Gigantic Canyons, magnificent mountains covered with red rocks, deep valleys and scenic highways. Arizona has all of this and more. When my friend Jade suggested a reunion, we thought what better place than Arizona to meet. Jade’s been living in Arizona for over 4 years and has always wanted to visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. We imagined an adventurous road trip along the scenic highway from Phoenix to Utah, stopping along the sights all the way to Zion National Park. Just us, moms.
We’ve always said we would take a trip together, but life happens and sometimes you forget the promises you make. Jade and I gave ourselves four days to do our “moms only road trip” leaving the kids behind. We discovered there are lots of wonderful things to do and see in Arizona and Utah especially if you love nature and the great outdoors. The drive from Phoenix to Page Arizona alone took about 7 hours one way.
Arizona has the most scenic highway ever
Pack your bags, fasten your seatbelts and hit the road to our top favorites:
1. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend refers to the “U” shape the Colorado river left as it flowed in the sandstone canyon thus, making a 270 degree shape of a horse shoe. Horseshoe Bend is about a 12 minute drive from the town of Page. This canyon is easy to find, just off of Interstate 98. You will notice a huge parking lot where you can park for free.
Best times to visit are early in the morning or at sunset where there are fewer crowds. We managed to wake up at 6am, eat breakfast, and get to the canyon by 8am. (Thank goodness for a moms internal clock!) When we arrived at Horseshoe Bend there was only a handful of people. Basically, we had the canyon all to ourselves!
Don’t forget to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes as you will be walking in hot sand and on large rocks. It gets pretty hot, especially during the summer so pack some bottled water and some sunglasses. This was absolutely one of the most outstanding scenic places I’ve visited. Took my breath away!
Descend into a magical place where the earth meets the sky
2. Lower Antelope Canyon
Beneath the epic rocks intertwined within the orange embedded walls of this slot canyon are exceptional rock formations composed of stunning colors and twirls. If you’re able to view the Lower Antelope Canyon before 11am, the morning light is ethereal. This light radiates down the creek and has a mixture of different colors such as purple, pink, red, and orange. You have to see it for yourself!
We skipped the Upper Antelope Canyon because of the reviews which said the crowds were enormous. We’re glad we did! For $25 (plus a $8 Navajo Reservation day Pass), we booked an amazing tour with Dixie Ellis Lower Canyons with the most awesome Navajo guide named Justin.
Justin said, “Arizona’s land is sacred to 22 tribes. The biggest tribe belonging to the Navajo.” We’re thankful for these sacred lands and paid our respects by being mindful every second of the tour.
3. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
On our way to Utah, along the US-89 from Page to Kanab, we stopped at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is a protected area in Southern Utah where you will find a bunch of stacked plateaus known as the “Grand Staircase.” There are many hikes here and if you hike 1.8 miles, you will reach a unique rock formation called the “toadstool” which looks like a boulder sitting on top of a pedestal rock. If hiking is not your thing, the Grand Staircase is a good rest top to admire the magnificent views.
The most beautiful hike of my life
4. The Narrows, Zion National Park
Zion is a hiker’s playground surrounded by mountains, trees, rivers, fresh air and scenic viewpoints just foot steps away. If there is one hike that you must do in Zion, make it “The Narrows.” Check the weather to make sure there are no storms or possible flash flooding the day you go. Located right before a small town is Springdale, with boutique stores and lodges.
There is a 1 mile Riverside Walk that you need to do before you reach the river but it’s totally worth it. The fun starts when you take that first step into the water and you’re walking against the currents in between the canyons. The water is cold (around 50 degrees) but on a hot and sunny day, it helps beat the heat.
This hike was one of the highlights of our trip! For any challenging hikes such as this, we recommend wearing sturdy shoes that are water proof. Don’t fret if you need hiking gear, Zion Outfitter rents out waterproof boots, neoprene socks and a walking stick for $28 US/day. If you’re not used to walking on different sizes of rocks and don’t have a good sense of balance, walking sticks are a must.
The tans fade but memories last forever
I will never forget the amazing memories made on our road trip. This was the first time being away from my son since the day he was born. Although I did feel some “mommy guilt” at first, I realized taking care of myself only helps me to be a better mom. In conclusion, the short time away is what I needed to keep my passion for travelling, photography and adventure alive. Speaking of photography, some of the fabulous photos on the blog were taken from Jade Min Photography.
Moms, if you can take a week off or even a few days away, I highly recommend it for all the things we moms (dads, caregivers, guardians etc.) do. This is a reminder that we need to nurture and take care of ourselves for self-preservation. Hence, we all deserve a “mom-cation” at least once a year. At least I know, I do. It’s amazing what a few days away can do for your soul. Trust me.
Have you been on a mom-cation before? If so, please recommend where to go on my next getaway in the comments below. Thanks!
Darlynne founded Live Love Backpack to inspire others to make a positive difference in the world through traveling, volunteering, and self-awareness. Darlynne has traveled to over 76 countries. Family adventures include backpacking off the beaten path, hiking in Ontario and creating happy memories.