For Thanksgiving this year I decided to road trip with some friends to Phoenix and visit my brother Blake and his girlfriend Olivia! We have all been living out west for over a year, but we are 10 hours apart and haven’t spent a holiday together since Christmas 2017. It was so fun to travel with friends and see different parts of Arizona and Nevada along the way. We stopped at a Nevada State Park, 2 National Monuments in AZ, Horseshoe Bend, and had time to hike twice in the Phoenix area. It was the perfect balance of being active and relaxing while on Vacation, and I’m hoping we make this a yearly tradition!
We left Tuesday night after work and made the five hour drive to stay the night just across the UT/NV border. We woke up early on Wednesday so we would have time to hike and drive the other five hours of the trip.
Valley of Fire State Park
Our first stop was Valley of Fire State Park about an hour outside of Vegas. We drove through the iconic road inside the park and took some pictures, then made our way to Fire Wave Trail. It was about 1.5 miles round trip with 350 feet of elevation change. It was a nice way to stretch our legs and break up the drive, and the “Wave Rock” at the end was amazing!
We got to Phoenix around sunset on Wednesday night, and then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Chandler. Their downtown has tons of good restaurants, bars, and a fun atmosphere!
On Thanksgiving morning Blake and I went on a hike in Scottsdale. We parked at the Lost Dog Trailhead and made our way back to a lookout of the city on the opposite side. Overall the hike was 4.5 miles and 500 ft of elevation. Since it was sprinkling the whole time, there weren’t and crowds and it was the perfect pre-turkey dinner workout! We spent the afternoon with Olivia’s family in Mesa and had a great Thanksgiving meal and relaxing night!
On Friday morning I went to my friend Stephanie’s Pure Barre class in Chandler, and it was such a great workout! We went to OHSO brewery in downtown Gilbert in the afternoon for lunch and met up with our other friend McKenzie who was also in town from Tuscon for thanksgiving. The patio was super cute and dog friendly!
On Saturday, Blake and I drove about 45 min NW of Phoenix to hike at Saguaro Lake. It was a beautiful lake tucked back into the desert, and you would never expect it! We hiked Butcher Jones Trail and it was my favorite Arizona hike so far. It was 5.25 miles and 600 ft of elevation change. The trail wraps you around part of the lake and joins up with another lake at the end. It was beautiful hiking weather and we beat the crowds by going early in the morning! Also there is a daily parking fee, but it was totally worth it.
We had a fun last day in Phoenix exploring downtown Scottsdale with Blake and Olivia. We went to a cute coffee shop/brewery and had some drinks before dinner. After dinner we met up with my friends Kelly and Stephanie at Arizona Wilderness Brewery in Chandler. The patios in AZ are my favorite! It was a great way to end my time in Phoenix before heading home Sunday morning.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument
On our drive home we stopped near Flagstaff, AZ at two National Monuments that were right next to each other. At Sunset Crater Volcano Nat’l Monument they had gotten a snowstorm over Thanksgiving, but it was still so beautiful! After that we drove about 45 north and visited Wupatki Nat’l Monument, it was red rock with lots of history, and it also had a snow covered backdrop. Overall it was a good way to break up the drive and see some beautiful sites!
Horseshoe Bend was the most breathtaking stop along our trip! It’s located near the highway just south of the AZ/UT border. It was definitely worth the stop and parking fees to see the views. It’s about a 20 min walk down a hill from the car, and then the big rock curve comes out of nowhere. We went on off season and there weren’t very many tourists, so that made it much more enjoyable! After this stop, we drove about 6 hours to get back to Salt Lake and went straight to bed! It was such a fun trip, and we were able to avoid the winter storm by leaving early before it hit Salt Lake. I can’t wait to visit again next year, hopefully with Matt next time!