An amazing collection of natural landscapes and adventures await hikers and bikers in Northern Arizona, where canyons meet mesas and trails lead to unmatched vistas. Hike chasms listed as “Grand,” twist and turn through the narrows of slot canyons and take on a mountain named for a dromedary. Or pedal your way past western movie backdrops, towering sandstone buttes and glowing spiritual vortices to create an expedition you will likely never forget.
With trail names like Echo Canyon and Cholla, hikers know they are in for a challenge when they ascend 2,700-foot Camelback Mountain in town. What they don’t realize is the payoff these arduous climbs provide, with stunning city views and stellar desert landscapes. End the day at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, where an intriguing showcase of magical proportions awaits. The Carnival of Illusion will whisk away any preconceived notions about smoke and mirrors with an intimate parlor show that’s not just sleight of hand. This vaudeville-inspired magic performance will captivate guests with secrets from the world of mystery.
Drive 116 miles • 1 hour, 59 minutes
Set in amid iconic red rock spires and mesas, Sedona is the starting point for an array of bike trails that cater to riders of all levels. Bell Rock Pathway and Big Park Loops provide terrain for beginning cyclists seeking a taste of the Verde Valley. Hit the Llama Trail for sandy single tracks, and for a challenging slickrock experience, check out Little Horse and Chicken Point trails. Then knead away those tired muscles at a local spa, where forest bathing, quiet mind therapy and steam rooms coexist with deep tissue and stone massages to center your energy for more Sedona adventures.
Grand Canyon Railway RV Park • Williams, AZ – (800) 843-8724
3) Grand Canyon National Park
Drive 225 miles • 4 hours, 5 minutes
You’ve seen the views from the Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim; now go deep. Dropping almost 5,000 feet in 6 miles, the South Kaibab Trail is your ticket to exploring the Grand Canyon up close. Leaving the South Rim at Yaki Point, this trail follows open ridges rather than descending through side canyons. End the day at Kaibab Suspension Bridge and pitch a tent at Bright Angel Campground, resting for the next day’s journey up. If a horizontal trip is more in keeping with your vacation plans, the Skywalk at Eagle Point will provide heart stopping views from a glass bridge extending out over the canyon’s west end. Not recommended for those suffering fear of heights.
Drive 111 miles • 2 hours, 9 minutes
Antelope Canyon, just outside of Page, is a photographer’s dream. The narrow, winding canyon consists of smooth walls that reach as high 120 feet in height with a stream bed at the bottom. Carved over eons by water and wind, the canyons splits the earth near Lake Powell, giving you the option of a watery adventure nearby. Book guide services to enter either Upper or Lower Antelope, as the slot canyons lie on Navajo land. See more of Mother Nature’s handiwork just south of town at Horseshoe Bend, where the Colorado River pulls a 180-degree turn, carving its boundary channel from east to west in a tight curve of monstrous proportions.
5) Monument Valley
Drive 121 miles • 2 hours
If cowboys riding through a desert filled with buttes and mesas is your idea of a great Western flick, then Monument Valley is the destination of your dreams. Hit the Navajo Tribal Park Loop on your bike for consummate vistas of sun and rock, a truly memorable ride that John Wayne would have enjoyed. Dismount onto two feet to hike the Wildcat Trail and experience North and South Mittens, the most photographed rock formations on earth. From the saddle or on foot, exploring Monument Valley provides adventure on your own John Ford movie set.