We have been back for 2 weeks but very busy...will post review of the whole trip and just add it to each location. Skip what you don't care about. Sorry if this is too long.
We did the Grand Circle Sept 15-25th. Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Page, Bryce Canyon and Zion. Could not have planned this trip without TA!! THANK YOU! My drive time that I am putting down is an estimate that can be used for someone else planning the same trip. There were time changes along the way also (but it's not listed in review---I never knew what time it really was...LOL!!)
Our original flight got changed to 3 hours later than planned AND was an hour late on top of that. So, we were going down Oak Creek Canyon in the dark. Very scarey!. We stayed at Sky Ranch Lodge for 2 nites which was very affordable and a very nice room, location, view, everything we needed. I would definitely recommend staying here.
Got up early the next morning and went around to the viewing area that the lodge has and had our first OMG moment. WOW! Gorgeous red rocks everywhere. Really beautiful. We had booked the 7am Broken Arrow tour and only had 2 other ladies on it with us. Paul was our tour guide and very informative. Sometimes I felt like the jeep was going to turn over on top of us. It was really a neat tour and saw more awesome sights. We have mountains where we live in NC but nothing like these red rocks.
Went to the Coffee Pot for breakfast afterwards. Very good meal! Went to Chapel of the Holy Cross, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon. We did not actually do any hikes, just strolled around and took lots of pictures.
We went to The Hideaway Lounge for dinner and had the BEST pizza and a great view of the sunset. Even had leftover pizza for breakfast the next morning.
Drove 3 hours to Grand Canyon and stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge for 2 nites. We had a rim cabin and LOVED it. I did not want "glimpses" of the canyon so waited till we were right on the edge before I opened my eyes. You know that saying...it takes your breath away? OMG...it took my breath away. Seriously, I just gasped. Words and pictures can NOT describe the magnitude of this canyon. And I was equally shocked that there were no rails up. You could literally just step off into the canyon. For someone who has a fear of heights, I had trouble with this more than once.
We walked a lot of the rim trail and took the shuttle bus to ALL the points and took hundreds of photos!! The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and over a mile deep. Some people go to the South Rim and look at it and think that is it. It took us almost 3 hours to get out on the last day for stopping at all the other lookout points. AMAZING!!!
We ate at the Arizona Room for dinner, the Bright Angel Lounge for dinner and El Tovar for breakfast. All were pretty good. Could not believe all the people feeding squirrels out of their hands. Crazy!!
We also went to watch the group ride the mules down to Phantom Ranch. The wrangler stated that riding the mule was the safest way to get to the bottom of the canyon. I had a hard enough time walking the rim, I certainly couldn’t trust a mule to take me down there. There was 1 lady that was terrified. Bless her heart, she was crying as they started down the trail. I would have loved to have been there the next day at 4pm when they came back up but we had to leave early the next morn.
Drove 4 hours to Monument Valley and stayed at The View Hotel for 1 nite. It was neat looking at the rock formations and seeing famous ones from movies and such, but there really isn’t anything else but that. We had a nice dinner and breakfast in the restaurant.
Drove 3 hours to Page, Az and stayed at the Quality Inn for 2 nites. Great location, free breakfast and nice room. We went to do the upper Antelope Canyon first. Wow! Truly amazing! I could not believe the pictures we captured, and we are just amateurs. We had a really good tour guide, Dominique, who pointed out all the photo ops and gave us a history. Definitely recommend this $25 tour!!
We went to the Dam Bar & Grill afterwards for a cold beer and had the Surfer Sandwich and house chips. YUMMY!!
Went to Wahweap overlook for sunset. Would love to rent a houseboat for a few days and tour around all the canyons. Went to Bonkers for dinner and had a nice meal.
We had the 7am River Float trip booked with Colorado River Discovery. This time slot was recommended because it gets hot later in the day, however, it was FREEZING that morning and with the water splashing it made for an uncomfortable trip. Our tour guide was new and not very informative. It was like a root canal. The sights were pretty, but the trip itself was just not fun. Plus, we had 9 people on 1 side of pontoon (there were 5 that sat out on the pontoons) and 4 on our side so that when we did the return trip, all of the splash came on our side. My poor hubby was completely DRENCHED!! There was no spray at all on the other side because they had so much weight on it. We couldn’t even look to see where we were going because of the spray. So, it made for a very uncomfortable and not a fun experience. Wish we would have booked a later time schedule.
Next it was time for the Lower Antelope Canyon tour. It is so hard to believe that you are walking along the earth and actually descend into a crack in the earth. Our tour guide was a teenager and never pointed anything out to us, just merely walked us through. Much different from Dominique at the Upper Antelope. It was more claustrophobic and the sand kept coming down from above but still an awesome sight. It seemed like it went on forever and we kept going down deeper and deeper. There were still signs left behind from the last flash flood, pieces of brush and debris caught on the steps or left in a corner somewhere.
I enjoyed both slot canyons, got some great photos at each and would highly recommend going through BOTH of them. Can’t say that 1 is better than the other except for the fact that we had a great tour guide for the upper. It is affordable enough to do both.
We went to Horseshoe Bend for sunset. It is a LONG walk in sugary sand but truly awesome once you get there. Neat to see where we had been earlier that morn. Went to Fiesta Mexicana for a HUGE dinner that we could not finish.
Drove 3 hours to Bryce Canyon stopping along the way to visit the Toadstools. Temp was in the 80’s in Page and 40 when we got to BC and very windy. We drove all the way to Rainbow Point then descended stopping at all the view points along the 18 mile scenic drive. Too windy and cold to do much more than get out, look, take a pic and move on to the next view point. The hoodoos were really neat, so much more different from everything else we had seen so far.
We stayed in a cabin at the lodge and LOVED it. Went to the lodge for chili for dinner. Walking back to our cabin, the milky way was so vivid. It is so dark here, yet you can see so much more, if that makes sense.
Drove 2 hours to Zion National Park and stayed at The Bumbleberry Inn for 2 nites. We entered Zion at the east entrance and walked up to the canyon overlook which is 1 mile roundtrip. Really easy walk and a must do.
We went to Wild Cat Willies and had a huge burger and fries then took the shuttle bus into the park and got off at a few points. The next morning we went back to Wild Cat Willies for a really good breakfast then took the shuttle into the park. Our first stop was the Temple of Sinawava for the Riverside Walk. It was much easier than I had expected and when we reached the end we wished we had rented the equipment to at least walk a little ways down the river.
We also hiked the lower and middle emerald pools and the Grotto which was neat because we were higher up and got some better photos. We got off at all the shuttle stops and at least walked around a little and took photos. At 1 stop, we walked down to the river and found 5 deer standing in the river. We sat there for a while watching them.
Went to Oscar’s Café for an excellent dinner that nite. Last nite, time to go home!!
This is by far the BEST trip we have ever taken. It was so neat to go somewhere, explore and move on to the next spot. And each place was so different from each other. I really don’t know if I could pick a favorite. My husband liked Zion the best and I probably did too. But, I loved the Grand Canyon and Sedona too. Monument Valley was probably my least favorite. Would I go back to any of these? No, we want to see new places next!!