives there. Scottsdale is about a half hour taxi from the airport.
Just east of state capital Phoenix, Scottsdale is a desert land filled with painted houses that camouflage with the gorgeous landscape. Scottsdale isn’t the most popular destination with tourists just yet, I guess because it’s not over developed with opportunity and activity yet but I think that’s what makes it unique. For the days we were there we relaxed by the pool, went on some beautiful sunrise walks (midday heat is a little too overwhelming to exercise in) and popped into Scottsdale quarter (which is beautiful) for some shopping, obviously.
Top tip: If you head to Scottsdale quarter, be sure to grab a Menchie’s Frozen Yoghurt. If there’s one thing America do better than anywhere else, it’s their extensive variety of chocolate and sweets. As you can imagine, the topping choices are inSANE.
Other recommendations in the area: Toms Thumb Hiking
After a couple of days relaxing in Scottsdale we began our 3 day roadtrip over to the Grand Canyon with a first stop in Sedona. My friend Em had been getting our taste buds seriously tingling for the whole 2 hour ride ready to indulge in apparently some of the best pancakes she’s ever had at Coffee Pot restaurant which we unfortunately found to be closed when we arrived in Sedona.
Tip: Check the opening times and eat there if you can!
Instead we pulled up down the road at Wholefoods and tucked into a wholesome salad before continuing on to explore Cathedral Rock via the Upper Red Rock Loop Road.
I will never forget the feeling of driving through Sedona. The scale of the red rocks and the sheer contrast to any landscape i’d ever witness before was pure magic. I’d seen photos online but it definitely didn’t compare to the sense of awe I felt when we drove through.
Other recommendations in the area: Devils Bridge Hike, Meteor Crator
By this point we were chasing the last of the daylight and had to choose between cocktails at Enchantment resort and a 2 hour hike to Devils Bridge. Due to the girls’ challenge fast approaching and their need to rest up from any strenuous activity, we (wonderful) opted for cocktails and this mad view (see below).
Tip: Enchantment Resort is quite a fancy establishment, but you can opt for just drinks or dinner here. If you do have the budget, I mean, the place is insane and would make for a very special and seriously romantic getaway. See more on their website here.
After watching the sunset over the red rocks at the Enchantment Resort we drove through the last glimmer of daylight through to Flagstaff where we had booked a motel to stay in for the night. We stayed at Greentree Inn Flagstaff which was pretty basic but very centrally located and we had a great nights sleep. A true American ‘motel’ experience with make your own waffles for breakfast in the morning. I think we paid £123 GBP for one night which had two double beds within it.
Tip: Head to Martanne’s Burritos for some awesome mexican food in town.
Tip: The town (around where the Martanne’s is) is super cute with some lively bars.
Just when I thought the views couldn’t get any better. The most definitely did.
From Flagstaff we drove through to Page where we hunted down the Antelope Canyons. Unfortunately our luck was out and it turned out to be on thousands of other peoples bucket lists as well as ours. The canyons are operated by tour companies that take you down in groups to avoid over crowding and to, well, manage the crowds.
Top tip: BOOK IN ADVANCE!
We were told we could wait around to see if anyone dropped out of the fully booked tours but there was no guarantee of access and we could have been waiting for hours i the desert heat.
Disappointed to say the least, we cut our loses and headed on down to the next adventure on the bucket list – the Horseshoe bend.
Wow wow wow wow wow.
The Horseshoe Bend most definitely made up for it.
Other recommendations in the area: HavaiSupai Falls hike.
After an incredible experience being totally blown away by the sheer depth and beauty of the canyons so far we drove on to our accommodation for the evening – Marble Canyon Lodge.
We had chosen to stay here because it was the closest available accommodation to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where the girls were due to start their hike at 4am the following day.
Other recommendations in the area: Grand Canyon rafting, Kayak the Colorado, Cathedral Wash Trail.
At 2am I woke with the girls at Marble Canyon Lodge and we drove the 2 remaining hours to reach the North Rim trailhead.
After waving them off and saying a few prayers for their safety, I began my 6 hour drive around to meet them at the South Rim (the tourist side where most people head to view the canyon).
It was going to be a long day of driving and for the first half, very lonely. The North Rim area of the Grand Canyon is hardly developed at all, the majority of the roads may as well we dirt tracks and there is very very minimal inhabitants here.
I guess you could say this is where our roadtrip took a bit of a plot twist.
The plan was for me to stop off at the Antelope Canyon en route to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where I would then pick up the girls and together drive on to Vegas for 3 days to celebrate their success and party!
Unfortunately I had a car crash and plans were aborted.
You can read about what happened in this blog post, or watch the video below which explains what happened.
I was reaching distance from the Grand Canyon but due to the above circumstances, I never actually got to see it. I’m pretty gutted too that my actions had aborted our plan to see Vegas but in hindsight, I’m simple very lucky to be alive and I know one day i’ll be back to see both.
Should you be heading to Vegas and want to add this epic destination to the end of your roadtrip (you gotta!), I did post a bucket list of all the things I was planning to do and see when I got there. After all, i’d done the research!
Take a look at my ‘Vegas Bucket List’ here.
Where did you go? I’d love to know! 🙂
Thank YOU guys for reading <3
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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