✈️ Travel

Our Roadtrip: Phoenix to Sedona

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It all started with a book. The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma to be exact. My dad asked me to read it so we could talk about it. The book gives insights on being true to yourself, living your dreams without worrying too much and on restoring your personal power. The main character (Jonathan) in this book is asked by his uncle to get him back extraordinary letters and mementoes that he dispersed in various locations. Therefore, Jonathan has to travel around the world in order to fulfil his uncle’s demand. 

One of his stops is Phoenix where he rents a car and drives the very scenic route to Sedona. It sounded so beautiful and picturesque that I started researching this trip. I knew I wanted to do this road trip someday. 

Lucky me, my husband knew about this dream of mine and surprised me with this short trip on my birthday. 

Phoenix and Scottsdale

Exploring the area

We flew out to Phoenix on Thursday morning, rented a car at the airport and spent the day there. Our road trip started officially on Friday at noon since we had some unfinished business in Phoenix. We had come here in 2010 on our honeymoon and we both remembered Phoenix to be quite a boring ghost-ish city. Coming back in 2021 with more travel experience and more appreciation we gave the city another chance and absolutely loved it. 

We stayed in Downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. Heritage Square was very close by, so we went back to it, walked around a little and had a quick lunch at Subway. It was pretty quiet and very few people were on the streets. But in their defense: it was 118°F outside and it was very very hot. We too melted away, but hot weather is always a good excuse to eat plenty of ice cream. I wanted to check out Fatty Daddy’s but they wouldn’t open for a couple of hours, so we decided to get back in the car and drove to Scottsdale. Such a beautiful town with a beautiful historic old town. We drove around and decided to come back for dinner. 

The afternoon was best spent driving back to Phoenix to find a great lookout to enjoy the view over the city. We drove to Dobbins Lookout. It’s in a gated park but the entrance is free. We were not disappointed by the gorgeous views. I was especially excited with the nature and all the cacti. I love the dessert. 

After absorbing the phenomenal views we drove to Tempe where we checked out the local university and the business school. With my husband being a professor of marketing we always add universities and business schools to our list of sightseeing points. Tempe is also a very nice little city. The streets in Downtown were busy and they have lots of great bars and restaurants. 

But we decided to go back to Scottsdale, have dinner at Olive & Ivy and enjoy the art walk after sunset. The art walk is the city’s Thursday night special. In the heart of Scottsdale, there are a lot of art galleries. Most of them open their doors on Thursday nights from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm so that people can come in and check out the local art. We walked along main street and did mostly window shopping. It’s safe to say that we came here on the right day. What a great coincidence. 

Camelback Mountain Hike

The next morning, we decided to climb Camelback Mountain. That was the unfinished business part I talked about earlier. When we came to Phoenix on our honeymoon we stopped at Camelback and climbed it a little. We did approximately 1/3 when I couldn’t go any further. I was pretty exhausted, and I was wearing a skirt since we did this hike quite spontaneously. So, no good hiking conditions at all. Great that we got a new opportunity several years later. We arrived at Camelback Mountain at 7:00 am with plenty of water. It was already hot and sunny. It was a very intense hike and I totally underestimated it. Be prepared to use your hands as well since it makes the parts easier where you have to climb rocks. I don’t have a lot of hiking experience and we met a lot of people who made it to the top in no time. Anyways, it wasn’t a competition, and we stopped a lot to take pictures and to enjoy the great view. All in all, it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the top and 3 hours and 30 minutes in total. Absolutely worth it and I would do it again. Depending on the season and time, bring lots of water!

On the Road to Sedona

Our Stops:

  • Lake Pleasant
  • Rock Springs Café
  • Black Canyon City
  • Montezuma National Castle Monument (on our way back) 

After our morning hike we got on the road to Sedona. Our first stop was Lake Pleasant where we enjoyed a walk around the harbor. You can take a small cable car from the parking level down to the sea level and back up again of course. Taking the stairs is also possible. Down at the harbor pier you have the possibility to rent boats, jet skis, kayaks or paddle boards for an adventure on the water. We decided to pass because of the heat but walking this area was beautiful itself. The lake also offers lots of options for camping.

We made several more stops around the lake to enjoy the views before we got back on the road to Rock Springs Café. Being the oldest café in the area, Rock Springs Café is pretty famous for their pie. Once you enter the store you also have the option to buy some of their products like lots of different jams, sauces, pastries and pies. We sat down at the restaurant to enjoy a piece of their famous pie. We decided to try the chocolate cream pie. The cake was delicious, but I was a little disappointed with the service and the presentation of the pie. It was not a hectic day, but the servers had quite an attitude and were slow. It also seemed more like mass production and the presentation was very sloppy. The piece of cake was thrown lovelessly onto the plate. Still, it was a nice stop. I liked the area and the little shop, but I honestly had higher expectations for this place. Next time I would rather buy a piece of pie and eat it in the car than at the restaurant. 

A lot of other travel bloggers stop at Black Canyon City next since it’s basically right next to the Rock Springs Café. It is a small little town with not much to see. The most exciting thing was a family of cows walking down the streets. It was already afternoon and we headed directly to Sedona without any more stops. 

Sedona

Our Stops:

  • Vista Huckaby Trail
  • Adobe Jack Trail
  • Airport View Point + Summit Trail 
  • Tiaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
  • Secret Slickrock Trail
  • Cathedral Rock
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross
  • Bell Rock
  • Montezuma National Castle Monument 

In Sedona, we checked into our Hotel Sedona Summit Resort by Diamond Resorts where we got a room with an amazing view. Taking only a little break we headed into the city for dinner at Gerardo’s. Absolutely loved this place. Next time we’re in Sedona, we have to go back and try more of the delish food. Sustainability is very important for this restaurant. They work with local farmers, are big in terms of composting and recycling. Also, all of the Pasta is made fresh daily and they also make their mozzarella. We enjoyed lasagna and pizza that night and both was absolutely fabulous. 

Vista Huckaby Trail – our morning hike

We woke up on this beautiful Saturday and were ready for a little hike. We chose Vista Huckaby Trail. You can put the trail in your GPS and it leads you to a bridge with parking next to it. We paid a $5 parking fee at a machine and started the hike. A gorgeous easy hike/walk at the Oak Creek Canyon. After a couple of minutes, you get to a crossing where you can choose between two options: going straight would have brought us to Grasshopper Point. A nice picnic area where you can also swim. This point officially opens at 8:00 am. Since it was a little after 7:00 am we decided to take a right and follow the trail down to the creek. The roundtrip took us 45 min. It was a nice morning walk and we took lots of breaks to enjoy nature and its views and took some pictures.

After this nice morning walk, we stopped at Java Café for breakfast. Everyone was so friendly, and we talked a little with the staff until our coffee was ready. With our coffee we checked out a little of Adobe Jack Trail. Just a little because we had to get back to the hotel for the European Championship soccer game. Germany was playing against Portugal I believe. Not completely sure because I didn’t pay much attention to the game. I was focused on our plans for the afternoon and evening. So much to see. 

Airport Lookout and Summit Trail

After the game we drove to the airport which has a lookout nearby. The parking was $3 and after crossing the street you could enjoy the lookout in all its glory. On our way back down the hill we discovered a little parking area with more trails and decided to do the Summit Trail. It was a 20 min roundtrip up a hill. So beautiful and the hike was relatively easy. At the end they put up some handrails to make the walking on the rocks easier. 

Enjoying Tiaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village

Next stop was Tiaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a wonderful little village with a great atmosphere to walk around. They have lots of different art stores, restaurants and little shops with jewelry, clothing and crafts. So beautiful that we decided to be back for dinner in this area. 

Secret Slickrock – best view on Cathedral Rock

Now it was time for a little hike again. We walked Secret Slickrock. A fun and short little trail which ends on a large plateau from where you have a fantastic view on Cathedral Rock. The picture I took down there is one of my favorites I took on the trip. The roundtrip was 20 min including sitting down and taking pictures and parking was free and since it’s not a typically touristy thing to do, it was not crowded. 

More gorgeous Rocks and a visit to a Chapel on the rocks

Being very fascinated by Cathedral Rock we decided to get a closer look and drove to the rock. Parking was $5 again and we walked until the hike got too intense for our sore muscles. I wasn’t up for rock climbing that day. But I will definitely be back and climb that rock. 

Close by Cathedral Rock is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a beautiful church sitting on top of the red rocks. A very fascinating monument. And the inside is very nice as well. This place was very crowded since it’s a tourist attraction and lots of busses dropped people off. 

One more rock I desperately needed to see was Bell Rock. Another one of the main hikes people recommend when visiting Sedona. Like Cathedral Rock, we postponed the hike until next time and just walked to get a closer look. 

Heading back to the arts village and enjoying some nightlife

Dinner this evening was at Creekside American Bistro which is right next to the southern part of Tiaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. We enjoyed a beer and a nice peach mint iced tea with pasta Bolognese and a burger for dinner. 

After our dinner we drove back to the area in Sedona with more shops and restaurants to get some ice cream and walked around this area. Sedona has a really nice vibe and a great atmosphere. 

Montezuma Castle National Monument

With us being very busy and active the time flew by very fast, and it was already our last day. Our flight was around 1:00 pm and we had one more stop to make. Originally, I wanted to make this stop on our way to Sedona, but unfortunately, it was already about to close when we arrived. So it’s good to know that Montezuma Castle National Monument is located in a little park and you get to it though a gate and a visitor center. Admission is $10 per person but they also offer packages in combination when you visit other national parks. The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a very fascinating building built in the rock around the 12th century. The main structure of the castle comprises five stories with about 20 rooms built over centuries. The park is designed with lots of love. Numerous signs give a great impression of what life must have been like in the area centuries ago. At the end is a small museum with more information about the area and a gift shop where you can buy books, toys, crafts and candy. 

After this we drove back to the airport. The drive up to Sedona was beautiful but Sedona itself is a very impressive town with so much to do. I will definitely go back there and spend more time in Sedona, do more hikes, try more restaurants and enjoy the area. It is a magical place with all the rocks, canyons and creeks. 

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