"Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona . . ."
From October 1997 to June 1999, Lou and I lived in Phoenix, Arizona. During our short tenure there, we were able to enjoy a few of the natural wonders Arizona has to offer. We took several trips to Sedona, two excursions to the Grand Canyon and one to Monument Valley.
Sedona is a small town about 2 hours north of Phoenix. It is known for its spectacular red rock formations as well as metaphysical/spiritual aura. If you are going to Sedona to take photographs, keep in mind that the intense afternoon sun blanches the color of the rocks, so pictures are best taken before 11am or after 2pm.
Sedona is something of an artists' colony and craft center specializing in many Native American crafts and southwestern art. Garlandís is the place to go for authentic hand-woven rugs of peerless quality. They also have a second location with an extensive collection of handmade pottery, kuchina dolls, and silver and turquoise jewelry. Telaquepaque is a shopping village with many unique stores specializing in all types of southwestern paintings and sculptures. Although you can usually find something to fit any budget, most items are on the pricey side. No roadside trinkets these! But you can get some great original art! We happened to be rather fond of the photographer Gregory Lee Albracht who creates black and white photographs with a subtle southwestern flavor.
Itís hard to take a bad picture at the Grand Canyon (same rules apply here as above). It really is an awesome site. The pictures below are from the South Rim in June. We found that October was a great time to visit since the temperatures were cooler and the park less crowded. (Regardless of the time of year, dress in layers-temperatures tend to fluctuate quite a bit from morning to evening.)
For most of the scenic points, you can take the shuttle that loops around to the more famous vistas in the canyon. Other points of interest you will have to visit by car. Of course to get the best views and to go down into the Canyon, you will have to go by mule or foot. The shuttle is the best way to see the most if you are limited in the amount of time you can spend. But whatever you do, be sure to stay for the sunset-it is quite a show.
Driving through Monument Valley (which extends through northern Arizona and southern Utah) makes you feel as through you have either landed on another planet or in the middle of a Road Runner cartoon. Many of the rock formations in Monument Valley were the inspiration for the backdrop of the cartoons-you practically expect to see Wyle E. Coyote come around the bend at any moment.
On your way back to Phoenix from all your excursions up north, be sure to stop in Flagstaff for a bite to eat and to drive down a portion of old Route 66. And when you get back home and your muscles are aching from all the hiking, take advantage of the great spas in Phoenix. I recommend the Camelback Inn, but be sure to book your treatment times at least 2-3 weeks in advance.