ARIZONA ROAD TRIP: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
After the New year, I decided to visit my dad this past January in Tucson. I had been to Arizona many times to visit him before but, had never been to the Grand Canyon. I told myself next time I go, I absolutely will see the Grand Canyon. I set my plan in motion and started planning this 3 night road trip from Tucson to the Grand Canyon and here are all the places I went and the things I saw while on it!
Where I went:
Saguaro National Park
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Saguaro National Park
I started off my Arizona adventure in Tucson at Saguaro National Park. Saguaro National Park in the Sonoran Desert home to the Saguaro Cactus. The Saguaro Cactus is the largest cactus species in the US, and Saguaro National Park in particular has some of the tallest ones!
The park is a perfect place to take pictures with the views of the mountains in the background with the cacti speckled throughout almost looking like a crowd of people. It is truly a beautiful sight. The park has trails, and pull outs so you can stop and really take in the beauty or take pictures like I did.
Entrance Fee $25/Vehicle
There is an east side and west side to the park. I went to the west side
I went in January, cold mornings but perfect throughout the rest of the day
Total time spent: About 2 hours
If you're pressed for time take a scenic drive through it, because you definitely don't want to skip this park!
The next day I hit the road headed about 3 hours north of Tucson to Montezuma Castle.
Despite it's name, this cave dwelling has nothing to do with the Aztec King Montezuma and as you can see does not resemble a castle.It was built by the Sinagaua people, who were able to access the dwelling by ladder. Although Arizona is known for its naturally beauty, Montezuma Castle is a great way to squeeze in some history and culture on your road trip.
Entrance Fee: $10/Person for 1 week including access to Tuzigoot National Monument
Total TIme Spent: About 30 Minutes its a decently small park
After a short 40 minute drive from Montezuma Castle I made it to the mountain town of Jerome, Arizona. Jerome has had many iterations, from the rough and tumble "wickedest town in the west" moniker, to now being a cute little village for artists. Although I randomly ran in to a friend from college who actually lives in Jerome it is really more of a tourist attraction to hear ghost stories or visit the artisanal shops. The best shop by far is Nellie Bly, where they have the biggest collection of kaleidoscopes in the world!
Access to the town is free! Just walk around and explore!
Total time spent: About 2-3 hours but if you're pressed for time you could see it all in one hour at max
After spending the night on a ranch in Cornville, I woke up early to go to my Jeep Tour.
There are many Jeep Tours to choose from and also many trails that they can take you on. I booked through Pink Jeep Tours on the 2 hour Scenic Rim excursion. It was amazing to see the beautiful red rock formations. It was the perfect time to go, we were one of the only Jeeps on the trail according to the tour guide it can get pretty crowded on the trail at peak season.
After the tour I did some light souvenir shopping in downtown Sedona then headed to hike Devil's Bridge Trail. It's a popular hike and I was headed there in the afternoon so there was quite a lot of people but we were still able to social distance. The hike to the bridge took about 1-2 hours. I would say it was a pretty easy trail slightly strenuous with some light climbing but while I was there a very pregnant woman was doing it and people in casual jeans and vans were doing it so, I guess it wasn't too bad. At the top in order to take your picture on the bridge there was a line of people waiting, I waited 15-30 minutes max to get my picture and started heading back down the trail.
Pink Jeep Tour Scenic Rim: $87/person, this is a must do experience!
Red Rock Pass: $5/day you do need a pass to hike the trails, I got mine from a gas station
For the grand finale and the end to the road trip, I went to the Grand Canyon!
After spending a night in Sedona, I woke up at 4 in the morning and drove 2 hours to catch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Now, driving from Sedona to the Grand Canyon on highway 89A with cliffs on either side of you, in pitch black because there are no street lights, was an experience in and of itself. I can imagine the beautiful sights I would've seen had there been light out, instead I was high beaming all the way there.
It was a touch below freezing outside. But, I headed to Mather Point and watched the sunrise come up over the horizon highlighting the canyon, really showing its depth, I was awe struck. People always describe the Grand Canyon as big, but the true enormity of it cannot be understood until you see it with your own eyes. It's incredible. I had planned on hiking but I was ill prepared for the weather so instead I did the Desert View Drive. It allows you to see the canyon from many different perspectives and has pull outs all down the road for you to stop and take it in.
Entrance fee: $35/car
Desert View Drive: 2-4 hours depending on how often and long you stop for
After the Grand Canyon I drove about 7 and a half hours back to Tucson and made it back in time for dinner. I felt a sense of completion. I made a plan, stuck with it and for the most part it all worked out without a hitch! But there is so much more natural beauty left to see in Arizona so maybe there will be a road trip part two?