Define Fettle Travels: Arizona {Havasu Falls, Page, Sedona}

Define Fettle Travels: Arizona {Havasu Falls, Page, Sedona}

A recap of our Arizona road trip, complete with a guide to hiking Havasu Falls, our favorite sights to check out in Page, details about our magical stay in Sedona and much more! 


If you know anything about Austin and I, you know that we LOVE to travel. There are just so many amazing places {and cuisines} throughout this world that it seems silly not to get out and experience as many as possible. Our most recent adventure brought us to Arizona and after having an inbox full of questions long before the trip ended, I decided it’s time to make travel a more serious part of Define Fettle.

Allow me to stop right there and warn you that this is a longer post BUT it’s filled with key information, breathtaking photos and many tips and tricks to help you plan your very own journey to see {what I consider} some of the most astonishing places in the US. I suggest that you grab your favorite glass of wine or kombucha, cozy up on the the couch and maybe even take notes if you’re looking to create a similar adventure of your own!

Our journey took us from Vegas to Havasu Falls to Page to Sedona to Scottsdale and although we did a fair amount of traveling, there was still some downtime for R&R as well. This mid-March vacation was the absolute perfect trip in more ways than one, but more on that later!

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DESTINATIONS

VEGAS: We decided to fly into Vegas rather than Phoenix for the mere fact that it was about the same distance to Havasu Falls from either and it was cheaper. We actually flew Spirit Airlines out of MSP and on top of Spirit already being an extremely cost effective airline to fly with, if you physically drive to the airport and buy your tickets at the ticket counter rather than online, you will save significant amounts of $$$. So, that’s exactly what we did!

We left on an early morning flight Thursday and arrived in Vegas by mid morning. We definitely were running a bit short on time that morning {aka we almost missed our flight} so by the time we got out of the airport and picked up our rental car, we were starving! We headed to Kitchen Table, a local favorite brunch spot for some coffee and grub, and it did not disappoint. Afterwards we ran to a nearby Whole Foods to stock up on travel foods {fruit, bars, jerky, trail mix, etc.} for our big hike to Havasu Falls the next day and then headed southwest towards Peach Springs.

On the way, we stopped by the Hoover Dam which I wasn’t super excited about initially, but it ended up being pretty cool. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely something you should checkout! After the Dam we continued towards Peach Springs which is a very small town {if you can even call it that} alongside route 66. We stayed the night at haulupai lodge in Peach Springs, which was located about an hour from the Havasu Falls trailhead and was probably the closest overnight stay you’ll find. By no means was this place luxury, but it served its purpose well; offered us a comfortable bed, hot shower, all of your standard hotel amenities and I have zero complaints. {side note: get food for dinner before you leave the city or plan on eating at the lodge restaurant because there are no other food options near}

 Hoover Dam, Arizona Road Trip, Define Fettle, 
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HAVASU FALLS: Friday morning we woke up early to temperatures in the 30s, repacked our backpacks, layered up and headed back out onto Route 66 in the pitch black. Like I mentioned earlier, it took us about an hour to get from our hotel to the trailhead. There was very little traffic {we’re talking maybe 5 cars} but you will definitely want to keep an eye out for cows/deer/elk alongside the road. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, but that fills up quickly so most vehicles simply parked alongside the canyon/road. {side note: you will lose service somewhere between the hotel and the trailhead, so plan to look at a map ahead of time} We locked anything we weren’t bringing with us in the trunk of the rental car, ate a quick breakfast of bananas, nut butter and an RX bar, tightened our packs and we were on our way.

Before I get too deep into our experience at Havasu Falls, I must note that in order to get to the falls you are required to have a permit. Each year, permits become available for reservations on February 1st and fill up for the entire year in only a matter of minutes {no joke}. So if this trip is something that seriously interests you, make sure you keep your eye on the Havasupai Reservation website so you know exactly what date/time the upcoming years reservations go live. {sidenote: if the website/links aren’t working on the go live date, try making your reservation on your smartphone before giving up-- honestly, this is the ONLY reason we were able to obtain our permits}

The hike itself is around 10-10.5 miles from the trailhead to the campground {even further if you’d like to experience multiple of the falls} and rated as moderately strenuous. Neither Austin or I had ever backpacked before, but luckily we were able to save ourselves a chunk of money by borrowing a fair amount of gear from friends of ours. Below is a list of the essential items we brought along:

Backpacking Checklist:

  • Sleeping Bags

  • Sleeping Mats

  • Tent

  • Headlamps

  • Backpacking Stove

  • Gas Canister {4oz}

  • Large Packs/Backpacks {we each had one}

  • Small Backpack/Bag {for hiking to the falls once at the campground}

  • Hiking Shoes/Boots

  • Hiking Sandals

  • 2L Water/Person {you will be able to refill at the campground}

  • Dehydrated Meals {we brought one for each of us as we were only there one night}

  • Snacks {trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, nut butter packets, chia squeeze bottles, etc.}

  • Layers For Multiple Weather Conditions {shorts and leggings, tank and long sleeve, etc.}

  • Camera- the MOST important thing;)

  • Sunscreen/Toiletries

  • First Aid Kit {just in case}

  • Trash bags {you must pack out all of your trash}

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The initial mile and a half of the hike was a steep descent of about 1000 feet to the dried creek bed. The next 6.5miles was a much more gradual elevation change as we trekked below giant canyon walls. Although the elevation change was minimal,  it was mostly walking through gravel and sand which will definitely light up those small, intrinsic muscles of your feet and lower legs after a few continuous hours. One of my favorite parts of the entire hike was when we’d hear the Indians and their pack mules coming up behind us and we’d have to step aside and let them pass. This was their job since some people choose to have their packs brought to the campsite this way and I’m not sure what it was, but this incredible piece of culture amazed me every time. Around mile 6, we met up with the Havasu Creek and just another ½ mile from there brought us to the village of Supai, where over 450 members of the Havasupai Tribe reside; havasu meaning {blue-green water} and pai meaning {people}. It’s required that you stop by the camping office to check-in with your permits and obtain wristbands before continuing on to the campground/falls area. If you don’t have a reservation you will be turned away.

The people of the Havasupai Tribe receive the majority of their income from tourists visiting their sacred Havasu Falls. Their homes are shanties or shacks, their animals live right outside their door, there’s a large amount of trash/debris throughout their {yards} but nonetheless, this is their home and being respectful of the tribe and their land while you are visiting is of utmost importance.  

As you exit the village and continue to the final 2 miles to the falls/campgrounds, the hike becomes exceedingly more exciting {but no less sandy}. You will start to catch bigger glimpses of the turquoise waters and small waterfalls, cross a few bridges and then finally you will be looking eye to eye with the heart of the 100ft tall Havasu Falls. The initial sight of this hidden gem was enough to make the last 4 hours of sweat, sand and gravel more than worth it--->>> I honestly, still can’t believe that this place is real. I literally asked Austin on our way out to the falls {as my feet began to hurt and my back became more and more sore} if he thought this was really going to be as cool as the pictures we’d seen online. Spoiler alert: it’s WAY better in real life!

 Havasu Falls, Havasupai Falls, Arizona, Havasu Tribe

We brought our DSLR camera and tripod on vacation with us because waterfalls require slow shutter speeds and slow shutter speeds require tripods, so we spent a few minutes catching some initial shots here before making our final descent into the campground. There are about 250 campsites within the campground {along with 5-6 outhouse type facilities} so you definitely won’t be the only people in the place. Sites are claimed on a first come, first serve basis so if you’re interested in a particular spot you will want to arrive early. Austin and I set up camp right along the river, closest to Supai {less walking required in the morning} and I would highly recommend this area--- it was so beautiful!

After we’d set up camp and had a few snacks, it was around noon-ish and the temperatures were climbing into the high 60s/low 70s so we switched into hiking sandals and cooler outfits before we headed out to explore some more! We went back to Havasu Falls, without the burden of carrying all of our gear, to get an up close and personal look at the falls and of course snap some more photos! The water was chilly, probably a bit below 70 degrees F, so we decided against swimming but I know that in a bit warmer weather many people do take advantage of that opportunity!

 Havasu Falls, Havasupai, Havasu Tribe, Arizona, Travel Arizona, Explore Arizona
 Havasu Falls, Havasupai Falls, Arizona Backpacking, Travel Arizona, Explore Arizona

Our next stop was Mooney Falls, which is maybe a half mile to a mile farther down through the campground from Havasu Falls. I’ll admit that I went into this experience completely blind, but we ended up basically climbing through a cave and then scaling down a wet, slippery wall with only steel chains and pegs chiseled into the rock to hold on to. Apparently, I forgot to do my research on this area and it was the only way to enter into the falls area. Terrifying? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. This 200ft waterfall is another majestic piece of art. Slightly to our dismay, when we arrived we realized that because the canyon walls that surround Mooney are so tall, the falls are no longer in direct sunlight after about 11am {at least in the March timeframe} so in order to try to catch some even lighting on the falls, we decided to hang out around the falls for awhile. Since we were in the shade and the powerful falls were spraying a good amount of mist on us, it got cold pretty quickly. I was in a long sleeve, shorts and sandals and I was about to give up and go back to the tent before we hiked up a bit in elevation and found a sunny flat perfect for warming and an afternoon nap.  Once we woke up, the sun had completely left the canyon so we hiked back down, grabbed a few more shots and then made our way back up the treacherous, slippery wall, through the cave and back to the campsite.

 Havasu Falls, Havasupai, Havasu, Arizona, Travel Arizona, 
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 Havasu Falls, Havasupai, Havasupai Tribe

By this time we were famished and so happy that we had brought along a Good To Go dehydrated meal of thai curry to fill our stomachs and refuel us for a repeat hike back out right away the next morning. We were both sleeping by 9p that night and back up by 5a {the soreness we felt the previous day had been exacerbated in the overnight hours} to clean up camp, repack and start our ascent back out of the canyon. We hit the trail just as daylight started to peek through, so of course we stopped to say goodbye to the falls and snap a few final photos. We started in a similar amount of layers as the prior day, but it didn’t take long to ditch the layers and continue on in our lightest clothes {tank/capris for me and shorts/t-shirt for Austin}. No matter what, hiking through sand/gravel is never easy, but doing it while taking on a 2500+ ft elevation change {ascending} is even worse.

As we made our way into the Havasupai Village my feet/ankles/calves had already had enough and we still had 9+ miles to go. We continued on at a fairly quick pace through the dried up river bed and then we slowed a bit as we began the final mile and a half ascent out of the canyon and back to the car. At this point we’d hiked around 22 miles in 26ish, with 20-30lb packs on our backs, and our bodies were about done. Somehow, some way we pushed through and made it back to the trailhead and let me tell you… I’ve never been more happy to sit down in a car in my entire life.

This hike wasn’t easy and definitely takes a lot of planning and preparation, but I highly recommend this to every single person. It’s well worth the work and possibly the most amazing place within the continental US!

We had planned to stop at the Grand Canyon on Saturday on our way up to Page, AZ but within an hour or so of leaving the trailhead it started raining and didn’t appear it would be stopped anytime soon, so we decided to reroute and head to Flagstaff for lunch and groceries before making our way to our hotel in Page. I can tell you that after a 23 mile hike and 2 hours of sitting in a car, we both had a very large case of the {havasu wobble}. I don’t think either of us have ever experienced that much soreness in our entire lives and it didn’t completely leave us for another full 3 days. If that’s not a sign of a job well done, I’m not sure what is.

 Havasu Falls, Havasupai Falls, Arizona, Explore Arizona, Havasu Tribe, Travel Arizona, Hike Havasu Falls
 Havasu Falls, Hiking Havasu Falls, Guide To Hiking Havasu Falls, How To Hike Havasu Falls, Tips For Hiking Havasu Falls

PAGE: Arriving in Page was amazing. Mostly because we got to take a warm shower, eat our whole foods salad bar finds {from Flagstaff} and sleep in a giant king sized bed but also because we stayed at the newly updated La Quinta Inn & Suites and this hotel was super modern/totally my style. The fact that it was raining and we didn’t get to see the Grand Canyon didn’t even affect me at this point because all I wanted was a bed and HGTV and that’s exactly what I got.

Sunday we had planned a mid-morning tour of Upper Antelope Canyon with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours  and although we risked a cancellation due to rain the night before and the morning of, it stopped just in time for us to go! It was definitely not warm, probably high 40s, but our tour was still amazing and I cannot recommend this tour line enough. Not only was our guide incredibly knowledgeable about the canyon history, but she was a pro when it came to helping us find all of the best/most unique shots inside. {side note: we did not do the photography tour, we just did the regular but were still able to bring our DSLR and had plenty of times to take photos}.

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After our tour, we grabbed some lunch at a local brewpub and then headed over to Horseshoe Bend for some more sightseeing! This place was one of the stops that I was most excited about and it lived up to its standard. Although it was more of a dreary, cloudy day and the place was crawling with people, the magnificence of this view was not decreased one bit. With Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend within such close proximity to each other, it would be crazy not to stop here next time you’re nearby!

After Horseshoe Bend, our plan had been to start our trek down to Sedona, but since the weather hadn’t worked out in our favor the day before and we were unable to see the Grand Canyon, we decided to detour a bit on our way south and take a peek today instead. We ended up stopping at Desert View Watchtower as the sun began its descent to meet the horizon and then drove a bit further along the canyon before making our final stop to see the last of the cotton candy skies before we left the park. The size and magnitude of this canyon is unfathomable. There was a time a few years back that I wanted to hike rim to rim to rim, but once I saw warning signs for mountain lions along the road, I gave up on that dream.

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 Grand Canyon, Travel Arizona, Define Fettle, Explore Arizona
 Grand Canyon, Arizona, Travel Arizona, Explore Arizona, Define Fettle
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SEDONA:   We arrived at Sedona Summit Resort late on Sunday evening after a lengthy and extremely curvy drive through the mountains. Upon arrival, we were extremely pleased with our room as we had our own kitchen, dining room, living room, king bed and ensuite equipped with a walk in shower and jacuzzi--->>> talk about a nice treat after LOTS of adventuring! What we hadn’t seen while driving through the dark the night before was the amazing red rock scenery that awaited us just outside our doors! I knew this place was special from the start {I even was telling Austin how we need to bring my mom back there someday} and I couldn’t wait to get outside and do some more exploring!

We took the morning fairly slowly. We grabbed coffee, went for a walk to check out the different pools, infinity spas and other amenities that the resort had to offer and then ate some breakfast that we’d picked up from Whole Foods back at our room before heading out for a hike. Our first hike of the day was Devils Bridge and the trailhead was conveniently located just a few minutes from our resort. This was a 4.5mile round trip hike that was fairly simple and thus, had extremely high traffic. Once we got to the actual bridge we waited anywhere from 30-45 minutes to snap a photo standing on the bridge because the line was so long. As some other tourists were leaving the bridge and we were arriving they said {it’s like the lines at Disney World, be ready to wait}... he wasn’t wrong. This iconic bridge was worth the people, but if I were to do it again I’d go earlier in the morning to avoid the other hundreds/thousands of tourists.

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After our hike we headed to Paleo Brio, a paleo-friendly restaurant for lunch. I was so excited to see PALEO printed largely on a sign as we drove through town earlier, so this was an obvious place for us to stop. The decor mirrored that of a cave {get is paleolithic/caveman era?} and had everything from burgers and salads to beer and kombucha. I wouldn’t say it was amazing, but it was a good place to refuel with health-forward options. We headed back to the resort to rest a bit and watch some HGTV {my favorite and we don’t have cable so I soaked in extra while we did} then we left for a sunset hike at Cathedral Rock to… {you guessed it}... take some photos!

Cathedral Rock is a relatively short hike, but is fairly steep and requires a bit of rock climbing {a very light version} for a portion of the ascent. It was also listed as a big tourist attraction, so I was expecting to be fighting through piles of people like we were earlier in the day but it just so happened that that wasn’t even close to the case. When we got to the top, during the golden hour, we were 2 of just 8 people enjoying the breathtaking views. There was a photographer and her assistant shooting the most gorgeous engagement session, another couple and us--->>> that’s it!

Austin was doing his thing, adjusting settings on the camera to make sure he could get the perfect shot and I was working on my iPhone photography skills when the photographer and couple began transitioning locations.

Austin: I’m going to ask her aka the photographer to take our photo

Me: WHAT! Are you crazy?! She’s working, leave her alone!

Austin: No, it’s fine… stay here

From my point of view this is weird, really weird. Austin isn’t usually the one to talk to strangers or ask people to take our photo or bother others when they are busy in any capacity.. but he did and she must have agreed because they both came walking up behind me.  We headed out onto the ledge, we smiled, she snapped a photo and then it happened… Austin grabbed my hand, locked eyes with me and with the biggest smile he said {Are you ready to take this adventure to the next level?} He then pulled out a little black box from his pocket and the rest is history. I would like to say that my hard ass kept it completely together, but if I’m not one thing, it’s a liar. I was crying/laughing while he was shaking, trying to figure out how to form words… long story short, he got down on one knee and right there, on the top of cathedral rock, at the feminism vortex, in Sedona AZ he asked me to marry him!

 Cathedral Rock, Cathedral Rock Engagement, Cathedral Rock Proposal, Sedona Proposal, 
 Cathedral Rock, Cathedral Rock Proposal, Sedona, Sedona Hiking, 
 Cathedral Rock, Cathedral Rock Proposal, Sedona,
 Sedona, Sedona Proposal, Cathedral Rock, Cathedral Rock Proposal
 Cathedral Rock, Cathedral Rock Proposal, Sedona, Hike Sedona, Explore Arizona
 Proposal photos courtesy of Rebekah Gonzalez Photography.

Proposal photos courtesy of Rebekah Gonzalez Photography.

Austin hadn’t planned the proposal, he had the ring with him throughout the entire vacation and was just waiting for the right time. He just so happened to wait until we were at the most beautiful place with an unbelievable, professional photographer who so generously captured the entire moment for us. I know that everybody says that their engagement was perfect, but I just don’t see how things could have gone any better. There’s no other word to describe it. It was and still is, utter and complete bliss!

We ended up hanging out at Cathedral Rock to take in the rest of the sunset and grasp what had just happened {or maybe that was just me}. After sunset, we headed back to the resort to clean up before our dinner reservations at Mariposa. {sidenote: Mariposa was the best food of the entire vacation. If you’re in Sedona you cannot miss this place. Amazing ambiance, amazing service, amazing food.}

We kept the news to ourselves for almost the first 48 hours which was so amazing and surreal! We finished out our stay in Sedona with crystal shopping, exploring the downtown area, grabbing pizza at Pisa Lisa, stopping by the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park and then we headed down to Scottsdale to visit a friend and prepare for our travels home the next day.

Engagement aside, this trip was one of my favorites to date. We saw so many amazing natural wonders, we were active every single day, we ate some of the best food and we experienced so much culture all within just 6 nights! If AZ is on your bucket list, GO and if it’s not, you need to add it ASAP.

If you have any questions about anything, I am more than happy to help so please reach out at britany@definefettle.com. I would love to hear from you and help in any way possible.

HAPPY TRAVELS!

 

 Chat with me!

Have you ever been to Arizona? If so, what was your favorite place? If not, are you adding it to your bucket list? And for the even bigger question… who here has been to Havasu Falls? I’m dying to hear about your journey! Everyone else… you MUST go! 

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 Travel Arizona, Explore Arizona, Havasu Falls, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Sedona Proposal, Define Fettle, Define Fettle Travels