Planning a fun long weekend escape to the desert is usually pretty easy… said no one partaking on this particular trip :/ My beautiful sister turned 30 and with both of us living on opposite coasts, we decided to plan a long overdue sister trip to one of our bucket list destinations. Agreeing on Arizona’s painted desert we set off to explore Sedona with side trips to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. From the moment I stepped onto the plane that Friday afternoon, everything pretty much went wrong in a series for fairly comical events, resulting in an extremely memorable, funny, magical, certainly awe-inspiring adventure, that I can definitely say ended up the highlight of 2016 (yes it’s taken me that long to post this :/ ).
Murphy’s Law is a bloody nuisance of a phenomenon. In short, a series of delayed/missed flights, an unexpected 6 hour wait in Phoenix Airport for Farrin to arrive at midnight and a then two a half hour zero visibility drive through the desert, was just the start. The midnight desert drive resembled what I would imagine space travel is like, a vast black expanse of who knows what… we literally could have been passing by waving aliens, Area 51 or simply the side a cliff, we had no clue what we were passing by. At one point I accidentally turned off the headlights in search of the highbeams and legit think we disappeared from Earth for a good few seconds…
Our 3am arrival at our Flagstaff motel was greeted with a very dark and quiet reception area. Before we started arguing as to who was going shotgun! the back seat of the car to sleep, I thankfully decided to give the motel a ring. Luckily a very sleepy night manager left his comfy chair-post to let us in. Getting a couple of hours sleep, we set off at 7am for our 3 hour drive to Antelope Canyon which ultimately made our series of unfortunate events sooo totally worth while.
Formed through flash flooding these almost moltan-like slot canyons were named for the original Antelope that occupied the area. One of the most amazing geological experiences I’ve had and a definite recommendation for anyone travelling to the area.
- Get there an hour earlier than you expect. The canyons are on Navajo land and can only be accessed via tour guide. With the volume of cars and tourists trying to get checked in, your best/safest bet is to get there early to avoid missing your tour time.
- Try to get a 10am – 12pm tour time. This is the best time to see light streaming in for all sources, illuminating the caves.
- Wear comfortable shoes, light clothing and bring water. It’s HOT out there. The tours generally provide water but it’s always good to have your own stash on hand.
- Expect to wait 45 mins to access the canyons after the tour starts. Due to the amount of people visiting every year, the wait to access the canyon can be long. Each tour group has around 10 – 20 people and the canyons for the most part are a single file deal.
- Try to book tours as early as possible. Tour times book out quickly so if you can try to secure a few weeks ahead then you’ll have the best options for times. General tour prices vary from $20 – $60 and Photographic Tours (these tours are longer and generally smaller in size) are around $40 – $300 (time of year and time of day fluctuations).
- Recommended Tours: Antelope Slot Canyon Tours, Ken’s Tours – Lower Antelope Canyon and Navajo Tours.
There was a moment here, just standing on the edge of such great expanse where clarity and alignment exists. It’s hard to describe but it’s surreal and something I won’t forget in my lifetime.
- It’s an approx 1.2 mile hike to the bend from the parking lot. Comfy shoes, light clothing and water are a must. There isn’t any shade so a hat would be good aswell.
- The view is breathtaking so bring your best camera. You’ll be battling crowds to get a clean shot but most people are there for the same thing and are respectful of the photographers code 😉
Sedona has been on my bucket list for some time now. The pinky purple, terracotta hues of the painted desert make for some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. The magnitude of driving amongst the red rock buttes, contrasted with the lush greenery of the forests between, give an almost otherworldly feel and an understanding of why so many make the pilgrimage for clarity.
In the quick day and a half we had, we managed to squeeze in a beautiful dinner, cocktails by the hotel pool, town exploration, hiking and some spectacular views:
Our 3 Day Trip Itinerary (the original version without the hiccups)
Fly into Flagstaff for the night
Morning 3 Hour Drive to Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon Tour
1/2 Hour Drive to Horseshoe Bend
Hike to the Bend
2 hour drive to Sedona
Morning explores around Sedona
Cocktails and pool at our hotel
More cocktails, pool and late lunch at Enchantment Resort
Dinner at Cress On Oak Creek
Breakfast in Sedona township
1 Hour Drive back Flagstaff stopping for the view and photos on the way
Flight home #BOOOOO
Big thanks to Google Maps for helping us find our way!
The trip was quick, full of adventure, A LOT OF LAUGHS and definitely a highlight from 2016.