I think I left my heart in the red rocks! In November 2018 my cousin and I conspired to surprise our moms on their spiritual trip to Arizona the following March. I know what you’re thinking – that’s some risky business. Although we went without knowing where they were staying or what they were doing or how to know any of those things, we succeeded and had the most amazing four days in Sedona Arizona so here are my trip details.
Ready to feel some heat? Here is the complete 4-day itinerary for Sedona, Arizona
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Day 1-2 – Bell Rock Trail & Schuermann Mountain
From Toronto it’s about a 4 hour flight direct to AZ so depending on when you get in (we got in around 10pm) you should consider spending a night in Phoenix, AZ before making your 2 hour drive to Sedona. We stayed at a really cute, eclectic airbnb here.
The drive to Sedona is breathtaking so take the chances to pull off and check out the cacti that grow crazy there. You’ll drive through steep grades until you see the infamous red rocks pop up on either side of you.
We started our trip by checking into our airbnb at Sedona Summit off of highway 89A. It was about a 5-10min drive from all the shops and restaurants. Want $40 off your next airbnb stay? CLICK HERE. Sedona Summit was great, super clean, and had lost of amenities. Thinking you want a hot tub with a view? Sedona Summit might just be the place.
After dropping your stuff head out to enjoy a nice hike! I’m a Rocky Mountain kinda girl so the hikes in Sedona were very easy and mostly family-friendly with only length and view differentiating one from the other. That means you can’t go wrong with which you choose!
It might be worth it for you to book a guided hike with yoga and meditation in one of the vortexes since Sedona is famous for it’s healing and spiritual gifts.
Our favourites were:
Bell Rock Path
Schuermann Mountain Trail
But there are many more to consider:
End the day with a stop at the Airport Mesa for an awesome sunset view and Elote Cafe for Mexican dining. The line is always out the door and down the street for Elote so go early, put your name in and get comfy on their outdoor patio with a classic margarita!
Day 3 – The Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon
Sedona isn’t very big so you can get through at least two hikes in a day. If you didn’t get your fix you can hit up the next on the list or head north towards Flagstaff and West towards the Grand Canyon. The drive will take about 2 hours so leave early!
The Grand Canyon is a must-see. Take a walk around the South rim and pray that you see some elk meandering around! Stay for a picnic and if you’re daring, venture out down on the rocks for an uninterrupted view of the canyon.
Head one hour east and one hour north to go for a quick hike at Horseshoe Bend, one of the most photographed and most unbelievable views in the world. The hike is only about half a mile and the drop off the edge is vertigo-inducing so be careful although if you can make it to the edge your mind will be blown.
Close by is Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon although you have to book a tour with a native guide in advance (walking or photography tours are available) and the last tour leaves at 4:15pm.
Follow the 89 back south for 2-3 hours to Sedona to conclude the day with a late dinner at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill.
Day 4 – Devil’s Bridge
It’s probably your last day so head for a sunrise hike at Devil’s Bridge. This a very popular hike and parking is usually rammed throughout the day. Then head to Coffeepot restaurant for a big breakfast. They have over 100 omelets to choose from and have cute coffee mugs available for purchase in their gift shop.
If you have time go for a walk around the shopping strip. There’s lots of really interesting souvenir shops that aren’t tacky such as dip candles, balsamic vinegar and olive oils, and traditional western attire.
That’s it for your 4-day Sedona, AZ itinerary.
One November evening I received a message from a group of friends asking me to join them on an adventure to go hunt for cabins on Cypress Mountain. I had seen a cabin or two before in passing and so I gladly accepted. Our plan was to get there and spend maybe an hour walking leisurely to each hut but when we got there we realized we’d be spending hours here.
My boyfriend and I hopped on the train in New Westminster and went to meet our friends. The driver Chris had a trusty red Kia Soul which we all piled into and cruised through the city and up the mountain roads towards Cypress.
It’s kind of amazing, that drive. There is one instance where you immediately go from dry pavement to three feet of snow on either side of you. The trees hold so much snow that they look cartoonish. This is a great place to stop if you’re heading to Cypress Mountain to do some skiing. Also, Cypress Provincial Park is cheaper than Whistler to ski so I’d highly recommend heading there and taking a quick detour to the Cypress Mountain cabins.
HOW TO GET TO THE CYPRESS MOUNTAIN CABINS
It took us about 45 min from Vancouver to get up to the turnoff and we were stopped a few times due to traffic headed into the ski area. Your turnoff will be on your right. Look for signs for the cross country ski area. Head all the way to the end of the parking lot (there were no cars this far into the parking lot) and there is an obvious trail for skiiers and snowshoers.
Follow the trail and you’ll see the first two cabins which are the most photographed of the bunch about 250m in. The trail gets icy because of how many skiiers travel on it so wear grippy footwear!
You’ll come to a clearing where there are signs saying you shouldn’t go further without a ski pass. This is obviously for people who are actually skiing and you can continue to the right to get to the cabins less photographed. Go get lost in the trails and bring some seeds for the birds. They’ll fly right into your hands.
Cypress Mountain in the winter is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Think, Narnia but in real life.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE CABINS
The cabins are rentable and you’ll see a few signs that say Boy/Girl scout cabins.
We saw about 6 or 7 cabins but the snow made some extra difficult to get to especially because we went without snowshoes.
Please be respectful of the area and the cabins themselves. Some were obviously livable so there could be people in them who have paid to have their privacy. Give them that.
Since the trails are so slick they prove to be awesome tobogganing runs so bring a sled!
Have you explored the Cypress Mountain Cabins? Let me know in the comments!
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The hike I am referring to is commonly known as the Stairway to Heaven or Haiku Stairs.
I’m not supposed to recommend this hike because it’s illegal BUT it was hands down the highlight of my trip to O’ahu, Hawaii so how could I not?
There are quite a few bloggers who have written about how to get there but I’ll give you my own summary as I had quite a different experience than every other blogger I’ve read so here we go!
We showed up on Kuneki Street in a cute little neighbourhood around 3:30 pm with not a real great idea of where we were to begin. Here’s the address of the area to park around:
If you park anywhere directly adjacent to the gated road where you start, you will be towed, so I suggest parking a 5 min walk down Kuneki Street or in any of the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Be super respectful of the communities.
Where Kuneki St met Makena St there was an obvious gate that was wide open and an ancient street sign that said “Haiku” on it. We could see the beaten down path that was left around the right side of the gate from all of those people who embark on this hike in the middle of the night when the gate is closed.
As we started walking, there were many cars that passed us, which made me so nervous! One truck stopped next to us and immediately asked us if we were doing the hike. Unsure of what to say, he continued to tell us that this is a private road and if we did the hike we’d be arrested and given a $5000 fine.
This was BS but sketched us out nonetheless.
We continued on the road making a left at the first fork and a right at the second fork which brought us to some fallen down trees.
10 min later on the left side of the old road/path, we saw an opening in the woods with a red sign that said KAPU.
Walking along the dirt path we came across a fence with a hole in it. Under we went and eventually we got to another road. We could see the guard waiting and we prepared ourselves to make a break for it or just chat him up. We had no idea what was going to go down.
Here’s where the real fun began. I was basically peeing my pants at this point because confrontation and I are literal enemies and I obviously didn’t want to be arrested or fined.
The guards cannot arrest or fine anyone
We approached the guard and I think we asked if we could go up. Now that I write this, that was a dumb question. The guard responded by saying that this hike was illegal and if you are caught, the police can fine you $400 and you get a court date. During his spiel about obeying laws, I pointed up at the stairs and said, “there are people coming down the stairs right now.”
He was whistling a different tune in no time
He told us that we could go on up, warning us about the part of the hike where the handrails had fallen and the stairs were deteriorating. He mentioned his shift ended at 6 pm and then there would be a new guard so coming down would be more difficult. He said that if he was still there we had to be careful of a sensor and wait until he gave us “the coast is clear” motion.
So up we went!
It took us about an hour and a half plus one hour at the top to watch the sunset. There was NOONE up there with us, which was so ideal.
The Stairway to Heaven landscape was unbelievable.
The stairs continued down a different way but we didn’t want to be too far from our car so we decided to retrace our steps. We happened to run into two sweet Instagrammers Sage and Megan as we were about to go down. If you follow Hawaii Instagram feeds you’ll know who these two are.
Descending is totally different than ascending because you’re staring straight down the whole time. Both my friend and I were glad we decided to watch the sunset because we were descending in the dark so we couldn’t see farther than the couple steps in front of us. Less sketchy if you ask me.
We got to the bottom and once again were sketching out because we knew there may be a cop waiting and a brand new guard. We saw a car as we passed through the gate at the bottom of the stairs and we said to ourselves “whatever happens, happens”. The lights from the car immediately turned on, illuminating us to the point of blinding us and I thought we were FOR SURE getting a fine. We got closer and there was a man standing. He briefly told us that he was worried about us and many people have to call first responders when they come down this late (it was 7:30 and pitch black). After a second of letting our eyes adjust, I realized we were talking to the same guard that said he was off duty at 6 pm. He started to point us towards the way out, which was a small hole in a fence that we didn’t come through before. I was skeptical because of all the talk about cops and the legality of the hike previously so I hesitated speaking. He then said, “I’ll just drive you out to your car.”
My friend and I looked at each other seemingly in agreement that this was not a setup. So we got in! He drove through two padlocked gates before getting to the road and we spent 10 min getting to know this kind man. We found out that he waited an hour and a half for us even though he had another job to go to! I don’t want to say too much on here and get him in trouble so I’ll leave it at that.
The sheer disbelief
So here are some exposed myths about the hike:
you probably won’t be fined, many people just walk right past the guards without speaking to them
it’s very easy to go during the day as the road gates are freely open
no guard will be there between 6:30 pm and 10 pm usually
you can sleep up at the top, there is a shelter
we didn’t run into any spiders contrary to some blogs we read
If you want to see more photos from this trip follow me @mariescholz or @aidangenik
Peace Out Home Dawgs!
How do I begin planning a road trip with my friends this summer!?
Planning a road trip is daunting. There is so much information online to sort through and organize into the perfect trip that I have almost thrown in the towel many times. As someone who loves to travel in the cheapest way possible, I have been unable to avoid the road trip, sleep-in-your-car-sometimes, showers-are-optional lifestyle. With that, I have come to the conclusion that the easiest way to plan a road trip lies in a well thought-out map.
If you hate being constrained to an overly planned schedule but also hate sitting around in a beautiful place twiddling your thumbs wondering what to do then this method is for you.
Last summer I went on some unreal road trips through Alberta and British Columbia. I tried wingin’ one and I tried planning everything myself for another but both strategies stressed me out!
Here is the easiest way to plan a road trip that reduces stress and still ensures there is never a dull moment!
1.Do preliminary research. This is the hardest stage but also the most fun. Keep a list going of things you might be looking for, historical monuments, waterfalls, hikes, restaurants, amusement parks, shopping, etc.
2. Open “Google Maps – Route planner” on your desktop. It should look something like this:
3. Click the menu with the three lines in the top left corner and select create new map. You should be signed into your Google account so this map will save to your Google Drive.
4. Type in each location from your research list and Google maps will drop a pin on where it is. Click add to map. You can colour code each place based on your own criteria or use the layer function on the left sidebar. When you zoom out you’ll be able to see all your pins but no actual route.
5. Once you’re happy with your map, you can always access it on your Google Drive via your phone when you are on the road and share it with your friends. Now you can choose whatever route you want as you go, keeping the spontaneity without the wasted time googling locations.
Now go out and find a buddy that travels the same way as you do!
This method isn’t for everyone. I’ve been criticized about over planning but when everyone is at a loss for what to do next, guess who they ask… me! If you have a friend who is willing to add to the map you design, you are set for one incredible road trip with room to change things up along the way.
What road trips are you interested in going on this summer? Let me know in the comments!
If this worked for you, help me out and give it a share!
There are a couple of ideas floating around that you need to be mindful of before starting your search for the cheapest way to get to Hawaii or anywhere else.
1. Those friends who tell you that you have to keep checking 10 different flight search engines, making sure that your web browser is set to incognito are using the least efficient way of searching.
2. Blogs that tell you to wake up at 3 am because that’s when prices mysteriously drop, makes no sense. What happens in other time zones? Do we all wake up at 3 am in sequential order? Of course not!
3. Forget the travel agents and the budget airlines, cheap flights come around more often than you think and finding them is as easy as the app Hopper!
Here’s my experience using Hopper to find the cheapest way to get to Hawaii!
When my friends all started booking their reading week trips to Cuba and Punta Cana I decided that I wanted to go somewhere different. Instead of throwing $1400 into a classic grad trip of binge drinking and sunburns I was going to throw that money at a crazy adventure. On the hunt for the cheapest travel costs for the greatest travel reward, I cruised the app store for some help. I passed on Tripadvisor and Expedia, only because my gut told me I needed to look for an alternative to the big companies. Hopper had the most user-friendly interface and kept things simple. I plugged in my dates and the price came out to around $650. The app told me to book now because prices wouldn’t drop anymore. Hopper recommended I change my dates to two weeks earlier which knocked $200 off! I frantically emailed my professors about assignments during those dates and received the all clear. I called up a friend and we booked it that night.
But get this, my friend booked his ticket seconds before me and got his round-trip ticket from Toronto, Ontario to Honolulu, HI for only $423 taxes in! Not only was it cheap but it was a direct flight with Air Canada. A double win. I had the unfortunate luck of getting my trip for $523 because the price went up in the few seconds my ticket was being processed. Nonetheless, still a steal.
- Get your phone and download the app. Hopper calculates optimal times to book flights at their cheapest and it’s pretty spot on. If you use it well, it will change your life.
- Choose the Cheapest Airport. Think about a place you want to go in the next 4-6 months and choose your start and end airports.
Choose the Cheapest Date. Hopper will show you exactly what dates are the cheapest which is why flexibility is important.
Click start watching your trip. Now you can forget about the trip because Hopper does the work for you. You will be notified when the price of your flight drops to the lowest possible amount for the criteria you chose.
Book at the optimal time! I call it literal magic.
Did you find a good deal on a flight through Hopper? Let me know!
Tower of Babel is my favourite hike in the world! If you are physically able then you need to do it.
Taking the back trail away from Moraine lake towards consolation lakes you will hit the path that leads over rock boulders. There is no signage so these instructions are probably the only thing you can base your route off of. With your backs to Moraine Lake, you should be staring at the cliffs ahead. Out to the left, you will see the cliff which is the Tower of Babel. Just to the right of the Tower is the general direction you want to head in, it is a valley in between cliffs. The route begins by maneuvering over large boulders, bring good shoes! I recommend sticking to the cliff on the right as the rocks are bigger and it will be easier when you can hold on to the rock on the right.
After the big rocks you will hit little rocks and then scree. Sideways stepping (if you don’t have poles) is the easiest way to go up and down. STAY TO THE RIGHT. I cannot say this enough. After 1.25 hours you’ll most likely get to do a short free climb up on to the cliffs or you can find your own way (there is no ‘right’ way) which is all the fun. When you are almost at the top you will see a narrow passage to the left, which will be tempting because it is straight. However, the rocks are so loose your effort will be futile. Once you get up the cliff just take your own route off to the left and you will see a huge flat area with lookouts on all sides.
I don’t know if this is still there, but someone set up rocks on top of the cliff that resembles a living room set up (equipped with a TV, a couch, and a fire pit).
*Many people recommend using hiking poles and wearing helmets because this is a moderately dangerous hike if you are not aware of your surroundings.
Location: Start at the Moraine Lake parking lot, then take the beginning of the trail to Consolation Lakes. If you pass through large boulders and enter into a forest again you have gone too far!
Round Trip Time: 3 hours (if you don’t stay for very long at the top) I recommend bringing food and hanging out for a while
For more inspiration and more photos from Banff, follow me on insta! @mariescholz
signed, sealed, delivered,