TRAVEL GUIDE: SEDONA TO MONUMENT VALLEY.

Sedona.
The route.
I’ve always wanted to go to Sedona, ever since I (like so many other 20-somethings) explored the esoteric. For some reason I always thought it was in California, but of course once I arrived, I was absolutely certain that I wasn’t in California any more, no sir. Sedona,  it turns out is located at an elevation of over 4000ft, in the heart of Arizona, about 90 minutes from Phoenix. The charming tourist destination is enveloped in red rock buttes (I learnt the difference between buttes and mesa’s… a butte is a big rock that is taller than it is wide, while a mesa is wider than it is tall), steep canyons and pine forests. The red rock started to appear about half way from Phoenix, around the same time the sweltering Phoenix temperatures started to drop, just as you start your ascent into elevation. The town is visibly humble because of the local laws and building codes which dictate that all the buildings be natural in tone and no more than 2 stories high, as well as no bright lights (even Mc Donalds have to have sage green, non-illuminated arches) and as you stand above it on one of the many available pink jeep tours, it appears almost invisible!

Stay.
We stayed at the Adobe Grand Villas, a beautiful nutmeg building in the traditional adobe style that is found throughout the whole town. Each room has it’s own theme, I know it sounds twee but really it was quite charming, and the kids loved our Wagon Wheel room! It was humble and quaint, and probably one of the loveliest boutique bed and breakfasts I’ve stayed at, complete with turn down service, basic kitchenette in each room, Aveda toiletries (thank you very much!), day spa and pool. This place wasn’t the cheapest, but with a lovely breakfast included and all the trimmings (including fresh cooked cookies and brownies each afternoon, a coffee machine and with that classic Sedona nutmeg adobe facade it was a special treat to land there (after a big trek flying in from Mexico, shuttle to the car hire place, then a 90 minute drive from Phoenix.)

Eat:
We ate at a few places mainly because they were close to our accommodation or they were recommended to us. They were all pretty standard fare for the area. For coffee we were lucky to find this great little coffee/wine tasting haunt, Creekside Coffee (owned by a Melbourne man, which would explain the good coffee and the smashed avo on toast), worth tracking it down if you’re a coffee Nazi like me. If you’re with the kids its worth dining at least one meal at The Barking Frog, which i believe is now called the Quality Kitchen and Bar  ~ if only for the oddities in the display cabinets as you arrive. We found good Thai at Thai Spices which boasts to be organic.

Do:
On our first day we drove about 15 minutes out of town to Slide Rock. Ok so this place is amazing, it’s a natural waterslide carved out of the rock by nature ~ a literal rock-slide. Indi who is only 4, wore his wetsuit to brave the freezing rapids and slid down until he reached a particularly sketchy dip in the rock where I plucked him out of the water just in time. Arrive early to avoid the crowds, but don’t be put off by them. Yes, this is a tourist trap but so worth it. Don’t forget to bring your ‘National Parks’ passports where they can stamp it for you at the carpark office.

Next stop: Page, Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon:

2. Page (The resting place when visiting tourist hot spots Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon):
I’ll be honest, Page is a pretty morbid little town. And god forbid you’re trying to find a good restaurant there, or live plastic free for that matter… but it’s the base camp for seeing some of the most incredible sights in Arizona. Horseshoe bend takes your breath away, and Antelope Canyon, despite the crowds, is well worth descending into to blow your mind. To view Horseshoe Bend you simply pull into the car park, walk 15 minutes to a lookout, let your breath be completely stolen from you, take about a zillion photos, and then walk back up the hill to your car. Don’t be afraid of the crowds, there are no fences or barriers and once you get to the view you can peel off to the side and sit completely alone. It’s very special and even my 4 year old son was speechless. It took my husband and I a while to get our heads around going to such a tourist trap, but once you’re there you realise why so many people flock there. It was like the universe gave you a gift in one little piece of carved out canyon, and of course everyone wants a piece of that gift!

Antelope Canyon feels strange because you need to go with a tour group and at first, like I said, we really resisted the crowds, but once you’re down in the canyon the crowds completely thin out and the views are incredible. It’s stunning. You can choose between Upper or Lower Canyon, we chose lower but i’ve heard equally amazing things about upper. I spent hours on trip advisor trying to work out what time to go and with what tour, and weather to choose Upper or Lower, but in the end you’d be safe to just rock up to either and head on in with whatever tour is going.

This is where we detoured to Amangiri for a few nights… (the location of our Diamond Eye’s campaign – taking stunning to a new levelllllll!)… and then we headed to Monument Valley. And at this point you’re thinking the universe couldn’t possibly be generous enough to give even more amazing gifts… we’ll you’d be wrong. Because Monument Valley is every bit as spiritually shaking…

  

3. Monument Valley.
A truly incredible (and for my husband, who basically doesn’t like to leave the ocean) an almost spiritual experience. If you appreciate a mind blowing sunset or sunrise then it’s worth the drive from Page to spend 1-2 nights at Monument Valley. We stayed at the View Cabins, which were super cute (think school camp but with the best view in the world). I’d say The View Hotel has a marginally better view, but we went with the serenity of the cabins and they did not disappoint. There are two rows of cabins, one row behind the other, so the ones at the front boast ‘unrestricted views’, so try to go for the cabins that are in the FRONT and have the best view (cabin 18) though don’t stress if you get one of the others, they’re all amazing!  Its beautiful to be able to get up and have a coffee on your front porch, it really is like camping. The View hotel is friendly and the food was pretty standard for the area. Link to both hotel and cabins. Be sure to visit the gorgeous little museum at Goulding’s Trading Post, a few minutes drive away, I was captivated by it. The dining options in this region are slim, but try some traditional Navajo Taco’s for the hell of it. Be sure to drive a little past the monuments and look back down the road on that incredible ‘Forrest Gump’ view.
To see part 1 of our roadtrip and travel guide; Big Sur + Yosemite go here.
Kids are wearing Children of the Tribe, Country Road, Bandikoot, throughout.
Elizabeth Abegg Spell travel guide USA Arizona