- Murals in Flagstaff
- Finally… the Grand Canyon
- Wow, the Lower Antelope Canyon
- Looking way down – Horseshoe Bend
- Lower Antelope Canyon – again
- Absolute silence in Navajo NM
- Passing through Navajo country
- Bob the Builder in Monument Valley
- Skipping Canyon de Chelly and moving on to Petrified forest
- Flying AA
- Sympathy and chaos after the attacks
- Night flight
- The Album
The rough plan
Step 1 – What can I do with 5 days in the US in April? A road trip obviously. I love National Parks in the US, much more than cities. Yellowstone is very high on my list, but not doable in April. So not this time. The Grand Canyon… that’s what I will visit! South Rim would be the more obvious one.
Step 2 – how to get there? Closest airport to the South Rim is Flagstaff. I will be arriving in the evening, so staying over in Flagstaff. The drive to the Grand Canyon is not that long, a good hour and a half.
Step 3 – how long do I need? I knew that I would not be physically able to do strenuous hikes, so that limits the time required. I wanted to do at least the Rim Trail, take the road to Hermit’s rest and the drive to Desert view. This all could be done in an afternoon and evening. Lastly, at least one sunset and one sunrise at the Grand Canyon. So, a morning to add.
Step 4 – What else is in reach? Antelope Canyon is within driving range. Check. In the area, Horseshoe Bend. Check. I wanted to go see The Wave as well, but learned you need a permit and a lot of luck. So, adding an afternoon and evening in Page.
Step 5 – And then? Keeping in mind I want to return to Flagstaff, going North is not an option. Monument Valley Tribal Park in driving range. Check. On the way Navajo NM. No time for the 4 states corner. It would take too much driving on one day (for me). So, adding another day.
This is a fine balance between anything you can dream of and the money to pay for it. For me, I need to feel safe, preferably homy, it needs to be clean and have some sort of basic luxury. I check ratings on booking.com and Tripadvisor, but especially I read the comments. What someone finds horrible, I could not be bothered with. Or the other way around.
El Tovar as close as you get to the Grand Canyon itself was a no brainer due to location, history and look and feel. Very nice breakfast – and enough to get you through for a couple of hours. My room was a little bit tired, but I didn’t mind. It had its charm, had a cute old bathroom and I slept well.
In Flagstaff the University Econolodge is a super great value for money with very friendly personnel, parking in front of your room en a good bed and bath. Basic breakfast, but you can eat and drink before you go.
The other hotels – in Page and Chinle – where a bit more difficult to chose… I hoped for some great B&B’s but didn’t find them. The Best Western View of Lake Powel gave me a very large room which felt more like an apartment. I also slept very well in the Holiday Inn in Chinle – right next to the Canyon de Chelly. Luckily they had some medicine in their little shop.
With this type of tight plan, I will always calculate the driving times, buffers, check on opening times, book if needed, check sunrise and sunset times, hike duration. I made one reservation for a viewing: Lower Antelope Canyon. I made it with Ken’s tours. Friendly, knowledgeable, a great experience.
Making it official
The final prep – I know I am a complete control freak -is creating a little brochure. I want to have everything (plans, bookings, how it looks like/ what to look for/ maps… per day) in writing with me in an handy way.
I found an online printing service (printdeal.be) that prints magazines from a pdf you provide. I use a powerpoint type program to make the pages of my booklet. I set the size on A5 portrait. I created the booklets for the last 3 trips and really love it. No searching for that confirmation code – it is right in there. Not looking again where to find what – it is right in there on the right date. And I use it to take notes and for later reference. Love it.
All set to go now.