Northern Arizona Brings the Riches
There's much more to it than the Grand Canyon.
Apologies, all, for this week’s newsletter being late. My wife and I went on a much-needed long-weekend getaway, so I was focused on things other than writing. The good news for readers (I hope) is that I enjoyed lots of new sights and experiences that I can now pass along in a special travel-blog installment of the Daly Grind.
Our destination was the Grand Canyon. It was the first time there for both of us, and as spectacular as it was (and as many pictures as I took), I’m sure so many of you have already been there (it’s kind of a popular place) that I figured I’d instead write about a number of lesser-known highlights from the few days we spent in northern Arizona.
Here we go…
Hiking in Sedona
Sedona is a couple of hours south of the Grand Canyon. It’s surrounded by tall and brilliant red sandstone formations that not only provide the small city with a stunning backdrop, but offer all kinds of hiking and climbing opportunities for visitors. We spent time on the Broken Arrow trail and Cathedral Rock (the latter being more of a rock-climbing experience than a hiking one), but the entire area is beautiful. It’s a must-stop if you’re in the northern part of the state.
Glamping at Backland
“What is glamping?” you ask. It’s short for “glamorous camping,” and after 50+ years of un-glamorous camping, I was ready to give it a shot.
We stayed two nights at the reclusive Backland. It’s close to Williams, AZ, and bills itself as a “luxury eco-resort.” The huge, solid-floored “glamping tent” we slept in included all of the amenities you’d typically enjoy from a hotel stay: a bathroom (hot shower, sink, toilet), a king-sized bed, electricity, a microwave and coffee maker, temperature control, etc. The panoramic windows provided a great view of the sprawling outdoors.
There are ten of these tents on the huge property, along with a great restaurant, reception area, and large patio that opens up to fire-pits, telescope viewing, hiking trails, and a lake for recreation. We had a blast there, and enjoyed getting to know the friendly staff and fellow travelers.
I’d highly recommend this place to anyone looking for lodging on their Grand Canyon trip.
Exploring Sycamore Falls
The water may not have been falling in mid-October at Sycamore Falls (just a few minutes drive from Backland), but hiking the rim of Sycamore Canyon in the Fall nonetheless amounted to some incredible sight-seeing. It’s an easy, fairly level hike (unless you decide to venture down into the canyon).
Riding the Grand Canyon Railway
When we mentioned to a staffer at Backlands that the Grand Canyon was on our list of destinations, he asked us, “How are you getting up there? By car?” Since the canyon was nearly 60 miles away, our natural response was, “What other ways are there?”
That’s when he told us about the train at the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, that goes to (and returns from) the Grand Canyon every day. When he added that the trip includes a fake “shoot ‘em up train robbery,” I was all-in.
Sure, it added an extra hour each way to the journey, but I absolutely loved the experience, from the style of the cars, to the entertainment, to the rugged landscape that surrounded us. Our car-guide was great, and the snacks and drinks were much appreciated.
Hiking the West Fork of Oak Creek Trail
The aforementioned Backland staffer (who had all kinds of great information) recommended this trail to us after we told him we’d be returning to Sedona the day before we flew back home. The West Fork of Oak Creek Trail is about 10 miles north of the city, and I can only describe with pictures how amazing the scenery was... especially this time of year.
We hiked the entire 6.5 miles, and loved every step of it.
I hope you all enjoyed the images (there are lots more on my Instagram page). We certainly enjoyed the trip.
Have a favorite spot in Northern Arizona? Tell me about it in an email or in the comment section below.
Obligatory Dog Shot
"I always feel like somebody's watching me."
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