Snow In Arizona??? Our Grand Canyon & 4-Wheeling Side Trip

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Driving from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon the next morning, we were faced with 'winter driving conditions' in Arizona!
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The photo on the left is us 8 hours before the photo on the right!

Both photos were taken in Arizona.

The first one was at our hotel in Phoenix late on Friday afternoon. The next one was just north of Sedona in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Wait… it gets better!


Friday, March 5:

After a day spent sweating in the hot sun at the ballpark while watching a Chicago Cubs Spring Training game, we each got a bit of a sunburn on our first day in Arizona.

We spent the evening relaxing in the hotel bar, until we moved the party out to the patio… I spent the entire time convincing Jim that we should drive all the way to the Grand Canyon early the next morning — just so we could say that we’d done it.


Saturday, March 6:

The next morning, I talked Jim into an unplanned trip to the Grand Canyon. If we left at 3a.m., we would still be able to make our 11a.m. appointment in Sedona to spend the day 4-wheeling with Nena at Farabee’s Jeep Rentals (now Barlow Jeep Rentals).

Jim and Neil just hanging out in Arizona. Looks can be deceiving... Jim is toasted, while Neil is stone cold sober! Photo © Neil & Abby
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(It was a 4-hour drive North from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon — one way. Then a 2-hour drive South from the Grand Canyon to Sedona. Luckily, they were both located on the same road north of Phoenix… it just took 4 hours out of our morning to squeeze in this “quick visit” to the Grand Canyon.)


Here’s How It Went…

Our 3a.m. wake-up call meant we were the only ones on the road — driving in pitch blackness up twisty mountain highways that we weren’t familiar with. That is Sucky Point #1.

We were basically running on adrenaline… too many nights in a row working late at the computer AND we stayed up partying the night before. After two hours on the road, we could barely keep our eyes open. We pulled over & slept for an hour in the parking lot of a not-yet-open-for-the-morning McDonald’s near Sedona. That, my friends is Sucky Point #2. (Cuz now we had even LESS time to spend at the Grand Canyon… IF we were going to keep our 11a.m. offroading appointment.)


Kokopelli’s Everywhere!

Upon awakening, we grabbed a breakfast sandwich at the now-open-for-business McDonald’s, when we noticed that we were directly across the street from the “World’s Largest Kokopelli” — right there along the roadside. We snapped this photo just as the sun was coming up.

Now, we’re back on the road and trying to make up time when out of the blue… we ran smack dab into a snow storm! In Arizona!!!

Eight hours earlier: sun-tanning and sweating. Presently: could barely see through the thick snow that was falling and couldn’t drive faster than 30 mph up the windy mountain road.

It was quite intimidating. Our biggest fear was getting back down that mountain.

There was only one way in and one way out at this point. We almost turned right around. Instead, we spotted a snow plow and trusted that the roads would be sufficiently cleared for us to make it back down the mountain — after we caught our glimpse of the Grand Canyon, that is.


Our Chevy Chase Moment

We called it our “Chevy Chase moment”… Upon reaching the Grand Canyon, we paid our $20 bucks (yep!… the “per car” admission fee), then dashed to the nearest pull-off spot.

Just like the Griswald’s… They were running late in their attempt to get to Wally World … when they came upon the Grand Canyon … they stopped at the first roadside pull-off … just long enough to snap a picture of them looking over the ledge.

Ta daaaa… Our “Chevy Chase Moment”:

In the end, we are SO glad we did it… drove WAY out of our way just to say we saw the Grand Canyon! But one thing’s for sure: We’re going back next year.

In a matter of minutes, we hopped back in the rental car for our trip back down the mountain.

We were an hour or so late for our off-road Jeeping adventure, but we managed to spend a couple hours 4-wheeling in Sedona with Nena Barlow… on the Broken Arrow Trail, to be exact. (Check out the photos from our off-road Jeepin’ adventure.)

This photo gives you a glance of what it was like in Sedona…

Now, compare that with the picture of snow we had experienced just hours earlier!


Tips For Photographing The Grand Canyon

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Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have owned 5 Jeeps (3 Wranglers and 2 Grand Cherokees). And when we’re not driving our own Jeep, we’re usually renting one (a 4x4 Wrangler on vacation). We keep a Jeep Bucket List of places that we’d like to go next, and we're always crossing more states off our list of 'Places That We’ve Jeeped in the USA'. As our daily driver, we keep the soft top on our Jeep Wrangler year round (and the back window permanently rolled up) so the dogs can enjoy the ride. Yep... even in the winter! I've been sharing my best Jeep ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998. When I’m not Jeeping or writing about Jeeps, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).

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