I love Arizona. The common response to this is usually, "Why," accompanied with a condescending and horrific tone. When people think of Arizona, they usually think of 1) the heat, 2) barren desert, and 3) the hotter heat. But HELLO, Arizona is a beautiful state with so much outdoor beauty and the weather actually does drop below 70 (sometimes)!
I found out that there are Arizona residents out there who have never been to the Grand Canyon, my boyfriend included. After having learned of this travesty, I made it a point that we needed to make a trip from Phoenix. This was my third time returning to the "giant hole in the ground" and the grandeur of the Grand Canyon still amazes me.
Be prepared to pay to get into the Grand Canyon. Last year, it was $20/car for a week-long pass (they don't do single day passes), but this year...it spiked up to $30/car. So let's say, be prepared to pay $20-$30 per car per entry. I highly suggest stopping at the Visitors' Center and soaking up all the Grand Canyon information (and go to the bathroom because it's quite a hefty drive into the park!). There's also a little cafe where you can buy food if you get hungry. I brought some snacks and a salad for dinner since I knew we had a lot of time to kill before sunset hit.
From the Visitors' Center, I recommend walking towards Yavapai Point, which is about a three quarter mile walk. Along the way, there are magnificent views of the canyon and wildlife will often make an appearance. Yavapai Point is my particular favorite because it's the part of the canyon that has the best views for sunsets and various precarious (but safe) ledges to hang out on. Also, if you have a dog, bring it along! The Grand Canyon is very dog friendly and it's a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a furry companion.
On our way back to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Sedona for the night. Sedona is the town of some beautiful red rocks and is apparently a hub for spirituality fanatics. I'm no expert on Sedona, but my short time there led to some beautiful hikes and a slap to reality that no one will be able to predict weather in that city...ever.
The Huckaby Trail was recommended per the front desk agent at the hotel. I packed snacks, my camera, plenty of water, and my phone. Parking at any of the trailheads will cost $5, so bring cash or a credit card for the pay machines. Walking up the trail, it was sunny, hot, and dry. I don't know what happened, but I think we went off the Huckaby Trail and ended up at a creek. No complaints from me, though, because I happily dipped my sweaty self into the refreshing water.
I was relieved on the way down the trail because the scattered clouds offered ample shade from the beating sun. However, I did not anticipate what was about to happen next--rain. Boyfriend and I still had about another mile to go when it started to drizzle. I rather enjoyed it until it really started pouring...and when I thought I could be as miserable as I could be in the rain...it started to hail. HAIL. You know the giant balls of ice that fall from the sky that can do actual physical damage? Yes, that kind of hail.
We luckily made it to the car, but it wasn't without struggle. Next time, I'll plan for every type of weather and bring me an umbrella. Or maybe I'll just stay in the hotel and watch HBO, instead :)