travel

Plan a Hiking Trip to Arizona

To kick off 2017, my parents and I went on a hiking trip to Arizona. Not only was there amazing food, but also we got some good work outs in throughout the trip. After visiting Phoenix, Sedona, and Grand Canyon, I have loads of tips on packing, trails, lodging, and activities. I hope this guide helps you to plan your own wonderful trip to Arizona!

Packing Tips and Must Haves for a hiking trip to Arizona

Boots: As someone who has only gone on hikes that could also be called walks, I only had a pair of Nike sneakers to bring. Fortunately, my mom convinced me to buy a pair of Merrel hiking boots from the sale section at REI. My life has been changed. Forever. I’m not kidding when I say that I never knew shoes could have that much traction and grip. Our trip to Arizona had hikes in multiple climates, including icy snow, and I never slipped. As someone who sprained their ankle six months ago by falling over nothing-that is a big feat for me.

Refillable water bottle: Trust me when I say that the desert, even in cold months, will leave you thirsty. Bringing a refillable water is a must!

Backpack: When you go on a more challenging hike, particularly with changing climates, having a backpack for water, granola bars, and layers can be a lifesaver. Plus it leaves your hands free if you need to balance yourself at any point!

Sedona Trails, Lodging & Activities

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Sedona is about half way between the Phoenix airport and Grand Canyon. My family spent 5 days in Sedona and could not be more thrilled with our experience there. The Red rock formations are unlike anything I’ve seen before and hiking through them was amazing.

Sedona Trails

Beginner: If you’re looking for an easy walk where you’re still surrounded by amazing red rocks, I would recommend Red Rock State Park or Crescent Moon Park. At Red Rock, we did the Apache Fire Trail. It was a look at some old structures and a smooth hike. There was some up and down, but the path itself wasn’t rocky.

Intermediate: Slide Rock Park had hiking alongside the river. The trail was entirely rocks with ups and downs, but was manageable without an intense skill set. Devils bridge hike was labeled intermediate by the trail maps, but it was hard! Pros: free parking and gorgeous scenes. Cons: steep incline at the end of the hiking that was very difficult and a bit scary

Advanced: I felt the ones I called intermediate were advanced and never tried anything harder. So if you’re a pro-hiker looking to scale a cliff, I’m not the one to give you advice. Sorry!

Sedona Lodging

We spent 4 nights in Sedona split around our two days at the Grand Canyon. This left us staying at two hotels. Both times we opted for suites at Diamond Resorts. We found great deals on hotels.com for both the Sedona Summit and Los Abrigados. I would highly recommend both for different reasons.

Sedona summit

Pros: big kitchen, in room laundry for dirty hiking clothes, great pools

Cons: Located slightly out of town (10 min)

Los Abrigados

Pros: Located in the heart of town, night suite and pools, onsite restaurant options

Cons: smaller room (could just be what we got!), no laundry in room

Sedona Activities

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While there, we did a pink jeep tour and a helicopter ride. I would recommend both, but if you only have time and $$$ for one, the pink jeep tour is the move. We went on the Broken Arrow trail and found it to be a thrill of a ride packed with fun facts above the area and the rock formations. The price is a little steep, but they do give a AAA discount!

Grand Canyon Trails, Lodging & Activities

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Grand Canyon Lodging

We spent a night in the Kachina Lodge on the Grand Canyon rim and it was truly wonderful. I would recommend staying on the rim if you go in the winter, like me, when camping is difficult and the prices are lower for the off season. In the summer, I think you’re just as well staying right outside the park for a lower rate or going camping!

Grand Canyon Trails

Alright. You’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, are an amateur hiker, but figure you can hike it all.

You can’t. 

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but they call it grand for a reason. If you would like to hike all the way down and back up, you need to camp or stay at the lodge at the bottom and spend two days doing the hike. You also need to go in Spring or Fall because January was incredibly snowy and icy at the top.

My family opted for the rim trails. Partially because we didn’t have the skills and equipment to hike down at all, but also because we didn’t have time to camp over night down there. Walking along the south rim for 4 miles gave me the feeling of seeing a lot of the canyon without being dangerous on the ice. If you’re looking to see the canyon without hiking too far, this is a great option!

Grand Canyon Activities

As far as activities go, we saw the IMAX about the Grand Canyon at the visitor center. It was a great IMAX with interesting history, but not so amazing that you have to go if you are in a time crunch.

We tried to go on a bus tour because it was 30 degrees, icy, and windy; however, the tour was cancelled. Instead we drove our rental car from site to site and I would definitely recommend saving the money and driving yourself! We were able to stop at so many different look out points and got the amazing views without the tour bus fee.

Phoenix Airport Activities

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Flying in and out of the Phoenix Airport was an affordable option for us, so we found some fun things to do nearby. I would definitely recommend exploring Phoenix a bit so you aren’t just passing through!

Taliesin West 

Frank Lloyd Wright built a school 25 minutes away from the Phoenix airport and it is magnificent. We took a guided 1.5 hour tour that showed us around the grounds and gave us insight into the life of Mr. Wright. I would 100% recommend it to anyone going to Phoenix.

Botanical Garden

Within 10 minutes of the airport, the botanical garden is an amazing outdoor cacti garden. We went for a walk here and saw more succulent plants than I have ever seen. Also, the lunch restaurant is very good and makes a great hummus from tepary beans!

~Alana Robin

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