After an adventurous Day 1 on my solo trip in Arizona, I was ready to get a start on Day 2. I woke up around 5:30 AM so I could watch the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. Since my cabin was only 20 or so yards from the edge, I got up and started down the Bright Angel Trail before the sunrise.
Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular trails to take you from the canyon edge down to the Colorado River. While I visited in later April, the area had snow a few weeks prior so there was still some snow on the trail. I hiked down into the canyon just before the 2nd tunnel at around a mile. There were only a few people on the trail at the time and I was able to watch the sun enter the canyon. I had planned another longer hike for later in the morning so I didn’t want to go down too far and then have to come back up.
I grabbed some coffee, a banana and a burrito at the lodge before checking out. I then parked at the Visitor Center at Grand Canyon Village and grabbed the bus to my next stop.
South Kaibab Trail
The South Kaibab Trail is another trail in Grand Canyon National Park that will take you down to the Colorado River. The only way to get to the trailhead though is by bus if you’re doing a day hike. I started my hike around 8 AM and went down to Ooh Aah Point. The switchback descent at the beginning of the trail is quite steep and was the scariest part for me. After that it’s a slower descent and right under 1 mile you get to Ooh Aah point. I took in the views and then decided to head back up the 750 feet back to the trail head. Overall, the hike took about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Next time I visit, as long as the weather permits, I’d like to go down further to Cedar Ridge or Skeleton Point.
After getting back to the top, I stopped at the Grab and Go by the Visitor Center for a snack and coffee and then drove about 1.5 hours southeast to my next stop.
Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument is a place people have lived for over 13,000 years. Behind the Visitor Center in the park is a 100 room pueblo with a kiva and a ball court that was used around the 1100s. During that time this was the largest pueblo in the area and there were about 2000 people living in other pueblos within 50 miles of the area. There are quite a few other short trails in the park so you can see some of the structures in the area up close. I spent about 30 minutes or so driving through the park and checking out some of the structures as well as the Visitor Center before heading to the next National Monument.
Sunset Crater National Monument
If you continue your drive from Wupatki, you enter into the Sunset Crater area. Sunset Crater erupted about 100 years before the Wupatki pueblos were built. People that had lost their home to the lava from the eruption would have had to move. Earthquakes caused the eruption to begin among many craters in the area, similar to volcanoes in Hawaii. When it erupted, there was lava and ash in the area that covered about 900 square miles. Visitors used to be allowed to walk up the crater but over time it caused too much erosion so now there are trails you can walk around the base.
About an hour south of Sunset Crater is Sedona which was my next stop. I checked into the Arabella Hotel which had the most beautiful view of the red rocks from my patio. I hadn’t eaten much during the day so far so I visited the restaurant on site and enjoyed their deck views. At sunset, I went on a hike to the overlook that the hotel has with red Adirondack chairs and watched the sun go down. They had live music back at the hotel after, so I got to enjoy a local artist play on the patio before turning in for the night.
I shared the 9 qualities that make up my perfect road trip here a few blogs ago which I’ll use to recap day 2 which included about 3 hours of driving and about 4 miles of hikes.
- Local Coffee Shop – I made another Dutch Bros stop in Flagstaff on Day 2 so again going to count that as local again.
- Hike with a great view or end point – The Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trail were both incredible.
- A few hours to relax – My evening in Sedona was perfect for this. Watching the sunset from the overlook and then listening to the live music from my patio was so relaxing.
- Learning – The dwellings at Wupatki and learning about the crater formations at Sunset Crater were both really interesting and I learned a lot about the areas history.
- Something novel – Walking along the base of a previous volcanic eruption definitely my novel thing from the day.
- Something challenging – The South Kaibab trail was hard. Usually they say it takes double the amount of time to get up the trail as it takes to go down when in the Grand Canyon but for me it took 36 minutes to go down and 39 to come up. I told you that way down was steep!
- Scenic drive – The drive through Wupatki and the Sunset Crater area was all beautiful. It was such a different landscape than I’d seen the day prior at Walnut canyon and at the Grand Canyon.
- Unique stay – The Arabella Hotel was incredible. The views from both my room and the back portion of land they own, the live music at night, it was pet friendly, and had a beautiful pool and food on site. I loved it. It was my splurge of the trip and I’m so glad Teddy convinced me to do it.
- Vistas – The whole day was full of beautiful views, but my favorites of the day were sunrise at the Grand Canyon and sunset in Sedona.