Visiting The Grand Canyon in Arizona
Day 1 ~ Phoenix, Scottsdale.
Phoenix is located in Southern Arizona and is also known as the Valley of the Sun. For more than 1,000 years the area was inhabited by the Hohokam Indians. Phoenix was founded in 1861 by Jack Swilling, a confederate soldier, who came west in 1850 to seek his wealth. Today Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and residents of the city are known as Phoenicians. Phoenix is the 6th most populated city in the United States with about 4.2 million people. Phoenix is also famous for it's desert landscape, including giant Saguaro Cactus, and summer temperatures that average over 100 degrees. So plan accordingly. Hang around Phoenix and visit Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, and the various Major League Baseball spring training camps, known as The Cactus League, in the area depending on when you visit and your time limit. Hit Interstate 17 toward Camp Verde, Montezuma's Castle is next at exit 289.
Day 2 ~ Camp Verde, Montezuma's Castle, Tuzigoot National Monument.
Montezuma's Castle was built by Southern SInagua farmers in 1100 AD. A creek nearby was a year round source of water and the land was fertile for farming. The Castle was built 100 feet above the base of a cliff and was once a six story high rise apartment with 45 rooms. Early settlers to the area thought the structure was built by the Aztecs and named it Montezuma's Castle. Montezuma's Well is a continuously flowing spring the Sinagua used for irrigating their crops and is a short drive from the Castle. There is also a Petroglyph Site located nearby. Head back to Highway 260 toward Clarkdale and the Tuzigoot Ruins. The Apache Indian word Tuzigoot means crooked water. The Southern Sinagua built this village between 1125 and 1400AD. The original village was located 120 feet above the Verde Valley and was two stories high with 77 ground floor rooms. Entry was by ladder through openings in the roof tops as there were no doors. Hit Alternate Route 89 and head north toward Sedona in the northern Verde Valley. Stop by Red Rock State Park on the way.
Day 3 ~ Sedona.
Sedona is a small, upscale, artist colony named after Sedona Arabelle Miller Schnebly, the wife of the city's first postmaster. Sedona's population is about 10,000. Take time to explore the many art galleries, shops, and restaurants along main street and the breathtaking reddish- orange layers of sandstone found only in Sedona. The sandstone formations surround the city and are best viewed at sunrise or sunset. Sedona’s signature red rocks were a fixture in many major Hollywood movie productions dating back to the 1920's. Continue along Alternate Route 89A through scenic Oak Creek Canyon on your way north to Flagstaff.
Day 4 ~ Flagstaff.
Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona, is home to the Native American Navajo and Hopi Indians. The first permanent settlement was established in 1876 and the city was named after a Ponderosa Pine flagpole. At 7,000 feet Flagsaff is much cooler than Phoenix and is located in the worlds largest Ponderosa Pine forest. No Saguaro cactus here! With a population of about 60,000, Flagstaff is larger than Sedona and not as pricey. The locals are more blue collar cowboy. Located by seven national parks and monuments, Flagstaff is a good base for exploring Northern Arizona. Take time to visit The Museum of Northern Arizona, The Riordan Mansion, the campus of NAU, and The Lowell Observatory. In 1894 Percival Lowell established an observatory to search for life on Mars. In 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto while extensively surveying the galaxy through one of the observatory telescopes. In 1969 the observatory played a key roll in the Apollo 11 moon landing. Historic Downtown Flagstaff offers a unique mix of shops and restaurants. The Arizona Snowbowl offers skiing and snowboarding in winter. Flagstaff is about 80 miles from the Grand Canyon. Hit Interstate 40 heading west to Williams and Historic Route 66.
Day 5 ~ Williams, Historic Route 66, The Grand Canyon.
Williams is named after William "Old Bill" Williams, a mountain man and trader who trapped in the area. The population is about 3,000 and is a large tourist stop offering train rides to The South Rim of The Grand Canyon. Williams is located on Historic Route 66, one of the original U.S. highways. Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in America and originally ran from Chicago all the way to California. Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930's depicted in the John Ford film The Grapes of Wrath. Hit Highway 64 and head north to the South Rim of The Grand Canyon and Grand Canyon Village. Park in one of the parking areas, grab a map for shuttle bus route information, and hop on one of the free shuttle buses that take you to visitor centers, shops, overlooks, and trailheads. Hit Highway 64 east, then Highway 89 south towards Flagstaff. Visit the Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano. The parks are connected by a 35 mile loop. This is a driving tour of both parks that takes 1 - 2 hours. View the ancient dwellings of the Puebloan people and Sunset Crater Volcano. The Volcano erupted around 1040AD. The Wupatki farmed the area about 1100AD. Hit Highway 89 south back to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, take Interstate 40/180 toward Winslow.
Day 6 ~ Meteor Crater, Winslow.
Meteor Crater is located on the way to Winslow. The Creator acquired the name Meteor Crater from the nearby post office named Meteor and is located on private property. The Crater was formed about 50,000 years ago when a nickel-iron, 300,000 metric ton meteor hit the earth at about 40,000 mph. The Visitor Center offers lectures, guided tours, artifacts, such as a 1,406 pound meteorite found in the area, and meteorite specimens from Meteor Crater that can be touched. The Visitor Center includes a movie theater, gift shop, and observation areas with views inside the rim of the crater. In Winslow hit Highway 87 south back to Scottsdale or back track to Flagstaff and hit Interstate 17 south to Phoenix. Catch anything you missed on the way up.
Day 7 ~ Phoenix.
Visit Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, and the various Major League Baseball spring training camps if you missed them on day 1. Over a million people attended 233 practice baseball games in 2011. The town of Glendale hosts the Dodgers/White Socks. Goodyear hosts the Indians/Reds. Mesa hosts the Cubs. Tempe hosts the Angels. Phoenix hosts the Athletics/Brewers. Peoria hosts the Padres/Mariners. Surprise hosts the Royals/Rangers. Scottsdale hosts the Diamond Backs/Rockies/Giants. Catch a Suns basketball game and head home...
Summer is hot, winter can get cold, so plan for the weather.
If you like the desert visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Spectacular!
Are we there yet? What to take on a road trip:
An ice chest with food, snacks and drinks for everyone. Forget sharing.
Don't forget your chargers, headphones, earplugs, meds, and a bag for garbage
Take along your Kindle and cell phone to keep yourself and the kids occupied on long road trips. Down load any e-books and apps that will help you.
Remember to take along a great camera. We found the Sony Nex-5 to be light weight and user friendy.
Streets, freeways, and traffic jams are frustrating. Take a good GPS navigation system with you and visit off season.