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I haven't been everywhere yet,

but it's on my list!

  • Writer's pictureDeborah Latham

Exploring the Best of Natural Beauty: Sedona AZ and the Grand Canyon

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activities! Thankfully, we are all early risers, so we enjoyed the mild weather in the mornings in Sedona, AZ and a day at the Grand Canyon before the sun warmed it to just below scorching!

Our campsite was at Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde. Since we arrived a day early, we had extra time to do some things that weren't on our original itinerary. So, on this first day, we set out to explore Montezuma Castle National Monument. The cliff dwellings were spectacular. It is mind boggling to think how those homes were made so high on the cliffs by hand with no modern equipment. I can't fathom how hard it had to have been for mother's of small children to live perched so precariously on those cliffs. The trail to visit the cliffs is paved and a very easy walk, so if you're ever in the area, it's well worth the visit.

After Montezuma Castle, we drove through Camp Verde and Fort Verde State Historic park before making our way to Montezuma Well. This hike went down to a spring where more cliff dwellings perched. The National Park staff at this site were very informative, and we had a great time exploring this site!

From Montezuma Castle, it was time to drive into Sedona and get our first glimpses of the towering Red Rocks....and find some Mexican food! We went to Tortas De Fuego, and it was delicious! We visited Oak Creek Brewery and then headed back to the campground via the scenic route which took us through historic Cottonwood, where we stopped at the Belfry Brewery, which was a great stop! The pool at the campground was a nice way to finish the afternoon, before another amazing dinner at the campsite. Teresa made the most amazing P'asanga! I can't tell you the recipe, but it's the best Italian dish ever!!! We definitely ate a little too well on this trip!

Day 2 started very early as we had a Pink Jeep tour at 7 a.m. We chose the Broken Arrow Trail, and it was definitely one of the highlights of this trip! Our guide, Mike, was excellent and it was a 4x4 adventure that did not disappoint. Seeing the red rock formations from a distance is great, but being up close and personal is incredible! I highly recommend doing one of these tours. The vivid colors as the sun highlighted the rocks created the most picturesque scenes. I've always been one to see different shapes in the clouds, and with a vivid imagination, one can see different shapes in the rocks as well, some more obvious than others. Jolting along the rocks, we worked up an appetite, so we asked Mike where he recommended for the best breakfast. He said Cafe Jose was the best, so we took his advice and headed straight there! It did not disappoint! If you want a great Mexican breakfast, this is the place to go!

Bellies full, we headed to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This church is built against the stunning backdrop of the Red Rocks with views of God's magnificent creation spread out in front of it. When you enter the church and stand in the footprints at the alter, Jesus looks down on you from the cross, a reminder of His great sacrifice for us so that those that believe in Him can have eternal life. There is no greater gift we can be given, and I used this moment to thank Him again for this amazing life He's blessed me with.

After visiting the church, we headed to the Tlaquepaque Artists Shops. The buildings themselves are a work of art with ivy, sculptures, and fountains placed around the courtyards. We didn't shop, but just wandered around looking and taking photos.

We completed this day with another scenic drive, this time through the mountains, visiting the copper mining town of Jerome! The drive was a very curvy uphill climb to a quaint town set on the side of the mountains with amazing views. Well worth the drive to see! We made our way back to our campsite, where Rick grilled burgers and cheese skirt potatoes which were incredible. Did I mention that we are eating very well this trip? After dinner, we walked around the campground, meeting some neighbors and just enjoying the peaceful evening. The night sky was spectacular with clear views of the Milky Way and millions of stars! I'm really enjoying this RV life!

We got up early again on Day 3, excited to go pick up our rental ATV. Time to go 4 wheelin' on the trails by ourselves! Teresa was able to get us a pass for Soldiers Pass Trail which only allows 12 vehicles in a day! This trail goes to the Seven Sacred Pools which surprisingly had a little water in them, although all the creek beds we passed were dry as a bone! Rick handled the trails like a pro, and we bounced and laughed our way across the rocks, just taking in the scenery! From Soldiers Pass we headed to the Outlaw Trail, where we wound through the desert closer and closer to the cliffs. When we reached the cliffs, we had just enough time to hike the short 1/2 mile trail to the cliff dwellings at the base of the rocks, before returning dusty but extremely happy to Sedona ATV Rentals!

All that bouncing worked up an appetite, so we stopped at Hideaway House for a lunch of pizza with great views! We sat on the patio, facing the view, and enjoyed some delicious pizza. Their specialty is a white pizza with ricotta, caramelized pancetta and roasted peaches! I'd never heard of peaches on pizza before, but we had to try it and it was surprisingly delicious! We finished this day up with a nap, then dinner and karaoke at Low Places in Camp Verde, which was great fun!

We used our last day to visit the Grand Canyon. Doug had never been before, so it was a new experience for him. But, it doesn't matter how many times I've been (this made my 4th), it still leaves me awestruck! The vastness of the Canyon, the vibrant colors and crevices the water has carved through the rocks over time, is just unable to be described in words that do it justice. No matter how gorgeous your photos turn out, they can never give you the feeling you get standing on the edge looking down, across, and as far as you can see on both sides. We were a little disappointed that Hermit Road that goes around the rim was closed to private vehicles. But we headed around the other side and had a wonderful picnic at an overlook and just took in the views before heading back to the campground via the scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon!