Thursday, January 28, 2016

Let's Go {the Grand Canyon}

For the first time in my memorable life, I finally made the trip to the Grand Canyon!  It only took thirty years of living in Arizona, but recently with my friends and family we took our first adventure of 2016.   I've got something planned for each month of the year and this first one was a success!  Here's how we spent the weekend and it's full of helpful advice if you're planning on heading to the Grand Canyon for the first time yourself...
On the way up to the Grand Canyon we stopped in Flagstaff at Lumberyard Brewing for a hearty lunch.
after enjoying some healthy snacks {fruits and veggies} in car, I opted for more conventional road trip food and got some onion rings and a Red Rock Raspberry beer {was good, kind of like a fermented carbonated raspberry tea}
I also got the Vegetarian Ruban, which had full spice and very dense, I only ate half at the restaurant and the other half that night for dinner. 
After lunch we jumped back in the car until we could find someone not directly off the highway to play in the snow.  
The girls wanted to build a snow man, which wold have been fine if they had their waterproof shoes, but husband always makes me feel like an over packer and said it wasn't going to be raining or snowing so I didn't bring them.  We had to dry Sonja's boots on the heater at the hotel room, and I learned my lesson, always pack two pairs of shoes for kids, even on an overnight! 
No one {and no camera} is safe when it comes to snow balls, that's okay Sonja got Daddy right in the face after this photo. 
after our quick outdoor adventure we hopped back in the car, the kids fell asleep the rest of the drive and we met our friends at our hotel. 
We had some difficulties with our reservation {expedia only reserved one of the two rooms, but they refunded me for this mistake and we booked directly though the lodge}, but the view made up for it!
We stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge.  Each room was it's own cabin, and this little cabin had two conjoining rooms so we were able to sort of share a room with our friends and family while we all hung out, but then had our privacy at night.  Technically we booked the room for 2-3 people but the kids brought sleeping bags and slept on the floor and there was plenty of room, probably could have requested a cot, but we were pretty much just glamping.  Normally we camp on our little adventures, but with it being winter we decided "camping" in a hotel room would be more practical and only slightly more glamourous.
I liked the look of this place from the website photos and when fellow North Phoenix Mom blogger Stacey suggested it I knew it was a winner! While I don't have any recommendations for the restaurant, I will say the overall ambiance was cute and cabin like, just pack your own lunch and dinners.  There was a few pizza places and some grocery stores in the town nearby.
In the morning we headed down for coffee for breakfast and got lost in the lodge ended up climbing down this hill to get to the path since the actual path was closed due to ice. 
but seriously, this was the view on our walk to breakfast. Who could complain? 
after we stopped for some photos we ventured down the rim to see how far into the trail we could explore.
the side walk was so icey we pretty much knew we weren't going to be going on any trails, especially with kids.
but we did find a pretty little nook we could look out from near the Bright Angel Trail Head.
Did I mention this was my first time at the Grand Canyon.  My parent said they stopped by on a drive cross country when I was a few weeks old but I never saw any photos and obviously don't remember it, so I don't think it counts. But I'm so grateful to find a partner who is always ready to go whenever and wherever I say.
and that's not even the bottom it drops off again out in the middle there.  I can't wait to come back this summer to explore and hike deeper in without kids.
If you look closely out Husband's window you can see the deer bidding us farewell. 
back on the road to Flagstaff, so much brighter with all that snow. 
and hey pretty birch trees! 
Back in Flagstaff we stopped at the sister brewery to our first stop, Beaver Street Brewery.  I got the Enchanted pizza which had high expectations for, but there was too much brie and not enough variation in veggies. 
Husband got the burger and was happy with it, I'd probably order something else next time, but the beers were good!

As for the actual site, here's a quick review of the campsite hotel {1 being worst, 10 being best}:

Location {and Distance}: 9.5
about 4 hours drive from Phoenix, the lodge was located on the south rim of the canyon! Could not have been closer.

Road: 8

The road from the highway to the lodge was accessible in a 2 wheel vehicle.

Secluded: 8
Private rooms and villas
View: 10
Awesome view 
Bathrooms: 8
Way better than I expected, shower sort of hits you in the face but I'm sort and apparently some rooms have the shower tub combo.  New tile, no mold. pretty nice for a cabin in the woods kind of place.
Campsite Fixtures: NA
Hotel had everything a normal hotel would. 
Trash, Water and Food: 8
They had recycling in the rooms, but no bottled water for sale, which is both good and bad, good for the waste aspect, but with all the uranium mining done in the area I was sort of hoping to avoid tap water directly from the area. 
Animals: 5
We only saw deer on our way out, maybe in the summer there are more in the area, or deeper in on the hike.
Pets: No
no Pets were allowed at lodge.
Group Accommodation: 2-3
Groups of 2-3 were allowed max for the rooms available, but our room easily could have fit more people sleeping on the floor camping style.
Water {lakes, ponds, and oceans}: 2
There were no water features in the area.
Well Drained: NA
Since we were at a lodge not a campsite, not really applicable, however the snow was shoveled out of our walkways if that counts for anything
Firewood: NA
Each room had well functioning heaters.
Management: National Forest Services
Still had to drive in to a national forest to get to lodge, and I wish I would have remembered to grab my access pass for discount on park fee, which was $30, pretty steep for the park fees we're used to.
Reservations: 10
You need them, there were rooms available but who wants to get there to find out there aren't any?! and if you do book though a third party site, call ahead to confirm your reservations to avoid frustrations upon arrival.
Cost and Permits: $111 + tax and fees {total was $135 per room} + National Park fee $30

Hope that inspires you to find an adventure of your own! Do you enjoy camping or in this case glamping?
Where should we go next?!


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