Epic Grand Canyon Short Break

3daygrandcanyonWhen Allegiant Air sends out their ever weekly email about the latest deals I often just browse and move on, more often than not the timing is never right for me with work and life.

When I woke up one morning all filled with wonderlust I thought heck with it let me see where the pin will land. It landed in Mesa Arizona and for a whopping $69 one way… Work and life were officially on hold for my ultimate Bucket List destination! The Grand Canyon was officially on!

When I told everyone that we had booked a quick trip that included 2 full days of the Canyon they thought we were nuts. I’m happy to tell you we are still nuts and we proved them wrong!

The Journey to the Canyon

We landed in Mesa Arizona at 6.30pm and picked up our rental.  Darkness was quite literally everywhere. We plugged in our half way point of Camp Verde into Waze and  were off.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the big city we found ourselves in a darkness thats hard to put into words, pure black. The intense darkness enveloped us and the stars came out in full show off mode. Larger, brighter and more twinkly is the only way I can explain them.

Photo Credit: Jeff Dai/Universities Space Research Association

We saw so many shooting stars from a moving car and then when we thought it couldn’t get any better we found ourselves shouting like little toddlers.  We saw our first meteor streak across the sky right in front of us. Who would’ve thought we’d get a second bucket list item off our list within the first hour of our journey!

After our long journey our beautiful room at the Fort Verde Suites was pure heaven, especially after we found the heater!

Day 1

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The next morning we woke up to a cold those who have lived in Florida too long haven’t felt in a long time. With many layers on we braved cracking the door open to see a beautiful frosty cowboy town straight out of the movies.

After a delicious breakfast I cracked my whip and got the frozen stragglers on the road.  With the light of the day we were transported into a wonderland of blue skies, rolling hills and mountains.

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We arrived at our “home base” for 2 days, Tusayan Arizona, around 11am after a shortish 2 hour journey. Famished and in dire need of real food we stopped by the Grand Canyon Plaza hotel for a delicious and overly filling Buffet which happened to have Mexican Day.

Another yay for me, I’ve never really had real Mexican food stop shaking your head please so it was awesome to sample everything and it seems everyone else enjoyed watching my face as I sampled things I thought were mild but were in fact crazy hot!  No, before you even ask, I deleted the photos and videos while they slept so don’t go asking for them either!

Stomachs full, my mouth still on fire, we headed out to the Grand Canyon, a short 10 minute drive from Tusayan.

We bought our 7 day ticket for $30, even though we were only there for 2 days it was worth so much more than that! Driving through the entrance we found ourselves hyped up on excitement like a little kid on candy and found ourselves transported into a wonderland of tall trees, lazy deer and canyons, nothing but endless canyons.

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Me giving the Canyon it’s first of many hugs… I think my sidekick thought I was nuts …

But I get ahead of myself.

We decided that for Day One we would do the Desert View Drive and proceeded to stop at each and every viewing point.

The drive was incredibly scenic and we found ourselves never getting tired of the canyon views, squawking birds or the bitter cold that enveloped us.

The bonus for us was the fact that, because we had come in winter, we had access to the roads and view points normally reserved only for tour buses and shuttles. I know many say that the guided tours and shuttles are the best but I personally like driving myself and taking as much time as I like at each viewing spot.

After much driving and stopping we ended up at Yaki Point to watch the sunset change the canyon’s colors into a fantastic array of yellows, oranges and pinks.

After lots of extra fresh air at 7000+ feet elevation we all voted for fast food so we stopped by the local fancy Wendy’s for a quick bite and crawled into our comfy bed at the Holiday Inn Express.

Day 2

After a quickish lie in and a delicious breakfast we headed back out to the canyon. This time though we decided after too many pancakes to walk the Rim Trail from Mather Point towards the Verkamp visitor center.

The walk wouldn’t be considered strenuous if you don’t include the few optional crazy moments of going out on the different outcrops and ledges to get the mother of all shots.  Overall it’s nothing but trees, views, birds and enlarged squirrel looking creatures.

After the morning adventures we decided to stop by We Cook Pizza and Pasta (ingenious name) in Tusayan where I committed the deadly sin for a blogger and found myself devouring the delicious food before taking a photo! Well it was that good and thats the excuse.  Not too cheap but most definitely good.

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A quick nap at the hotel found us refreshed and ready to take on some more high oxygenated air. We headed back to the Canyon for sunset but decided to take the route towards Hermits Rest. Again we were lucky as it is only open to self-drivers such as ourselves during the winter months.

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With the temperatures dropping the views took on a misty feel right out of the story books.  The road to Hermits Rest is a total of 7 miles/11 km of twists, turns and more views of both the canyon and the Colorado River.

We made it to Hermit’s Rest just in time to do the short walk to the “edge”, we climbed a little down along the path for unobstructed views. I often thought people were lying about the majestic silence that happens in the Canyon at sunset, I thought yeah right they’re just adding a new spin or something along those lines.

They weren’t lying.

Grand Canyon Sunset

The silence and the earth shattering colors that enveloped the canyon was an experience like none other. It was almost as if the rest of the world fell away and all that existed was me and the Canyon.

Home time

The next morning bright and super early crack of doom early we got our frozen bodies into the car and began our 4 hour journey back to Mesa.

One would think that at least half way through the said 4 hour journey one of us would be screaming “Are we there yet?!?” just like donkey in the Shrek movie, but no, not one person did.

Watching the sun wake up with intense orange, pinks and even purples over the passing hills and mountains was candy for the soul. Added to that we even got have a laugh every few miles with the Arizona Traffic Department changing their Electronic Signs to speak in “Star Wars” lingo in celebration of the new movie. Nope, I’m not kidding.

Still think we were crazy?

Yes it was a very quick 3.5 day trip (I’m Virgo, we work in fractions) with a full 2 days on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and it was so so worth it. Sometimes it’s far too easy to get stuck in the day to day life to the point that you forget to live, truly live, and before you know it another year has come and gone with no new experiences, sights or even tastes.

I am reminded every day that life is too short. Not grabbing the deals that will give you memories and moments that will last a lifetime? I’d call that insanity.

Ok that was a bit heavy… Would it help that depending on the seasons they dress up their Cacti differently?

Worth a quick trip? Hell yes!

Disclaimer: All photos are taken by me and are available for purchase and/or use with permission from me upon request.  All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

6 thoughts on “Epic Grand Canyon Short Break

  1. Incredible pics, Audrey! Definitely brings back awesome memories from our time living in Arizona 🙂 And I’m a Virgo too, so I can completely relate to making a 3.5 day trip work 😉 I think you did an amazing job!

  2. looks like an absolutely epic time. Something that you and your kids will remember forever. Great article. The photos are amazing. I can’t believe you said you got no photos.

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