We spent the last couple of weeks on our road trip in quite a few large cities so we decided it was time for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction and get back in touch with mother nature. What better way to do that than to visit one of her grandest creations? Over the course of 4 days we were able to visit the Grand Canyon plus two other national parks, get our “kicks” on Route 66, spend some time in one of the Midwest’s oldest cities, and visit more local breweries! How you ask? By taking a road trip routed through Las Vegas, NV to Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM of course!
Las Vegas to Flagstaff – Route 66
We rambled out of Las Vegas a bit bleary eyed (maybe there were one too many “complimentary” cocktails the night before) but otherwise in good spirits. We had a great time rambling and gambling and left about even. Vegas was once again in our favor. As we began our trek back East we were forced to follow a portion of the same route we took on our last road trip through Arizona. We decided to skip the Hoover Dam (why see the same Dam thing again?… eh? eh? See what I did there?) this time and soon found ourselves back in the empty desert.
We always try to avoid driving on the Interstate while heading across the country and good scenery becomes imperative when driving through the barren wasteland the desert can be. The good news for us was that our path was going to take us along perhaps one of the country’s most famous roads: Route 66. Even though the majority of it has been decommissioned and replaced with interstates and other routes there are a few portions of this “mother road” that are left mostly unspoiled. It was quite the experience to be able to drive, close our eyes (figuratively of course) and imagine ourselves cruising down the road in a 1950′s Cadillac Eldorado. It helps that there are enough memorabilia shops and classic cars sprinkled throughout the old route to keep the fantasy going :-).
Sadly the ride along old Route 66 ended almost as quickly as a good dream normally does and we soon found ourselves back on the interstate and headed towards Flagstaff. The good news for us was the fact that we had an awesome itinerary planned out for the next day that would include one of my “all time top 10 must see sights” The Grand Canyon. The remainder of our drive to Flagstaff was rather uneventful and we decided to get to sleep early that night to rest up for the next days activities.
Visiting the Grand Canyon, Bedrock, and More
We woke up early the next morning and set out on our journey. I put together what I think is a pretty awesome Grand Canyon road trip planner and was excited to try it out. Our first stop along our route managed to take us back in time to the town of Bedrock!
Once we had our fill of Flintstones memorabilia we got back in the car and made our way towards the Grand Canyon. After a short drive we entered Grand Canyon National Park and made hustled to the first view-point right behind the visitors center! I find it difficult to even describe how mind-blowing the canyon truly is.
Lauren and I both stood there in wonderment for a few moments as we absorbed the grandeur of it all. It’s one of those things that we’ve seen so often in pictures and television that seeing it in person left us with a surreal sense that it wasn’t real at all. It was like some elaborate movie backdrop that was cleverly placed there to fool us all. After absorbing the first view for quite some time we took the hour-long drive east along the rim of the canyon and enjoyed miles of spectacular panoramas.
After taking in the Grand Canyon our loop back to Flagstaff also took us through two other National parks. The first was Wupatki National Park where we got to see an old Indian Pueblo…
and the second was Sunset Crater National Monument where we got to see an inactive volcano and the remnants of its lava flow. It was pretty cool to see, but it was not anywhere near as mind-blowing as the time we visited Craters of the Moon !
Flagstaff to Albuquerque – The Petrified Forest
The next day it was time for us to bid adieu to Arizona and make our way to Albuquerque, NM. It was a relatively short 5 hour drive for us so we decided to add in a pit stop in Arizona along the way to visit Petrified Forest National Park.
It was rather fascinating to see what mother nature can do when left alone for thousands of years.
Discovering Albuquerque’s Old Town
Old Town is also full of quite a few restaurants and bars. We found a nice little spot right in the town square called Casa De Fiesta and had ourselves a true New Mexican lunch.
After lunch we spent a few more hours in Old Town and also visited the local art museum. All the walking had us pretty parched so we decided to find ourselves a nice spot to have ourselves a drink. Earlier in the day Lauren found a brochure for a local winery in New Mexico and we decided to give it a shot. We moseyed on over to the St. Clair Winery and Bistro and enjoyed a couple of wine and mimosa flights!
Once the wine and mimosas soaked in we were ready for dinner so we took our New Mexican tour across town for some traditional Mexican style mariscos(seafood). We found a little place called Altamar and were pretty pleased with the food although the service left a bit to be desired.
Once we finished our meals we took a little trip to have ourselves a nightcap at a brewery that’s turned into a downtown hotspot. While The Marble Brewery location wasn’t great and the atmosphere was lackluster, I’m a sucker for a good beer and, in that category, the Marble didn’t disappoint.
Enjoy the gallery below for some more pictures of our travels through Arizona and New Mexico!