White Sands, New Mexico
We didn’t spend much time in New Mexico on this trip, but we did make a stop to see the White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. The best part about this stop was that Nora could participate! She loved running around in the sand — basically the beach without the water, which is Nora’s favorite thing in the world.
Originally we weren’t sure about stopping in Tucson, but we decided to after considering the weather in northern New Mexico (cold and snowy). What’s funny is that we actually saw snow in Tucson and were stuck in our campground for over 24 hours due to flooding on the road.
We stated at Catalina State Park, which is north of the city. It was a beautiful state park in the shadow of the Catalina Mountains, but it has flooding problems with their roads from the mountain run-off. Luckily we had gone grocery shopping and we had electricity and water so everything was fine. We had already planned on staying in Tucson a little longer than anticipated because the weather was BAD in Petrified Forest (they got WAY more snow than we did), so we did the smart thing and stayed put. Neither of us like to drive with the pod in the snow and we seriously don’t trust southern drivers with snow.
Other than this dramatic snow storm (which also included a backed up toilet that we had quite the time fixing without a trip to Walmart), we enjoyed our time in Tucson. We visited both sides of Saguaro National Park, where we did some hiking (sans Nora) and marveled at all the big saguaros. We also visited an air and space museum where Nora was welcome (and got a LOT of attention at).
Right on time and released from our campground jail, we headed north to Sedona, which we had heard so much about. I think it may have been my favorite stop in Arizona, besides all of the people. We stayed just south in Cottonwood at Dead Horse State Park, which was very nice and a good base spot for us (there are no state parks in Sedona and that is our preferred campground). Our original thought was that Nora would hike with us, but we soon found out that Nora is no fan of mud, which a lot of hte hiking trails had because of the melting snow…remember they got wayyyy more than we did in Tucson, just 3-ish hours away.
After ditching the idea of our dog walking with us, which bummed us out a lot because there aren’t many spots that allow dogs on trails, Josh and I set off the next day to hike by ourselves. We ended up hiking the Courthouse Butte loop around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. It was very snowy but we had a great time in the about 45-50 degree sunshine. After our hike, we stopped at a winery (there apparently is an Arizona wine scene) to do a tasting.
Hiking was the name of the game in Sedona. We also tried to hike the Airport Mesa trail, but ended up not hiking the entire trail due to the slippery snow and pretty steep incline down. We ended up hiking the part of the trail that the snow had melted from, which afforded us beautiful views of the other trail we had hiked the previous day.
Sedona was the perfect stop to close out the first half of our trip, as we headed down to Phoenix to set Josh up at a campground while I flew back to Michigan to check up on things and shoot a wedding. Josh and Nora enjoyed some 70 degree sunshine (which we hadn’t yet had in Arizona despite being promised that Arizona was WARM), while I handled some Michigan winter.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Josh picked me up from the Phoenix airport on a Monday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day just relaxing around the campground and plotting the next week or so of our trip. The next day, we headed up to the Grand Canyon, which wasn’t a long drive. We stayed right in the park which was definitely the best choice despite lack of electricity. We survived without it for a few nights, which were relatively quiet as the campground was pretty sparse with people.
I had visited the Grand Canyon previously with my family on our big trip out west in 2005, but Josh had never seen the canyon. It truly doesn’t look real. The Grand Canyon is pretty dog-friendly, as dogs are allowed on the Rim Trail, which is quite long. Nora was able to hike several miles with us, except for when we decided to take the shuttle to Hermit’s Rest on the west side and hike along the canyon for a few miles ourselves — in the rain and wind to boot of course!
There is really no words to describe the Grand Canyon other than majestic. Each time I would turn my head to look over at it I would be awed by what I was seeing. You really can’t compare it to anything else.