When the crowds were raging in every national park over memorial day weekend, we hit the road to the four corners to one of Arizona's least visited parks. This place was stunning, to say the least. Perhaps the desolate landscape, void of tourists, added to the sublime experience.
If you're coming from Phoenix, know that it is a long drive for a weekend trip. We committed to the 5 hour drive since it was a three-day escapade, and it was worth it. Honestly, it's not far for a two-day trip either, it just depends on how much of a weekend warrior you might be.
We camped at the Spider Rock campground because camping is not permitted in undesignated areas. This was the first time Justin and I stayed at a campground in YEARS. We're not huge on crowds, and campgrounds feel like they defeat the purpose of getting away from everything. Luckily, the campground was mellow, with extra spots available, which was shocking on a holiday weekend.
We hiked the White House trail to the ruins on Monday morning. It was practically empty, with only a couple of runners making laps on the trail. This trail is the single only trail visitors are allowed to hike without a guide. To see the rest of the canyon you can book tours through the campground or online.
I'm glad we made the journey to Chelly. If I were to go back it would likely be to run the Canyon de Chelly Ultra in the fall. Until then, I'll be raving about this gem of a park to those who haven't been, trying to convince them to make the trip.
Last weekend we hiked to jaw-dropping vistas and through epic slot canyons. Not one, but many. Our center point was Page, which was nestled up against the border of Utah about 4 hours from Phoenix. This area is an outdoor playground, although it might not seem that way at first glance when you roll through the drab downtown strip, framed by a coal burning plant and a never-ending network of power lines.
Until you go down the side roads and get on the trails... you realize why this area is a hot spot for road trippers.
Horseshoe Bend is right off highway 89 at milepost 245 before you enter the town of Page. You can't miss it from the crowded parking lot and the obvious highway sign. The hike is about half a mile over a sandy hill and then drops down to the breathtaking view of the winding river.
There are two main campgrounds on the Page side of Lake Powell - Wahweap and Lone Rock. Justin and I aren't campground people so we entered through the Lone Rock area and then hiked our tent to the beach away from the crowds to a perfectly peaceful spot on the beach. The beauty of this area is that you are allowed to pitch a tent anywhere, but for some reason everyone likes to huddle on the east end. Sleeping on the sand was one of the most cushy camping experiences I've had.
The next morning we woke up to take a tour of upper antelope canyon. You are only allowed in antelope canyon with a guide, and it is highly regulated so you won't be able to get here otherwise. Nonetheless, it was an incredible experience that I highly recommend.
We booked through Antelope Canyon Tours, Inc which has a user friendly website to make reservations, which we made a few weeks in advance. The other main company is Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. Either company will get you to where you want to go!
On our way out we hiked through Waterhole Canyon. There were about 10 other places on my list to see in this area, but due to time constraints we had to pick and choose. There is no doubt we will be back here for another road trip to explore all the other amazing surrounding treasures!
I left Florida feeling satisfied after getting my ocean fix and spending quality time with my mom. Thankfully spring break wasn't over yet and I was itching to get to the high country. Our friends who got us hooked on mountain biking had done their research and found that Gila National Forest offered some of the best single track for biking. We rented a cabin on the edge of the trails, packed up the Subaru, and headed for the hills!
We didn't waste any time during our 4-day adventure in New Mexico. The trails were diverse, ranging from smooth single track (above) to the rugged Continental Divide Trail (below). We spent one morning hiking the Jordan River to Lightfeather hot springs.. I was mesmerized by the cool blue water. After months in Phoenix without any source of fresh water we were all relishing in the landscape of Gila National Forest.
Most people come to Gila National Forest to see the Cliff Dwellings, which are a National Monument thanks to Teddy Roosevelt. We moseyed up there one of our mornings before hitting the trails, and although it was an hour and a half drive I think it was still worth it. There are plenty of other trails in proximity to incorporate into your day to make up for the winding road that leads to the dwellings. We stayed at the Pinos Altos cabins which were a great deal for four of us, offering plenty of space and comfort. I have also heard great things about the Bear Creek cabins as well.
One thing is for sure if you come through Silver City - you would be a fool to leave town without eating at Don Juan's drive through burritos. New Mexico has the science of burritos on lock down, and Don Juan might as well be the godfather. If I'm not back for the world class mountain biking I'll for sure return to Gila National Forest for a chile relleno burrito.
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.