Arizona to Home, the Long Way Around

Finally, the holiday season is in full swing, and what better way to celebrate than to wrap up my 3-part series on mine and Frank’s road trip through California and Arizona wine country? Speaking of which, if you haven’t checked out part one or part two, then you better get on it!

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

Anyway, we left off with our final day in Scottsdale before slowly making our way home, but not before getting some fresh air and setting our sights on red rocks.

Day One: Heading to Flagstaff

Distance: 154 mi.
Destination: Flagstaff, AZ
What we did: Beers in Sedona, Dinner, and Cocktails in Flagstaff
Where we ate: Lotus Lounge

With very little planned for this trip, we knew we wanted to visit Antelope Canyon. This made our decision on which route to take home easier, so we packed up our stuff and drove from Scottsdale, stopping to grab a beer at the Sedona Beer Company and taking in the sites.

This was my first time in Sedona, and I honestly can’t compare it to anywhere else in the world. It was really a gorgeous place. We debated staying there for the night but eventually decided to press on.

Fried pork belly bao buns.
Fried pork belly bao buns

We made it to Flagstaff by the early evening and grabbed a cocktail at the Hotel Monte Vista before strolling around the local shops and having dinner at the Lotus Lounge. We ran into a couple of fellow van lifers who recommended the nearby Cracker Barrel as a safe spot to boondock, so after we had our fill of downtown, we headed that way…

…By that, I mean we stopped at the Oeno Wine Lounge first and split a bottle of an exceptional Crozes-Hermitage, then we headed out.

Day Two: Antelope Canyon to the Northern Rim

Distance: 308 mi.
Destination: Antelope Canyon, Northern Rim Grand Canyon
What we did: Tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, North Kaibab Trail to Coconino Overlook
Where we ate: North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge

View of Antelope Canyon.
Lady in the wind

Bright and early the next morning, we headed out to the Navajo Reservation to tour Antelope Canyon. We had our choice between the lower and upper tour, and we opted for the lower because it allowed you to go down into the canyons. This was a great choice, and our tour guide made it even more memorable by helping us take the perfect photos – he even showed us what filters to use on our iPhone to capture the lighting best.

View in Antelope Canyon.
Antelope Canyon

One thing I recommend is that you thoroughly read the fine print before making your reservation since I did not, and we were almost late because they request you arrive 30 minutes before the time of your reservation. Also, as of the date of this post, face masks are still required since it is on native land.

Man overlooking canyon.
Coconino Overlook

The views were incredible, to say the least. It was easily one of the most scenic tours I’ve ever been on. I can not recommend it highly enough!

After Antelope Canyon, we headed north to the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon. Since we were almost equal distance between the north and south entrances, we opted for the north because it gets much less foot traffic. On average, only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors go to the Northern Rim.

We made it there in perfect timing to hike Bright Angel Point Trail, followed by dinner, then another hike, the North Kaibab Trail, down to the Coconino Overlook.

Campgrounds were full, but a Ranger gave us good recommendations for finding nearby dispersed camping so that we could camp for free not too far away from the main entrance.

Day Three: Zion to Las Vegas

Distance: 266 mi.
Zion National Park
What we did:
Biked Zion, then dinner in Las Vegas
Where we ate:
Tacos and Beer

While having dinner at the North Rim Lodge, a friendly local highly recommended that we bring our bikes to Zion National Park. Due to the amount of traffic, cars are not permitted to drive through the park. Instead, cars must park at the entrance and shuttle between various hikes. That being said, you can bike or walk if you prefer.

We didn’t need much convincing, so once again, we were up and out bright and early and made it to Zion in a couple of hours. We got there early enough to find a parking spot (they filled up fast!), then hopped on our bikes and road down the canyon to hike the Sand Bench Trail.

Girl with backpack biking in Zion.
Zion National Park

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend that hike in particular since it also functions as a horse trail, making for a very sandy and uneven trail. Still, the surrounding view was incredible, and it left me eager to visit again for longer.

After Zion, we set our sites on Vegas as a good midway point between Zion and Yosemite National Park, where Frank had bought us permits to drive through the following day.

Unfortunately, we ended up abandoning our plans for Yosemite because they closed the east entrance to the park due to increased traffic. It would have added a whole day of backtracking to see the park, so we scrapped it and modified our plan to drive through Oregon and stop at Crater Lake on our way home.

Day Four: Las Vegas to Mount Shasta

Distance: 650 mi.
Destination: Mt. Shasta
What we did: Listened to Stanley Tucci’s audiobook, Taste
Where we ate: Lunch at the Homegrown Gastropub

Frank and I seriously thought about trying to boondock in Vegas, but eventually, we realized it wasn’t worth the risk (or the noise), so we camped about an hour outside near Death Valley. The next day we really buckled down and made our way home, stopping for a quick lunch in Reno.

We arrived just outside of Mount Shasta in the pouring rain. The gorgeous view was lost on us, but we had already set our sites at home.

Day Five: Shasta to Crater Lake, then to Home

Crater Lake, then home!
What we did: Drove and got a mini hike around the lake
Where we ate: Breakfast at Yaks Shak, Dinner at In-n-Out

The next morning we were a little more optimistic. We drove into town and got a really good breakfast at a little cafe, then enjoyed a little mountain view as we headed north to Crater Lake. One of my dear friends had just been to Crater Lake on her own road trip the day before us, and she even left me a little treasure hunt to find a secret note she had hidden at a viewpoint!

After our hike, we eagerly headed home – but not before grabbing dinner at In-n-Out in Salem. Then, we actually just went home.

Up Next

Honestly, a lot has happened since we got back from our trip. I’ll be wrapping up my time as a tasting room associate to focus on being a full-time freelance writer, and Frank is knee-deep in private catering and holiday parties.

We have our eyes set on a few destinations next year, but for now, we are content to cozy up, relax, and enjoy the holiday season with our friends and family.

If y’all made it through to the end of this rambling post -thank you! And I sincerely wish you an awesome holiday season. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest recipes and travel tales!

View of Northern Rim of Grand Canyon.
Northern Rim, Grand Canyon


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