Arizona

Arizona is the most underrated state in the U.S. I haven’t been to all the states, but Arizona definitely isn’t what I thought it’d be. Maybe I was just naive, but I thought Arizona was a desert. That is only partly true. Some parts of the state are desert lands, but many other parts are filled with lush forests, palm trees ,and beautiful mountains. I would recommend a visit to Arizona ASAP!

Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale

Most of my time in Arizona was spent around this area. I clumped them all together because they’re so close to each other. Phoenix is filled with your normal city things: restaurants, shopping, sports. What is not so normal about Phoenix, is that there are many mountains surrounding the city. Some of my favorite hikes are Squaw Peak, South Mountain, and Camelback. Squaw Peak is the easiest of the three. It is tall, but has a slow incline. It is a beautiful spot to watch the sun set. We hiked Geronimo Trail on South Mountain, and it was amazing because we were the only ones on it! Most mountains in Phoenix are crowded with people, and it doesn’t exactly feel like a nature hike. Geronimo Trail was deserted and it was wonderful! Camelback is by far the toughest hike out of all three. It may have been because I went midday in July, but it was exhausting! I hiked the Echo Canyon trail, and it is steep. Bring lots of water. Arizona State University is located in Tempe, and it definitely feels like a college town. After exploring the campus, I deeply regret going to college in freezing cold, barren Illinois. The best part about Tempe is its bike lanes. We rented bikes and rode all around campus. It was so much fun and an easy way to see the sites. Scottsdale has an amazing shopping mall. I spent an entire day in there. Pretty sure I became best friends with every employee in the Lorna Jane shop. Ooops! I’m unapologetically addicted to activewear.

 

Tonto Natural Bridge

Located in Payson, this natual bridge is an Arizona State Park. It is a beautiful bridge that was solely made by nature, and it is astounding! It’s like this giant bridge with a huge cave underneath, that is also a lagoon. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I felt like a pirate mermaid. Not exactly sure what that is either, but it’s super cool. It’s $7 entry for adults, $4 for kids 7-13, and kids 0-6 are free! The trails are easy, but I would still recommend wearing gym shoes. We hiked the Gowan trail, and I loved it! We packed a lunch, and there were tons of picnic benches to eat at. The pictures below, don’t do it justice. Look how tiny the people are compared to the underside of the bridge. You need to see it!

Grand Canyon

Well I feel like everyone knows the Grand Canyon, but here are some details if you’re planning a trip there. It’s $30 per car of people to enter, so plan on packing it full of all your friends! You can access the Grand Canyon from the South Rim, North Rim, and Desert View. The South Rim and Desert View are open all year, but the North Rim is only open from May 15h to October 15th. The North Rim is closed during the winter due to weather. Weather? What weather? Remember how I said that Arizona wasn’t all desert! It snows in the Grand Canyon… A LOT! Snow in Arizona? I thought it was crazy too. We visited the South Rim only because we were pressed for time. We were on a wild weekend roadtrip and had a ton to see! The South Rim is home to Grand Canyon Village, which contains the Visitor Center and most of the transportation. They have free shuttle buses that can take you to many trails. It’s really convenient! We visited in the evening and stayed for the sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking! I took approximately a million photos. After, we just hopped on a shuttle bus back to our car. No hiking in the dark! It was very safe and easy. If you want more information, you can visitΒ The Grand Canyon WebsiteΒ .

Flagstaff

We only stayed in Flagstaff overnight, but it was the prettiest town. It had beautiful mountains and forest! We were in love. I definitely would like to go back. If you have recommendations of places to go, things to see, where to eat, then drop a comment below.

Sedona

I saved the best for last. Sedona is simply beautiful. If you love the outdoors like I do, Sedona is a must. There are so many wonderful trails to hike, of all difficulty levels. Bell Rock Pathway is almost completely flat with very little elevation change. I don’t know if I would even call this hiking, it’s more like walking. It would be a fun path to bike ride or bring the kids to; you could easily push a stroller. Bear Mountain is a tough hike if you climb all the way to the summit. The best part is that there are many stopping points with awesome lookouts! I never went all the way to the top, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. There were still wonderful views. My favorite trail is Devil’s Bridge. The trail isn’t too tough, but it definitely requires some athletic ability. The best part of the hike though, is the top. This one you have to go all the way to the top! There is the most amazing (scary) nature made bridge on top. After writing about Tonto and now this, I think I may have a natural bridge obsession. Anyway, this bridge is slightly terrifying but once you climb all the way to the top, you feel obligated to cross it. At first sight I thought that there was no way that I could go on that bridge, but I figured I didn’t hike all the way up for nothing! So, I mustered up all my internal strength and went on the bridge. It was so so worth it!

 

I hope you loved all of my stories and pictures. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below.

*Disclaimer: This post was written on January 31, 2016. Prices and information may change.

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