First...thank you to everyone who provided me with excellent advice and suggestions. You were all very instrumental in helping me plan for this trip.
This is a very long report...I apologize in advance!!!
We were on an 8 night holiday that included Las Vegas, Sedona and GCNP. We originally were going to spend all 8 nights in Las Vegas, as we had already paid for the lodging there, but decided to do some road trips and pay for the extra hotels.
We went to Red Rock Conservation Area, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire (through lake mead Conservation Area), a night in GCNP, a drive through Oatman and Laughlin.....and of course, a night in Sedona. This was spread out over 8 days, although here is my report for the 3 days spent exploring Sedona and GCNP. I will only include details for the Sedona part, but if you have any questions on the others, feel free to ask.
We left Las Vegas about 6:15 am and headed to Sedona...we arrived around noon (we lost an hour due to time change). The roads were great...only a bit of snow in the forest when we hit the Flagstaff area.
The beginning of the road 89A was nice...then a bit of panic struck in. In all my research I didn't realize that we were about to head down the face of a mountain!!! I knew not to drive 89A in the dark, but was not prepared for the switchbacks and close to the cliff roads. We went very slow and I have to admit, i was more than a little worried. However, once we got past the 'scary' part....it was so gorgeous. What beautiful scenery with all of the evergreen trees, snowy mountains, canyon etc.
We stopped by the Dairy Queen to check out the Indian vending tables, and a couple of more pull outs to take some photos. When we started seeing the red rocks...it was amazing.
All I can say is everyone said you'll understand once you get here...you are right. You cannot prepare for the beauty.
We arrived about noon and checked into Orchard's Inn in Uptown Sedona. We could not get into our room, so we walked straight to Sedona Memories, and although the sign said they should be open, they were not. We were a little disappointed as we wanted to try one of their famed sandwiches, but off we went to plan #2...Wildflower Bread Company. We were very impressed and glad we went there.
We then headed out to our first hiking experience in Sedona...Cathedral Rock.We drove to Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Ranch Picnic Area. (we first drove up Chavez gravel road to get some great pics). At Crescent Moon, we paid our $9.00 to get in and asked the best way to hike Cathedral Rock. She told us that we could just walk along the one side of the creek and see it on the other side. That was not what we wanted , so we asked how to get across. She said there was too much water and that it was too cold...ha ha...we laughed in the face of danger!!!
We found where to cross...took our shoes off, rolled up our pant legs, and headed across the stepping stones. Only some had some water on them...but the water was cold!!! Once on the other side we headed out to one of the best hikes I've ever been on (rivaled only by South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point in the Grand Canyon).
We followed the signs along the creek trail, then eventually started the accent. We thought the trail would take us higher as we went on, and it did for a bit, but then we saw the parking lot at the Back'oBeyond entrance and thought if we kept going on the main trail, that it would just take us back down again. So...not sure if we should have done this...but we just headed up. We saw others footprints and mountain bike tracks, so we kept going. We scrambled and shimmied our way up to touch the tall spires in the top of cathedral Rock. We were so impressed... both with ourselves and with the view. We had lots of water with us and salty snacks (and bananas),,,so we were good. The hike back down was way easier, but we did do some shimmying on our buts in places. WE LOVED THIS HIKE!!!!!!
When we got back to the main trail, it seemed so easy...haha. Once we got to the creek again, there were several people set up to take pictures of Cathedral Rock reflecting in the creek. They showed us where to stand to get the best shots, and they turned out great. There were also a few people meditating along the creek side.
We froze our feet again crossing the creek and headed out to Airport mesa for sunset. There were many people there, and it was okay...kind of cloudy. I wish I would have stayed at Cathedral Rock for the sunset...the pictures were better. The airport did provide great vistas though. On the way back down airport road, we saw another spot and we wished we would have walked down the hill to that lot, then climb the hill to get the 360 degree views. Next time....We did climb part way up though and watched the full moon rise up...beautiful!!
We drove back to Orchards Inn and finally got to check out our room....clean, large, and great views!!! We walked right next door to eat at Taos Cantina (with our 20% off coupon from the hotel). It was good...great wait staff and very quick service.
We woke up in time to watch the sunrise on our balcony, although it was cloudy...and very, very windy and cold!!!
We had free breakfast at Canyon Breeze which was part of our hotel rate. Not amazing...but it was free and it did the trick.
We went back to the first scenic lookout on Airport Road, and climbed to the very top. WOW!!!! Amazing views all around us. You really need to go here!!!
We then headed down 179. We drove to the Back'o'Beyond parking lot at Cathedral Rock to get some photos from that vantage point, but were glad we hiked it from the other side. We then went to Chapel of the Holy Cross. We loved it...took lots of photos, lit a candle with a donation, etc. Okay...I am going to ask in another post who owns that amazing mansion just beneath the Chapel...holy indeed!!!!
Off we went to Bell Rock. We parked in the north entrance (Courthouse Vista lot), and followed the trail up until it ended...and then went up some more. As we were heading for the Grand Canyon, we didn't go a whole lot higher, but still a ways up. There were several people higher than where we went.
We drove down to Oak Creek Village and turned around to see the rocks from the other side before heading back out. We thought we'd take a chance on Sedona Memories again (it was about 11:15 am)...yeah, they were open. We shared one turkey sandwich on whole wheat and a cookie...both were amazing. Biggest sandwich I've ever had.... very fresh and tasty!!!
We snaked our way back up 89A, and although it was still a little scary, it wasn't as bad as coming down. At the top of the mountain there is another turn off where we got some great pictures of the Canyon and the switchback road.
After lovely Sedona, we headed north through Flagstaff to Grand Canyon National Park to enter from the east side. I have done a trip report for that leg on the Grand canyon forum.
My thoughts on Sedona...simply breathtaking...and there are no words to describe the scenery or the feeling you have while there. I was surprised at the landscape. From all of the pictures I had seen, I had envisioned a fairly flat place with some tall red rocks sticking up. Well, that's not the case...there are beautiful red rocks everywhere and the area is very mountainous.
Thank you to everyone who helped me plan this great vacation and for all the advice and information you gave me. A special thank you to RedRox....you were my rock of information. The whole time in Sedona...each time I saw someone who looked liked your avatar photo..I would wonder..."is that RedRox??". I even had my husband looking for you!!! I wish I would have run into you somehow...you are a great ambassador for Sedona.
I know this report is very long (hopefully not too boring) and that it helps someone.