arizona

Last Stop: Tucson

 

 

Saguaro National Park:

Tucson was our last (and quick) stop on our road trip through Arizona. Before flying out we took some time to check out Saguaro National Park, home of the largest cacti. From Native American artwork to Arizona souvenir travel mugs you are probably familiar with seeing the famous saguaro cactus, which has become the universal symbol for the American West.

 

The Saguaro National Park is unlike any other view I have seen before. There are approximately 1.6 million individual saguaro plants growing within the national park. The beautiful red mountains in the background make it one hell of a site to see.

 

Saguaro National Park has two districts, encompassing a total  91,327 acres. The Rincon Mountain District is located to the East of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District is located to the West of Tucson.  There is a visitor center in each of the two districts.  For directions to each district please visit here.  

 

DID YOU KNOW: The average lifespan of a saguaro cactus is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2000 pounds).

 

The park is open every day of the year except Christmas, and the busiest time of year is Nov- March due to the cooler weather.

 

Late April and March is when you will see the iconic saguaros begin to bloom, along with many other wildflowers.

 

 

Did you know? Saguaros are a very slow growing cactus. In Saguaro National Park, studies indicate that a saguaro grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life.

 

 

ADMISSION FEES:


Entrance fee paid for admission to Saguaro National Park is good for seven days and includes both the Tucson Mountain District (West) and the Rincon Mountain District (East).

Saguaro National Park Weekly Pass - $10.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle or motorcycle and all its passengers. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.

Saguaro National Park Individual Weekly Pass - $5.00/person (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one individual when entering by foot or bicycle. Individuals 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.

 

 

Oak Creek Canyon Roadtrippin'

OAK CREEK CANYON FROM FLAGSTAFF TO SEDONA:

If you are driving from Flagstaff to Sedona, or Vice Versa, make sure you take the Oak Creek Canyon route. Recognized as one of the Top 5 Most Scenic Drives in America, by Rand McNally, it is a winding road of breathtaking beauty. Initially you’ll snake quickly down switchbacks into the canyon that hug the edges of cliffs and then eventually opens into oaks with evergreen pines with a backgrop of red-faced cliffss. The drive is about 14 miles, and is a picture perfect landscape the whole route.

 

Chapel of the Holy Dove

One of the benefits of renting a car and not being on a time limit is the ability to stop and enjoy random sites along the way. The Chapel of the Holy Dove was definitely one of these moments.

We passed the TINY chapel, and thinking it may have been a figment of my imagination, I had to turn around to make sure my eyes were seeing correctly.

The entrance to the chapel (whcih looked like an outhouse) was no taller than I was, and is open year round for visitors or worshipers to enter. The entire back wall of the chapel is glass, providing a stunning view of the San Francisco Peaks.

The chapel leaves free CDs of sermons in different languages that visiors can take. The visitors journal is not the only thing that interntional travels leave their mark on. The walls and benches of the chapel are filled with felt-tip pen signitures, prayers and town representations.

History of the Chapel of the Holy Dove


The Chapel of the Holy Dove sits on a parcel of land originally part of a small ranch purchased by Watson M. Lacy, MD in 1960. He was the only physician at the Grand Canyon Hospital which he operated with his wife, Ruth. They came to this area for respite from the demands of the medical practice at the Canyon. The beauty of the Peaks affirmed the goodness and majesty of God. They wanted to give travelers the opportunity to share it. In the summer of 1961, with the help of his sons and some hired hands, the 41 year-0ld Lacy, with no experience as a builder, used explosives to create holes in the rock beneath the Chapel to secure and position the large Ponderosa Pine logs which comprised the original A-shaped structure framing the San Francisco Peaks. Local volcanic rock and petrified wood was used to build the supporting stone walls. This was a project for intermittent days off from his practice at the canyon. The Chapel was completed in 1962. Dr. Lacy died October 1991. The ranch property was sold but the parcel on which the chapel stands remains in the trust of his widow.

On March 8, 1999, the Chapel was destroyed by a transient's campfire but the stone walls remained. Shortly thereafter, 18 year-old NAU student, Christen McCracken obtained permission from Mrs. Lacy to raise funds to rebuild the structure. Since the Chapel had become a popular landmark, the local public supported the project. Many materials were donated by Flagstaff merchants. Volunteers supervised by Flagstaff resident Ricky Roberts, completed the current Chapel, similar to the original, in April 2000.

The Chapel is open to All. Four of Dr. Lacy's six children, the daughter of an Arizona governor and Christen McCracken were married here, besides many others. The chapel of the Holy Dove was named to acknowledge the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, described in Matthew 3:16 as descending "like a dove" above Jesus in commissioning His earthly ministry as God, Incarnate.

The building was dedicated in memory of Dr. Lacy's brother, George, and nephew, Randy Lacy, who drowned in a boating accident in California in 1957. The original memorial plaque read: "In Memory of George and Randy Lacy whose great love in life and great courage in death made known the Glory of God." Lacy's profound grief resulting from the loss propelled great soul searching which led to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Once an agnostic, he discovered "...the Way, the Truth and the Life" was to be found only in Jesus, who said of sacrificial love in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

It is our prayer that all who visit the Chapel of the Holy Dove would experience God's love and power.

 

Directions: 18 miles north of Flagstaff on Highway 180, near milepost 236

 

Trading Post by Dairy Queen:

Just a few miles before you enter Sedona, there's a Dairy Queen, at  4551 hwy 89 A, that has a setup of about 10 Native American vendors that sell fair priced and good quality souvenirs. You can find sterling silver jewelry,  hopi and navajo pottery and turquoise pendants among other souvenirs. It won’t be fine jewelery like items sold at Garlands but the the jewellery is authentic and the prices reasonable.



Getting lost in slot caves and horseshoe bends :)

Day trip from Grand Canyon to Page:

From the Grand Canyon we took a day trip to Page, leaving early in the morning to make it to an 11 a.m. tour of Antelope Canyon, and returning back to the Grand Canyon after sunset. I HIGHLY recommend doing the activities of Page in a day, which CAN be done, as there is not much in Page besides the three main highlights: Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon River Tour, and Horseshoe Bend.

 

 

Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon, known as a slot canyon (think of a cave without a roof), is one of the most photographed canyons in North America.  This canyon, among with others, were formed over millions of years ago when tributaries of the Colorado River would flood during hard summer rains. Now a sculptured masterpiece remains.

Antelope Canyon makes you feel like you enter into another world. The shapes and colors are constantly changing with the ever changing position of the sun casting light into the cave.

Your Navajo Guide will take you on an easy journey through the canyon stopping in areas that are popular for photos and also sharing the Navajo Cultural stories about the canyon. This tour is very informative, sharing the history and geology of the canyon and lasts about an hour.

Your Navajo guide with bring you on safari-style vehicles to the entrance of the canyon, sharing Navajo cultural stories and explaining about the history and geology of the canyon.  

*Note* The ONLY way to see Antelope Canyon is by signing up for a tour, as it is on a Navajo Indian Reservation.

We did a tour with Navajo Tours, which operates tours all day long. Any time of the day is good to see the canyon because as the sun crosses the sky it offers different lighting within the canyon.

Rumor has it that the BEST time, however, is around noon, when the sun is high in the sky.

The tour cost $40 dollars per person.  Navajo Parks and Recreation requires permit to enter the canyon and there is an additional $8 charge, that must be paid in cash. Tour payments can be made by credit card.

For the avid photographer, there is a professional photography tour for $80 that lasts about 2 hours long.

Adults: $40 per person. Children ages 0-12 are $20

There are a few other tour companies that operate that offer the same packages. You can also opt to tour the Lower Antelope Canyon, which offers some different photo opportunities.
 

We went in January, and although we were unable to see the famous beam of light that shoots through the canyon (due to the position of the sun in the wintertime sky) we were able to enjoy the slot canyon with less crowds and more photo opportunities.

 

 

Antelope Point Marina Boat Tours- Lake Powell

After we ended our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon we headed into Page to grab some lunch, and then made it to the Antelope Point Marina for a boat tour of Lake Powell by 2 pm.

The tour departs every hour and a half, so it’s easy to catch. The tour on Lake Powell lasts about an hour,  letting you relax and enjoy the beautiful contrast between the blue waters and the Navajo Sandstone.

The tour costs $28 for adults and $18 per child.

Visit Antelope Canyon Boat Tours for more information, directions and to reserve your spot.

 

 

Horseshoe Bend

The view down into the LIttle Colorado RIver from the canyon overlook is one you will never forget, and is a must see location for either sunrise or sunset.

After our boat tour we headed straight to Horseshoe Bend for sunset which was around 5:30 p.m.

Arriving at Horseshoe Bend is an easy 1.5 mile roundtrip walk from the parking lot off off  U.S. Route 89. The overlook is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level, making it a 1,000-foot (300 m) drop.

If you are brave enough to stand at the edge (that has no handrails)  and look down, good luck! This site will leave you speechless, especially if you stay for the setting sun, casting colorful hues across the sky. Best of all: IT’S FREE!

Directions to Horseshoe Bend:

From Page, AZ drive south on Highway 89 to between mile posts 544 & 545. Look for the exit lane and prominent dirt road on the west side of the road which you can drive a short distance on to the parking area.

 

 

Grand Canyon Getaway

 

There’s a distinct charm of visiting the grand canyon during the winter time.

People walk around bundled up as if you are in a ski town, but instead of lugging around skis and snowboards, tourists have walking sticks and a camera slung around the neck.

We chose lodging at the Bright Angel Lodge, mainly because it is one of six lodges that offer accommodations right at the rim of the Grand Canyon. The lodge is located on the South Rim, which is open year round, and is also the most visited location at the Grand Canyon National Park. You can pick up the hiking trail right outside the lodge that goes for 22 miles.

Bright Angel Lodge has natural rustic character, and our private cabin was steps away from the South Rim,  with breathtaking panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. The main lodge is a cozy log building, with Navajo designed doors painted in yellow, red, turquoise and powder blue. There is a beautiful stone fireplace in the “lobby” with an 8 foot thunderbird hung above with feathers that hang down from it’s mighty wings.

The lodge also features a gift shop, two restaurants, a lounge and an ice cream fountain.

Good to know: Entrance fee’s to Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per vehicle, and the park entrance pass is good for 7 days.

Recommendations: Go to the Grand Canyon in the winter. It’s a lot colder, yes, but there are a lot less people to deal with compared to summer crowds. Just be sure to bundle up!

 

Day trip from Grand Canyon:

From the Grand Canyon we took a day trip to Page, leaving early in the morning to make it to an 11 a.m. tour of Antelope Canyon, and returning back to the Grand Canyon after sunset. I HIGHLY recommend doing the activities of Page in a day, which CAN be done, as there is not much in Page besides the three main highlights: Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon River Tour, and Horseshoe Bend.