Greetings Blog Fans! This is our third Thanksgiving since returning from the UK and we continued the tradition of heading west and enjoying the outdoors for the full week. This year we returned to Sedona where we also visited in 2014. (Last year was Big Bend and Carlsbad Caverns).
Sedona is absolutely beautiful and a serious contender for a retirement landing spot depending on where the kids end up. We’ve got a while to consider that. For now, we are enjoying the research!
I’ll try not to babble on too much as the pictures do most of the talking. As with last time, hiking was the focal point. We had some repeats as well as some new hikes. We also took a couple of days to visit a handful of National Monuments in the area.
Saturday (11/19)–National Monuments
We had an early (really early) flight that gave us most of the day for sites. We decided to visit 3 Native American National Monuments on the way to Sedona:
Each involved a short, paved walk with info boards along with the main attraction. Interesting factoid: the Montezuma sites had nothing to do with the Aztec ruler; they were just misnamed by the explorers that “discovered” them. All date back ~800 years.
Sunday (11/20)–Mescal/Long Canyon + Fay Canyon
Our first full day and one dedicated to hiking. We didn’t want to jump to the biggest hike of the week straight away so we thought we’d do a semi-repeat 5 miler and a new 2 miles to work up to it.
The map above is of the Sedona area (the “Y”) from my GPS map. The pink trails are from 2014 and the light blue trails are from this year. We had 4 days of hiking. Sunday was obviously day one and we did the 1A and 1B hikes. We had done the Mescal trail last time but this time we continued on to Deadman’s Pass and finished the loop with the Long Canyon trail. (4.9 miles in 2:25).
The second hike was a short in/out hike into Fay Canyon (2.1 miles in 1:03).
It rained most of the day (as predicted). We puttered about some shops and then went to see Dr. Strange (the movie). One rainy day isn’t too bad. Besides, I doubled up on some hikes later in the week. 🙂
Tuesday (11/22)–HiLine Loop around Cathedral Rock
Big day as we attempt our longest hike of the week and a new one at that. This involves a big loop around Cathedral Rock (Trail #2 on my map above). We started at Yavapai Point and worked our way to the HiLine Trail. We continued on the Baldwin Trail, around to Templeton, and then back down Slim Shady to complete the loop. We also took small spurs to Red Rock Crossing and partially up Cathedral Rock.
This was our favorite of the week and tops our Sedona list. The views were spectacular and the early climb was greatly rewarded.
10.1 miles in total in ~6 hours (4:38 moving). Proud to say we were all in good spirits at the end too! Looks like we’ve successfully pushed the comfort boundary.
Wednesday (11/23)–Wupatki & Sunset Crater NMs
Given the big hike yesterday, I thought we could have a day of (some) rest and head north on a road trip to Flagstaff. We didn’t actually spend much time in Flagstaff, however, as we were really after a few more national monuments. I had grand plans for 3 NMs and the Museum of Northern Arizona. In the end we were cultured out and decided to just visit 2 and then drove back to see a movie. (Fantastic Beasts). See, I’m flexible! 🙂
The two sites were Wupatki and Sunset Crater. (Walnut Canyon didn’t make the cut). Wupatki is another ~800 year old Native American site (out in the middle of nowhere). Sunset Crater was more about the extinct volcanoes in the area.
Thursday (11/24)–Bell Rock/Courthouse Loop + Broken Arrow
Thanksgiving! Naturally, we were going to do a hike (or two). Since we had the rainout on Monday I had us squeeze in both the Bell Rock/Courthouse Rock loop (4.4 miles in 1:57, Trail 3A on map) and the Broken Arrow/Submarine Rock hike (3.9 miles in 2:27 with lunch, trail 3B).
After 3 years we’ve fine-tuned our new Thanksgiving experience. Back in 2014 we hiked and then went out to a restaurant which we gave mixed reviews. Last year, we assumed we’d do something similar but found out nothing was open in Carlsbad except for Walmart and Sonic (yuck). This year, we planned ahead a bit and ordered a pre-cooked turkey and sides from a local grocery store. We actually had round 1 on Tuesday and round 2 on Thursday. We had enough for sandwiches for 2 days as well. So, for Thanksgiving lunch, we had a turkey sandwich on Submarine Rock. Cool!
Friday (11/25)–Brins Mesa/Soldier Pass
Last fun day in Sedona. We took it relatively easy with “only” a 5 miles hike. We started at the Soldier Pass trailhead, walked over to the Brins Mesa trail head, up Brins Mesa and back down Soldier Pass (5.4 miles in 2:52, trail 4). This was a repeat from last year although we did it in reverse. This was the only one that felt like a significant climb and some might say the view/effort ratio was a little low compared to others.
here’s that climb for reference — not a big deal but it felt like one!
I planned ahead a little better for this trip. For both this one and in 2014, we used our timeshare exchange for a place to stay (Sedona is a good option for that). Last time, I left it a little late and had to split our stay at two resorts. This time, I got a full week at the Sedona Springs resort and we got a spacious 2-bedroom which worked out really well. We ate in most nights by choice and had ample space to stretch out (and separate). The only downside was that we were in a bit of a wi-fi deadspot. Fortunately, the lobby was close by. That’s where the kids would hang out after the walks and before dinner. A typical pose is below:
We all truly enjoyed our stay in Sedona. I was surprised how much the kids liked it. Nicole was particularly happy with it and I can see us coming back in 2 years when it’s time to use the timeshare exchange again.