Traveling with the Dukes: grand canyon, moab, denver

We are home from our trip and getting back into the swing of things so I wanted to sit down and share a recap of our adventures out West! We had such a great time and saw so many amazing things so I wanted to provide details about the places we stayed and the things we did.


Let me start by saying that I never had a strong desire to see the Grand Canyon and I knew nothing about Moab. I am also not a very "outdoorsy" person. However, I had so much fun and if you ever have the chance to travel to any of these places, I highly recommend it.


For this blog, I have broken it down by place to keep everything organized. If you're looking for a specific location, there are bolded subtitles to make it easy to scroll down and find what you're looking for. As always, let me know if you have questions! Also let me know if you've been to any of these places - I'd love to chat about your experience!


All my love,

Annemarie


Sedona, AZ

I wanted to include this because we started out by flying into Phoenix and drove from Phoenix to Williams, AZ. On our drive to Williams, we drove through Sedona, AZ. Sedona was beautiful and even though we only stopped to take pictures here and there, it looked like it offered a lot of things to do. The town of Sedona was super cute and filled with restaurants, shops and boutiques.


One of the places we stopped to take pictures was The Chapel of the Holy Cross (780 Chapel Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336). It was built into the red rocks of Sedona and has really unique architecture. You can drive there but there are also several tour groups that run from the town to the Chapel.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona

Williams, AZ

Let me start by saying when we pulled into Williams, AZ I was wondering what we were going to do with our time while we were there. We came in on the backside of town so it didn't look like much of anything. Boy was I wrong - we had so much fun in Williams. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel (235 N Grand Canyon Blvd, Williams, AZ 86046).


The hotel was super cute and the reason we stayed there is because the hotel has a train that runs from Williams to the Grand Canyon every morning. We thought the train ride would be a cool experience. It's about a 2 hour ride from Williams to the Grand Canyon. If you have kids, I highly recommend going this route because the hotel puts on a western show prior to boarding the train and while on the train they have different skits and entertainment while you ride. The other thing I liked about the train ride was it gave you a lot of information about things to do at the Grand Canyon in terms of different trails and places to eat.

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel has several photo ops around the property

One thing I did not know was that the famous Route 66 runs right through Williams. On Route 66 there are several restaurants, shops to get souvenirs, and boutiques. While we were in Williams, we ate at the following places:


-Cruiser's Route 66 Cafe (233 W Rte 66, Williams, AZ 86046): old diner type of feel. We sat outside and listened to the live music. Lots of brisket and BBQ options. Duke and I shared the sampler that included ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. Good food and fun atmosphere.

-Brewed Awakenings Coffee Co. (326 W Historic Rte 66, Williams, AZ 86046): local coffee shop with a few breakfast options like oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches and parfait. It had a lot of unique coffee drinks and Duke and I both liked what we got.

-Historic Brewing Barrel + Bottle House (141 W Railroad Ave, Williams, AZ 86046): cool brewery with a variety of food options. We sat outside on the patio and listened to the live music. Try the nachos - they were delicious.


Grand Canyon, AZ

We stayed at the Grand Canyon for one night and while we were there, we stayed at the Maswik Lodge (202 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023). Everyone enjoyed the hotel and it was only a short walk away from restaurants and trails. The hotel also has a cafeteria where we ate dinner and breakfast while we were there.


Dining and Shops

-The Village: The village is sort of the center of the South Rim. It has several different lodging options, restaurants options and souvenir shops. This is where our lodge was located and where we hopped on the shuttle the second day to go out to Hermit's Rest.

-El Tovar Dining Room: located in The Village, we ate at the El Tovar Dining Room for lunch and everyone enjoyed their meal. It was definitely more fancy (and pricier) than the Maswik Lodge cafeteria but we were dressed in hiking clothes and no one seemed to mind. It had a variety of lunch options as well as specialty cocktails, beer and wine.


Hiking

-Bright Angel Trailhead: The Bright Angel Trailhead was my first experience hiking in the Grand Canyon and it was a lot different than I imagined it would be. The biggest difference being it was a lot scarier than what I was expecting. The trail goes down at a pretty steep decline. There are also several places where the path is pretty narrow and you are literally on the edge of a canyon. There are no railings (I don't know why I thought there would be) and when we went, there were a lot of people on the trail. We did enjoy the hike and the views were really breathtaking. We hiked down about 20 minutes because we knew we'd have to get back up. The hike up took about 30 minutes and by the end of it, we were exhausted.

Taking pictures on Bright Angel Trailhead

I chatted with other hikers on our way up and a lot of people made Bright Angel an all day hike. If you are looking for an all day hike option, it seemed like this would be a good one.


-South Rim Trail: We decided to do the South Rim Trail to catch the sunset and it was probably my favorite hike at the Grand Canyon. The hike is relatively flat (you are walking on the rim of the canyon) and is 1.5 miles out from The Village and 1.5 miles back to The Village. There are several places to stop and take pictures. If you go to watch sunset, I recommend bringing flashlights to help navigate your way back to the Village. There were a lot of people at the end of the trail watching sunset as well. One group even had pizza out there so you could totally make a dinner out of it.



South Rim Trail sunset

-Hermit's Rest: On our final day at the Grand Canyon, we took the shuttle out to Hermit's Rest. Hermit's Rest has several different shuttle stops on the way out there so we stopped at several different stops to look at the views and take pictures. You can also walk from stop to stop if you want to do some hiking. At Hermit's Rest, there is a snack bar and a souvenir shop as well as restrooms and a water refill station. The stops along the shuttle line offered amazing views and photo opportunities.


Moab, UT

Our next stop was Moab, and it was my favorite stop of the trip. I never knew there was so much to do and see in Moab, Utah. It also is Wrangler central which of course we loved. You can rent Wranglers and take them out on the trails. While we were there, we stayed at the Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground (1773 N Hwy 191, Moab, UT 84532). It offered campground areas as well as the cutest log cabins which is what we stayed in. The cabins have a double bed as well as a bunk bed so four people are able to stay in each cabin. Every cabin also has a little front porch and we sat out there every night enjoying the stars.


Dining and Shops

-Pasta Jay's (4 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532): Our first night there we ate at Pasta Jay's. We sat outside as they have a great covered patio space. They have a ton of pasta selections and Duke and I chose to split chicken fettuccine (the entrees are huge). It was delicious and the wine was yummy as well.


-Moab Garage Co. (78 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532): I really wanted to go to as many local places as possible so for breakfast we went to Moab Garage Co. It's a cute cafe that offers different sandwiches and pastries. They have a variety of different breakfast options and everyone liked their coffee and food choices. It's right in the middle of town so a very convenient location - we walked around to different shops after breakfast.


-Eddie McStiff's (57 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532): We went to Eddie McStiff's before our Hummer Sunset Tour. We enjoyed margaritas and appetizers on the patio. It had a large menu of beers, cocktails and American food options. The atmosphere is definitely more of a bar vibe with live music and a designated over 21 section. It was a good place to get a quick bite and seems to be a popular spot for locals.


Hiking

-Delicate Arch Trail (Arches National Park): One night we decided to hike to Delicate Arch to view the sunset. Let's talk about the hike first. It's 1.3 miles each way and let's just say there were SEVERAL times I had to stop and catch my breath on the way up. Parts of the hike up to the arch are a steep incline. My best advice is to keep your eyes down and take it one step at a time. The trail can be pretty crowded at times so if you go during peak season pack your patience as well.


Once you get to the top you completely forget about how hard the hike was because the views are AMAZING. It's a great place to relax and watch the sunset. We spent about 45 minutes up there before we started the hike back down. The hike down is much easier since you're essentially walking downhill the majority of the hike. If you go to view sunset, bring flashlights for your walk back down. Below are a few pictures from Delicate Arch and the pictures just do not do it justice. This was my favorite hike while in Moab.



-Moonflower Canyon (off Kane Creek Blvd): Moonflower Canyon is a campground that has a small trailhead off of it. This is a great hike for someone looking for a quick, easy walk with great views. It took us about 10-15 minutes to reach the end (picture below) where there is a watering hole. There is parking right at the start of the trailhead as well as restrooms. We were the only ones there during our hike so it was quiet and peaceful and offered amazing views.


-Faux Falls (Flat Pass Rd, Moab, UT 84532): We had been wanting to see a waterfall while we were there so we decided to check out Faux Falls. As the name suggests, Faux Falls is not a natural waterfall and was built at the same time as Ken's Lake when a drought in Moab pressed the needs for more water. The trail is 0.5 miles in and 0.5 miles back with limited change in elevation. It's a pretty easy hike and the view at the end was well worth the heat. The trail offers limited shade and we went during the heat of the day so be sure to pack plenty of water.


There is 2-3 foot deep swimming hole at the bottom of the falls. Duke was brave enough to get under the waterfall. Warning: he said it was REALLY cold. It was such a fun hike and I loved being able to stick my toes in some water.


*This trail was a little hard to find so I wanted to put some more details on how to find it: From HWY 191 turn left at the brown sign for Ken's Lake. At the first stop sign, turn right. At the "Y" in the road, go left. At the next intersection, turn left again for Ken's Lake. This paved road turns into a dirt road. Once it turns to a dirt road, drive for about .5 miles, then turn left into the campground. Park at the first small parking area on your right, across from campsites. There are no signs, except for a small sign in the dirt road where the unofficial trail starts saying the road has been washed out. Since the road was washed out, you have to walk a short walk to the start of the actual trailhead.

Duke said the cold took his breath away


Other Activities

-Canyonlands by Night and Day: The activities we did in Moab were our favorite part of the trip. The first activity we did was through Canyonlands by Night and Day (9623, 1861 N Hwy 191, Moab, UT 84532). They offer a wide array of tours and activities including boat tours, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and UTV rentals.


We did a half day UTV rental from 9am-2pm. It was so much fun and Canyonlands provided us with a map to different trails we could take the UTV on. There are also different level degrees of difficulty in terms of inclines and declines on the trails. We warmed up with an easier trail and by the end of the day we're on a trail with declines that were straight up and down. Fins and Things was the scariest trail we went on but we had so much fun at the same time. You can definitely pick and choose what type of trail you want to go on. At the end of your rental you have to wash off the UTV at a car wash and refuel so allow about 30 minutes or so to do this.


I highly recommend the UTV rental as not only an adrenaline rush but also as a great way to see a lot of trails in Moab.


**A couple of things to keep in mind:

-pack drinks and snacks; the UTV has a cooler and Canyonlands provides ice

-wear clothes you don't mind getting dusty/dirty

-wear sunglasses or some type of protective eyewear to keep your eyes free from dust

-we also wore bandanas to cover our faces (pictured below) and found it really helpful




-Moab Adventure Center Hummer Sunset Tour: The other activity we did was through Moab Adventure Center (225 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532). Moab Adventure Center is another company that offers a wide range of activities in Moab. We did a sunset hummer tour and it was amazing.


For the sunset tour, the hummer goes through Hell's Revenge trail and I'll be honest, parts of it are pretty intense. Hell's Revenge has super steep inclines and declines and there were parts of the tour I found myself thinking "no way we're going up that incline", and sure enough, we did! The tour stops at various points throughout the trail to learn some of the history of Moab as well as look at dinosaur tracks! At the halfway point, you stop and enjoy sunset and Moab Adventure Center provides snacks. You are also able to bring alcoholic beverages with you and drink them while you enjoy the sunset. We also received a nice Moab Adventure Center water bottle that we were able to refill when needed. It was a great souvenir that I'm still using to this day.


The tour offered everything: great views of the Colorado River, a great sunset, drinks and snacks, adrenaline rushes and a great tour guide. Ask for Chad if you go on this!




If you weren't familiar with Moab before, I hope the details above provided you more insight to this great town. If you're ever near Moab I highly suggest you carving out a few days to spend there. There is so much to do from hiking to activities to tour groups there's something for everyone. Duke is already talking about how he wants to go back for Moab Jeep Safari which the weekend before Easter where wranglers from all over the country descend on Moab.


Mexican Hat, UT

After Moab, we drove to Denver, CO. The drive from Moab to Denver is about five and a half hours and really beautiful. You can also alter your route to see different places. The route we took was through Mexican Hat, UT to see Forrest Gump Point.


-Forrest Gump Point (US-163 Scenic, Mexican Hat, UT 84531): Forrest Gump Point is the part in the movie where he decides to stop running and go home. It's at mile marker 13 on US-163. In the background of the shot is Monument Valley. There are several spots near mile marker 13 where you can pull over and get out to take a few pictures.


Although this is not a super busy road, cars do go by, so be careful if you try to take a picture in the middle of the road. There were also several other people that were stopped at the same time as us so we took turns taking pictures.


Note: this is just a photo op spot. Aside from pretty views of Monument Valley, there are no additional attractions.


Littleton/Denver, CO

Our final stop was Denver, CO. We were only in Denver for a couple nights so I'm looking forward to going back and exploring the city more. While we were there, we stayed outside of the city in Littleton, CO. Littleton is a super cute little suburb that offers a cute downtown area which I talk about below.


Activities

-16 Street Mall: Our first night, we rode the light rail into the city and went to 16th Street Mall. There are so many shops and restaurants in this area so we walked around taking in the sights before stopping into a restaurant to have a couple drinks at the bar. It was Friday night so the area was lively and provided a fun atmosphere. When we go back to Denver, I definitely want to go to 16th Street Mall again.


-Rockies Game: We went to a Rockies game on Saturday night and it was a really fun thing to do while in the city. We sat in the outfield and tickets were very affordable. We enjoyed ball park food and drinks and after the game we rode the light rail back to Littleton. The Rockies game is a great activity for kids and families.

Cutest little Rockies fan

-Downtown Littleton: On Sunday we walked around downtown Littleton. Downtown Littleton has several shops, boutiques and restaurants. I got the cutest jumpsuit from a boutique called Details (2359 W Main St, Littleton, CO 80120). We also got some souvenirs for friends as well as some chocolate for us at The Chocolate Therapist (2560 W Main St, Littleton, CO 80120). Finally, we stopped in for a beer at Jackass Hill Brewery (2409 W Main St, Littleton, CO 80120). It was a great way to spend a Sunday before our evening flight out of Denver.


Littleton is about 40 minutes from Denver airport.

Again if you have any questions about the places mentioned above, feel free to reach out. We had a great time and look forward to visiting several of these places again.

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