Road Trip Through Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona
Part two of our Route 66 Road Trip! These photos are from days 2 and 3 of our journey. We left Seligman, Arizona bright and early and headed into Flagstaff.
First stop was to Lowell Observatory, an astronomical observatory established in 1894. Lowell is among the oldest observatories in the United States, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2011, the Observatory was named one of “The World’s 100 Most Important Places” by TIME Magazine. Why is that? Because it was at the Lowell Observatory that the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. (And yes, I am TOTALLY Team Pluto being a PLANET! Haha..)
The main facility, located on Mars Hill just west of downtown Flagstaff, houses the original 24-inch Clark Refracting Telescope that discovered Pluto. After visiting the scope, we took the kiddos into the main building to visit the fun interactive and hands on exhibits, which Tessa LOVED.
After leaving Flagstaff for the day, we continued on to Sedona, Arizona, with the first stop in Sedona being a visit to Slide Rock State Park in Coconino National Forest – one of the most visited tourist attractions in Arizona next to the Grand Canyon. This park takes its name from a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek. Tall red rock formations surround the park, which contains a 43-acre working apple farm along the banks.
In 2014, Slide Rock was named one of Fodor’s Travel top 10 state parks in the United States, and most recently, USA Today readers voted Slide Rock as the 5th best swimming hole in the country.
The girls had a blast wading around and sliding on the rocks with their dad and grandpa. The rocks were CRAZY slippery, and we watched a couple of people fall and actually get busted up pretty bad – chipped teeth and bloody faces and whatnot – so I was extremely cautious wading around. But the girls are water bugs like their daddy, so I had fun watching the shenanigans from a relatively safe distance, haha.
Next stop in Sedona was to the famous landmark of Sedona skyline, and one of the most photographed sights in Arizona – Red Rock Crossing for some sunset photos of Cathedral Rock! In the late 19th century, Red Rock was the principal settlement in the Oak Creek Canyon area of Sedona.
Red Rock Crossing is also one of the most famous locations of Sedona’s spiritual vortexes. Vortexes are said to be powerful and transformational energy centers that are located at specific sites throughout Sedona. Vortexes are the intersections of natural electromagnetic earth energy, also known as ley lines.
Native Americans including the Navajo, Yavapai and Hopi Indians all recognized the energy and spiritual power of Sedona’s vortexes, honoring the land in this area and using them only for sacred ceremonies.
We hiked a mile or so back to the hot spot of the vortex, and stood around waiting for… something. Anything. And nope. Nada. But it was fun hunting for the mystical joo joo of Sedona!
Day three of the road trip we headed back into Flagstaff and had lunch at Salsa Brava, a Mexican cuisine restaurant featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri.
Continually voted “Flagstaff’s Best Mexican Restaurant” and “Best Salsa” by the Arizona Daily Sun, Salsa Brava uses only all-natural, antibiotic and hormone free, boneless, skinless chicken. To keep up with the large demand, they hand-cut 600 pounds of fresh tomatoes every week! We tried the Navajo Taco (the state food of Arizona) and the Sopapilla, both of which were featured on the show. They were tasty good, totally worth the stop!
Last stop in Flagstaff was to the Wupatki National Monument. Rich in Native American ruins, Wupatki was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
The many settlement sites scattered throughout the monument were built by the Ancient Pueblo People, more specifically the Cohonina, Kaventa, Anasazi, and Sinagua. Wupatki was first inhabited around 500 AD. Wupatki, which means “Tall House” in the Hopi language, is a multistory Sinagua pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and a community room and ball court. Nearby secondary structures have also been uncovered, including two kiva-like structures. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040 and 1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil’s ability to retain water. By 1182, approximately 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo but by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. Based on a careful survey of archaeological sites conducted in the 1980s, an estimated 2000 immigrants moved into the area during the century following the eruption. Agriculture was based mainly on maize and squash raised from the arid land without irrigation. In the Wupatki site, the residents harvested rainwater due to the rarity of the springs.
The dwelling’s walls were constructed from thin, flat blocks of the local Moenkopi sandstone giving the pueblos their distinct red color. Held together with mortar, many of the walls still stand. Each settlement was constructed as a single building, sometimes with scores of rooms. The largest settlement on monument territory is the Wupatki Ruin, built around a natural rock outcropping. With over 100 rooms, this ruin is believed to be the area’s tallest and largest structure for its time period. The monument also contains ruins identified as a ball court, similar to those found in Mesoamerica and in the Hohokam ruins of southern Arizona; this is the northernmost example of this kind of structure. This site also contains a geological blowhole… which felt crazy good on a hot summer day!