National Park Itinerary: Part II, Days 6-10

Yesterday, I wrote about the first five days of our trip through some of the National Parks of the American Southwest. We spent two days in Moab, Utah at Arches National Park, two days in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, with the very first day of our trip as a long travel day to reach Denver from Wisconsin by plane.

We drove from Denver to Moab, Utah on the first day of our trip. Then, we continued to drive between our scheduled destinations. Or, I should say, my husband, drove. I offered, but he gets car sick occasionally if he is not driving while I, on the other hand, do not. I can read, text, even type while riding in a car. I also take a lot of photos out the window. They aren’t always great photos but usually capture what I’m after.

The sixth day of our trip took us from the Grand Canyon to Sedona, Arizona. It was a pleasant drive. The scenery was fabulous and only kept getting better as we reached the Red Rock area of the state. After arriving we planned where we’d go for dinner and the next day to hike. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, my food posts will be separate from these itinerary posts. As such, I wrote about our experience at one of Sedona’s restaurants already. You can view that post, here.

Fay Canyon Trail. After Successful Rock Scramble. © Carol Labuzzetta. 2021

I used the alltrails app to help me pick a site to hike on Saturday, October 23rd. Most of the trails in Sedona are “heavily travelled” and some are difficult. So, I picked carefully. Finally, I settled on a trail called Fay Canyon. It was designated as mostly flat with a little rock scambling at the end. It also was not too long, being 2.6 miles out and back. Three miles is about what we had been hiking on the first of our morning hikes, so this fit the bill. I wasn’t sure about the rock scambling but since the trail was more “off the beaten” path, it was where we went. And, it was a great selection. You can read more about that experience in this previous post.

After Fay Canyon, we were not ready to stop hiking, so we proceded to Oak Creek. But, we missed a turn and ended up at Red Rock State Park. This was also a find! The main trail we took was Kisva trail (shady water in the Hopi, native american language). But, this also went to some look out trails such as the Eagle’s Nest and Red Hawk lookouts. From those vantage points we got beautiful panoramic views of the valley. This included Cathedral Rock, Seven Warriors, and Napolean’s Tomb – all red rock formations in Sedona.

Cathedral Rock. Sedona. © Carol Labuzzetta

That night we went to Pisa Lisa’s for a dinner of greek salad and handcrafted pizza, as well as local beer. It was delicious! We highly recommend trying this restaurant owned by a local chef.

The next morning, still in Sedona we drove downtown to visit some of the many art galleries and shops. We went early to avoid the crowds. The one thing we did not like about Sedona was that it was crowded.

From there, we drove to Tucson where we also planned to stay two nights. Tucson was choosen for the proximity to Saguaro National Park. As I wrote in yesteday’s blog, seeing the Saguaro Cactus in its native habitat has been a life long dream for me. The first night in Tucson, we drove to the an area called Gates Pass for the sunset. We missed the turn off but landed in a nice area just down the hill at the David Yetman Trailhead. There we were able to witness a colorful sunset, even though we just stayed at the trailhead. Beautiful!

© Carol Labuzzetta, 2021

The next day we spent the morning in the Western section of Saguaro National Park and the evening in the Eastern Section of the park. They are on opposite sides of Tucson. We hiked more in the Western Section. The day was a warm ninety one degrees! The sunset was viewed from the Mica View Picnic Area in the Eastern section of the park. It was not a great view but the color, again, was spectacular. And, the trails were quiet – which, by now you know, matters to us!

After leaving Tucson, where we also had some great Mexican food, we headed to the Petrified Forest National Park outside of Holbrook, Arizona. This park was an afterthought in my planning but was well worth it. We visited twice, once when we got into town and once the next morning, before we left town to head north towards Denver to fly home. It should not be missed – especially if you are a lover of geology and earth science! At this time of year, the park closes at 5 pm. Therefore, our first day’s visit only afforded enough time to hike the Blue Mesa Trail. The ranger told me, as I had read, that if there was only one trial you had time to hike – the Blue Mesa was the trail! I think he was right! Beautiful and unusual!

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