Date of Trip: July 2004
From Flagstaff, we had a great trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; the Havasupai Indian Reservation, including Supai, Havasu Falls, and Mooney Falls; the Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Walnut Canyon, Sedona, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater, and Wupatki Indian ruins.
We stayed at Fairfield Flagstaff, which was a nice resort. We made two great once-in-a-lifetime trips to the Grand Canyon. Our favorite trip was a Papillon helicopter ride to the Havasupai Indian Reservation at Supai, with a guided horse ride down to Havasu Falls, where we swam, and a somewhat strenuous hike to Mooney Falls.
The Fairfield Flagstaff included units on a hillside with a nice mountain view. Our unit had just been upgraded with air conditioning the day before we arrived. The swimming pool and activity center was very nice, but we wished it stayed open later than 9:00 PM to use more after some of our long day trips.
Sunset Crater(Volcano) and Wuptaki Ruins:
Our ten-year-old daughter, Nicole, was able to get two Junior Ranger badges at the Sunset Crater Visitor Center and the Wupatki Visitor Center. These stops were very educational and included a one-mile lava flow trail close to Sunset Crater.
Havasupai Heli Hiking Day Tour:
This was a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular trip with a Papillon helicopter ride into the Indian Village of Supai in the Grand Canyon. We had the privilege to go on a horse ride with our Indian guide, Mary, with wonderful views down a trail to beautiful Havasu Falls. We swam there in very cold water below the falls, which felt very refreshing after the over-100-degree temperature on the trail. Then we hiked and climbed down to Mooney Falls. To get there, we had to climb down a steep cave and then down a vertical cliff with only chains and a ladder to assist us. Our ten-year-old daughter, Nicole, was a little scared of the climb down, but did better climbing back up. This trip was fairly expensive, but well worth it as one of our most memorable adventures.
Walnut Canyon and Sinagua Ruins:
This National Park Monument is close to Flagstaff. The Rim Trail was closed for part of the way for scheduled maintenance. The walk was fairly easy and quite educational for our ten-year-old daughter.
Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon:
The drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona, south of Flagstaff, was pretty, but there were few places to pull off the road to take pictures, and special parking permits were required. The view of the red rock formations around Sedona was pretty, but it was extremely dry and hot the day we were there. It was nice to see, but not one of the more exciting parts of our trip.
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert:
The Petrified Forest National Park and the area within, known as the Painted Desert, were quite educational for our ten-year-old daughter, Nicole. It was interesting reading at the Visitor Center and trail about the formation of the petrified pieces of fallen trees.
Unfortunately, every year some selfish individuals carry away pieces of the wood from parts of the park for souvenirs, even though there is hefty fines if they are caught. For souvenirs, one can get small inexpensive pieces of the petrified wood at shops outside the park, or large expensive polished pieces for thousands of dollars at some of the shops. The Painted Desert was a large area with pretty varying colors of the desert and rock formations. There was an Indian ruin in the park with a nice view of Indian petroglyphs on rocks.
Meteor Crater, which actually should have been named “Meteorite Crater” since the Meteor did not burn up in the atmosphere, was very educational. An informative slide show presentation may be followed by a guided tour of the Crater. Because of the unique nature of this formation, the astronauts usually come in the fall for training on the rough terrain.
You can book your Papillon tour through the Internet at www.paillon.com or call 800-528-2418. Wear hiking boots and take plenty of water, as it can reach over 100 degrees down in the canyon.
Best Way to Get Around:
A car is necessary to see the many historical sites around Flagstaff. For a one-day visit to Supai, the Papillon helicopter ride is about the only option.