I’m actually writing this post as we retrace our tire tracks back towards the Grand Canyon. Why? you ask. Well, I guess you’ll just have to read my next post to find out!
The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is the most picturesque drive we’ve had yet. Yes, the Skyline Drive/Blueridge Parkway was spectacular, but it’s the type of scenery that we’ve both seen many times before. Neither of us has ever driven through the desert.
The town of Sedona is nestled into the Red Rock mountains, blending into its surroundings with homes and buildings the colour of the sand and rock. These were the first mountains of this kind that we’d seen, and the view was captivating.
I tried my hand at some panoramic shots and put them together later using Photoshop. Next time I will use my tripod and make sure the exposure is the same for each panel!
We didn’t stop to walk around Sedona, feeling that it was more the mountains surrounding it that make this town appealing, but we did stop at this one touristy shop/art gallery that caught our eye.
And no stop is complete unless we get a picture of Amelia there too (actually we didn’t even get a picture of ourselves here!).
The drive between Sedona and Flagstaff goes along Oak Creek Canyon and it is quite beautiful. It is also quite steep and felt even more precarious than when we did the Blueridge Parkway. Sure there were guardrails, and Steve assured me that they could very well save your life, but my feeling was that they were more for show, and perhaps to give you a sense that you weren’t really a couple feet away from careening around a corner and rolling down the several miles to the bottom. It was here I learned the term “switchback.” And here’s a good example of what that is:
In case we were going to plummet to our deaths shortly, we took some happy photos of ourselves for posterity (and I guess we also needed to stretch our legs), on the edge of the canyon with Amelia.
But we didn’t take the plunge and arrived safely in Flagstaff. We didn’t really know what to do in Flagstaff, but I remembered from Mary’s photos that you can access Route 66 from there. So we sought it out and didn’t have to look very far because it started up right off the highway we were on. And then it started to veer away from the direction we wanted to go, so we got right back off.
So you may have noticed that we’d already experienced a variety of terrain on the drive so far. From Phoenix to Sedona it was cacti and shrubs and the desert we’d gotten used to in Phoenix. Then we hit Sedona and everything was covered in red sand and rock, with pockets of green shrubbery. Between Sedona and Flagstaff we traveled along the Oak Creek Canyon and the scenery started incorporating trees. After Flagstaff, we hit a section of desert that was positively yellow.
Bright, pale, yellow.
And then pink.
And then yellow, pink, and grey.
And then it was back to red rock again.
We stopped here, at the Navajo bridge, and took in the landscape all at once.
We were in a great big valley, and all around were rocky, red mountains. Steve remarked that you could see how the valley could have been an ocean floor millions of years earlier. You could see the layers and layers of rock and sediment in the hills. We got to look out above the valley miles later when we drove up one of the mountains. We stopped and had a snack, and enjoyed the view.
As we neared the North rim of the Grand Canyon, the scenery again changed to trees and green grass and we entered the Kaibab National Forest.
A lot of the trees were no longer green. A forest fire must have swept through a lot of the forest a year or two earlier. There were miles of burnt trees.
But thankfully lots of the forest was still there. We stopped for the night in a campground in the far right of this picture:
You can’t actually see it there – I just thought you might like to know. The campground was a short drive from the entrance into the park, and had no amenities except for an outhouse-type toilet. We got one of the last spots and the other two were taken while we were setting up. We have been very fortunate on this trip with campgrounds – we never make a reservation and often show up after the office has closed. So we get our pick of whatever spots are leftover and usually check in the next day at the same time as we check out.
The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon was my favourite drive of the trip so far. That’s saying a lot because we’ve seen some amazing scenery along the way! I could drive it again and again, and as I alluded to above, we did do a lot of the drive again 🙂
Please be patient with me as I write up a post about the Grand Canyon. There are a lot of photos to go through and I like to tweak them before posting 🙂 Also, there tends to be no internet connection in the long stretches of desert we’ve been driving through. I get annoyed at first, and then I pause and realize that it’s pretty amazing that we get internet on the road at all. And then I watch the scenery go by and I don’t think about the internet again for awhile.
What’s your favourite drive in North America?
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