On an Arizona Road Trip, Miles of Family Firsts

Enchanting hikes in Sedona and the Grand Canyon, a stay at a starry Tucson hideaway and more than a few memorable meals.

Comments: 33

  1. ".....it looks like God’s footprint."

    Thank you for your eloquent descriptions of some of the best my beloved home state has to offer. My eyes are filled with tears at memories of "the Inn" as we called it when I was growing up in Tucson, of the delicious food, the dark skies, the magnificent landscape and the creatures that inhabit it (you can even come to appreciate javelina if you live near them long enough).

  2. I've been to Sedona, and The Grand Canyon, and they are beautiful, biut won't be going back again soon. They voted for Trump. Not one penny of my tourist money will go to any state that voted for Trump.

  3. Fantastic. We can't stop the influx of Californians so every person helps.

  4. Cutting off your nose to spite your face. If politics truly rules your life to this extent I imagine you rarely leave your own neighborhood. And that is very sad.

  5. Well, if you traveled to Tucson you would find a nice moderate sized city that didn't vote for Trump! Fortunately, like Austin, TX, there are some pockets in this state that don't worship Trump or his policies.

    Come on down, but probably not in the summer you'll enjoy a trip to Tucson much more starting in late October to mid-April. We have a lot of things to do here!

    Bring your bicycle, a ride on the newly completed Loop trail around Tucson is a great way to enjoy your visit. Of course the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and the Mission San Xavier del Bac should also be on your itinerary.

    Most of us in Tucson are pretty friendly to boot!

  6. Fortunately for us, my wife's job moved us from East to West ten years ago (yay). We have twice made road trips from Oakland to the four corners of the Western states (East of us haha) and have explored both Sedona and Tucson. This area is definitely a magical place to visit although too hot to live all year round. Highly recommend that four corners road trip since so many national parks are easily reachable in that area. Next trip - back to northern AZ and the Grand Canyon - since we want to spend days rather than hours exploring there.

  7. Wonderful place and indeed ''magical'', but alas I do not travel to places, nor fund governments that are antithetical to my beliefs of equal human rights and so on.

    It is sad but true, and I doubt even this comment gets through.

  8. Thank you for great descriptions of places in Arizona, including Tucson, the city where I grew-up going to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a unique gem, the classic Arizona Inn where I had my wedding reception, beautiful Sedona that I drove through while attending university in Flagstaff, and the glorious Grand Canyon that I hiked on my honeymoon. Had you visited Tucson in summer, you may have added, "It's too hot!" but you chose a time to appreciate the weather that entices people to visit or move to the desert areas of Arizona.

  9. My husband and I traveled to Sedona about 10 years ago, and I was captivated by the place. Ignored the places that advertised “photographing auras”, and just hiked wherever we could. Magical.
    One of my great regrets is that we never took our sons, now grown men with families of their own, to visit the West when they were young. I may get a second chance when I try to convince everyone that this journey could supplant our annual family beach vacation.
    Great article. Beautifully written. Thank you.

  10. As a former Tucson resident, thanks for this article. One fact check - javelinas aren't "feral pigs" but rather peccaries. It's a common misconception that Tucsonans and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (one of my favorite places in the world) corrects all the time.

  11. *correct all the time. Meta.

  12. Arizona is one of my favorite states and I have come to know it as the daughter of Midwestern transplants. This sounds like a great trip, but you missed the Kartchner Caverns which is east of Tucson. Visit Bisbee for a ride into a real mine and learn about it troubled history as the miners tried to organize. I great book is Hidden Arizona. It was our guide when we first started to visit.

  13. Javelinas are not pigs. Shooting a rattlesnake in your house is just plain stupid.

  14. Sorry the author's pink jeep went (necessarily) through the magnificent Flagstaff area, less than an hour "uphill" from Sedona on the way to Grand Canyon, and didn't take time to explore. And, that the author somehow all but effaced the most important historical - and very much living - part of Arizona culture, the state's numerous Native American peoples (maybe in a next article?). Northern Arizona in particular is a world of wonder.

  15. Javelina's may not be gorgeous, and they are not feral pigs either. They are peccaries (singular - peccary) of the family Tayassuidae.
    Thanks for an appreciative article on the desert southwest.

  16. Five Star restaurants specialize in delicious Peccary. It's truly more delicious than traditional pork. It's not surprising industrial Peccary farms are thriving..

  17. For many years the rare Arizona Highways magazine that would mysteriously appear in some waiting rooms held pages of gorgeous photos and promises of a trip that exceeded the ability to imagine it, but alas being in Wisconsin and on a farm requiring daily attention made the possibility of seeing these natural wonders a mere dream.

    Fast forward 40 years and on a glorious 10 day car trip through the state, seeing Sedona (feeling the beauty but none of the 'vortex' or crystal malarky), meteor crater, Flagstaff, the painted desert, and completely unknown Sunset crater, along with of course the Grand Canyon became one of our family's fondest memories.

    The sheer impact of the canyon was enough to make almost everyone viewing it speak in reverent whispers, the stillness and special moment being broken only by the shrill, overly loud, chattering of some teenagers who had no clue what they were privileged to see.

    This article does bring back a flood of memories, and a sincerely appreciation of nature's gift to us and the understanding we all need to strive and fight to protect it.

  18. Bravo, Joe! What a beautiful article - your descriptions are magical. I have been itching to explore this part of our glorious country - thank you (and I thought you only wrote about racing!). Amazing piece!

  19. We’ve been in Arizona over 20 years.

    There is in fact some wonderful physical beauty here at the Grand Canyon and Sedona or (even better) Havasupai Falls or Lake Powell.

    But this is bright red Trump and gun lovin’ country my friends. Tucson is not nearly as idyllic or exotic as you described it. Our governor Doug Ducey is a right wing ideologue. It’s a shame to mix politics with travel tips, but vacationers have options. I suggest Folks spend their money elsewhere rather than support our backwards anti-Hispanic/ anti-education low tax state.

  20. My feelings are somewhere between yours and your first respondent. We bought a home in Tucson last year, and fell in love with Tucson this year. Soon we will be full time Arizonans. We don’t view Tucson in as negative a light as you do, and politically, it’s the most purple part of the state. Phoenix decidedly is not, and traffic there is much worse than in Tucson.

    If I only patronized blue states, I would have missed seeing most of the West. That would be a shame. I’d also be less informed about what is at stake if we let Trump, Zinke, and their minions destroy western treasures.

  21. Perhaps the gentleman from Scottsdale should refrain from condemning Tucson. The residents of Tucson both Democrats and Republicans are enlightened enough to co-exist. We focus on the breathtaking natural beauty of our surroundings and not our differences.We believe that segregation of any kind (including political) is wrong.

  22. The statewide politics are depressing, but Tucson is a cool, mountain surrounded, progressive and interesting town (with a million people in the metro area). It is also a UNESCO world food site, and has world class departments at the University of Arizona in dance, astronomy, optical sciences and tree ring science.
    Enjoy the wonderful Sonoran Desert which has its most typical flora and fauna surrounding Tucson in 2 National Parks.
    Many of us are proud of the multi-ethnic population and strong Mexican influence. Keep an eye on the 2018 elections as well.

  23. Really enjoyed this. I wish the Times would do regular travel pieces for families. The 36 hours pieces are really just for adults. Please do more family travel!

  24. With all due respect Javalinas are adorable. They travel together usually as a family usually with 2 babies or sometimes in a larger pack I have never seen one alone. We enjoy watching them discover the watering holes near my in-laws home outside of Tucson. Thanks for this article. Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the union.

  25. Not only adorable, but a peccary, not a pig!

  26. As a recent Arizona resident (California expat), I look forward to exploring its wonders. Also, the article writer appears to only have one (1) child. Not to diminish this, but our people need to do what is necessary to maintain ourselves, i.e., two (2+) children to avoid assimilation, extinction. We deserve nothing less..

  27. Sedona is so beautiful and somewhat of a secret among the wonders of the Southwest. We had also planned on going to the Grand Canyon during that trip but Knucklehead Cruz decided that shutting down the government that week was a good idea. But we showed him. Booked a trip to Kauai and got to see Waimea Canyon instead.

  28. You should have read the descriptive label for javelinas or more accurately, collared peccary, at the Desert Museum. They are native to "the deserts of southeast Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southward through Mexico and Central America and into northern Argentina." They are not pigs, they are not feral, and they were not introduced.

  29. After completing a cross county trip last summer, I am a road trip convert. I hope you will take Jack to Yellowstone, via Cody WY, where you can spend a great week at nature’s “Disneyland”. More memories await.

  30. As an Arizona resident, I am amused that so many commenters are refugees from other states (notably California) who are very glad to have escaped but then start agitating to make Arizona the same hellhole that they left.

    Also, it seems that even the Travel articles cannot escape Trump Derangement Syndrome from the NYT commenters. However, I think we can agree: please don't come to Arizona, you won't like it and we won't like you.

  31. I left Arizona for California 15 years ago, and have never looked back. My friends in AZ say to me, "You get a lot more house for your money in Arizona..." And I respond, "Yeah, but you have to live there..." No thanks. California is everything the rest of the country would like to be...

  32. Love your article and your description of the beautiful sites in Arixona. It brought my memories of the same trips from my heart to my mind today. Thank you for that. I am sure your son will cherish this vacation as "best trip ever" and will always remember being out west with his parents!

  33. I live in Northern Arizona. The Drape's trip is one tedious well-heeled cliche after another - except perhaps their awareness that the Grand Canyon is a sacred place (endangered by uranium mining - do your research). And Sedona? From my short story collection, "Delicate: stories of Light and Desire"
    "We wandered around the little New Age town south of here. Rae named it See-dough-now, as in the Nouvelle
    California ladies with perfect nails, and power pyramids in their shops see you, see dough, and want it now. Rae’s final word on it had been, “The Town That T-Shirts Made.”