What do you get when you take two sisters who can barely drive, a rental Soccer Mom Volvo, and the open road? That would be the fourth installment of the annual Ericson sisters trip.
For this trip, we were looking for a domestic trip somewhere off the beat and path with access to a National Park. After kicking around the idea of New Mexico, we settled upon basing in Sedona, Arizona for its outdoorsy and spiritual vibe and proximity to the Grand Canyon.
Sedona is a town filled with spectacular red rock views, places to hike, and plenty of opportunities for spirituality
There are more Crystal Shops here than Coffee Shops – Amy Ericson
Time of Visit: Saturday 11/9/2020 – Thursday 11/14/2020
Weather: Low 70s and Sunny. Perfectly pleasant the entire time.
- Day 1: Travel – Flight Boston to Phoenix. Drive Phoenix to Sedona & Dinner
- Day 2: Sedona
- Day 3: Grand Canyon Day Trip
- Day 4: Sedona
- Day 5: Petrified Forest Day Trip
- Day 6: Travel & Lunch in Phoenix
Activities – Sedona
- A well in the middle of the desert. Pretty and scenic. Short walk to reach the well and easy parking. Quick and free spot to check off touring list.
- In the 1100-1400’s people used to live in this cliff dwelling. Another quick stop over and walk, a couple miles from Montezuma well.
Bell Rock Spiritual Vortex
A big claim to fame for Sedona is its “Spiritual Vortexes”. We visited the Bell Rock vortex which consisted of a 20 minute easy hike along an open air path up to the rock. Once at the rock you can hike as far up it as you chose or not at all. The scenery around it is so nice its a great place for relaxing and quiet contemplation.
West Fork Trail
Many ask how my sister and I get along on our Sisters trips. Generally, the answer is great. We are mostly on the same schedule, and have the same appetite for balancing activities along with relaxing. However, we average about one blow out a trip over absolutely nothing, and that occurred right before we went off on this hike.
Something about her asking me to grab an apple in the backseat, that I didn’t do fast enough, that resulted in a parking lot stand off. One thing to note is that there is a small parking lot to go to this hike. It was full up when we got there so we had to wait to get in. That could have been where tensions started to mount.
Eventually we decided to both go on the hike separately, but really we were within proximity of each other the whole time but not on speaking terms. The hike itself was awesome. Its pretty flat overall but there are some streams to cross. It is pretty long, and its not a loop so you have to decide when to turn around. I probably made it about 50% of the way. Luckily for us we both encountered the same female solo traveler who took pictures of each of us.
Sunset at Airport Mesa
We went up here for a sunset viewing. The views up here were good but it is certainly not a secret as it was packed. Plenty of parking
It felt like the right time to begin a crystal collection, so I grabbed a few from one of the nearby Crystal Stores. There was no shortage of Crystal stores in the area, and they all kind of seemed the same.
Holy Cross Chapel
The chapel, which is built into the red rocks, was nothing short of ~spectacular~. The chapel itself is something, but when you add in the views of the rocks it is very special. To get there you can either drive up the hill or there is an employee manned golf cart that drives people up and down.
Grand Canyon – South Rim Day Trip from Sedona
Where to Go: I definitely didn’t appreciate how vast the canyon was which had me colored confused for a bit when trying to figure out how to get to the Grand Canyon.Essentially there are 3 main options. The Grand Canyon South was the closest by far so that’s what we went with.
- Grand Canyon South Rim – About 2 – 2.5 hours North of Sedona, which is what we visited
- Grand Canyon North North Rim – Another 2 hours north past the South Rim, so 6ish hours from Sedona, not always open in the Winter
- Grand Canyon West – 4 hours from Sedona, ~2.5 hours from Vegas
How Long to Stay:We weren’t sure if a day trip to the Grand Canyon was going to be enough. It was plenty for us. I knew me and my sister would likely go there, tool around for awhile, take some pictures, walk around, and that’s exactly what we did. Some people spend days staying there and hiking, or descending into the canyon (scary). There didn’t seem to be a popping restaurant scene or much else really where we could have spent more time. Though I’m sure there were plenty of things we missed.
Getting to Grand Canyon South Rim from Sedona: Its about a two hour drive to get there from Sedona. 0 Traffic so it was straight cruising. We stopped in this cute place called the Owl Cafe in Flagstaff on the way for breakfast to break up the drive which was delightful.
The things I heard about visiting the Grand Canyon were
- 1. “It is way bigger and more grand and amazing that you can imagine and that gets captured in pictures.” This I can confirm as true.
- 2. “Hiking down it is worth it, but its way harder to hike back up.” I had this in mind so I didn’t test the theory. Knowing I’m semi scared of heights I knew we weren’t going to be descending deep into the canyon. I briefly checked out riding a mule down but I wasn’t totally committed to that idea.
What we did: There are buses that take you to the different viewing points within the park. We basically rode them a couple of times to different spots, and took some pictures.
We did walk down the Bright Angel path into the canyon for a little while, and I was pretty much scared the entire time of falling off of the ledge. What was crazy was that there were people coming up from having gone all the way down into the canyon and back over the course of a few days.
After that we went on our way. It was definitely worth the trip seeing the canyon in its enormity was diabolical!
Petrified Forest/Painted Desert/Meteor Crater Day Trip
We had capacity for another big day trip and the Petrified Forest/Painted dessert was within striking range. Had we gone straight there from Sedona it would have taken about 2.5 hours. However to break up the trip we made a pit stop at the Meteor Crater. The drive was kind of surreal, it feels like UFO land/area 54 where there’s really not much around other than the highway.
Kind of a tourist trap, but also pretty cool. I never dreamed of going to a meteor crater, but it was pretty much exactly what I would have expected. This is one of very few things on the way from Flagstaff to the Petrified Forest, so it was a good pit stop to take some pictures, hit the restroom etc. There was a museum inside which was well done and included many interesting facts about meteors and ones that have hit recently.
Petrified Forest/Painted Desert
Coming from New England this was scenery like I had never seen before. The Petrified Forest is a national park that hosts a lot of petrified wood. The whole park has about 28 miles of paved roads. So you can drive through it and there’s plenty of places to stop off at, park the car, and walk around. I would also give this a rating of diabolical and something that’s really cool to check out.The Painted Desert refers to desert badlands, some of which are part of the park.
We started out by popping into the Rainbow Forest Museum and getting close ups of the Petrified Logs outside of it. Keep in mind to have your car gassed up because you are near nothing one you get going on the park road.
Blue Mesa Trail – This stop was the highlight for me. One of a kind scenery.
Food & Drinks
The food scene in Sedona was a tad underwhelming for my tastes. It had a good amount of restaurants for the size of town it was but I suppose I was expecting more. I didn’t eat anything particularly diabolical. Elote and the Secret Garden Cafe were my highlights. All the places listed below were good.
- Elote I read there could be a bit of a wait at this place. Sedona seeming like a sleepy suburb at night, I didn’t think too much about it. Definitely a mistake going on a Saturday night. Legitimate 2 hour wait. You can drink margaritas and they serve popcorn as well so that was helpful but also spoiled the appetite a bit. It appears like they close at 9:00 PM but really they just stopped taking names for the wait by 9. There’s a big wait area outside where people (including us) were full on sitting on the ground while waiting. There’s not another place nearby to kill time at so once there you are kind of stuck waiting or driving to somewhere else. The uber driver on the way there claimed people come in on their private planes to go to this place. The food was good (not a ton of vegetarian options), but I can’t it was life changing to warrant a plane ride for.
- Creekside Cafe – Good Spot for Breakfast/Coffee w/ spectacular views
- Secret Garden Cafe – This is the perfect place to stop at after a hike as they have fresh food and beer and wine. We went after doing the West Fork hike.
- Local Juicery
- ChocolaTree – Earthy Crunchy Joint. Seating was outside in the “Garden Oasis”. Everything was vegetarian and they had tarot cards laid out for patrons to play with.We had cauliflower pizza and vegetable curry and some chocolates made on site for desert. Word to the wise – don’t sit near the fence or there will be some uninvited guests in the form of field mice frolicking nearby.
Things to Know
- Sedona is a day town, not much on the nightlife scene. On a weekday the main drag was pretty much desolate by 8:00PM. For the most part places shut down by 9:00 PM. There was one dive bar we didn’t visit an uber driver mentioned called “Mooneys” that appeared to be open later. We weren’t exactly looking to crush the nightlife but I was surprised to struggle to find a place to have a drink after 9:00PM On a weeknight.
- For all the tourism it gets I was surprised to learn that Sedona’s population is only a bit about 10,000 people. Its basically a suburban town and has everything needed in terms of grocery stores and retail outlets
- Many opportunities for Psychic readings, Aura readings. Surprisingly we didn’t get any of this. As sister trips can sometimes go we were at odds with each other at points and felt as though that could taint our readings.
- Definitely need a car, wasn’t much in walking distance to our AirBnB or in general. Had an uber driver say she has ubered people to the Grand Canyon before which seemed extreme.
- Driving big distances like we did (Sedona to Grand Canyon and Painted Forest) there is not bad because we experienced no traffic and were on the open road. Very different than trying to get through Boston or to NYC etc.
We stayed in a house in West Sedona via AirBnB. Worked out great, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and an outdoor patio. The places in West Sedona were cheaper and there was no real need to stay in “Sedona” since everything was close and needed to drive to anyways.
Things we didn’t get to:
- Slide Rock Park on Hot Day
- Four Wheeling and or Pink Jeep Tour
- Hot Air Balloon
- More hikes/spiritual vortexes
- Check out Flagstaff More
- Round Trip Flight Boston to Phoenix : $342
- Grocery Store: $106
- Gas: ~$100
- Restaurants – $600 Total/$300 a piece
For basically 6 days I thought this was pretty good. Going to the grocery store definitely helped because that gave us some in between meals, also not drinking much helped as well.Shopping: $140 ( crystals, candles, soap)
- Lodging:AirBnB 5 Nights Total $1085.49. $1085/2 People = $542 a piece
- Rental Car: $420 (sidenote – shout out to this rental car. Driving the Volvo X60 dripping in soccer mom luxury was glorious. I had never rented a car before and am generally scared of driving in new places slash dislike driving in general. So the fine vehicle really helped and so this was a small personal victory.)
- Activities: Another positive about this trip was most of the activities were free
- Grand Canyon – Free! (Veterans Day)
- Hikes – Free!
- Sedona Sights – Free!
- Meteor Crater – $17
- Petrified Forest – $10
Total Cost for Sedona 5 Day/Night Trip for one: Roughly $1660