My Southwestern Vacation

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

I’ve just recently returned from a week long family vacation to Arizona where we had an absolute blast.  There were twelve members in our group, though we didn’t all travel together. Me, my husband and two of our kids flew together into Flagstaff.  My oldest daughter and her husband flew into with plans to drive to the Grand Canyon from there.  And my youngest daughter and her extended family (a group of 6) decided to drive and make several stops along the way.  All through the week our groups came together in a very fluid way, different combinations breaking off on different days to do things of particular interest to them. But by mid-week we were all together at Bright Angel Lodge on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  For about half the group it was their first time to view this awesome wonder in person and they were blown away by the views.  For the rest of us, revisiting the place had almost as big an impact as seeing it for the first time.

Anyway, I thought I’d give you all a little taste of what we experienced by sharing just some of the many pictures we took.

Flagstaff was our home base for this trip. Our first full day there, we took the scenic drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, stopping at several points along the way to admire the scenery and take pictures.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to take a trip out to the nearby Lowell Observatory. We were lucky in that there was a cloudless sky and we were able to get clear views of the sun, moon, Saturn and  Jupiter through the many telescopes they had set out.  Seeing the actual rings of Saturn as well as the pencil dot moons was VERY cool.

The next day we all headed out to the Grand Canyon Notional Park.  Six of us decided to take the two hour train ride out of nearby Williams to get there. Williams is a fun place right on Route 66. They are set up to entertain tourists and there are fun little Wild West shows at the train station you can watch while waiting on departure time.  The train ride itself was fun (it was my first time on a train) and as you can see from the photo below it was quite comfy 🙂

We spent two days at the park itself, staying in cabins at the wonderful Bright Angel Lodge which is located right on the south rim itself.

Our first day there we  just enjoyed the area around the lodge and got the lay of the land. Our second day, we all headed in different directions.  Four of our group decided to hike down into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail (it goes without saying I wasn’t one of their number!).

The rest of us went on various exploration trips. Hubby and I saw both the Desert View Watchtower and Hermit’s Rest, two structures designed in the early twentieth century by Mary Colter, one of the few females architects of her time.

We also stopped at a lot of the viewing sights along the way. At one particular spot hubby spotted a rock formation that resembled a human profile. I took a photo of it – can you make it out? We also spotted several elk along the roadside and folks in our group managed to get photos of two of them.

After two days at the Grand Canyon, we headed out, again splitting into two groups, those that were driving the whole way started home, the rest of us headed back to Flagstaff. Along the way, though, we visited a wildlife park called Bearizona.  There were lots of different kinds of animals there – mountain goats, buffalo, wolves and more – but my favorites were the bears. And we got photos of two especially enterprising ones that found a way to cool off.

Our last day out we revisited Sedona for a jeep tour of the area.  It was a teeth-rattling bumpy ride but so worth it for the views.  Here is a picture our driver took of the four of us.

When we returned to Flagstaff we decided to cap off our vacation with a trip to the Snowbowl. It’s a ski lift that operates in the off season to take tourists up to the top of the peak. It’s a thirty minute ride that carries you up to an ear-popping elevation of 11,500 feet.

And then it was time to head home.

As I said it was a wonderful vacation, one that will make me smile whenever I remember it.

What about you? Have you ever visited this part of our country? And do you have a favorite vacation you look back on fondly?




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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

32 thoughts on “My Southwestern Vacation”

  1. You vacation sounds Devine, I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon but I’ve never visited. It’s on my bucket list. My husband and I are leaving for our dream vacation on Saturday July 15th, we are going to visit the Tetons and Yellowstone, as well as various parts of Wyoming. I’m so excited. The only place in the SW we’ve been too and absolutely love it and go back several years over & over is Las Vegas. I can get so lost in all the things to see there. Thanks for sharing your wonderful vacation with us. Havexa great rest of your summer.

  2. What an amazing time. Lots of memories to cherish. Thanks so much for sharing. I may have to plan one very similar.

  3. Oh WOW, these pictures make me long to return to that area for a visit. It is truly a beautiful area ! I am not gonna lie, I am just a teeny tiny bit jealous! ?

  4. It looks like y’all had a really fun and interesting trip. I have never been out to that part of the country, but would love to one day.

  5. Hi Winnie, wow, how awesome to “take” this trip with you today! I truly love Sedona and the Grand Canton should be on everyone’s bucket list. Amazing how Coulter integrated the environment into her designs. Did your train from Williams get held up by outlaws lol?

    • Hi Tanya. No the ‘bandits’ didn’t make aboard our train though I understand they make frequent appearances on these trips. Instead we had some banjo players walk through and serenade us.

  6. Love all the pictures, Winnie. I’ve been many places out West, but I’ve not yet made it to the Grand Canyon. It and Yosemite are two places out there I still really want to visit. I do love all that red rock in the Southwest.

  7. What a great vacation! I loved reading about it. Have been to both the southern rim as well as the northern rim… both are outstanding! How fortunate we are to have such beauty in our wonderful USA!

  8. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. Several years ago two of our daughters and I went to my nephews high school graduation in Arvada, Colorado. We drove from central Washington on I-90 and down through Yellowstone across central Wyoming to I-80 and to Cheyenne and down I-25 to the Denver area. Coming home we chose to drive the long way around driving over Wolf Creek pass to the Four Corners area and the North rim of the Grand Canyon. Our time was limited so we didn’t get to do much hiking but we took lots and lots of pictures. The rest of our drive home was North through Utah and northwest through Idaho and Oregon which is mostly along the old Oregon trail.
    It was a great trip and we saw a lot of places we would like to have time to explore.

  9. We love that part of the country. We visited a few times when our children were young. We are planning a return trip. My husband’s cousin lives south of Tucson and we plan to visit them, then revisit those places we visited in the 1980’s. I wish we had been able to visit about 10 years ago. Age has crept up on us and the hiking, etc. we enjoy may not be possible. There is still much to enjoy. We still have several National Parks and Monuments we haven’t seen in Utah and the 4 Corner States. We started on that trip 2 years ago, but had to cut it short because of a family emergency. We hope to head back out that way in the next couple of years.

  10. Boy am I late to comment! Looks like you had a wonderful time. When I saw the Grand Canyon, I wondered what the first person to ever see it must have thought 🙂 Thanks for the pix, Winnie. The one of the bears cooling off is a hoot!

    Nancy C

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