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Northern Arizona

After spending the previous month in Las Vegas, we were dying to get back into a more nature-centric area and staying in Flagstaff did not disappoint! We were fortunate enough to have almost two full weeks to spend in the area and this was one of the first places where we wished we were staying longer. The whole area is covered in trees, mountain peaks (some with snow even!), and some of the most gorgeous landscapes you can imagine. Flagstaff and Sedona are very high on our list of places to return!

Where we stayed

We stayed at Greer’s Pine Shadows in Flagstaff for the two weeks we were in the area. The first thing we noticed, as soon as we pulled in, is that it was much more beautiful and much cooler than Las Vegas. Check out our in-depth blog detailing all of the amenities available there, why we chose it, and what we think about the park.

Where we ate

Since we were only in Flagstaff and Sedona for two weeks, and our budget was recovering from our trip to Vegas, we only got to eat at two different places. Whyld Ass, which comes across as a coffee shop when you first look it up, but it is definitely much more than that. The other restaurant was Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen which has a good selection of vegan options, but also has a ton of gluten-free options as well! We have detailed both of these in their own blogs which you can read more to get our detailed review.

What we did

We traded in some of the time we could have spent eating at restaurants for time spent hiking and visiting some of the many natural wonders in the area. Considering we spent most of the evenings during the week revamping our website, coming up with new plans for what we wanted to do with our website and social media, and getting caught up on a bunch of TV, we ended up seeing quite a bit!

West Fork hike, Sedona, AZ

The first hike we got a chance to do was the West Fork hike near Sedona.  As of this writing, this is absolutely the most gorgeous hike we have ever done and because of that, we felt it deserved its own post detailing the entire hike, which you can read in further detail.

Grand Canyon

We spent a day going up to the Grand Canyon which we both have visited in the past, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity while we were here.  We didn’t hike into the canyon, which Hayden has done previously because we are not quite in the shape needed for that type of trek, but it is on our bucket list.  Instead, we decided to walk along the rim from the visitor’s center to the village, stopping along at different places such as Mather’s point.  Aaron even got goofy and took a photo like he was hanging off the edge of a rock hanging on for dear life which inspired other tourists to do the same.

After the Grand Canyon, we started to make our way to Horseshoe Bend up near Page, AZ.  We were trying to get there in time to get setup to try and run a time-lapse of the sunset over the river, but on our way out of the park, we came across 3 mule deer grazing alongside the road.  Luckily we had our long lens with us so we were able to get some photos of them without having to disturb them.  We stayed about 20 minutes taking photos and headed on back down the road.

Along the way, we passed signs for elk crossings and even one for a mountain lion crossing and we were giddy with the possibility of seeing either of them when Hayden screamed out “There’s an elk!”  We quickly pulled over and crept off into the edge of the woods and sure enough, two beautiful elk were foraging about as if we weren’t even there.  We spent about another 15 minutes watching them, trying to get the perfect photo before realizing we had to get moving if we were going to make it to Horseshoe Bend on time.

Horseshoe Bend, Page, AZ

We raced down the road up towards Page, passing some incredible sights and mountains, but were heavily focused on getting to our destination.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, it was jam packed with cars and we knew it was going to be difficult to find a good spot to get photos.

We parked and unloaded and started heading up the hill to make our way to the actual location.  The hill was uphill (both ways, no joke…) and covered in sand with some rocky parts.  The way up had us breathing heavy as we were half jogging, plus the sand, plus we just spent two months not hiking so we aren’t in prime shape yet.  The trail leveled out a bit before heading down towards the overlook.  On the way down, Lulu pulled on the leash and Aaron lost his footing in the sand and went down, injuring his bad knee.  Hayden went on ahead to try and get a spot while Aaron and Lulu tried to get down as quickly as possible without risking further injury.  Spoiler alert: He’s fine

The number of people there was insane.  It was nearly impossible to find a good spot to get the typical Horseshoe Bend picture that everyone who knows the location has seen.  Luckily we had the Go Pro on our monopod so we were able to lift it above the crowd and get some shots.  Aaron was able to flit in between cameras and grab a few shots here and there.  Ultimately, we ended up getting some photos we were happy with, but if you’re going to go there, go earlier than a half hour before sunset on a Saturday!

Bell Rock Vortex, Sedona, AZ

We also wanted to get some time in with the vortices of Sedona and headed down to the Bell Rock Vortex.  Allegedly you are supposed to be able to feel the energy immediately after exiting your vehicle, but unfortunately, I don’t think either one of us picked up on anything while we were there.  But we did get a decent walk in and saw some of the cool twisted trees that surround the mountain, plus Lulu was with us and anytime she gets to go for a walk is a win in her book.

Lower Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

We almost didn’t get a chance to visit Lower Antelope Canyon because quite frankly, we didn’t know it was in the area. Thank you to one of our Instagram followers for pointing it out to us and letting us know that we should check it out. We would have missed out on one of the most beautiful areas, had we not been made aware of it.

There are two companies you can use to go through here, Ken’s and Dixie Ellis. After reading the reviews, we ended up choosing Dixie Ellis because they consistently had remarks that the group sizes were smaller. The tour was about an hour or so in length, but we could have easily spent three hours down there marveling at the patterns, shapes, and colors. This is another one of those areas that you just can’t believe is an entirely natural structure. One day, we would love to do a photography tour of the Upper Antelope Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend (round 2), Page, AZ

We know, we know, you’re saying to yourself “But I already read about Horseshoe Bend!” and that is correct, you did. But, we decided that we weren’t super impressed with our photos that we got the first time, so we decided to go back. On a weeknight, it is MUCH less crowded at sunset and we were able to get a spot where Aaron could set up his tripod right near the edge and capture the sunset over the bend. The biggest issue we ran into this time were the gnats! They were out in force and ruined several of our photos (plus were generally annoying) but we did manage to get a few good photos and experience another incredible sunset in Arizona.

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states we’ve been to in our adventures and we are looking forward to coming back 

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