Preliminary planning for a trip through NW AZ

Archbishop

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Thinking about a trip through NW Arizona. Need any suggestions you got.
It would be me and my family. Think day hiking/car camping. Sadly no deep wilderness trips. I would like to see Petrified National Forest, Tonto Forest, Grand Canyon, Canyon De Chelly, and perhaps Monument Valley.
I would be driving in from the East through CO etc. (I mention that in case you think there's a must see on the way over.) May or not be pulling a pop up camper. I will probably have around 5-7 days to spend once I get in area.
There you go, you got the quick overview. What should I see, avoid, etc.
One of my biggest worries is spending a day or more at an area and realizing that the day would have been spent at a different site.
This is a rough plan of what I was thinking.
Drive to AZ in such a way as to pass by the four corners. Ya I've heard it's a tourist pit, but if I stop for 30 minutes to stretch and say I did why not.
On down to Valley De Chelly. Spend the night? I don't know.
On down over to Petrified National Forest. Spend that night nearby at bit of property I own, or at the park.
Over to NW corner of Tonto. Will I see cooler stuff if I driver deeper in? Not sure what's all there or where.
Up to the Grand Canyon Look over the edge and cry that I'm not hiking down in and across.
From there on up to the Monument Valley as I'm heading out towards home.
Kind of a big Loop. I suppose I could go the other way around the loop if there was a compelling reason, but I just choose clockwise.
Thanks for reading, would love to hear any ideas or input I'm really quite open at this moment.
This would probably be a trip for later this year or next year. Would love to plan it for fall. My kids go to a year around school which means they have longer breaks for Fall, Christmas etc.
 

uintahiker

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Chaco Canyon sure is a neat spot in NW New Mexico. Canyon de Chelley requires a native guide. Chaco does not.

Are you going through Flagstaff/Sedona? I've heard there's cool stuff down there too.
 

Archbishop

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Chaco Canyon sure is a neat spot in NW New Mexico. Canyon de Chelley requires a native guide. Chaco does not.

Are you going through Flagstaff/Sedona? I've heard there's cool stuff down there too.
Thanks. I knew about the whole guide deal. Didn't know about chaco Canyon. I'll have to look it up.
 

Yvonne

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there is a lot in the Sedona/Flagstaff area, San Francisco Peaks as well. Prescott area is also nice, there is Watson lake nearby.
And I always love to head up to Mingus Mtn. on that scenic road and spent a little while in Jerome.
In the Sedona area there is Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic area. Lot of hikes and 4x4 trails in the Sedona area. I can highly recommend Schnebly Hill Road.
What your're interesting most?
 

Archbishop

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there is a lot in the Sedona/Flagstaff area, San Francisco Peaks as well. Prescott area is also nice, there is Watson lake nearby.
And I always love to head up to Mingus Mtn. on that scenic road and spent a little while in Jerome.
In the Sedona area there is Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic area. Lot of hikes and 4x4 trails in the Sedona area. I can highly recommend Schnebly Hill Road.
What your're interesting most?
Might make it as far south as Prescott. Not sure. It's going to take me awhile to look up all the places you have mentioned. 4x4 trails are probably out. I'm guessing we will be renting some mini van or something. There's a slim chance we will take my 4x4 F350, but it guzzles gas so probably not. That's quite a drive from Indiana to Arizona at 10 mpg.
Interested in most? That's a good question. love hiking of course. I would love to pick some of the Indian history while I'm in the area, but to be clear I only really have a passing interest. Not interested enough to spend days studying old ruins and what not. If I got to see some Indian stuff it would be cool for an afternoon Then not so much. Probably totally uncool of me to admit that, but being honest.(Probably could get into it if given enough time.)
I want to get a an overall feel for of the SW to share with my boys.
I hate to say it but think tourist. (Love her, but my wife is not much of a hiker.) My kids aren't real strong hikers yet.
 
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To be honest I would cross off about half of your trip and focus on a couple of your locations. I did a similar trip and felt rushed the entire time or spent way too much time driving rather than seeing and hiking.

If you end up in Sedona be aware that you pay for every friggin state/national forest or park even with the national pass. Its pretty stupid I felt nickle and dimed the entire time I was there. I do second Red Rock Crossing especially if you have kids it is such a fun place to swim and amazing scenery. I would also add devils bridge to the list. I parked at the bottom because the road was pretty bad (also the city imho keeps nearly every dirt road at high clearance 4wd only because of the popular pink jeep tours) but it only added two miles roundtrip or so. For sure if you make it that far stop by Wuptaki National Monument I think that was my favorite stop on the trip and unfortunately the shortest.
 
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Might make it as far south as Prescott. Not sure. It's going to take me awhile to look up all the places you have mentioned. 4x4 trails are probably out. I'm guessing we will be renting some mini van or something. There's a slim chance we will take my 4x4 F350, but it guzzles gas so probably not. That's quite a drive from Indiana to Arizona at 10 mpg.
Interested in most? That's a good question. love hiking of course. I would love to pick some of the Indian history while I'm in the area, but to be clear I only really have a passing interest. Not interested enough to spend days studying old ruins and what not. If I got to see some Indian stuff it would be cool for an afternoon Then not so much. Probably totally uncool of me to admit that, but being honest.(Probably could get into it if given enough time.)
I want to get a an overall feel for of the SW to share with my boys.
I hate to say it but think tourist. (Love her, but my wife is not much of a hiker.) My kids aren't real strong hikers yet.

Wuptaki would be perfect for you. Has several large ruins (not cliff dwellings but rather pueblo style) and most are right by the paved road.
 

Archbishop

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there is a lot in the Sedona/Flagstaff area, San Francisco Peaks as well. Prescott area is also nice, there is Watson lake nearby.
And I always love to head up to Mingus Mtn. on that scenic road and spent a little while in Jerome.
In the Sedona area there is Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic area. Lot of hikes and 4x4 trails in the Sedona area. I can highly recommend Schnebly Hill Road.
What your're interesting most?
OK just a very quick look at all the places you mentioned.
San Francisco Peaks. Would love to see them. Not sure how much we would hike. But still looks impressive.
Watson Lake, probably not. At a quick glance looks like the lakes we have here, Besides with out my canoe I'd feel like I was on the sidelines.
Red Rock Crossing. All about that from a quick look at pictures, it looks like the kind of place I could spend all week at.
Mingus mnt. Still looking for info on it.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.
 

Archbishop

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IMO again, kids arent as impressed with the Grand Canyon as adults I remember my first time I thought this is it? I also teach ninth graders and always ask how many have been. Typically it is about 50% and they are like I say rather unimpressed. Now if you make it a learning opportunity and talk to them about weathering and erosion, what made the Colorado Plateau, I say go for it! (sorry I am a geography teacher) Go on a ranger led hike as well they work really hard on them and typically are great!
thank you for the advice I will definitely put this to use. I plan on returning later with some hiking buddies to do rim to rim. So I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to see it first, but I certainly want my kids to enjoy it to. My kids are all about the Jr Ranger program offered by the National parks. So I'm sure we'll get sucked into a few of those deals.
 

Archbishop

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Wuptaki would be perfect for you. Has several large ruins (not cliff dwellings but rather pueblo style) and most are right by the paved road.
Quick glance at Google and this looks great. I could get interested in poking around these ruins for an afternoon. I'm sure my boys would be to. Enough hiking for the family.
 

Archbishop

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I'm glad I posed my scenario to you all. I knew I would get more good ideas than I knew what to do with.
 
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PS I Deleted my Grand Canyon post. If you are that close you have to stop even if it adds a couple hours drive time! Here are some pics of the other places in the sedona/flagstaff area I mentioned. It was a fun trip just hated paying for every single stop if you have time Oak Creek is a fun hike as well and if its hot just stay in the water rather than following the trail. (first picture Oak Creek, Second Red Rock Crossing, Third Wuptaki, Fourth Devils Bridge.

O
oak creek.jpg
red rock.jpg
wuptaki.jpg
bridge.jpg
 

Yvonne

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Red Rock Crossing:



Sunset Crater is also nice in the Flagstaff Area, a few nice and short trails. Wupatki can be combined with it.
If you're interested in Astronomy, I can highly recommend Lovell Observatory in Flagstaff. They have guided tours, it's a great 2 hour stop

http://www.lowell.edu/


and here about Mingus Mountain:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott/recreation/camping-day-use-ohv/mingus-mountain-cg-and-day-use.shtml

nice view from there down towards Cottonwood and Verde Valley.
There is a scenic road towards Jerome and then down to Cottonwood and finally Sedona. I think it's the US 89A, lot's of switchbacks, nice viewpoints
 

Archbishop

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OK, so after all the great suggestions, I've put together a revised list.
1. Petrified Forest, my gut tells me I'm not going to as impressed with this one. Seems like kind of place with a few really cool sites, followed by a lot of boring. Perhaps I'm completely misjudging though. In the end I've left this on my plans because it's right next to my property so I have a free easy place to camp for one night. Plus I need to check the condition of my land.
2. Red Rock Canyon, Devil's bridge, and Oak Creek canyon. I listed all these together because it just seems that they are all so close together that it just makes sense to list them all together. As a side note anyone who has seen these different places how would you rate them in order, case I need to skip one due to time.
3. Wupatki Ruins I really want to see this. I'm interesting in ruins at least enough to see the beauty in taking pictures, if not enough to study all the history of the site.
4. Grand Canyon. It's hard to imagine taking the family to AZ and not including this. While I'm on this point Anyone have suggestions for what trails to hit? Keeping in mind my three boys 8 through 12 and my non outdoorsy wife. I want to see more than the average tourist if only for a matter of pride. I want to take lots of pictures. At some point before or after my family visit I want to come to the GC by myself and hike rim to rim. So I'd like there to be as little overlap as possible to what I see. Does it makes sense?
5. Monument Valley. I really want to see this area on the way in or out I'm not sure. This area seems so vast that I need some sort of idea as to where to be in this area to get the best views. My thoughts on this is while I'm driving through I'd like pull over preferably in designated spot, get out stretch our legs look around take pictures etc. get in and go. So probably no more than an hour or so out of the car. If I was by myself I could easily spend a day or more in this area taking pictures, but I imagine my kids will get bored here. Is there more to do here than I realize? Where should I go while passing through this area to maximize my photo opportunities?
6. The 4 corners. Tourist trap? Yep probably, but I want to say I did it. Does it cost money? Assuming that I don't get sucked into buying trinkets.

And because I'm a total nerd here's a google map for anyone who's interested.
 
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IMG_8929.JPG

Monument Valley...If you want the iconic picture you will need to go to the trading post/hotel on the Navajo Reservation(not the one outside of the Reservation but the one actually on the Reservation. At Monument Valley you have a couple options just drive the scenic loop (depending on how many pics you it could take a couple hours) or take your picture at the trading post then there is a short hike that loops around one mittens.
IMG_9101.JPG

I think it was 3 miles round trip or something. Another option is to stop by Navajo National Monument. They have some of the largest cliff dwellings. If you had time you could hike to the betatikin ruin (6milesish) of if you dont have time you could at least hike to the scenic overlook. At the overlook you are looking at the betatikin ruin found in an amazing alcove. They have binocs to help you see everything from the ladders still there, to the idk everything. Ill look for a better picture later!

IMG_8806.JPG
 

Archbishop

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View attachment 394
Monument Valley...If you want the iconic picture you will need to go to the trading post/hotel on the Navajo Reservation(not the one outside of the Reservation but the one actually on the Reservation. At Monument Valley you have a couple options just drive the scenic loop (depending on how many pics you it could take a couple hours) or take your picture at the trading post then there is a short hike that loops around one mittens.
View attachment 395
I think it was 3 miles round trip or something. Another option is to stop by Navajo National Monument. They have some of the largest cliff dwellings. If you had time you could hike to the betatikin ruin (6milesish) of if you dont have time you could at least hike to the scenic overlook. At the overlook you are looking at the betatikin ruin found in an amazing alcove. They have binocs to help you see everything from the ladders still there, to the idk everything. Ill look for a better picture later!

View attachment 396
I was planning making this a "Drive by" but after reading this I might just have to make a day of it. Perhaps I could trade Wupatki Ruins ruins for these ruins and get to see Monument valley at the same time? Any thoughts on the two different ruins? One versus the other?
Also saw Horse shoe bend was close by, but as cool as it looks I'm not sure if it's worth the drive out of the way for "just" a pretty view when I'm already seeing countless other neat views. It might have to be something that I store for another day.
 
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Ok the difference between Wuptaki and Betatikin are 1. One is a cliff dwelling (Betatikin) whereas Wuptaki is a multi story pueblo 2. Betatikin you must have a permit. There are two ranger led tours a day I believe 20 people/tour. Check to make sure your dates match the hiking season of Navajo National Monument. Wuptaki is basically a self guided place. 3. Effort, Wuptaki is in general road side. There are several pueblos all near the road. Betatakin will require a 6 mile moderate-strenuous hike (if you actually hike to the ruins. If you just hike to the overlook its a mile tops).
 

Yvonne

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I would highly recommend the Loop drive in Monument Valley. It takes something like 1-3 hours, depending on how often you stop and take pictures. But it's really worth the effort and time. So many beautiful photo opportunities.
If you're really running out of time, stop at least at the visitor center and hotel. There is a large balcony and you can enjoy the classic view towards the Mittens.



 
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