The Grand Canyon and Sedona

Last week was spring break.  I’ve written before about how important it is to both Matt and me that Grace and Whit see the world. That impulse has driven us to Jerusalem, to Washington DC, to the Galapagos, and to Paris.  Last week it took us to the Grand Canyon and to Sedona, Arizona.


In the Grand Canyon we stayed at El Tovar, a historic hotel right on the canyon’s south rim.  It was old and beautiful.  The first day after a long drive (pro tip: meclizine for motion sickness) we walked around the rim and ogled the outrageously beautiful canyon. It really is hard to fathom, in its enormity and its glory.

We had a drink and dinner in the El Tovar bar and dining room, overlooking the canyon as night fell.  The next morning we woke up early to go on a mule ride along the rim.  Our guide, Josiah, was absolutely phenomenal: full of both information and good humor, entertaining, energetic, competent. It was beautiful to see the canyon on mules, and we definitely got views that we would not have had otherwise.  Whit’s mule was called Seymour, because he liked to get you nice and close the rim.  So you can see more, of course.


Then it was off to Sedona.  Several people told me that I would love Sedona, and they were right.  There is a tangible peace and holiness to the place.  I kept thinking of Barbara Brown Taylor’s line from An Altar in the World that “earth is so thick with divine possibility that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.”  We stayed at the Enchantment, and the views from the pool, our room, and the restaurant (which happened to serve French cuisine) were all equally astonishing.

IMG_0106The red rocks, yes.  But also the blue sky!  Perfect, unbelievable blue, like I’ve never seen before.  We hiked, we hung out, we read books, we felt the energy vortex on the property.  At least Whit and I did.  I swear we did.  We did a few things we did that I’d really recommend.  The first and best known is a Pink Jeep Tour.  The driver (of an, indeed, pink jeep) took us way off-road into the national forest.  This afforded both some very exciting and bumpy riding and some breathtaking vistas.


I am pretty sure that Grace will be taller than I am in 2016.  We also went out for an adventure with Catherine and Jef from Center Focus Adventures.  They were great.  We rock climbed and we white water kayaked.  Highly recommend.  Both Whit and Grace are incredibly inspired by rock climbing, and Matt and I loved watching them.

PicMonkey Collage

Finally, we went for a Cowboy Cookout at M Diamond Ranch.  This was a solid hour outside of Sedona, and I think because of that, it felt like we were the only people in the world.  We went for a ride (we were part of a group of 10) and then were driven to a beautiful spot at the top of a hill to watch sunset and enjoy steaks cooked on the grill while an older man sang country music.


When we got home (on the redeye – everyone was a little bit luggage) I asked Matt, Grace, and Whit what their favorite part of our week was.  Everybody had a different answer.  That’s the mark of a good vacation in my opinion.  This is a huge and gorgeous country we live in, and I am glad to be showing Grace and Whit corners of it that are far away from where we live.

Note: this is not a sponsored post and these are not affiliate links.  I was not compensated in any way for these links.  I just loved our trip and several people have asked for our itinerary, so I wanted to share it.  If anyone wants more information, please email me or leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you.

19 thoughts on “The Grand Canyon and Sedona”

  1. Extraordinary! Wonderful experience, wonderful pics. Cannot wait to take the kids on trips like this. One of the few times I’ll complain about being a big family: hard to get the age span right for a mule ride. But we’ll get there.

  2. I love being out west. We have family in Western Colorado and have done the relatively short drive into Utah twice now, to see Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Holy Indeed. You might like Terry Tempest Williams’ “Red” – it invokes the landscape beautifully.

  3. We flew to AZ Sunday night, spent that night at the Phoenix airport, drove to the Grand Canyon Monday (4 hours), spent one night there, did mule ride Tuesday morning, drove to Sedona Tuesday midday/early afternoon, then stayed in Sedona for 3 nights and flew home on Friday night redeye. Not too long and not too short.

  4. Gorgeous! It looks like a memory-filled trip.

    I love your perspective on wanting Grace and Whit to see the world — it’s one that we very much want to adopt with our kids, too. How old were yours when you started these trips? Ours are still so little that the logistical headaches of travel (and the fact that they won’t remember the trips) seem to outweigh the virtues. I feel like my list of the trips I want to take when they are between 7 and 12 could fill three lifetimes. 🙂

  5. I stayed at the Enchantment 11 years ago for my honeymoon, and it was wonderful! I’ve been to Sedona many times since — in fact, I was just there two weeks ago myself — and it IS a magical place. I always have a good time. And the vistas are VERY different than what you’re accustomed to back East.

  6. I took the kids a couple of summers ago on the same trip. We did the Grand Canyon/El Tovar and Sedona. I too felt the energy. It was the summer I lost my brother and I was very tuned into spiritual stuff and I had more ten one weird experience/feelings. This post makes me want to go back!

  7. Thank you! Our first international trip was to Israel – Whit was 6 and Grace had just turned 9. I agree that for a bit it’s not worth it, and they won’t remember!

  8. I am from Los Angeles although I left in 1968, when I was 22 to come east for graduate school, and stayed forever east, marrying a dear wife in 39 years ago in new york city. but I never lost my great pride in the west. as a junior in high school, my church group went for a week’s camping trip to the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona. It is very spectacular, like Sedona. As a senior, a friend and I went to the Grand Canyon and, yes, rode the mules early—a small part—down the Canyon. How wonderful. Wen we slid off the mules, we were so exhausted in the heat that we staggered to our car where we had put up a tent and slept 12-14 hours. But the west is made up of so much area, so much alive, young, growing beauty. You describe it very well. And I too think it’s just great that you take your children on these fine vacations “to see the world”. Precious memories!!!

  9. I am happy to hear your vacation was everything you expected. Sedona’s soothing landscape and energy is one that is difficult to describe, but you’ve captured the essence with your words.

    Many of my friends have talked about feeling the energy of the vortex.
    So thrilled that you and the family had a great time in the place I call home. xo

  10. I’m so happy you enjoyed your trip. The Grand Canyon is one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been. You all look wonderful – Such a fun and fit family!

  11. Beautiful trip! I grew up in SoCal and visited the Grand Canyon a couple times but haven’t taken the kids there yet.

    I’m also a big believer in traveling with kids. We’ve taken our kids as young as 3 months on international trips and to various states. We’re headed to Dublin in a couple weeks.

    The experience of travel and experiencing new cultures is something they will never get sitting in a classroom so we take advantage of any required work trips and school breaks to experience the world.

    I’m adding Sedona to the list. It looks magical.

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