The Southwestern United States is a region of the country that until recently we had not been very acquainted with. Long fascinated by Wild West tales and history, the Southwest has been an area of intrigue that we finally got to properly explore during a long weekend escape in November 2014. Booked a mere month in advance, we found decent travel and accommodation deals and were able to enjoy our 4 day trip with efficiency and leisure.
We wasted no time, packing in a full day of touring from the moment we arrived, speeding up to the Grand Canyon and making it down to Sedona all within a matter of hours. Overall, we left Sedona highly impressed and determined to return again soon.
Weekend to Explore Sedona and see the Grand Canyon.
- 2,930 Roundtrip miles traveled on this trip.
- $465.60 Total cost per person when split two ways.
- 3 Hikes
- 4 Days Total time of our trip
- 26.81 miles walked
Modern West Photo Shoot
The mission of this trip was to step foot into the American Southwest for the first time and take in the majestic Grand Canyon and red rocks of Sedona. Our theme was heavily influenced by Martin's admiration for Mad Max and desire to simulate some Mad Max-inspired photo shoots in the desert. The night before the trip, Martin visited the barber's shop and shaved his full head of hair into a mohawk; he then donned a black leather jacket and black pants throughout all of our hikes in Sedona for the sake of the photo shoots.
Route and Itinerary
- Friday (Day 1): Flight from Seattle to Flagstaff. Arrive in Flagstaff and drive to Grand Canyon, then to Sedona.
- Saturday (Day 2): Day hiking and overnight stay in Sedona.
- Sunday (Day 3): Day hiking and overnight stay in Sedona.
- Monday (Day 4): Drive to Flagstaff for lunch and fly back to Seattle.
Driving to the Grand Canyon
From the Flagstaff airport, we picked up a small rental car and drove 90 minutes northwest on route 180 into Red Rock Country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is a natural landmark that is an easy day trip from Flagstaff or Sedona. It's ideal to spend at least a full day here, to do the historic Watchtower climb and explore the lesser known East Rim Drive. However, if you're like us and don't have much time to spare, an hour or two or exploration is well worth the trip.
The South Rim is one of the most popular viewpoints at the Grand Canyon. Open all year, the area has paved walkways and is accessible by all. Just be careful how close to the edge you get as there are certain areas without railings that can be potentially hazardous.
Traveling to Sedona
After a stop at the Grand Canyon, we ventured 2 hours (about 108 miles) south on US-180E to Sedona. This scenic desert town is very distinct as it is surrounded by red-rock buttes and steep canyon walls. Maybe it's the dust in the air, but Sedona truly feels magical. There are lots of outdoor activities to do here such as hiking, biking, off-roading, or visiting scenic vistas.
Sedona has a moderate climate, so it is great to visit at any time of the year. However, spring and fall are the best and most popular times to visit thanks to the mid-60s to low 80s temperature. Summer tends to be much hotter in the mid-90s, while winter can even bring snow.
We spent our entire stay in the luxurious Diamond Resorts of Sedona Summit, a modern resort tucked away a few miles from the main town. Normally reserved for timeshare guests, we found an amazing deal here for only $119 per night. Our accommodations were a spacious studio with a King sized bed, couch, dining room, and full kitchen. The grounds were incredibly spacious and well-kept with 7 pools and hot tubs on site and a game and entertainment room.
Things to Do in Sedona
Go for a hike
There are over 200 trails in the Red Rocks National Park. Easily the most photogenic and popular hikes in the area include Courthouse Rock, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Bear Mountain.
Drive to Oak Creek Canyon
Take a short drive northeast on Highway 89A for a scenic, unforgettable drive to Oak Creek Canyon. This river gorge lies between Flagstaff and Sedona and is located within the Coconino National Forest. There are several campgrounds and picnic areas in the canyon, as well as many miles of hiking trails. Many fishermen also venture here to fish the 49 miles of creek teeming with several types of trout, bass, and catfish.
Shop for Art and Souvenirs
Sedona boasts 80+ art galleries and boutique stores carrying mystic and New Age products. If you're seeking a rhodochrosite, chrysoprase or other crystals that promote metaphysical well-being, you'll definitely find them in here. The shops and galleries along Highway 89A are a great place to start. Also be sure to hit the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, a colonial-style shopping center with plenty of shops.
Seek Out Spiritual Vortexes
Speaking of spirituality, Sedona is full of vortexes, where the earth radiates physic energy. Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, taking a guided tour or exploring vortexes on your own is a popular activity. One such vortex also contains another worthy attraction that was built on top: the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This modern chapel looks like something out of a science fiction film and offers spectacular photo opportunities.
Sedona doesn't have much of a nightlife, and many of its restaurants and bars close rather early. So take advantage of the city's restrictions on light pollution and turn your eyes towards the heavens and enjoy the constellations.
Rent a bike, ATV, or Tomcar
Off-roading is another popular activity in Sedona, with miles of backcountry roads to traverse. Most companies offer half day or full day vehicle rentals that will send you off the day with a map to choose your own adventure.
Take a Helicopter or Hot Air Ballon Ride
The Sedona valley is stunning from a high viewpoint, which you can reach by hiking or man-made vessel. Helicopter tours run frequently, as do hot air balloon companies. Aim for a sunrise or sunset ride for the most spectacular, photo-worthy experiences.
Over To You
Have you visited Sedona or the Grand Canyon? Share your travel tips below!