Fall Break in Sedona

When I started this blog I wanted to give a voice to the less popular national parks and to write about family friendly activities. It’s easy to find information on the most popular parks but that’s not always the case for the smaller parks. I kept running into this issue when planning and decided to do my part to build out the content. What I did not expect is the joy I would get in looking back and reading about our trips. As time goes on memories fade. I am so glad I decided to start this blog to capture some of our memories in written form. Now, my blog is part for the world and part for me. This post, however, is all for me because I want to remember the last several days forever. (I wrote this post mid-October and never got around to hitting post. I’m not changing anything because I like the way it was written.)

We just got back from spending a couple days in Sedona, Arizona and it was a perfect weekend. Quite possibly my favorite trip we’ve taken in a while. This trip was a little different in that we stayed in a hotel versus our camper. I missed camping though. I would much rather camp than stay in a hotel. But this hotel stay was free so I can’t really complain.

Our first night in Sedona we ate out at a local pizza restaurant. We hardly ever eat at restaurants, at home or on vacation, so this was a treat. And a pizza restaurant nonetheless. Little Miss was able to get dairy-free cheese and I was able to get a gf/df pizza. It was a fun treat for all.

Sedona is a great home base for the Verde Valley and we were able to see quite a bit during our short stay. Our first stop was Tuzigoot National Monument which is just outside of Cottonwood. Tuzigoot was built by the Sinagua people around 1,000 A.D. It was a 110 room pueblo high atop a hill. Some of the rooms are still standing and you are able to walk around the pueblo. I always find it fascinating to see how people lived years ago. There’s not much to this monument though so it was a short visit and then we headed off to Jerome to explore.

Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument

Looking out at the valley from the roof of the Tuzigoot pueblo

Jerome was once home to a bustling copper mining community but is now the largest ghost town in America. The city is built on the side of a mountain and is in between Prescott and Cottonwood. There are many art shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms and it makes for a great day trip. We are Tool fans (the band) and have been wanting to visit the Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room for a while, so we made it happen! (Maynard James Keenan is the frontman for Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer and he owns two wineries in Arizona – Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards.)

Visiting the Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards tasting rooms

We ate lunch at the Haunted Hamburger and had the best seats in the house. Our table was at the edge of the balcony and our view was of the Verde Valley. We talked, played Crazy Eights on our phones (the kids found some app that allows us all to play together), ate and just had a truly enjoyable time. A perfect lunch in my book. After lunch we walked around Jerome for a bit and then headed back down the hill. We stopped at the Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room in Cottonwood on the way back to our hotel. Nothing says class like taking your kids to tasting rooms. 🙂 (In case you are wondering, I was not drinking so we were safely traveling around.)

Campground pools always close at sunset but hotel pools do not! I guess that’s another perk of hotel life. The kids wanted to visit the hot tub at night so we waited until 8:45pm when everyone had left. The kids kept hopping in between the hot tub and the pool. I tried once but the pool was too cold. I don’t know how they kept going back and forth but they were having a blast. We stayed until the pool closed and called it a night.

On our second day in Sedona The Husband and I got up early and went for a hike. We decided to let the kids sleep in and I am so glad that we did. Since we were staying in West Sedona we were close to the Devil’s Bridge trailhead. It’s a popular short hike so we figured why not. The trail itself is only .7 miles each way but it starts 2 miles down a 4×4 trail. Many people walk the road and then do the hike. Since we have a 4×4 we chose to drive. Also, because any day that starts on a dirt road in 4-wheel drive is a good day in my book. This was supposed to be a quick hike but ended up taking longer than we planned. Not terribly longer but it wasn’t the easy 1.5 miles I was expecting.

4-Wheeling in Sedona on Dry Creek Road

The Husband enjoyed the trail but I did not. Everything I read said this is an easy trail so we were expecting easy. (Recent internet searches indicate that this trail is a little more difficult that we were lead to believe.) The Forest Service website says this about the trail, “Follow it up a steep, natural rock staircase to a wide open area that offers some fantastic views.” When I had read the trail description I was envisioning actual stairs with a railing. In reality there is no railing and some of the stairs have exposure, some areas require scrambling, and others are more stair like. It’s not a very long section but I was not prepared for what we encountered.

Eventually we got to the top, the trail flattened, and we were rewarded with absolutely incredible views. I didn’t walk onto the bridge but The Husband did. He said it looks just like a trail and doesn’t feel like you are on top of an arch.

Proof that I made it up to the arch!

The other issue we had is that we went off trail twice. Both areas were really well worn so we weren’t the first to go that way. Fortunately we were able to find the trail quickly both times but it reinforced the importance of being prepared – always have your Ten Essentials. Even on a 1.4 mile hike.

Supposedly there is also a trail that goes underneath the arch but we never saw the trail. I do think one issue is that the scenery is so beautiful that it’s hard to stay focused on the ground in front of you. 🙂

The Husband standing on Devil’s Bridge

I guess I need some good since I started with the bad. The good? The views are absolutely spectacular. 🙂

Would I take this trail again. NOPE! And I also won’t be climbing Angel’s Landing in Zion or Half Dome in Yosemite. Just writing about this trail is making my palms sweaty. I guess I now know where my limit is. The Husband loved it though and thought the trail was fine.

After we got back to the hotel we grabbed the kids and headed for Montezuma Castle National Monument. I have driven by Montezuma Castle so many times and never stopped. Mostly because I didn’t know how far off the highway it was. It takes maybe five minutes to get there from the highway and the monument can be seen in just a few minutes if needed. Montezuma Castle is a cliff dwelling and is in a really beautiful setting. You cannot go in the dwelling but there is a diorama that was created back when the dwelling was open to visitors so you can see what the inside looks like. The area below the dwelling is surrounded by large trees and there is a short walk with a few points of interest.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Ruins at Montezuma Castle National Monument

20 minutes north of Montezuma Castle is Montezuma Well and it’s another quick stop. The well is a limestone sinkhole that contains 15 million gallons of water. 1.5 million gallons of water flow through the well every day. The water contains 80% more carbon dioxide than most lakes so you won’t find the typical occupants here. There are five species that live in the well and this is the only place on earth they have been found. A miniature shrimp-looking amphipod, a leech, a snail, a water scorpion, and a one-celled plant called a diatom.

Montezuma’s Well

Cliff dwelling above Montezuma’s Well

The last stop on our adventure was Slide Rock State Park  just north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon. Slide Rock is a 1/2 mile section of Oak Creek that has an 80-foot natural water slide and several areas for swimming. Even though the water was freezing, Little Miss went sliding. Several times. She had a blast but was as cold as a popsicle after she was done.

Natural water slide at Slide Rock State Park

Swimming in Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park

Swimming in Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park

And just like that, all good fun comes to an end. I’m so thankful for this precious time with my family.

 

 

 

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White Sands has been on our bucket list for years. Literally. We were planning to visit in 2013 and it didn’t work out, but I’m happy to report that this trip was a success! Not only was it a success; it is one of my all-time favorite things that we’ve done. Read more