A few months ago I was talking to my boyfriend late at night when I had the idea of going to the Grand Canyon. I suggested it, flights were booked, Airbnbs found, and a few months later, the trip was coming up fast! It was completely uncharacteristic of me, but I did not plan too much for our trip. During the two weeks before we left, I scrambled a bit to try and book tickets for a few different sites. Unsurprisingly, most tours were completely booked; the tours of Antelope Canyon were full and we had little chance of going. In case you don’t know what Antelope Canyon is…you’ve likely seen it as a screensaver at some point:
While I was disappointed we couldn’t score tickets, I would not change a thing. Antelope Canyon is about two hours North of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon so if you are short on time, this is one place to cross off your list. I like to think that everything happens for a reason–so I’m pretending we simply were not meant to go to Antelope Canyon. We were meant to have a great time with the little time we had so without further ado, I’ll share a play by play of our trip!
Day 1: Friday
We woke up in the middle of a night to a notification that our flight was delayed by 13 hours–perfect. Luckily, we both stayed upbeat, called our airline and rebooked for an afternoon flight so we would leave only 7 hours later than our original departure time. We spent the day lazing around, enjoying brunch, and, most importantly, not working.
Our flight landed in Phoenix around 5pm and we were on the road in our rental car by 6:30pm. It was a full flight and I was amused by the two (adorable) tiny companions by boyfriend ended up seated next to!
We enjoyed a quick dinner in the outskirts of Phoenix, stopped for snacks, then continued our drive to Flagstaff to our Airbnb.
Day 2: Saturday
We both crashed as soon as we walked in the door, but the next morning we woke up to this beauty.
The Airbnb had a skylight so we woke up to lots of natural light as well. We were a short 1.5 hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and we were easily out the door by 8AM. We chose to stay in Flagstaff so we could enjoy more of our day at the Grand Canyon and it was definitely the right choice for us! We beat the crowds (more or less), snagged a great parking spot, and hopped on the bus to go to our stop for our hike on the South Kaibib Trail. After getting off the bus, we took tons of photos before even beginning our hike…
Then we began our trek. I was shocked by how chilly and how windy it was during our hike. We made it to the Ooh-Aah point which is only about 1 mile into the canyon, but the insane winds, small rain showers, and sand in our faces made us to decide to turn around and ascend back to the rim.
We decided to go straight to the top during our ascent, no stopping, and we made it to the top fairly quickly (even if we were huffing and puffing). After our short trail hike, we decided to walk around the rim (~2.5 miles) to get a better look at the Canyon. We strolled leisurely around the rim and I was struck by how empty it felt; we came at a great time and it was unreal to see such a beautiful site in complete silence. We made it back to the visitor center, where I was suckered into a National Parks membership, and then we decided to explore other areas of the park by car.
We started out driving towards the Desert Watchtower and we stopped at a number of different places along the way. We pulled over at Grandview Point and caught some amazing views, plus we saw two elk!
After Grandview, we continued on to Tusayan Museum and Ruins. There were only a few other people there, but it was a wonderful (free) museum to learn more about the communities that lived by the Grand Canyon in the past. The ruins were definitely worth checking out too!
Afterwards we headed to our original destination: Desert Watchtower. The Desert Watchtower was designed by a female architect, Mary Colter, and was erected in 1932. It is in the Ancestral Puebloan Style and it is absolutely stunning on the inside and it offers some beautiful views of the Canyon and the Colorado River.
By this point it was around 4:30pm and we were both exhausted. We made the drive back to our Airbnb, got cleaned up, and headed out for dinner. We ended up eating BBQ in the basement of a shopping complex–it was definitely a novel experience!
After dinner, we drove back to the Airbnb and took a few minutes to admire the night sky. Arizona is known for its dark sky, and Flagstaff is actually the first certified “Dark Sky Place.” It was breathtaking; I had never seen so many stars in my life!
Read more about our Grand Canyon trip next week…